Introducing JP A to Z #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge! I’m participating for the first time this year in this activity where we blog every day for the month of April (except Sundays), posting a blog post each day for each letter of the alphabet. My theme this year will focus on my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston, Massachusetts.

Here is a photo of every letter of the alphabet taken from signs in Jamaica Plain. Bonus points if you can guess where they’re all from!

If you’re a Blogging from A to Z Challenge participant and reading Panorama of the Mountains for the first time, Welcome! Typically I blog about things ranging from books to beer, music to movie, and bikes to schools. The About page lists the schedule for a typical week, although things will be a bit topsy-turvy while I’m blogging from A to Z. This is a WordPress blog, so if you use WordPress feel free to use WordPress Reader to follow me.  You may also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr (all posts from Panorama of the Mountains are copied there, but there’s a whole lot more).  Finally, please leave me a comment to say hello or really anything!  I look forward to meeting you!

JPAtoZ-logo
Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

Beer Review: Harpoon Kettle Cup Thunder Foam


Beer: Kettle Cup Thunder Foam
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 22 ounce bottled
Rating:  **** (8.0 of 10)
Comments: Poured into a glass, this porter is a dark brown with a thick head with a cocoa aroma a sweet chocolaty flavor with subtle spice.   The glass has a velvety mouthfeel and leaves a spotty lacing on the glass.  If you ever wanted a spicy hot cocoa experience in a beer, here’s your chance.

 

Movie Review: 42 (2013)


Title: 42
Release Date: 2013
Director:  Brian Helgeland
Summary/Review:

This straightforward biopic documents Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he became the first black player to break through the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  It suffers from an excess of Hollywood dramatic moments, but mostly it’s true to life in showing what Robinson had to deal with just to play ball.  Harrison Ford seems just a bit odd cast as Branch Rickey, and the characterization of Rickey is too idealized for a man who was actually loathed by a lot of players for his greediness.  Chadwick Boseman is excellent as Jackie Robinson (he really gets his moves on the basepaths down) and Nicole Beharie plays a winsome Rachel Robinson.  There are also some great effects that make it look like they filmed on location at Ebbets Field and the other historic ballparks of 1947. All in all, it’s a good introduction to the Jackie Robinson story.

 
Rating: ***

Book Review: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osbourne


Author: Mary Pope Osbourne
TitleMummies in the Morning
Publication Info: New York : Random House, c1993.
Summary/Review:

Another Magic Tree House classic.  Annie and Jack travel to Ancient Egypt and help a ghost-queen by solving the riddle of hieroglyphics and finding their way through the false passages of a pyramid.  This book also demonstrates their different talents very well, Annie the adventurer, and Jack the researcher.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Amazin’ Again: How the 2015 New York Mets Brought the Magic Back to Queens by Greg W. Prince


Author: Greg W. Prince
TitleAmazin’ Again: How the 2015 New York Mets Brought the Magic Back to Queens
Publication Info: Sports Publishing (2016)
Previously Read By Same Author: Faith and Fear in Flushing 
Summary/Review:

2015 was a special season for the New York Mets and Mets’ fans, not just because they won the National League pennant, but because of so many unique aspects and players that made it unlike any season in the team’s history.  Prince, one-half of the team at the magnificent Faith and Fear in Flushing blog, relives the 2015 season month-by-month, game-by-game, and sometimes even inning-by-inning and pitch-by-pitch, offering his wizened and humorous perspective.  While a regular blogger writing about the Mets, make no mistake that this is a book by a journalist or a sports writer, this is a fan’s book.  Prince writes about watching games from his seat at Citi Field or on tv and offers many great tidbits of Mets history and the fan’s zeitgeist to embellish the narrative.  If there’s anything wrong with this book it’s that it has the same sad ending as the Met’s 2015 season (Prince wisely does not dwell on the World Series).  Let’s hope that Prince will have reason to write another book with a happier ending in the near future.
Favorite Passages:

Some combination of appreciation for the Met who wanted to be a Met so bad he wept when comprehending he might be something else and the intoxication we felt for having just gotten Cespedes turned the shirt-receivers their own kind of emotional. When they got a load of Flores in his first at-bat since the trade that wasn’t, they rose and applauded. Thank you, Wilmer. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being you. This sort of gratitude isn’t readily associated with the Mets fan species, but standing ovations now followed Wilmer Flores around like a loyal pup. He couldn’t step into the batter’s box or approach a ground ball without his every movement causing a commendatory commotion. Driving Juan Uribe home with the first run of the night in the fourth made him only more beloved.

