I was heartbroken to learn that the creators of Pretty Things are calling it quits. So I picked this bottle of a Pretty Things beer I’d never tried before. It pours out a ruby brown, effervescent with a thin head. The aroma is a cherry brandy, and the flavor is sweet, vanilla and creamy. It has a light mouthfeel, and an overly sweet aftertaste. Flavors mature as you work your way down the warming glass. Check it out while you still can!
Beer: Lovely St. Winefride Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Source: 22 oz. bottle Rating: **** (8.0 of 10) Comments: Lovely St. Winifrede is dark & foamy. The aroma is sweet with a whiff of alcohol. The taste is spicy, then hoppy, with a clean finish. The head dissipated quickly with no lacing. This is a good “meat & potatoes” beer
Beer: My Better Half Brewer: Somerville Brewing Company Source: 22 oz bottle Rating: *** (7.9 of 10) Comments: A golden amber with very little carbonation, this caramel-scented beer has the unique flavor combination of sweet orange cream with a chocolate aftertaste. The head is thin and the lacing is erratic, but this brew is yummy.
Beer: Imperial Cream Ale Brewer: Slumbrew Brewing Company Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.8 of 10) Comments: The beer is a hazy, copper-amber color with a thin head. The nose was a faint sweet smell. There wasn’t much expectation at this point, but the taste was a pleasant surprise. True to its name it has a creamy flavor with vanilla, but not overly sweet and it goes down smoothly. The high-alcohol content also left me with a pleasant buzz.
Beer: Field Mouse’s Farewell Brewer: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Source: Draft in a tulip glass Rating: *** (7 of 10) Comments: This feels like a fancy beer with a golden orange glow and a thin head. The aroma was sweet and spicy with some fruit, perhaps apricots? The taste is dominated by bitter hops with a clean citrus finish. It’s apparent from the complex flavors that this is a well-crafted beer, although I found it too bitter for my taste.
Beer: Attic & Eaves Toasted Brown Ale Brewer: Slumbrew (Somerville Brewing Company) Source: Draught (in tulip glass) Rating: **** (8.1 of 10) Comments: Our local Boston-area breweries continue to duke it out for a place in my beer-loving heart, and Slumbrew packs a wallop with their Autumn offering (and not just due to the 7.5% ABV). This beer is a dark brown with a thin tan head. The aromas and flavors are like a chocolate liqueur with burnt, nutty flavors. The bitterness hits the tongue for a moment but is cleared away for a crisp finish. This is a rich, tasty beer and I’ll have to try it again as the leaves begin to turn.
Beer: Our Turn, Your Turn Brewer: Pretty Things / Yeastie Boys collaboration Source: 22 oz bottle Rating: *** (7.5 of 10) Comments: Our Turn, Your Turn and as the world turns, a collaboration of the Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project of Somerville, MA and the Yeastie Boys of New Zealand. The beer is a hazy, straw color with lots of fizz. Aromas and flavors seem to be heavily influenced by the Linden flower, a type of tea that gives the beer strong earthy and floral accents. The hoppiness packs a wallop, and I generally don’t like the bitterness of hoppy beers, but this one is good enough to make an exception. All in all, an imaginative and exceptional beer.
On Sunday, our family went to see the Boston Breakers play a soccer match against the Portland Thorns FC. My toddler daughter Kay didn’t last long and after about 20 minutes or so my wife had to take her to a playground. But my son Peter and I stayed to watch the entire game even during a rain shower in the final minutes.
Things started well with an early goal by Lianne Sanderson for the Breakers, but overall the team played sloppily failing to connect on passes and leaving goalkeeper Ashley Phillips exposed to attacks by the Thorns. A great number of fans in attendance were there to see the Thorns superstar player Alex Morgan with a subset actively cheering for the team from Oregon (including a handful of supporters holding Thorns’ scarves through the games). They were pleased to see Morgan even the score in the 23rd minute.
The Breakers were able to hang on until the rain began to fall and in the 87th Morgan made the assist for Melana Shim’s game-winning goal. A disappointing performance by the Breakers, but a fun game with a good vibe in the sellout crowd. This is the first time we’ve attended a Breakers’ game since their move to Dilboy Stadium in Somerville which is more intimate in seating than Harvard Stadium, but a running track makes the playing field feel very far away. The Afro-Brazilian drummers who play during the game were at the far corner behind the goal, but I think would help the atmosphere if they played closer to the stands (in fact, there’s plenty of room on the aforementioned track). Anyway, I need to get my butt in gear and go to more games.
The songs in my head this week, of course, are the songs I’m rehearsing for a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live. The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00. Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs. My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.
Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!
