Thursday, January 31, 2008

Green Line Flying By

Green Line Flying By, originally uploaded by southiejason.

For Christmas, I received a great news lens for my camera - a Canon 70-300mm zoom lens with Image Stabilizer. Unfortunately, I have not had much of an opportunity to use it around town. It's easier to take pictures when a) I have time to kill, and b) it's not frigid.

Which put me in the position I'm in today. That is - I'm leaving for the Super Bowl tomorrow, and I do not feel comfortable with this lens yet. I definitely want to have this lens on my camera during the game, as the closeness of the zoom is far superior to the 18-55mm lens I bought with the camera.

I don't think it will be much of an issue, as the field and stadium will be lit up clear as day, and I shouldn't have to worry about screwing up nighttime shots. Even with the Image Stabilizer, though, I would prefer to have had more practice.

I just cleaned off my memory card, and found this shot that I took on the same night as The Publick House escapade. I love the way it turned out - a touch eerie, and enough blur to suggest (correctly) motion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New albums - Matt Costa and Shelby Lynne

I haven't posted about new music much lately, probably because I have almost completely adjusted my buying patterns away from full albums, and toward a la carte songs that are the new way music is being consumed these days.

Purchasing a CD always felt like a commitment - spending money on a tangible item that you had to physically load into a player to hear. With itunes, now it's all point and click, nothing to hold and touch. Imagine having a list of grocery store items, pointing and clicking on whatever you want, and having those exact items appear in your kitchen seconds later (actually, that would rock).

What I love about picking and choosing only the songs that I want, is how much this process has diminished the amount of crap CD's I have. Gone are the days of buying a whole CD for a couple tracks, not listening to any of the other songs, and realizing that the only two good ones were the ones you knew.

Along that line, now when I do download a full album, it's almost never a regret any more. Combining that with some new releases that I have been anticipating, and the overall music purchasing process is now highly efficient.

I downloaded a couple full new release albums this week, and pre-ordered another one (Jack Johnson) that's coming out next week. I realize that defeats the purpose of previewing tracks, but I have loved everything Jack has released.

First off - new Matt Costa album. I threw all of the tracks into my active ipod playlist, which I have found is one of the best ways to become familiar with them....letting them simply come up along side the rest of what I'm currently listening to. I did the same thing with Matt's last CD "Songs We Sing," which I warmed up to over the course of a few weeks and then realized that it was one of my favorite releases of 2006. "Unfamiliar Faces" is more of the same sound, so I'm into it.

The other album I downloaded is Shelby Lynne's new one. She is one of my favorites, hands down. What a voice - blues, heartache, and emotion in every song. Branded conveniently and inaccurately as a country singer, Shelby's songs have absolutely no twang or Nashville. I literally just downloaded it before bed last night, but the little that I heard is perfect. It doesn't hurt that nine of the tracks are Dusty Springfield covers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Game over - a Camel picked The Giants

A fairly obvious way to get a story picked up by news outlets everywhere is to title it "Camel picks Giants to win Super Bowl".
Thank you Associated Press.

Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom

Somehow, I ended up singing this at Jeanie Johnston's karaoke night on Saturday, officially marking my US karaoke debut. I thought it was a good choice - an easy, familiar song with limited range and fun lyrics, most of which I knew without staring at the screen.

Last time we were there, I was all queued up to take down Beverly Hills by Weezer, but I bailed before submitting my song slip to the DJ.

My only other karaoke appearance was at Superclubs Breezes on Cable Beach in the Bahamas about 12 years ago. That night, I took on "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick, and have been reminded of that performance every time I have heard it on the radio since.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Our Super Bowl Seats

We're sitting in section 124, about half way up from the field.
Pretty sweet.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston, originally uploaded by southiejason.

Last night during Rosie's final walk of the day, we went down to the sidewalk along the beachfront in Southie. The wind was really whipping around, much more than I had expected yesterday.

Perhaps if I think about summer, and browse through warmer-weather pictures, these dark, cold nights will soon become days of the past.

