Friday, October 28, 2005

Plenty of Waffling Here (or, Rebecca, Your Breakfast Is Waiting!)

When I wrote last week about eating pancakes at Josephs Two in Waltham, I mentioned that we go elsewhere for waffles. The lovely Rebecca was eager to hear more. So here goes:

In Tewksbury, right off I-495 (kind of near the Tewksbery/Lowell line) is a place called Vic's Waffles. We discovered it almost as soon as our arrival four years ago, because my husband's company put us up in an apartment in Tewksbury. (Nice place. Maybe roomier than our house. But I digress.) At the time, it was called TD Waffle (and it may still say that on the green "food" highway sign up on 495). Somewhere along the way, it became Vic's, but under any name, it's a great place for huge breakfasts at very reasonable prices.

I usually get the waffle (they're the large Belgian variety) with a slice of ham on the side. (If I remember correctly, that's the number 6--you order by number.) But that also comes with two eggs, any style. And yummy hash browns (or home fries, but I like my breakfast 'taters shredded). And toast. And, if you ask for them, you can get pretty good baked beans as well.

All this for about $6.50. I mean, jeez--you can't get anywhere near that much food (and nowhere near as good food) at a fast-food place. And the waitresses are nice, and they keep your coffee cup filled.

They also have an extensive menu of other goodies, including pancakes, omelettes, corned beef hash, and so on, but--as though compelled by a higher force--I always get the waffles.

A few things about Vic's: On weekends, it gets a little crowded, so be prepared to wait, especially after about 9:30 a.m. In true diner-like fashion, they're only open till about 2 p.m., though they start early. They only take cash, so bring real green stuff. (And for God's sake--it's breakfast. Leave a decent tip.)

I'd better stop now. It's getting late, and the word "waffle" is starting to dance in my brain...

Can We Be Sidekicks?

Welcome to any and all new readers who have found me via the Boston Globe's new Sidekick section (scroll down the page to see my link and about a dozen others). As a featured blogger, I'm happy to welcome you to my world. Please feel free to comment--I'd love to hear from you.

And thanks to the nice folks at the Globe for picking my blog, because if it makes my mom proud, then it must be good. (And be sure to check out one of my regular reads, Pink and Green Girl--she's a Sidekicker, too!)

Virginia Tech-30, BC-10

At risk of ruining my new-found "nice woman" status, don't say I didn't warn you. Go Hokies!! Go Marcus Vick!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's Official: I'm a Nice Woman

I'm addicted to Although I subscribe to the magazine, the daily site is much more fun (and, of course, timely). There's a daily feature called The Watercooler, where various TVG writers recount their adventures in viewing on a show-by-show basis.

Two weeks ago, one of the writers, Angel Cohn, recapped the week's episode of NUMB3RS, the slightly geeky show about ... well, geeks, actually. But cute geeks. Who solve major crimes. My husband being a mathematician and all, we feel as though we have a vested interest in the program, so we always watch it. In that review, Ms. Cohn mentioned that she liked the show, but wasn't sure how accurate it was. In particular, she wanted to know if real mathematicians still write their formulas in longhand on boards (as the show's main character, Charlie Eppes, does) instead of using computers. Using the page's Web form, I sent her a note reassuring her that yes, real mathematicians scrawl their work across every available flat surface. Just this week, Jim used a paper towel to capture a sudden thought.

All of this is leading somewhere, I assure you.

In this week's recap (which appeared Monday in the Over the Weekend section), Ms. Cohn wrote a plot summation, then added:
The writers do a great job of integrating the personal and work story lines. Oh, and on a separate note, thanks to the nice woman who wrote in saying that her husband does his mathematical calculations long hand on a white board, like Charlie. Knowing that little fact makes me happy because not only are the writers clever with their plots, they're also accurate.
That's me! I'm the "nice woman!" Now that it's in print (or rather, on the Web), we know it must be true. That's very reassuring, in a nice sort of way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Where's the Premium for Giving Already?

I enjoy WBUR's programming, really I do. In fact, I enjoy it enough that I give money every year. I know that the fundraising the station does is necessary, as it is for nearly every non-profit organization/charity; WBUR is not unique in that respect.

But it's (sigh) fall fundraising time again. It happens, however, that this year I gave several months ago. Got the tax receipt from Boston University to prove it. As usual, all the begging gets in the way of the standard programming. (I only hope this is a national thing, because otherwise the begging might be overriding some all-important piece on All Things Considered about saving rare llamas in Peru. Are other regions of the country hearing about the llamas, while we get the begging?)

