TV Draft

The past month I’ve been participating in a TV Draft.  It sounds complicated but it’s basically just a bunch of bloggers taking turns writing up a description of their favorite TV series.  Take a look at the complete list and see a wide variety of great shows!

I wrote about four different shows as part of this project:

Thanks to Max at the PowerPop blog for hosting the TV Draft and for Lisa at Tao Talk for inviting me to participate.

Reflections on the Blogging A to Z Challenge #AtoZChallenge

Well, another April has come and gone and hundreds of folks have furiously written a blog post for each letter of the alphabet while visiting other blogs to offer feedback and support.  For the 4th, and probably final, time I watched and reviewed documentary movies.  This was the first time I scheduled all my posts before April began and thus had a lot of time to visit other blogs, although I tapered off in the final third of the month, alas.  I meant to use my “free time” to watch more bonus docs but I found myself not really wanting to watch anything more, and besides baseball season and the NBA playoffs started! The movies I watched this year were uniformly good and I saw a lot of themes running through several of them, including civil rights and social justice issues, LGBTQ concerns and the AIDS crisis, behind the scenes with creators in entertainment, and music.


My Favorite A-to-Z Blogs:

My Blogging A-to-Z Posts:

Previous A to Z Challenges

Midway through the A-to-Z! #atozchallenge

In my 7th year of the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge, I think I’ve finally figured out how to do this right. This is the first time I had all my A-to-Z posts written and scheduled before April 1st!  I also have been doing better to hop to the blogs of other A-to-Z participants to leave comments.  I made a goal of visiting 5 new blogs every day, so as of today I’ve commented at least once on 75 different blogs.

But enough about me!  Here are some A-to-Z blogs I’m reading and enjoying that you should check out.

My Favorite A-to-Z Blogs Thus Far:

My Blogging A-to-Z Posts So Far:

Previous A to Z Challenges

2021 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  I always say that memorable does not mean it is necessarily positive, so don’t be surprised to see negative experiences on this 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 26th annual list.


… NEW YEAR IN NEW HAMPSHIRE – We escaped cabin fever at home by kicking off the New Year in an actual cabin in New Hampshire.  We played games, there was lots of snow, and went tubing at King Pine Ski Area.


… POLITICAL UPHEAVAL – On January 6, white supremacist insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol and attempted to overthrow our government.  Now if Islamic jihadists, Black Lives Matter, or Leftists did this we’d probably be still talking but for some reason it’s all ho-hum now.  I guess that’s white privilege at work. In better news, Joe Biden was actually inaugurated on January 20, so at least there’s some hope of preserving democracy.

… BACK TO WORK – I started going to work in person one day per week in January.  I have an odd nostalgia for riding the empty subway to the empty library and taking lunch in the empty cafeteria. The kids started going back to school part time in March and full-time in May.  Then I started working onsite 2 days per week.  Finally, in August, it was back to the new normal with 4 days onsite and 1 day work from home.


MOVING MOM – My mother got a new apartment in the Bronx so I spent a long weekend helping her pack and clean.

… NEW BOSTON MAYORS – President Biden appointed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (whom I loathe) to the Department of Labor and suddenly Boston had a new mayor.  As Acting Mayor until November’s election, Kim Janey became the first woman and first Black person to serve as Mayor of Boston. In the general election, my favored candidate, progressive Michelle Wu, was elected in a landslide and became the first woman and first person of color elected to the office.  As an added bonus, we got a great new progressive City Councilor for our district, Kendra Hicks.

A STROLL IN THE PUBLIC GARDEN – It had been a long time since we’d been downtown, so we actually drove down there for a nice walk through the Public Garden on a pleasant spring day just as the flowers were starting to bloom.

… NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT – Susan and I got our first COVID vaccine shots in April.  Peter got his shots in May and Kay was finally eligible in November.  Here’s to hope for a healthful and less topsy-turvy future.


… TO THE END OF THE WORLD – We enjoyed another outing on a spring day to World’s End Reservation in Hingham.

… FLYING SQUIRRELS – My daughter’s youth baseball team was sponsored by the neighborhood Facebook group and named “Flying Squirrels.”  They had a great season where they all got better at hitting and fielding, plus there were mid-inning sing-a-longs and costumed adults cheering them on.  She also was selected to the All-Star Game.  If that wasn’t enough baseball, my son played on like three teams in the spring, summer, and fall.


