popular thinking

hopelessly devoted to deconstructing popular culture and conventional wisdom, one blog at a time

Silver Line: Love it, Hate it, Still Use it

Trying to figure out the MBTA's Silver Line? You're not alone. Over the past 18 months, this South End resident has experienced both the highs and the lows of the bus line that masquerades as rapid transit. Thing is, though, you don't need to wait 18 months to develop a strong love and hate for the T's bastard child. Just give it a couple of hours, as I did on Friday on my return home from vacation.

The first trip, wonderful. Beginning at Logan Airport just after 5 p.m., I hopped on the Silver Line bus, which whisked us through the tolls and the neverending tunnel construction to Southie, then packed every square inch remaining with working commuters for the final tunnel trip to South Station. A couple of minutes later, the Red Line zipped up a stop to Downtown Crossing, where I picked up a transfer, found two Silver Line buses waiting, and minutes later, I found myself dropped off two blocks from home. All for $1.25. No traffic. No hassles. Rush hour and Logan are great reasons to rely on the Silver Line.

But after rush hour ends, the Silver Line loses its grasp on reality (and reliability). Those digital red messages that say Buses Arrive Every Six to Nine Minutes, or Seven to Ten Minutes? Don't believe them. After 7 p.m., it seems as though those Silver Line messages are merely suggestions. More likely though, you can wait almost a half-hour for a bus, only to find THREE buses roll up at once. If you average those three buses, you'd get your supposed 10-minute wait. How does that happen? More accurately, WHY does that happen? Why still? And then when you get on the bus, you find something's not working. The bus won't accept dollar bills. The bus won't accept your Charlie Card. Or it will, and then you're in line for minutes waiting for it to accept everyone's cards. Or, in the most obscene case I've seen recently, the driver said the machine wouldn't process subway transfers (when that does work, just watch and time how long that process can slow down the Silver Line) so he was handing out the old transfer slips -- which, naturally, don't work in the newly converted Charlie Card T stations like Boylston, Chinatown and Downtown Crossing, so you have to flag down a T worker and show them the flimsy transfer you have, and then you put on a sheepish look as if it was your fault. Which only reminds me of the Green Line and the frustration of having a Charlie Card that doesn't work and won't work and since you no longer have any tokens on you, you're SOL and the T conductor looks at you as if it was your fault. But I've gotten on a bit of a tangential rant here. Sorry. Argh!

And yet, I still use the Silver Line more often than not. As the weather gets colder and wetter, I'll ride it. I just won't always be happy about it.

Free Showtime weekend?!

Tonight is the end of a free Showtime weekend, which I didn't even think premium cable movie channels held anymore...but then again, it could be Showtime grasping for attention by giving us all a peek into their programming. Either way, I'm happy, because it has meant I've gotten to glimpse the hyped new show, Dexter. And man, is it good. Creepy good, but still quite compelling, and I've only watched one episode so far. The second episode airs tonight. Watch it. Michael C. Hall, in the titular role, is funny and brilliant as a kid with a need to kill and a father who taught him how to channel that into killing only the baddest of bad guys. This time, Hall is asexual (his previous starring vehicle, HBO's Six Feet Under, had him playing homosexual, which makes you wonder nothing in particular, unless you're the wondering kind) and gets his kicks from killing the baddie bads (or is that baddy bads, but no matter). I've said too much already. Just watch Dexter, would you please? Thanks.

We can still be MySpace friends

What's odder about the Nicole Richie break-up with Brody Jenner? OK. Perhaps you might've thought that was a trick question, because the mere notion of anyone caring about either of these children of famous people is odd in itself.

But magazine reports that Richie and Jenner had broken up led to Richie posting her own opinion on her MySpace blog at 1:48 a.m. today...in her words: "Relationship? I know there are rumors regarding my "breakup" with Brody Jenner. The truth is, we were never really together. We hung out, and he's a nice guy, but my heart was never in it. Anything further is just a cry for publicity."

Ouch. And yet, turn to her main MySpace page and see who's still her No. 1 friend: Yes, that be Brody. At least 13 hours after her announcement, she still thinks enough of him to make him the tops! And Nicole is still tops on Brody's page. Just in case you're still wondering about these two. OK. I'm done now.

Too many animated animal movies?

I told you so. The New York Times weighed in yesterday on the disturbing amount of animated animal movies that have been unleashed on audiences in 2006, with Hollywood executives assessing the damage. If only they had read my April 14 story in the Boston Herald, then they would've known what was coming and halted the madness already!

As I warned them in April: "And those dollar signs have opened wide the eyes of Hollywood studio executives. They've done the math. Draw some cute, wild animals, put them in an unknown, dangerous environment, force them to find their way out of it and hire some funny, famous actors to provide the voices. Ta- DAH! Box-office gold."

Enough already. Enough, I say.

My new favorite online music site

Well, it's new to me, at least since last week -- the beautiful majesty of free listening pleasures that is AOL Music's "Full CD Listening Party." Thank AOL and Best Buy for this clever page, that lets you hear new CDs in their entireity each week before you decide whether to buy them or not. MTV and VH1 had been doing this for a while under the guises of "You Hear It First" and other names, but the AOL/Best Buy site trumps that and then some, because you get all-access privileges -- even if it is a limited time offer.

This week's 17 CD lineup: The Killers, Evanescence, Monica, Jet, Beck, Chris Young, Jim Brickman, Robin Thicke, Sleepy Brown, Ray Charles & Count Basie, Pet Shop Boys, Cold War Kids, Lindsey Buckingham, Pillar, Amon Amarth, The DFA Remix (Various Artists), and The Kooks.

Jokers Wild, updated daily

If you've hit the home page here and wondered why there's not enough bloggy goodness, it's because for the past month, I've been devoting all of my energies to the Jokers Wild blog on the Boston Herald site. Click the tab on my masthead above for complete comedy coverage. Thanks.

The adventure begins anew

Oct. 1: T-minus 196 and counting...

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