Category Archives: misc

Tati films at the Brattle

Just a quick post. I’m planning on catching some of the Tati films the Brattle is showing next week. For Tati fans the occasion is notable for several reasons. For one, they’ll be showing Parade, a film that has never been released in the U.S. Also, they’re showing many of the films in various new versions, and some of his films have so much activity crammed into every part of the screen that they really require a theater-sized screen to get the full effect. For those who don’t know, Tati is a fantastic French director whose antics are often compared to Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, although his works are much more gentle than manic. His films often have minimal amounts of dialog and feature a combination of sight gags, physical comedy, quirky character idiosyncracies, and mild commentary, with a pervasive affectionate feeling of general amusement at humans and all of their many foibles. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article. Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), a.k.a. M. Hulot’s Holiday is a great place to start, although I like its follow-up Mon Oncle (1958) (My Uncle) even better.

Cambridge Elections

I’ve got a couple of reviews in the pipeline, but this is just a quick post to say that the Cambridge elections are tomorrow. This Cambridge City Council elections are this year, and if you live in Cambridge you’ve probably already been inundated with all the various pamphlets and flyers for the candidates. has a site that includes a Q&A with all the Cambridge City Council candidates as well as the School Committee candidates. Go vote!

Historical Cambridgeport

Ech. Still haven’t gotten caught up enough to get out and about, but one thing I’ve been meaning to post about is The Cambridge Historical Society’s “If This House Could Talk …” event that happened a couple of weeks ago. I noticed the signs around my neighborhood and read them with interest, but I only recently got around to looking up the website and reading more about the event and the group. The signs were posted in front of houses and each included historical information or an interesting anecdote, and the event was part of a larger “Cambridgeport History Project”. I’ve been meaning to find out more about the area, and although I didn’t have time to track down many of the signs while they were still up, luckily the text of the participating addresses (or at least most of them) has been archived on the group’s website. I’ve been particularly interested in the architecture of the area, which has an unusually eclectic range, and if it weren’t so creepy I would take and post pictures of some of the more interesting places. But instead you can read about some of the styles represented and go visit the houses yourself. The text includes a range of interesting information, including an explanation for the mural near the parking lot of the local Trader Joe’s, and rekindled my interest in some of the local public areas, such as Dana Park, Hastings Square, and Fort Washington Park.

Speaking of the latter, apparently as part of the CHS’s celebration, the Fort Washington Park was rededicated. The CHS has some pictures up here. The website also has a great map highlighting historic Cambridgeport.

While I’m on the subject, I thought I’d also mention the Cambridge Historical Commission’s Historic Marker Program. If you walk around Cambridge at all you’re bound to come across one of the blue oval markers posted to commemorate historic events and places. The site has a list of all the locations and their text. Uh-oh. Checklists tend to bring out my OCD side … Must … resist … … …

Comics, cartoons, and graphic novels in Boston

[Yeah, yeah, I know that I’ve been completely lax in updating all summer. Part of it is that there’s just less arts stuff going on during the summer, and part of it is just me being busy (and lazy) and not making the blog as a priority. I’m still not sure how much I’m going to chain myself to the blog in the future, but I’ve got a couple of long-overdue posts lined up and I’ll probably post more as the arts season gets back into full swing.]

This quickie post for today is focused on comics, etc. in Boston. I happened to come across a copy of a publication by a group I hadn’t realized existed, the Boston Comics Roundtable. They’re apparently a group of local comic writers and artists, and I flipped through their 3rd issue of “Inbound” and it looks great. Looking forward to seeing more from them.

While I’m on the subject, thought I would throw in a plug for a friend of mine (in Boston) who has been writing/drawing a pretty entertaining comic for a while now, called Wasteland Mega. The comedy is a bit twenty-something, Friends-esque, but it’s balanced by the constant thread of failure woven in for good measure. Here’s a sample of the latter, excerpted from the comic’s previous incarnation’s website:

    unhelpful things to say to unemployed
    -well what do you REALLY REALLY WANT TO DO?
    -why can’t you just…do what you REALLY REALLY LIKE?

