Saturday, March 28, 2009

Diana Krall - Quiet Nights

Diana reflects on the making of her new album:

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Night Out For The President

"Like basketball? There was Mr. Obama sitting courtside recently alongside astonished fans at the Verizon Center as he cheered on the Chicago Bulls in a losing battle against the Washington Wizards." (New York Times)

I'm trying really hard here not to make a lame mother-in-law joke, so let me just say that it's really nice to see President Obama out and about in the world:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stevie Nicks - Gold Dust Woman

From her 2007 Tour.

Rock on, Ancient Queen...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cougars

When I first started hearing about "cougars" in the context of older women dating younger men (as with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, pictured), I wondered how this could be okay when I had understood that older men dating younger women was not. Was there a double standard being applied here?

Well, based on some really unscientific research reported in today's Boston Globe, it looks like it may all be a moot point:

"If I do the age-appropriate [events,] I get tons of women," Trickett said. "When I do younger men and older women, I get tons of women. When I do younger women older men, I get tons of older men and I struggle to get the women."

"Sure, Demi Moore broke a mold, and I know a few couples - family members and friends of friends - who represent the highly publicized demographic of older women and younger men, but the dating industry will tell you that for the most part that demographic is a myth. Men still seek younger women, especially as those men get older themselves.

"It's the general rules, what happens when people hook up and go into a relationship," said Mark Brooks, an online dating industry consultant who runs Online Personals Watch. "With men dating women, it tends to be up to six years younger but it will only be up to two years older."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tidy Up!

Tom And Gisele Marry - Again!

Following up on a recent post, Tom and Gisele are getting married again:

"Word on the wedding front is that a number of Tom Brady’s teammates and some New England Patriot brass will be heading to Costa Rica next month to watch No. 12 and Gisele Bundchen tie the knot - again!

"Our locker room spies confirm that invites have gone out for an April wedding at Gisele’s getaway on the beach in Malpais on Costa Rica’s South Pacific Coast."
(Source: Boston Herald)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sara Jane Olson

"The first time I encountered the word 'kleptomaniac,' I asked my mother what it meant.

"She said, 'That’s what they call it when a rich person steals something.'” (Caitlin Flanagan, in today's New York Times.)

For those of us who lived through the scattered debris of the 1960s, the story of a radical extremist from that time who managed to evade authorities for decades still has a lot of resonance, and the issues of punishment and redemption are quite complicated:

"We should review, very briefly: Sara Jane Olson, née Kathleen Soliah, was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the ’70s militant group most notorious for both kidnapping the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and espousing a philosophy at one with the age: “Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.”

"Ms. Soliah robbed a bank in Carmichael, Calif., during which a mother of four was murdered, and a young pregnant bank teller was kicked in the belly and later had a miscarriage. According to Ms. Hearst, who has proved to be a reliable informant on the actions of the S.L.A. (and who was driving the getaway car), it was Ms. Soliah who did the kicking. Furthermore, bullets found in the dead woman’s body and scattered on the floor of the bank matched a gun found in a dresser drawer in Ms. Soliah’s room in the S.L.A. safehouse. Ms. Soliah was also part of a plot to murder Los Angeles police officers by placing pipe bombs packed with nails under two squad cars.

"Ms. Soliah was indicted, but then fled to Zimbabwe. Eventually, she returned under her new alias and married a well-to-do and highly respected doctor in St. Paul, where she became a pillar of the community and a mom of three straight-arrow children, and where she confined her terrorist activities to dinner theater. (She became an amateur actress, with a specialty in — God help us all — Shakespeare.)"

I recommend reading Caitlin Flanagan's entire Op-Ed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The New Fireside Chat

Franklin Roosevelt used radio, the prevailing medium of the day, to communicate directly with the American people and to reassure them during the dark days of the Great Depression.

President Obama, appearing on Jay Leno's show this week, is attempting to do the same kind of thing, using the prevailing medium of this day (if in fact there is only one).

Time will tell if this approach will be effective, but a whole lot more people were watching and responding to his engaging style than had it been a "Presidential Address."

