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A few more weekend notes
Thursday evening, a bunch of us went to Fire+Ice downtown. Suffice it to say, we were underwhelmed. The wait was predicted to be long (as I'd expected), but the line turned out to be *comically* mismanaged, to the point where they finally seated us, quite clearly, because we were about ready to give up and leave. (hfcougar, who was beyond fed up, decided to leave anyway.) It was pretty clear that they'd lost all control of the process, to the point where they were blatantly lying to patrons about the state of things, and dealing with the line pretty ad-hoc. I don't mind waiting for a restaurant, but this was weirdly fouled up.

Inside, the mismanagement continued, to a downright astonishing degree: they were running out of foodstuffs, the grill was backed way up, even the drinks were weak. As the cherry on top, they talked us into getting ice cream to go with the ice cream bar -- which turned out to be completely out of 2/3 of the toppings.

A decent evening out with friends, but the restaurant itself was a *complete* lose: probably the worst I've been to in the past year. Decent food, but a broadly wretched experience.

Friday was focused on the Burlesque Expo -- new_man had grabbed me about a week before, because his Friday-evenng Stage Manager had to drop, and he was in dire need of a replacement. So I took the day off for rehearsals and learning what was what, and the show was at 8pm.

Overall, the whole thing was a hoot. While I'd done some small-scale stage management in the past, this was the first time I'd ever done a full-tech show. I'd sort of assumed that I would be wrangling props and acts, but in practice that's what my "stagehand" (really, assistant stage manager) mostly focused on so that I could instead call cues for acts, music and lights, and generally manage timing. Quite a lot of fun, and the show itself was a fascinating mix: the usual collection of beautiful young women doing strip routines, of course, but also a couple of great comedy acts. (Jonny Porkpie's routine was my favorite -- an over-the-top strip routine coupled with a sports-commentary track a la PDQ Bach.) Plus, there were several legends of the field in attendance, doing some of their classic routines, and you could see *why* they were legends: any 70-year-old woman who can pull off this stuff needs one *hell* of a sense of the audience, and great stage presence.

Saturday evening, I went out to dinner with fenicedautun, who shares with me a fondness for high-end restaurants, so we make good partners in crime there. We went to Ten Tables in Cambridge, which proved solidly good although not over-the-top great. I liked my pork chop (served over mushrooms and duck-fat-fried potatoes), but she found it a bit one-note and too salty; her fish was good, but a tad bland to my tastes. My "Ten Tables 'Tini" cocktail was tasty, although not "'tini"-like in any way. The Rice Pudding for dessert was tasty, although a bit dominated by the pistachioes. Atmosphere was relaxed, and service was just right -- attentive without being pushy.

So overall, I don't regret going -- it's quite good -- but not at the point where I'm going to forcibly shove people in its direction or make it a go-to-all-the-time default. Putting it in Jane's and my usual terms, it fails the Masa Test: when given the choice between going there or Masa, I'll usually pick Masa. (Which, while not quite world-class, is quite reliably good and very convenient.)

And Sunday was focused on an unfortunately-aborted attempt to get together for lunch with a friend. So I wound up mostly having a fairly pleasant wander through Boston, from Park to the Hynes and back. I wandered past the fire downtown while it was happening -- not that I could see anything, but it did seem like every fire truck in Boston converged on the Common, and there was a great deal of point-and-look. (And a whole gaggle of Frenchmen convinced that "Spider-Man" was trying to climb up the side of the building, causing the alarms.)

I wound up spending a fair while people-watching near AnimeBoston, which was a real hoot: I don't think I've ever seen such a concentration of clever and often well-executed costumes before. I may have to actually attend one of these years, although I worry I'd wind up feeling horribly old.

I found myself a tad cranky in the middle of the wander, but decided to settle down under a willow tree in the Garden, and just close my eyes for ten minutes. No enlightenment, but it *was* a fine way to regain my center.

The worst of the whole thing (almost comically bad in retrospect) was trying to catch the T home. Man, the MBTA can sometimes achieve remarkable levels of incompetence. We stood on the platform for 30 minutes waiting for a train, as the crowd got bigger and bigger. Finally, a cop came downstairs, and forced everyone to go up to the curb, to catch shuttle busses to Harvard. We got upstairs just in time for a *different* cop with a megaphone to force everyone *back* downstairs -- just in time to find that the train had finally arrived, filled and left while we were up above. And just to add insult to injury, the *next* train kicked all of its passengers off and went out of service when it got to Park, just making the crowding worse. We did eventually get an available train, and everything was smooth from there, but overall it was a reminder that, especially on Sundays, one can't rely too much on the T.

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The worst of the whole thing (almost comically bad in retrospect) was trying to catch the T home.

Looks like little has changed in 40 years. I commuted to school for 4 years via the T (Malden to Longwood), and this sort of Keystone-cop management was almost the default experience.

I've been to Fire & Ice in Providence a few times, and it was good and well managed BUT we were always careful to go at non-standard times, so never had a wait, and never had the food supply problems you ran into.

If you like the idea of the place, you might want to give it another try off-peak.

In general, the T works only between the hours of 9:30 and 11am, and 3:30 and 5pm, on weekdays. Any other time of day, you are likely to be screwed.

Which Fire and Ice did you go to: Cambridge, or Boston? I've had good luck with the one in Harvard Square in the past, but the one in my building (I work in the Park Square Building) has always seemed like I could easily see it getting out of control.

Boston. Several people have said that the Cambridge one is better in most respects -- I can only hope that's true...

I had been to that Fire+Ice several years ago on a Saturday or Sunday and my impression was that it was quite good, but would have been much more enjoyable (for me) on a day that was not a weekend, due to lines and crowd control issues and such.

I had neither realized that 1. it was Anime Boston 2. Thursday is apparently the new Friday or 3. that the current staff there is ragingly incompetent.

I honestly don't see myself ever going to even the Cambridge one at this point. It's really not worth it. If I'm going to eat at a sit-down restaurant in Harvard Square, there are so many to choose from with a much lower risk that it's going to totally suck.

Speaking of Harvard Square, have you been to Upstairs on the Square? We had our company's last holiday party there. It's out of my price range normally (by more than a little) but it's the kind of place you would enjoy.

Never have been, actually. I'll have to chat with Kate about it, and see whether to put it on the to-try list...

The only time I ate there they were doing a special prix fixe menu, which made things more reasonable. We were seeing Gatz at the ART, which is a 6-hour long show with an hour break half-way through.

As soon as we told the host we had Gatz dinner reservations, they escorted us to our table and practically before our butts were in our seats, the salads hit the table. The entrees came as they cleared the salad plates. Just before we finished, they brought the check (the advertised price included tax and tip, so easy to just leave cash & run) and dessert to go.

Very well orchestrated and the food was all very good. I'd like to go back sometime when I'm feeling flush (maybe for afternoon tea!)

Useful to know -- we'll have to put it on the list. Thanks!

The newest toy for dealing with the T is www.howfuckedisthet.com. lets you know what the average wait is, and where the trains are, currently. Except not on the Green line, because the T hasn't released the live data yet.

... okay, that's delightful. I do wish I'd had to on Sunday...

We go to Anime Boston. I find I feel less "old" when I cosplay.(You can see our cosplay pictures on my Facebook account.) Also we help with the Red Cross blood drive, which gives us a reason to be there and something to do.

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