Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections? Me, my turn? Oh, um...where to start...

Feels at once, somehow, like a slog of marathon and a brief page flip. Let's sum up: 2015 was a rebuilding year.

I've learned what an incredible man my husband Joe Kowalski really is, and I've learned how lucky I am that so, so many of you are truly real friends. I can't begin to even express...what can I even say, you guys rallied and saved my life. That's real.

I've learned about mental illness and self-respect.

2016's theme is going to be personal health -- nutrition and exercise and sleep., I need improvement in all three areas. When done right you can feel like a whole new person, so that's the goal.

What else...well I think Joey and I should get wedding rings. We skipped that part when we got married in Vegas.

Also, I've sketched out a plan for starting a book in 2016, about what happened to me in 2014, and I have a good feeling about it.

Most of all, my new job...I can't say enough...they've kept every promise they've made since I met them fourteen months ago, including...last week, just signed an offer letter taking me from hourly to full-time/salaried at a decent rate, plus a metric ton of stock options with the warm inclusion of "you are considered a founding member." It really boggles, to compare to the "old job." (Hear that, asshole? Founding member. It's supposed to mean something.)

The satisfying sensation of waking up every day eager to get to work, and enjoying the work itself as well as the people, a positive work/life balance, mutual respect and a seat at the table. Guys, you can be happy at work. I've said it before but it bears repeating, advice for anyone unhappy: change it. Change what's making you miserable. Don't waste another year bogged down by dreadful misery because you've been worn out, worn down to expect nothing but indifference, disappointment, disrespect, exploitation and a string of broken promises.

2016, it rings crisp and clear, doesn't it? It just has that springy, upbeat sound to it when you say it.

2016. Happy New Year: let's make that true, everyone.


Just when I decide to write more and Facebook less...

...a friend I never see gets the cutest puppy in the world. 

Must see all puppy pics forever.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Generation X Problems

When I was little I demanded to know why Goofy wears clothes and talks, but Pluto goes bare and makes dog sounds. Can you DO that? Can you have two dogs in one franchise and only one is anthropomorphic? Were they ever in a scene together? What does Goofy have to say to Pluto?
Stop the glorification of "busy."
It's OK to be happy with a calm life.

Monday, December 28, 2015

That's Not A Hoverboard

Why is everyone calling those two-wheel things "hoverboards?"

Roll. No hover. We're just calling shit whatever now? Then I didn't get a Mazda 3 Zipcar and go to Target to find a new trash can. I got a spacebuggy and went to Narnia to find a Horcrux.

You can't just say stuff is other stuff when it clearly isn't.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Uncle Joe and the girls waiting for pie.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Who went to Cardullo's for Torrone?
Marone, the place was a madhouse! On a Friday at Christmas? You don't say.

Do you know this box? For the un-initiated, this is a box of Italian nougat candies. They come in lemon, orange and vanilla. In our house, mom placed them on the Christmas tree along with the candy canes and popcorn balls. Torrone is individually boxed. I used to wrap the individual boxes (after I ate the candy) in bits of wrapping paper because they were just the right size for the Barbie Dreamhouse.

Recipe: Loaded Potato Chowder

I whipped up this decadent soup the other night, making it up as I went along -- that's usually how I approach soup-making -- but this one came out so good that I've got to write it down. Sorry, it's not for vegans nor Atkins people. This is a hearty, fatty winter soup that's a stick-to-your-ribs meal in a bowl. You non-bacon, non-dairy, no-carb guys might live a few years longer, but then again, you don't get to have this soup. Let's call it Loaded Potato Chowder.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 2007

Cherry Hill, NJ

Joe's mom puts up two trees.
"The tree" and "the other tree."
This is the other tree.

Every time Joe snaps a selfie, one of us is cut off.
It's okay.
Love my tall man.
Related: WII Cook, WII Eat, WII Drink, WII WII
Related: Christmas 2007: Part the Second...Dog Days

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 1986

Photo: Sharon Lombardi

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas in Harvard Square Bears

Harvard Coop bears are ready for Santa.

Cardullo's gingerbread house. Sure it's big enough, Paisans?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Joe Gets A New Tattoo

On the bus to Central Square so Ian Adams can put a new tattoo on Joe.
Are my eyes even open?
I was so tired that I fell asleep in the tattoo place.
I'm sure I snored like a bull.

A new Joe Show!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 2008

That time we had a house guest for a week.
I loves me some orange cats.
This orange cat loves him some Joe.

