Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm back!

So, I've returned from an awesome trip. I spent the last ten days on the road with the Red Sox! We started with the three games in Atlanta, on to three games in San Diego, and finished with the three games in Seattle. I took, like, 2200 pictures - some of which I will share in this space. Although we finished 4-5 on the trip, we saw some great games. The last one - with Matsuzaka pitching a gem - went 11 innings (although we lost). But it was a gorgeous day for baseball - in the 70's, sunny, humidity at 30%, and a 43,00 fans in attendance. I had an awesome lunch at Safeco - a chili cheese dog and about a pound of garlic fries. Mmmm. And Safeco has a wonderful selection of local microbrews, which is a great alternative to Bud Lite.

It's also fun to be in an "away" city and still be a part of the Red Sox crowd. Clearly, a lot of Sox fans came in for all three series. I think some were local who just came out to root for the Sox, but others were like us, following the team on the road. This seemed to be especially true in Atlanta and San Diego, good destinations to see games and to see the sights.

More reflections later....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

This sequel to the "Fantastic Four" film opened this weekend - and has topped the box office. I saw it today - and although it's not as good as the first film, it's still a lightweight, fun, effects-heavy summer flick.

The story opens as Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (the fantastic to look at Ioan Gruffud) are about to be married. However, some mysterious readings have appeared, and the US Government wants the team to investigate. A mysterious silver figure on a surfboard is whisking across the sky, outrunning even Johnny Storm, the human Torch (a very pretty Chris Evans). (The other member of the team is Ben Grimm, played by Michael Chiklis). The Fantastic Four must once again save the world!

The special effects are very good. The story itself has holes and low-key gaps. The acting is fine - not much is required of the actors for the most part. The characters were established in the first film, and they carry through on those. I did find Chris Evans more appealing in this film, and he's developing a fun buddy chemistry with Chiklis' character. Gruffud - a favorite of mine since his days as Horatio Hornblower - is more human and likable this time out. However, I thought Alba was a bit icy, and I found her hard to be sympathetic to. There is an enjoyable plot twist, in which Torch swaps powers with each member by touching them. His transformation into the Rock Guy is pretty funny.

Another fun summer popcorn movie. It's short - only 90 minutes - so you don't have to invest a lot of time or effort into enjoying it.


Father's Day - and Bon Voyage

Is this not cute? David Ortiz and his son at Fenway. today. A good chance to wish all the Dads out there a Happy Father's Day.

There probably won't be any entries from me for the next ten days. I'm off to follow the Red Sox! While you're watching the games on this extended road trip, know that I am with them! Three games in Atlanta, three games in San Diego and three games in Seattle. I am sssooo excited! Hopefully, lots of pictures and adventures to report upon my return.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I co-hosted a bridal shower today, for the daughter of a long-time friend and colleague. I had to prepare a dessert item, and I made these bars. I found the recipe via the Cooking Light message boards, and they were an HUGE hit! They're incredibly rich, sweet, decadent - and YUMMY! Thumbs up!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Copyright 2005, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

Note: You can easily half the recipe, and put in an 8 inch pan.


Friday, June 15, 2007

A tale of two icons

So, tonight at Fenway two icons will appear with the San Francisco Giants. And they represent such opposite ends of the spectrum - and I anticipate two totally different reactions from the Fenway Faithful.

Barry Bonds will be playing DH for the Giants, and he's on his way to breaking Hank Aaron's home run record. He stands tonight at 747, only needing 13 more. Yet the whole record chase is tainted, according to most fans. There is the shadow of doubt over whether Bonds' homers were fueled by steroids. You can't deny the photo comparisons between Bonds in the 90s and how he looks now. All evidence seems to point to steroid use. So, should his record have an asterix? How should we celebrate the occasion when he passes the record?

Personally, I feel he did take steroids, and I do think that he's cheating. I don't think I can celebrate his breaking of the record. Hank Aaron did it clean, and did it in the face of incredible opposition - most of it racially motivated. I'd have an incredible amount of respect for Bonds if he chose to retire one short of the record. But I don't see that happening. In the interest of full disclosure, one of my summer reading books is "Game of Shadows" - so I should be able to weigh in with more clarity soon!