I've noticed that if you give a certain amount, you often get a premium--a tote bag, a coffee mug, whatever. (I actually make a point of donating outside of regular fundraising periods, directly through the website. I have never gotten one of the premiums because of this.) But premiums are good for fundraising, so I propose the following: For regular contributors like myself, our premium should be a special code that unlocks an FM frequency with a fundraising-free feed of WBUR. I would gladly relinquish all claims on future coffee mugs/tote bags/umbrellas/autographed copies of the memoirs of Bob Oakes for that one small thing. Who's with me on this?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pancake Heaven, SFNE Style

For reasons that aren't clear to me, I woke up yesterday morning with an intense craving for pancakes. (No, I'm not pregnant, and in fact, I never once recall craving pancakes when I was.) In our family, when the craving is for pancakes, we head directly for Josephs Two in Waltham.

Josephs Two (there's only one restaurant, but two Josephs--a father and son), serves some of the best breakfast food in Metro West. Or anywhere in Boston for that matter. Or just ... anywhere. Breakfast is so popular, they finally gave into diners' demands and started serving it all day (there's also have an extensive lunch and dinner menu). My parents insist--insist--on going there at least once on every visit from Virginia.

What with the pancake craving and all, I had no choice but to order the Cape Codder breakfast, which comes with the restaurant's native-cranberry pancakes--a three-stack of tasty, fluffy loveliness, counterpointed by lots of tart fruit. They also serve equally good wild blueberry cakes. Also fabulous French toast called Bananas Supreme that's like a syrupy sugar high on a plate. Also great steak and eggs, sometimes made with the leftover prime rib from dinner.

Really, these people have breakfast down to an art. Besides the wonderful food, they have none of that "no substitutions" thing that makes diners so cranky before the first cup of coffee of the day. You can even upgrade plain pancakes to cranberry, blueberry, or chocolate chip for a small charge, or add a side of the Bananas Supreme.

I'm a breakfast nut, especially on weekends. Take the paper, order coffee, eat carbs and protein. Great way to get yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning. Go to Josephs, pick a breakfast special with a New England-y name, and enjoy.

(P.S. When our craving is for waffles, it's off to Vic's Waffles in Tewksbury, but that's for another post...)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I Still Heart Katamari

This afternoon, when I should have been doing laundry or finishing the coat-closet cleanup I started, I spent a couple of hours playing "We Love Katamari," the sequel to "Katamari Damacy," which is simply the greatest videogame ever.

The Katamari games are the two best examples of pick-up-and-play, minute-to-learn-but-a-lifetime-to-master design I've ever seen. Basically, you roll a sticky ball--a katamari--around different levels, collecting items ranging from matchsticks to football stadiums to Jumboman (it's a Japanese game, after all). Sounds goofy (to a certain extent is goofy), but more fun than a barrel of monkeys (rolled up onto a sticky ball, of course). It's not surprising that the original game won every conceivable award from the gaming world in such areas as most creative, best music, etc., etc.

The name "We Love Katamari" isn't just an amusing "we couldn't think of a sequel name" moniker, either. Although the gameplay is very similar to the original, this one may be the world's first po-mo, self-reflexive videogame. The "plot" still involves the King of the Cosmos (think Donald Trump, only gigantic, better looking, and even more self-absorbed) dealing with requests from fans of the first game to roll up specialty katamaris--1,000 origami cranes, say, or every student in a school. (This will all make sense if you just play the games, preferably in order, though that's not a requirement.)

There's even a two-player mode that's a little lame, but at least allows The Boy and me to share rounds instead of passing the controller back and forth. (Did I mention, by the way, that this is my game? I own it. I own both games, in fact. They're mine, all miiiinnneee...)

So go to the video store now. The weather's yucky; it's a good time to stay in and play. And if you're feeling at all guilty about the laundry or the coat closet, just remember that you're keeping up with a pop culture phenomenon. If you must justify it somehow, think of it as a lesson in post-modernism.

With Jumboman.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Harriet Miers: Blogger Unbound!!!

While sitting back and watching the self-destruction of Harriet Miers (slow-mo car crash comes to mind), be sure to get inside the head of the woman herself at the blogs of "the #1 smartest President ever's #1 pick to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court!"

Makes me wish I were living back in Northern Virginia, if only to get a front-row seat for the action.

Hokie Fever, Even in Boston

Virginia Tech beat the University of Maryland last night, 28-9, improving their overall record to 7-0. Woohoo!