"Town hall meetings and West Wing news conferences do not convey the notion that the president is one of us. Making jokes on a talk show and drawing simple analogies for complicated issues -- which he did with great skill as a candidate – were a way to reassure and befriend viewers. The White House tapped Mr. Leno because he is viewed as the voice of the average Joe. At times, Mr. Obama managed to out-everyman Mr. Leno. “I do think in Washington it’s a little bit like `American Idol," Mr. Obama said with a grin. “Except everybody is Simon Cowell.” (New York Times)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson 1963-2009


I was fortunate to have seen Natasha Richardson's performance as Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of "Cabaret:"

"Ms. Richardson’s Tony Award came in 1998, for best actress in a musical, for her performance as Sally Bowles, the gifted but desperately needy singer in decadent Weimar Berlin who is at the center of “Cabaret.”

"It was a remarkable award: Ms. Richardson’s strengths did not include singing. But her reinvention of a role that was created by Liza Minnelli proved that a performer could act a song as well as sing it and make it equally affecting.

“Ms. Richardson, you see, isn’t selling the song; she’s selling the character,” Ben Brantley, writing in The Times, said of her delivery of the title song. “And as she forges ahead with the number, in a defiant, metallic voice, you can hear the promise of the lyrics tarnishing in Sally’s mouth. She’s willing herself to believe in them, and all too clearly losing the battle.” (From today's New York Times.)

She was mesmerizing; I will never forget her.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Website Is Down

Much of the dialog on this video will sound painfully familiar to anyone who provides IT help as part of his or her job.

It's about 10 minutes long, but worth it in spite of the hyper-voices.

(Source: www.thewebsiteisdown.com)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

America's Next Top Model

In a weak moment one night last week, I watched the conclusion of last season's "America's Next Top Model."

This is the kind of thing that happens to a guy caught in that dreadful lull between football and baseball seasons, especially if he doesn't care about college basketball.

So having watched the show, I wasn't at all surprised to read the following in today's New York Times:

"An open casting call for the reality television program “America’s Next Top Model” turned into mayhem on Saturday afternoon in Midtown Manhattan. Fights broke out, three people were arrested and at least six others suffered minor injuries after they were pushed down in a crush of thousands of aspiring models waiting in line to be discovered."

What did surprise me as I watched the video, was how many of the hopefuls and their entourages continued to push forward in order to improve their place in line, instead of getting the frack out of there:


Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Home Improvement By Heineken

Whenever I watch HGTV, it's always the girl who's specifying what she'd like to see in her ideal home.

Typically, the guy stands by looking completely disengaged.

Heineken seems to be more in touch with the kind of upgrades guys would like to see.

Like a walk-in fridge or this automated beer delivery system:


On Not Doing Due Diligence

I think Joe Nocera asks an important question: should taxpayers bail out the investors who lost their money in the Madoff scandal?

“'These were people with a fair amount of money, and most of them sought no professional advice,” said Bruce C. Greenwald, who teaches value investing at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.

"Mr. Hedges said: 'It’s like trying to do your own dentistry. It is a real lesson that people cannot abdicate personal responsibility when it comes to their personal finances.'

"And that’s the point. People did abdicate responsibility — and now, rather than face that fact, many of them are blaming the government for not, in effect, saving them from themselves. Indeed, what you discover when you talk to victims is that they harbor an anger toward the S.E.C. that is as deep or deeper than the anger they feel toward Mr. Madoff. There is a powerful sense that because the agency was asleep at the switch, they have been doubly victimized. And they want the government to do something about it.

"I spoke, for instance, to Phyllis Molchatsky, who lost $1.7 million with Mr. Madoff — and is now suing the S.E.C. to recoup her losses, on the grounds the agency was so negligent it should be forced to pony up. Her story is sure to rouse sympathy — Mr. Madoff was recommended to her by her broker as a safe place to put her money, and she felt virtuous making 9 or 10 percent a year when others were reaching for the stars. The failure of the S.E.C., she told me, “is a double slap in the face.” And she felt the government owed her. Her lawyer, who represents several dozen Madoff victims, told me he “wouldn’t be averse” to a victims’ fund.

"Even Eli Wiesel thought the government should help the victims — or at least the charitable institutions among them. “The government should come and say, ‘We bailed out so many others, we can bail you out, and when you will do better, you can give us back the money,’ ” he said at the Portfolio event.

"But why?

