Souring on Diversity

I have been a lifelong liberal and I have always accepted the tolerance promoted by the Left but recently I have begun to sour on the diversity agenda. It seems as though the Left has taken a turn towards getting nastier and nastier in its demands. I no longer feel that these people are being reasonable. There are several reasons for my disillusionment:

  1. White Privilege. While I understand the concept of enjoying certain privileges by virtue of being white, too many radicals are throwing this in the face of anyone who is white. This amounts to just another form of racism. It is an attempt to hold people responsible for their skin color and to imply that they are responsible for enjoying unfair advantages by virtue of their skin color. That is just being nasty and hateful. It also qualifies as a form of shaming, white shaming.
  2. Unconscious Bias. This is the argument that you are prejudiced even if you don’t think you are prejudiced. This is a nasty way of calling somebody a racist over their objections.
  3. Denial of Science. There is currently a huge war being waged between feminists and evolutionary psychologists. To understand this war you should read the book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. The war is between radical feminists who think gender is just a social construct and evolutionary psychologists who think the mind evolved according to the biological necessities of mate selection and survival. It is intellectually dishonest to argue that everything about human society is just a subjective social construct. This denies the reality of human nature and the human condition.
  4. Representation. In the arts, representation, a form of tokenism, has become a form of mindless virtue signaling. Everyone is demanding that their voice be heard or that they appear on the stage to “represent” their tribe. No thought or consideration is given to what is going to be said. The only thing that matters is your skin color, gender, or sexual orientation which must be “represented” as often as possible. This reduces culture to nothing more than a scoreboard. This is particularly annoying in casting. The casting of a film or a play should not draw attention to itself. The cast should be chosen to meet the needs of the story. But now the casting of a film or play is used to show one’s virtue in selecting unrepresented minorities. This is particularly annoying when the casting makes no sense. My favorite example is the family comprised of a black mother, a white father, and an Asian daughter when the source material clearly requires biological offspring.
  5. Denial of Talent. The very concept of genius has been rejected because in the past only privileged white males have been recognized for their genius. The goal of social equality makes some liberals wary of merit, talent, and the concept of genius. Exceptional individuals cannot be recognized because merit has been used by conservatives as an excuse for social inequality. But as the evolutionary psychologists argue, to seek social status is just part of human nature. Human beings naturally seek to enjoy high social status in the social hierarchy. Personally I’ve always questioned status seeking because it is often based on arbitrary values, but evolutionary psychology has helped me to see how this is important. Eventually this will bite woman writers in the ass. They may be more likely to be published and have their voice heard, but nobody has anything to say about what they publish. Feminist ideology prohibits praising a woman for her genius since this would suggest talent played a role in her success instead of overcoming male oppression. So while more women are being published than ever before, nobody has anything to say about what has been published. The problem with “representation” is that there is nothing to be said about your work other than that it represents another triumph for a minority.
  6. Toxic masculinity. To suggest that there is something toxic or evil about a person’s race, gender, or sexual orientation is just hateful. Nothing about human nature should be seen as toxic. And unless you are a god with the power to change human nature, nothing can be done about it. Trying to rid men of toxic masculinity is a futile effort to change what cannot be changed and to shame people for what they cannot be held responsible for.
  7. Rejection of Femininity. The flip side of the rejection of masculinity is the rejection of femininity. This kind of blows my mind because radical feminists even oppose acceptance of their own nature and gender identity. Radical feminists are angered by standards of beauty, feminine fashion, and feminine roles. Oddly enough this causes them to embrace some aspects of toxic masculinity like craving the status of a war hero. Radical feminists want to  see women on the battlefield demonstrating the strength of women and their potential for heroism even if this often means becoming a warrior and war hero, something no woman has ever wanted in history.
  8. Minority Status. Some people do not understand the concept of being in the minority. If you are in the minority, you will not be well represented in popular culture. Commercial films and entertainment must appeal to the majority of the people. A film, novel, play, song, video game, comic, etc which is designed to appeal to a minority is only going to be consumed by that minority and that means it will not be a huge commercial success. Pointing to that lack of huge commercial success as an injustice is just stupid. A commercial film with minorities can be a huge success if it also appeals to the majority of people. But it does need to offer something more than the virtue of being geared towards a minority, otherwise most people will decide it is not for them.
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Springtime in the Poconos

Today I went on a bus trip to the Poconos. Susquehanna Trailways rarely offers tours to the Poconos so I jumped at the chance. I was fortunate that this trip was not canceled because there were only 14 passengers. They usually cancel tours when they cannot get enough passengers to make it worth while. The fact that this day trip was not on a weekend was probably a factor. I had to use a vacation day to make this trip.

I was exploring the Poconos extensively in 2014 but I didn’t do any of the things included on this tour. The Poconos area interests me because it is culturally similar to Central Pennsylvania with a low cost of living but it is much closer to New York City. If I had to move I would try to establish myself in the Poconos but the area has virtually no Information Technology industry.

The first stop on this tour was the Hawley Silk Mill. I had made a trip to Hawley in 2014 but I never visited the Hawley Silk Mill because it is not in the downtown area. The Ledges Hotel is right next to the Hawley Silk Mill. This hotel was in my notes but I would not consider staying there because its rooms are really expensive. I saw the Paupack High Falls which are waterfalls right behind the Hawley Silk Mill and visible from the Ledges Hotel. Apparently it is just this waterfall view which justifies the expensive rooms at the hotel. There were a few shops in the Hawley Silk Mill but they only sold naif artwork and country primitive style goods like you find in some antique malls. I also saw the massive boiler in the Boiler Room which is now an event space.

Paupack High Falls

Paupack High Falls

The second stop on the tour was The Waterfront at Silver Birches where we had lunch. This place looked familiar to me and it turned out to be Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort under a new name. I sat next to the tour escort and she remembered a previous trip to Steamtown National Park that included lunch and a show at Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort. She was also the escort for that previous trip and she remembered me. The Waterfront at Silver Birches looks out on Lake Wallenpaupack. We had slices of turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even a small cup of tomato juice which I thought was an odd touch. For desert there was a small slice of cheesecake.

The Waterfront at Silver Birches

The Waterfront at Silver Birches

I should note that there were three tour buses from different bus companies and we seemed to be going to the same places all day so I’m not sure who put this tour together. There was a Catawese Coach Lines bus from Shamokin, PA.

The final stop on the tour was a train ride on the Stourbridge Line. This excursion line was not running back in 2014. Strangely enough, we got on the train in Hawley and got off in Honesdale where the tour buses met us. I didn’t even know that Hawley had a train station. Technically all of the days activities were centered around the same small area of Hawley.

Stourbridge Line in Honesdale

Stourbridge Line in Honesdale

We left Honesdale around 4:00 p.m. and I got home at around 7:00 p.m. so it wasn’t as late as a New York City trip. During the long bus ride I was mostly reading Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters on my Kindle. I’d been warned that this 1951 science fiction novel was horribly sexist and it did prove to be hilariously sexist. Robert A. Heinlein writes like a total horndog. It is so over-the-top sexist that it almost seems like a parody. However, it is still an remarkably good science fiction novel. It was responsible for the whole “brain slug” trope.

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The Trip Home From Boston

I wasn’t going to blog about my final day in Boston since it was just spent on the trip home, but there are a few details I should record for future reference.

Boston Skyline

Boston Skyline

I had breakfast as usual at Caffe Nero and then I walked around the Seaport District Harbor Walk to take some final photos of the Boston skyline. I waited until about 10:00 a.m. to check out of my hotel. I used the touch screen tablet to check myself out of the hotel and got a print out of my bill. Then I went to the Courthouse Station and used the SL1 Logan Airport bus to get to the airport instead of taking a taxi. I did have to wait for a second bus since the first one was too crowded for me to enter with my luggage. My plane would not depart until 5:00 p.m. so I had plenty of time. When I arrived at the airport the bus made stops at every terminal so I was able to get off at the American Airlines terminal. Fortunately my big piece of luggage which was my checked bag was not over-weight. I had bought a lot of books but I tried to limit myself to thin books. My carry on bag had to be examined when I went though security. Once I was through security I immediately went to a food court and ordered a Quarter Pounder, fries, and coke at a McDonald’s. After eating I found my gate B6 but I did not sit there since several flights would be leaving from there before mine. I sat near the restrooms and spent several hours reading a book on my Kindle. I was reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Logan Airport

Logan Airport

After what seemed like an eternity, it was time for my flight to depart for Philadelphia. I tried to use the in flight entertainment on my smart phone over WiFi but although I could connect, every movie I tried to see expired. This was annoying but it was a short flight so I could watch the music videos I had saved on my phone. I also read more of A Wizard of Earthsea on my Kindle. When we landed, our plane was kept on the runway for around three hours because there had been a thunderstorm which backed up the arriving flights. I think they also closed the gates due to some stray lightning. This really annoyed me because it grew dark by the time we finally arrived at our gate. We were kept so long on the runway that I was able to finish reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Fortunately I didn’t have any trouble finding my way home even though I had to drive in the dark. I managed to leave the Economy Parking lot and get on the correct highway using the very precise instructions I created after previous trips. Finding a shuttle bus to the Economy Parking lot was a little tricky. I had to ask a taxi stand attendant for directions.

