Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: A look back

It's almost New Year's Day. A whole new year, a blank page upon which to write. But before that, one has to reflect on the year past. And 2007 was a great year for me - full of travel, fun, friends (old and new), adventures. I could do a huge post on that stuff, but instead, here are my favorite Red Sox related moments of the year:

1. Well, of course, the Red Sox are World Champions! The Red Sox are World Champions! The Red Sox are World Champions! I will never tire of saying that. Many people have said that this victory was different than 2004, that perhaps it didn't mean "as much" as the first. That's not true for me. Yes, 2004 was sweet, a culmination of a lifetime of waiting. Yet, because of being so far from New England, I didn't feel a part of it - well, really, I wasn't a part of it until the end. 2007 was much more meaningful for me, because I was with them every step of the way. From the first pitcher reporting to Fort Myers in February, through the Opening Days in Texas and Fenway, the All-Star Game and Break, agonies of Gagne, burgeoning love of Beckett, through Papelbon's victory dance, through those agonizing games in Cleveland, up until the joy at Coors Field - I was there right with them. And it was awesome.

2. Beckett. 'Nuff said.

3. Buchholz's no-hitter. It was on a Saturday night, I was sitting home, hoping Clay would do well. As the innings progressed, and the scarf I was knitting lengthened, it became apparent that something special was happening. One of my friends called at the top of the 9th, and I literally hung up on her when she started to say the words "no---" I didn't want anything to mess up of the magic of the moment. Fun!! Another great moment was Schilling's near no-hitter in Oakland - that was really magical.

4. The next few are things I was present for, from my two road trips. There was a rain delay of an hour or so during one of the games in Atlanta. As we were waiting it out, trying to stay dry, they began showing some MLB highlight shows. When they showed highlights of the '04 World Series, Turner Field grew silent and then cheering broke out. Everyone was rooting once again for the Sox. Very cool.

5. Seeing some of the game's best closers in action. Seeing Papelbon is always a treat - goosebumps, really. But I also saw Trevor Hoffman close out a game in San Diego, although they didn't do up the Trevor Time bit, which was disappointing. But I did experience the scene when JJ Putz was introduced in Seattle. A darkened field, flashes of lightning and the chants of JJ, JJ, JJ. Even though it signaled a loss for us, it was impressive.

6. Witnessing Eric Gagne first appearance in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway. We had such high hopes for him, were sure he was our ticket to the World Series. He came into the game, and struck out the first two batters. The park was electric. Then he gave up a double, a run-scoring single...and suddenly we were witnessing what became the story for the rest of the season. But for those brief moments, euphoria.

7. I went to three games at Fenway vs. the Orioles at the end of July. After the second game, as I was trying to climb over a bleacher seat, I had a little injury - cut open my leg. I had to get the medical personnel to come get me and take me to the clinic that Beth Israel Hospital runs. They're all super nice there (not my first visit, I'm afraid!) - they got me all patched up. By the time I was ready to go, the Park was empty. I heard music wafting through the air, and could hear announcer Carl Beane saying something on the loudspeaker. So I walked up the ramp and looked out on the field. The next day was the tribute to Bobby Doerr - and they were rehearsing. As I watched, four young men in period uniforms walked slowly across the field to center field, and through the garage door. A shiver went up and down my spine - the cloudless, moonlit sky, the lights on the field, the empty stands - just me and the ghosts of all the former players. Oh, and of course the security people who hustled me out!

8. My other favorite part of this year's Red Sox experience has been making new friends online through Surviving Grady. It's a funny, nutty group - and they make watching the game into an incredible experience. Their insightful commentary, and their not-so-insightful comments, change the game-watching experience from a solitary one into a group activity. And even more fun is meeting them in person. The gang who attended the San Diego games were hysterical - and it was so cool to put a face to the name. After that, every time I read a post from Horsham or Tex or Sox on the Beach or Mrs MLB or KDB (whom we met in Seattle), I "hear" their post in their voices. It's very cool! I'm so excited that there seems to be another fun group amassing for a weekend series in Baltimore in May - and I'm already making my plans to attend. It will be legen - wait for it! - dary!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review: Sweeney Todd

Usually, if a reviewer writes something like: "this is a big bloody mess of a film," you would avoid said film. But, friends, you should seek out THIS bloody mess!