Four National relievers. Three Met runs. One hellacious fist pump out of Wright after he crossed the plate. Yes, it seemed to shout, this is what all that stretching and exercising the back was for … this is what I signed that long-term deal for … this is what it’s all frigging about. Even when filling David Wright’s thought bubble, I can’t imagine The Captain cursing.

If you came to the Mets later in life—by marriage, by immigration, by one day looking up at the television and deciding that team on the screen was somehow for you—then your elation is every bit as earned as mine. The Mets may extract blood, sweat and tears from you, but you don’t have to fill out a form to prove your loyalty (they tried that with the “True New Yorker” marketing gambit of 2014 and it backfired blazingly). Adult conversions are welcome. They’re admirable. We know you had your choice of baseball teams and we thank you for flying with us.

Recommended booksBad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman, If at First by Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan,  Faithful by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osbourne


Author: Mary Pope Osbourne
TitlePirates Past Noon
Publication Info: New York : Random House, c1994.
Summary/Review:

Swashbuckling adventure awaits Annie and Jack as the magic tree house takes them to an island, and they have to help pirates find a treasure.  I love pirates, but this is a weak story in the series, albeit still entertaining.  It also introduces Morgan in a section at the end that feels a bit tacked on.  Apparently this was supposed to be the last book in the series, but I’m glad that they didn’t stop there!

Rating: **1/2

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray


Author: Libba Bray
TitleThe Diviners
Narratorr: January LaVoy
Publication Info: Listening Library (2012)
Summary/Review:

Evie, an outspoken youngster from Ohio is sent away be her family to live with a strange uncle in Jazz Age New York City and ends up helping him try to solve a series of occultist murders.  An outlandish premise, but we also learn that Evie is one of many characters with extrasensory powers (the titular “Diviners”) and that there’s a man who is part machine, so just roll with it.  The characters are richly defined and help hold together a story that’s a little like Ghostbusters, but 60 years earlier.  The narration of January LaVoy captures the carefree spirit and hidden genius of Evie O’Neill and her comrades in this historical paranormal horror mystery.

Recommended booksStrivers Row by Kevin Baker,  The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch, and The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Rating: ***

Podcast of the Week: “There Goes the Neighborhood”


Gentrification is a serious issue for anyone who cares about the future of cities.  For every neighbor “revitalization” there’s pressure on long-term communities to be pushed out.

How can we make cities places that don’t have winners and losers?  Can we have housing that’s affordable in neighborhoods that aren’t derelict?  Can more prosperous people move to the city and live side-by-side with the working poor?

The Nation and WNYC collaborate to ask these questions in an 8-part podcast series “There Goes the Neighborhood.”

Subscribe and listen at your favorite podcast source.

Song of the Week: “Yeah, I’m Okay With My Shit Life” by Bethlehem Steel


Don’t read too much into this, but I feel this song speaks to me right about now.

Bethlehem Steel is band All Songs Considered describes as “shrug rock.”  Despite the name, they’re not from Pennsylvania, but based in Brooklyn.  The song is “Yeah, I’m Okay With My Shit Life.”

Enjoy!

Beer Review: Castle Island Candlepin Pale Ale


Beer: Candlepin Pale Ale
Brewer: Castle Island Brewing Co.
Source: Draft
Rating:  ** (6.7 of 10)
Comments: A new Massachusetts brewery from Norwood presents this APA named for the regions hardest bowling game.  It’s VERY pale, more of a straw-colored cloud with negligible head.  The aroma is apricot, a bit skunky, with a grapefruit taste that balances the bitter with a palatable, bready aftertaste.  The beer leaves light lacing and sticky mouthfeel.  Better than expected!