Unfortunately, this trip to Boston was extremely expensive. It will probably be the last major vacation I will go on for a long while until I can pay down my credit card debt. My arthritic knee was troubling me during the entire two weeks so that may be something I will need to see my doctor about. When I can afford it, I am thinking of spending a week in New York City. I’ve seen everything there is to see in New York City but I could do things in the evenings which I have been unable to do on my day trips. I would also like to spend some quality time in New York City for a change, instead of these rushed day trips.

I think my trip to Boston was worth it. I made it a cultural trip and learned a great deal about the Boston theater community, its technology community, and the important universities Harvard and MIT. This was my very first visit to New England and the last major East Coast city I had yet to see.

 

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Boston Vacation Day Fourteen

For my final full day in Boston I decided to explore two more squares in Cambridge. First I took the Red Line subway to Davis Square which is technically in Somerville, not Cambridge. At 9:54 a.m. I used an ATM in CVS at One Davis Square in Somerville to withdraw $80.00. There was not much to see at Davis Square because I did not research this area. I did see some realistic statues of people and the Somerville Theatre. The statues are entitled Ten Figures. They are life-sized cast masonry public sculpture, created by James Tyler.

Somerville Theatre

Somerville Theatre

After exploring the Davis Square area briefly I took the Red Line to Porter Square where I found Porter Square Books and bought a book in the Yale Drama Series, Utility by Emily Schwend. I noticed a sign that indicated the writer Philip Roth had died. They were promoting his books after his death.

Porter Square Books

Porter Square Books

I spent a little time exploring the Porter Square area and then walked down Massachusetts Avenue, past the Lesley University and the Lizard Lounge all the way to Harvard Square. I had lunch at Dado where I ordered an egg salad sandwich and bubble tea. Then I went to the In You Ear record store where I bought a CD of Bowie covers, Loving the Aliens: A Low Budget Tribute to David Bowie.

In You Ear

In You Ear

After returning to my hotel, I went to the North End and explored several streets. I bought a coffee gelato which quickly began melting and left my fingers all sticky. Fortunately I found a paper napkin lying on the sidewalk and shamelessly used it to clean my fingers.

At 4:58 p.m. I had dinner at Pellino’s Ristorante at 2 Prince Street for $54.80. I ordered the Veal special and a drink. This was probably the best meal I had in Boston.

Pellino's Ristorante

Pellino’s Ristorante

I returned to the hotel and at 7:00 p.m. I saw the film Solo at Showplace Icon Theatre for a whopping $22.00.

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Boston Vacation Day Thirteen

By Thursday I was truly at a loss as to how to spend my remaining time in Boston. But I did have the idea to go on a harbor cruise. I took the Silver Line to South Station, the Red Line to Downtown Crossing, the Orange Line to State Station, and the Blue Line to the Aquarium Station. I got there around 10:00 a.m. and bought a ticket for the Historic Harbor Cruise. I wandered around the area for about an hour until the 11:00 a.m. tour began.

The harbor cruise was a more relaxed experience and kept me off my feet. I saw the Seaport District, several islands, Logan Airport, and even the Boston Navy Yard before we returned to the New England Aquarium. It was a bit windy and chilly on the Boston Harbor and I was only wearing a dress shirt.

Historic Harbor Cruise

Historic Harbor Cruise

When I got back I had lunch at Dick’s Last Resort in the Quincy Market. I ordered a drink which I think was a Mango Peach Freeze, Yummy Mango Peach Puree with Cruzan Light Rum and Myers Dark Rum and the Ragin’ Cajun Chicky Pasta. I was then saddled with a souvenir glass wrapped in newspaper and no bag to carry it in.

Dick's Last Resort

Dick’s Last Resort

I proceeded to Government Center and took the Green Line to Arlington Station. At 3:00 p.m. I went on the Gibson House Museum tour with just one other tourist. The Gibson House is a well preserved Victorian rowhouse with most of its original furnishings. According to my notes it was used in the film The Bostonians but there was no mention of this by the tour guide. It reminded me of the Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe PA. I’m not really into touring historic houses but it does serve as a glimpse into another era. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also served as a window on an old fashioned residence, only far more grand. After the house tour was over I went back to my hotel and did little else that day.

Gibson House Museum

Gibson House Museum

At 6:02 I went to CVS and withdrew $80.00 from their ATM. Then I went to Row 34 where I ordered Clam Chowder and a Cranberry Orange Berliner Weisse for $25.00. I also stopped in at Ben & Jerry’s for coffee ice cream.

Row 34

Row 34

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Boston Vacation Day Twelve

By Wednesday I had truly run out of ideas on what to do in Boston so I decided to do something far down on my list which I had not even scheduled. I decided to visit the Forest Hills Cemetery which was mentioned in some of the travel guides I had read. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station where I transferred to the Red Line. I got off at Downtown Crossing where I transferred to the Orange Line. I rode the Orange Line all the way to the last stop in Forest Hills.

At 8:28 a.m. used an ATM at the Forest Hills Station to withdraw $100.00 from checking.
I had to walk around the Forest Hills Station to find Tower Street. I walked up Tower Street which is a quiet residential street to find the pedestrian entrance to the Forest Hills Cemetery at the end of Tower Street. I took the left hand path to reach the office and chapel at the main gate. At the office I picked up a large map and a color brochure. I accidentally walked to the main entrance and had to retrace my steps.

I managed to find the grave of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. Just before I found it, a lost driver asked me for directions. He did not know anything about Eugene O’Neill. I mentioned that he won the Nobel Prize.

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O’Neill

Next I attempted to locate the grave of poet E. E. Cummings but this proved to be extraordinarily difficult. I almost gave up on it. Eventually I found the right area by looking at a photo in the brochure. His gravestone was buried flat in the ground. There was a small collection of pens and pebbles on the flat marker so I was sure I had the right one.

E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings

Finally I located the grave of Anne Sexton which was located far to the south of the cemetery on a hill with concentric circles of graves. Along the way there I encountered a dead fish which was rather ominous. The dead fish looked half eaten, like something a bear had been chewing on. It was a fair-sized fish about the size of a trout. I took a photo of it. Anne Sexton had a flat marker but her name was also on the Sexton family monument. Unfortunately I did not bring any flowers or poems to leave on the graves. Anne Sexton is one of my favorite poets. I have a small collection of books on her poetry and I’ve read her biography. In preparation for my trip, I finally read The Fading Smile by Peter Davison, a book about her generation of Boston poets.

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

After leaving the Forest Hills Cemetery I stopped in at the Forest Hills Convenience store to buy something to drink to take my pills. I took the Orange Line back to Downtown Crossing and then the Red Line back to the hotel.

I only rested at the hotel for about half an hour before the maids showed up to clean rooms at around 1:38 p.m.

I took the Red Line to Kendall Square in Cambridge. First I went to the List Visual Arts Center where I saw a few large paintings and a huge art video. I took more photos of the MIT Dome in strong sunlight. Then I went to Miracle of Science where I ordered a cheeseburger and an IPA beer. At the nearby MIT Press book store  I bought the book Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville. I spent a lot of time searching for just the right book since they had a good selection that suited my many interests, but eventually I decided this book would be the most significant one I could buy at MIT. I may have been slightly drunk from the beer I drank. Finally I  located and photographed the Akamai building, one of the technology companies I had researched.

The MIT Press Bookstore

The MIT Press Bookstore

I then took the Red Line back to the Seaport District where I photographed the Institute of Contemporary Art in strong afternoon sunlight.

At 7:15 p.m. went to CVS and bought Arthriten, Harpo Happy Cola gummies, Monster Java, Callus Cushions, and Dr. Scholl’s Callus Cushions. All that walking had left many blisters on my feet. I really should have bought new padded socks for this trip. Only a constant intake of aspirin and Arthriten kept me on my feet.

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Boston Vacation Day Eleven

I had breakfast at Caffe Nero again and this time I got a new loyalty card. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and got out at South Station. I took photos of both sides of South Street which had a traffic jam. Lots of delivery trucks were blocking the establishments, making it difficult to get a good photo. I also took photos of the Chinatown Gate and then a few more Chinatown establishments. I walked all the way up Washington Street to the Park Street Station where I took a Green Line train to Boston University. I took photos of the Marsh Chapel, but the BU Castle was draped in red plastic for renovations. I wound up walking all the way down to Kenmore Square where I photographed the Citgo Sign and the Buckminster Hotel. As I was walking west on Commonwealth Avenue it began to rain but not too hard, just a light sprinkle. I found the Boston Playwright’s Theatre but my digital camera began to act up again and I could not zoom. Later on in my hotel room I think I figured out how to solve this problem. Hold down the shutter button as you turn the camera on. I took the Green Line train all the way back to the Park Street Station and transferred to the Red Line to return back to my hotel. They were cleaning the rooms so I quickly got my umbrella, took a few pills, and headed back out.

