2012 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

  • Sing Positive, JP – a year long highlight as my son Peter & I sang and formed community with other JP residents of all ages.  We performed concerts in May (part 1, 2, & 3) and December with special appearances at Wake Up the Earth and the Lantern Parade.
  • Discovery Museums – my mother visited in February and we took Peter to the Discovery Museums in Acton where Peter explored the small but creatively-designed rooms of the childrens museum and woodworking in the workshop at the science museum.  We returned to this new favorite place several more times over the course of the year.
  • Breaking the ice on Jamaica Pond –  After brunch at The Haven, Peter and friend Jordan strolled around the pond on a chilly day and cracked ice and chucked rocks.
  • Wilson Mountain hike – We got an explored nature with a spring hike to the top of Dedham’s Wilson Mountain which included “rocky fun time” clambering up the boulders along the trail.
  • Red Sox games – This wasn’t a great season for the Old Town Team, but Peter & I enjoyed a four-game Sox Pax where we sat in the bleachers for a (a very hot) Patriots Day, Memorial Day, a Wednesday in June, and a Monday in August.  The Sox won three of the games and Peter got to run the bases with the other kids at the final game.
  • Mets game –  My other favorite team also played poorly this season but I did make it to join friends for the Banner Day game,  one of the 20 wins for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and wept after Johan Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1st.
  • Kay’s Baptism – Family descended on Boston in late April for our baby girl’s baptism including all the grandparents and her namesake Aunt Kay.
  • Fathers Day at Wachusset Meadows – I was a very lucky Dad who got to snuggle with his kids, have a delicious lunch, walk through the beautiful Wachusset Meadows, and then stop at a roadside ice cream parlor.
  • Tall ships in Boston – Another exciting outing with the kids, visiting tall ships at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • Day Trip to Lowell – We made a mid-July outing to historic Lowell taking a journey by boat along the canals and river and then catching a Lowell Spinners baseball game.
  • Summer Olympics in London – I was really inspired by the crazy but beautiful opening ceremonies and enjoyed watching various events with Peter on my computer who then went on to reenact the games with his preschool classmates.
  • Summer Arts Weekend and Esplanade Playspace – Peter, Kay & I enjoyed a performance by Dan Zanes & Friends, watched some Irish step dancers, and then played on the new playground along the Charles River.
  • Circle the City – The Greenway and several streets in Downtown Boston were closed to auto traffic so we enjoyed strolling, biking, playing and dancing in the street.  They should really do this every Sunday.
  • Farewell to Child Care – Peter said goodbye to his friends and teachers at Soldiers Field Park Child Care at a bittersweet goodbye circle.  It was time for him to move on, but sad for all of us to leave many good people behind.
  • South End Tour of the Month – I served as one of the guides for another magnificent Boston By Foot neighborhood tour that attracted 125 people on a Sunday in late August.
  • Canobie Lake and White Mountains – We enjoyed a great family vacation to New Hampshire featuring a visit to a charming amusement park, climbing up the Flume Gorge, visiting the longest candy counter in Littleton, and soaring up Cannon Mountain on the aerial tram.
  • Kindergarten – Peter started attending K1 at our local Boston Public elementary school and instantly having a great time making friends and learning new things.  As a family we’ve enjoyed playdates and picnics and making the school part of our everyday life.
  • Weekend in Washington – Peter & I flew to our nation’s capital for the Columbus Day weekend staying with our friends the Rossos and visiting museums and the National Zoo.
  • Hurricane Sandy – We were fortunate that in Boston, the hurricane just meant staying cooped inside for a day with only downed sticks and leaves (and a billboard near Forest Hills station) knocked over, but this storm hit close to home with the extensive damage to New York City (where my family is from and many friends and family still live) as well as New Jersey and Connecticut (two states where I used to live).
  • Peter’s Birthday Party – Peter turned 5 with a cast of thousands joining him at the YMCA for games, a moonbounce, and baseball-shaped cupcakes.


2012 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year not books published in 2012 (books published this year are bolded in the complete list below).  For previous years see 20112010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

In no particular order:

And now the complete list.  Not a great year for reading as I didn’t maintain much focus on reading and less so on reviewing books.

Books Read in 2012











  • The Sandman. [Volume 3], Dream Country by Nei Gaiman
  • The Sandman. [Volume 4], Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
  • The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde
  • Spook  by Mary Roach (A)
  • The Walking Dead 3 by Robert Kirkman
  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
  • Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog (A)
  • The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
  • The Walking Dead 4 by Robert Kirkman
  • The Sandman. [Volume 5], A Game of You by Neil Gaiman


  • The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon
  • Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
  • The Walking Dead 5 by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead 6 by Robert Kirkman
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders by Larry Millet


  • Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (A)
  • The Walking Dead. Volume 15, We find ourselves by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead. Volume 16, A Larger World by Robert Kirkman
  • The Magic Maker by Susan Cooper (A)
  • The Walking Dead. Volume 17: Something to Fear by Robert Kirkman
  • The Thoreau You Don’t Know by Robert Sullivan
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman

2012 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

It’s time again to review the year just passed starting with ten or so favorite songs I loved.  For previous years check out my lists for 20112010 and 2009.

