Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Hen House - Newmarket Square in Boston

Props to a kinda hidden restaurant near Newmarket Square.

The Hen House

I think they have been open for over a year now, and it's my new guilty pleasure when I want to indulge in an entirely unnecessary meal of fried chicken and a delicious cornbread waffle.

Ironically enough, I went there for a late lunch after my workout, where today I weighed in 24 pounds lower than I was when I started my diet on Feb 1st.

What better way to celebrate weight loss with fried chicken and waffles?!

I have been there three or four times, and the place is always empty, which makes me concerned for their business. It has nothing to do with the food - it's delicious. Amazing breading on the fried chicken, a great selections of dipping sauces, and to-die-for freshly made waffles with whipped butter and syrup. So good. So bad for you...but so good.

I think their location isn't front-and-center, and there's very little parking in the vicinity.

Eating at the restaurant is a better idea than bringing it home, as the one time I had takeout, the waffle was a bit soggy by the time I feasted, probably a result of the heat having nowhere to escape.

I'm sure there are better fried chicken places hidden throughout the city, and joints that serve better collard greens and mac & cheese, but The Hen House does an admirable job with their speciality - fried chicken and waffle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs - Under the Covers, Vol. 2

It might be a bit old skool of me, but I love learning about new music by reading magazines. I learn what's being released, read the review, and then find the music on itunes.

Sure, I read a few music blogs and listen to Pandora which are also helpful in finding new music. But given the captivating powers magazines have on me during my workouts, I find that my time investment in periodicals sends me searching for music frequently.

Last week, I learned that Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs (from The Bangles) released a new CD of 70's cover tunes called Under the Covers, Vol. 2. While googling for information about the album, I learned that their first volume of this sort, covering 60's songs, had only sold 32,000 copies since its release in 2006. As a result, I'm a bit surprised that this project was greenlit and funded, but I'm thrilled that it was.

I have been a Matthew Sweet fan since 1991. For me, his albums Girlfriend and Altered Beast are two of the quintessential albums of my college years. I saw him play at Lupo's in Providence back in '93 or '94, and remember him pleasing the crowd with two separate encore sets of four songs each.

In the years since, I've found myself enjoying a song or two from each of Matthew Sweet's subsequent releases, but nothing struck me like those two albums.

So I previewed some of the tracks in itunes, and found myself liking almost everything from Under the Covers, Vol. 2. His and Susannah's harmonies are killer, and their terrific song choices make sense - lots of 70's power pop.

Among my favorites:

The Raspberries - Go All the Way
Todd Rundgren - Hello, It's Me
Yes - I've Seen All Good People
Blondie - Dreaming
Derek & The Dominos - Bell Bottom Blues

Susanna sings lead on Bell Bottom Blues, and it's very cool to hear a female voice interpret this one.

The Blondie track is on the deluxe edition of the album, which I didn't realize was available until I had already downloaded the full "regular" release, so I picked up that song and Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." I also circled back to the Volume 1 release, and found "The Kids Are Alright" by The Who, "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young, and "Monday, Monday" by The Mamas and The Papas as standout tracks worthy of purchase.

I'm assuming they will tour in support of the album, so I need to investigate a bit more. If so, and if they find themselves here in Boston, I'll be one of the first in line for tickets!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cardio and Softball

I had a great day of activity yesterday - 70 minutes of cardio at the gym, followed by a 2-for-3 day at our final softball game, where we clinched second place under the lights and amid the gnats of Boston Common.

Surprisingly, I ended up batting .467 during league play and .500 in the 7 games of the Philly tournament. Actually, after my 1-for-5 start during my first two games, I hit .513. Granted it's softball, and averages are usually inflated a bit in recreation leagues, but I'm happy to see that I contributed and that my high school batting gloves still have hits in them.

I love the aerobic equipment at the gym because it allows for exercise in a comfortably heated or air conditioned environment and doesn't kill my knees. I'm pretty amazed how the simple entertainment of an ipod, magazines, and iphone apps can keep me entertained at the gym for so long. Usually after 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, my feet start becoming a bit numb and I switch over to the exercise bike for another half hour, all while playing games such as Peggle, Bejeweled, and Bookworm - all incredibly addictive. Somehow yesterday, I stuck with the elliptical for 45 minutes because I was engrossed in a GQ article. Figures.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why I Still Use The Club and Wear Tevas

I have never pretended to be the most fashionable, nor most current human walking the historic streets of Boston. While I'm not stuck in the 80's with my fashion or technology - I don't exactly saunter around with my cassette walkman wearing parachute pants and a neon mesh tank top - I do believe in getting full value from my products, goods, and services, and combine that with buying some fancier devices such as iPhones, DSLR cameras, and MacBooks.

For example, I love eating leftovers. I was raised this way, it's practical, it's economical, and it reduces waste. I usually cook for multiple meals and divide portions for future lunches and dinners. Why waste good food?

I also drive cars until they go no longer. In my 18+ years of legal driving, I have owned exactly three cars, and I hope to drive my current 2003 model-year vehicle for a few more years as I own it outright, and there are only about 74,000 miles on it.

As a security measure, I still use The Club on my car, to the consternation of my friends. I bought this exact Club in 1991 for my first car, and have been using it ever since. While I cannot prove that this device has dissuaded burglars from breaking into my vehicle, I figure that it can;t hurt. Why try to steal the car with a Club on the stealing wheel, when other cars are easier to snatch? I realize that Clubs are not foolproof, and that it's a technology from the 80's or 90's, but mine works perfectly well, and it takes seconds to engage it.

