Book Review: Empire Rising by Thomas Kelly


On a flight to Portland, OR a little over 10 years ago I read Payback a novel by Irish-American writer Thomas Kelly.  It told the story set in the mid-1980’s about Sandhogs, construction workers who build tunnels, with a mix union-management strife, corrupt politicians, Irish gangsters, and family squabbles turned violent.  It was a breezy…

Book Review: The Lazarus Project by Aleksander Hemon


The Lazarus Project (2008) by Bosnian-American author Aleksander Hemon represents Bosnia and Herzegovina in my Around the World For a Good Book project, albeit only a small portion of the novel takes place in that stricken country.  Still it captures the spirit of ATWFAGB in the way it travels between the “countries” of America and…

Fall Foliage Festival at Arnold Arboretum


On Sunday, October 26th, the Arnold Arboretum hosted their first ever Fall Foliage Festival, an autumnal counterpart to spring’s Lilac Sunday. What a great idea!  I mean why drive to New Hampshire and Vermont for leaf peeping when there’s a little bit of the great outdoors right here in Jamaica Plain?  The timing is difficult…

Where the Monkey Craps in the Buckwheat (concert review)


Last night I was fortunate to see folk singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey play a set at the Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center. Apparently, the last time I went to a concert it was also Peter Mulvey as reviewed on this blog a year ago (before the baby was born, but not before I was married)….

Book Review: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis


I’m not too interested in football but I read (with my ears) The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (2006) by Michael Lewis because it sounded like an intriguing story and I’d liked Lewis’ earlier sports book Moneyball.  The Blind Side deals with a change that occurred in the NFL with the emergence of the…

Book Review: Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle


Paula Spencer (2006) is a recent novel by one of my favorite authors Roddy Doyle.  It’s a sequel to an earlier novel called the The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. In that earlier novel the title character dealt with sever physical abuse from her husband Charlo. I read this book over a decade ago so…

Beer Review: Magic Hat “Jinx”


A slightly smoked seasonal ale from Southern Vermont. Beer: Jinx Brewer: Magic Hat Brewing Company Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.7 of 10) Comment: A deep red beer with a thick head, that has in both scent and taste both smokiness and fruitiness.  Both sweet and spicy, this is a unique beer taste worth trying.

Beer Review: Anchor Liberty Ale


A San Francisco treat! Beer: Anchor Brewing Brewer: Liberty Ale Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.5 of 10) Comments: A golden, bubbly beer like champagne in a pint glass.  It offers a smooth, wheaty aroma and slightly bitter, nutty and tangy taste.  After sitting in the glass for a bit the ale loses it’s head and…

Book Review: Manhattan ’45 by Jan Morris


Manhattan ’45 (1985) by Jan Morris attempts to capture New York City at the time of its greatest success, optimism, influence and power, just as the Second World War comes to an end. This is not a travel book so much as an historical recreation.  The author never even visited New York until nearly a…

Book Review: A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester


A Crack in the Edge of the World (2005) by Simon Winchester tells the story of the Great Earthquake of San Francisco in 1906 (and much, much more) in a way only Winchester could tell it.  Winchester has become one of my favorite writers simply because he writes about science, history, and travel in an…

Pipe Wrench Fight


Those of you who grew up in the 80’s will remember the Golden Age of Music Videos.  Shows like Friday Night Videos and even MTV would play music videos that were often very creative, funny and/or artistic.  Of course, a lot of music videos had absolutely nothing to do with the song and didn’t make…

South Station & Greenway Inaugural


Today, my son Peter & I took a tour of South Station, a continuing education for members of Boston By Foot (one of the reasons why you should become a member).  I love railroad stations so it was fun to poke around and see old artifacts, granite pilings, and even the exclusive Acela waiting room….

Movie Round-Up


Here’s a short list of movies I’ve watched recently, where recently = since the beginning of July!!!   I previously reviewed Ric Burn’s New York which also fell into this time period, but I’m sure not making good use of our Netflix account.  Maybe now that the baseball regular season is over I can catch up…

Banned Books Week 2008


So, it’s Friday, and the ALA’s Banned Book Week is coming to an end and I haven’t posted about it yet.  Thus, here’s my post and a reminder for you to go to your library or bookseller this weekend and get a banned or challenged book to read.  And yeah, go in person, don’t be…

Beer Review: Paulaner Oktoberfest


A Märzen from Bavaria to celebrate the season! Beer: Paulaner Oktoberfest Brewer: Paulaner Brauerei München Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.4 of 10) Comments: In the glass, this beer appeared a dark caramel color with a lot of fizzy bubbles and not much of a head.  After drinking the bubbles fizzed merrily on but there was…

Book Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote


Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) begins with a pre-teen boy arriving to move in with the father he never knew, hoping to avoid going to military school.  In a sense it’s the same premise as Ricky Schroeder’s 1980’s sitcom Silver Spoons.  Unfortunately for Joel, the young protagonist of this novel, he does not…