Top 10 (in the random order they came up on my iPod):

  • Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
  • Caliban’s Dream by Underworld
  • Dirty Money by Antibalas
  • Please Forgive My Heart by Bobby Womack
  • Gun Has No Trigger by Dirty Projectors
  • Default by Django Django
  • Bright Whites by Kishi Bashi
  • Cartao Postal by Souljazz Orchestra
  • Here Again by Quantic and Alice Russell
  • Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars


  • Oblivion by Grimes
  • Akale Wube by Debo Band
  • Andrew in Drag by Magnetic Fields
  • Secret Days by School of Seven Bells

So what were your favorite songs of 2012?  What are you looking forward to in 2013?

The 42nd Annual Christmas Revels

It would not be Christmas without the Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.  This year my wife, son and I joined by our friends Abby, Kim, & Sid took in the Winter Solstice performance on the evening of December 21st.  The show was delightful as always with the subject being near and dear to my heart, the music of Irish emigrants as they sail the new world.

The show was a more restrained and simple performance than a typical Revels keeping to the theme of the cast being impoverished immigrants aboard a ship and not having much to celebrate with.  After the opening number, lines and gangways were removed from the sides of the stage and notably no cast members went down the steps into “the ocean” except during a storytelling sequence.  These restraints did nothing to detract from the beauty of the song, dance, and stories performed.

Highlights of the show for me included:

  • Bill Meleady’s colorful telling of The Soul Cages, the exception to the restraint on the performance where the visuals of the story come to life in vivid detail.  I enjoyed the dancing crustaceans especially as well as Steve Barkhimer’s portrayal of the merrow Coomara.
  • “The Wexford Lullaby” gorgeously performed by Mary Casey along with Jamie Jaffe as a duet and later as a quartet.
  • The dramatic “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” swelling as the audience joins the chorus.
  • “The Lord of the Dance” is always a highlight and was cleverly worked into the show as being the English ship crews’ contribution to the shipboard celebration.
  • The show had several sets of traditional Irish music by The Rattling Brogues and step dance by O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance that livened up the proceedings greatly.
  • If there was one minor disappointment is that the show ends with the immigrants seeing The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.  The show is set aboard the Cunard steamship RMS Carpathia and since Cunard had a western terminus in Boston (there’s still an office building marked “CUNARD” on State Street) it would have been a nice local connection to have the ship dock here instead of New York.

A traditional element of the Revels – “The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance” – was not included in the program but as this was the Winter Solstice, the audience was treated to a special rendition of Abbots Bromley after the curtain call.  I’d actually guessed that Abbots Bromley was the surprise we’d been promised before the show, but it was still a thrill when the first haunting notes of the recorder came out and the audience reacted with joy.

This was another great Revels and I believe all the shows were sold out.  If you missed this year’s Revels, make sure to get your tickets early for next year’s show which I promise will be just as great.

[youtube http://youtu.be/_tfCs4A1BPQ]

Related posts:

Song of the Week: Christmas Edition

A special edition of SOTW brings together three current songs to get you in the holiday spirit.

First, Sufjan Stevens’ “Lumberjack Christmas/No One Can Save You From Christmases Past”:

Next, the Dismemberment Plan’s take on Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”:

Finally, JD McPherson’s soulful “Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)”

Happy Christmas!

Christmas Caroling Mob

On the Sunday before Christmas, my son Peter & I joined the Boston Caroling Mob jauntily wassailing from the Green St. MBTA station to nearby homes in Jamaica Plain singing cheerfully and in harmony. The leaders of SingPositive, JP are also in charge of the Caroling Mob so there were some familiar faces among the nearly 100 carolers of all ages.  We were well-received by the residents of the houses we serenaded – one of whom even posted a video of us on Facebook – and received hot drinks and cookies at the JP Cohousing for a finale.

Here we are singing “Carol of the Bells:”

This is the first time I’ve ever gone Christmas caroling anywhere and I hope it won’t be my last because it was great fun.

Song of the Week: The Souljazz Orchestra – Cartão Postal

This weeks song by Canada’s The Souljazz Orchestra brightens up a dark and dreary (but still unseasonably warm) day with samba and semba rhythms.  And it’s about postcards, one of my favorite things.

I learned about this song through a podcast from Minnesota Public Radio’s Current Song of the Day.  Other places I hear new music include:

Believe it or not, I even still find good music on the radio, especially thanks to the many college and public radio stations in Boston.  My favorite is WERS, which you can stream online or through an app if you live in environs not accessible to good radio.

Where do you learn of new music?


SingPositive, JP Winter Concert on Sunday, December 16 at 4pm

If you’ll allow a moment of self-publicity, my son & I will be singing with the SingPositive, JP family chorus in our Winter Concert on Sunday, December 16 at 4 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church (1 Roanoke Av) in Jamaica Plain.  If you live in or near Boston, please consider this your invitation to join us of songs of “Hope & Healing” – celebrating optimism and the relationships that pull us through.  Tickets are $10/adults and $5/kids ages 2-16.

If you’d like to learn more about Sing Positive, JP and sing with us in the future, like the SingPositive Facebook page.  There’s also an invitation to the concert on Facebook.