This photo was taken an hour after BaileyCat arrived.
Bailey and Joe had never met.
Joe makes everybody feel at ease right away.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today I made a Tree Man out of Sculpey clay.
I use a big overturned ceramic mug as a sturdy base.
(Photos: Joe Kowalski)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Top Ten Tiger Beat Stars, Redux

This one's for my girlfriends and all the 80s kids, my big-haired, my comrades-in-legwarmers, a delightfully shrill roving army on rollerskates. We launched the careers of our Tiger Beat Star boyfriends. Oh yes, Rick Springfield, you're nothing without us! Same for you, Johnny Depp. You're welcome, John Stamos. And all of these dreamboats whose faces wallpapered our bedroom walls. Pulpy pin-ups gleefully clipped coiffed and pouting and posing alongside important articles such as, "Be The Girl Who Understands Him Best!"

1. Elm Street, Jump Street, Easy Street

Johnny Depp, he of the sky-high luxurious locks, chocolate brown gaze and the pout'iest pout of the decade, appeared on my teenage radar with his roles on 21 Jump Street and Nightmare on Elm Street. In the former, Johnny played a narcotics cop that looked young enough to pull off posing as a high school student, and in the latter, he was one of the hapless victims of Freddy Kreuger -- a bed ate him up. As we both grew older I grew to appreesh Mr. Depp for more than just his face. The dude knows how to pick a script. With so many stupid movies launching the careers of pretty young men, it was endearing that Johnny Depp was holding out for more complex roles, demonstrating a respectable preference for artistry over easy money.  Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood were wonderfully strange projects where the actor's portrayals were above par for the times, over the top but complex, and then he'd go all understated and quiet for roles such as What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He's a bit odd, sure. Bought an island and lived there for awhile, plus he's cultivated that odd "actor's accent." Rumor ihas it he's now got a house in Woodbury, CT near where my parents live.

2. Androgeny Progeny

Grade school teachers love to torture us with writing assignments like "What I Want For Christmas," "What I Did Last Summer" and "My Hero: _______."  In 7th grade my hero was Boy George. Having been raised on a musical diet of soul and R&B, this golden-throated creature and his "blues in high heels" knocked me out of my Buster Browns. In my essay I babbled for six pages, front and back, fangirling from the bottom of my heart all the reasons George O'Dowd (I recall adopting the tweenager's superior tone for simply knowing his real name) deserved to be my hero. I'm sure a great many words were merely attempts to state the importance of his androgynous style, something that I'd never seen before but which shaped my entire world from then forward. I've adored Boy George through decades of mediocrity, too, signing off emails with his lyrics and dressing up in his peerless 80s styles for costume parties. In the 90s Boy George, a complex individual, had run-ins with the law, did community service, went through a drug phase, a fat phase, Jesus Christ alone only knows what else. But it's 2015 and he's back in fine voice and full-tilt boogie awesome. I hope Boy George is fixing to resurrect his fabulous former pop & soul elegance. Just the idea makes me and my inner 7th-grader deliriously happy.

3. Getting Better

In Earth Girls Are Easy Jeff Goldblum sidles out of that salon steamroom door and into our fangirly dreams. If you missed the movie, that's okay, it is pretty dumb. Geena Davis, in real life a Mensa society member and award-winning archer, plays a ditzy underachiever who discovers that a spaceship has landed in her swimming pool with three furry aliens inside. It's an early role for Jim Carrey and Damon Wayons, who are both totes adorbs. But Jeff Goldbum, though. Geena Davis and her girlfriend, played by Downtown Julie Brown, help the alien dudes blend in with the population of the Valley in the 80s, so Julie, a beauty salon owner, shaves them and gives them clothes. Emerging shorn and swarthy in a cloud of steam, Jeff, all cheekbones and lips, gazes at gobsmacked Geena and asks, "Good?" Um, yeah. Very good. Hes like some kind of feral man-beast. Damn, bitch, Jeff Goldbum was a fine ass alien. Throughout his career he delivered performances both awesome and forgettable, sometimes sexy for being sexy like in Jurassic Park ("I bring scientists, YOU bring a rawk stah!")  and sometimes sexy for being brainy like in Independence Day, and oh why not, The Fly -- with the beautiful Geena Davis again. "You're getting worse!" "I'm getting better." Role to role, he's consistent, funny, sincere and always with that unmistakably awkward, distinctive Goldblum-ness. His latest is a Microsoft commercial where he coaches disappointed gift-recipients on how to fake-act appreciation. Hopelessly charming.

