Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Redemption, Cambridge style

I realized last night after yelling at a fellow motorist for the fourth or fifth time this week that I have occasional issues with rage. These are usually restricted to when I'm in the car, because driving in Cambridge (even more so than in Boston) will destroy your faith in a universal order. The one-way streets and criminalized U-turns are stacked up in such a way that mankind does not stand a chance. You might be able to snake your way through the city without a scratch, but you will die a day earlier in spite of it.

(By the way, a big middle finger to the Porter Square shopping plaza, where I'm sure they'll start pouring sugar into everyone's gas tanks as yet another way to screw you—tight parking spaces, narrow lanes, aloof cabbies and carriage corralers, retarded pedestrians and no way to exit south on Mass. Ave. are not enough in the war against reason. And I seem to be the only one bothered by this.)

Alright, this was supposed to be my positive Cambridge entry. Really, though, I love living here. I love my apartment, and sharing it with A. and my cat Steve and even the corpse of the giant spider I killed last night. I love getting one of the best burgers in town ninety seconds away from my doorstep, and washing it down with a great beer menu to boot (that is, a selection from the beer menu; the menu itself slakes no thirst!). I love walking to Harvard Square and taking advantage of the forty-second Walk light at the main intersection (actually a triangle) that kicks my sanity in the nuts whenever I'm stuck trying to drive through. (I know it's forty seconds because the display counts down from forty. Forty! Seconds!)

Deep breaths. The first thing I love about Cambridge this week actually started out badly. Back in April I walked out to my car that wasn't there—it had been towed. Short story is there was a sign that said you couldn't park there during the day on Tuesday and I was towed on Wednesday. So not only did I have a parking ticket to battle, I had to head out to the tow yard (not subway-accessible, naturally) and drop $65 to retrieve my car. Hey, who doesn't like handing out $65 on a whim? (Of course I'm blaming the city here, not the tow yard. Even though the owner of the place took offense when I made some remark about how no one likes to visit a tow yard because it means you got towed, and who likes that? Hey, they did a good job towing my car. Real nice. But let's not pretend your service offers as pleasant a customer experience as, say, back-alley mattress sales.) The good news is—after many fruitless conversations with an asshole named Margaret who repeatedly assured me my claim was "still being investigated," which I think is bureaucrat-speak for "You and your claim can blow me"—I finally got my goddamn $65 back. I'm thinking I might buy myself $65 worth of gum, chew it up real good and stick it in every city-property keyhole I can find.

Happy story, part two: progress on the William Dawes site! I wrote about this in September, and I'm happy to say the project is nearly complete. Something is seriously wrong though, because they only started on it the other day and should finish by the weekend. This goes against every Cambridge construction policy I'm familiar with. Instead of a lazy/unionized clan there are only like four guys (seems just right) who've actually been working. So I'm guessing they're either non-union (wonderful!) or, even better, four guys who just got sick of looking at that shit and decided to get it done. Bravo! I'll have to give them some of that gum.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Lost in the maize

What can I say, I'm good with puns. Anyway, A. and I had a fun Autumn Sunday last weekend: we went leaf-peeping, picked some apples and then conquered the Davis Mega-Maze. This is a seriously large cornstalk maze in central Mass.—about an hour away—that we learned about in the AAA newsletter, of all things. No AAA discount though. What the fuck?

Once we traversed the parking lot maze (not really, but close) we started our adventure. They said it could take anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours or more to reach the exit. Frankly, I don't think thirty minutes is possible unless you have a map or guess correctly all the way through. We did it in about eighty minutes, which is pretty good for a first time (they change up the maze once or twice per week).

Throughout the maze are these bridges that raise you above the corn so you can supposedly see where to go, but it doesn't really help since it just makes you realize how far off the mark you are. There are also these pit-stop areas along the way where you can take a pee break, eat a snack, paint your face or zap some villains (there's an odd superhero theme to the whole thing). It's important to remember how to get back to these spots, since they act as hubs from which to move forward instead of backward. We also had to get over the fact that we repeatedly saw the same people over and over for a while, going in all directions, and just trust that no one else knew what they were doing any more than we did. Once we adopted this attitude we pretty much cruised, except for some of the muddier spots (it was close to seventy degrees on Sunday after snowing a couple of inches on Saturday; did I mention we live in New England?).

As you exit they reward you with a token proclaiming that you are a maze superhero. Hopefully, if we make a habit of this and conquer the maze once every Autumn for the next twenty years, I'll have enough tokens to melt them down and fashion a championship belt.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

It’s football season so please move on

What's getting lost in all this Red Sox/Theo Epstein hooplah is the fact that Dan Shaughnessy is a terrible, terrible writer.

Seriously though, all of this mess was avoidable. Many people are saying (and these people are right) that Theo should have been offered a contract extension on October 28 of last year, the morning after the Sox won the World Series. Maybe it's a little poetic justice, since Theo waited until the last minute to try to re-sign Pedro last year and it fell through. But I have respect for him right now, since walking away is probably the most difficult decision he could have made. (And difficult is a relative term because he won't go hungry any time soon.)

This story should blow over in the next few days, hopefully, since it's not the end of the world. Theo did a great job, but I think a lot of people could do at least a good job with the payroll the team can afford. Even Dan Duquette—Theo's predecessor who is hated around here for letting Clemens go, even though these same haters agreed at the time that Clemens was on the downslope—did well in signing Pedro, Varitek, Damon, Lowe and others. Whoever lands here, so long as he's not a total nut, should do fine. (And as much of an ass as Lucchino is at times, he's an intelligent baseball guy who's been around the league a long time. Too bad he didn't put the kibosh on the Renteria signing, though, and insist on keeping my man Orlando Cabrera. Everyone in New England knew that was a mistake before it was even official.)

Last note: A. and I had the news on Monday night, and hadn't yet heard anything about Theo's resignation. The sound was muted so we couldn't hear the report, but the headline on the screen read "Theo Resigns." So A. said "Oh no, Theo resigned!" (as in quit) and I said "No, it's re-sign" (as in signed again), because that was the story earlier in the day. Language is a funny thing.