I need a miracle, I need a miracle

Sleep evaded me this weekend.

I made a long delayed return to 90s Night (warning: MySpace) at Common Ground on Friday. New friends and old showed up – Skim, Rick, MPerrotti, Jen, Cheshirepk8, Paperface, Ryan, Kate, and of course our vigilant DJ (yes, I know I’m forgetting some people – comment if I missed your name / LJ). We kept the slam-dancing drunk Allstonians in a tight knot until a bouncer could come scoop their beer bottles off the floor. I worried that he’d consider us part of their crowd, but Rick made a Bouncer-Dismissing Gesture and we got out okay. I would like to learn that gesture.

Afterward we tromped across the street to Redneck’s, who follow a business model that really should get more play:

  1. Sell fried food; and
  2. Stay open 30-45 minutes after the bars close.
I didn’t have a stomach for cheese fries at the moment, so I sat there while Jen explained the origin of her LJ handle. “What superpowers do you have?” I kept asking.

When Redneck’s kicked us out, the posse degenerated into one of those leaderless mobs where everyone shouts and laughs for ten minutes but nobody actually goes anywhere. The party kept threatening to go to Brookline and continue drinking, but I waved off and returned to Davis Square (which, Skim’s villainous slander notwithstanding, is still the coolest place to be).

I did some grocery shopping early on Saturday. What I thought would be a literal milk run turned into a three-bag trip, including a stop off at a bake sale for Obama on the walk home. I bought a brownie (more out of my love for baked goods than any particular political affiliation) and ate lunch while watching Netflix.

Kristen and her roommate Jeff invited me to their Midsummer’s BBQ just up the road. No one had adhered to the implied theme of dressing up like a faerie, which I considered fortunate. I surprised myself by being sociable at a party largely full of strangers: talking Keynesian economics with Jodi, comparing Maryland stories with Becca’s friend Anna, chatting up Mike and his girl Karen, etc. Two beers that I set down ended up tumbling over, which I blame on the slope of the backyard and not at all on the three that I drank on an empty stomach.

Colby threw another legendary luau later that evening, which I arrived at early enough to get some chicken and birthday cake. Megan and her coworker Renee floated over from the earlier Midsummer’s BBQ, proving that everyone knows someone who can get them into this party. I saw most of the Nebulas‘ set, watched Dea and her friend do firespinning once the sun went down, then hit the dance floor indoors for about 2 hours without break. If you haven’t been to one of these, keep in touch with me around June next year and I’ll bring you along.

Greg had folks over for board games on Sunday. Amy throttled me in a quick round of Battlelore, then I played some folks in EVO before the pizza arrived. I struggled my way through two rounds of Mario Kart Wii – the steering wheel responds better than you think! – and wrapped the afternoon with Pick Picnic and Pandemic (of which more later – it’s really fun).

Hawver had the brilliant idea of getting the old crew back together for burgers and cheap beer at Our House West in Allston, across the street from the Brain Trust. I drove directly there, watched Hawver slaughter his way through a round of Big Buck Hunter, then flagged the waitress down. “When do you start serving dollar burgers?” I asked.

“We … don’t?”

“Oh.” Not only does Our House West no longer serve $1 cheeseburgers on Sunday, I’ll bet no one currently working there remembers that was ever an option. You can’t go home again.

Hawver, Fraley, Melissa and I reminisced on a grand scale, talking about the days when we all first met each other. “We never really talked,” Mel said to Hawver, “because you always fled whenever I came over for gaming.”

“I really could not stand your dice rolling,” Hawver confessed vehemently.

After making fun of Fraley’s musical taste for a while (“Fraley, this is the Clash”), we went our separate ways. I ended back in Davis, where I dropped in on Katie H.’s place to watch the last half of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. Never been a huge fan of the series, so the addition of Rifftrax made for a welcome distraction. I laughed myself silly.

I did not end up in bed before 1:00 AM on any night this weekend. This may be a recovery week for me.


wayne’s world, wayne’s world, party time, excellent

My weekend updates come two days late. I have so much weekend that it crashes into me when I step on the brakes.

Friday I went with a friend to see Dave C. in a revival of Superman: The Musical (from the folks who brought you Bye-Bye Birdie and Annie). It’s fun and silly and over the top in the ways that only a 60s musical can be. The authors hit on a conceit that it took years for modern comic books to find – that the only way to challenge a man who can’t be hurt by anything is to play on his human side. Dave C. had the strongest and clearest voice of any of the cast, but they were all entertaining.