I took this shot last summer on a ride back from Spectacle Island, and it has received decent traffic on my Flickr site. I do love the sailboat in the foreground, and the glimpse of the low sun as it sets in the West behind the skyscrapers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm going to the Super Bowl

Somehow, I'm going to the Super Bowl.

I got the call last night, asking if I wanted to accompany my cousin Kyle to the game. I don't know the full back story, but it appears that my extended family have the rights to two tickets given the longevity of their Giants season tickets.

No idea where the seats will be, but as long as they are inside the stadium, it doesn't matter!

My uncles, who normally go to the games at The Meadowlands, are not going to Glendale. One of their sons (my cousin), however is going. My other uncle's sons passed on the other ticket, and it appears that I am next in line.

It certainly doesn't hurt that my cousin goes to Bentley College, is of legal drinking age, and that we can simply travel together out of Logan.

So for much of last night after 10pm, I scrambled to book travel. Quite amazingly, I was able to use frequent flier miles and hotel points to cover everything for both of us. I still can't believe I was able to swing that, since hotels around and airfares to Phoenix for Super Bowl weekend are understandably absurd. It would have been gut-wrenching to stomach $500 a night for a crappy Ramada Inn.

It has been a surreal month for me in regards to watching football. Add one more to that pile.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bridget Moynahan mask

I happened to catch this story online today.

WAXQ - Q 104.3, a classic rock station in New York, has received some press for directing its listeners to download a Bridget Moynahan mask and wear it in the stands at the Super Bowl to psych out Tom Brady.

Love it. Hysterical.

I used to work with this radio station for YEARS, conducting much of their research for the better part of a decade. They were one of my favorite client stations, and I loved watching their ratings and esteem within the Tri-State area grow exponentially. They reflect the many local communities in NY, NJ, and CT quite well, and are much more than a classic rock jukebox, focusing on remaining relevant and staying in close contact with their huge audience. Their programming and air staffs are great broadcasting pros who were always a pleasure to work with

What Did One Parking Meter Say to the Other?

I need a punchline for this. It's a photo of a couple parking meters in Harvard Square, and it really looks like they are talking to each other (that is, if parking meters had the ability to speak).

Any suggestions?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Totally Beside Myself

I still can't believe that my dream matchup of Pats-Giants is indeed going to be a reality. These are indeed the best teams in each league.

When you beat the #1 and #2 seeded teams on your way to the Super Bowl, that's quite an accomplishment. The Giants totally outplayed the Packers yesterday. While it ended as a thriller, the Giants could have won this game in convincing style during regulation. Nonetheless, what an amazing football game.

I follow three teams in all of sports - the Yankees, the Giants, and the Pats. I could care less about basketball and hockey.

The first two I grew up watching, and the latter I adopted at the midpoint of my life. It has never been a conflict to watch the Giants and Pats. Never, until this season.

It's a great problem to have, and after a moment of thought, I decided that my full allegiance does indeed remain with the Giants. Stick with the team you have cheered for the longest.

But I don't hate the Pats one bit. Their season has been nothing short of amazing, and it has been fun to watch. Boston sports are hotter than ever, and it's nice to have the rest of the country's attention.

This is the first time that I truly watch and follow and cheer for both teams in a major championship. But my heart is with the Giants.

I am a bit amused at the results of the poll on the New York Daily News' website this morning...but I have to remember the audience. for the record, I voted Patriots in a close game. I'm not an idiot.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pats - Giants...Cross Your Fingers

My family raised me to watch and root for the New York Giants. My uncle has great seats at Giants Stadium, and has held on to the tickets (technically in my father's name) for decades. I usually end up at a game or two each season, but for some reason this year never got the call. Hmmm.

In the 80's and very early 90's, they were often the solace to a consistently underperforming Yankees team. Super Bowl wins against Denver and Buffalo, the latter one which I remember watching during a party that we hosted in our hotel room during a high school ski trip, everyone screaming "Giants" in unison as Scott Norwood of the Bills pushed the potential game-winning field goal wide right.