Boston Playwright's Theatre

Boston Playwright’s Theatre

I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and then transferred to a Red Line train heading towards Ashmont / Braintree and got off at the Broadway station. There was some new construction of condominiums going on there. I crossed the bridge over the train tracks and then the highway underpass. It looks like Quinzani’s Bakery was torn down and some more high rise residential tower may be built there. Anyway, I found Thayer Street and entered a few art galleries. Lanoue Gallery was the first gallery I visited where I saw artwork by Marc Harrold and Laura Schiff Bean. I also picked up a SOWA guide book. I visited Gallery Kayafas where I saw work by Christine Collins and Joe Johnson. At SOWA Artists’ Studios I just picked up some postcards. I also visited the M Fine Arts Galerie which was showing the work of Robert Baart. And I visited the International Poster Gallery.

Thayer Street

Thayer Street

I had lunch at Ali Baba Restaurant where I ordered the Kofte Kebab – char grilled Turkish meatballs, served with rice, salad, and homemade bread. Service was extremely bad in this restaurant and I had to get a bottle of coke myself after waiting forever for it. The food also took a long time to prepare but it was extremely good. I ate all three huge meatballs and a good bit of the rice. After lunch I returned to my hotel.

At 4:30 p.m. I went across the street and saw Deadpool 2 at the Showplace Icon Theatre. This was a superior movie experience. The seats were like padded armchairs or your living room recliner, and the audio system was true surround sound with deep bass.

Showplace Icon Theatre

Showplace Icon Theatre

At 8:00 p.m. went to Bastille Kitchen were I ordered a glass of Harpoon IPA beer and Parisian Gnocchi – morel mushrooms, fromage blanc, shaved black truffles. This proved to be a very small dish so I also had desert, passion fruit sorbet. That cost me $40.00 with tip and I paid by cash.

Bastille Kitchen

Bastille Kitchen

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Boston Vacation Day Ten

On Monday I had run out of planned things to do but I decided to visit the Back Bay to take photos of some theaters located there. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and transferred to the Red Line, getting off at Downtown Crossing. I transferred to the Orange Line and got off at the Back Bay Station. I walked south on Clarendon Street to reach Tremont Street and photographed the Boston Center for the Arts. I then walked back up Clarendon Street to photograph the Lyric Stage Company. I took some more photos around Copley Square and then walked down Newbury Street. This time I managed to locate Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers, but Newbury Comics was closed and Trident Booksellers had signs in its windows about a fire. Then I located several Berklee College of Music buildings.

Boston Center for the Arts

Boston Center for the Arts

I stopped in at L. P. Licks for some ice cream. I think I had the flavor sweet cream with M&M toppings.

I then walked to the Symphony Station and took the Green Line to Longwood Station to photograph the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (also known as MassArt) and the nearby Wentworth Institute of Technology.

MassArt

MassArt

I took the Green Line all the way to Haymarket Station and found my way into the North End. I came across Regina Pizzeria where I stopped in for a slice of cheese pizza and a coke. I spilled some soft drink on my pant leg. After that I found the Old North Church and followed the Freedom Trail to Charlestown. I stopped off at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground first and took photos of the tombstones. In Charlestown I saw the Bunker Hill Monument and visited the small museum but I decided not to climb the monument with my bad knee. I then went to the Boston Navy yard but the USS Constitution is closed on Mondays. I could only see the USS Constitution Museum with its corny exhibits. However the USS Cassin Young was open so I boarded that vessel and crawled around its decks and the open cabins. I also saw the dry dock.

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

I made the long walk to the North End but I did not feel like eating there or exploring the neighborhood after that long, long hike in the hot sun. I went back to the Haymarket Station and eventually made it back to my hotel.

The Beehive

The Beehive

I made a reservation for The Beehive at 6:00 p.m. but I neglected to restore the SD card in my digital camera so none of the photos I took on that evening were preserved. At the Beehive I ordered a glass of their special beer and the Day Boat Scallops with Confit Cherry Tomato, artichoke, Spring Onion. Pea mash. This was only five scallops which cost me $50.00 or $10.00 per scallop so I only left a $1.00 tip.

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Boston Vacation Day Nine

On Sunday I had to buy a new  7-Day Link pass which is good until May 27, 2018 at 7:27 a.m. I went to CVS Pharmacy and bought some aspirin.

I took the Red Line to Park Street and then the Green Line to Science Park but I wound up getting on and off several trains to get closer to that final Green Line station. It was not immediately apparent how to reach the Museum of Science but I followed some other tourists. I saw the dinosaur statue outside the museum. I used the final ticket in my CityPass but I also bought a planetarium ticket for Moons at 1:30 p.m. As soon as I entered the first exhibition hall I began to experience problems with my digital camera. It would not zoom and none of the function or menu buttons would work. It wouldn’t focus or adjust for lighting unless I turned it back on while pointing at something. I tried changing the battery but nothing helped. Later in the day this problem mysteriously disappeared but it was quite upsetting for most of my time in the exhibits.

I found the Colby Room rather quickly but you could not go inside. I managed to take some good photos of Triceratops Cliff even though I could not zoom. I saw a special exhibit on crocodiles.

Triceratops Cliff

Triceratops Cliff

I saw 4D: The Martian in the Blue Wing, Level 2. 4D meant the seats vibrated, wind was blown at you, confetti rained down, and most annoyingly water splashed in your face.

At the Riverview Cafe I grabbed a Cranberry Turkey Sandwich, a Yogurt Parfait and bottle of orange juice. As I was eating I discovered that my digital camera was performing normally again.

I used the ATM in the Museum of Science to withdraw another $200.

I checked out the Mugar Omni Theater and the Charles Hayden Planetarium and walked through the Museum Store where they were selling the book Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. I tried to re-enter the Blue and Green Wings but the gate keeper would not let me pass. I was supposed to get a hand stamp and they tore the ticket out of my CityPass book so I had no proof of prior entry. This really pissed me off. I still had to kill over an hour before the planetarium show. I went outside briefly and bought a raspberry Popsicle and then a bottle of lemonade. Eventually I saw the Moons planetarium show which was pretty cool and informative.

I left the museum around 2:15 p.m. and it looked like a thunderstorm was coming when I got outside so I went directly back to my hotel to avoid any more disasters that day.

Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate

But around 5:00 p.m. I went out again with my umbrella and took the Silver Line to South Station. I got out at South Station and walked to Chinatown to photograph the Freedom Gate and various Chinese restaurants. I walked up Washington Street and photographed King’s Chapel, Marliave, and Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. I had made a reservation at Marliave for 6:30 p.m. I ordered escargot and a glass of sparkling white wine. The restaurant was very dark so I could not see what I was eating but the snails tasted like mushroom.

Marliave

Marliave

After eating I visited the Granary Burying Ground and then walked all the way to Faneuil Hall where I saw some kids playing stringed instruments and an Asian girl playing her violin. I then walked back to the hotel taking many photos in the dying light of late afternoon.

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Boston Vacation Day Eight

On Saturday my goal was to visit the New England Aquarium. To get there I took the Silver Line to South Station, the Red Line to Downtown Crossing, the Orange Line to State Station, and the Blue Line to the Aquarium Station. That was the most complicated route I ever took using public transportation in Boston. It would have been far less trouble to just walk there from my hotel.

With my CityPass I got a discount for an IMAX 3D movie so I saw Great White Shark 3D for only $5.00. This movie was the first thing I did at the aquarium because the show time was 10:00 a.m. and I got my aquarium ticket at 9:40 a.m.

The aquarium was very crowded and full of little children. I saw penguins and the Giant Ocean Tank which contained a few giant sea turtles and stingrays. A few divers could be seen in the tank. Various other galleries had small tanks showing various types of sea life including; octopus, electric eel, sea horses, a boa constrictor, and piranha. I saw the  harbor seal exhibit on the public plaza but the seals were not very active.

New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium

Upon leaving the aquarium I wandered around the financial district until I found the Bamboo Valley Spa, the Irish Famine Memorial, the Old City Hall, King’s Chapel, and finally the Boston Athenæum which I entered. I had to put my umbrella in a plastic bag to avoid dripping water over the floors. There was not much to see at the Boston Athenæum except for some statues, some paintings, and a few rare books on display. Next I visited the nearby Granary Burying Ground. It was raining a little harder by then.