I went into this film not really knowing many details. Oh, I knew the basic story: an ex-con, the barber Todd, seeks vengeance by becoming a serial killer in Victorian London. And the bodies are recycled into his landlady's meat pies. My parents had seen the original show on Broadway - I think that was the beginning of my dad's love of Angela Lansbury! - but I had never heard any of the songs. In general, I enjoy Sondheim, so I was eager to hear the score. And equally interested in what bizarreness Tim Burton and Johnny Depp had cooked up this time, their sixth collaboration.

So, the basic story: Benjamin Barker was convicted on trumped-up charges by a corrupt judge (Alan Rickman - always a delightful villain) who coveted Mrs. Barker. He is transported - and returns 15 years later, now calling himself Sweeney Todd. He establishes himself as a barber once again, in the same apartment that he and his wife had lived. His landlady is Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), a baker of the worst meat pies in London. After dispatching his first victim - a rival barber played by the scene stealing Sacha Baron Cohen - they hit upon the plan to dispose of the bodies of future victims in Mrs. Lovett's pies - which become a culinary hit. The action follows Todd's attempts at revenge.

The music is fantastic! Typical Sondheim - melodic, advancing the story along, fantastic funny lyrics. And although the main cast will probably not be releasing any solo albums, they carry off the tunes fairly well. Bonham Carter is NOT a singer - her voice is thin and reedy - but in the context of the character it actually works. And Johnny - well, he does really well.

The three young "unknowns" will blow you away. Toby is played by a young man named Ed Sanders - and he is incredible. This is his first film - and he holds his own against both Cohen and Depp. Jayne Wisener plays Todd's daughter Johanna - she is just lovely and so talented. The young sailor whom she loves is played by Jamie Campbell Bower. All three are appearing in their first films - and they show great promise.

Johnny Depp. Well, if he doesn't finally get an Oscar for this film.... This film is the culmination of an incredible body of work, his range of roles is incredible. From the crazy Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, Willie Wonka, JM Barrie, Ed Wood, the romantic Roux in "Chocolat"... Sweeney Todd is a psychopath, pushed to the brink by the injustices of life, and the road he starts down leads ultimately to incredible tragedy and sadness. Yet as you watch Depp, you actually feel sympathetic; you understand why he acts as he does.

I think the Depp/Tim Burton pairing will probably go down in film history as one of the great creative pairings. Dare I say it's up there with John Ford and John Wayne? George Cukor and Katherine Hepburn? They bring such life to such twisted tales and twisted characters! And their films are always sumptuous, absolutely delicious cinemagraphically (is that a word?!) This film is painted in shades of black and gray - the pale sickly skin of the main characters is a projection of their inner sickness. There is one fantastic sequence where Mrs. Lovett fantasizes they are on a beach holiday - there they are, strolling the boardwalk, with their wild hair, white skin, dark circles and bizarre clothing - wonderful!

Okay, so do you get the idea that I liked it?? YES! But be warned - it is incredibly bloody - at one point, I had to close my eyes because it was so graphic. But that quickly passed... This is the first film I've seen in a while that I came out of thinking, I may to see this again.



Agatha is now a LOL Cat!


Saturday, December 29, 2007


Yeah! Patriots win 38-35 - and end the season with a perfect record, 16-0. Awesome~


Reivew: P.S. I Love You

I realize that the new film "P.S. I Love You" is probably meant to be a showcase for Hilary Swank's romantic comedy chops. If that was the goal, it didn't succeed. I choose instead to focus on the sexy leading man, Gerard Butler. Hence the photo above! Wow!

The story (written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, who previously piloted "Freedom Writers"): Holly Kennedy (Swank) is a young widow. Her husband Gerry (Butler) dies of a brain tumor, but leaves behind a series of letters delivered to her monthly. The missives are intended to help guide her through widowhood and as she begins to make a new life for herself. The film follows this journey, and flashes back to the life Holly and Gerry had together.