The choral centerpiece is a song called “The Wolf is on the Hill.” In this video, you may hear us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago. We sound even better now. At the end of this clip you can also hear a small portion of “Title of the Song” which is the grand finale of the concert.
The choir is also accompanying Sarah Ribdau and Peter Moore on their rendition of “Please Leave the Light On When You Go” and Peter Moore’s take of “Heaven’s Ladder”:
The choir is participating on a fifth song as well, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” by Molly Zenobia. This may be my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard, but you’ll have to take my word for it and come to the concert to hear it, because there is no demo.
Some other songs you will hear at the concert include:
“Why Did You Make Me Care” by Mary Bichner:
“Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings” by The Highland Drifters
“Sorry” by Endation
“Old Shanghai” by Mary Bichner
This barely scratches the surface, as there will be a dozen more songs plus choreographed dance performances for each number.
Next week, I will singing in a 50-person kick-ass choir as part of a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live. The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00. Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs. My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs. Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!
I’ll be leading this Boston By Foot Tour of the Month of Davis Square in Somerville (which I also researched and co-wrote) on Sunday, July 29th from 2pm-3:30pm. Admission is $15 per person, $5 for members (and you can become a member on the day of the tour). No reservations needed, just show up a few minutes before 2 pm on Sunday at the plaza opposite Somerville Theatre.
Beer:Porter Square Porter Brewer: Slumbrew (Somerville Brewing Company) Source: Draft Rating: **** (8.3 of 10) Comments: This is a nice porter. It’s a deep, chocolaty black with a thick, foamy head. The mouthfeel is very smooth and the taste is sweet with hints of cocoa and coffee. Seek this out!
Beer:Baby Tree Brewer:Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Source: 22 oz. bottle Rating: *** (7.6 of 10) Comments: The beer is reddish-brown with a thick head, although the head quickly dissipates and does not leave lacing behind. Sweet malts dominate the flavor with hints of fruits and kind of a caramel & alcohol aftertaste. The aroma is a bit too sickly sweet which is a little off-putting, but otherwise this is another brilliant beer from Pretty Things.
I’m generally skeptical about people posting links in this blog’s comments section asking me to promote things, but I took a moment to consider the following comment Frances Haugen on my Avenue of the Arts post. I looked into it and it appears that Artisan’s Asylum is legit and as a former Somervillian I’m all for supporting the arts. Since that comment had nothing to do with the Avenue of the Arts I’ve moved it to its own post for all the (admittedly limited) promotional power of Panorama of the Mountains has to offer.
Hi Liam –
There’s a new open-access community workshop in Somerville called the Artisan’s Asylum that is trying to make available all sorts of tools (think wood working equipment, welding tools, circuits, sewing machines) so that people can create the things they’ve always wanted to.
We’re trying to measure interest in different kinds of classes that might be offered in August/September and find out what kinds of things people would like to learn about. We’re trying to get as many people as possible to fill out our class interest survey – could you post a link to it on your blog?
I promote a lot of tours on this blog, but if there’s one tour you must take this summer it’s the Exploring the Charles River Basin tour offered by Boston By Foot guides (including myself). The tour steps off at 2 pm on Sunday, July 26th from Nashua Street Park just opposite the exit from the Science Park MBTA station (exit away from the way to the Museum of Science. Admission for this tour is $15/person and $5 for card-carrying members of Boston By Foot. A great excuse for getting a membership now!
Not to frighten anyone off but this tour covers about two-miles of some-times rough ground with little protection from the elements. So come prepared with appropriate clothing and fresh liquids. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours but you can duck out pretty easily at the 90-minute mark.
While Exploring the Charles River Basin, you will:
discover three brand-new parks that most people don’t know exist.
history of the Charles River and its ever-encroaching banks
hear mellifluous words like bascule, freshet, and sluiceway and find out what they mean too
cross not one but two dams
see the only city jail with a waterfront view and a park across the street
ponder our litigious society
find what remains of Miller’s River
get a new perspective on the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge
and without fail you’ll see all manner of transportation, roads, railways, bridges, and waterways
On this date in 1998, I pulled my rental van into Somerville and became a resident of Massachusetts. Ten years later I’m still here, now in Boston, having now lead nearly a third of my life in this Commonwealth.
Here were some of my hopes and goals when I made the move:
Escaping the heat & humidity of Virginia and return to lovely four-season weather 1
Resume my identity as a New Englander 2
Live in a city and enjoy the cultural benefits therein3
Make good use of public transit and go car-free4
Continue my career in history museum education5
Live among a more liberal populace6
Form a circle of friends7
Find love. Get married. Raise a family8
So I pretty much got that all covered. Pretty good considering that I moved here with no job prospects, not really knowing anyone, and saving money by staying in a tent at Wompatuck State Park while looking for places to live.