… BEFORE BOSTON – I researched and wrote a new tour for Boston By Foot that focused on Boston before 1630. It’s probably the first walking tour to focus extensively on Native American peoples in Boston. We finally got to debut the tour in June after a COVID delay.

… UP THE CAPE – We spent a week at a rental cottage in Wellfleet with my Mom.  We went to beaches, took long bike rides, strolled around Provincetown, and got a seafood dinner takeout!

RETURN TO OLD HAUNTS – In June, when it seemed like COVID might actually go away I took great delight in doing things I hadn’t done in a long time like seeing a movie in a theater and drinking a beer at a pub.


SWEET INDEPENDENCE DAY – We had a quiet 4th of July, but Kay baked us a delicious cake in patriotic colors.


THE WILDS OF NEW YORK – We paid a visit to my Mom in New York and a spent a day apiece at the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, enjoying the animals.

¡WEPA! – There’s a new ballclub in Massachusetts, the Worcester Red Sox (a.k.a. WooSox, a.k.a. Los Wepas), and we visited Polar Park for the first time, enjoying a double header against the Syracuse Mets followed by fireworks.

UNIVERSAL – Our end of summer vacation took us to Universal Orlando for the first time, where we enjoyed the rides and attractions of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure for three days with almost no one else there.


13th INNING WALKOFF – I expected the Red Sox to have a better season than last year, but even I was surprised by how they exceeded expectations.  We visited Fenway for a game for the first time in a long time in June, and even saw the Red Sox on the road in Tampa Bay.  But the absolute highlight was seeing their Game 3 of the ALDS win over the Rays with a dramatic walkoff home run by Christian Vazquez in the 13th inning! Sadly, the dream came to an end against the Astros in the 6th game of the ALCS.


SUPPORTERS SHIELD – We didn’t make it to Foxborough for any New England Revolution games this year but I enjoyed watching their historic season.  The Revs not only won the Supporters Shield for the best regular season record in Major League Soccer but also set a record for the most points in a MLS season.  Unfortunately, like the Red Sox, the Revs dream season came crashing down in the playoffs with a loss in a penalty shootout to NYCFC.

THE THANKSGIVING OLYMPIC GAMES – Kay came up with a series of games for all of the family and our friend Anthony to compete in on Thanksgiving.  These include Flickin’ Chicken, Head Hoop Basketball, and our own unique sport of Anthony Funball.  I won three silver medals of which I’m inordinately proud.


THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS – Kay and I finally got to see a live performance of the musical Hamilton at Providence Performing Arts Center.  It was a delight!

… INTERRUPTED REVELRY – I participated as a member of the chorus in the annual Christmas Revels show at Sanders Theater in Cambridge.  Despite COVID protocols changing a lot of the traditions, the show was an absolute joy.  Unfortunately, due to the omicron outbreak, the last 6 shows were canceled, but I’m glad we got to perform ten shows, plus all of the fun and camaraderie of the rehearsals.  Also, you can still stream the virtual Revels performance until January 9th!

That’s me in the green sweater on the last verse!


AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies List (2007 Edition)

I have officially watched and reviewed every movie on the AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies List (2007 Edition)!  Here are the movies with my links to the reviews.

