The General

We all went to see The General at The Cabot, back by a live musical performance.

The General is (very loosely) based on a real-life train theft during the Civil War, but it’s played to some drama and comedy by a prime Buster Keaton.

The true story is that a group of Union spies stole a Confederate train (which was, in fact, named The General) with a plan to damage the rails and generally cause mayhem on their way back to friendly territory.  It didn’t quite work out as planned because they were pursued and (eventually) caught.

The cinematic version takes a few artistic liberties to entertain and “wow” the audience with stunts, as well as adding a love interest and a human side.  It’s considered one of Mr. Keaton’s finest works, and “[he] always said that this was his favorite of his own movies.” (source)  It’s an amazing film to watch, moreso when you realize that the stunts were real, frequently filmed in one take, and as hazardous in real life as they are in the story.

The film that we watched was from a restoration made in 2016, with a new musical arrangement that was played live.  The quality of the film is very good, better than the gif above, while live music accompaniment is the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

The Cabot is a restored theater in downtown Beverly, MA.  It contains many of the artistic features one would expect from a classic venues.  We had center seats and a great view.  This was our first visit, but won’t be our last.

Photo: © Lauren Poussard

Silver Lake Memoirs

History: Ice cutting at Silver Lake more than 100 years ago

My favorite quote:

The secret incentive of [the Silver Lake Fire Depart­ment] was to be found in the water tub of that wagon. Prohibition by this time was the law of the land.

Before the volunteers started from the shed at Pop Neilson’s, a keg of beer was put into the tub of the wagon. By the time they returned to Pop’s, that beer, immersed in the cold waters of Silver Lake, was just right for a refreshing drink.

NYE 2015

Meghan and Quinn
Quincy Market. The girls wanted nothing to do with this selfie.

Another year, another amazing fireworks show on Boston Common!

The weather has been abnormally warm this year.  Christmas day was in the 60’s, and NYE was in the upper 40’s during the day.  The fireworks, held at 7 pm, were not uncomfortably cool.

Being a tradition, we like to make an evening of it.  We took the train in, arriving at North Station and walking around the city.  Even though we have a train station in town, the parking sucks and the fares are higher so we head down the road to Anderson RTC in Woburn.  The MBTA makes outbound trips free on NYE after 8 pm, so it’s even cheaper to take the train (and just as convenient).

Beta child on the carousel
The carousel doesn’t have any horses, but it does have squirrels, owls, and a sea turtle

On the greenway in front of Quincy Market there is a carousel.  December 31 is the last day of the season, so the kids like to get in one last ride.  This year we arrived after dark so all the lights were on.

After the carousel, we headed across the street to Quincy Market.  The Christmas tree was still lit and the holiday show, Blink!, was still running.  It’s just a small light show and music that plays a few times an hour, but it’s a nice touch.

Dad and beta
Dad and Beta making bad faces for the selfie

We got dinner at the kiosks in Quincy Market.  It was nothing to write home about except this year there was a teenage guy playing rock hits on his guitar in the central seating area that Alpha was quite taken with.  Meghan gave her some money to throw in his guitar case.  It was all very cute.

We got some dessert and hot chocolate on our way out, and ate it on the way.  The kids got cannoli, which weren’t quite as good as what’s available in the North End but seemed to be pretty good regardless.  Meghan and I shared a slice of German Chocolate cake.

Alpha and Dad
Heading home, and all smiles!

With the weather being so nice a lot of people turned out this year, and the hill overlooking the baseball diamond was downright crowded.

A funny thing about these fireworks: they always seem to have more than one climax.  We always have to wait for a few moments to make sure they’re really done this time, before heading out.  We caught a train from North Station before 8:30, had the girls in bed before 10.  No, we didn’t stay up until midnight either.