My stereo speakers and receiver are from 1994, and still work perfectly fine. I have them hooked up to my 40" LCD television. Technology has far surpassed my setup, and I have been very close to purchasing surround-sound systems many times during the past decade-and-a-half. But, I haven't. Someday. For now, what I use suits my living room viewing and listening pleasure. The TV in my office is a 32" Sony Trinitron CRT, purchased as a $900 indulgence from Sears in 1998. It's very heavy and bulky, but it still works. I don't use it much, and it's not necessary to replace it at the moment. So again, why bother.

The shoes that are presently on my feet are Teva sandals, also purchased in 1998. I love Tevas - great traction and support, comfortable, and good for light hiking on dry and wet ground. They are practical and apparently extremely unfashionable in 2009. I don't think they are unfashionable, but a number of my friends certainly do. They kind of look like this model currently available for purchase from They are still producing them, and people are still buying them, so I'm going to continue wearing this perfectly good vintage pair.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Veto List - Hood Half & Half

What a way to start out a week. Monday morning, coffee brewing in the french press, checking email while waiting for it to brew, anticipating the caffeine rush of that first cup.

After pressing the plunger and pouring the delicious concoction into my mug, I added some half & half. As it hit the coffee, I noticed tiny splashes, swirls, and bubbles as the cream and coffee became homogeneous. I looked away for a moment to continue reading a message.

When I took a glance back at my coffee mug, I noticed a layer of curdled cream atop the now-ruined perfect cup.


I checked the expiration date for the half & half - August 25th. Over a month away.

I gave it the sniff test...and it failed.

What gives? This stinks. Literally.

The last time this happened, my friend recommended that I purchase organic dairy products. I was a bit hesitant at the slightly higher price tab, but I bought a quart of organic milk that - no joke - stayed fresh until a few days after expiration.

For this reason, Hood milk and cream (or technically, HP Hood LLC's milk and cream) is officially the first non-restaurant on the Veto List. Originally, I thought to veto the entire dairy, but realized that I love their cottage cheese and have never had issue with it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Overheard at Carson Beach in Southie

Intelligent 10 year old child, speaking to his obviously less wise mother, forcing him to pose for pictures:

"I am NOT getting in that water. That water is brown and dirty. YOU get in it!"

Aaaah, Dorchester Bay.
And the wisdom of children.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Casey Kasem - Retiring from the Radio

I just read the news that after 39 years on the radio, this Saturday's broadcast will be Casey Kasem's final countdown.

This news is probably going to be missed by many, given the Michael Jackson coverage.

Back in 2004, Casey switched from hosting American Top 40 to the more adult-oriented Top 20 and Top 10 versions of the countdown, as Ryan Seacrest assumed hosting duties of the Top 40 flagship.

That's the same year I met Casey at Clear Channel's programming meetings held annually back when they actually had money. I believe they were held in Dallas that year, and think I was flying in from a project in Minneapolis or Milwaukee (I'm pretty sure it was Milwaukee). Back in my Airworld days, many cities and hotels blended together in my mind.

I distinctly remember hearing from my co-worker that there were going to be celebrities at the cocktail parties and performance sessions. I had been eyeing a Sony DSC-T1 super-flat 5 megapixel camera, and purchased it on impulse on the way to the airport. That camera actually resuscitated my interest in photography, so Casey Kasem is partially to thank for that.

According to its file name, this photo was the 34th picture ever taken with my DSC-T1, which has since kicked the bucket and been replaced by a fancier DSLR.

During our brief moments together, I mentioned to Casey that I lived in Boston. I believe he said that his daughter attended or was attending BU. I forget which it was - I think I was transfixed by the bronze color of his face.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Why have I never heard of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough ice cream until now?

While my frozen dessert shop of late has been Coldstone Creamery, I found myself in a B&J last night after dinner on Newbury St.

Without fail, my eye is always drawn toward desserts featuring chocolate and peanut butter. It's an amazing combination that has followed me forever. I'm guessing that the 15 pounds I'd like to lose could be attributed to all of the peanut butter-based desserts I have eaten over the course of my lifetime.

Walking into the B&J wasn't an accident; we walked past on the way to dinner, and left room for ice cream afterward. Surveying the list of flavors, I found this one in mere moments. I didn't even need a free taste, but of course I ordered one.

Although chocolate-peanut butter desserts do it for me, I tend to gravitate toward vanilla-based ice creams when combining with peanut butter. At Coldstone, it would be cake batter or vanilla with peanut butter and Reese's mix-ins.

Here at B&J, they use malt ice cream according to their website. One word for the combination - delicious!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Protesting New England

I had an esteemed high school English teacher who told me once that when a conversation shifts to the weather, that he walks away because all other subjects have, therefore, been exhausted.

Unfortunately, it is hard to escape weather conversations in Boston these days. June was a wash, and heretofore, July has been worse.

Until the weather changes improves, I refuse to look out the windows any more.

Rosie will have to go on wee wee pads. I'm not going outside either.

I'm bunkering down and looking at Hawaii pics until July actually arrives here in the Northeast. If I hadn't traveled to Kaua'i in May, I'd probably be as miserable and curmudgeonly as the rest of the city is.