Nat X hosts the Oscars! Posted by Hello I'll have a full recap later on, but overall I liked Chris Rock as a host -- anyone who gives it right back to Sean "Pompous Ass" Penn gets an A+ in my book. For now, enjoy this totally weird photo of Julia Roberts and Sidney Lumet: is he introducing her to his imaginary Oscar? Did he write crib notes on his palm? What?

UPDATE: OK, what can I say but, "Marty was robbed!" The show moved along at a good clip (though I loathed the "roving presenters" in the back of the auditorium) and once The Aviator started racking up awards, I felt a surge of hope...but it was quashed by the mysterious appeal of Clint Eastwood. Like Robert Redford, he's a much better director than actor (he's also a better actor by far than Redford in my book), but his material choices leave me cold. His movies are beautifully crafted, but the stories they tell are cold, regretful, and outrageously melodramatic -- only by the sheer talent of the actors he chooses does he achieve the appearance of epic drama, and not slip into soap opera. I guess that's an achievement in itself. But come on: Scorcese, man! What a body of work! Filled with great acting and vivid American energy! And The Aviator itself was great; it took a hell of a lot longer than 37 days to shoot it. Hmmm, could the Academy be put off by the unapologetically neurotic, NYC-centric, gnomish non-actor? I wonder...

UPDATE II: Check out the obscenely luxurious gift basket goodies presented to the nominees, presenters, and assorted Oscar hangers-on -- can celebrities not pay for their own olive oil now?
A biscuit for Mrs. Jill -- she sent in this bit of insanity for the lover of Spider-Man, crayons and criticism inside us all. "'Blue Violet' gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire." Whaaaa? Yet brilliant.
The excellent, infamous Dooce celebrates her blog birthday today -- and she's asked for readers to share their Most Embarrassing Moments. Finish your beverage and click over there for some schadenfreudalicious hilarity, or share your own tale of woe (I did). It's sort of comforting to read that everyone else's embarrassments also stem from a) bodily emissions, b) alcohol, and/or c) the indiscretions of youth.


Mmmm, quince jelly. Posted by Hello Today's ? du Jour comes from an academic inquiry into Mona Lisa Images For A Modern World. That smile sells, I suppose.
"Terminal illnesses, tragic accidents, executions – all provide occasions for high drama (and Much Acting) of the kind Oscar laps up like warm milk." -- Roger Ebert reveals "The Unwritten Rules of Oscar," from the "Death Test" to the "Holocaust Trump Card." He's like an expert on movies or something...I'll have a full report of the ceremony and my annual costumed soiree on Monday (I'm going as Mrs. Kinsey, be warned).
Condominatrixoleezza! -- West Coast Marky gets credit for sending in this utterly bizarre WaPo article on Condi's new duds: "She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame "Matrix" jump kick if necessary." So now our foreign policy is based on a Keanu Reeves movie? Come to think of it, that explains a lot.
Friday is a silly day, deserving of silly links:

* Ridiculously Reimagined Romance Novel Covers -- I think The Love Bum is my favorite.

* Search (Engine) and Destroy -- GoogleFight creates an animated battle between two search terms of your choice. This is more fun than it sounds.

* Make a Silly Sentence at the Reading Rainbow site. Here's mine: The monster sits on a purple bicycle on the moon. Woah!

* Finally, the truth can be told: Elvis was a Stormtrooper!


I love the internet. Posted by Hello It's a place to learn all about vintage microphones and the stars who sang into them. Call it the Niche du Jour.
I am so lame -- having slacked off the Gothamist gravy train some time ago, it was only today that I discovered they are finally up and running here in Boston. Behold: Bostonist! It's a website about Boston. Woo!
"And the Best Actor Who Overcame Career Embarrassment is..." -- Ah, Low Culture, where in the hell did you find that teenage Leo picture? I think it's telling that Don Cheadle's career nadir is a lot less embarassing than the others...he deserves the Oscar for years of being the best thing about several bad movies. Kudos!
The Gates of Somerville -- Art comes to the hipster doofus masses of the Boston area. Well, imitation is the sincerest form of...something. There's even an exhibition at City Hall tomorrow afternoon, plus the NYTimes makes gentle fun of the local smartass/artist. Success!