There's at least one part of me I can't surrender to New England. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Once a Hokie, always a Hokie. When Virginia Tech (in contention to be BCS champ this year--yay!) plays Boston College next Thursday night, I'll be decked out in those ridiculous VT colors, burnt orange and Chicago maroon. (Whatever the hell the color maroon has to do with Chicago is beyond me, but such are the ways of the fabric-swatch namers.)

Some things can never be SFNE for me, no matter how hard I try. And admittedly, when it comes to Hokie sports, I don't try too hard. (Last night was sort of a battle of alma maters for our family--Jim has a master's and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, as well as bachelor's and master's degrees from Tech. He cares astoundingly little about college ball, however, and since my degree is from Tech, I always root for them. In this case, the vote of the person who cares more counts more.)

Of course, now that I've publicly declared my loyalty once again, I've probably doomed the team to a series of lackluster finishes. Such is the price of fandom, as any Sox fan knows. But in the meantime ...

Hokie Hi!
Polytech, Vir-gin-ia!

(What, you were expecting "On Wisconsin"?)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Boston, October 30: March for Voting Rights

Thanks to my friend Jill for clueing me in on the upcoming commemorative event re-enacting the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march led by Dr. Martin Luther King to protest voting restrictions on African Americans.
On October 30 at 1:00, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia will lead a commemorative march from the First Church in Roxbury to Boston Common, where more than 5,000 people are expected to participate in an effort to better understand the struggle for civil rights. The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and a consortium of civil rights and race relations organizations are organizing this important commemoration with support from Boston-area foundations and businesses.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act, passed just a few months after the original march, isn't up for renewal until 2007, but it's never too early to make your opinion known. Congressman Lewis is one of my personal heroes--I can only imagine it would be a thrill to walk the walk with this man.

For a more in-depth look at the Civil Rights era, there will also be a symposium on October 29 featuring speakers such as Lewis and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch.

Loss of Color in Lexington

I live in the land of "tear it down, and they will come." (In fact, if anyone wants to offer me a large sum to tear down my tiny old Cape Cod, I'll seriously entertain it.) Most of the new houses that arise from the removal of the old are considerably larger and more elaborate than what they've replaced, but even my envious eyes must admit that most of them are beautiful and style appropriate (bungalows, Georgian, Victorian, etc.)

In the last year, my favorite new tear-down replacement was a house on Waltham Street, near the Lexington Town Center. It was a Victorian (again, style appropriate) with the most amazing color scheme: blues, greens, yellows, with cream trim. I loved that house, and I'm sure the designer/builder put a lot of love and hope into it. It sat on the market for a while (or maybe I'm just thinking of the time it took to build it--can't really tell). Every time I'd drive by I'd admire the colors. Most authentic Victorians aren't just white, you know--they come in all kinds of shades, both bright and pastel. You need a big house to handle the variety of color (it would look strange and splotchy on a house like mine), but this one carried it with dignity and charm.

Well, apparently someone bought it, or perhaps the builder just gave in on his dream (again, can't tell). Now, my beautifully colored Victorian is all beige and cream. Tasteful, nice, all that. "More marketable," maybe.

I hope the new owners are very happy. But me, I miss the color, and I hope the builder tries again with another house. And if he does, I hope he drops me a line, so I can drive by and sigh, once more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Happy Birthday to the Boy!

Eleven years ago today, I gave birth (one of the longer and more crazy birth stories I know, of interest mainly--only--to other moms) to the World's Greatest Child. Join me in sending good wishes to my adorable boy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Make Up Your Mind Already!

After a week of yuck, we were teased with good weather Sunday morning. But by the afternoon it was grey again. Yesterday--beautiful (nice for those of us with windows in our offices, though in some ways it just increased our longing). Today, back with the grey, the drizzle, the chill (but not enough to pull out a truly warm coat; a jacket will do). Rumor has it the sun will peak out again tomorrow, but rain is in the forecast again for the weekend.

Did the weather gods know somehow that we wouldn't have to worry about playing any home games in this gloomy mess? Is that what this is all about?

Friday, October 14, 2005


This endless rain reminds me that soon enough we'll have endless snow. (If we're lucky. My husband gets very sad when the conditions aren't good enough to ski.)

Anyway, walking through the parking at lot at work, I'm once again reminded how you can tell a New Englander's car from, say, a Floridian's. It's the front license plate, of course.

Not the fact that we have them--some states require both a front and rear plate, others just a rear--but the fact that any New England car of greater than one year's vintage has a crumpled front plate. Nearly everyone's cars (including my own) show the dings, bends, and dents of running into snowbanks or pushing into curbs.