4. The Brat Pack Representin'

The "brat pack" was the name used to define the "it crowd" of the 80s, playing upon the term "rat pack" that defined the gaggle of entertainers that surrounded Frank Sinatra back in the day. The term "brat pack" managed to convey both the huge star power as well as the snark and swagger of the decade's young Hollywood elite. Who were they? Go to, start with Emilio Estevez in 1985, and do a 6-degrees thing -- that's them. Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, you know the Pack. Of all the Brat Pack faces that melted the decade's most jaded hearts, Rob Lowe is the clear superlative. Strong jaw, sincere smile and piercing baby blues for days. Over the decades, from The West Wing to Parks and Recreation, Rob Lowe has managed to maintain the shimmering, flawlessness of his glory days, and is it just me or is this guy improving with a little gray hair and a few wrinkles? I think yes. I have proof. Recently uttered by one of his Parks and Recreation colleagues that may or may not have been Nick Offerman, "His face is magic."

5. Laughing In The Purple Rain

The dude may have spent the better part of the 80s running around in purple velvet and white lace, made up in heavy eyeliner n' done up in an astonishing busby of slick curls. And sure, a fog machine seemed to follow him around. But Prince Rogers Nelson was the shit, and remains the ultimate in badassery to this day. Prince ruled the stage on high heels, gyrating and staring lustily into the camera. The man was not afraid to use his tongue to get a point across, right? Prince blended the sexy licks and swagger of Jimi Hendrix with dance and funk, coming up with something quite new. I absorbed Purple Rain into my blood. Killer songcraft, guitars for days, and he was so prolific he even penned songs for pop stars like Madonna and Sinead O'Connor. Admittedly, in the late 80s Prince went a little overboard, experimenting with long form concept records and new personas, changing his name to a symbol and weirding everyone out with all the God stuff -- pretty much refusing to perform his former sex-driven discography amid rumors of inviting women over to pray. But based on recent appearances, he's made something of a return to pop culture and seems to have found the inner peace he was clearly seeking. Hope so. God makes people so weird. Hope the purple one comes back strong.

6. Just a Good Old Boy

Be still my 9-year old heart, the crush I had on Bo Duke! Our whole family watched The Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights. My brother and I loved The Incredible Hulk, Different Strokes, and Happy Days, but we lost our shit over The Dukes of Hazzard. The dumbest of all prime time shows, we worshiped those Duke boys, especially surfer-boy, blue-eyed Bo with the dreamy smile and flop of blonde hair. Bo always drove the General Lee, making sweet jumps and going up on two wheels. The show holds up not-at-all from an adult perspective, from the ridiculousness of two punk-ass cousins constantly baiting the local cops and causing havoc around town, to the specious lifestyles of these Dukes. What did they do for a living? Why did they drink buttermilk, can you even DO that? And why did they weld their car doors shut? But in those days, nobody minded. These days, formerly round-chinned, angelic John Schneider is a chiseled, ruggedly handsome actor playing bit parts on TV here and there, including a reprisal of Bo Duke in a TV commercial along with Tom Wopat.

7. Domo Arigato, Mr. Shaw

Mr. Roboto was one of the first videos I saw when MTV first launched. Really, thank God for MTV. One of the benefits of music video was introducing a person to a band she may not have otherwise discovered. In those days, my parents were raising us on an awesome and steady diet of soul and R&B with some jazz and classic pop like The Beatles and Donovan, and my eldest cousin introduced the heavier rock like Ozzy, Van Halen and Led Zep. But if not for MTV I wouldn't have been introduced to bands like The Cars and Styx. I grew to love Styx, and found my first guitar god in one Tommy Shaw. I tore out a full page from Hit Parade and pinned the blonde shredder to my bedroom wall along with my other boyfriends. He has changed a lot, but today's guitar wizard is still a major dude, older and wiser with just the right amount of scruffitude, and the man still wails like a demon on that guitar.

8. The Fresh Prince

Way before The Fresh Prince of Bel Air came on TV (1990), Will Smith appeared on MTV along with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Ready Rock C, making a sensation with the hit single "Parents Just Don't Understand." I was more used to the edgier, politically-charged rap style of trailblazers like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, so The Fresh Prince brought a more fun, accessible rap to a white Connecticut teenager at just the right time. Will Smith helped provide a cultural handshake, always a stroke of brilliance in a musical artist. And man, did I love me some Will Smith, so yeah, I watched The French Prince of Bel Air in college. I learned all the lyrics to the long version of the theme song (it's longer than you think) and even though we were both no longer teenagers I somehow still feel like I "grew up" with the Fresh Prince. These days, he's still a huge talent, still presents as a super nice guy, still keeps himself in great shape. He goes skydiving, plays basketball, and he's raising some very talented, gorgeous kids too. I will watch Will Smith in anything.