Meet the Two Marks behind Weird N.J. -- ah, my home state, filled with weirdness and those who celebrate it. Their magazine is the best nightstand reading you will ever find, and I'm not just saying that because I've been to some of the weird places in there. See the photo in this LA Times interview? That life-size concrete Mercedes tombstone is 5 minutes from my parents' house. Booyah!


"Hell no! I like girls!" Posted by Hello And with that emphatic pronouncement, Patty Bouvier rejected her unmasked female impersonator would-be-bride at the altar, and came out for good on last night's Simpsons. Massachusetts, Vermont (sort of), a bit of Canada, and now Springfield, ahh.
Ticket Stub: I spent Saturday afternoon in Kendall Square with Miss Kim, first looking for vintage clothes, then eating yuppie pizza, and finally seeing Inside Deep Throat, a flashy documentary on "the most profitable film ever made." Now, I've never seen the original flick, but I knew the story, and the doco includes a few, um...pivotal clips. The filmmakers have a very juicy topic -- the sexual revolution, amateur pornographers, the Mafia, the Justice Department, etc. They focus on the social context, then on the people who made Deep Throat (the director, a Queens hairdresser-turned-auteur, was my favorite, he's now 70+ and lives in Florida in high-waisted pants), the wave of legal repercussions, and how American culture and especially the "adult" industry have changed since the gauzy, naive 70's. This is all well and good, but it sounds like PBS -- and the directors here were going more for VH1. I found the soundtrack and visuals goofy and distracting, and the quick-cutting style made the film seem less substantial than it really was. A parade of talking heads, from John Waters to Alan Dershowitz, helped somewhat, but there was also a clear bias against any party who tried to rain on the porn parade back in the day: the federal prosecutor is presented as a prudish hick, and feminists like Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem are shown as shrewish party-poopers. Uneven, but still enlightening. (B-)
If you, like me, are stuck at work on a snowy federal holiday, you might enjoy passing some time at Eric Conveys An Emotion. How have I not seen this dude? Everything from suave to hypnotized to caught your girlfriend with someone else...on command! I fell over laughing at the American Idol one, of course.
"If the Industrial Age was built on people's backs, and the Information Age on people's left hemispheres, the Conceptual Age is being built on people's right hemispheres. We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers." -- So posits Daniel Pink in his forthcoming book, A Whole New Mind. Allow me to quote Jason Gould in 'Say Anything': "This gives me hope! Thanks!"
You've seen The Gates, now behold The Crackers -- "The installation was completed with no permits or bureaucracy, and fed to the ducks after about a half hour." Now that's art.
R.I.P. H.S.T. -- and to think, the last published work of the Gonzo King is an interview with Bill Murray entitled 'Shotgun Golf.' Oh dear.


Warning: Bathtime Ahead. Posted by Hello One of Juergen Specht's extensive collection of Japanese signs. Enjoy...and be warned.
How To Tell If You're American -- as opposed to, say, Mexican or Turkish. I think some of the points are so general they're silly ("You are not a farmer"), but some are dead on. Like my bacon crisp, check. There sure are a lot of lawyers...uhh, no comment.
Ticket Stub: Last night was Ladies Movie Night, and after two depressing dramas in a row, we wanted something light, frothy, dare I say inconsequential. The Wedding Date did and did not meet these criteria. As the abysmal reviews promised, it was disjointed, unfunny, badly paced, a cliched patchwork of other, better romantic comedies. But...it wasn't dumb and grating, as I though it might be, it was just sort of...lost. There were pieces of a much better movie in there: some good dialogue, better premise than I expected, decent acting. But the pieces were so sloppily assembled the story fell apart. Too bad: this could have been another Wedding Singer or Wedding Planner. Extra points off for a deplorable soundtrack of faux-Motown covers. (D)
It says a lot about the kind of week I've been having that it took me until just now to read the news that there may actually be LIFE ON MARS, people. Teensy, bacterial life, but Martians all the same. Click on the interactive feature in this article for a kooky H.G. Wells illustration, too. I for one welcome our...oh, never mind.
''In the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and [my guess is] that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination." -- Thus spake Lawrence Summers: president of Harvard, extemporaneous theorizer on biological determinism, and basically a bit of a jerk. The saga continues...


