Monday, June 29, 2009

Commuter Rail semi-fail

BETWEEN SOUTH ACTON AND WEST CONCORD -- I never take the commuter rail. I work in Marlboro and usually drive into the city or at least as far as Alewife if I need to go to Boston. But I have continuing ed classes today and tomorrow starting at 9:00 and the Fitchburg line schedule matches up pretty closely, so I decided to ditch the car and ride the train in. This is the first time I've ever taken the train at "rush hour."

It is running 15-20 minutes late. Sigh.

And it probably isn't saving me any money.

But at least the wi-fi works pretty well, so all is not lost.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The problem with Summer Nor'easters

The window at the head of my bed faces the Northeast. When the wind and rain pick up as it did this morning around 4:00, I get wet.

It's summer, dammit.

At least in February, I don't have the windows open.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Introducing the Mass Movie Project

Also posted at the new Mass Movie Project blog.

Have you ever thought "You know, what I'd really like to do is watch every movie ever filmed and set in Massachusetts."? Of course you have.

Well, now there is a way to do it. Join the Mass Movie Project.

So far, we've identified about 120 movies that fit our criteria and our plan is to watch all of them. What is the criteria you ask?
  1. Movie must be filmed primarily in Massachusetts. (So a movie set in MA but filmed in Canada or L.A. would not qualify)
  2. Movie must be set primarily in Massachusetts. (So a movie filmed here as a stand in for another location would not qualify)
  3. Movie must have had some sort of a theatrical release. (A made-for-TV or direct-to-video film would not qualify)
  4. Documentaries have been left out.
That's about it. We'll identify two or three movies each month to watch. and the Mass Movie Project Facebook group is the place to review, commend, pan, mock, or otherwise discuss the movies.

We are starting with the 10 films the Boston Globe has deemed "10 Memorable Boston Films." Following that list, we will go through those Massachusetts films that have either won or been nominated for Academy Awards and/or Golden Globes. Those will be in order from most awards to fewest. Once we've exhausted those movies, we'll trudge through the remaining 90+ films. Finally, if a hard to find movie--for instance a film that is not available on DVD--somehow surfaces, we'll slide that into the rotation out of order. In fact, the first film to be announced fits that description.

To get you started, here are the Mass Movie Project's first five films:
  1. The Carey Treatment (1972). Not available on DVD--Only available on Turner Classic Movies June 19 at 10am or Aug. 4 at 1:30pm.
  2. Mystery Street (1950).
  3. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973).
  4. The Verdict (1982).
  5. Good Will Hunting (1997).
For more information or to join, go to the Mass Movie Project on Facebook. If you don't want to join the Facebook group but want to follow along, regular updates and reviews will be posted to the new Mass Movie Project blog.

Update: Here is the full list of movies. Any updates, suggestions, comments or corrections are welcome.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

More truth about New Hampshire

The hysterical tax opponents have been proven wrong again.

They tried to tell us that if we raised the gas tax people would flock over the border to buy gas...then New Hampshire raised their gas tax by 15 cents.

They tried to tell us that we shouldn't put tolls up at the border, despite the fact that New Hampshire already has tolls on every highway crossing the border.

Some even suggested that we can't raise meal taxes because we'd lose business to our northern neighbors, even though New Hampshire's meal taxes are already 60% higher than ours.

And now New Hampshire has approved a 45-cent per pack cigarette tax hike, diluting their argument that all of our smokers flee for the border when they need to restock.

Can we please stop worrying about what New Hampshire is doing and concentrate on fixing things here in the commonwealth?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Can't take my eyes off Iran

Although I was a day or two late to the party, for about the last 24 hours I've been totally engrossed by what is going on in Iran. I'm not sure why this potential revolution has grabbed me any more than any other, but I find myself refreshing the Internet sites and scanning the news channels for updated information at a pace and with an intensity that I rarely experience when following an international event.

