Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sex, Lawyers, and Video Games

What would happen if you threw a party and no one came? According to the New York Times, a group of lawyers found out.

A bunch of lawyers had filed a class-action suit on behalf of purchasers of the Grand Theft Auto–San Andreas video game who were offended by the embedded sex scenes. The terms of the settlement were that they would get either $5 or a replacement game with the sex scenes edited out.

Apparently, not many were too concerned. As it turns out, gratuitous sex no longer warrants outrage—or at least it doesn’t justify the 42-cent stamp to send in the claim.

After seeing Amanda Palmer perform at Symphony Hall with the Boston POPs, this doesn’t surprise me. While she is a talented musician and the show was a good deal of fun, it definitely wasn’t standard, G-rated POPs fare. While people who operate on auto-pilot pretty much get what they deserve, I kept thinking of those POPs regulars who had stumbled on the show and didn’t quite know what she was all about, especially during the particularly raunchy (well, they would have been raunchy if they weren’t so funny) semi-simulated sex scenes by the back-up singers, complete with dill pickles—the big kosher deli kind—during her rendition of “Don’t Tell Mama.” Well, in this case Mama (and Papa for that matter) knew, as they were there in the audience and couldn’t have been prouder of their little girl.

All in all, I’d say as a culture we’ve crossed some kind of a line.

Back to the Grand Theft Auto party. So, what does happen with a class-action-less lawsuit? The video game maker will pay out only about $30 thousand in claims and the lawyers will take the bulk of the $1.3 million settlement in fees after tying up the courts for a case no one wanted. That’s the real obscenity. Ca-ching.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What the...

OMG, the N.C. DMV is not LOL at their license plate snafu. Apparently, after issuing 10,000 plates with the three-letter combination WTF, the DMV got the 411 when a couple of text-saavy kids alerted their grandma that her license plate was not as innocent as she had thought.

Read it here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It would be a fashion crisis if, well, I cared

As a bit of backstory: When I came out of the closet, so to speak, and announced that I was leaving a career in finance to become a writer (well, it left me, but that's a minor technicality--that just speeded up the process) a colleague (and still a friend) asked me when I had decided to change careers. "Was it a couple of months ago, when you stopped cutting your hair?" And another friend, my dogwalker who has seen the inside of my home as much as I have sometimes, once commented on my "bohemian lifestyle." I think what she really meant was, "You know, there's such a thing as a broom."

Needless to say, now that I can wear what I want combined with the fact the I hate to shop, has led to the creation of what can only be described as my own sense of style: every day is casual Friday, some more casual than others.

Well, in the past couple of weeks, I have heard the following eerily similar, left-handed compliments:

Today, the photo intern where I copyedit, said, "Those are fantastic pants!" When I said thank you, she said, "Yeah, not too many people can wear such a bright shade of green, but on you they look good!" (Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day noticing other people's pants. None green, let alone bright green.)

And a couple of weeks ago, while working at Symphony Hall, a patron came up to me after the concert and said, "I love your glasses!" When I said thank you, he said, "Not too many people can get away with that look, but it works for you."

As Arlo Guthrie once said, if one person says something, maybe they're crazy. If two people say it, well...

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Consider how much more often you suffer from your anger and grief than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved."
~~Marcus Antonius

Saturday, June 21, 2008

City Snapshot

Happy first day of summer.

This morning, thanks to the MBTA, I found myself sitting on a park bench in the Boston Commons--my original plans derailed. Since I rarely find myself up, dressed, and out that early with no particular place to go, I sat drinking a cup of coffee and planning my unexpected free time.

There was an elderly man on the bench next to me. An old friend of his came up to him, pleasantly surprised to see him. They had this brief exchange, apparently not for the first time:

"Well, hello, Mr. Harvard, my old friend. Good to see you!"

"Yes, I went to Harvard. I went in the front door and out the back."

This is just disturbing

I work with a lot of twenty-somethings, which is an education in and of itself.

Last night, the downtime conversation was about drinking. One woman said that she heard from a college friend that the latest trend was for college girls to soak tampons in vodka and insert them. The logic, if you will, being that one can immediately get drunk.

