27 February 2013

Pricey Time

Have you seen the new line of Swiss-made watches from Fossil? They are very attractive, and Fossil manufactures watches under license for a number of fashion and luxury brands including Burberry, Michael Kors, Skagen, Michele, and others.

The problem is that these watches retail for $900, and that's for a quartz movement. (There is one automatic model at that price.) That's a lot of money for something that most people won't be able to distinguish from a $100 watch you can buy at Macy's. I'm not saying that a brand name is more important than quality, but if you are interested in quality, there are excellent watches that cost significantly less.

One of my favorite under-the-radar watch brands is Christopher Ward, which is based in London. They don't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising, so that helps them offer their fine watches at lower prices. Here's just one example: automatic movement, display case back, and leather strap with deployment clasp for only $515. I don't own any of these watches, but I would certainly like to someday.

26 February 2013


You all know of my love for doughnuts, so I was excited when I learned a couple of weeks ago of a new doughnut place opening in Somerville's Union Square.

But then I read further. I found out that these are foodie doughnuts, in flavors like chocolate chipotle, hibiscus rose, and maple bacon. Now, I also love bacon, but I don't want it in my doughnut.

I'm sure these people have worked really hard on their place, but these doughnuts aren't for me. I'll stick to the little places around here that make traditional doughnuts: Demet's (on the rare occasions when we're up early enough to get over there before they've sold everything), Kane's (haven't been there in much too long), Lyndell's (had one just last weekend), and the place in a strip mall not far from our house (its name escapes me at the moment) that is somewhat questionably situated next to a Weight Watchers facility.

25 February 2013

Two Weeks After

We got a little more snow last night, but with the earlier rain and temperatures around 40 with sun for the past few days, a lot of the snow mass is gone. If it wasn't for the huge mounds of snow plowed into the street corners around my neighborhood, and the banks that still jut out into the street from where people shoveled out their cars, it would look like any other winter with moderate and normal snowfall.

24 February 2013

This Week in Awesome (2/23/13)

Some awards show is on tonight. I probably won't watch it.

However, this page has a list of every Best Picture winner since the Oscars began. How many have you seen? How many are movies you wouldn't be the least bit interested in seeing?

This... is the sort of thing that most people would not find interesting or amusing, but I do.

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is getting a light installation that's going to be really cool, and I hope I'll have a chance to go see it in person. (Laughing Squid)

There are many ways to screw things up; this site attempts to chronicle them visually. (You can navigate through the images by using the left and right arrows on your keyboard, or if you click on the image, arrows appear at the bottom of the screen.)

And finally this week, here is the full performance of David Bowie's "Sound And Vision" by Beck, accompanied by 170 musicians and choir singers. (I apologize for the fact that this is sort of a marketing tie-in, but it's still worth seeing.) If you are feeling more adventurous, there's also a link on this page to the 360-degree "experience" version of the performance, which involves using motions of your head and your computer's webcam to control the camera angles.

Retro Video Unit (2/22/13)

Yup, I forgot again—sort of. I was looking around late last night for a clip and couldn't find what I wanted, it was getting late and I gave up, then forgot to go back to it today. So I'm using this video of the Boston band The Neats that my good friend Dr. Hackenbush found and sent to me just today. Thanks, Doc. Oh, it's 12 minutes long, but don't let that stop you—it's worth it.

21 February 2013

Ginger Beer for Grownups

Last night I was at Cornwall's in Kenmore Square to sample Crabbie's Ginger Beer, an adult beverage that is quite popular in the UK and is making inroads here.

It's made from a beer base that has ginger and spices steeped in it for several weeks, giving it a distinctive and satisfying flavor. It's not especially sweet, and can be enjoyed over ice with a twist of lime, or in cocktails.

We tasted Crabbie's on its own, and sampled three different drinks made with it: a Ginger Buck (made with gin), a Moscow Mule (vodka), and a Dark & Crabbie (Gosling's dark rum). I have never cared much for gin, and the vodka drink was all right, but the rum combination is a natural match for the ginger and spices in Crabbie's, and I could see this being quite a nice summer drink.