Boston Athenaeum

Boston Athenaeum

I stopped in at Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant where I ordered a Full Irish Breakfast; Irish Sausage, Irish Bacon, Black & White Pudding, Bachelor Beans, Home Fries, Grilled Tomato, Eggs cooked to order, Toast and a cup of coffee. There were a lot of old Irish photos and documents posted on the wall. It seemed like a very authentic Irish pub.

Emmet's Irish Pub and Restaurant

Emmet’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

It was raining for the rest of the day so I went back to the hotel where my room had not been cleaned.

I watched the new Fahrenheit 451 movie on HBO. I have not had cable TV for years so when I travel I cannot resist watching come cable TV in my hotel room. The high definition channels are new for me. It seems like I am always watching HBO’s Westworld while on vacation. I saw a few episodes in Los Angeles and I saw a few episodes on this trip. I also saw one episode of the new Silicon Valley season.

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Boston Vacation Day Seven

On Friday I explored the Back Bay. I left for the Prudential Center at 9:00 a.m. and got there at 9:30 a.m. I saw the Barnes & Noble store at The Shops at Prudential Center and then followed signs to find the Skywalk Observatory which was down some escalators to an elevator bank. The elevators were not working until 5 minutes after 10:00 a.m. Once I reached the observation deck I took lots of photos in all four directions. There was a hotel skyscraper being constructed right next to the Prudential Tower. When I was finished up there, getting back down to the correct floor was a little confusing since I was alone in the elevator. I had to press B for the basement.

Prudential Center

Prudential Center

I located the Bukowski Tavern which I walked pass on the way to the Mary Baker Eddy Library. I got there at 11:10 a.m. but the next tour was not until 12:00 p.m. so I bought a tour ticket and then walked to the Huntington Theatre Company and got my ticket to Top Girls. I did not get my ticket in the mail before I left for Boston. Come to think of it, it was not in the mail held for me by the post office. I returned to Mary Baker Eddy Library for the tour of the Mapparium. We were not allowed to take any photos inside the Mapparium. The Mother Church was being renovated so I could not take any good photos of the church and its dome. I don’t know much about Christian Science but it seems to be based on the healing power of Christian faith which makes it somewhat shamanistic. Spirituality is often linked to healing although the benefits may be mostly psychological.

After the tour was over I went to the Bukowski Tavern where I drank two bottles of Mangers (Irish apple cider) and ate a Chili Cheese Mad Dog, topped with 3 bean chili and shredded cheddar cheese on a buttered and toasted New England style bun. I’m not sure how Charles Bukowski is associated with Boston. It is not like he ever taught at Harvard.

Bukowski Tavern

Bukowski Tavern

After eating I walked down Newbury Street but I began one block past Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers so I missed them. I did come across the Guild of Boston Artists gallery where I saw a lot of mediocre paintings on sale for thousands of dollars. It made me think about doing a little painting myself. I would like to get that kind of money for my creative work.

The Guild of Boston Artists

The Guild of Boston Artists

Eventually I came to Copley Square where I photographed the BoxTix booth, the Boston Public Library, the Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower. I entered the Boston Public Library and photographed the stone lions, the art work, and the Bates Hall. I got lunch at the library cafe and ate it in the court yard. I had an egg salad sandwich on black bread and walnut cake, plus a can of Sprite. I thought it was highly unusual for a public library to have a cafe, but the Boston Public Library is practically a museum and a tourist attraction.

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

After that I walked all the way to the Public Garden and photographed every statue I could find. I even got a few photos of a squirrel. That was more than enough walking for one day so I took the Red Line back to South Station, and then the Silver Line back to the Seaport District.

Public Garden

Public Garden

I went to the CVS Pharmacy at 5:18 p.m. and bought; Arthriten, Blister Cushions, Blister Care Cushions, Leg Cramp medicine, Coffee candy, and foam shoe inserts.

That evening I took the Green Line to the Symphony Station. I left around 6:50 p.m. and almost did not get to the Huntington Theatre Company in time to see the play Top Girls. I actually got there at 7:37 p.m. and had plenty of time because the show started at 8:00 p.m. Top Girls is a 1982 play by British playwright Caryl Churchill. I have read this play and was thrilled by the prospect of seeing it performed. This play featured an all female cast just like The Women Who Mapped The Stars. I was never entirely clear on the message of this play but the program notes explained how capitalism encourages women to become competitive and to do nothing for the stupid, weak, and helpless. The career girl Marlene has left her daughter Angie in the care of her sister Joyce. Angie is not very bright and probably does not have much of a future in Thatcher’s United Kingdom. So the play is pondering women’s adoption of the dominance hierarchy as if this were the masculine perspective.

Huntington Theatre Company

Huntington Theatre Company

I thought the production was marred by excessively non-traditional casting. The characters in the same family were all of different races which destroyed any illusion of a family. There was no explanation in the play for this. The actress playing Angie was overweight and seemed too old for the role, as well as not being the same race as her mother. This was yet another example of casting that is meant to draw attention to itself, to seem virtuous to the champions of diversity, at the expense of the play and its artistic needs. However the kitchen sink stage design at the end was very convincing and made me feel like I was spying on a real residence.

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Boston Vacation Day Six

On Thursday I returned to Cambridge to see the other Harvard museums, the Harvard Art Museums. I took the Silver Line bus to South Station and transferred to the Red Line subway. I got off the subway at the Harvard Square Station around 9:13 a.m. The museum did not open until 10:00 a.m. so I walked around Brattle Square and down Mt. Auburn Street and Bow Street.

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums

I entered the Harvard Art Museums when it opened at 10:00 a.m. There was some construction in front of the museum so there was yellow tape across the ramp but you could still use the side entrance. I saw the modern art first, including one Blue Picasso. I saw some Edgar Degas paintings including his ubiquitous dancer sculpture. And I saw a Max Beckman self portrait. Then I saw some Asian art followed by Medieval Christian art. On the second floor I saw the striking Apotheosis of Louis-Adolphe Thiers by Jehan Georges Vibert and Jacob and the Angel by Gustave Moreau. There was a portrait of Mary Elizabeth Robbins by William Morris Hunt. I don’t think I am related to her. I saw a couple of Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Beata Beatrix and The Blessed Damozel.

The museum had some ancient Greek and Roman art including more red-figure pottery and some Egyptian statuettes.

At the Lightbox Gallery on the 5th floor I saw the A.K. Burns: Survivor’s Remorse exhibit on the life and art of David Wojnarowicz. I was vaguely familiar with David Wojnarowicz because he was associated with the NYC underground film movement, Cinema of Transgression.

After leaving the Harvard Art Museums I visited the nearby Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts which had just opened at 12:00 p.m. They opened the doors when they saw me show up. I looked though their art journals and was tempted by a small paperback but I didn’t want to carry something around for the rest of the day. I went into one gallery of student thesis work. I then walked through Harvard Yard and saw the Widener Library.

Next I walked along Church Street and photographed some murals and then around Brattle Street again. I had coffee ice cream at J. P. Licks. Then I went to Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage and had pink lemonade and a BLT.

Inman Square

Inman Square

I walked down Massachusetts Avenue, taking photos of various establishments. Then I walked up Prospect Street to find Inman Square. I located The Druid, Bukowski Tavern, All Star Sandwich Bar, Punjabi Dhaba, 1369 Coffee House, Ryles Jazz Club, and City Girl Cafe but I didn’t actually do anything at Inman Square. I walked back to Massachusetts Avenue and took some photos of Central Square Theatre again. Then I walked all the way to MIT again but this time I found Lab Central. I tried to visit List Visual Arts Center but they were installing something so I only got to see one lame little gallery with nothing but geometric shapes. I walked to Kendall Square and saw the Kendall Hotel and The COOP at MIT. I rested a bit at the Galaxy: Earth Sphere Fountain.

Then I walked along the 101 Main Building where many technology companies have offices and found the Broad Canal Walk behind it. I managed to find First Street and stopped in at Toscanini’s Ice Cream where I had some coconut raisin ice cream. I was attracted to the River Court Condominiums which looked like an old , massive brick building but with some unusual architecture on the top terraces. The building seemed to have its own little neighborhood on its roof which caught my fancy.

I finally reached CambridgeSide Galleria where I used the restroom. I ordered an iced coffee at Starbucks to kill some time and take my pills. I found the Newbury Comics store at this mall and looked around but did not buy anything. I took a few photos of the Hubspot building because I had read a book about this technology company, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble by  former employee Daniel Lyons. I sat outside the Lechmere Canal Park behind the CambridgeSide Galleria and watched a few tour boats arrive and leave.

CambridgeSide Galleria

CambridgeSide Galleria

At around 5:40 p.m. I walked back to Kendall Square, passing through Broad Canal Walk. I took the subway back to Central Square and went to Cheapo Records were I bought a CD, Every Breath You Take: The Singles by The Police. Then I went to Caffe Nero across the street and ordered a coffee to kill more time before the play I was going to see at the Central Square Theater.