1 Citizen Kane 1941 *****
2 The Godfather 1972 ****
3 Casablanca 1942 *****
4 Raging Bull 1980 ***
5 Singin’ in the Rain 1952 ****
6 Gone with the Wind 1939 ***
7 Lawrence of Arabia 1962 ****
8 Schindler’s List 1993 ****
9 Vertigo 1958 ****
10 The Wizard of Oz 1939 *****
11 City Lights 1931 ****
12 The Searchers 1956 **
13 Star Wars 1977 ****1/2
14 Psycho 1960 ****
15 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 *****
16 Sunset Boulevard 1950 *****
17 The Graduate 1967 ***
18 The General 1926 ***
19 On the Waterfront 1954 ****1/2
20 It’s a Wonderful Life 1946 *****
21 Chinatown 1974 ***
22 Some Like It Hot 1959 ****
23 The Grapes of Wrath 1940 ****1/2
24 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982 ****
25 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 ***1/2
26 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939 ****1/2
27 High Noon 1952 ****
28 All About Eve 1950 ****
29 Double Indemnity 1944 ****
30 Apocalypse Now 1979 ****
31 The Maltese Falcon 1941 ****1/2
32 The Godfather Part II 1974 ***
33 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975 ****1/2
34 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 ****1/2
35 Annie Hall 1977
36 The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 ****1/2
37 The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 *****
38 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 ****1/2
39 Dr. Strangelove 1964 *****
40 The Sound of Music 1965 ****1/2
41 King Kong 1933 ****
42 Bonnie and Clyde 1967 ***
43 Midnight Cowboy 1969 ***
44 The Philadelphia Story 1940 ****
45 Shane 1953 ***1/2
46 It Happened One Night 1934 ****
47 A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 ****
48 Rear Window 1954 ****1/2
49 Intolerance 1916 **
50 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 ****1/2
51 West Side Story 1961 ****
52 Taxi Driver 1976 ***
53 The Deer Hunter 1978 **
54 M*A*S*H 1970 **
55 North by Northwest 1959 ***
56 Jaws 1975 *****
57 Rocky 1976 ****
58 The Gold Rush 1925 ***
59 Nashville 1975 ****
60 Duck Soup 1933 *****
61 Sullivan’s Travels 1941 ****
62 American Graffiti 1973 ***1/2
63 Cabaret 1972 ***1/2
64 Network 1976 ****
65 The African Queen 1951 ****1/2
66 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 *****
67 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 ****
68 Unforgiven 1992 ***1/2
69 Tootsie 1982 ***
70 A Clockwork Orange 1971 ***
71 Saving Private Ryan 1998 ***1/2
72 The Shawshank Redemption 1994 ****
73 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969 ***1/2
74 The Silence of the Lambs 1991 **1/2
75 In the Heat of the Night 1967 ****
76 Forrest Gump 1994 ***1/2
77 All the President’s Men 1976 ****
78 Modern Times 1936 *****
79 The Wild Bunch 1969 ***
80 The Apartment 1960 ****
81 Spartacus 1960 ***1/2
82 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927 ***
83 Titanic 1997 ***1/2
84 Easy Rider 1969 ***1/2
85 A Night at the Opera 1935 *****
86 Platoon 1986 ***
87 12 Angry Men 1957 ****
88 Bringing Up Baby 1938 *****
89 The Sixth Sense 1999 ***
90 Swing Time 1936 **1/2
91 Sophie’s Choice 1982 ****
92 Goodfellas 1990 ***1/2
93 The French Connection 1971 ***1/2
94 Pulp Fiction 1994 ***1/2
95 The Last Picture Show 1971 ****
96 Do the Right Thing 1989 *****
97 Blade Runner 1982 ***1/2
98 Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942 ***1/2
99 Toy Story 1995 *****
100 Ben-Hur 1959 ***1/2

Hamilton and other theatrical productions I have seen

On Thursday night, I took my daughter to see Hamilton at the Providence Performing Arts Center (there’s a nice review from The Providence Journal). We’d watched the filmed version of Hamilton on Disney+ and listened to the cast recording countless times but this was the first time we attended a live performance.  It was nice to get the wide view from the First Dress Circle where we could see the intricate choreography of the ensemble cast.  I was also impressed with the lighting design.  And it was interesting to see the different takes the actors had on the characters from the original cast.  Not related to the show, the Providence Performing Arts Center is a lovely theater although a bit short on leg room.

Anyhow, it got be thinking of what other theatrical productions I’d seen in my life.  So I brainstormed a list with the help of some old ticket stubs I’ve collected.


  • Annie (early 1980s) at the Alvin Theatre – I remember getting autographs from the young cast members outside the theater although those weren’t saved. Sarah Jessica Parker might’ve been in the cast at the time.
  • Barnum (early 1980s) at the St. James Theatre – A musical about the life of P.T. Barnum long before The Greatest Showman. I remember being impressed by a woman purportedly supposed to be George Washington’s nurse singing a bluesy tune.  Also, jugglers and acrobats performed in the audience before the show.
  • Peter Pan (early 1980s) – A revival of the 1954 musical starring Sandy Duncan.  She flew out over the audience at the end of the show.
  • Lost in Yonkers (December 29, 1992) at Richard Rogers Theatre – A nostalgic comedy-drama by Neil Simon. Didi Conn played the main role replacing Mercedes Ruehl, much to the disgruntlement of my sister.
  • Jelly Roll (January 10, 1995) at 47th Street Theatre – A biographical musical about jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton.  I remember that it was performed by the second cast much to the disgruntlement of the guy behind me.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on Way to the Forum (March 19, 1997) at St. James Theatre – Whoopi Goldberg starred in the lead role that previously had been reserved for a man.
  • Once Upon a Mattress (March 19, 1997) at Broadhurst Theater -Sarah Jessica Parker was definitely in this show.
  • The Lion King (January 22, 2000) at New Amsterdam Theatre – Some friends convinced me to get SRO tickets for this show although I was resistant to Disney musicals at that point in my life.  I ended up liking it.
  • Monty Python’s Spamalot (November 19, 2005) at Shubert Theatre – As a long time fan of Monty Python and Tim Curry, I was eager to so this show and was severely disappointed.  Maybe because the cast felt like they were phoning it in the whole time?