(Full disclosure: the drink samples were provided by the distributor, and we also ordered food, which we planned on paying for ourselves, but it turned out to be complimentary as well.)

20 February 2013


Did you ever have a dream where you're speaking a foreign language that you don't know in your actual awake life?

18 February 2013


We briefly went to the Northshore Mall today. I hadn't been there in a while, and I noticed a couple of changes. There's now an Orvis, which, combined with the one in Dedham, explains why the Quincy Market location is being closed. They do seem like a store with more of a suburban clientele anyway, and if someone in the city wants to buy a Barbour coat, they can go to the Barbour store on Newbury Street, or North River Outfitter on Charles.

Also, Brooks Brothers moved from its location next to Macy's to a two-level space adjacent to Nordstrom. I believe the space was formerly occupied by a dark, dull Zara for what seemed like about fifteen minutes. It has been transformed into a much brighter and more pleasant environment. There's a lot more room in this store, and the displays are able to take better advantage of that space.

The former Brooks location has been taken over by a Newbury Comics, which moved from a small strip-mall storefront a short way down the road from the mall. It's funny to see it situated between Macy's and Talbots, but in recent years Newbury has been transforming itself into something of a pop-culture department store, so it makes a certain sense. They carry a lot more clothing now, with emphasis on streetwear and skate brands as well as a generous selection of local sports team gear. Kids still spend plenty of time hanging out at the mall, so I'm sure there's enough foot traffic.

In other retail news, the Nordstrom Rack that is coming to Boylston Street in the former Filene's Basement space will be open within a month's time—I believe March 14th is the date I read.

17 February 2013

This Week in Awesome (2/16/13)

Tomorrow: Bugs Bunny festival at the Brattle Theater...

Jimmy Fallon released the latest in the ongoing saga of Downton Sixbey.

I can identify only about a quarter of the movies referenced in this poster, but I didn't spend long looking at it. (Laughing Squid)

I don't really know how to describe this, but I do know that Lizzy Caplan is delightful, and I like it. (The Hairpin)

This week's time-lapse: stars over Death Valley. (Boing Boing via Laughing Squid)

And finally this week, a treatment for an affliction that affects thousands in areas like Brooklyn, Somerville, and Los Feliz. (Tastefully Offensive)

15 February 2013

Retro Video Unit (2/15/13)

It seems that I forgot about this in the run-up to last week's storm, so I'll feature one today and one next Friday to get back on my arbitrary, self-imposed schedule.

I've posted a video by The Church before, but this is the song most people think of first when the band is mentioned, "Under The Milky Way." They are so much more than just this one song, but if this is how they are known/remembered, I don't mind.


I don't wear a lot of browns, but they are useful. Corduroy or moleskin pants, tweed jackets, boots—all look good in shades of brown and coordinate well with clothing in other colors.

I've had this sweater for well over a decade, maybe closer to 15 years. It's from the Macy's house brand Club Room. I was attracted to it because of the tweedy weave, with the variations in hues woven into it. (I know it looks sort of gray in this picture, but that's just my camera—it's definitely brown.)
The elbow patches were not original; I wore the sweater a lot, and holes developed in the elbows, so the Mrs. added the patches. Now you see this on sweaters all the time.

I've gone to pretty much all V-neck sweaters now, because I prefer that look, but I held onto this one because I liked it so much, and because I figured I'd never find anything similar enough to it. Until this fall that was true, but then a tweedy V-neck showed up at Club Monaco.

Not that long ago, there weren't even any Club Monaco stores in the US. The chain originated in Canada, and even after they opened stores here, the clothes they sold were a slightly more Eurofied iteration of Banana Republic. But a couple of years ago a new design director came in, and their style has shifted toward a decidedly more J. Crew aesthetic.

I'd still never bought anything there, and had only been in the Prudential Center store one or two times, finding nothing of interest. But I checked their website every once in a while, just so I'd have an idea of what they were offering, and that's where I saw this sweater:
It's a shade lighter than the old crewneck, but otherwise it's very similar, right down to the nubs of different-shaded yarns woven into the main color. There was also a dark brown version that went on sale almost immediately, but I had to wait three months for this one to get marked down, and then wait a little longer for CM to offer an extra 30% off sale merchandise, which brought it down to around half of its original price.

It doesn't have any elbow patches, but the Mrs. is going to add them.

14 February 2013

Early Awakening

Our entire household was rudely awakened at 4:30 this morning by loud noise in the street. It sounded like heavy equipment, and then there was the telltale beeping of a piece of machinery in reverse.

We got up to investigate, and it turned out the city was out clearing the storm drains and fire hydrants. A good idea, but did it need to be done predawn? I guess some people are pulling in some overtime.

The dog was the most upset by the disturbance. Truck engines still remind her of her many trips to the dog track, and this prolonged noise (at least five minutes) had her edgy and pacing around. Eventually they moved on and we all got back to sleep.

12 February 2013

Snow Shots

After the snowstorm was over, we had to begin the task of clearing the snow. On Saturday the objective was simply to clear the front steps and carve a path out to the street, mainly so we could walk the dog. I also made a path along the sidewalk in both directions.

On Sunday we needed to dig out the driveway so we could use the car:
You can just see the nose of the car at the left edge of this picture, to give you an idea of how much we had to clear. After about an hour and 15 minutes, we were halfway done. At that point, a group of several teenagers with shovels came by looking to make some money, and asked us if we wanted help. We quickly agreed on what we would pay them and how much they would do for that amount, and they got to work:
It took them only about 20 minutes to finish. The result:
And all that snow had to go somewhere. This is only a small portion of it:

11 February 2013

Overheard: Lesson Learned Edition

At the theater last night, before the show started, three women in the row behind us were chatting and facebooking on their phones and such, then one said, "I just want to double-check that this is off. I don't want to be that person...again. Last week I was at a funeral and my phone rang."

09 February 2013

Digging Out

So the Blizzard of '13 (let's hope it's the only one) has come and gone. We never lost power, which is a relief. The official snowfall total at Logan Airport is 24.9 inches, ranking it at #5.

We seem to have gotten more than that here in Medford; when I finished clearing our front steps, I got a tape measure and the trough I had dug was 30 inches deep. There's also some drifting in our back yard that probably exceeds four feet in a couple of places.

The snow wasn't as heavy as I expected, but there's so much of it that I had to work on it in small sections. When clearing the snow from around our house, I normally try to remove as much as possible, but dealing with 30 inches of snow, even six linear inches at a time, is a daunting task.

Today I dug a path out to the street so the dog could finally be walked again, then worked in both directions to the adjacent property lines. All that took two hours. It's kind of cool to have a path that's only a shovel wide with these walls of snow on either side. I wanted to keep going, but I was worn out.

I didn't bother digging out the car yet, because we didn't need to go anywhere. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and somewhat less frigid, so we will work on clearing the driveway then. At some point we will also need to clear a path to the back door, but at the moment it's easier to use just the front door.

Also, our next-door neighbor is ill, and if no one else has cleared the sidewalk in front of their house by tomorrow, we will take care of it for them.

08 February 2013

Stocked Up and Ready

Well, we got back from the market about an hour ago, and we are definitely not the only people who waited until today to get provisions. But it was much less nutty than the reports from yesterday; it took less than five minutes to check out, and we were able to get everything we wanted/needed.

Some of the shelves were empty—there wasn't a lot of bread left, and the yogurt section was kind of decimated. Why yogurt? Don't know.

Bring on the storm...

PS: Snowstorms have names now? Weird.

07 February 2013

Here It Comes

I haven't been anywhere, but I guess my brain has been elsewhere... so, we have a big snowstorm bearing down on us, the first major one in at least a couple of years. People typically rush to the supermarket to stock up on food and whatever else they might need, resulting in long checkout lines and empty shelves.