Central Square Theater

Central Square Theater

I saw the play The Women Who Mapped The Stars by Joyce Van Dyke at Central Square Theater. I enjoyed this show more than I expected. It was about female astronomers who made great discoveries even though they were often denied access to telescopes, credit for their discoveries, and the opportunity to do research work instead of mindless cataloging of stars.

When I got back to the Seaport District I took some photos of the Boston skyline at night.

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Boston Vacation Day Five

On Wednesday I began my exploration of Cambridge, a separate city from Boston which is easy to reach using public transportation. At around 8:30 a.m. I took the Silver Line to South Station and transferred to the Red Line. I  got off at Harvard Square around 8:56 a.m. I wore my grey sweater because it is light enough to take off and tie around my waist when it starts to get too hot for a sweater.  And I took my small shoulder bag with my power bank for recharging my smartphone since I would be far from my hotel.

I emerged near the Church Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection and walked down Brattle Street. I took photos of the Brattle Theater and walked all the way to Loeb Drama Center before heading back to Brattle Square. Next I walked down Mt. Auburn Street and located the record store, In Your Ear, and the Harvard Lampoon building. Then I located the Grolier Poetry Book Shop and the Harvard Book Store to take photos of those establishments.

Finally I entered Harvard Yard and found the statue of John Harvard which was surrounded by tour groups, mostly Asian tour groups. I found the Harvard Science Center and Sanders Theater north of Harvard Yard and went up Oxford Street to find the Harvard Museum of Natural History. This was my first use of my Boston CityPass. They tore out the ticket and gave me a little metal pin.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Harvard Museum of Natural History

At the Harvard Museum of Natural History I saw their famous glass flowers. I saw their dinosaur fossils and the only mounted Kronosaurus. There was an exhibition hall full of glass cases with stuffed animals. The skeletons of whales were hanging overhead. There was another room of horizontal glass cases filled with mineral samples. Harvard appears to have a very extensive collection of minerals.

After seeing everything at the Harvard Museum of Natural History I entered the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology which is connected to it. You don’t need to pay anything extra to see this other museum. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology features an exhibit of weapons and armor. I saw their colorful Day of the Dead altar and the Aztec stone monoliths. On the forth floor I saw some Javanese puppets from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The All the World Is Here: Harvard’s Peabody Museum and the Invention of American Anthropology featured the the Harvard Adam and Eve, statues of a nude man and woman considered to be the average or typical male and female body. On the first floor I saw the Hall of the North American Indian which had some totem poles and models of canoes and lodges.

After leaving the museums I walked around Harvard Square some more and took photos of Raven Used Books, Club Passim and The Sinclair. I then went to Grolier Poetry Book Shop where I asked for Edward Hirsh but they had nothing by him. They actually seemed to have a very poor selection of poetry books. They mostly stocked slim volumes by poets you’d never heard of. Eventually I found Selected Poems by Stephen Spender which was the only name I vaguely recognized. But the sales clerk seemed to think this was an excellent choice, as if I had found the one real poet in the lot. Next I went to Harvard Book Store which actually had a better selection of poetry. I bought District and Circle by Seamus Heaney and the play Smokefall by Noah Haidle.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

I had lunch at Daedalus where I was seated at the bar. I ordered the Grilled Spicy Steak Salad – marinated spicy steak with baby greens, tomato corn salsa, crumbled blue cheese with citrus vinaigrette. And for dessert I had the cobbler apple; peach and raisin cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream.

Daedalus

Daedalus

After lunch I walked a long ways down Massachusetts Avenue, taking photos of the establishments I encountered. Eventually I reached Central Square and stopped in at Pandemonium Books and Games where I bought the book Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow. I’ve become more interested in weird fiction after reading The King In Yellow, tales about a mythical play which drives men mad or otherwise leads them to a supernatural doom. The idea that a published play could have such power is amusing to me. I took photos in the Graffiti Alley next to Central Kitchen where two artists were working. And I located Central Square Theater since I was going to see a play there tomorrow night.

Pandemonium Books and Games

Pandemonium Books and Games

Eventually I reached the MIT Museum which I decided to visit a day early since I was there. I paid $10.00 admission and climbed a set of stairs to the second floor. I saw the Robots & Beyond exhibit which featured MIT’s pioneering work in Artificial Intelligence. I also saw two special exhibits; The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramo´n y Cajal, György Kepes Photographs II, and Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson. At the museum book store I bought the small book Machine Learning by Ethem Alpaydin which is one of their MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series.

MIT Museum

MIT Museum

I walked around the MIT campus and found the Jaume Plensa’s Alchemist statue. I then saw the Great Dome and took photos of some more public art on the MIT campus. Then I located the List Visual Arts Center, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. When I came across the Kendall Square Station I decided I was too tired to go on so I took the Red Line back to South Station.

I made a reservation at Blue Dragon for 6:30 p.m.  I ordered a pina colada which was mostly ice and Pork Belly Baos with Seasonal Kimchi which turned out to be two small pork sandwiches using some kind of gummy wrap. On the way back to the hotel I took a few photos of a distinctive Fort Point building with the Boston Wharf Company Industrial Real Estate sign on its roof.

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Boston Vacation Day Four

On the fourth day of my vacation in Boston I decided to concentrate on the Seaport District area which was where my hotel was located. At 10:00 a.m. I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art just as it opened. This museum only had one floor of galleries. I saw the exhibits of work by the artists Kevin Beasley and Caitlin Keogh. I also saw the Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today special exhibit which included a short film you watched through a virtual reality headset “View of Harbor”. The film was kind of creepy and my glasses steamed up under the virtual reality headset. One of the more amusing pieces of artwork I saw was a server cabinet turned into an art installation. I sat through a few art videos and even browsed through a few catalogs to extend my time in the museum. At the museum gift shop I bought The Hollow Woods Storytelling Card Game for $19.99 at 11:20 a.m. I figured this card game might help me to write some short stories.

Institute of Contemporary Art

Institute of Contemporary Art

I had lunch at the Shake Shack on Seaport Boulevard, right next to my hotel. I was planning on eating there more often but fortunately I proved to be more adventurous and never ate at the same place twice. I ordered a ShackBurger, Vanilla Shake, and Bacon Cheese Fries for $16.87 at 11:28 a.m. Fortunately this Shake Shack was never so crowded as the one in New York City.

I returned to my hotel room to drop off my purchase and then walked south into the Fort Point area. I came across the Blue Dragon restaurant which was not in my notes. Eventually I found the Midway Artist Studios but didn’t see any public art gallery in the building. There were no directions and nobody to ask.

Midway Artist Studios

Midway Artist Studios

I had a little trouble finding Summer Street because it is raised above A Street. But I managed to find the Fort Point Arts Community Gallery which is actually located in the Buco Trattoria restaurant, right behind its dining room so you need to go through the restaurant to reach the gallery. That was kind of unexpected. There was nobody in the art gallery so I felt free to take a few photos of the artwork on display.

Fort Point Arts Community Gallery

Fort Point Arts Community Gallery

From there I went to the Boston Tea Party Museum. I had to wait almost a half hour in the gift shop before the 1:45 p.m. tour started, when we gathered in the west meeting house. The tour was an interesting bit of live theater with actors in costume who remained in character for the entire tour. The actors were very talented and very funny with excellent improvisation skills. We got to climb abroad one of the boats and explore its hold. There were two portrait paintings that came to life, two projected actresses, and a short film on the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Boston Tea Party Museum

Boston Tea Party Museum

I walked back to my hotel. At around 3:15 p.m. I took public transportation to the Government Center Station on the Green Line and walked to the North End.
I waited an extremely long time for a Silver Line bus. The Red Line train was very crowded. I had some slight difficulty finding the Eastbound Green Line and
had to go back down the stairs to reach the platform on the other side of the tracks. Once I reached Government Center I walked down the street between the Boston Public Market and Bell In Hand Pub which is Hanover Street. On Hanover Street I saw the establishments; Improv Asylum, Thinking Cup, Fiore, Caffè Vittoria, and Mike’s Pastry. Eventually I found the Paul Revere Mall and saw the Paul Revere Statue. I entered the Old North Church and took some photos of the interior. Then I found my way to the Paul Revere House where I paid $5.00 for a self-guided tour of the period rooms.