On the other end of the spectrum is their lead-off hitter. Dave Roberts will forever be an adored icon in Boston - his steal of 2nd in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS really shifted the momentum of that series. Without his steal, we lose that series, and never win the 2004 World Series. I had the chance to meet him last year in Atlanta, when he played for the Padres. He was so complimentary of RS fans, talked about how they always came out and supported him in every city. A total class act! I can't wait to hear the reaction from the fans - and he leads off tonight, so the wait won't be long.

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Clemons 2057

Found this link on BDD - it's freakin' high-sterical!
Roger Clemens 2057

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Rox strike back

Herald Photo by Matt Stone
Well, after a nice little victory for Tim Wakefield Tuesday night (2-1), the Rockies fired back last night. They pounded Curt Schilling, who was making his first appearance since his near no-hitter in Oakland last week. I wondered if he might have a little let-down after that exciting start, and sure enough, he did. The Rockies had 14 hits and scored 12 runs; our slumping offense could only muster two.

It's clear we're in a little bit of a valley right now. We had that incredible month of May, during which I kept saying "It's only May" - don't get overly confident. Our streak coincided with a Yankees slump, so we were able to build a big lead in the AL East. But, baseball being baseball, the Yanks have shrugged off their pitching and hitting woes, and have now won 8 in a row. The Sox, meanwhile, are continuing to pitch very well - but the offense is not keeping up its end.

I know that the bats will heat up again. Now is a perfect time to turn it around - when I'm about to see 9 games in a row! I want to see my guys play - play well - and batter their opponents into submission!

Not asking for much, eh?


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The hydrangea lives!

Back in the spring, we had a devastating late frost. It was particularly devastating for me - because it nearly killed my beloved hydrangea bush. It sits right by my front door, and every morning its beautiful (chemically induced) blue blooms would greet me. And then the frost. The bush survived, but I resigned myself to the fact that I'd not see any of those mopheads this year.

So I was surprised and elated when I saw this last week:

Yes, some blooms! Tiny, yes, but still ready to burst into life. And this week, here it is:

I love these little fellers!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Time to come home

AP Photo
Last night's loss to the Diamondbacks (5-1) was a sad note on which to end the road trip. The Yankees series really took it out of everyone (even the fans), and the offense never truly bounced back. Our pitchers were totally in the groove, but they never got the necessary run support. So we ended up with a 3-4 record on the trip.

But, luckily, it's back to Fenway for 6 games vs. Colorado and San Francisco. Not exactly easy wins, but we do have a 20-4 record in Interleague play over the past two years.

I love this quote from Mike Lowell in today's Globe:
Lowell revealed he has plans to start a blog. "Not for me," he said. "My philosophy is, if Manny is willing to sell a grill for $20,000, I'll tell him just to talk to me, and I'll type a blog for him And I'll pay him $21,000, he'll think he sold a grill, and I'll negotiate a dollar a hit. I'll be a gazillionaire, and Manny will be happy because he can buy a new barbecue . . . Everyone wants to know what Manny's saying, so all he has to do is give me two legitimate answers and after that I'll make up anything I want, and nobody will know the difference."
Now that would be some fun reading!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Review: Oceans Thirteen

Today I saw "Ocean's Thirteen," the newest installment in what is becoming the modern-day Rat Pack's movie franchise. The first sequel was okay - I agreed with reviewers who said it looked like the guys decided to film their fun. Light weight indeed.

The third film returns the team to Las Vegas. Their partner Ruben has been scammed out of a profitable deal by Willy Banks ( superbly played by Al Pacino). He's comatose - unable to deal with his bad fortune. So Danny Ocean and company come to the rescue - devised (yet another) convoluted plot to exact revenge.

This is a light, fun, summer popcorn movie. It doesn't really require any thinking - just sit back and enjoy the ride. Clooney and Pitt = swoon-worthy. The rest of the supporting cast is quite good. Loved the appearance by the artist-formally-known-as-Super Dave Osborne. Good chemistry of course between Clooney and Pitt - their last exchange at the airport could be a real exchange about their lives.