Anyhow, it’s been a good ten years, and may the next ten be just as good.
1 Virginia seriously has only two seasons: Summer which consists of 90° / 90% humidity from March to October and the rest of the year where it just rains. Of course, I didn’t realize that in Boston, Spring doesn’t start in May or that fresh snowfall is immediately packed down into bumpy and sooty ice formations, but at least it’s only hot for like two weeks in the Summer.
2People in Boston apparently do not consider southwestern Connecticut (where I grew up) to be New England. Screw them, I say.
5I did get a job offer at Plimoth Plantation but they were offering $8/hour, the same pay rate I made in Virginia where the cost of living is half that it is here. So I went into libraries and haven’t looked back.
6Massachusetts isn’t as liberal as I imagined it to be, but I’m probably not either. Also now Virginia elects Democrats and is now considered a swing state. Go figure!
7They say it’s hard to meet people in Boston. I found it easy to meet lots of people, extremely difficult to make lasting connections. But persistence pays off and I’ve met some of the best people ever, mainly through work, volunteering, church, and alumni groups.
8None of this happened remotely in the way I imagined it would, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Today is my last day as a citizen of the city of Somerville where “Municipal freedom gives national strength.”While in many ways I’m moving on to a brighter future, leaving Somerville is bittersweet.I’ve lived here just four days short of nine years, the longest period of time I have ever lived at one address.By contrast, from 1984-1998, I lived at 8 different addresses in three localities in two states, not counting moving in and out of college dorm rooms four times.My sister and I grew so adept at maneuvering cumbersome furniture up narrow staircases that we joked about starting our own moving company.
So my time in Somerville has been one of great stability.It has also been a time of change.I went from a disillusioned museum educator, working as a hapless temp to working in a library and earning a MLIS.Susan and I went from friends to housemates to dating to engagement to being happily married and preparing to have our first child.
Somerville was a great place to be in your late 20’s/early 30’s.Proximity to Davis Square, Union Square, Inman Square and Harvard Square was key for enjoying pubs, music, movies, restaurants and hipster lifestyle of the “Paris of the 90’s.”Our neighborhood is wonderfully diverse including an entire house of an extended Tibetan family next door.Winter Hill may be the only place in New England where you could hear a pin drop after the Patriots and Red Sox won championships, but exploded with festivity when Brazil won the World Cup.
There will be a lot of things I’ll miss about Somerville: the view from the top of Winter Hill at Paul Revere Park, SoundBites and Yaser, walking/biking up and down the seven hills, the Somerville Public Library, Somerville Theater, the path around the Mystic River, sharing my name with the nearest T stop.Of course, a lot of things I liked about Somerville are long gone, so maybe it is a good time to move on.
In preparation for moving, I took a series of photographs of some of the landmarks around Somerville that I pass each day that I will miss most.
Last night while Susan and I were bringing in shopping from the car and taking out the trash and recycling we saw a skunk skulking about the streets. It seemed upset because it keep making unhappy chirping noises. We gave it wide birth because you don’t want to get too close to an agitated skunk. I also noticed that the skunk had a pronounced limp.
This morning I figured this nocturnal creature had gone off somewhere to catch some z’s, but as I walked to the bus stop there it was skipping down the sidewalk…
…and heading straight to the nearby elementary school!
I figure a gimpy skunk and school children would make a great story. Perhaps a horror film:
Skunks in a School
Or similarly, a Boston Herald headline:
Rampaging Rodent Terrorizes Somerville Kids
Democrat Pols Could Have Stopped Skunk Menace But Chose Not To
But really I think it would work best as a heartwarming children’s book:
Skippy the Skunk
One day a sad skunk limps into school, and after an initial fright, becomes the school mascot as children rally together to save him from pest control. Then Skippy bites one of the children teaching them all a valuable lesson about rabies and why wild animals should remain wild.
I do feel a little bit guilty though. Should I have warned someone at the school that an unhappy skunk was in the neighborhood?
Today is the anniversary of a rather ignominious date in Boston. An anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant mob vented their rage by burning down and Ursuline convent that stood on Ploughed Hill in Charlestown. Today the hill’s been torn down and the site of the convent is now within the boundaries of Somerville near the site of the East Somerville branch of the public library. One of the things that fascinates me about this story is that the ruins of the convent remained on the hill for decades after its destruction as if to reproach those who burned it. For more about the burning of the Charlestown convent I recommend reading Fire and Roses by Nancy Lusignan Schultz, an excellent history of this event.