Maybe it's because of my age. For me and others of my generation, the Iranian hostage crisis Iran is the first international event that I remember. I was eight years old when the hostages were taken, and I remember the updates on the TV news night after night after night. I even think I wrote a poem in the third grade that referenced the crisis, among other current events. Seeing millions of Iranians take to the streets to protest the actions of a government that was formed out of the revolution that sparked the hostage situation--so tied to that event is the current administration that President Ahmadinejad is widely believed to have been involved in the holding of the hostages--is incredibly compelling.

I think I also have a sense that I missed out on the major events of my formative years. I payed almost no attention to the protests in Tienanmen Square 20 years ago and just barely followed the collapse of communism and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. I'm not sure what was so important that summer--well, OK, I was probably more concerned with getting a girl I had dated my freshman year in college to come back to school in the fall than I was with what was happening in China--but whatever the reason, I hardly remember any of it.

(I did go to see Nelson Mandela give his big speech at the Esplanade in Boston. But even that was in an effort to impress a woman. We must have been about the last of the 300,000 of so who were there to see him speak because he appeared to be the size of a period in the distance. Even so, I think I was more excited to see Mike Dukakis speak than Mandela, since I was certainly more emotionally involved in the 1988 elections than I was in the fall of Apartheid. After the speech, I took her to the Theater District to catch a performance of Shear Madness. Wow. Could there have been a more odd combination of events in the history of dating?)

But where was I?...Oh, Iran. So I've been following along on the Huffington Post, Andrew Sullivan's blog at The Atlantic, and the National Iranian American Council. One of the interesting dynamics in play is the level at which the crisis is being played out both on the Internet and behind it. Much of the Internet traffic coming out of Iran has been cut off by the governnment, but a number of Iranians have been able to get minute-by-minute updates out via Twitter. Those updates and messages relayed out of Iran by phone and the occasional email have been making their way to bloggers and new media sites like the ones above and have been the main source of news for me and many millions of other trying to keep abreast of events over there.

Certainly the new media has been doing a better job of things than the cable news networks. I tried watching CNN for a time last night, and I found that I just couldn't do it. They didn't have anything that I hadn't already read about or watched on the web. And I just didn't get the same sense of urgency that I did when watching other events on the network.

Like many, I fell in love with CNN during the first Gulf War. Watching the tracers fly over Baghdad and hearing the explosions in the background while Bernie Shaw and Peter Arnett were on the phone hiding under the bed in their hotel room was riveting TV. I felt like I was there. Watching Don Lemon read tweets from viewers commenting on CNN's coverage (as opposed to reading tweets from the streets of Iran) and roll tape of Christane Amanpour (who I like by the way) ask questions at a day-old press conference paled in comparison to what I expect from CNN.

I'm still keeping tabs. I even wore a green shirt today in support of the Iranian opposition (you know, because someone at my office just might have enough sway with the Ayatollah to call him up and say "Lance is with the masses. Time to give the gig up."). I'm not going to miss what might be this decade's Tienanmen Square.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ice Cream Fraud

I ran down to the local Ice Cream Bar (while I've decided not to name it, if you know where I live you know which one it is...not Rota Spring) to get Ice Cream for Michelle and I. For the third or fourth trip in a row, the medium ice cream Michelle ordered felt as heavy or heavier than the large that I bought. So I decided to weigh them.

I got home and pulled out the Weight Watchers food scale (yes, I understand the irony). Lo and behold, Michelle's medium weighed 9 3/4 ounces while my large tipped the scale at 8 1/4 ounces.

At least I got a bigger cup for my extra 50 cents.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

At least the food at Olive Garden was fresh...

Went to the Olive Garden in Leominster tonight. There was some good news and bad news:

The good news is, I can confirm that the food was fresh.

The bad news? I know that because there was a label that had fallen into my plate that read "Use by THU."

I suppose it could have been worse...

Monday, June 1, 2009

War...Super-Duper Excellently

Jackson has this toy called the "Word Whammer" which comes with a bunch of magnetic letters that he puts in the toy to spell three-letter words. If he spells the word correctly, it sings a little song telling him he got it right and that he's a smart kid.

Yesterday, it asked him to spell the word "war."

He did, and was rewarded with the song:
War, is what you see.
You spelled it super-duper excellently.
I found it a little disconcerting.



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