The Giants made a surprising (but unsuccessful) appearance in another Super Bowl during the 2000-2001 season, another year few gave them credit for being a dominant team. They walked into the NFC Championship game as underdogs against the Vikings, and scored two touchdowns before the first pee break. 27 more points later, and they shut them out 41-0.

Ever since college, I have been able to cheer for both the Pats and the Giants. They rarely played each other during the year, and being that I have lived for much of the better part of 17 years in New England, I qualified.

During the final regular season game this year, I was finally forced to make a decision. I went with the Giants. Along with most other Giants fans, I believe that their decision to play their starters and play them hard during that game is what has propelled them to where they now stand.

Here's why I would love to see Giants - Pats.

I think Philip Rivers is as much of a bonehead as Patriots Nation does. The Giants drafted him as a first round pick a few years ago, and then traded him to San Diego after Eli, who was drafted by the Chargers, basically refused to sign with SD and was sent to the Giants. Ever since, both quarterbacks had led their teams to similar annual conclusions - early playoff exits twice, and now their respective conference championship games. Eli kept his nose clean and suffered the brutality of the NY media and fans over his lack of poise and confidence, and somehow got the Giants to this point this year. While I don't know much about how Philip is perceived in Southern California, I remember him behaving like a crybaby and whiner after the Pats beat him last year to advance to the Super Bowl.

Every possible Super Bowl matchup besides Packers - Chargers would be an interesting one.

Pats - Giants? No brainer - Boston - NY, with the turnabout in full effect and the Giants playing the role as underdog spoiler to the Pats obvious dominance. (I suppose these days, the Yankees would also be the underdog)

Pats - Packers? Who doesn't like Brett Favre, especially after his performance this season, a year he should have been watching on his sofa or as a TV analyst. This would truly be the two best teams in the big game.

Giants - Chargers? Eli vs Philip Rivers. A Manning in the Super Bowl again, just not Peyton. QB's who were traded for one another.

Packers - Chargers? Who cares...everyone would want the Pack to win. You bet FOX would hate this matchup as the network broadcasting the game.

So, here's for an exciting Sunday, and for two full weeks of anticipating the Patriots and Giants in the Super Bowl.

I almost forgot why I wrote about this. I happened to see a couple links to this item on NE Wisconsin's FOX affiliate's website, FOX 11. Seems Eli watched Seinfeld before each game, so the local affiliate decided not to broadcast the syndicated Seinfeld episode on Saturday night. I'm sure someone will bring a laptop and buy Eli the DVD's. We should be all set.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Magic in Southie

Something magical happened this morning in Southie. It was borderline surreal.

There were tons of unmarked parking spots AND still some snow on the ground.

Last night during my 10pm-ish walk with Rosie, there were still many parking spot markers clinging to their small stamps of blacktop.

During this morning's walk, however, there were ample spaces from which to choose.

It's almost as if the Snow Parking Regulations Fairy sent a text message to everyone in Southie overnight, asking them to feel confident about leaving for the day without marking their spots.

Or, some bold early-risers this morning stuck their collective middle fingers up at the remaining parking savers, brazenly communicating that it's time for a Southie street reset.

I doubt the city drove around this morning and collected the space savers sometime between 6am and 7am. I believe, the few times they have done that in my time in Southie, it has been a midday activity.

But of course, there are still some hanging to the past and not relinquishing their public street spots. Not embracing change and progress....kind of the selfish right-wing conservatives of the Southie resident parking world.

But, it appears that the public has spoken, and mob mentality reigned once again.

Stand on the sidewalk and look up in the sky...passersby will do the same.

Slow down to watch a car crash on the highway's shoulder, others will do the same (by choice or otherwise).

Begin the trend of removing your trash bins and plastic chairs....and it seems others will do the same!

Neighbors in Southie - nice job!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Even Dogs Can Get Shafted During Snow Parking

Unfortunately, Snoopy arrived home in Southie a bit too late, and discovered that a grey sedan had thrown his blue parking spot marker aside.
He would have shanked the tires if he had thumbs, but unfortunately, all he could do was sit and stare

Monday, January 14, 2008

People in Order

I stumbled across this video earlier, and found it kind of awesome. It's people ages 1 to 100, in ascending order, banging a drum.