Across the street from the Paul Revere House I saw a book store that was not in my notes, I Am Books, An Italian American Cultural Hub. There I bought the Penguin Classics edition of The Aeneid by Virgil for $15.00 at 4:37 p.m. I’m not particularly interested in reading this book but I’ve heard a lot about it since it is a classic. Then I went to Caffè Vittoria where I ordered a black coffee and vanilla gelato. I really liked the ambiance of this old Italian coffee shop. I was tempted to return to the hotel as it began to rain but I wanted to have dinner someplace in the North End so I found an unassuming little pizzeria, Ernesto’s Pizzeria where I ordered two slices of cheese pizza and a soda, choosing lemonade for the soda. The pizza was pretty good but I decided not to finish the crust.

I Am Books

I Am Books

Unfortunately I got caught in a fierce thunderstorm while crossing the City Hall Plaza. Even though I had my umbrella, the rain was being driven almost horizontally by the high wind so I got soaked. I practically had to use my umbrella as a shield to reach the Government Center Station where I arrived dripping wet.

When I got back to the hotel I noticed many fire engines gathered around Caffe Nero responding to some alarm. I’m not sure if there was an actual fire but there were quite a few fire engines.

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Boston Vacation Day Two

Since YOTEL does not offer a complimentary breakfast I walked to a nearby Caffe Nero at 7:30 a.m. and had a Cafe au lait, a yogurt, and a Kouign Amman croissant. They gave me a loyalty card which will come in handy since I will have breakfast there every day for almost two weeks.

Caffe Nero

Caffe Nero

I walked across the Seaport Boulevard Bridge into Boston’s financial district. I wandered around the financial district and found Post Office Square which looked lovely with its Spring foliage. I came across the Hungarian Monument in Liberty Square which was not in my notes. Eventually I retraced my steps to walk back to the hotel.

Post Office Square

Post Office Square

I spent most of the day at the Museum of Fine Arts. To get there I took a Silver Line bus to South Station where I transferred to a Red Line Inbound subway to Park Street. At Park Street I transferred to the Green Line and took the E Branch to the Museum of Fine Arts Station. It was slightly confusing to find the trains for the E Branch. It was located at the far end of the platform.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

The very first thing I saw at the museum was some musical instruments including a lyre guitar which struck my fancy since the lyre is associated with poets. Next I saw some Egyptian statues before finding the Art of European by crossing the Shapiro Family Courtyard. Among the high lights of the art I saw were works by John Singer Sargent, Jackson Pollock, and the special exhibits; Klimt and Schiele: Drawn, Phantasmagoria, and M. C. Escher: Infinite Dimensions. One of the more clever ideas I saw was a nautilus shell with electronics or something coming out of it. Maybe I could turn that into a craft idea. It must have been the Nautilus Beaker which was engraved and filled with something made of silver.

I had lunch at the New American Café in the glass-enclosed courtyard, aka the Shapiro Family Courtyard. I ordered a cup of coffee and the turkey grilled sandwich which came with potato chips and a dill pickle. Everything was tastier than you would expect. The sandwich was great and very flavorful. The potato chips may have been hand made and even the dill pickle sliver was something special.

New American Cafe

New American Cafe

At the museum book store I bought The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton. This book was on my Amazon wish list because it explains how our sense of beauty was shaped by evolution. I’ve been quite impressed by how well evolutionary psychology explains human nature. And I’ve always struggled to understand my own boundless appreciation for art. I was tempted by a DVD, Miss Hokusai, but the museum store was charging twice what it costs on Amazon so I just made a mental note to check it out.

Before I left I found a gallery of objects related to Greek Theater and the god Dionysus. This was especially interesting to me. This exhibit included many black figure vases and red figure pottery related to Greek theater. They did not have many examples of Greek theater masks though.

Greek Theater Comedy

Greek Theater Comedy

I think I managed to visit every gallery even though I was wandering between floors and collections all day. I almost neglected to visit the third floor which has the fewest galleries, all devoted to modern art. I entered the museum at 10:00 a.m. just as it opened and did not leave until 3:45 p.m. so that was almost five hours.

Before leaving the area I found the nearby School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. However, I did not attempt to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum since it closed at 5:00 p.m.

I took the Green Line back to the Park Street Station. I should mention that the Museum of Fine Arts Station has no fare control or ticket machines so I did need to use my Charlie Ticket 7-Day Pass to board the trolley. The Green Line trains are more like electrified trolley cars than subway trains.

Boston Common

Boston Common

I wandered around Boston Common and took photos of the Massachusetts State House, the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, and the Boston Athenaeum. I then walked to the Public Garden to find the Make Way for Ducklings statues which had little kids crawling all over them so I could only take one photo. I went to Cheers where I sat at the bar and ordered Boston Clam Chowder and a drink.

I then did a little exploring in Beacon Hill and found Louisburg Square, Acorn Street, and the Sloane Merrill Gallery. There were many professional photographers at Acorn Street taking wedding photos or fashion photos.

I walked up Washington Street and found the Brattle Book Shop but it is not open on Sundays. I entered the Red Line Downtown Crossing station near Primark and returned to the hotel. At 7:45 p.m. I walked around the Seaport District to take some photos of the Boston skyline in the evening. I still encountered a few professional photographers including one who seemed to be taking wedding photos of a well dressed couple.

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Boston Vacation Day Three

On Monday I started my day with breakfast at Caffè Nero. This became my routine and I almost always ordered the same thing; after grabbing a yogurt parfait I also got a croissant and a medium cup of café au lait. I won’t bother mentioning that again. I did fill up one loyalty card and got one free cup of coffee.

The first thing I did was to go downtown and photograph more theaters. I tried to photograph every theater in Boston’s small theater district but some construction prevented me from getting a good shot of a few theaters. I did notice that a talk by the intellectual Jordan B. Peterson was being advertised so I waited until the sign had cycled back to that ad before taking a photo. Jordan B. Peterson is a Jungian psychologist. I discovered his videos on YouTube before he became embroiled in controversy. I came across the Edgar Allan Poe Statue on Boylston Street which I almost forgot to seek out. I also took a few photos of the Central Burying Ground.

Edgar Allan Poe Statue

Edgar Allan Poe Statue

I reached the Brattle Book Shop just after it opened and bought Druids, Dudes and Beauty Queens: The Changing Face of Irish Theatre edited by Dermot Bolger. I took more photos of the Irish Famine Memorial and Commonwealth Books. Next I found the Old State House and walked to City Hall. I went across Congress Street to Faneuil Hall and walked though the Quincy Market. I located Newbury Comics but I had to wait until 10:00 a.m. when they opened.  I bought a graphic novel Doctor Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen? which was kind of expensive at $31.86. I’m not into comic books but the Marvel movies are fantastic and Doctor Strange is their most mystical character.

I walked to Government Center T Station and took the Green Line to Park Street where I transferred to the Red Line. I took the Red Line to South Station and then the Silver Line to Courthouse Station. I left purchases at my hotel room because I hate carrying things around all day.

My major goal this day was to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It did not open until 11:00 a.m. To get there I just repeated my trip on the Green Line from yesterday. I have read a lot about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I even read a book about its famous art heist, The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. This museum reminded me of the Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The museum architecture was based on a Venetian palace although this was only really evident in the garden courtyard. Gothic Venetian windows looked out on a lush courtyard filled with palm trees and classical statues. I took photos from every side of the courtyard since it was quite lovely. I  explored the first floor, then the second floor, and finally the third floor. Each room had its walls filled with paintings and there were tables and other furniture covered with various types of art objects and artifacts. It was like going on a tour of a grand but ancient mansion filled with musty relics. Some items were blackened with age so the overall effect was a bit shabby for all of the splendor.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

There was only one art gallery not in the palace. I saw the Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth special exhibit in the Hostetter Gallery. Fra Angelico was an Early Italian Renaissance painter. There would have been a wait to have lunch at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum so I skipped it. I also did not find anything interesting the the museum book shop.

I took the Green Line up to Government Center. I had lunch at the bar of the Union Oyster House. I ordered a rum drink, a fish sandwich, and Hot Indian Pudding for $38.92 including tip. Next I walked around Faneuil Hall again and found the Black Rose, an Irish bar, where I ordered a drink, an Irish Apple. Then I came across the Old State House again which I decided to visit. It cost $10.00 for the museum admission and I sat through a short lecture on the Boston Massacre.

The Black Rose

The Black Rose

I walked through the Quincy Market again and discovered that Faneuil Hall was closed until June. I walked over the Seaport District Bridge to return to the hotel since it was less bother than using the subway.

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Boston Vacation Day One

Today was the first day of my vacation in Boston. I drove down to Philadelphia to catch a flight to Boston since Harrisburg does not offer any direct flights. It was raining most of the day and it was even raining in Boston when I got there. Philadelphia International Airport has changed a bit since I’ve last gone through it. There was some kind of grab-and-go gourmet market which was completely devoid of any staff. You just grabbed an item and paid for it using a self-checkout kiosk which was basically just a large tablet. The passenger waiting areas had also changed with some kind of tablet arcade where passengers could entertain themselves while waiting to board. It was kind of weird since there were customer facing iPads everywhere.