9. Success Hasn't Spoiled Him Yet

I don't recall if it was Jessie's Girl on the radio or the appearance of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital, but my friends and I wigged out over Rick Springfield. We listened to Working Class Dog and Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, on vinyl, over and over, we danced to every song, we knew his dog's name, we called each other squealing on the phone whenever Dr. Noah Drake did something amazing. We heard he lived in Glendale, California so we looked up Glendale on the map at the library, which is a very very old sentence to say. We felt a teenage girl's ownership over the guy, and if memory serves we made our parents take us to see him in concert three times. Right now he's in a movie about a band's life on the road, starring Meryl Streep as bandleader. I will probably see it. I should also check out some of his music after 1987, I have been remiss. Sorry Rick, there was a lot going on, but I'll getchoo, boo.

10. Uncle Jesse

Another General Hospital heartbreaker, John Stamos joined the show as a mad, bad dude they called Blackie Parrish. That is literally the only fact that I can recall. They don't exactly write soap operas for longevity. Blackie Parrish offered a titillating combination of babyfaced cuteness along with this dark, swarthy bad boy thing, and given his perpetual seething anger, he was a big hit with girls of an age -- my age -- where we wouldn't have known what to do with him if he suddenly showed up at the skating rink where we spent our Saturdays. These days the same girls would probably just give him some nice soup and tell him to use a coaster, but tell him in no uncertain terms that it's absolutely ridiculous how handsome he still is all these years later.  John Stamos is, right now, starring in a new TV show as a grandfather who didn't even know he had a kid, let alone a kid with a kid. I won't be watching it, because...why would I watch that...I'm betting it's canceled by the time you read this. However, fantastic casting in an actor of grandfatherly age who does not look like anyone's idea of a grandfather. I mean, really, John Stamos, what the hell, pretty boy.


Before I go, there was one young man that, had he gotten the chance to make it out of the Hollywood drug scene, would be at the top of my list. I'm sure of it. He was an exquisite beauty and a fine actor. My age exactly, River Phoenix died when we were 23. His death hit me hard personally, and it felt like the world at large had suffered the loss of a genuine talent that never even got the chance to develop into greatness. What a shame. Forever young, rest in peace, River.

River Phoenix
1970 - 1993

Friday, November 6, 2015

You Guys, I Met Peter Sagal

[Peter Sagal, Boston MA]
I was recently at a marketing conference here in Boston, and to my utter delight I found out that Mr. Peter Sagal was going to deliver the final keynote. Peter has been hosting NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" for about fifteen years or so. Every week for half a lifetime, the NPR listener-ship tunes in to this news-based radio gem with its rotating panel of players, call-in listener challenges and celebrity guests. Me 'n Joey never miss it.

He opened with a joke about jargon and farts. That's about right. “I have no idea what you do,” Peter quipped amiably to the ballroom packed with marketers, analysts, SEOs, and a lot of people whose job titles seem made-up. "But I'd like to fit in here, so..." He said that for today's audience, he decided he'd sum up his role in broadcast as “disrupting the traditional paradigm in the fart joke sector.”
Slaying the Jargon Beast with fresh, direct writing is about 87% of what I do for marketers and their clients. For example, they tell me their business goals, I convert those into words that normal people can understand. I make website copy convert from "we are the only platform that provides the capabilities to innovate at scale" into something else that conveys actual ideas, and then they give me money. Sometimes I leave my home office and meet Peter Sagal! He is such a pro, moving about the stage comfortably, interacting, getting genuine laughs. He didn’t have a slide deck, but he played audio snippets to demonstrate real-life jokes that were written one way, but once told, took on a whole new, unexpected life of their own. He said that the real art of joke-telling way, if I tell it wouldn't be fair to Peter. Okay, I'll tell you if you ask me next time we meet, but only if you donate a dollar to NPR and tell me in the comments below. ∎

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 2001

Joe Kowalski, All the Queen's Men
(Photo: Rachel Berman for The Noise)

I mean...what would you have done?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Decaf, son.

Invited this guy to share my table at Panera, since it's a 4-top and has an outlet.
Dude's been absentmindedly kicking the table leg for like two hours.
Trying to write here, Kicky McJitters, how about switching to decaf, son?