Sofia in a can. Posted by Hello Behold the delightful sparkling beverage Nat presented to me at our Valentine's Day dinner (of burgers at the Town Diner, so it fit right in). The cans are diminutive (a mere 187ml) and come with a cute but flavor-squelching bendy straw...a strange blend of sophisticated adult taste and girlish whimsy, just like its namesake, I suppose.

While I'm touting V-Day gifts, let me make a plug for the cast-iron Bacon Press I presented to Nat in return. This thing is more than a smiling porcine kitchen friend. It does more than straighten your bacon (hee hee). I've been enjoying the most decadent grilled cheese sandwiches with this thing -- perfectly golden and crisp, with a melting interior, mmmmm. It's a $12 panini press, people! Get yours today.
"It's not
the eggrolls, Harry,
it's the last ten years."

-- from today's daily poem at Slate.
"How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American?" -- A question I've often asked myself. WaPo review of Jim Wallis' new book, God's Politics: How The Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get It.
"They all have romance (but you almost never see a kiss), comedy and action, and often overt patriotism, sometimes to the detriment of Pakistan." -- That would be Bollywood movies, my friend! Immerse yourself in their splendor at Bollywood For The Skeptical, a tidy fansite with music clips, a Hindu/English glossary, and an unapologetic attitude. It's even spawned an imitator, Ska For The Skeptical. I for one have no skepticism for either, falling for one in middle school and the other in college. I remember hanging out in my friend Maninder's living room in 6th grade, totally hypnotized by a Bollywood musical her grandmother was watching on tape -- I would've gladly watched the whole 5 hours but of course my friend wanted to trade stickers instead. Sigh...


Hmm, a black shower curtain. Posted by Hello "Bathroom" by Rosa McElneny of Newton North High School is one of the winning artworks in the annual Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards. I like it.
"You are about to enter a world...where reality and fantasy...collide!" -- Yup, it's The Republican Zone. Thank you, Tom Tomorrow...
This one's for all you Camry drivers out there -- the bumpersticker of the year. Hee hee. While we're on the subject of driving, this morning as I traversed the typically cratered wintertime roads of greater Boston, I passed over several steaming patches of asphalt in Waltham. Steaming! Like the potholes had just been hastily filled by a DPW S.W.A.T. team (if only), or an irate motorist. Will check status on drive home.
The Official Rules of Calling Shotgun -- and you thought the internet wasn't good for anything. The lawyer in me appreciates the thoroughness, including exotic variations like "Australian Shotgun" and the "Jedi Run."
"Building a motion picture soundtrack from the component parts of other popular motion picture soundtracks is a great way to reward your audience for their previously exhibited good taste." -- Heh. Low Culture dissects the soundtrack to Inside Deep Throat, plucked from similarly 70's-vibed flicks like Boogie Nights, Pulp Fiction, and SuperFly. Cheaters.
Ticket Stub: For the third year in a row (!), I spent my Valentine's Day at the overheated Brattle Theater in Harvard Square with the Natster...ah, bliss. It's the site of our first date, and their annual showing of Casablanca (what else?) brings out a romantic crowd...last night, unfortunately, it was mainly romantic college kids who laughed at all these really strange places in the dialogue, oh well. But the movie holds up over time, of course -- this year I noticed how much the filmmakers accomplished with a laughably minimal set, creating so much atmosphere against a plain backdrop. One intricately detailed object -- a table lamp with beaded fringe, Yvonne's sequined blouse, the glowing neon sign at Rick's, the rhinestone brooch pinned to Ilsa's white suit -- creates great visual interest, without distracting from the story. There is also great use of shadows: in the cafe, there are shadows thrown by palm fronds and the patterned lamps on the walls; upstairs in Rick's apartment, when Ilsa confronts him, the louvered shutters cast shadows across their faces. And of course in the last scene, her face is half-shadowed by that iconic hat, contrasted against the pearly fog. Still the best! (A+)


"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this." -- A Princeton philosopher is stirring up a you-know-what-storm with his new treatise, "On Bullshit," the title of which the NYTimes, in its modesty, won't print. Prof. Frankfurt makes a compelling point: B.S. artists are not the same as liars, who reject truth; all a bullshitter cares about is "getting away with what he says," which undermines the institutions he represents. Sound like anyone we know? Yikes.


