2018 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.

Here is my 23rd annual list.

  1. December 30 2017 – January 1, 2018 – New Year in Vermont

Technically, this partially occurred last year, but since I wrote last year’s list before it happened it didn’t make that list.  Anyhow, we finished out 2017/began 2018 with family and friends in Vermont which involved snow tubing, Anomia, Cataan, and a lot of Kathleens.

2. March 1 – New couch

We got a new couch.  It folds out into a bed.  It’s really fancy. We’re not used to fancy furniture.

3. March-September – Fantasy baseball

My son really wanted to play fantasy baseball so we put together a laid-back league of adults and children and had fun playing all season.  (my team finished third).

4. March 23 – NYBG Orchid Show

Flowers, flowers everywhere, even if it’s chilly outside.

5. March 23 – “Weird Al” concert

I saw “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert for the first time at the Apollo Theatre, of all places.  Also dined with good friends at Sylvia’s Restaurant.

6. Apri1 1-30 – I watched a ton of documentary films for the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge

7. April 15-20 – Great Wolf Lodge and North Carolina

We had a lovely spring break at the Williamsburg water park and then visiting family in North Carolina.

8. April-July – Youth Baseball

Once again my children had an exciting baseball season, my daughter in teeball, and my son at kid-pitch Junior level.  He even participated in the Mayor’s Cup Tournament!

9. June 10 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

This fundraising ride is always a highlight.

10. June 17 – Father’s Day

As a whale of a dad, we celebrated the special day on the Stellwagen Bank on a whale watching journey.  We even saw a baby whale, bro!

11. June 28 – July 1 – Wolfe’s Neck Campground

A lovely weekend camping on the Maine coast with the added bonus of a goat hike!

12. July 21 – Janelle Monáe

We saw 2018’s top artist perform live and it was amazing.

13. August 14-18 – SAA Annual Meeting

I attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting and even presented at the Archive-It Partner Meeting. When not learning about Archives, I got to enjoy some time in Washington, DC, and in the evenings I went to a DC United game and a Nationals game.

14. August 28 – September 1 – Chicago

Our summer vacation to Chicago included museums, parks, art, architecture, a Cubs game, a White Sox game and time spent with some fun cousins.

15. September 4 & November 6 – Primary Election and General Election

This was an important election year and I was pleased that Massachusetts candidates Ayanna Pressley, Rachael Rollins, Nika Elugardo, and Jon Santiago all won challenging primaries and eventually the general elections as well as the passage of Yes on 3 to protect equality for transgender people.  Not every election went as I liked, but significant steps forwards were made.

16. October  – The Red Sox win the World Series

It was another exciting Red Sox season, and we attended several Red Sox games.  Oddly, they lost a number of them including an 8-0 loss to the Mets in September (who I secretly cheered for while my children elbowed). But the Red Sox won when it counted, including the ALCS Game on October 14 that I attended with my son, and eventually the World Series.  We celebrated at the Red Sox Victory Parade on Halloween

17. October 31 – Halloween Trick or Treat

Recently on Halloween, I’ve stayed home to hand out candy, so I had the delight of joining my children – or should I say Bigfoot and a Ghost Chicken – as they collected loot in our neighborhood.

18. November 24 – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I took my family on their first visit to these national monuments which included visiting Lady Liberty’s crown and finding the name of my great-grandmother on the Wall of Honor.

19. November 30 – December 2 – Birthday Celebration in New Hampshire

I turned 45 this year, but my kids – also November babies – had bigger parties.  So we celebrated late by staying in a cabin in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  We enjoyed snow-shoeing and riding the Santaland Express.

20. Following up on last year, I had an ongoing activity that I can’t speak of online, but came to a joyous resolution this year.


Bronx Brewery No Resolutions IPA

Beer: No Resolutions IPA
Brewer: Bronx Brewery
Source: Can
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)

Another treat from the Bronx, pours out a deep amber with big bubbles, with a thick but swiftly dissipating head.  The aroma is earthy and fruity, and while typical to the IPA style the flavor is bitter but doesn’t assault you with bitterness.  The balance means that the last flavor is malty rather than an a hoppy aftertaste.


2018 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 and not necessarily books published in 2018  For previous years see 20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007 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 alphabetical order:

Books Read in 2018

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values










October 1918



TV Review: Derry Girls (2018)

Title: Derry Girls
Release Date: 2018
Creator and Writer: Lisa McGee
Director:  Michael Lennox
Production Company: Hat Trick Productions

I visited Derry, Northern Ireland in the 1990s and this nostalgic comedy seems to fit my memories of the city.  Derry is known internationally for being at the heart of The Troubles – the ongoing sectarian fighting, riots, and terrorist bombings in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the late 1990s.  But I also remember Derry being something of a party town.  Derry Girls captures the everyday life of the city’s citizens amid bomb threats that cause traffic delays, soldiers inspecting a school bus, and a family taking a holiday to avoid the Orange Orders’ “marching season.”

