Massachusetts & Me: Two Decades Together


20 years ago today I drove a rental truck down the narrow streets of Winter Hill in Somerville and officially became a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nine years later almost to the day, I moved to Boston proper in my present home in Jamaica Plain.  20 years is by far the most time I’ve resided in any state (compared with 15 years in Connecticut, 7 years in Virginia, and 2 years in New Jersey), and close to half of my life.

Living in Massachusetts this long means making many friends, some of whom have moved on to other states, and then meeting new, interesting people.  I’ve developed annual traditions, found favorite restaurants (sadly, many of which have closed), gone to tons of concerts and sporting events, visited museums and historic sites, participated in protests and celebrations, and settled into comfortable routines.  And yet there’s so much more to see and do and explore.

It’s all gone by so quickly, so let’s look back at some of the highlights of my 20 years in the Bay State:

1998-2000 – I work sundry temp jobs at GTE, Genzyme, and MIT, and also spend some time unemployed. FUN!

1999-present – began commuting around Boston & environs by bicycle, and while I don’t ride nearly as much as I used to, it’s still a great way to get around the city.

1999 & 2000 – Participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide

1999-2006 – Not really in Massachusetts, but living in day trip distance of New Hampshire’s White Mountains meant I could do a lot of hikes of 4000 foot peaks.

2000 – Started working at a library, where I’m still working 3 job changes, 7 offices, and 12 supervisors later.

2000 – Begin leading historical walking tours as a guide for Boston By Foot.

2001-2013 – Participate in a wonderful church community at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston.

2002-2004 – Studied for my Masters in Library and Information Science at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

2004 – Witnessed the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years.

2005 – Married Susan!

2007 – Saw the Red Sox win the World Series again.

2007 – Peter Born!

2008 – Spend a couple of weeks suffering from crippling sciatica and missing work. :(

2009 – I performed in the annual Christmas Revels show.  I even sang a solo!

2010-2011 – I write and lead a new tour for Boston By Foot for the Avenue of the Arts.

2011 – Kay Born!

2011-2012 – I create and lead another Boston By Foot Tour in Somerville’s Davis Square.

2012 – 2013 – Sang in a family chorus in JP.

2012-present – Our kids attend a wonderful Boston Public School and we get to meet lots of cool teachers, kids, and parents (and become public education activists).

2013 – sang as part of a 50-voice choir in Somerville Theatre bringing the music of Beck to life with burlesque dancers.

2013 – Horrified by the Boston Marathon bombing but touched by the many people who helped save lives and the spirit of the community in the ensuing days.

2013-present – Our kids play in the wonderful Regan Youth League

2013-present – become active in another fantastic church community closer to home, Hope Central.

2013 – Watched the Red Sox win yet another World Series, this time with a 5-year-old superfan

2014-2015 – I write and lead yet another new tour for Boston By Foot of Cambridge Common

2015 – Four consecutive blizzards in a matter of weeks bury Boston in a 108″ of snow.

2017-2018 – Yet again, I’m involved in creating a new tour for Boston By Foot, this time of the SoWa District.

Beer Review: Pretty Things Our Finest Regards


Beer:  Our Finest Regards
Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: **  (6.9 of 10)
Comments:

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!

From the same brewery:

 

Beer Review: Pretty Things Lovely St. Winefride


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 Review: Slumbrew My Better Half


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 Review: Slumbrew Imperial Cream Ale


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 Review: Pretty Things Field Mouse’s Farewell


BeerField Mouse’s Farewell 
BrewerPretty 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 Review: Attic & Eaves Toasted Brown Ale


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 Review: Pretty Things/Yeastie Boys Our Turn, Your 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.

Photopost: Boston Breakers versus Portland Thorns FC


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.

More details on the game from New England Soccer Today and the Boston.com Corner Kicks blog.

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Songs of the Week: Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live


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.

So buy your tickets now!!!