Reminds me of an album cover... Posted by Hello ...but it's actually a dandelion stamen and pollen, in extreme closeup. Today's ? du Jour is brought to you by Nikon's Small World Gallery, full of incredible micrography images like this one. Neato.
Is it art or just plain old crap? -- Take the quiz and see. The inclusion of Jeff Koons makes this somewhat tricky.
Emily is booming! -- My parents were clearly on the cutting edge back in 1974. Not for my sibs, though: Rebecca, Josh, and Sara all peaked back in the day. This thing is a little too much fun to play with...try plugging in Zoltan or oldies like Helen (now try Helena, what's up with that?), George, or Irene. Or try Charity and Chastity for a revealing look at the fickle American psyche...what's in a name, indeed.
Oh Corey Feldman, we hardly knew ye -- as if the Jackson trial could get any weirder, 80's child star Feldman has been subpoenaed (now that is fun to type) to testify on his relationship with Jackson back in the day. For added verisimilitude, I think the parties should be required to dress in their 80's attire for court that day....hmm, would I choose Corey's classic Goonies Members Only jacket and fashion-forward Purple Rain t-shirt, or perhaps the sympathetic loser duds of Stand By Me's Teddy Duchamp? Wait, wait -- this Tiger Beat pinup really says it all, no?
Questions Frequently Asked About TiVo, Answered by Someone Who Loves TiVo Too Much -- Uh-oh, I think I am that person. *Bleep Bloop*


Sometimes, justice is quick & dirty-- especially for fake journalists planted at the White House. GOP compadre "Jeff Gannon" aka James Dale Guckert went down in scandalous, snarky flames yesterday. Heh. This story bugs me much less than the White House columnist payola scheme, but it's more colorful.


What do you suppose he's listening to? Posted by Hello Perhaps "The LEGO Song"? He lives at Podbrix.com, and dares to take on two copyright juggernauts at once...bravo!
What's on George W.'s nightstand? -- Besides the obvious red phone and TV remote, there's some bedtime reading too. Apparently the Prez likes Tom Wolfe's latest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, a boozy, seamy collegiate tale. I'll forgo the easy jokes (after all, his wife is a literacy advocate), but I am willing to bet cash money he's got this book on tape. "20 to 30 pages" per night? 20 to 30 minutes on the Oval Office treadmill is more like it. Hmph.
Feeling a little low energy? Need to get your blood pressure up nice and high? -- Then follow my lead and peruse this Slate article investigating how Don Rumsfeld is hiding $20 to $40 BILLION in defense spending in next year's budget, by underestimating, using bookkeeping loopholes, and continuing to fund Cold War technologies. Gackk...my aorta...
Right back atcha, Angry Guy -- check out this anti-New England screed at Overheard in New York. Ah, there's nothing sweeter than a New Yorker's impotent rage...don't forget to click on the Comments.
Would you care for a "Chewie Is My Copilot" t-shirt? -- Check out the wag swag at DieselSweeties, land of the eponymous pixillated web comic. I think my cheeky t-shirt needs for SXSW are met, but I like this one...hmmm...
"The audience is practically howling for blood!" -- Well, they're howling for something, anyway...what's certain is, Owen Wilson's got Ben Stiller's back. He wrote a letter to The New Yorker telling off David Denby for slagging Ben (with some kernels of truth sprinkled in there, surely). Now, that's loyalty. (Via Kottke.)
I predict a battle royal between Mr. Incredible and Shrek when Best Animated Feature is announced -- Following the "If it's not broke, break it" Hollywood credo, Oscars telecast producer Gil Cates announced some kooky changes to the ceremony format. Like handing out "lower level" awards in the audience (i.e. no acceptance speeches for the "nobodies" who do costumes, sound, etc.), or having a group of nominees onstage together and then handing the statuette to the winner. Yeah, this is going to work out well.
"All the women I meet who are on a diet are unhappy and grumpy and boring." -- So claims Mireille Guiliano, a "typically" thin, elegant Frenchwoman whose hit book French Women Don't Get Fat prescribes small bites of dessert and gallons of leek soup to her plumper sisters abroad, in this somewhat incredulous NYTimes interview. I think this is more my idea of the French diet plan, frankly...