The core group of teenagers in this show are Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her live-in cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), Erin’s friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and Michelle’s English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), who is the only boy at their all-girl Catholic school because it’s feared that his English accent would make him a target for violence at the boys’ school.  The quintet get themselves in all manner of trouble at school with the misanthropic Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney). Erin’s family also play a big role and they’re all generally awful in amusing ways.

The show is kind of an odd cross of “The Facts of Life” with the movie Heaven Help Us and and “Father Ted,” with some sectarian violence thrown in.  But really, despite the unique setting, the show is strangely relatable.


2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – The Top Five

If you haven’t read  Part 1 and Part 2 of this list, check them out for the full countdown before continuing.

And Now… The Top Five Songs of 2018!

5. “Nameless, Faceless” :: Courtney Barnett
4. “Make Me Feel” :: Janelle Monáe
3. “Tremelo” :: Young Fathers
2. “Black Willow” :: Loma
1. “No Going Back” :: Yuno




Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 2

Read Part 1 of this list for Songs 25 to 16.
15. “Mambo Rapidito” ::  Orquesta Akokán

14. “Gallipoli” :: Beirut

13. “Sisters” :: Natalie Prass
12. “The Queen of New York” :: Tancred
11. “Once in a Lifetime” :: Angélique Kidjo
10. “Colonizer” ::  tUnE-yArDs
9. “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” :: Superorganism
8. “Nobody” :: Mitski
7. “Sleep” :: Hatchie

6. “Mujeres” :: Y La Bamba


What will be my #1 favorite song of 2018?  You’ll have to wait with breathless anticipation for my final post with the top five songs of the year!


Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016


2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 1

It’s that time of the year for my list of favorite songs.  I’m doing things a little differently this year.  First, I have 25 songs to recognize this year (plus one honorable mention).  Second, I’m ranking them.  Third, I’ll be publishing the list over three posts today. I’ve limited the list to one song per artist, lest I just list the entirety of Dirty Computer.

Let’s get started!

Honorable Mention: “BAMM” :: Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly, Kylee Russell (from Zombies)

25. “Hollywood (feat. Snoop Dogg & Jamie Principle)” :: Gorillaz

24. “Baby Luv” :: Nilüfer Yanya

23. “Tear Me to Pieces” :: Meg Myers

22. “Loneliest Girl” :: Princess Chelsea

21. “May Your Kindness Remain” :: Courtney Marie Andrews 

20. “Semicircle Song” :: The Go! Team 

19. “Future Me Hates Me” :: The Beths

18. “Under the Wheels” :: Calexico 

17. “In Your Beat” :: Django Django

16. “Before the Waters Get too High” :: Parquet Courts

Stay tuned for part two!

Favorite Songs by Year

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016

Movie Review: A Christmas Story (1983)

TitleA Christmas Story
Release Date: November 18, 1983
Director: Bob Clark
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I watched A Christmas Story for the first time not long after it was released in my 5th grade classroom (those days before Christmas when the teachers just put on a video to watch as a special treat because the kids are too pepped up to learn anything).  I’ve seen it many times since, and even read Jean Sheppard’s In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash while I was in high school. But I haven’t watched in a long time, at least 15 years, maybe more!.

Well, it holds up well.  The key to this movie is that it’s honest about childhood – from the genuine terror of visiting Santa, to flipping out and striking back at a bully, to the lengths a kid goes to get the gift their heart desires.  It’s also honest about the parents as we see both the usually strict mother and father having their moments of softening up for Ralphie. Honestly, these days I find myself relating to The Old Man, especially on Christmas morning, when he just wanted to sleep.  Some things I’ve never noticed in the movie before: The Old Man skipping with The Wizard of Oz characters in the Higbees store, the freighters in the background when they’re changing the flat tire. and that Darren McGavin was 60-years-old when this was made (so he was a really Old Man).

Rating: ****1/2

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

TitlePirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Release Date: July 9, 2003
Director: Gore Verbinski
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures

The first – and only other – time I watched this movies was when it was first released in the theaters.  Expectations were low for a movie based on a theme park attraction and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, of all people.  But early reviews were good, so some friends and I went to see it and it was … fun!  Johnny Depp’s quirky take on Keith Richards as a pirate is of course the most memorable thing about this movie.  But on rewatching, it’s clear the other actors are doing a good job too.  Keira Knightley portrays Elizabeth Swann as a natural leader and Orlando Bloom realizes that playing the straight man doesn’t mean being dull.  I also notice that the many action set pieces are not only entertaining but they all also advanced the plot or character development.  So this movie does everything that a big budget cash-in on a theme park ride produced by Jerry Bruckheimer shouldn’t and remains a classic.

Rating: ****1/2

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Albums

It’s the time of the year to list my favorite albums!  What follows are my ten favorite albums listed in alphabetical order by the artists.  Links in the album title go to my full review of the album.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 20142016, and 2017 as well.

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher

Sugar & Spice by Hatchie

Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo

Acrylic by Leikeli47

Roza Cruz by La Mecánica Popular 

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Orquesta Akokán by Orquesta Akokán

Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts

Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers