Ave Atque Vale, the Queen of Prince Spaghetti

The city of Boston said hail and farewell to one of its signature characters this past week.

From Steve Annear’s Boston Globe obituary:

Mary Fiumara, 88; mother from Prince Spaghetti commercial

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Her call, two words, turned Mary Fiumara into an icon of the North End.

“Anthony! Anthony!” she shouted from a window on Powers Court in a classic 1969 TV ad spot, prompting the youth to race home for a hearty dinner of Prince Pasta.

Mrs. Fiumara, who had lived in that Italian enclave for three-quarters of a century, died Tuesday. She was 88.

Anthony Martignetti, who at the age of 12 was the youth in the “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti day” commercial, recalled Mrs. Fiumara as “a legend” of the neighborhood, even before she captured the hearts of TV viewers.

The spot:



Not to get technical about it, but what are the odds that a North End mom yells “Anthony! Anthony!” out her window and only one kid runs home?

Anyway . . .

Flipside Flashback:

It’s the mid-’60s and the tough redheaded girl next door (whose name I don’t remember but I bet my all-knowing sister Diane does) has a beef with me and she yells at the third-floor walkup my family lives in at 89th and 3rd . . .


Not to get technical about it, but what are the odds Jackie’s Agnes would come to the window?

Exactly zero.

Not to mention Wednesday was not Prince Spaghetti day in our three-room rent-controlled apartment. Wednesday was boiled pork tenderloin/boiled potatoes/boiled carrots day. (The alleged cooking skills of Jackie’s Agnes were strictly water-based, to the extent that I believed we should change our name to Boyle.)

Regardless, rest in peace, Mary Fiumara.

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Campaign Symbolism 101: Donald Trump’s Emergency Landing

It turns out Donald Trump lost altitude in more than just the Iowa caucuses this week.

Exhibit A: Mechanical troubles forced Trump Force One to make an emergency landing in Tennessee on Wednesday.

From ABC’s The Note:

Donald Trump’s Private Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Nashville

Donald Trump‘s private jet made an emergency landing in Nashville Wednesday afternoon after the pilot reported engine problems, officials said.

The Boeing 757 landed in Nashville at 4:40 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Trump tweeted away the malfunction with his usual bravado . . .

Read the rest at Dustup 2016.

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Dead Blogging WAM, ‘Sondheim,’ and ‘Disgraced’

Well the Missus and I trundled hither and yon this past weekend to catch one thing and another and say, it was swell.

On Friday we spent a lovely afternoon at the Worcester Art Museum, mostly to see Flora in Winter, which is no longer there but which had some smart floral imitations of the museum’s artworks.

We also took in Knights!, which is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Knights! reveals the fascinating place of arms and armor in the broader context of history, storytelling, and art. Only three Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.37.41 PMmonths after the closing of Worcester’s Higgins Armory Museum, this exhibition marks the first step in the long-term integration of arms and armor into the collection of the Worcester Art Museum. This process ensures that a treasure of national importance remains in Worcester and continues to delight future generations of museumgoers from within the city and across the region.

Hear, hear!

WAM always has interesting photography exhibits, and the current one is a beaut.

Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period


Invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842, cyanotypes are photographs with a distinctive Prussian blue tonality produced by treating paper with an iron-salt solution. The treated paper can be developed using only the sun, which made cyanotypes a favored technique among amateur photographers through the turn of the twentieth century. Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period will trace the rise of these “blueprint photographs” beginning with the botanical photogenic drawings printed by Anna Atkins in the 1850s. The exhibition will also feature contemporary artists who have recently revived the process manipulating the medium to varied expressive effects.

Cyanotypes is on exhibit through April 24.

Speaking of expressive effects, you really have to see Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars, “[a] video installation by Moroccan-born, UK-based artist Hassan Hajjaj, along with a related series of photographs, in a salon installation designed expressly for the exhibition.”




The whole setup – from a video room to an exotic seating area to a mini-grocery – is wildly colorful, eye-poppingly stylish, and thoroughly engaging.  You have until March 6 to immerse yourself in it.

On Saturday we ventured down to the Lyric Stage for Sondheim on Sondheim (through February 20).

Just a taste:



That representative sample is exactly the problem with this production: Too many run-of-the-mill songs, too little of Sondheim’s lyrical genius. Really, five selections from Merrily We Roll Along, a musical that closed after 16 performances at the Alvin Theatre in 1981?

The Missus and I both love Stephen Sondheim but you’d never know just how special a songwriter he is from this grab-bag of a revue.

Undaunted, the very next day we moseyed over to the Huntington Theatre Company‘s production of Disgraced, which the Huntington says is “the most produced play in the country in the 2015-2016 season.”

(Trailer, discussions, audience reax here.)

The plot: “High-powered New York lawyer Amir has climbed the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his Muslim roots. When he and his wife Emily host a dinner party, what starts as a friendly conversation escalates, shattering their views on race, religion, and each other.”