Only water was served on the flight since it was a very short flight. There was no in-flight entertainment unless you downloaded an America Airlines application for your device to stream media. I just read a little bit of a book on my Kindle. When we arrived at Logan International Airport I found my bag in baggage claim right away. It was almost freakish how quickly I found my bag because it was going around the conveyor belt just as I got there. But finding a taxi was not as easy. I had to cross the street and walk along the underpass until I found were the taxi stand was located. It was not exactly curbside and clearly caused a lot of confusion. The cab went through a tunnel, probably the Callahan Tunnel, and brought us into Boston near Haymarket Square. The cab driver crossed the Fort Point Channel over the Congress Street Bridge and seemed to be taking me behind the hotel but eventually he turned right onto Seaport Boulevard and deposited me in front of YOTEL, the pod hotel where I would be staying.

I needed some assistance using the YOTEL kiosk for self check-in. My room was on the tenth floor. It is a very cramped room but it has everything I should need and I won’t be spending much time in it.

Due to the rain in Boston, there wasn’t much I could do on my first day. I checked into my hotel around 3:00 p.m. so there wasn’t many hours left until evening. I did manage to visit a restaurant, the Barking Crab, which was a short walk from my hotel. It was very crowded. I had a traditional lobster roll and some New England Cider which came to $40.00!

Barking Crab

Barking Crab

I entered the Courthouse MBTA Staton and bought a 7-Day Link pass CharlieTicket. The ticket machine would not work with my credit cards or debit card. I had to use cash. You do not need to use your ticket to board the bus since the turnstiles serve as fare control. I  rode a Silver Line bus to South Station.  The bus drove through a tunnel to reach South Station. At South Station I took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing. I found an exit that brought me out on Washington Street where Primark and Roche Bros. is located.

I took some photos of the theaters on Washington Street and found a Bank of America ATM where I withdrew $200. Then I located the Irish Famine Memorial and found Spring Lane where Commonwealth Books is located. I found their shelf of theater books and bought Albert’s Bridge and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard for $25.00. When I left it was raining hard so I found the State Street Station in the Old Massachusetts State House and took the Orange Line to Downtown Crossing where I transferred to the Red Line to South Station and finally the Silver Line SL3 to Courthouse Station.

Irish Famine Memorial

Irish Famine Memorial

I had wanted to do a lot more on my first day in Boston but the rain put a damper on my plans. Still I managed to get around using public transportation and saw some of the landmark sights. Tomorrow I plan to visit some major art museums which should take most of the day.

 

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Irish Repertory Theatre New York City Trip

Yesterday I made my first bus trip to New York City for 2018. The main goal on this trip was to see The Seafarer at the Irish Repertory Theatre. But I also visited some minor museums and did some shopping.

The Susquehanna Trailways bus was plastered with vehicle wrap advertising for Lycoming College. I wish I had taken a photo of the bus but there wasn’t a good opportunity to do so. During the fast food stop at McDonald’s I was the last person to get on the bus and the escort had to come find me because it took so long to get my order and to finish eating. I didn’t even quite finish my coffee.

We arrived in New York City around 10:00 a.m. and were left off on 8th Avenue between West 50th Street and West 51st Street. My first objective was to visit the International Center of Photography Museum which is way downtown on the Lower East Side, on the Bowery. So I walked to Bryant Park and took an F train heading downtown to Second Avenue. I used an entrance in front of the Bank of America Tower instead of crossing the street to use the entrance right beside Bryant Park. Once I reached Second Avenue I quickly located the International Center of Photography Museum on the Bowery.

The International Center of Photography Museum was quite a disappointment. The interior looked nothing like the online photos suggested it would look like, so maybe they were photos of the old space. There were only two floors of exhibits at the International Center of Photography Museum and both of the exhibits were strictly political in nature; Then They Came For Us: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and Edmund Clark: The Day The Music Died, which documented America’s war on terror and incarceration of terrorists. This museum does not appear to have a permanent collection on exhibit so if you are not interested in the special exhibits you should not go. I only went to this museum because I have already seen all the major museums in New York City. Before leaving the area I went back to the Blondie mural and took some more photos of that since I used to be a huge Blondie fan.

International Center of Photography Museum

International Center of Photography Museum

I returned to the Second Avenue F line station and took a train uptown to 23rd Street near Madison Square Park. My second goal on this trip was to visit the National Museum of Mathematics. I’m not a big math geek but I did spend a considerable amount of time improving my math skills in order to explore artificial intelligence. The National Museum of Mathematics was also a very disappointing minor museum. It is mostly geared towards kids so the place was crawling with children and all the exhibits were meant to be educational and participatory. This meant that every exhibit required you to figure out what you were supposed to do. It became quite frustrating since almost half  of the exhibits did not even appear to be functional. Quite a few were out of order or didn’t seem to work as intended. There were only two floors of exhibits. There did seem to be a good selection of books and games in the gift shop but I was too irritated by this crap museum to buy anything.

National Museum of Mathematics

National Museum of Mathematics

I located the Rizzoli Bookstore which had moved to Broadway near Madison Square Park. It took me quite a while to locate the Performing Arts shelves of books and the selection of plays wasn’t very good but I did find Hangman by Martin McDonagh. Martin McDonagh is one of my favorite playwrights. I appreciate his black comedy and this new play has received a lot of praise. I still had a lot of time before the play at the Irish Repertory Theatre started so I walked down to 14th Street and found the Namaste Bookshop. Namaste Bookshop is a New Age book store with a wide selection of books on spirituality. I found their section on shamanism which had a large number of books on the topic. It was hard for me to decide on which one to buy but eventually I settled for The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby since it seemed like the most scholarly book on shamanism. This store also had a massive display of crystals and statuettes making it a good source for New Age merchandise and supplies.

I had plenty of time to walk back up Sixth Avenue to West 22nd Street but I didn’t see much of interest along the way except for some cast-iron buildings which may be architecturally significant. I will have to do some research later on to identify those buildings. I walked to the Irish Repertory Theatre and took some photos of their sidewalk sign and the exterior. They were also advertising Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr. Now that is a show I would definitely like to see because I am a big fan of Marina Carr’s dark plays. Unfortunately I don’t think I can make it to New York City to see this play unless they extend it. Since I still had over an hour before the play began I found a nearby restaurant where I could have lunch. I chose Essen because this seemed to be more of a cafeteria style place than a sit down restaurant where you have to wait to be served. At Essen I just picked up a chicken and pasta cold salad, a large cookie, and a bottle of Starbucks iced coffee. I also considered going to a small pizza parlor but the large cookie made me feel pretty full.

The Seafarer at Irish Repertory Theatre

The Seafarer at Irish Repertory Theatre

I went back to the Irish Repertory Theatre, got my ticket which was held at the box office, and sat in the lobby for over a half hour. I noticed that one gentleman there to see the play was wearing an ABC News jacket which suggests to me that some media company employees are supporters of Irish theater. As I was taking my seat I noticed that the Irish Repertory Theatre has a balcony section of seats. My seat was in the orchestra. It occurred to me that I didn’t really know the difference between balcony and orchestra seats but it is really quite simple. Balcony seats will put you in a balcony overlooking the stage from above while orchestra seats will be on the level of the stage, like where an orchestra would be. It is surprising that I did not know this but I guess I never really gave it much thought until that moment. The stage set was very elaborate and depicted a very messy Irish home with old prints and Catholic religious paintings on the walls. The piles of boxes and the big mess actually looks a lot like my living room which is a disaster. So the stage set looked extremely realistic to me and I always appreciate the illusion this creates. They were playing a nature tape of ocean sounds over the sound system and this practically put me right to sleep since it was like listening to a relaxation tape. I get up at 5:30 a.m. to make a bus trip to New York City and when I finally enter a quiet, darkened, air-conditioned theater after running around a bit, all I want to do is sleep. I really need to find someplace to get a cup of coffee before the play begins. As it was, I could barely keep awake for this play even though I wanted to drink in every minute of it.

The big draw for this play was the appearance of Matthew Broderick in a role. I probably would have gone to see this play anyway, since the Irish Repertory Theatre is now my favorite theater in New York City, but it was an extra thrill seeing Matthew Broderick on stage, in the flesh, only a few feet away from where I was sitting. Matthew Broderick played Mr. Lockhart, the sinister character who may be the devil. At times he displayed the proper menace, but at other times he seemed on his guard, as if the other rough characters were making him a little nervous. But I suppose that could be appropriate for a successful gentleman playing cards with a bunch of rowdy working people. He was a bit out of his element. Sharky was portrayed by the actor Andy Murray who had considerable stage presence himself. Although you might imagine a complete loser while reading the play, Sharky came across as somebody tough enough to face the devil.

