Let’s make an archives musical; or, An Archivist on the Roof

I’m always up for a musical based on Fiddler on the Roof, especially if it relates to my chosen field.

Derangement and Description

In my copious free time I have been plotting an archives musical based on the Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof. Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but I think we should all enjoy whatever I end up with. I’ve heard that the creators of Fiddlerdon’t take kindly to parody, so good luck getting permission to actually perform this thing, but I aim to misbehave.

The Archives (music from Tradition [lyrics, video])

The archives, the archives! The archives!
The archives, the archives! The archives!

Who, day and night, must generate the records
Papers, correspondence, even photographs
And who has the right as owner of them all
To designate their final home?
The donor! The donor! The archives!

Who must know how to use history sources
Primary and secondary
Who must know her way around the reading room
And fill out call slips for ev’ry request?

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40 for the Forties

Today is my fortieth birthday. As I prepare for my next decade, here are forty things I’d like to accomplish in my forties. UPDATED on November 18, 2018.

Me, forty years ago.

In no particular order:

  1. Become certified in First Aid and CPR √ (I couldn’t find a First Aid course that wasn’t targeted toward EMTs, but I am recently CPR certified)
  2. Donate blood 6 times (the maximum) per year (so far so good)
  3. Visit Yellowstone National Park  and/or Grand Canyon with my family (hoping to pull this off in the next few years)
  4. Travel to at least 5 states I’ve never been to before (none so far, but completing #3 would help)
  5. Attend games at least 5 MLB ballparks I’ve never been to before (1 down, 4 to go)
  6. Visit two foreign countries I’ve never been to before (Ha! Seeming increasingly unlikely)
  7. Write a book (perhaps even try to get it published)
  8. Participate in Walk for Hunger  and/or Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon every year (Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon is annual tradition)
  9. Audition (and hopefully perform) for the Revels again (Not sure if I want to do this anymore)
  10. Enter (and hopefully win) USS Constitution turnaround lottery (This wasn’t available while the Constitution was undergoing renovation & I’m not sure if they’re doing it all now)
  11. Ride in an open-cockpit biplane and/or a hot air balloon (someone needs to make this happen)
  12. Take up birding (I got a bird app, not much else progress)
  13. Read a classic Russian novel (Maybe next year)
  14. Try singing with a barbershop quartet
  15. Participate in an atlas-based road rally √ (I did this, had a lot of fun, and got a terrible score)
  16. Perform karaoke (who wants to take me out)
  17. Take a martial arts class (scheduling difficulties are a major barrier)
  18. Paddle on the Charles River (more like a doggy paddle)
  19. Play croquet in strange places (not sure what I was thinking of with this one)
  20. Volunteer with Bikes Not Bombs and/or Boston Bicyclists Union (still something I could do)
  21. Try rock climbing √ (tried a climbing wall, did NOT enjoy it)
  22. Visit the Great Dismal Swamp (driven past, stopped at the visitors center/rest area, does that count)
  23. Write in my journal more regularly √ (I have and I haven’t)
  24. Climb to the highest points in each of the New England states and complete hiking up all the 4000 footers in New England (increasingly unlikely to happen)
  25. Serve in a ministry in our church community √    
  26. Walk inside the Mapparium √
  27. Take the tour at the Sam Adams Brewery √
  28. Become a patron of the arts by getting a subscription to a symphony, dance, or theatre series (I have been to more performances that in my 30s, but far from being a regular)
  29. Through hike the AT (maybe when I retire?)
  30. See the reenactment on Lexington Green on Patriots Day (after 20 years in the Boston year, it’s time to make it happen)
  31. Go to a drive-in movie for the first time (still waiting)
  32. Take kids to the  balloon parade in Stamford, CT (no, but we’ve been to the  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC twice!)
  33. Complete my Around the World for a Good Book project (still a long way to go)
  34. Build a new playhouse for the kids in the backyard (got overruled)
  35. Take a storytelling class and perform a story to a live audience (going to try an online course soon)
  36. Attend 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada (proved to be logistically challenging, so we watched it on tv)
  37. Visit maritime Canada (not sure this will happen in the near future)
  38. Play curling (there should be more urban curling opportunities)
  39. Visit Susan’s Michigan (someday)
  40. Get an SLR camera and learn how to take photos √ (yes, much fun!)

If you have any suggestions for anything else I should try, let me know in the comments.

30 For The Thirties

Today is the last day of my thirties, so I thought I’d look back at thirty accomplishments and memorable events of the last decade.

The Most Important Things:

1. Married my wife Susan in 2005 with a lovely reception on a Boston Harbor Island.
2. The birth of my son Peter in 2007.
3. The birth of my daughter Kay in 2011.
4. Moved to Jamaica Plain in 2007 (and became homeowners!).