Okay, I'll admit that I used SIX kleenex! It wasn't a culminating cry at the end - it's an all-movie cry. Lots of poignant moments - but a couple of hours later, they feel orchestrated. I think some of my feelings are due to my negative reaction to Swank. She is NOT a romantic comedy heroine. She's too brittle in the part - she never feels vulnerable, just hard and angry. I frankly could never figure out why any man - never mind the three male leads - would fall for her.

That said, the rest of the cast is terrific. I loved seeing James Marsters (formerly Spike on "Buffy") as Gerry's best friend. Holly's two BFFs are played by Gina Gersheon and Lisa Kudrow - both are terrific, although Kudrow needs to fully rid herself of all her Phoebe mannerisms. Kathy Bates plays Holly's mom - terrific. And the three men in her life: Butler, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (sizzlin') and Harry Connick Jr. - fantastic. Oh, their acting was good as well!

So, bottom line. Definite chick flick. Bring kleenex. Forgettable within two hours of viewing it.

Oh, GOOD music!! As we were watching the credits, the staff was cleaning out the theater - and all were singing along to the theme song by James Blunt!


Review: Juno

While killing time until the Patriots game starts, here's a couple of reviews.

"Juno" is the first film written by Diablo Cody, and directed by Jason (Son of Ivan) Reitman. It's already been nominated for beaucoups of awards (including the Golden Globes), so I was a little nervous about seeing it. Would it live up to those awards?

In a word: YES! And an emphatic yes.

Here's the story: 16-year-old Juno finds herself pregnant after one encounter with her friend Bleeker. (She explains in the voice-over that she really wasn't "in" to him, but was bored one afternoon). She decides that she wants to go thru with the pregnancy, and give her baby to a couple that wants to have one. She and her BFF Leah check out the ads in the "Pennywise" free newspaper, and find an ad from a pair of yuppies who are desperate to be parents. Or are the both so anxious? Anyway, the film follows her pregnancy and the ups and downs of teen life.

There is not one performance that was off. Everyone - from the incredibly talented lead Ellen Page to small parts, like Bleeker's mom - are wonderful. Page has gotten a lot of well-deserved recognition for creating a unique yet realistic teen. (It will be interesting to see what she does in subsequent parts - if she's a one-note actor) This film would not succeed without her. Her parents are fantastic - Allison Janney and JK Simmons are so supportive of Juno, yet they still bring humor and lightness to their roles. There's a great scene where Juno tells them she's pregnant; afterwards, we see the parents compare notes. Both suspected that was what she was going to say, but "hoped" she'd been expelled or was doing drugs! And Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are terrific as the potential parents.

The story is carried off with humor and heart. Her family treats the situation with such warmth - totally supporting her. There were several moms and teenaged daughters seeing it together - and I think the film would be a fantastic springboard to some in-depth discussions.

"I laughed, I cried." Cliche, but true. This MAY end up being one of my favorite films of the year!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Review: Waitress

Believe it or not, as huge a movie fan as I am, I have only just signed up as a member of Netflix. As a matter of fact ,I enrolled on Christmas Day - and my first selection arrived today. It was an independent film called, "Waitress," one that only played here for a week, tops, and that I really wanted to see.

What a little gem - definitely in the "Little Miss Sunshine" school. Keri Russell (who we all loved in the TV series "Felicity") works as a waitress in Joe's Pie Diner, and is stuck in a loveless, borderline abusive marriage. She discovers - to her chagrin - that she is pregnant, a child she does not want but will continue on. The "action" of the film follows her thru her pregnancy, her affair with her obstetrician, and her relationships with her colleagues. The action is all reflected thru the pies she makes - Naughty Pumpkin for her OB appointments, Bad Unwanted Baby for her first trimester. The pies are all yummy - I wish they had included a bonus with recipes!

Terrific performances from Russell and (swoon) Nathan Fillion as her doctor. The incredibly poignant back story is that the writer/co-star, Adrienne Shelley, was murdered two weeks before the premiere. It's sad to see this wonderful little film and know that the talented writer behind it would not produce another little gem.