Friday, October 30, 2015

My brother was my left shark when we were little.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Don't be stupid!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 1987

Hyde Park, NY
Humanities Class trip to the Vanderbilt Mansion NHS.
(Photo: Brenda Fitch)
Bonus Throwback
This isn't the first time this photo set came around. Prob'ly will again, too. A nice side effect of staying in touch with the people you were stupid with in high school.
Me, James, Brenda, and Deb.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 1989

Louie's Caffe - New Rochelle, NY
(Photo: ? The camera was Lorraine's, but...that's Lorraine on the right)

Here's the thing.
Our college IDs were laminated, but they didn't have Date of Birth.
You could peel back the laminate,
type in a DOB that made you 21,
and use a warm iron to melt back the laminate into place.

Our "Junior Sisters" dutifully took us through it freshman year.
I dunno if that's what CNR had in mind with the Junior Sister program.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Big Papi!

Look who they let into a company box at Fenway.
"I was on TV!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I'll Call You Back On My Purse

Betsey Johnson bag spotted at Macy's in Downtown Crossing.
The handset works, dude.
The handset works.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


September 13
2:55am · Boston, MA

Joey did his part to knock out the eight or nine bottles of wine. So I put my none-too-steady husband to bed, assuming he'd be asleep in minutes.

I set about putting away leftover cheeses, covering olives, closing bottles of tonic, organizing the empties...when I heard an exuberant voice say "Red velvet cake!"

Joey was up again. He had gotten himself a fork, and was doing some naked post-party drunken cake eating.

You know what, guys? He's never boring.

Happy Birthday-ay-ay-ay-oh-oh-ooooo...hey, that's nice!, Mel Torme

That was a fun party.

We'd intended to prepare only legit retro party food, but we chickened out once we looked into it. As it happens, party food was gag-inducingly loathesome in the 60s and 70s. Pimento olives made far too much of a showing. Entirely too much ham and gelatin was involved, shaped into something truly diabolical. Everything was formed into a mold or a loaf of some kind.

Friends don't serve friends "molds."

As a nod towards the theme, we prepared shrimp cocktail, a cheese fondue and deviled eggs, but mostly we just re-named better, edible food in a Mel Torme-theme. The maiden punch in my new punch bowl was dubbed "Velvet Fog," and my delightful salad with baby greens, dried cranberries and walnuts was "Mountain Greenery." Joe made a less tacky, more updated champagne & brie "fondue-bee-doo-bee-doo."

 I think Joe might have recruited a few new Velvet Fog converts.∎
One of the slides I made.
The "slide show" was just the Apple TV idle screen
sourcing a set of photos on the drive.
These info cards rotated in between fun pictures of the Velvet Fog 
at all ages, singing, playing drums and just generally cavorting.

Friday, September 11, 2015

If anyone was going to buy cheese at Star Market in Brighton today...

...sorry, they're out. I bought it all. 

Just returned from a shopping trip with a metric ton of various cheeses for Joe's locally famous Fondue-bee-doo-bee-doo.

Celebrate The Velvet Fog's 90th birthday with us! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 2003

Throwback to 2003 AQM tour! 

This is the night I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, when our tour was 
rudely interrupted by a severe case of diverticulitis I didn't know I had.
You've heard "I left my heart in San Francisco." 
Well I left my sigmoid colon in Switzerland.

All the Queen's Men
Christine Zuffery
Cathy Cappozi
Tamora Gooding
Joe Kowalski
All the Queen's Men on stage at Bikini Test (La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Something's fucky in the rental market in this town.

I've read several articles over the past few weeks about "high end glut."All over Boston they're in the process of adding over 2000 new high-end rental units, which are NOT getting rented, meanwhile regular folks are struggling to make rent in ordinary family neighborhoods.

Anyone have $2360 to rent a 400 sq ft studio in The Continuum? That's the new "high end" mixed-use building opening soon in Allston, on a busy corner overlooking a gas station, an old dry cleaners, a Dunkin Donuts and a 7-11.

Talking about it with friends, I was saying that a possible attraction would be the handy 66, 70 and 86 bus stops practically at the front door, but someone pointed out that this place will have a free shuttle bus to and from Harvard Square.∎

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 1986

Shepaug Valley High
(Photo: Brenda Fitch)

I'm sorry there wasn't enough mousse for you in '86.
I needed it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's happening

Mel Torme and Friends
Joe had two copies of the same record, so we hung one of them in an album frame.
Got Joe a tuxedo T-shirt for the party.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Myrick Street

This sunflower blooms every summer through a hole in the sidewalk.

Currently Reading

Forged: Writing in the Name of God
it was amazing
tagged: currently-reading