This disturbs me on many levels, but mainly I just find it a little sad. As the woman who was telling this story said, "I drink a lot; I get drunk a lot. I set out to drink, but I never say, 'I'm going to get drunk.' " It's more than semantics, it's a difference of goals.

The way I see it, drinking can be fun, being drunk, not so much, and the next day, way not so much. Why anyone would cut to the chase is beyond me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Lyric of the Week

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain't got time for that now"

From "Life During Wartime" by the Talking Heads

Full lyrics

Watch it here

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"People may or may not say what they mean...but they always say something designed to get what they want."
~David Mamet

Monday, June 16, 2008

Karma. Or, ewwww! What's that smell?

One of the perks of city living in the summertime is the overheard snatches of conversation from people walking down the street.

The other day, three men were walking by, and, when they were in front of my window, they happened to be talking about picking up after their dogs. One said that he rarely does it, especially if it's late at night and he thinks no one is looking. He said that the rain washes it away, anyway. [It doesn't, except maybe in Disney movies, where everything sparkles after a sun shower and bluebirds put ribbons in your hair.]

Well, one day, he did get a payback. On his way to work he stepped in dog poop, which can be quite a mess especially with the right shoes. That was a bit of poop he had to pick up, and it wasn't even from his own dog.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Well, this is just funny

OK...I'm convinced. I'm voting Republican (NOT!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Lyric of the Week

"There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

From "Ripple" by the Grateful Dead
(Lyrics by Robert Hunter)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is it a caramel macchiato or a macchiato with caramel?

Another reason to hate Starbucks: They make it annoying to order macchiatos anywhere else.

A true macchiato is espresso with just a touch of foam. I happen to like it with a little caramel. No big deal: a caramel macchiato.

Unfortunately, at Starbucks, a caramel macchiato is nothing like that. Yeah, it has espresso and caramel, but it's ¾ milk. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want. And when I’m at Starbucks and that’s what I want, that’s what I order. (Although truth be told, I’ve never been able to quite figure out—not that I’ve stared at the ceiling nights worrying about it—what the difference is between a Starbuck’s macchiato and a latte.) But when I'm not at Starbucks, I don't want to be reminded of it.

I go to Starbucks reluctantly. I would much rather shop locally. With the exception of summertime, then it’s all about the caramel frappachinos. There’s a moral price to pay for the satisfaction--isn't that always the way. But that little moral dilemma is a story for another day.

I know of two places, one in Boston and one in New York, that not only make macchiatos, but that make them perfectly. (Berkeley Perk and NewsBar, in case you’re curious.) But when I order one, I have to ask for a macchiato with caramel (as opposed to a caramel macchiato) or risk being given the warning that this isn’t a Starbucks macchiato—just so I know. I know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Honor thy error as a hidden intention."
~I Ching

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Northwest, make that Northworst

I like traveling, really, I do. I used to like flying. Now, not so much. And when it comes to Northwest, not at all.

In the past couple of years, I don't think I've ever taken a Northwest flight that was on time, except for today. Figures.

It was the connecting flight home from Indiannapolis that was on time. The originating flight from Minneapolis was an hour late. It arrived at exactly the same time the connecting flight was scheduled to leave. When I got off the plane, the customer service rep that met the plane told me what gate the Boston flight was leaving and told me they were holding it, but to run or it would leave.

I started to run, and then said to myself, "Wait a minute. It's their fault it's late." I did walk fast. As I approached the gate, they announced it was the final boarding call for me (by name). So I did run then. The woman at the gate was motioning to me to hurry or they would leave without me. I reminded her that it was, after all, their fault: It was their flight that had been late in the first place.

She said that she had to get special permission from her supervisor to hold the plane because they were concerned about their flights being on time.

C'mon. I told her, as she was hurrying me onto the plane, that she had to be kidding. But apparently, they have so few flights that are on time, that they'd rather inconvenience their passengers, not to mention pay the hotel bill to spend the night (it was the last flight), rather than hold a flight for two minutes. Talk about scrounging for stats.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Foreclosure woes...well...