Pics From The Car Show

We had a little sight-seeing tour of a car show happening a hop-skip-and-a-jump from our house.

volkswagen dune buggy
My one-time dream car: a late-’60s VW dune buggy
Model A
A Ford Model A with real leather trunk and a rumble seat
Bo's green machine
My regular mechanic has several show cars, including this one: a very rare ’93 Saab 900 configured for rally racing
yellow mustang convertible
An early-model Mustang convertible. My mother had a 1964-1/2 yellow Mustang convertible (the very first production year!) so I snapped a pic to show her. Alpha child, her veritable twin, is posing in front.

Not shown: about a hundred more cars, and a bunch of motorcycles.

Patriots Days in Concord (Day 1)

The morning dawned bright and clear, and the weather prediction called for a warm and gorgeous day. We decided that today was the day to take off and go learn some history! We packed the kids and the dog into the car, and off we went.

The first stop was the North Bridge. We missed the excitement at Miriam’s Corner, but had fun walking around the bridge and seeing just how full the river is. I can see why going around the bridge wasn’t really an option back in the day!

The flooding at the North Bridge was extensive!
The flooding at the North Bridge was extensive!
Butter is on the alert!

On our way up to the Visitor’s Center we ran into a very friendly dog. “Mort” was out without a leash, and apparently without an owner! Butter thought he was great fun, and they had a good time playing. We managed to catch him, and I leashed him with the strap from my bag (army map cases rock, and I highly recommend them). Fortunately, Mort’s family put their phone number on his collar,  so we were able to call them. Their first comment, “We thought he was inside!” We met them up at the Visitor’s Center, and Mort the Houdini Dog went on home like a  good boy.

There was one event I really wanted to see today, and that was the ceremony that commemorated the end of Paul Revere‘s ride (but not the end of the ride of William Dawes or of Dr. Samuel Prescott). The drive from Concord to Lincoln takes you past The Old Manse, Orchard House, and The Wayside. Once we got into Lincoln, the site of the ceremony was easy to find. Revere was caught on the road to Concord, after all.

The Minute Men arrive.
The Minute Men arrive.

There was a dramatic reading of “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by “Mr. Longfellow,” along with “Mr. Revere” and a “British Captain” calling him out when he got fast and loose with the facts (he called it “poetic license”). All in all, it was fun.

We got home in plenty of time to make dinner, and we were all tired. It was a fantastic day, and there is more to do next weekend! I can’t wait!

Alpha and Beta sitting at the base of the monument marking the position of the British. There is an insane amount of water behind them. If it gets much higher, the bridge will be an island.



Mobile Trash Incinerator

Charred utility pole, and ash on the pavement
The utility pole was totally charred – a giant stick of charcoal

First, I have to get this out: it wasn’t because of us.  I swear.

The garbage truck caught fire a few house down from us.  Not like a little fire in the back from someone tossing fireplace ashes in their bin — oh no.  It was the recycling truck itself.  The cab was engulfed in flames.

Megh took some photos of the event while it was happening.  The driver got out safely, and nobody else was hurt, but the truck was a total loss.

One house has melted siding.  The house across the street lost power as the flames burned through the power lines.  And I foresee a new utility pole in our near future as the existing pole is charred to a cinder.

Our cans are still sitting on the curb waiting to be picked up.  Hopefully it gets taken tomorrow but I’m sure this event puts the carting company in a tough position with trucks, so who knows.

Memorial Day

Kids love parades.  My kids love parades so much they could think of nothing better than to march in a parade, and the opportunity presented itself when their karate dojo announced that it was going to be in the Wilmington Memorial Day parade.

This was our first time with the Wilmington parade.  Last year we went back to Connecticut for Memorial Day.

Parade line
The Academy of Traditional Karate parade line

I solo-parented (Megh was working at the LEGO store) and stationed myself near the end of the route.  I waited for the kids to pass, then waited for them to finish so I could pick them up.  It was a long parade: somehow we wound up with the Boston Shriners (and their silly go-carts) in addition to our local Masonic chapter, so the parade took a half hour to arrive and three quarters of an hour after that to finish passing by.