Ha ha. My favorite comic store in Boston (not to diss the other noteworthy stores, but I suppose my preference is partly because its location was so convenient to me for so many years) is Comicopia in Kenmore Square (464 Commonwealth Ave #13). They have a weekly mailing list with info on new arrivals, recommendations, as well as special offers. They stock a wide variety of books, including manga and indie comics, and a nice not-too-geeky-for-casual-comic-book-readers ambience. I also swing by Tokyo Kid in Harvard Square (in the garage, across the hall from Newbury Comics) if I’m in the mood for browsing manga specifically. Despite the name, Newbury Comics isn’t the first place you’d go for comics as they mostly just stock recent issues and popular graphic novels (and some manga); but they’re useful if you’re looking to one-stop-shop while you’re picking up music, video, or video games (and they’re great for used stuff).

Other noteworthy comic stores are New England Comics (various locations, including Brookline and Harvard Square) and The Million Year Picnic (also in Harvard Square). So check ’em out, why don’tcha!

A lifelong dream realized: A trip to the Cape Cod Chip Factory

A couple of months ago I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams: to visit the Cape Cod Chip Factory. I’ve been a fan of the chips ever since I first came to Boston (although I was heartbroken when they substituted their spicy barbeque flavor for a milder one), and I’d been intrigued by the promise of factory tours printed on the back of every bag. Although I’ve been to the Cape several times I’d never managed to fit the tour in, partly I suppose because they only run them during normal business hours (i.e. M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), closed on weekends and holidays. But I finally made it, and now my life is complete. 😉

Alas, poor reader, they don’t allow pictures of the factory itself. The pictures above are from the parking lot which has signs every few feet to lead potato chip pilgrims to the entrance. The tour is self-guided and pretty minimal: just a handful of signs with diagrams and explanations in front of the glassed-off area where the machinery is working. There are also various letters and photos framed from fans. It would take you a minimum of five minutes to get through it all, and even if you’re a chip aficionado like myself and want to soak in the atmosphere you’d be hard-pressed to stretch the tour out to much beyond 15 minutes. So it’s not really worth a special trip for the general tourist, although it’s certainly easy to get there on the way to/from the rest of the Cape.

You’ll also be able to milk a few more minutes out of the experience by perusing the gift shop (which we were allowed to take pictures of). Apparently the company runs an annual competition for local schools where the kids make dinosaurs out of chips:

Alsome. Anyway, if you’re looking for more info, check out their website. Also, I was somewhat surprised to find out they’re doing popcorn now as well. I bought a bag and quite enjoyed it, but I haven’t found anywhere nearby that carries them (if anyone has encountered them, please let me know!), although the Harvest Co-op in Central Square carries a wide selection of their chips. Mmmmmm. Time to go to the grocery store. 😉

William Morgan’s The Cape Cod Cottage

I keep intending to write some slightly more off-the-beaten track Boston-related arts posts (as that was one of the blog’s original intentions), but I keep getting sidetracked. But here’s a quickie.

An architect friend of mine was working on an entirely new house (hers, actually), on the Cape, where she grew up. A and I got to see it in its almost final state a few weeks ago and were thoroughly amazed. I haven’t been to the Cape enough times to have the look of the architecture really soak in much, but our friend used the classic Cape Cod architecture as a starting point, and one of the references she used was a book called The Cape Cod Cottage by William Morgan. I flipped through her copy and then picked it up from the library to look into it in greater depth.

In the accompanying essay to the slim book (96 pages, published by the Princeton Architectural Press in 2006) Morgan begins by stating (and I paraphrase) “a child’s first drawing of a house is essentially a Cape Cod Cottage”, basically: a triangular roof on a rectangle with a door in the middle, windows on both sides, and a chimney on top, also in the middle, with some homey smoke coming out for good measure. He explains that the colonists’ original design was born out of function, as a smaller house was more suited to the cold and windy conditions of the Cape and the central chimney helped heat the rooms. He gives a broad overview of the house’s evolution, including its takeover of America where Capes were mass manufactured and built all over the country, as well as its revival in more recent years. He mentions some of the endless variations (e.g. Greek columns, porches, gables, garages), although it’s clear he prefers the Cape in its purest form. Similarly in the book’s photographs he includes a generally chronological sampling of Cape Cod houses, most from the New England area, including a few from Middle America to illustrate the popularization and variations of the form; there are some historic photographs included as well.