  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (early 1980s) at Radio City Music Hall – This production was made long before Disney movies were routinely adapted into Broadway musicals.  My dad took us to this show because he felt we needed to see something at the great Radio City Music Hall.
  • The Fantasticks (January 1995) at Sullivan Street Playhouse – Saw world’s longest-running musical when it was in the 35th year of its 42-year run. It was great.

West End

  • The Mousetrap (February 28, 1998) at St Martin’s Theatre – Since I’d seen the world’s longest-running musical in New York I had to see the world’s longest-running play of any kind in London.  This is a famous Agatha Christie murder mystery.
  • An Inspector Calls (February 28, 1998) at the Royal Theatre  – The second show I saw on the same night that featured people impersonating police officers.  This one was a satire of Edwardian society.

Touring Productions

  • Les Miserables (August 2, 1990) at National Theatre – The summer I went to a high school program at Georgetown University, I learned that big, bold, Broadway musicals are good actually.
  • 42nd Street (February 7, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – Part of a series of shows my Mom and I went to see when I was in college.
  • Last of the Red Hot Lovers (May 9, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – This production starred Don Knotts and Barbara Eden!
  • Camelot (October 24, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – I’ve loved Camelot since watching the filmed version of the 1982 revival so I was eager to see a live performance. Robert Goulet, who played Lancelot in the original production, starred is King Arthur.  This was a bit of a waste of his big voice since Arthur’s part was written for a lesser singer, but it was still fun and inspiring.
  • Rent (August 26, 1997) at National Theatre – The musical that brought a 1990s sensibility to Broadway.  I saw this with some friends in Washington and then listened to the cast recording for the next year.

Repertory, Community, and College Theaters, etc. 

