Russian Roulette


I watched The Deer Hunter the other day. It’s on AFI’s top 100 movies list. The first part of the movie takes place in the hometown of a few young men who are about to go off to ‘Nam. I felt immediately invested because the setting is a working-class town in western Pennsylvania. And what is a favorite pastime of men who live in western Pennsylvania do? Hunting deer. I’ll have to ask my dad to confirm, but I think he went on his first hunting trip at the age of 12.

The movie stars a very young Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep. Even though I had trouble with the topic, their stellar acting made it as palatable as humanly possible for me. The movie cuts from the men celebrating a marriage a few days prior to their departure to horrific war scenes in Vietnam. Killing, explosions, and a Russian roulette game that Viet Cong soldiers were forcing the protagonists to play.  I was nervous about making it through a three-hour war movie, but I didn’t notice the passage of time.

I read afterward that the film was controversial, even though it won five Oscars. Some people said that Russian roulette was never actually played in Vietnam. Even if it wasn’t, the game is a perfect metaphor for war. Especially this war. The ending of the film is also bold and offended some people.

I’m glad I saw it and would recommend it to people who can stomach war movies.

This was #6 on my birthday list. I’m a little behind, as I should average eight items per month. But I’m planning to tick off another item this weekend. A colleague mentioned making soft pretzels at home recently. OMG, why hadn’t I thought about that before? I used to eat SuperPretzels like it was my part-time job.


Larz Anderson Auto Museum

I knocked two more things off the birthday list last weekend, when Daisy was visiting. We went to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and I tried okra for the first time.

I’ve been thinking about visiting the Larz Anderson Auto Museum for years, but hadn’t gotten there. I had been to the grounds surrounding the museum, Larz Anderson Park. The estate is 64 acres and has a nice view of the Boston skyline. The museum is housed in Larz and Isabel Anderson’s former carriage house. This is a beautiful building where they kept their horses and, later, their car collection.

Brief overview of Larz and Isabel Anderson: Early 1900s. Larz came from a well-to-do family. Isabel inherited $17 million at the age of 5, making her the wealthiest woman in America. Larz started a diplomatic career, and met Isabel while she was on a “world tour.” They had homes in D.C., New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

Larz and Isabel started buying a car per year (!). Isabel was just as interested in cars as Larz was. She was the first woman in Massachusetts to obtain a driver’s license! Isabel wrote 20+ books, so I am putting her on my “Books to Read” list.

OK, back to the museum. The first floor showcases newer cars that aren’t part of the Andersons’ collection. Many of them are race cars. Daisy and I liked the midget race car!









The Andersons’ collection is in the basement. Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, you’d enjoy looking at these cars, all from the early 1900s. Included in the collection are two electric cars (yes, electric) and a car with a toilet and washbasin. Some of the cars were brought over from other countries and some were manufactured in America.

1906 Charron-Girodot (toilet car)
1906 Charron-Girodot (toilet car)











1907 Fiat
1907 Fiat









There was a room dedicated to the design of buses and trains, which I found fascinating. I learned about Raymond Loewy, the industrial designer who designed the Greyhound bus. He wrote a few books, which I’ve added to my “Books to Read” list. So many books, so little time…

The museum hosts car shows and events in the summer, and I am looking forward to attending one!

On to the okra. Daisy and I went to an Afghani restaurant, and she ordered a dish with okra. She asked if I had tried okra before. I didn’t think I had, so I tried it. It was tasty. I’ll have to seek it out and try a whole serving myself sometime.

Next up is a viewing of The Deer Hunter, #53 on AFI’s Top 100 Movies list.




The Hellfire That Is “Romantic Jail”


I’ve been online dating off and on for about eight years now. I came across this article by Katie Heaney the other day and found it terribly funny and terribly depressing. I’d like to add a 7th category of message, under which most of the messages I receive fall. I would call it something like “Least Amount of Effort Possible” or “I Didn’t Even Glance at Your Profile for a Millisecond” or “Your Cat Could Write a Longer Message.” The majority of the messages that I receive are one sentence long. And they usually read “Hi, how are you?” or “How is your weekend going?” The prize for minimal effort goes to the guy who sent just one word, “cute.”

Online daters, what is the worst/funniest message that you’ve received?

My usual expression while surfing (Courtesy of
My usual expression while surfing
(Courtesy of


MLK Jr. Day of Service


The MLK Jr. Day of Service is next Monday, on his birthday. Visit this site, plug in your zip code under “Find a Project,” and find a service opportunity near you. Volunteering on Monday will make a difference to people in your community and you will feel great in the process. It’s a win-win situation, and how often do those come along?

I will be volunteering with people from my newest volunteer gig at Hostelling International. We’ll be helping Boston Cares folks (another one of my volunteer gigs) with a variety of projects. Volunteering has become a part-time job for me and it’s a highly fulfilling one.

I leave you with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote I just came across. The world would be a much better place if more of us took this message to heart:

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of



I watched Shane the other night (#45 in AFI’s top 100 movies list). It’s a western from 1953, and it features a lot of beautiful scenery and a lot of fightin’. The main conflict is between “homesteaders” who’ve built homes on the open prairie and greedy cattle owners who want all of the land for their cattle. Shane is a mysterious man who stumbles upon the Starrett homestead, and ends up staying and helping the homesteaders take a stand against the cattle owners.

The movie was very good, except for the character of the Starretts’ child. He was obsessed with Shane and would go on and on about him. He literally said, “I love Shane almost as much as Pa.” This is after Shane’s been there for maybe a few days. It was a little over the top, folks.

Overall though, it was a good classic western. Oh, and speaking of good films, I discovered the power pairing of Myrna Loy and William Powell recently! I saw The Thin Man at the Brattle and adored it. I was ecstatic when I researched these two and found that they starred in 14 films together. Their chemistry was magical, and I can’t wait to watch the other 13 films. Have you seen any of them?

Courtesy of
Courtesy of