There are only a couple of interior shots, but the book is clearly intended to be more of an art book than a comprehensive study. The photography is quite excellent, and it certainly has whet my appetite for a more in-depth look. If you’re looking for more info Wikipedia’s article is pretty shabby, but has a more extensive article as well as a small gallery. Lastly, this article at is also an interesting read. It’s certainly given me a greater appreciation for the architecture of the Cape, and the rest of the country as well.

Free admission at MIT Museum tomorrow (Saturday)

Quick post that The MIT Museum is going to be free tomorrow 10 a.m.-6 p.m. as part of The Cambridge Science Festival, now in its 3rd year. I posted some comments on the permanent exhibits a while back, which includes a collection of Arthur Ganson’s totally rad kinetic sculptures. The bf hasn’t seen them yet, though, so I’m going to make an effort to squeeze in a quick visit amidst enjoying all the sunshine over the weekend.

The Science Festival has never really been on my radar, although it seems it’s not just focused on kids. Some of the activities seem like a bit of a stretch, though, e.g.:

    Carnival! Learn from the Microsoft experts how to keep your kids safe online!!
    Hands-on demonstrations help teach children how to spot dangerous risks online. A bonus for parents – see how to use technology at your fingertips to protect your kids!

Oh, whoops, it ended today at 4. Looks like I just missed it! Ha ha.

BSO tickets for under 40

This is a bit late, but still worth mentioning. The BSO has a program providing $20 tickets (actually it’s $25.50 with handling) for people under 40. Here’s the relevant info:

    Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, $20 tickets are available now through the remainder of the BSO season for patrons under 40 years of age. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis on both the orchestra and balcony levels. You may purchase one pair of tickets per performance but choose as many dates as you like! Purchaser proof of age is required and may be faxed prior to your concert to 617-638-9400, or you may show a photo id at the Box Office when you pick up your tickets. Please include your order number on your fax.

A pretty great deal any way you look at it, although I’m already going to a few concerts through their Flex Pass program. Hopefully will make it over to Symphony Hall sooner than later, although A and I have had to keep putting it off because of his schedule. Stay tuned.

HONK! Festival in Boston

Last weekend I inadvertently ran into the HONK! Festival not once, but twice. The first occasion was in Davis Square on Saturday afternoon on my way to a friend’s place, and I was entertained by the raucous, mostly-brass-and-percussion music and colorful characters with their intentionally playful costumes but didn’t have time to stop and watch. Then on Sunday afternoon in my typical Sunday fashion I was headed out for lunch/brunch, in Harvard Square as it happens, and was met with the annual OktoberFest and the HONK! Festival, this time parading through the square, their route on both sides full of stalls of local vendors selling the usual knickknacks for women and a wide variety of hot ethnic food.

There are several things I’ve learned since then, once I was able to get my hands on an internet connection. One is that this is actually the third annual HONK! Festival, and also apparently “honking” is a fairly new trend. According to the HONK! Festival website:

    Across the country and around the world, a new type of street band is emerging …

    First and foremost, they honk their horns – or beat their drums, or wave their flags – to enliven and embolden their audience. Members vary widely in age, class, ethnicity and background, and although they often wear some kind of uniform, there is also always an emphasis on individuality and a “DIY” (do-it-yourself) sensibility to their instrumentation and attire. These bands play music that is by, for, and of “the people.” …

    Just as important, they honk their horns because it’s the best way they know to protest a world of violence and oppression.

At the parade the political side of the groups took a back seat to the music and the spectacle, but the whole concept is interesting, and apparently the groups present were from different parts of the country as well as other countries.

Here’s a bit more info:
– Harvard Square has its own website. Who knew? The info on Oktoberfest 2008 can be found here.
Boston Globe preview

The mission

To cut through the crap, think outside the box, and find out what’s really going on with the arts in this city. We’re Bostonians by choice, and even though we’ve been here a while there’s so much we still don’t know.