You could cover the state name on a Vermont, Mass., New Hampshire, or Maine plate and still guess the region it comes from, based on its condition--just as you can see hail dents on a hood and take a good guess that the vehicle spends a lot of its time in Texas or Oklahoma.

License plates are tough--they bend and bow long before they break. But like human faces, they show their life experience in their cracks and creases.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Stamps for the Memories

My Jim Henson (plus Muppets) stamps arrived yesterday. They're beautiful--10 stamps on the sheet featuring different Muppets, plus one special, eleventh stamp with Jim Henson's image.

According to the Henson Company website, Henson's first show began airing on local television in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago. I can hardly believe that. I was already in fourth grade when Sesame Street began airing, so I didn't learn to read or count via Muppet, but I've been a big fan forever. I loved the Muppet Show, which managed to be funny to both children and adults--a rare feat.

But now that I have my beautiful stamps, I can't bear to use them. Jim Henson died after a brief, but virulent, illness struck him down in 1990. Rumor has it he might have been saved if he'd just taken the time to go to the doctor, but I've heard that may be an urban myth. By all accounts, he wasn't just clever and creative, but kind and humane--sort of a non-green Kermit. Even now--15 years later--it feels like a sock to the gut to think about him and his early death. I tear up at the thought.

I think I'm going to display my stamps on a bookshelf, seen but not sent. I just can't imagine putting Henson onto an envelope and launching him into the unknown. That's not how you treat friends, even the kind you never actually met.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Forget Monday holidays--Columbus "discovered America" on October 12 just so that 400 years later, my mother's birthday would be a holiday. Now that's worth celebrating!

Happy birthday to the world's greatest mom!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


There: I've used the word. You know you were looking for it. The one that says, "Well, the Red Sox may have lost, but so did the Yankees. Mwaaahhaaa!!"

In case you were trying to sum up your feelings. Always happy to help.

Don't You Take My Johnny Away

I'm thinking like a Red Sox fan here: I can handle the loss of Pedro (though our pitching staff could have used him) and I can handle the loss of Nomar (who didn't seem happy in Boston anymore), but please, Theo Epstein: Don't trade Johnny. Even Johnny doesn't want to go.

And it's not only that Veronica Mars* says he's her favorite player "because he's just so pretty." Well, yes. But technically, Varitek is prettier. It's that he's Johnny. It's his joie de vivre, his "I'm an idiot" thing, his optimism in the face of a three-run deficit. He even has a .300-plus batting average, for goodness's sake. We're talking mad skills. Plus he's so pretty.

Please Theo--don't make change for change's sake. You will have a lot of unhappy fans out there. I'm sure you'll make plenty of other changes anyway. You just don't have to make this one.

*That's the title character from UPN's Veronica Mars, the best show you're not watching. Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Yes, that's opposite Lost. Tape/TiVo one and watch one, okay? Or watch the Lost reruns on Saturday nights. That'll work, too.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Why This Whole Playoff Thing Matters to Me

This is the first time in my life I've lived in a city with a major league ball team. I grew up in a city with a AAA farmteam for the Mets, the Tidewater (now Norfolk) Tides. (Pretty good team, by the way.)

During the 11 years I lived outside Washington, D.C., we were completely baseball-free. Not that the city didn't try, you understand, but the Nationals didn't come from Montreal until this past year. And, no, rooting for Baltimore is not the same, especially if you lived in Virginia, as I did.

For two of the six years I lived in Texas, my town was home to the minor league Lubbock Crickets (named in memory of Buddy Holly, of course.) A good team--they won their league championship their first year out--but due to financial reasons, the entire division (Texas-Louisiana League) was folded into the Central Baseball League and the team disappeared into the Southwestern dust.

So now I'm here. I finally have a major league team to root for. And after the banner year of 2004, it's do or die today. I'm just hoping we do. But if we die--well, there's always next year (and the next, and the next, and the next). I catch on fast. I've learned to be hopeful and loyal, because, well--that's my job now.

Will We Still Love Them Tomorrow?

Silly question! We're talking the Red Sox--of course we'll still love them tomorrow, win or lose.

But there will probably be a wee bit more griping if we lose. Just a hunch, you understand.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So We've Got that Goin' for Us, Which Is Nice

Regardless of what team you're rooting for, the obvious advantage of a Red Sox/White Sox matchup is that you can yell, "Damn Sox!" at any time--and be right.