C'mon WBZ 1030

It's the year 2008. You should be directing your listeners to your website for the list of school cancellations, and then moving on to coverage of the storm, football, or stabbings in the city.

When you announce that "the list of school cancellations is over 500 long," (and that you're about to read that full list....) you're not exactly enticing me to want to stick around for my traffic on the 3's.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Still in shock

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Melting Pot restaurant

Last night, we ventured outside of the city for dinner, landing at The Melting Pot in Framingham. Good thing we made reservations - the place was PACKED, and tables don't exactly turn over quickly at fondue restaurants.

There were six of us, and we went all out - ordering their deluxe fondue package called The Big Night Out. With drinks, tax, and tip, it wasn't exactly cheap ($85 per person), but it was certainly an interesting experience, fun conversation, and good food.

As part of The Big Night Out, we had two cheese fondues, salad, two entree fondues, and two chocolate fondues.

Without question, the chocolate fondues were the highlight of the meal. Dunking toasted marshmallows, rice krispies treats, cheesecake, and strawberries in a chocolate-peanut butter fondue was just about the best dessert I have eaten in months. I would go back there just for the dessert. The server even asked if we needed any more dessert items for dunking (of course we did....more marshmallows and rice krispies treats!)

The cheese fondues were also excellent. We had the Mediterranean Cheese Fondue (with fontina and gruyere cheeses, garlic, dates, shallots, and truffle oil) and the Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue (being that Ryan was there, and he's a Wisconsinite). Both tasty and great ways to begin the meal.

By the time we were walking out, we had been there for 3 1/2 hours! Nobody rushed us, no pressure to leave, and, therefore, we left a good tip!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hand Gesture on Mass Ave

Rides home along Mass Ave. are usually uneventful, save a few unsynchronized lights, dodging of pedestrians, and swerving around double-parked cars.

Today, traffic was quite backed-up, likely because of the block between Columbus Ave. and the medical center being completely dark (it's safe to assume that there was a power outage).

When I was stopped at the crosswalk near the orange line stop, I witnessed a brief unexpected simple hand gesture that did not involve a single middle finger.

A woman crossed right in front of my car, to be followed by a late 20- or early 30-something dude who, in mere seconds, stared at me, pointed at her, um, backside, then gestured with his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, touching his mouth with all three at once as if to tell me that his view was, well, quite delicious.

I'm not sure why he felt compelled to tell this to me, a random stopped motorist. But, I'm glad he felt that he had someone to share it with.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Last Word of the Boston Garbage

I just woke up and, while still groggy, heard the dulcet tones of WGBH's news updates that punctuate 92.9 WBOS' "All Music Morning" program (n.b. not quite "all music," now, is it?)

WGBH mentioned that The Boston Globe was reporting on the extant trash in the streets, and that "residents are now noticing." This was a front-page story at today.

While nobody at The Globe cited my postings this week, two other Southie residents were quoted. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mt. Vesuvius at night

Mt. Vesuvius at night, originally uploaded by southiejason.

Being that garbage has been a theme at Platinum Elite, I found it interesting to spot this news story on about a Trash Crisis in Naples, Italy and the surrounding area.

I can attest to the garbage pile issues in that region of Italy. In late September, we drove from Pompeii to Castellammare di Stabia, which was directly across from Mount Vesuvius, the monster volcano in this photo.

We decided to take an alternate route through some of the local cities during the drive.

Good thing it was daylight. Well, good and bad.

Good because we felt safer navigating a sketchier part of Italy that wasn't exactly a tourist haven.

Bad because we drove past mountains and mountains of garbage - trash piles like I had never seen before on city streets.

And they were endless. Not some rogue neighbor who put all of his refuse out a day late. This had to have been weeks of garbage just lying there, festering. It was quite the scene (which I neglected to photograph - this pic is from the MSNBC story).

Imagine seeing scenes like this everywhere. Southern Italy seems to have trash issues quite often.