Looking for a some lightweight fun? You can't go wrong with this enjoyable flick.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Visitors in the desert

Tonight, the Sox take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second of a three game series. Another late start, at 9:40 pm. Although I think I could cope with these later starts if I wasn't working. Got in a long ( like 90 minute) nap this afternoon, cooked a really nice dinner ( a roasted pork tendeloin that was yummy!), and now waiting for the 9:40 start.

Side note: Yanks started Roger Clemens today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won - but I wouldn't call it a stellar effort. 3 earned runs. Total manipulation by the NYY - they held him back due to that "tired groin" - so that he didn't have to start against the Red Sox or White Sox. Instead he gets a start against a very young Pirates team, a National League team. They perfectly manipulated it so Rogah really isn't being tested for a while. One blogger suggested that the NYF have stacked it so Rogah won't face the RS until the playoffs.

And if I didn't despise them enough - reports have surfaced that the Yanks watched the end of Schilling's near no-hitter - and cheered when he gave up a hit. As Cyn said. "stay classy, New York"

Last night, we had our first interleague game of 2007. The first of three versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Arizona. And we emerged victorious, 10-3. The most encouraging thing about the victory was JD Drew's performance. Many in RS Nation were calling for him to be benched - his offense has been pretty weak. But his return to the National League was awesome. He had two 3-run homers - finished the night with a career high 7 RBIs in the game. THAT was what I've been hoping and looking for since he signed in the off-season. And best of all was his grin in the dugout after his big hits - he usually comes across as very serious and dour. Not last night! And the fact that this was Josh Beckett's ninth victory of the season? Fantastique!

Tonight, Julian Tavarez starts for the Red Sox - and I can't wait to see him up to bat!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Review: Shrek 3

I love summer Fridays. Everyone seems to take a long weekend - and my friend Susan and I often head out to a matinee. Today, we celebrated the start of our summer by seeing "Shrek 3." A good choice of a weekday matinee - not many others in the audience, and only a few (fairly well-behaved) children.

The film takes up where #2 left off. Shrek and Fiona are serving as temporary monarchs of the kingdom of Far, Far Away - her dad, the "Frog King" is ill. Shrek is clearly ill-suited for this role and, when the King dies (in a weird funny/sad scene), he must either rule as King or find a suitable substitute. He sets off in search of cousin Artie, who is a nerdy teen at Worcestershire Academy. They return to FFA, only to find that Prince Charming has enlisted the aid of other fairy-tale baddies to take over the kingdom. Of course, all ends well.

What I love about the Shrek movies is the adult humor contained in them. Much of the dialogue sails over the heads of the young'uns in the audience, aimed clearly at their parents. The animation is awesome - it's sometimes hard to believe that these aren't real people. And the voice actors are wonderful - new additions are Justin Timberlake as Artie and Eric Idle as Merlin.

Lots of fun new characters, too. The baddies include Red Riding Hood, Captain Hook, several wicked witches, and Rumplestiltskin. Assisting a pregrant Fiona in defending the kingdom are some spoiled princesses - Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty (who keeps falling asleep!).

And my favorite character is, of course, Puss in Boots!

A fun film, for all ages. Adults, don't feel bad for going without kids - there's lots for you to enjoy!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Even hotter in Oakland

AP Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

Curt Schilling has become our stopper. This year, the Sox are 5-0 in games Schilling starts the day after a loss. (I know - I sound like a stat-head, which I'm not). So I had some confidence going into this afternoon's game that our 4 game losing streak would end. But I was not prepared for the incredible performance by Mr. Schill.

8 2/3 inning of no-hit ball. Yes, he fell one out short of a no-hitter. He would have become the 3rd oldest pitcher to perform that feat - the others are Nolan Ryan and Cy Young. Pretty august company. I'm sure he's disappointed - plenty of people on the field, in the stands, and sitting at home in Red Sox Nation were, too. But what a game. I kept thinking, no way can this last. But the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th passed. Suddenly, I'm getting tense. 7th inning. Exhorting the offense to please give us some insurance runs. 8th inning. At that point, I'm freaking out. Sucking on a big old vodka tonic, grazing through the kitchen - trying not to do anything to jinx it. Bottom of the 9th - one out. Two outs. Can this really be happening? Am I going to be able to say I saw this live? And then - Curt shakes off a pitch, Shannon Stewart swings, and there goes the no-hitter.