5. Earned masters degree in Library & Information Science from Simmons College (2005)
6. Participated with my union as part of team in contract negotiation (2007)
7. Started a new position at my library in records management and archives (2008)
8. Promoted to a professional library position as Processing Archivist (2011)


9. Participated in choral singing for the first time in my church’s Advent-Christmas concert (2005, & again in 2007)
10 . Took voice instruction courses (2006)
11. Performed in the Christmas Revels (2009)
12. Sang with my family in the SingPositive, JP band and chorus (2012-2013)
13. Helped bring Beck’s Song Reader to life as part of a 50 voice chorus (2013)


14. Hiked to the summit of several tall mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont including: Washington (2004), Adams (2005), Monroe (2004), Madison (2005), Eisenhower (2004), Carrigain (2006), Osceola (2006), Pierce (2004), East Peak Osceola (2004), Cannon (2004), Camel’s Hump (2004), Hale (2004), Tecumseh (2006), Sandwich (2005), and NE Peak Cannonballs (2004)
15. Played on an adult kickball team (2004-2005)
16. Witnessed the Red Sox first World Series victory in 86 years (2004) and then two more (2007, 2013)
17. Shared my love of biking with my children through regular bike commuting and events like Hub on Wheels and the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon (2010-2013)
18. Coached my son’s childrens’ soccer team (2011)
19. Introduced Peter to the love of baseball and attended numerous games over the past three seasons (2011-2013)


20. Visited Chicago and saw games at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park (2004)
21. Acted as a sight guide for my good friend Anthony on a holiday to Cambridge, Oxford, and London in England (2004)
22. Honeymooned in Venice and the Dolomites Alps (2005)
23. Traveled to Milwaukee exploring museums, the library, Miller Field, and drinking lots of beer … not to mention winning a bet on a sausage race (2006)
24. Made a car-free journey to Southern California with side trip to Tijuana, visiting San Diego and Los Angeles, exploring museums and architecture, and taking in games at Petco Field and Dodger Stadium (2007)
25. Won a traveling fellowship to explore Amsterdam on foot with my wife and son (2010)
26. Experienced the joy of family camp in New Hampshire (2013)

Other things I can’t find a category for:

27. Started a blog (2006) and still write in it fairly regularly (I also have a bike commuter blog and a Tumblr blog).
28. Created lists of my favorite books of all time, my favorite albums of all time, and cataloged every book I’ve ever read
29. Researched and wrote manuals for two Boston By Foot Walking Tours Avenue of the Arts (2010) and Davis Square (2011), not to mention serving as co-chair of the Tour of the Month committee (2006-2007),  and leading several great tours such as Waterfront, Charles River BasinLittle Feet, and South End.
30. Found a new spiritual home at Hope Central Church (2013). 

There are things I’m proud of that I know I’m leaving off the list, and probably some things of great importance I’m sure I’ve forgotten.  Oh well, that’ what the comments are for.

To a great decade gone by, and another that is to come!

Beer Review: Harpoon Polskie Mastne

BeerPolskie Mastne
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: ** (6.1  of 10)
Comments: The 48th beer in Harpoon’s 100 barrel series is inspired by a road trip to Poland.  It’s an amber beer with lots of fizz and foam.  The scent has sweet caramel and peaches.  The taste is slightly peppery with a hoppy kick in the aftertaste, and a bit watery.  I have mixed feelings.


Chronologically Self-Aware Songs

Making a random list of songs that date themselves by  mentioning a day, month, or year that is more or less the time when the song was recorded and/or released to the public.  This means that a song like 1999 by Prince does not count because it was recorded in 1982 and Prince was singing about the future.  Similarly, when The Four Seasons’ December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) does not count because they were singing about a time in the past when the song was released in 1975.

Public Enemy – “Fight the Power” – 1989 the number another summer.

Asia – “Heat of the Moment” – And now you find yourself in ’82.

Escape Club – “Wild Wild West” – Heading for the nineties living in the eighties.

Killing Joke – “Eighties” – I’m living in the eighties

Falco – “Rock Me Amadeus” – 1985, Austrian rock singer Falco records: Rock Me Amadeus! 

The Ramones’ “Rock and Roll Radio” –  It’s the end, the end of the 70’s

Barenaked Ladies – “Shoe Box” – You’re so 1990, and it’s 1994.

Clash – “1977” – In 1977, sod the Jubilee.

Surely there are others!  List them in the comments.

Beer Review: Harpoon Grateful Harvest Ale

Beer: Grateful Harvest Ale
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source:  12 oz. bottle
Rating: ** (6.0 of 10)
Comments: This unique beer pours out amber in color with a foamy head.  The cranberry is definitely there in the aroma and flavor.  The taste is a bit week, with unfortunate overly sweet undertones, but the aftertaste is good.  For a seasonal beer with a unique New England twist, it’s worth trying, but overall this is a so-so beer.