  • Fiddler on the Roof (late 1980s) – My childhood parish had a community theater called the St. Catherine Players, although the performers weren’t generally members of the congregation.  Anyhow, I first saw this terrific musical about Jewish people in Russia in the basement of a Roman Catholic church.
  • Broadway Bound (August 1990) at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse – This is the third in a trilogy of Neil Simon’s plays after Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues (which I only saw as movies).
  • Antigone (August 1990) at Tisbury Amphitheater – This was a modernized take of the Sophocles’ play performed in a lovely wooded setting on Martha’s Vineyard.
  • All the King’s Men (Autumn 1991) at William and Mary Theatre – Robert Penn Warren’s fictionalized story of Huey Long was set to music by Randy Newman.
  • Once Upon a Mattress (October 16, 1992) at William and Mary Theatre – I saw this on a bad date.
  • Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Matthew Whaley School – Sometime, I some group perform this at a public school in Williamsburg.  It was good, I recall.
  • Godspell (April 1993) at St. Bede’s Catholic Church Parish Hall – The Catholic/Episcopal Covenant Players performed this at William & Mary.
  • Night Sky (November 19, 1993) at William and Mary Theatre – A play in which the protagonist suffers from aphasia after an accident.  This was part of a much better date to celebrate my birthday.
  • Working (April 1994?) at The Fellowship Hall at the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church – Another Covenant Players production of a musical by Studs Terkel.
  • Into the Woods (January 20, 1994) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – The Sinfonicron Light Opera Company performed this Stephen Sondheim musical.  I remember feeling it was mean-spirited and feeling very depressed after watching it.  I’d probably like it better if I was in a better mind.
  • Helene (April 14, 1995) at William and Mary Theatre – I know this has something to do with Greek mythology, but I have no recollection what it was about.
  • Junebug/Jack (September 9, 1995) at The Arts Center Theatre – Another show I don’t clearly remember but it looks like something I would like.
  • Jim Crow Gotta Go (April 13, 1996) at William and Mary Theatre – I think that this was a touring production based on oral history experiences of people in a Southern town during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Walk Together Children (1996) – This was a production that took its inspiration from Jim Crow Gotta Go to specifically focus on the stories of people in Williamsburg.  My good friend and housemate worked on producing this show.
  • Crazy For You (October 17, 1997) at William and Mary Theatre – A romantic comedy musical with Gershwin brothers songs that I thought was funnier than my date did.  But it was still a good date.
  • Angels in America: Part One (April 18, 1998) at William and Mary Theatre – A production of Tony Kushner’s groundbreaking drama about the AIDS crisis in the gay community was still controversial in Williamsburg 23 years ago
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (May 11, 2000) at Turtle Lane Playhouse – The main thing I remember about this production is that they made Mary Magdalene look like Monica Lewinski.
  • Blue Man Group – “Tubes” (September 8, 2000) at The Charles Playhouse – Got to see this show free-of-charge for participants of the Boston -> New York AIDSRide.  A Blue Man spat a piece of chewed-up Toblerone in my hand.  It was gross.
  • Miss Folk America (May 19, 2001) at Somerville Theatre – A comedy about the Boston area folk scene starring some of our favorite singer/songwriters at the time as fictional versions of themselves.  Extremely niche.
  • Nixon’s Nixon (March 2002) at Huntington Theatre – I volunteered as an usher and got to watch this comic drama of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger on the last night of Nixon’s presidency.
  • Blithe Spirit (February 19, 2004) at Walpole Footlighters – A colleague of Susan’s was involved in this production of the Noël Coward comedy.
  • The Birthday Party  (March 2004) at American Repertory Theatre – A very strange and very uncomfortable Harold Pinter play with the set’s furniture slowly being pushed into the center of the stage.
  • The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (2006?) at Cyclorama – A woman artist adopts the persona of Darryl Strawberry and becomes a success painting pictures of chickens.  Surprisingly it works.
  • Pippin (September 21, 2018) at Footlight Club -I’d long loved the music from this show but it wasn’t quite expected.
  • The Haunted Life (March 23, 2019) at Merrimack Repertory Theatre – An adaptation of a autobiographical Jack Kerouac novel about growing up in Lowell.


  • Macbeth (Summer 1992) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – This was part of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival.  The star of the show also taught a theater course I took at William & Mary that summer.
  • Twelfth Night (February 25, 1993) at William and Mary Theatre – I played Sir Toby Belch in a high school production of Twelfth Night, so I love this comedy, but I don’t remember this William & Mary production at all.
  • Richard III (July 22, 1995) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Another Virginia Shakespeare Festival production.
  • Measure for Measure (July 28, 1998) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – The main thing I remember about this Virginia Shakespeare Festival production is that they emphasized style over substance and I really hated it.  Also, music by the Gipsy Kings.
  • Twelfth Night (Summer 2001) at Boston Common – The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of Shakespeare on the Common set Twelfth Night in the early-60s JFK/Camelot era.
  • Macbeth (2003) at Boston Common – Another Commonwealth Shakespeare Company production that moved the Scottish tragedy to Juan Perón’s Argentina.  Memorably, the three witches remained on stage for the entire show, pulling strings in the background.
  • Hamlet (2005) at Boston Common – In this production, the Danish prince had a swimming pool, I think?

Opera, Light Opera, Ballet, etc.

  • Romeo and Juliet (October 20, 1991) at Chrysler Hall – This was the first ballet I ever saw performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.  However, the main thing I remember about this performance is that my sister mistook a Navy officer in his dress uniform for an usher.  Welcome to Norfolk!
  • Patience (January 19, 1995) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Another Sinfonicron Light Opera Company performance.  This made me realize that I really don’t like Gilbert & Sullivan
  • La Boheme (January 21, 1997) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Having seen Rent, I saw the original with my Mom. Mimi has a strong voice for someone with consumption.
  • The Magic Flute (1997?) at Harrison Opera House – My first opera, also in Norfolk.
  • The Nutcracker (December 30, 2005) at The Opera House – Amazingly, I’ve only seen this ballet once, performed by Boston Ballet.  Maybe next Christmas?
  • Semele (September 28, 2006) at New York State Theatre – This was an adaptation of an oratorio by Handel that made the main character in Marilyn Monroe.
  • Urban Nutcracker (December 16, 2006) at John Hancock Hall – Another Christmas classic I need to see again.
  • Madama Butterfly (April 22, 2007) at New York State Theatre – A treat from my mother that I saw with Susan in the last months before we became parents.
  • Così fan tutte (March 24, 2018) at Metropolitan Opera House – My first show at the Met set the Mozart opera in a Coney Island-style beach resort. Broadway star Kelli O’Hara made a nice transition to opera.