The Mrs. was in class all day and evening, so we didn't do that today. We didn't do it Wednesday evening either. We have enough of the basics: milk, bread, coffee and cream, and toilet paper. But there's still time; the snow will start tomorrow morning, but it will be falling lightly during the daytime. We can head to our closest store around 9 am and still be fine.

Today happens to be the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, the winter storm to which all other winter storms in this area are inevitably compared. It started on a Monday afternoon, and our street did not get plowed until some time on Thursday, and then only because my father, who was on the police department at the time and working double shifts, talked someone from the National Guard into coming down our street with a plow. We were out of school for a full week.

It seems unthinkable now that a storm could leave the region so paralyzed, but back then the forecasting equipment was not nearly as sophisticated as it is now, and if I remember correctly there was some confusion as to how severe the storm would actually be, and the warnings of a major snow event were not heeded by some. So much snow ended up falling so quickly that almost every road became impassable, and clearing even major roads took several days.

(Archival material I've seen since posting this affirms that the area of Rhode Island I lived in at the time received at least 30 inches of snow.)

After we get our provisions, we don't need to leave the house again (except for walking the dog) until Sunday, when we have tickets for the evening performance of The Glass Menagerie at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.

05 February 2013

Warm Hands

I don't spend all my time searching for American-made products, but I do like to know about them. One source for a lot of interesting stuff, both from the USA and elsewhere, is Kaufmann Mercantile.

KM puts a lot of thought into the products it chooses to sell; a look at any of their product description pages will confirm this. Some items are pricey, but others are quite reasonably priced.

A recent email from them highlighted ragg wool gloves made in upstate New York by one of the few remaining glove manufactures in the USA. I used to have these in college and I liked them, but I have to be honest: they are more effective when it isn't super cold out, unless they happen to also be insulated.

Still, I find them appealing in the way that simple, old-fashioned things often are, especially the ones with leather palms. The KM gloves have those (deerskin, actually) and they come in the traditional marled oatmeal color with tan leather, or in marled dark gray with black leather. And they cost only $22 a pair, which is a huge bargain in my view. They are available sized for men and women (though the lighter-colored women's gloves are sold out at the moment).
KM has other American-made gloves available, like these deerskin gloves and these wool-lined leather gloves. And they're also carrying my favorite winter hat, the Michigan-made Stormy Kromer.

04 February 2013

Overheard: Career Conflict Edition

While walking past the deli counter at the supermarket, I overheard this, clearly from a supervisor to an employee: "What are you smiling about? You're not a male model, you're a deli guy. So quit smiling and get moving."

03 February 2013

This Week in Awesome (2/2/13)

It's snowing again, but barely enough to cover the sidewalks. I can get behind this concept...

I bet you saw this already, but I don't care; thematically, it's a must-link. (GQ Eye)

Do you watch movies and TV shows and think, "I wonder where they filmed that?" Here you go. (Laughing Squid)

You can now buy a die-cast replica of a Green Line trolley car (though it seems outrageous to me that, for $30, you're getting only half a trolley). But the real fun comes from imagining what to do with these things. (Dig Boston via Universal Hub)

And finally this week, two more Downton Abbey spoofs. (Videogum; Yahoo! Sketchy)

01 February 2013

Inside Info?

Does being a fictional TV character give you access to inside information about the future plot direction of other TV shows?

During last night's 30 Rock finale, Liz Lemon, trying to talk Jack Donaghy out of killing himself (which he wasn't going to do anyway), yells to him: "Don't you want to know how Mad Men ends? Don goes to work for Peggy!" However, it was kind of hard to hear this because the background music was a little too foreground (a problem with a lot of TV shows), and at that point Liz was sort of shrieking; I had to go back and listen to the line three or four more times to decipher exactly what she was saying.

But what's interesting about the scenario Liz described (to me, anyway) is that it's been in my mind for some time as a possible ending for Mad Men. It's not entirely outside the realm of possibility (though I acknowledge that a great many things would have to happen), and it would probably be about the worst possible situation for someone like Don Draper.

Don't expect Matthew Weiner to have any sort of comment on this...