Then I stopped in at Phoenix Landing for Katie H’s birthday. I can never go there without feeling that I have to keep an eye out to make sure any female friends aren’t molested – though Friday’s crop of females included three jiu-jitsu instructors – and it usually keeps me from having an absolute blast. However, all my caution went for naught on Friday, as someone took the unexpected step of detonating a stink bomb a little after midnight. Some frequently asked questions.

Q: A stink bomb? Are you sure?
A: Yes.

Q: Could it have been a natural gas leak?
A: Possibly, but I discount that because (A) not even natural gas smells that bad and (B) the staff didn’t seem in any hurry to get us out.

Q: Could it have been a really bad “human odor”?
A: As bad as that is, that smell tends to disseminate pretty quickly. This was too concentrated.

A wall of people surged to the exit in a fairly orderly fashion, cuing me to exit as well. I’m still glad I got to wish Katie a happy birthday and dance for a little bit.

On Saturday, after accidentally punching someone in the mouth during jiu-jitsu class, I went to Rachel’s for a surprise birthday party. I get remarkably neurotic around any complex enterprise – anything where presentation or the Grand Gesture become a big deal – so I channeled my neuroses into something useful by sitting in the living room on lookout. Bob Holt seemed genuinely surprised.

What followed was one of those incredibly laid back parties with 6 to 10 people in a living room, hovering comfortably between happy and silly drunk, swapping stories about childhood with no pressure or expectation. We talked about cable access TV, embarrassing high school moments, and professional football:

Serpico: Lawrence Taylor, greatest linebacker in the NFL …
Professor: Until Ray Lewis.
Serpico: Right, right. I suppose to reach that pinnacle of performance, you do have to either do cocaine or murder a man.
Professor: You have to do something to reach that level where killing a small white man holding a football feels right.

On Sunday I returned to tabletop gaming with a bang, hosting a game of Mutants and Masterminds in the new apartment. Fraley, Carubia, O’Keefe and Serpico showed up to roll d20s and save Boston from the combined efforts of Derek Jacobi and a pile of cockroaches.

Later that evening, I saw some folks playing Rock Band at Orleans in Davis Square. Now I must play Rock Band.

why you at the bar if you ain’t popping the bottles?

So what did this past weekend hold?

I finished up some revisions for a Neutrino video project on Friday. Then, at the last minute, I drove to Central Square to catch an IB Show. Serpico, Michelle McN., Manny R., Paul K. and others did a series of Boston-related sketches. They hit all the important notes for some good Boston satire – drunken college girls, rowdy Red Sox fans, the mumblings of Mayor Menino – and kept me laughing.

I ran into Jacey and grabbed dinner with her at Tavern on the Square. For some reason the bar hosted a live DJ mixing some generic top 40 pop at too loud of a volume to allow for easy conversation. Dance music’s apparently a regular fixture at the Tavern but not a popular one – we were there until 11:00 and nobody started moving.

Saturday, Dennis Hurley asked me to play an extra in a sketch video he was shooting at IB. I showed up, held a notebook, and chatted with Matt McG. and Aaron C. about Obama during downtime.

Immediately after, I met up with Shannon and Brian P. for that aforementioned Neutrino project. Watching Dennis’s pals mess around with shot placement and multiple takes infected me with the video bug once more, leading me to volunteer to direct a project I had just helped write. I have been infected. I expect a two month convalescence.

I hung out with Lisa C. at B-Side Lounge on Saturday night. The nice server at B-Side introduced me to the wonders of the Manhattan – all the taste and power of whiskey, but without the indelible stigma of ordering a shot of Canadian Club. It is now my favorite drink. We compared notes on the Cambridge dating scene and agreed that it’s fraught with traps.

Sunday I stayed in my bathrobe all day. Every now and then I need a day where I don’t speak to another human being. It scours the palate, like one of those water diets that drops you two dress sizes in a weekend at a slight cost to kidney health. It leaves me eager for human contact by sundown. My introversion rules me but doesn’t rule me, if you value the distinction.

Also of note: Star Wars Battlefront has some of the highest replay value of any video game I’ve ever bought. If I’m in the mood for violence, I don’t need to load up a game and start some highbrow, ivory-tower “mission.” I don’t need to begin a quest and speak to the city fathers. I just say, “Put me in the gas refineries on Bespin and let me shoot stormtroopers” and forty seconds later I’m doing it. It has a beautiful purity I almost fear to touch.

Those last two paragraphs are probably the most interesting. Once again I have buried the lede.