I’ll add more if I remember them.

At last, a 4,391st post!

On December 4, 2006, I posted for the first time on Panorama of the Mountains.  Blogs were a relatively new things at the time although perhaps already on the way to being old hat.  I thought it would be fun to write online regularly about – something – and fifteen years later I still haven’t found a theme.  These days I mostly post movie reviews, but I’m sure in the future it will be something else.  And that’s fine.  Not too many people read this blog and only a very few comment on it, for which I’m always appreciative.  Mostly though, this blog has always been an outlet for writing about what I’m thinking about, and a good resource to look back at when I’m trying to remember how I was thinking about something back then.  So, I’ve been blogging for 15 years, which is close to being a third of my life so far, and it looks like I will continue blogging for some time to come.


2020 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  I always say that memorable does not mean it is necessarily positive, and this year more than most will include some negative experiences.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 25th annual list.

When considering 2020, there are three memorable things that for good or for ill (mostly ill) affected just about everyone.

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic hit the United States in March and life was turned upside down. Apparently the monkey paw’s finger curled when it heard me say that I wished I didn’t have such a long commute and could spend more time with my kids. We’ve all been home together every day since St. Patrick’s Day. Family togetherness has its plusses and minuses but we will surely always remember this time. And working from home is kind of boring, but I did get to make use of my back porch as an outdoor office for five months after neglecting it for most of the 13 years we’ve lived here. Of course, I am very grateful that we have a home, my wife and I are still employed, and no one we know has succumbed to COVID. We are extremely privileged.
  • 2020 also saw an uprising in the Black Lives Matter movement that’s been developing since at least 2013, after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. The mass protests touched every corner of the country and the world, even our neighborhood, and we were gratefully to see so many people out in support. It feels like something changed for the better this year in America’s reckoning racial inequality and violence, although there is still significant progress to be made.
  • Finally, there were the 2020 Elections. The defeat of Donald Trump, who never should’ve been president in the first place and should’ve been removed from office long ago, was a positive outcome. As unenthused as I am with Joe Biden as president, at least we have a chance to steer the country away from full-on fascism. Early in the year, I actually attended a presidential candidate rally for the first time when I saw Bernie Sanders by happenstance on Boston Common (back when standing in crowds of people wasn’t scary!). Through the year I’ve been trying to do my part to support progressive candidates and causes throughout the country, including the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff elections. I also got to vote in Fenway Park!

With that said, here are 17 more memorable things about 2020.

