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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Last night we went to the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain for some candlepin bowling, known in these parts, according to my Boston area-born friend, as "normal bowling" ... because that's what people play around here! Others have described the finer distinctions between candlepin and tenpin (i.e. what everyone else thinks of as "normal") elsewhere, so I won't get into that here, other than to say that in candlepin the ball is much smaller and lacks finger holes, and the shape of the pins is narrow and cylindrical rather than curvy.

When I lived in Boston as a college student I remember noticing candlepin bowling signs around town, and, never having heard of this variation, I assumed it was something like "starlight bowling," lanes open only at night, and perhaps illuminated romantically by candlelight. When someone finally explained to me (with great economy) that it was like regular bowling, "only smaller," I pictured a sort of miniature golf version of bowling: mini pins, mini balls, with big, hulking Boston dudes hunched over it all, struggling not to fumble as they tiptoed down the petite lanes. I guess it really is like this in a way, though without the hunching and tiptoeing.

My main issue with bowling is that the ball is too heavy for my weakling arm, so the first time I tried candlepin I thought I would have an easier time with it, but the lack of curves on those pins makes it a lot harder to knock down multiples (at least for me), and the ball seems even more likely to career into the gutters than normally happens.

Speaking of heavy bowling balls, I went bowling at the Yerba Buena bowling alley in San Francisco a few years back, the first time I'd been in many years, and the adult-size balls were just killing me, especially since I had wrist problems from too much computer use, so I tried switching to the bright pink five-pounder kiddie balls. The finger holes were a little snug, but they worked all right for awhile, until after one particularly emphatic pitch I noticed my thumb was unusually warm, wet, and - ack, covered in blood!

For a moment I thought some renegade bowler was furtively sharing my ball while sporting a freely bleeding wound, but it soon became clear that I was the renegade. I'd managed to leave behind a key bit of thumb in the too-small hole - gross! Anyway that's the story of my bowling injury, and should serve as a cautionary tale to me and anyone like me to stick to the smaller, lighter, hole-free balls of candlepin ... even if playing it makes you feel like the worst bowler who ever lived.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Jack Frost painted our windows this morning. I love the tiny little five-pointed star floating all on its own near the left side of the pane.

It finally feels like winter here, and I have to say, I'm glad ... at least for the moment, while I don't have to go anywhere.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Under the Bridge: Pizza Chronicles

We made a journey to Grimaldi's Pizzeria (the Zagat Guide's "best pizza in New York") in Brooklyn Heights this weekend, continuing our extended tour of some of the East Coast's most storied pizza places.

It is charmingly located pretty much directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, and while from the outside it looks like a charmless by-the-slice sort of place, inside it was bustling with activity (this was Saturday lunch) and made cozy by the requisite pizzeria red-checked table coverings, and lots and lots of pictures of Frank Sinatra on the walls.

I'll say up front this wasn't my favorite thin-crust pizza ever - I think that honor still has to go to the magical first slice of Santarpio's pizza I had last spring. Where Grimaldi's blows away the competition on crispness of crust and freshness of ingredients, it lacked, for me, a certain intensity of flavor. Maybe they just don't overdo it on the salt, and I'm betraying my palate's lack of sophistication; who knows. However, this is not to say I wouldn't happily consume a Grimaldi's pie every week for the rest of my life if it were in my neighborhood. Here's what sets it apart:

  • They only use fresh mozzarella, which we read they make there.
  • Their brick oven is coal-fired, which is apparently unusual these days because some cities don't allow new ones to be built. (Grimaldi's founder Patsy Grimaldi describes the superiority of the coal oven-fired pizza in this article if you're interested.)
  • The dough and all the ingredients are super fresh. I could certainly taste that difference. It was like a little farmer's market on my pizza slice.

You can only get whole pizzas (also calzones) here, no slices, so if you go be prepared to eat. We handily consumed a large cheese pie between the two of us. "Let's get the large and have leftovers," we said when we ordered it. Ha!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Big, Bad World

I was just browsing through an old journal and read something that made me crack up, a little anecdote I'd completely forgotten about. I guess that's one thing journals are good for.

Talked to Mom today ... she reminded me of something that made me laugh till I cried - we were driving down Rush St. (slightly seedy street with clubs and bars in Chicago) when I was six or seven and had just learned to read.

From a sign I read aloud with delight: "The Candy Store"!

And then, in total puzzlement, "Live nude dancers?"

Saturday, January 06, 2007

How Did I Miss This?

You might have guessed from my previous post, in which I quoted an entire paragraph from "Bridget Jones's Diary," that I am a bit of a fan. Not an ironic, so-bad-it's-good fan, either - I really love that book.

I happened to be visiting in England when the original columns were first running, and I think that has something to do with my devotion. She didn't come across as such a scatterbrained, man-obsessed ninny in that incarnation, more a girl-about-town who couldn't quite keep her life together.

This probably had a lot to do with the gorgeous silhouette that ran with the column. (From the article linked above: "If Bridget Jones became an icon, that undeniably sexy, evocative, silhouette - a half-filled glass, a stray lock of hair and a swirl of cigarette smoke - became the image that helped define the icon.") The picture was used as the cover of U.K. editions of the book but replaced by those wigged-out eyes on U.S. editions, and later, of course, by the befuddled visage of Renee Zellweger. I also think the way the columns were edited to streamline the plot for the first book stripped out a lot of the material that made Bridget seem more real.

Anyway, I was so hungry for another installment that I even went to the trouble of digging up all those old columns online, pasting them into a Word document, and reading them again. I had plans to make some kind of booklet for friends (not for sale or profit, scary literary lawyer police!), but got bogged down in endless Virgoesque copyediting. (Lots of weird typos in those scanned free-article databases.)

So how could it be that just as I was slavishly copy-and-pasting those tired old columns into my sad Word doc, a whole new series was being freshly produced in the London Independent, and I knew nothing of it? How could some news of this development not come my way? Bridget, knocked up by one of her exes, and I don't hear about it until six months after the baby has been fictitiously birthed?

Thankfully, there are plenty of other weird Bridget fans out there. If you're one of them, and of the ill-informed variety like me, you can find all the new articles lovingly assembled here. Or come over to my house, and I'll let you read the new Word document I just put together ...