A toast... Posted by Hello Today's ? du Jour comes from the collection of the all-online American Museum of Photgraphy. Enjoy...
Today's Phyrric victory for PETA -- under pressure from the publicity-hungry animal-rights group, Mercedes-Benz announced it will produce a line of leather-free luxury cars. As in, no more leather seat covers, etc. Because that leather is so much more environmentally devastating than the petroleum-guzzling engine, vehicle emissions, and so forth. Sheesh.
One week 'til V-Day -- Ladies, there's still time to order yourself some password-protected panties.
10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Crises of 2004 -- because it can't be all fun and games over here all day long. MSF, better known as Doctors Without Borders, has a short blurb on ten examples of global suffering that probably did not reach your ears last year, from tuberculosis to the North Korean famine. If you've got something left in your piggy bank after tsunami relief and/or Darfur, click here.
Harry Potter and the U.S. Army Infringement Squadron -- this story is an uncanny blend of some of my favorite things: copyright law, HP & friends, the neverending comedy of human behavior, and...uh...the U.S. military? Well, at any rate this will make a great anecdote for my class. Note to Army brass: next time, hire someone more creative to disguise your misdeeds.

Brrrrlichick! Posted by Hello I always thought of the soak-the-coach move as fun and spirited, but looking at this shot I'm thinking, "Ow! Ice water!" Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his elderly dad (!) feel the icy blast of victory last night as the Pats fought it out with the Iggles, winning by 3 points, of course. As a total Janie-come-lately football fan, I say "Go Pats!"

As for the rest of the SuperBowl experience, it was no wardrobe malfunction. The halftime show was surprisingly decent, the commentators were typically loud and oafish, and the commercials were generally tame and occasionally amusing. Uh, except that revolting Quizno's spot with the bikini babe flirting with the digitally warped baby...ewwwwww. Thanks to Kim's mostess-hostessing, we had ample dinner and snackage (mmmm, baked ziti). Until next year...

Update: Entertaining S.Bowl play-by-play provided by everyone's favorite Laid Off Dad!


"He's such a humble person for someone who's such a megastar." -- Right. Prepare for disbelief as you read this earnest travelogue from one young British Michael Jackson fan who flew to LA to "support"her favorite celebrity wacko. The eternal question: what is it with this guy? I'm as big a fan of "Thriller" as the next person, but he has long since transcended (subscended?) his pop efforts into the realms of idle eccentricity and possibly (probably?) criminal deeds. How does he keep up a fan base among kids who were infants when his last good record came out? On American Idol last night, there was one full-regalia MJ impersonator, as well as several otherwise normal-looking contestants belting out his tunes. I for one would rather see a dozen bad wannabe-Whitneys than a chinos-clad programmer wiggling around to "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Yick.
Meta-Simpsons Valentine's Day cards -- YES!

Mmmm, Beetle. Posted by Hello Keywords for today's ? du Jour: white chocolate, mall, candy, Valentine's, and of course, Japan.
I missed the State of the Union last night because of my theatrical bent (see below), and couldn't be bothered to TiVo it because part of the "fun" is getting bent out of shape and ranting at the TV at the exact same time as all the other bleeding heart, blue state, latte-swilling liberal snobs, right? Heh. I leave it to DJ Blurb to recap for you.

Looking over the transcript, I'd pick out this as my "favorite" line: Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side. This from the man who casually signed off on 152 executions while Gov. of Texas. What if those 152 people didn't have effective counsel? Whoops, too little too late now! Let me guess: you go to the gas chamber with the lawyer you have, not the lawyer you want, right?
And now, a theatrical Ticket Stub installment: Kim and I saw "The Moonlight Room" last night at the Speakeasy Stage Co., and were blown away by the debut of young Ian Michaels. Just graduated from Lexington High, playing the fast-talking, goofy, troubled Josh, he projected a natural intensity that made the rest of the cast seem stiff and stagey by comparison. The play was an Off-Broadway sensation, and though it has a streak of adolescent melodrama (the plot revolves around a teen overdosing on Ketamine, and his friends and their parents stewing in the hospital waiting room) by the end it developed a sad, affecting tone that stays with you. (B-)