  • Boston By Foot – I spent most of the first two months of this year researching and writing a walking tour of Boston Common that I hoped to debut this year about indigenous people and early European settlers on the Shawmut Peninsula prior to 1630. That tour will hopefully go out in 2021. Instead of walking tours, this year I did presentations online, including a 10-year anniversary retrospective of our trip to Amsterdam, some storytelling events, and a live presentation from Franklin Park.
  • Myrtle Beach – On February break, we traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Visiting a seaside town in the offseason was an odd preview of the empty streets and eerie silences that would become familiar once the pandemic hit the next month. But we also got to go go-karting, tour the beautiful Brookgreen Gardens in the rain, see sharks and jellyfish up close at Ripley’s Aquarium, and play the links at the home of the Professional Min-Golf Masters tournament.
  • Games, games, games – For the past five years or so, I’ve joined some fellow Boston By Foot guides for team trivia at bars in Boston once a month. Early in the pandemic, we tried virtual trivia through Zoom instead, and without even discussing it began playing weekly. Sometimes we even won! We also kept in touch with some college friends in Virgina by playing Jackbox games online. At home, my daughter made it a goal early in the pandemic to play every board game we own. I think we did it, maybe?
  • Another one of Kay’s accomplishments while we were home a lot this spring, was learning how to ride a bike and becoming quite adept at it!
  • Being home meant spending a lot more time in our back yard which was always an underappreciated luxury in the city. We even got a hammock, a pool, and occasionally a homemade slip & slide.
  • Father’s Day was warmly celebrated with cards, a walk in the woods, and turkeys.
  • Crane Beach – I took Kay, our beach-loving child, on three visits to Crane Beach in Ipswich. The first visit in July was really the first time we did anything that felt normal in this pandemic year and the stress of daily life melted away for a few hours. The other visits were cooler and gray, but we still had fun building in the sand and jumping in the waves.
  • 4th of July – Sometime in mid-May, people in our neighborhood began launching fireworks on a nightly basis. We knew that this would be a big year for homemade artisanal firework displays on Independence Day and there’s something to be said about being able to watch from the porch rather than schlepping to the Esplanade. The kids and I also went to a drive-in movie for the first time.
  • Baseball – I didn’t pay much attention to Major League Baseball’s shortened season (and I’m going to pretend it wasn’t a real season so I don’t have to acknowledge the Dodgers as World Series Champions). The biggest heartbreak in our household this spring was the cancellation of the youth baseball season. Not only do the kids love parenting baseball, but hanging out with the other parents during games is a big part of my annual social activity. During the summer, Peter was able to play games with two teams, and then in the fall played in a tournament and on a Fall Ball team on a full-sized diamond. He even hit his first home run! Meanwhile, Kay got to have some practices and pick-up games to scratch the baseball itch.
  • Susan’s father has been ill most of the year and had major surgery in July. We had to adjust to Susan being away for two weeks, and then she surprised us by coming home early. On the sweet side of things, Peter has showed his support for his grandfather by talking with him about Florida Gators sports.
  • The absolute highlight of our year was our visit to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. I made all the reservations for an exciting expedition in January and February, and then worried for six months about whether we should actually go. Luckily everything worked out and we spent a week in the great outdoors of nature’s wonderland! I published seven blog posts with a travelogue of our adventures, starting here:
  • Kay embraced Halloween with great enthusiasm this year including delivering treats to her friends at the beginning of October, making thematic art, carving pumpkins, and dressing as Darth Kayder with a dark chicken apprentice. We also enjoyed seeing the Zoo Lights at Franklin Park Zoo.
  • Peter spent his last day as a 12-year-old in the emergency room as he broke his clavicle after a fall while playing flag football with his friends in the first snowfall of the season. He was impressively resilient in dealing with a painful and inconvenient injury to begin his teenage years.
  • Plymouth – Typically, 3rd grade classes visit Plymouth, MA on a field trip but Kay only got a virtual version. So on Veteran’s Day we met up with a classmate and visited Plimoth Patuxet and the Mayflower II, coincidentally on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Compact.
  • Kay celebrated a socially-distanced 9th birthday party in our backyard with a Star Wars theme, complete with decorated cupcakes and lightsaber battles.
  • The first big snow fall of the year lead to some great sledding for Kay and her friends.
  • Finally, we embraced Christmas whole-heartedly by getting a gorgeous tree, three different advent calendars, and opening gifts galore. We also enjoyed meeting up with Kay’s buddy again for Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village.


Fourteen Candles

My blog, paraphrasing Samantha Baker from the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles, to me:

“You fucking forgot my birthday!”

It’s true. This blog turned 14 on December 4, 2020. And I completely failed to commemorate in the usual style. Sorry, blog.

I don’t have much to say in reflection other than to marvel that 14 years is a long time for me to consistently do anything. I think the only things that surpass me are working on this blog are 1) my marriage to Susan (15 years), and 2) my employment at the same library, albeit not in the same job (20 years).

So congratulations Panorama of the Mountains for being a consistent part of my life for an extraordinary time!


Coming Soon: Classic Movie Project, Part II

Last year, and the beginning of this year, I gave myself the project of watching 93 highly-regarded films that I had never seen before. I had so much fun that like many a great movie, I’m making a sequel.  This time I will be watching a mix of movies I’ve seen and never seen before, but I haven’t reviewed any of the movies on this blog before.

I will be working off the following two lists of “greatest movies of all-time.”

Between the two lists, I have 109 movies to watch and review, so this may take a while.  So grab a bucket of popcorn and meet me at the movies!

UPDATE ON 9/28/2020: I’m adding an additional list to work off of for this project:

Now I’m up to 146 movies to watch and review!

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