The playwright Conor McPherson is one of the most successful Irish playwrights of the day. He does seem to have a gimmick in writing plays with a supernatural element, but his work still manages to have some literary qualities. However, I thought the literary value of  The Seafarer was very slight, resting on the redemption of a man who doesn’t have much to live for or any direction in life. Otherwise the play would come perilously close to be purely of entertainment value as a tale of weird fiction. This brings up a point I was trying to make in a previous blog post. I expect a play to have some literary value. There is not much point in writing a play except as a stab at literary glory. And there is not much point in going to the theater to see a play unless it has some literary merit.

Once the play was over, I didn’t really have anything else planned but I now know my way around New York City well enough to kill some time in a productive fashion. I took an F line train back uptown and got off at 42nd Street, Bryant Park Station. After taking a few photos around Bryant Park I walked all the way to the Drama Book Shop where I bought three books; The Cherry Orchid by Anton Checkhov, translated by Stephen Karam, Speech & Debate by Stephen Karam, and Smart People by Lydia R. Diamond. I only got one stamp on my Acting Edition Club card because only the Samuel French playscript was an acting edition. After making that purchase I went to the Last Rites Gallery which is only a few blocks away. That was when I discovered that I forgot to put an extra camera battery in my pocket. I left all my extra camera batteries in my shoulder bag which I left on the bus. Fortunately I only took 97 photos on this trip so I did not need to replace the battery. At the Last Rites Gallery I saw the crochet artwork of Caitlin McCormack. But since this was the ever ghastly Last Rites Gallery, the crochet work was ghastly in nature too. This artist crocheted bat skeletons, snake skeletons, and human skeletons. It was a very clever concept executed quite well. I’ve made it a habit to visit Last Rites Gallery because you are guaranteed to discover something weird and morbid on its walls. Next I went to Shake Shack on 8th Avenue for a bite to eat before the long bus ride home. Going to Shake Shack proved to be a thoroughly miserable experience. The restaurant was super crowded. Although there was not a long line to get in, things were pretty crowded in the restaurant and there was no place for you to sit down to eat. I got into a line to pay with cash and ordered a single Shakeshack burger and a coffee shake. I was given a restaurant pager, those little electronic devices that buzz and flash lights when your order is ready. The pick up counter was so crowded that you needed one of these devices to alert you that your food was ready. After I got my to go order I walked all the way to the One Worldwide Plaza which is a public plaza with tables and chairs. It is the perfect place to bring food you bought else where but it did prove to be further from Shake Shack than I thought.

My arthritic knee did not bother me much on this trip because I can dull the pain with just an aspirin. In two weeks I will be going to Boston for a two week vacation and that may prove to be more problematic for my bad knee.

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The Gaspipe One Act Play Fest 2018 Review

On Sunday April 22, 2018 I drive down to Lewisburg to see the Gaspipe One Act Play Festival for 2018. I chose this date to avoid driving home in the dark and to give myself a little time in Lewisburg. Although the shows did not begin until 2:30 p.m. I left at 1:00 p.m. It takes a half hour to drive to Lewisburg so that left with an hour in town before I went to the theater. I parked on a side street to be nearer to the theater and thereby avoided a parking meter. First I went to the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University Bookstore where I bought a paperback book of The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. I was tempted to buy a book of poetry after finding they had an entire shelf devoted to poetry, but I decided to go with a smaller book. After doing that bit of obligatory shopping I went to Vennari’s Pizza on Market Street where I ordered a slice of pizza and a Pepsi. This cost me only $2.50 or so and has become sort of my routine when in Lewisburg to see a play. I took a few photos while I was in town just to make the trip worth my while but I have already documented Lewisburg pretty thoroughly.

Vennari's Pizza

Vennari’s Pizza

The Gaspipe One Act Play Festival is supposed to feature the work of local playwrights and I even submitted a play to them this year but my play was not accepted. This really disappointed me because I thought it would be a shoe in and serve as the introduction of my work to the local theater community. But I channeled my emotions into more writing. In fact, I spent most of Saturday writing another 15 minute play for a more important playwriting competition. This competition was for a New York City theater company which does plays as audio podcasts. They offer three prizes which are actually a decent amount of money. Wining first prize would probably be a big deal since they are based in New York City and utilize top Broadway talent as voice actors. The play I submitted represents my new effort to charm the audience with whimsy and fantasy and a great metaphor. I wrote it exactly as I conceived it, meaning it turned out just as poetic as I imagined. I am always pleased when I give form to my imagination that faithfully. In many respects I just happened to write something that fit the requirements of the playwriting competition so I think it has a good shot.

There were seven short plays performed for the Gaspipe One Act Play Festival. I was tempted to skip it in a huff but I was curious to see what sort of work they did select. The first play was “Will Work For Food” which featured two homeless men debating the kindness of the public. I thought it was slightly predictable but generally well done. The next play was “The Lesser of Two Evils”. Amusingly, part of the set fell over before the play could begin and the actors had to put things right. It was a large bureau which fell over scattering things on the floor. Naturally the audience found this pretty funny. Unfortunately, the two actresses in this play did not speak loudly enough so I could barely make out what the play was about.

The third play was “Isn’t That Just Like Us?” by Allan Bates. This play was infuriatingly tedious since the concept seemed to be nothing more than the amusing miscommunication between a doddering old couple on what to get out of the refrigerator. This involved frequent trips across the stage, back and forth, back and forth, in a shuffling gait that kept you waiting for the next line of dialogue. The next play was “The King-Anning” which was probably the best play of the lot. It was a charming scene of the King of Saxony flirting with the proprietress of some sort of archeological curio shop.  Then there was “Where’s This Train Going” which was another predictable subject, the New York City subway play. Since I visit New York City often and have gotten pretty used to the subway, this play benefited from my pleasant associations with riding the subway. This play had a surprise ending which was effective because the actress was totally believable as an innocent tourist.

The sixth play was “The One” by Laurie Knitter. The scene was a dinner date with a man who disputed basic math, insisting that 2 plus 2 equals 5. I thought this was a good subject since people are getting more and more dogmatic to the point where we can’t even agree on the basic facts of reality. However, this play could have been based on a more serious example than simple addition.

The final play featured the largest cast and seemed to be the major effort of the festival. “The Court of the Chaos Queen” was written and directed by Ben Hartman who also introduced every one of the plays that evening. So this was definitely a local playwright. I couldn’t quite follow the action of the play, but it seemed to be about a group of villains plotting to assist the Chaos Queen in stealing a man away from his girlfriend. I liked the Chaos Queen who was dressed in a cape and what might have been intended as a super hero outfit.

Over all the plays were mostly comedies which seems to be the case in most one act play festivals. This may be due to the fact that it is hard to establish a tragedy in only fifteen pages, while a short comedic scene is certainly possible as a skit. But there did not seem to be any point to any of the plays which I imagine were written to flesh out a good idea. The writers did not seem to have anything to say. I try to always have something important to say because there is nothing worse than producing something which you grow cool to. Once you become indifferent you no longer care what happens to what you have written. The danger in writing something that does has something to say is that you will be more disappointed when it is rejected.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Before I left Lewisburg I located a Civil War obelisk and took a few photos of it. This was the last landmark in Lewisburg which I had yet to see. It wasn’t much to look at but I did spend a lot of time looking at Civil War monuments in Gettysburg so it reminded me of that. Before going home I stopped in at Burger King and ordered a Whopper and a milk shake as a reward for doing my cultural duty.

This Saturday I will be going on a bus trip to New York City to see Matthew Broderick in The Seafarer by Conor McPherson, at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Now that is what I am really excited about.

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Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike Review

On Friday evening, April 20, I saw Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike by Christopher Durang at the Community Theatre League’s Moyer Studio. I have read this play so I already knew the story. Christopher Durang is a famous playwright who teaches playwriting at the Juilliard School. He is best know for his spoofs of classic plays like For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls, one of my favorites. Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike is an imaginative and more elaborate spoof of the plays of Anton Chekhov. I have written my own spoof of a Chekhov play, Three Sisters, which I mashed up with Macbeth to produce Three Weird Sisters. It is only a 15 minute play but I think I was pretty clever in how I merged those two plays. I submitted it to a playwriting contest but it may seem too derivative.

Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike is also interesting for being set in Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. The Bucks County Playhouse is located in Bucks County, obviously, and they did produce this play in 2014. The play is probably set there because Bucks County is a popular area for Broadway performers to retire to when they have become successful enough for a country estate. I think Moss Hart, playwright George S. Kaufman and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein lived in Bucks County, back when they were alive of course, and Dorothy Parker’s house is mentioned in the play as the location of the costume party. I have visited Doylestown and New Hope in Bucks County.

The stage design for this play was the most elaborate set I’ve seen at the Moyer Studio and the play also required more costumes. It starred Susan Guinter as Sonia, an actress I have seen many times over the years. She is probably the most active actress in Williamsport.

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