But Curt shook himself, threw a few more pitches, and the Red Sox came away with the win, 1-0. It ends the skid. And he did with only 100 pitches.

But more importantly, I think this could be the thing that stirs our team back into action. Ortiz said after last night's game that he felt the team lacked energy. Not anymore, I'd say.

Oh, and Curt might have just gotten some ammo for those contract negotiations. Yes, the reports of his decline are premature.

At least on this day.

As a sign at the game said, Who needs Roger when you've got Curt

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Hot in Oakland

AP Photo by Ben Margot

Well, about the only thing fun about the game last night was Tito getting ejected in the 8th. It was the end of a long frustrating night - well, really, three frustrating nights. Our offense is MIA; I'm beginning to think we should just make "Double Play Again" our motto. Way too many GIDPs. This must stop, boys!

Wake pitched okay - a little better outing than his previous ones. But with no offense to offset the knuckleball, it added up to another loss, 3-2 - our fourth loss in a row.

We always fall victim to some kind of slump - it's the nature of baseball. You can't win all the time - as much as we fans wish it. It seems to me the best time for the "June Swoon" is now, when we have a big leading in the AL East and have piled up a bunch of wins. We've got a little cushion to work with. But that cushion is getting smaller. So we need to pick it up tonight - er, rather, this afternoon, as the game starts at 3:35 Eastern. I can actually watch the game and stay awake for it. I hope!

Schilling will rescue us, I hope

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oh My Josh

Photo by Kerry Brett Hurley (
Found this via a link on the Remy Boards. Ooo la la...


"Little Pedroia"

I couldn't say it any better, so go to the Firebrand of the AL to read the top 10 reasons to love DP


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yeah Matt Damon

Matt Damon, RS fan extraordinaire, appeared on Letterman last night. Alas I was sound asleep - couldn't last thru the first inning of the RS-As game, so you know I was tired! Here's the beginning of the interview, via YouTube:

I may love him now more than ever!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Movin on to California

Getty Images photo/Elsa
I can't dwell on last night's game. First, I hate when ESPN decides to broadcast on of our Sunday games, because it means an 8:00pm start. And Yankee-RS games always last forever! So it was well after midnight before A-Rod ended the game with a home run in the 9th...We lose 6-5.

But I had to chuckle over the NY newspapers this morning. All making it sound like this series will turn around the Yankees' season. They've still got a lot of ground to make up. And we need to keep winning, because any team in the AL East could catch us if we run into injury trouble.

Meanwhile, the game ended at 12:13 and at by 2am the Sox were on a flight to the West Coast. Three games vs. Oakland starting tonight at 10pm, and then 3 games in Arizona. Brutal to follow the Yankee series with a West Coast series....But very cool to think that the next time the Sox are out on the Coast, I'll be with them!

But here's the best news: Dustin Pedroia (above) was named the AL Rookie of the Month for May. According to

Pedroia started the month with a .172 average, but batted .415 over the month to increase his season average to .308. He also had a .600 slugging percentage in May.

A well-deserved honor - and we hope his hot streak continues. Go Munchkin!!

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Review: Knocked Up

Photo from
I haven't seen a new movie in ages! Chalk it up to end of the school year chaos. So, today, I needed a cinema fix. So much to choose from - the third Shrek movie, the 3rd Pirates movie...

But, I needed something mindless, silly and fun - so chose this new film from Judd Apatow, director of "The 40-Year Old Virgin." I really enjoyed Virgin - it was vulgar and crude in parts, but I thought that at its core, it was sweet and old-fashioned. And the same can be said about this new film.

The story: young professional woman is out celebrating her job promotion. She meets a slacker. They drink too much, and end up spending the night together. 8 weeks later, she discovers she's pregnant. The two must decide how to proceed - do they try to build a future together for the "sake of the child"?