"What happened to the victims of Bernard Madoff is terrible. But every day in this country, people lose money due to financial fraud or negligence. Innocent investors who bought stock in Enron lost millions when that company turned out to be a fraud; nobody made them whole. Half a dozen Ponzi schemes have been discovered since Mr. Madoff was arrested in December. People lose it all because they start a company that turns out to be misguided, or because they do something that is risky, hoping to hit the jackpot. Taxpayers don’t bail them out, and they shouldn’t start now. Did the S.E.C. foul up? You bet. But that doesn’t mean the investors themselves are off the hook.

"Investors blaming the S.E.C. for their decision to give every last penny to Bernie Madoff is like a child blaming his mother for letting him start a fight while she wasn’t looking."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dropkick Murphys

Martin Scorcese understands how much the Dropkick Murphys represent the real Boston, which is why he made their music such an integral part of "The Departed."

The group is playing several gigs around town this St Patrick's Day weekend, and recording their performances for an upcoming DVD.

For Boston sports fans especially, things just wouldn't be the same without them.

From today's Globe:

"Dropkick Murphys don't just play breakneck Celtic-punk music. They proudly and dutifully represent a lifestyle inextricably linked to Boston, and they lay it on as thick as clam chowder and JFK's accent.

"With their odes to the city's working class and anthems to our sports teams - to the roaring delight of raucous fans in Red Sox and Celtics jerseys - these guys embody the street-savvy flip side to what the tourism bureau peddles."

This video was shot in East Boston, an important part of the city's history for its shipbuilding past, but way off the radar screens of tourists and suburbanites:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On Increasing Church Attendance

I've been hearing a lot of negative stuff lately about the state of organized religion.

So it was refreshing to read in the Boston Globe today about how the presence of a new pastor has invigorated a church on Cape Cod and has drawn lapsed parishioners back into the fold.

'"She's good for God," agreed Norman Knight, a 79-year-old retired welder, one of about a hundred regular members of the church who now attend weekly."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Amy Adams Ever Ever After

It's really wonderful to read that with her Academy Award nomination, Amy Adams has joined the top tier of American actresses, "after a decade of odd jobs, Midwestern dinner theater and dead-end roles...a period of my life where I had to work several jobs to pay my bills. Something would go wrong and you'd have to take another job to get your car running. That was very real for me."

We first became aware of her in in "Enchanted," and loved her presence and charm as she channeled the magic of Disney Princesses, in the context of present-day Manhattan.

Have a look:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Read Your Kindle Library On Your iPhone/iTouch!

I just downloaded a new, free application from the iTunes App Store called "Kindle" that lets me read any book stored on my Kindle on my iTouch/iPhone.

And whenever I stop reading on one device, the other device has it bookmarked.

Brilliant! Now I can read with a backlighted screen when I need to, or when I don't have my Kindle with me.

Click here for more information from today's New York Times

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Perhaps Love

You're in the studio during the recording of a most amazing collaboration:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Snuggies Infestation

Like you, I've been really creeped out lately by all the Snuggies commercials I've been seeing. (Thank God for DVR and TiVo.)

I kind of expect an upcoming Snuggies commercial to include a pair of purple sneakers as a bonus with each purchase.

I mean really, would anyone -- even in Kansas -- go to their kid's soccer game in a Snuggie?

So it was quite refreshing to read about an intrepid New York Times reporter's account of being out and about in Manhattan in a blue Snuggie:

"My biggest fear was that I would be treated as some kind of doomsday zealot when I donned my Snuggie in Times Square. I have longish hair and a beard, and the Snuggie, with its generous draping sleeves, can appear from the front like a clerical gown. It seemed to shout: “Repent!”

"As I stood near the TKTS booth writing this thought in my notebook, I realized that: “Hey, I’m writing in my notebook while standing up wearing a blanket. These sleeves are handy.”

"Then a woman in red stockings who was promoting the musical “Chicago” came tap-dancing over to me. “You’ve got my favorite blanket on!” she said. She had forgotten its proper name. “It’s a, um, Huggy?”

She handed me a flier for the show, which I was able to take easily because Snuggie has sleeves. I did not have anywhere to put it, however, because Snuggie does not have pockets. As I twisted to reach for the back pocket of my pants, the clingy Snuggie pulled away from my shirt and discharged a powerful bolt of static onto a sensitive area of my chest.

"Ow!"