Having heard story after story of real people with real housing woes, I'm real hardpressed to come up with sympathy tears for Evander Holyfield.

The boxer and marketer of the Real Deal Grill is in a real deal of financial trouble. He is behind in his $3,ooo month child support payments. (That is, or was, one lucky kid. $3k buys an awful lot of Cheerios.) And his $10 million house is being foreclosed. The house sports 107 rooms including three kitchens, 17 bathrooms, and a bowling alley. C'mon. Maybe he should have invested in some sound financial planning advice instead.

(Read about it on

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Lyric of the Week

"Lately I've been talking in my sleep,
I can't imagine what I'd have to say."

From "Running on Faith," by Eric Clapton
(lyrics by Jerry Lynn Williams)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"There are two insults no human being will endure: that he has no sense of humor, and that he has never known trouble."
~ Sinclair Lewis

Monday, June 2, 2008

Well, this is just funny

The national spelling bee: If there was ever a case for clarity, or using the word in a sentence, this is it...

The word is...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

LSA Anaconda

So, after posting the last entry, I was curious about LSA Anaconda. It is an airbase 50 miles north of Baghdad in the city of Balad. According to James Gordon, who has a page of photos on, it is known for having the only 35-mm projection screen theater and full-size swimming pool in Iraq. (Not to beat a dead horse, but, again, why can't they get more recent movies than the 1983 Superman 3?????)

To view James Gordon's photos: view photos here

January 2008, "crazycarl82" posted some photos and videos taken in 2004: view photos here

Iraq 2008 and Red Sox Opening Day 1987

I recently found in my inbox an article, a letter-from-Iraq-type missive, from an army chaplain who talked about the goings-on during a recent movie night at LSA Anaconda. Before the showing of Superman 3 [can’t they get them more recent movies?], as is the custom, the soldiers stood at attention while a recording of the national anthem played. The recording got stuck and stopped halfway through. The soldiers remained at attention and the recording was restarted, and again it stopped. Instead of giving up and sitting down for the movie, the soldiers finished the song, 1,000 voices strong, and then sat down.

The chaplain writing this wanted people to know how moved he was by the integrity of the men and women serving overseas. It’s a nice story, but in the telling he speculates, somewhat sanctimoniously, on what would have happened if this had occurred here in the States. He writes: “I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments; and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.” I’m not so sure.

Sherman, set the way-back machine to a brilliantly sunny April day in 1987—the opening day Red Sox game. This was the year after they won the AL pennant, which back then when the curse was in full force was more than anyone could have dared to expect, so even though that’s as far as they went, they were champions to us. (Well, all except Buckner, maybe, but time heals all wounds, or at least puts them in perspective. But I digress.) In addition to being naive in our expectations and not having an all-or-nothing view of success (well, we were just tired of always losing), it was a different time. This was in the glory days of the ‘80s, before the Republicans co-opted the flag and when a “patriot” act may have actually had something to do with patriotism.

Anyway, they had a big pregame ceremony, and, since they were playing Toronto, after they had everyone on the field and gave out rings and had speeches, a woman, I forget who, took the microphone on the field and everyone stood for the singing of the Canadian national anthem with the words rolling by on the scoreboard. Everyone clapped, and she walked away. Then there was an extended silence. Everyone looked around, the players on the field were all uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do; they were shuffling their feet and joking with each other. Finally, they got the signal and all walked off the field, and it looked like the game was about to start.

Well, those in the stands would have no part of it. The people around me were all in disbelief, “They forgot!” was the common assumption. It started with pockets of people here and there, but pretty soon, everyone was on their feet singing the national anthem. Without music, a singer, or words to prompt them. When the singing stopped, an announcement flashed on the scoreboard. It turned out that the singer for the American national anthem had been stuck in traffic. A decision apparently was made that no one would notice if, rather than admit that their well-thought out program had hit a snag, they just skipped it and started the game.

They were wrong.
[A note on the photos: Yes, that's me, is all I can say is that it was the 80s, curling irons were in. Although I showed more restraint than the guy in front of me, who I shouldn't dis since he and his friends were responsible for taking the pictures.]