So, my first Netflix rental = a success. Running to the PO tomorrow a.m. so that I can get another from my queue!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I've been visiting family up in New England for the pre-Christmas festivities. (A great opportunity to stock-up on RS crap!)

But Merry Christmas to all. Last year, it didn't seem possible that a World Series championship was in Santa's bag - but it was! I can't even begin to imaging what he's got as a gift for us this year - acquiring Santa without sacrificing Ellsbury??

Merry Merry!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our new leader

Rich Rodriguez is leaving West Virginia - to be the new head coach at the University of Michigan! At least, THAT's settled!


First semester Spanish

Watching ESPN Classic's repeats of Games 4 & 7 of the 2004 ALCS, knitting like crazy - and chuckling over this classic video

Recipe: Butterscotch Apple Salad

A great recipe from one of my WW members:

5-6 Granny Smith apples
15-oz can Crushed Pineapple (natural juice)
1 sm box sugar-free Butterscotch instant pudding mix
8 oz fat-free cool whip

Chop apples with peels left on. Dissolve pudding nix with pineapple; stir. Mix crushed pineapple mixture with the chopped apples. Mix in cool whip.

1/2 cup = 1 point


Saturday, December 15, 2007

The plot thickens

From the AP:
Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone to recover from an elbow injury in 2002, the New York Yankees pitcher admitted two days after he was cited in the Mitchell report.

Pettitte said he tried HGH on two occasions, stressing he did it to heal faster and not enhance his performance. He emphasized he never used steroids.

"If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. "I accept responsibility for those two days."..

Hmmm. Roger, any thing to add?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Countdown is on!

This is by one of my favorite illustrators, Linnea Riley. For years, I used her cat Christmas cards, and I always get one of her poster calenders. Check out her website - it's full of fun stuff!

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Judgement Day

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

So, the Mitchell Report was issued at 2pm this afternoon and, as promised, there were some prominent names listed. Surprisingly, Barry Bonds was included! Apparently, many close to Major League Baseball were NOT surprised that one of the names was Roger Clemens. Rumors about his use of steroids have circulated for years - many point to how he suddenly became a better pitcher after being let go by the Red Sox. He went off to Toronto and won two Cy Youngs.

And now we know why. No, it wasn't just his obsessive training regimen. He and his boy Andy Pettitte were also being provided with Human Growth Hormones by their personal trainer. The Mitchell Report goes into explicit detail about Clemens receiving injections of HGH from the trainer between 1998 and 2000.

Another name on the list was one that makes you say, "Hmm, explains a lot." Eric Gagne, the celebrated closer who totally melted down after his trade to Boston. The Report even reproduces emails between Theo and the RS scouts about Gagne, asking about his rumored steroid use:
The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded, "Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff . . . Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did . . . Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne . . ."
Hmmm. It all falls into place, doesn't it?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Recipe: Amaretto-Cranberry Kiss

As you sweat out the "hot stove," here's a nice way to pass some time. This was in Bon Appetit this month - it is very good! I made 1/4 of a recipe, and omitted the o.j. and orange slices as garnish.

Amaretto-Cranberry Kiss
makes 8 cocktails

2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup amaretto
3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
Ice cubes
Clementines, peeled and separated into segments

Mix cranberry juice, vodka amaretto, and orange juice in pitcher, Cover and chill until ready to serve. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated)
To make 2 drinks, fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in scant 1 cup of vodka mixture. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into 2 martini glasses. Garnish with orange section, if desired. Repeat 3 times with ice cubes, remaining vodka mixture and orange sections.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hot stove!

I've spent the day glued to the computer. It sounds like maybe - fingers crossed - we might have made a blockbuster trade today. Johan Santana - 4 time Cy Young winner - to the Sox, in exchange for five from the following list: Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, Ryan Kalish. Supposedly, Ellsbury and Lester will not be dealt together - its one of the two, plus part of the list.

If we have a starting rotation of Santana, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling....someone else put it better:
"If the Red Sox get Santana," said an executive of one NL team that's grateful to be in the other league, "they might be the best team in the history of the frigging universe."
Fingers crossed....

Labels: ,