A rainbow coalition of characters – Muslim, Jew, white, black – goes under the microscope, none of them in the end admirable, all of them in some way disgraced.

The cast is terrific, especially Rajesh Bose as Amir. The production runs through this Sunday. It would be a shame to miss it.

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Ted Cruz Is Sending Me Mash Notes

The microphone wasn’t even cold after Ted Cruz’s blabbermouth victory speech in Iowa when the following popped up in my email Tuesday night.


This is only the beginning: I still need your help >>>


I can’t thank you enough.

We won Iowa tonight, but only because YOU stood by my side.

Heidi and I owe you a debt of gratitude.

While Heidi and I are extremely excited about what this victory means for our campaign and, more importantly, for our nation — this is only the beginning.

Tonight, I’m on my way to New Hampshire since there isn’t any time to celebrate…

Even though it was a great victory, we are just EIGHT days away from New Hampshire (and South Carolina is right after that).

Let me be clear: we won the first round, but this campaign is far from over.

In order to win in Iowa tonight, we had to dig deep into our campaign accounts…all but depleting our political budget.

Even worse — we are now behind in the polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina. If we stop for even a moment to rest, we risk losing the momentum that we’ve worked so hard to build.

That’s why, before I take off for the next primary state, I’m sitting down to write you this email and ask you if I can personally count on your immediate support to help us win round two (it’s the only way I can compete)?

After the hard-fought battle in Iowa, I must raise over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in the next 24 hours or I risk wasting our Iowa victory — the victory you and the volunteers have worked SO HARD to help me secure.

Can I count on you tonight, Friend?







We are here today because of you.

After everything that the Washington Cartel threw at us and the millions spent against us by the lobbyists, we won.

Friend, this is our time.

Will you continue your support tonight?

For liberty,

Ted Cruz

Favorite passage: “After the hard-fought battle in Iowa, I must raise over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in the next 24 hours or I risk wasting our Iowa victory — the victory you and the volunteers have worked SO HARD to help me secure.”

Clearly (at least in my case) the GOP’s Grandpa Munster was drunk mailing Tuesday night.

But as day follows night, another impa$$ioned email arrived yesterday afternoon.


I can’t wait to tell you about the phone call I received.

I just got off the phone with a few very generous supporters who — after our big win in Iowa last night — have pledged huge support for my campaign.

For the next 48 hours, these most generous supporters have agreed to match all online donations to my campaign made through the links below.

Because you have been one of my most loyal supporters — I’m reaching out to you first.

48 HOUR DOUBLE MATCH: click here to chip in >>

You see: these generous supporters know how hard the next few days will be and how important it is to continue the momentum we received from Iowa.

Here is what they know:

1) I will never get — nor do I want — money from the D.C. lobbyists or the special interest billionaires; and

2) After winning Iowa — the Washington Cartel is most certainly more determined than ever to defeat me. Their attacks are only going to increase in the weeks to come.

That is why these supporters have made me a special offer, but it is up to you to help me take advantage.

How it works: for the next 48 hours — generous donors have offered to match ALL online donations made through the links below in this email.

Friend, this is the biggest boost you can give my campaign when we need it most!

Let me explain how special this is: your contribution of $25 will be matched to become $50, $50 will be worth $100, and $500 will become $1,000 — your immediate donation will be worth double the original amount.

Below are special links for you to use and have your donation doubled BUT it will only work for the next 48 hours. So time is critical!

Donate $10, see it matched to become $20 >>

Donate $25, have it matched to become $50 >>

Donate $50, see it matched to become $100 >>

Donate $100, it will be matched to become $200 >>

Donate $500, it will double to become $1000 >>

Again, this special matching offer is only good for 48 hours.

I can’t win these primaries without your support.

Friend, our victory in Iowa will be wasted if we can’t capitalize on our momentum as we move onward to the next contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and beyond.

Last night, we showed America that only the power of the grassroots will ultimately defeat the Washington Cartel.

Friend, with your support, we can win this.

For liberty,

Ted Cruz

Favorite passage: When Cruz schools me on how matching donations work.

Let me explain how special this is: your contribution of $25 will be matched to become $50, $50 will be worth $100, and $500 will become $1,000 — your immediate donation will be worth double the original amount.

So, what: Now he thinks I’m drunk?

Can’t wait for the next installment.

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The New New Republic Gets Something – Finally! – Right

As up to several people know, the hardworking staff has been on The New Republic like Brown on Williamson since boy publisher Chris Hughes bought the vulnerable opinion journal several years ago.

And the worst part is, the lamer the magazine has become, the longer our subscription has extended. TNR has gone from weekly to 20 times a year to 10 times a year; as a result, we’re getting to not read the fading magazine in the comfort of our own home twice as long now.

But . . . there’s a silver lining in the cloudy editorial TNR has lately produced.