Note: Grateful Harvest benefits Harpoon Helps the philanthropic wing of Harpoon Brewery which supports New England Charities like The Greater Boston Food Bank.  Even if you’re not interested in the beer consider making a donation to GBFB or your local food bank.


Book Review: Fighting Traffic by Peter D. Norton

Author: Peter D. Norton
TitleFighting traffic : the dawn of the motor age in the American city
Publication Info: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2008.
ISBN: 9780262141000

Everyone knows that city streets are for cars and that anyone else seeking to access the street needs to follow the rules so as not to cause traffic congestion.  Except that it hasn’t always been this way.  Fighting Traffic documents a time when the automobile was an intruder on the shared public space of the city street, and one depicted as a menace due to speeding, reckless driving, and the killer of innocents.  During the 1920s, motorist clubs, automakers, safety councils, and the newly created field of traffic engineers changed the paradigm to make the street the through-way for motor vehicles with the emphasis on as few interruptions as possible.  The  book is academic in tone, and a bit repetitive in accumulating evidence for its thesis, but it is an interesting look at a moment in time when basic assumptions shifted as well as a means of questioning the basic assumptions we have about cities and cars today.

Favorite Passages:

“Beneath the grief and anger of many safety reformers lay an old assumption: city streets, like city parks, were public spaces.  Anyone could use them provided they did not unduly annoy or endanger others.  Under this construction of the city street, even children at play could be legitimate street users, and even careful motorists were under suspicion.  In the 1920s, however, the pressure of traffic casualties divided old allies.  Some renewed their resolve to compel motorists to conform to the customs of the street as it had been, especially by limiting their speed.  Others, more pragmatic, wanted to save lives by giving pedestrians more responsibility for their own safety.  Finally, some newcomers proposed a more radical social reconstruction of the street as a motor thoroughfare, confining pedestrians to crossings and sidewalks.”  – p. 64

“The dawn of the motor age has something to tell us about power.  Like money, power is a medium of exchange between social groups. Because it comes in many currencies, it is hard to measure by any one standard. Motordom had substantial and growing financial wealth.  By the mid 1920s it was organized enough to dispense this wealth to promote a social reconstruction of the street, through a well-funded rhetorical campaign and through gasoline taxes linked to road construction.  By then it was also exercising direct political power, especially through its influence in the Commerce Department.  But drivers themselves exercised power every time they traveled at speed in the streets, resorting to the horn instead of the brake to proceed.  This exercise of power drove pedestrians from the streets and sometimes barred them from access to streets, even at designated crossings.  Horsepower gave motorists a literal, physical form of momentum that collided with the social momentum of old constructions of the street, changing their trajectories.” – p. 259

Recommended books: Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back by Jane Holtz Kay, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt and Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Author: Markus Zusak
Title:  The Book Thief
Publication Info:   [New York, N.Y.] : Listening Library, 2006.
ISBN: 9780739348345


This novel balances the line between heartwarming and heartbreaking, inevitably falling to the later, but never without giving up hope.  Boldly, Zusak has the book narrated by Death who proves to be sympathetic to humanity and tired of the work he’s given in the Second World War.  Central to the novel is Liesel, a German girl taken in by foster parents when her father is taken away for being a Communist.  Set in a fictional suburb of Munich near Dachau, the novel details day-to-day life in a way that’s familiar to a coming of age tale but also has the overlooming presences of things like the Hitler Youth and nights spent in air raid shelters.  Liesel finds comfort in books, and as the title suggests, purloins some books earning her nickname.  Her life is also changed when her foster parents the Hubbermanns (already at odds with the Nazi party) repay a promise by hiding a young Jewish man in their basement.  Zusak focuses on relationships, test of character, and hope while not dodging the tragedy and atrocity in their midst.  It sounds cheesy to describe it but it really is a wonderful, well-written novel.

Favorite Passages:

“They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thin, incessantly: ‘Get it done, get it done.’ So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.”

Rating: ****

Recommended BooksSkeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian, The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies, and Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Songs of the Week: “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request,” “Melding of the Minds,” and “Poem Found in the Pocket of an Amazon”

This is one of those weeks where just one song is not jumping out at me as THE song of the week, but there are a handful of contenders, so I’m just going to throw out a grab bag of songs of the week.  No commonalities here other than I would probably like these songs for their titles alone.

“Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” – RJD2

This track by Philadelphia-based producer RJD2 is a great sonic piece of instrumental electronica/hip-hop.

“Melding of the Minds” – Deltron 3030 (featuring Zach De La Rocha)

I was already drawn to the sound of this track which is reminiscent of 90’s era political rap at it’s most ardent, but the guest appearance of Rage Against the Machine’s Zach De Lo Rocha put it over the top.

“Poem Found in the Pocket of an Amazon” – My Bubba

Mellow out now with My Bubba, an Icelandic/Swedish folk duo, whose quirky slow tunes remind me of Jolie Holland


What are you listening to this week?  The floor is open.