Quite different from the rolling hills of Tuscany we had seen just days prior!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Someone Left a Cake Out

I grabbed my camera again this morning to see if I really did see a chocolate cake sitting outside on the street yesterday, and if I did, was it still there?

Rosie and I took a walk down the street on which I recalled having seen the cake. Sure enough, it was still there. And it's not a mini-cake or anything, it's a standard 8-10" round one.

I always wondered what the heck Donna Summer was singing about in MacArthur Park ...

Someone left the cake out in the rain

and I don't think that I can take it

'cause it took so long to bake it

and I'll never have that recipe again

I kind of still don't get the song, but can safely say that I truly never thought I would have a moment such as this. I suppose all we need is some rain, and the song would apply even more.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Garbage on the Streets of Southie

Here's my dilemma.

I would love to grumble about all of the trash, sand and chocolate cakes (no joke) I see on the streets of Southie during my dog walks.

But I realize that extending street cleaning beyond the April 1st - November 30th period (as posted on local signs) requires money, which will, therefore, raise my taxes.

And I'm not convinced that if I paid more in taxes, it would be used for a) year-round street cleaning, or b) actual improvement in the quantity of trash not left laying around.

There's just a ton of crap on the streets and in the gutter these days, and I'm kind of tired of seeing it.

If it's not an empty egg carton, it's losing lottery tickets.

If it's not a Bud Light 12-pack cardboard case, it's improperly disposed full poop bags.

If it's not a couple empty Omaha Steaks boxes, it's a plastic milk jug.

Piles of sand.

Dead Christmas trees.

Doggie remains, just left there by pet owners.

Who is responsible for improving this? More diligent residents? A year-round city street cleaning system? Better (i.e. more complete) garbage pickup by the sanitation department?

Walking in Southie is not pleasant during this time of year, especially with a curious dog who loves sniffing everything.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Peace, Love, and Understanding

There's a channel on XM Radio called Fred (Channel 44), which plays alternative music from the late 70's through about 1993 (which a particular exclusion of anything remotely grunge). It's one of those channels that even stumps me with some of the tunes they dig up.

Having worked in alternative rock radio in the early 90's, we played a lot of these songs, so listening to Fred usually elicits a few memories and "oh, wow" moments.

Last week, they were playing the "Fred Essentials," counting down over 2,000 alternative hits from the "Fred Era." If I do listen to my XM Radio, it's at my desk at work.

Listening to Fred inspired me to add a bunch of early 80's alternative to my regular itunes playlist - notably some great music by New Order, The Jam, Talking Heads, and an artist that caused me to have a "moment" at the gym this evening, Elvis Costello.

I was on the elliptical machine, toward the end of my 30 minutes, and on shuffled "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," one of his most well-known songs, a song I played on the radio many times, and a song I have heard often since - basically one I'm quite familiar with.

I'm not sure what clicked for me when it rocked into my ears, but it was one of those moments where the perfect song came on at the perfect time. Friday night, ready for the weekend, and one of the most inspiring 3 minutes and 31 seconds I have had in days.

I don't know why this song at that moment. It just kind of happened.

I listened to it twice in a row, and would have sung out loud if I wasn't amidst sweaty onlookers.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Departing Cruise Ship

Departing Cruise Ship, originally uploaded by southiejason.

I just uploaded a bunch of older photos to my Flickr site, then titled and tagged them all.

I have a few great aerial shots of the Boston metro, all of which seem quite popular among Flickr browers. But this picture was my most viewed yesterday.

It's the Maasdam, a cruise ship that docks at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal here in Southie, and seems to depart on Sunday afternoons when it's not 4 degrees outside. I recall seeing it at port a number of times. Both times that we were hanging out on Spectacle Island on summertime Sunday afternoons, I remember watching it sail out to sea.

I took this picture during our approach to Logan (the grey thing in the lower left corner is part of the airplane's engine). Flying into Logan on a clear day is always an interesting view, especially when your flight is well-timed to catch a large cruise ship just having departed.

Shamelessly Wasteful Today

It's mornings like our 2 degree one today that I embrace my remote car starter and heated seats with a brazen lack of green-ness.