Via Corinne Grinapol on FishbowlDC:

TNR’s New Database Has Every 2016 Campaign Ad


There’s just something about tracking campaign ads across YouTube that is not conducive to binging on an endless loop of accusatory newspaper clippings, conveniently cut soundbites, smack-talk, and shots of candidates strolling with fresh-scrubbed family members or leaning in toward constituents, listening to their concerns.

A new feature the New Republic debuts today has changed that, allowing you to see what all that money has wrought, in one place. For its new 2016 Campaign Ad Archive, it has gathered all of the presidential candidates’ 2016 commercial ads in a database sortable by name, and soon by issues as well. Each ad is accompanied by a transcript, air dates, places it was aired, and the source of the money behind the ad.

And guess what – it’s excellent!

Maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of the New – Improved – Republic.

One (subscriber) can only hope so.

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Uber’s New Meal-Delivery Service Throws Up on Boston

Some Uber drivers are about to become Uber waiters, according to this Wall Street Journal piece.

Uber Prepares to Launch Meal-Delivery Service in 10 U.S. Cities

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Uber Technologies Inc. is preparing to go live with a full-scale meal delivery service across 10 cities in the U.S., an expansion that will test the company’s ability to use its drivers to move goods.

In the coming weeks, customers in such cities as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Austin, Texas, will be able to use a new, dedicated UberEats app to order from the full menus of dozens of local restaurants and have their food quickly delivered by an Uber driver, a company spokeswoman said in an interview.

The other UberEating towns: Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Dallas.

Wait – no UberEats in the Hub of the Universe?

Say it together, Boston:

UberEat Us.

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The Paranoid Style in American Politics (2016 Edition)

In an interview on NBC’s Today show before his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama talked to Matt Lauer about the Donald Trumpa Lumpa craze (around 3:55).



Trump’s a little nuts graf:

The message that Donald Trump’s putting out has had adherence a lot of times during the course of our history.

No kidding.

Exhibit A: Historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.

Consider, for example, this Lyndon Johnson 1964 campaign ad . . .

Read the rest at Dustup 2016.

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Dead Blogging ‘Violet’ at Calderwood Pavilion

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the South End Saturday night to catch the SpeakEasy Stage Company‘s production of Violet and, man, it’s a knockout.

Featuring a powerful folk, rock, and gospel score, this soul-stirring musical, set in 1964, tells the story of a young North Alison _Arms Up_ JoyfulCarolina woman who travels by bus to Tulsa to see a faith-healer she thinks can transform her life. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with her fellow passengers, and learns that it’s the journeys you take in life that help you discover who you are.

The music is by Jeanine Tesori, “the Tony-winning composer of five Broadway musicals, including Fun Home; Shrek The Musical; Thoroughly Modern Millie; [and] Caroline, or Change.” The lyrics and book are by Brian Crawley, based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts.

Representative sample, sung by the powerful Dan Belnavis, who plays Flick:



The cast is uniformly terrific, but none so luminous as Alison McCartan as Violet and Audree Hedequist as young Violet, both of whom sing and act beautifully. Michael Mendiola as Violet’s father is moving, Carolyn Saxon as Lula Buffington/Landlady is big-voiced, and Kathy St. George as Old Lady/Hooker is a total hoot.

The production runs through February 6. You won’t be sorry if you go.

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Dead Blogging ‘Der Lauf Der Dinge’ at the ICA

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the ICA yesterday to catch . . . whatever . . . and say, it was swellish.

First we revisited Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, which is terrific and only there for one more week, so you should leap on it.

Then we stopped by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian: The Birthday Party, which I’m not smart enough to understand. We also saw the Diane Simpson exhibit, which I also didn’t understand but was more appealing to look at.

Then, on the way out, we stopped to watch Der Lauf Der Dinge, a 1987 film by Swiss duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss.




That’s a helluva junkyard Rube Goldberg contraption, eh?

Totally worth the price of admission.

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Welcome to the 2016 Billion-Dollar Digital Adlection

If the 2004 presidential campaign was the Internet Election, and the 2008 campaign was the Social Media Election, and the 2012 campaign was the Twitter Election, then the 2016 presidential campaign is the Digital Ad Election.

From USA Today:

TV, the old king of U.S. politics, faces mortality

“I’ve spent no money, and I’m number one.” — Donald Trump

”I’m going to do something really novel. It’s called advertising.’’ — Jeb Bush

Both presidential candidates, one the year’s big surprise and the other its big disappointment, were talking about television, for a 635851983951547181-488696300half century the dominant weapon of national politics.

Trump was proclaiming its irrelevance; Bush was acknowledging such skepticism — while doubling down.

It’s a paradox of the 2016 campaign: unprecedented political spending on TV ads, and unprecedented doubt over whether it’s having much impact.

The fall of King TV is not imminent. But in 2015, TV broadcast advertising seemed inversely related to political success, as measured by polls.

And what will eventually replace TV advertising?

Digital ads.

From Felicia Greiff at Ad Age . . .

Read the rest at Dustup 2016.

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