Apprentice to Martha -- Oh, holy cats, this is my big chance...I too am a creative, hardworking, slightly obsessive hostess with Jersey roots! Ooh, and I have an unrelated first career, WASPy man, hot glue gun, weakness for carbs, and Slavic parentage! Pick me, Martha, pick me!
"Honk If You Like Discrimination" -- Don't get me started about the special-interest license plate trend. Fight cancer, support veterans, more money for public education -- OK, whatever. Then some states moved into more controversial territory -- "choose life", private Greek organizations, etc. Now the Commonwealth of Virginia is considering a "Traditional Marriage" plate. Brainchild of GOP state delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (insert your own etymological joke here), this is supposed to...what? Encourage mass heterosexual monogamy? Wag the finger of the state at single parents, adoptive grandparents, gay families, childfree people? What a waste of resources -- if you're going to hijack the state revenue stream to promote bigotry, maybe you should pick a state that wasn't the battleground of interracial marriage. You know, the state that promotes itself as "For Lovers"? Sheesh. Here's one naughty design suggestion from a similarly disgruntled blogger...hee.
Hmmmm -- my packet of Lipton Ring-O-Noodle soup mix is emblazoned with the following:

1. The not-reassuring phrase "with real Chicken Broth!"
2. Brief "recipes" for Salsa Soup (stir 1/2 c. salsa into soup, garnish with cheese), Frankfurter Soup (prepare soup with sliced hot dogs, garnish with mustard), and Ring-O-Pizza Soup (prepare soup with tomato sauce (?) and chopped pepperoni, garnish with cheese). Oh dear.
3. The Lipton 800 Line phone number, for questions or comments (like, WTF is up with those recipes?).
4. A Clifford The Big Red Dog word search puzzle.
5. These admonishments: "This unit not labeled for retail sale" and "Refrigerate Any Unused Cooked Portion." Huh?
6. Ingredients listing that ranks Chicken Broth (see #1) third from the bottom (only contains less Caramel Color and Onion Powder), below Whole Egg, MSG, Cornstarch, Chicken Fat, and Parsley.

Am I thinking about this too much? What did I expect for $1.19? Besides, the soup is pretty good. Not Tabatchnick's good, but still.


Wherefore art thou, Romeo? Posted by Hello In keeping with tradition, TAI welcomes our newest reader, Romeo the Blizzard Baby! That's right, he chose the worst winter weather in Boston history to make his grand entrance...and we are so glad. Huzzah!
With only 2 weeks to go 'til St. Hallmark-tine's Day, here are some Gift Ideas, care of The Morning News. For such a hipster rag, I must say I expected something less generic...boxers? flowers? jewelry? Ho-hum. OK, the porn-o-gami book is kinda fun, in an Urban Outfitters way. I think Nat has expressed his love and devotion for all of 2005 by setting up the TiVo, frankly...of course, a little something-something is always nice. ;P
LEGO wedding cake -- mmmm, crunchy. It's been a while since I posted a good LEGO Genius link...enjoy.
"The Mystery of A Feminist Icon" -- Salon's Priya Jain examines Nancy Drew, girl sleuth and symbol of spunkiness to six decades of young (female) readers. But Nancy's latest incarnation is a little less steely teenage perfection, a little more "Does this make me look fat?" Hmmmm...I always liked reading the mysteries, they seemed so retro and the plots were satisfying, sort of a precursor to my current L&O obsession, I guess. Bring back the titian-haired ice princess!
I got a spam email from Voldemort today -- the end is near! Oddly, he was offering me a free copy of his nemesis' sixth book, in exchange for participation in a marketing survey. This explains a lot about his villainy...
I spent a weekend out in bucolic Berkshire County (actually referred to as "the Shire" by some locals) with my mom and sisters, and I recommend it if you're in the area. We stayed at the Red Lion Inn, which was sort of like sleep-away camp in an antiques store, and took in some crazy contemporary art at MassMoCA, the coolest place by far in Massachusetts. There was a deep quilt of snow everywhere, and we spent two long afternoons peoplewatching in front of the inn fireplace...spoiled only a little by some obnoxious yuppies from NYC, swigging apres-ski Bloody Marys and yammering loudly about themselves ("We went to Telluride at Christmas on our friend's chartered plane...," "I blew out my knee playing volleyball at Brown...," "I love Caller ID, I just love it!," "That new Mexican place on 96th has the best margaritas, with really cheap tequila...," blah blah blah blah blah ad infinitum). If you can avoid this, so much the better.