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…