Like "Virgin," lots of profane language and some gross stuff (be warned: the birth scene is pretty gross and graphic). But at its heart, it's a sweet story. The two leads (Katherine Heigl from "Gray's Anatomy" and Seth Rogan) are attractive, and are incredibly well casat. Heigl is really beautiful and funny - she's attractive but accessible. It's perfectly believable that she might hook up with Rogan. And Rogan seems to get more attractive as the film goes on - by the end, you're wondering why she's hesitating to commit to him.

The supporting cast is brilliant. Great to see Harold Ramis as Rogan's father. Rogan's slacker friends are hysterical. And Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as Heigl's battling sister and brother in law are wonderful. Mann is brittle, critical, and yet you can understand her frustration with her emotionally reserved husband. The relationship between the two brothers-in-law is so real - their bonding is terrific.

A big thumbs up from me. Just keep in mind the language is rough in spots, and some of it is graphic. But on the whole, a sweet love story.


Yanks-RS Round Two

Globe photo by Matthew Lee
So, if Friday night's game looked like target practice (five hit batsmen), Saturday's game looked like a football match. And Mike Lowell was at the center of two plays. In the photo above, he's taking out Robinson Cano, who was trying to turn a double play. And later, in the seventh, he collided with Doug Mientk (well, you know, the guy with the long name who kept a certain baseball) as he tried to beat out a fielder's choice. "Eyechart" (as he was known in Boston in '04), had to be carted off to the hospital - he looked dazed, confused and injured. Yikes - very scary.

But Mikey was also a key offensive player - had a homerun and four RBIs. Yeah! And the Sox bounced back from Friday night's loss to win 11-6 - mostly due to a 5-run 7th.

One of my buddies - who doesn't follow any sports, let alone baseball - told me today, "Boy, that was an exciting game. I watched part of it"! Yes, the Red Sox will convert all....

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hot time in Boston

Herald photo by Mark Garfinkle
Last night was the first game in yet another three game series against the Yankees. This is actually the last time we'll play them until September - thank heavens! These games make me so tense - I'm bouncing all over the place and/or raiding the kitchen. My waistline will be glad for the break.

This series seems different to me than others, however. There is a definite air of desperation surrounding the Yankess - they began Friday 13 1/2 games out of first, their weakest position since the early '90s. A-Rod was being vilified and mocked in the NY papers all week. First he was photographed entering and leaving a strip bar in Toronto with a blonde not his wife; they were followed to his hotel. Hmm.. That night, in the game vs. the Blue Jays, A-Rod seems to have violated an unwritten behavior code. As he ran the base path between 2nd and 3rd, he cut behind the 3rd baseman as he was attempting to catch a high pop-up. Right behind him, ARod yelled "Mine," so the infielder backed off the catch, thinking the short stop had it. Wrond - the ball fell to the ground uncaught, and the Yankees had a cheap run. Not cool.

So a lot of interest for the game last night at Fenway. Here is the scene by the Yankee dugout - ARod's fans donned "princess" masks in honor of his Blonde Bombshell:
Photo by Mark Garfinkle

Tough game to watch if you were a Sox fan, because the Yankees really put the game away fairly early. Lowell had a dazzling play in the first, but then got beaned on the wrist and had to leave the game. Coincidence? I think not. Later, when a player tried to steal third (and the Yankees were already ahead by 6 at the time) and was caught, Torre got into a huge screaming match with the 3rd base ump, and was ejected. Seemed like a desperate attempt to light a fire under the Millionaires club. And the last straw was in the bottom of the 9th: Scott Proctor hit Youkilis (who had extended his hitting streak to 23 games) nearly in the head. (That's the photo on top). The benches leisurely cleared - no fights, although Youkie looked ready to take them all on!

Could be an exciting game today. Schilling is pitching - and he's been known to "avenge" such incidents. However, I think the best revenge is to take the next two games, and send Torre to the unemployment line! I dread today's game for one thing, however: it's on Fox. Aaargh. McCarver and Buck - hey, bartender....

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