I said, fine ma! How’s Washington?

A couple notes from the weekend:

#: Once you get to Natick on the Mass Pike, missing your exit will add about 20-30 minutes to your trip. Especially in the driving rain.

#: An eagle-eyed Watertown police officer spotted my expired inspection sticker in my windshield on Friday. So I took the car to get inspected first thing Saturday morning. There’s a tiny garage around the corner from my place where you can drive in the back and get an inspection done while you wait.

I’m used to handing the car off to a mechanic and waiting fifteen minutes for the good word, so sitting in the car and doing most of the inspection myself opened my eyes to its simplicity.

“Turn on the headlights,” the guy said. “Now the high beams. Okay, put on the parking brake, then shift into Drive.” And so on for less than ten minutes.

#: I always knew you paid a markup when buying liquor in a bar1, but man! I tried an Irony Cabernet Sauvignon on Saturday that treated me just right. I Googled it today to see what I’d pay to take home a bottle of my own: less than 50% of the menu price. If I’m willing to trust my credit card to a sketchily-named online vendor, I can get a bottle for what I paid for a glass of this delicious wine. Why do I even leave the house to drink?

#: Speaking of: if someone’s invented a better beer for Chinese food than the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, bring this person to me. I will reward him with spices of Araby, silks from Cathay.

#: Sunday I made the right call in blowing off Neutrino rehearsal (sorry), as a fit of productivity followed: taking my bedroom rug outside and thwacking it severely, sweeping and Swiffering my room, and not only doing laundry but putting it away, too. In the same day!

#: Cooking experiment last night; stay tuned for updates.

1 When I say “markup,” I mean “the increased cost of a Boston liquor license, commercial zoning and downtown real estate, paid for by increasing the resale price of consumables.” C’mon! Who do you think you’re talking to?

end of work week, chillin’ on a saturday

I sat down and crunched some numbers last night and I’m pretty sure this past weekend was a good one on net.

Check for yourself:

+: I spent Friday evening in, watching Breach instead of heading to 90s’ Night. Sparkgrrl suggests that this was the wiser course, as apparently Allston has been invaded by drunken college kids. I’m as shocked as you.

: The Saturday jiu-jitsu workout felt marginal. I had a hard time focusing for the first hour – couldn’t remember obvious stuff, couldn’t commit to what was in front of me. I knocked over one of the fancy blown glass soap dispensers in Paul’s bathroom, scattering a fist-sized blob of soap and several shards of glass across the tile floor. It actually took a sharp blow to the head – from someone’s knee – to wake me up.

: On top of that, every time I make progress on one set of techniques I lose ground on another. I found myself struggling with stuff that I blew people away with three weeks ago (arm bars off of multiple attackers), though I had surprising luck with a usual trouble spot (irimi nage off of multiple attackers). And I haven’t even reached the stuff that I know I’m going to have trouble with – the black belt techniques. I’d lump this in under the point above but it’s a broad frustration, not a particular incident.

: And I still can’t do judo.

+: I caught up with Vickie and heard about her weekend. We talked about her review gigs, our first concerts and the Red Sox whipping up on BC. Ask her how much she loves Ashlee Simpson, because you will be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan in Boston.

+: The Neutrino writing team for the ITV submission had a remarkably productive meeting on Saturday night. I think we were all amazed at how much we cranked out in 2 hours. We’ve got some compelling and interesting characters who all have real reasons to be doing what they’re doing – namely, typical sitcom hijinks. We also established that the opposite of “womanizer” is “man-eater,” and that nothing’s funnier than a waiter dropping a tray of glasses. Nothing.

+: After sitting untouched for weeks, two of the books on my Amazon storefront sold within 36 hours of each other. I have no idea how Amazon makes money off this. They gave me $8 for shipping the two books, and even buying those cushioned MediaMailer envelopes at the Post Office I only spent $7 on Standard shipping. Hello, pocket change!

: I felt pretty tired on Saturday and Sunday. I pulled something in my lats on Friday after working them out really hard and then reclining funny on the bed later that evening.

: Also, it snowed again. Could someone just dump three feet of snow on Boston and then stop for the year, rather than three to five inches every six days?

+: I went grocery shopping on Sunday. I now have a variety of healthy snacks at my desk at work: Honey Nut Cheerios, Craisins, etc.

So the + and – seem pretty even. But I inflated my jiu-jitsu anxiety out into three separate entries where two might have sufficed. So I think, on net, that the weekend turned out productive.