And a good thing, too--since as of this minute, we're down 6-0.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Apparently, There CAN Be Too Many Subarus

Went to dinner Friday night at Midwest Grill in Inman Square. I'm all about the carnivorous behavior, and the food and company were wonderful. (Don't miss any of the beef selections. Plus, being served your food on skewers is just way cool. Sorry I didn't go there on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.)

The trouble didn't start until afterwards, when I endeavored to get my car out of the valet parking. "Blue Subaru, right?" asked the attendant, and ran off to get it. First came a royal blue Outback sedan with Ontario plates. (Mine is a midnight blue Outback wagon, Mass plates.) He immediately backtracked--"Oh, I know that's not yours! I just had to move it get to your car."

Believable enough, until he came back to me and asked, plaintively, "This is your key, right? Because it doesn't open your car!" So I followed him behind the building to the valet lot to discover ... a dark blue Subaru, different year, different plates (the lack of a front plate was a pretty quick giveaway).

"You gave me your ticket, right?" Yes, I had, and it was already marked paid. It even had my license plate number jotted on it. "Okay, okay--it's okay. I'll find your car. Don't worry!"

He then ran off, leaving me, my husband, our son, and our son's friend to mull over why anyone would want to steal a somewhat beaten up 2002 Subaru, because by this point, theft was very much on our minds. "Maybe it's the satellite radio?" I optimistically asked.

"Jeez, Hon, that's worth maybe $100, and not even that when you call Sirius and cancel the service," Jim answered.

"Well, crooks are stupid," I responded in my world-weary, seen-it-all tone.

After about five more minutes (a looong five minutes), the attendant pulled up in our car, explaining that another attendant had told him the wrong location of the car (it was in a parking garage a few blocks away). I'm such a softy, I even gave the guy a couple of bucks because he really seemed distressed at losing the car.

So much for saving time searching for a parking space by going with the valet service. Next time, I'm self-parking--or I'm painting the car lime green before we go. That way, no one will confuse it with every other vehicle on the street. Unless there's a convention of AMC Gremlin owners in town. Then, I'd be sunk.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pizza My Heart

I have a complicated relationship with pizza. It's my husband's (and many other people's) favorite food, but I spent a good half of my life suffering from lactose intolerance. Where other people saw a tasty slice, I envisioned the mozzarella of doom--stomach pain, gas, and a general feeling of unwellness. Since pizza is such an important social lubricant in American society--perhaps moreso than beer, since it's such a staple in the diet of young kids as well as adults--I tried to grin and eat it, so to speak.

As I got older and came to worry less about what people would think (somewhere around grad school), I discovered that, yes, you can order a cheeseless pizza. Lots of sauce and other ingredients, but no cheese. (No doubt healthier, too.) My high- school-and-later friend Christy and I made a fine pair--she was intolerant of tomato sauce. So her pizza came sauce-free, mine cheese-free. I'm surprised restaurants didn't turn the locks and douse the lights when they saw us coming.

Somewhere in my thirties, my intolerance began to ease. Even though I'd spent years drinking Lactaid milk and avoiding pizza, I never gave up dairy products completely. So--perhaps using the same theory behind allergy shots--my lactose intolerance grew less and less. (Though it never completely disappears--a straight glass of milk is still a cause for discomfort, and I've given up on those delicious, creamy French soups like potato and leak.) But for years, I still had to grit my teeth and say, "Sure!" when people said, "Let's get pizza." It was almost a Pavlovian response--mention pizza and my stomach began to churn.

But I've really given it a try, and I've found the pizza that makes me happy. (Truthfully, the first such place was Pizzeria Paradiso in Washington D.C. But since I don't live there anymore, it's hard to get the pizza home while it's still warm. If you're ever in Dupont Circle in our nation's capital, though, check it out.) Although I will now eat the neighborhood pizza (don't you love that EVERY town in N.E. has a "House of NAME OF YOUR TOWN HERE Pizza?" And it's usually pretty good, too). But my real love for pizza in the Boston area now resides with Za and Emma's in Cambridge. (Neither place is large, so either come early or prepare to wait for a table.)

Both offer excellent, thin-crust pizzas--not too cheesy, which is my preference--and with some odd ingredients. I must admit, I like the odd-ingredient pizzas. Ever since Paradiso introduced me to a sunny-side-up egg on my pizza, I try to be open to the non-traditional. So at Za, don't be scared to try the one with figs, and at Emma's, I love, love, love the Number 4, which has--don't gasp--potato chunks, cilantro, dried cranberries, and smoked bacon. Heaven.

But don't panic--you can also order a straight-up pepperoni at either place. Not my style, but after conquering pizza dread, I'm willing to acknowledge that comfort comes in many flavors.