Monday, February 24, 2014

Here Are Five Good Reasons Why I Love New England

I love New England, and specifically, Boston. I’m not entirely sure I could live anywhere else - although my husband is determined to convince me otherwise by the time he retires.

There are so many reasons to love New England; it hardly seems right to limit it to five. But let’s give it a shot.

1.  We Have Actual Seasons

This time of the year, I always find myself feeling a little jealous of people on the West Coast, or in Florida. (Did I really say “a little?”  Okay – a lot.)

That being said, I’m pretty sure that, should I ever actually move to a warmer climate, I will find myself missing the change of seasons. How could I not? While winter is not exactly my favorite time of year, fall in New England is something not to be missed. The autumn colors, the crispness in the air…these things are pretty majestic. 

Spring is pretty terrific, too. That slight moisture in the air around mid-April or early May, that signals the beginnings of the warm weather, never fails to thrill me.

Now, I will say, summer can be pretty hot at times – but hot weather doesn’t particularly bother me (hence, my love for Vegas, New Orleans and Aruba).

Winter, on the other hand, I have very little use for. I hate snow, and I despise ice. And I don’t even drive! I can’t imagine how much I’d hate it if I actually had to drive in it. I find the snow pretty for about 15 minutes, and then I just want it gone.

Where else can you get colors like this,
in the middle of a city, at a subway station?

2.  We’re Tough

I wrote briefly about the grittiness of New Englanders in an earlier blog. (Here.) We handled the Marathon bombings as only New Englanders could – by shutting down the entire city and hunting down the bombers.

We handle pretty much everything that way. Blizzard coming? Okay, well, drag out the shovels, take out your parka, and bring it on! Sticky, 95-degree days in August?  Well, what do you think public water fountains are for? Slow drivers? Your horn works, doesn’t it? And you do have a middle finger, right?

We pretty much take whatever life throws at us here, and we make the best of it.

3.  We Have the Best Sports Fans In the World

As I’ve already confessed, I am a Yankees fan. But that doesn’t mean I’m foolish enough to think Yankees fans can hold a candle to Red Sox fans. They can’t. No one is tougher on their athletes than Boston sports fans – and no one loves them more passionately, either. 

For six-plus years, Jacoby Ellsbury has been a fan favorite here. But I don’t think I need to tell you, his first plate appearance at Fenway as a Yankee this year will be greeted with the loudest chorus of boo’s since Johnny Damon’s defection. 

Ask Josh Beckett or Ray Allen how well we handle the transition of a player from current to former home team player.

The day Tom Brady retires will be one of the saddest days in New England history. No, not New England SPORTS history - New England history, period.

We may not have The House That Ruth Built, but we have one of the most revered baseball stadiums in the history of the game. And most of us still miss the old Boston Garden, rats and all.

During the pre-Super Bowl hype this year, I saw a news story where a reporter went out and asked people on the streets of Seattle to name players on the Seahawks. Pretty much nobody could do it. That is so inconceivable here, it’s ridiculous.  Not only could we name the players, we could also tell you their uniform numbers, their birthdays, their wife’s’ and kids’ names…I mean, really? Those people call themselves fans?

Beautiful Fenway Park

4.  Hey We Got Cul-cha!

Boston alone is home to two of the top art museums in the country, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and, of course, the Museum of Fine Arts. Both are amazing, though for sheer beauty, I do prefer the Gardner.

But we also enjoy some other, lesser-known gems as well. The Institute of Contemporary Art, also in Boston, is wonderful as well, but let’s not forget the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, the DeCordova in Lincoln, or the Peabody Essex in Salem.

In Maine, you can see an extensive collection of work by three generations of the Wyeth family at the Farnsworth. The Currier in Manchester, New Hampshire features Picassos, Matisses, and Georgia O’Keefes. Connecticut has something called the Connecticut Art Trail, which links 15 museums, art studios and art colonies. Hartford even boasts the oldest public art museum in the country, the Wadsworth Atheneum.

We also have some fine aquariums and science museums, beautiful old theaters, and, of course, some of the finest colleges and universities in the country.

So, yeah, we’re wicked “smaht” here, too.

5.  Diversity!

Sure, New England has a ton of cultural and ethnic diversity.  Here in the Boston area alone, we have a vibrant Chinatown district, the North End, our version of “Little Italy,” and various Irish, Jewish and African-American neighborhoods.  All of them feature lovely old homes, great restaurants, and tree-lined streets.  East Boston, which was once an extension of the North End, has become an exciting area for Latino restaurants and shops.

But when I talk diversity, I also mean geographical diversity.  In New England, you’re never very far from the ocean.  Seaside communities like Cape Cod are lovely and relaxing. But you can enjoy sophisticated metropolitan areas like Boston, Providence and Hartford, as well as upscale suburban locales like Wellesley, MA and Westport, CT, and lovely rustic areas in Vermont and New Hampshire. Two of the world’s largest casinos are not in Las Vegas, but right here in New England (Connecticut, to be more specific).

There you have it – five pretty good reasons to love this beautiful area of the country.

And I didn’t even mention the history!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Here Are Five Good Reasons Why “The Walking Dead” is The Best Series on Television

With “Dexter” off the air, Mike and I needed a new TV series to watch.  We settled on “The Walking Dead,” the zombie series on AMC.  We weren’t sure we’d like it, but we figured we’d give it a shot.
We’re hooked.

As I may have mentioned before, I am a horror fan (check this blog entry out).  Mike, not so much, but we both just love this show.  It’s about a group of survivors banding together to fight “the walkers,” as they come to refer to the zombies who seem to multiply exponentially each week.  Being human, they also end up fighting other groups of survivors, as well as one another.

The show has it all – good guys, bad guys, blood, guts (literally), beheadings.  Who could ask for anything more? 

So allow me to present the Five Good Reasons Why “The Walking Dead” is The Best Series on Television!

1.  The Show is About Zombies!

Unless you've been living under a rock the last couple of years, you no doubt already know that "The Walking Dead" is about a zombie apocalypse.  The amazing thing about that is, it still took me this long to watch it.  I've seen the original "Night of the Living Dead" a dozen times, and the various sequels and remakes as well.  I even saw "Shaun of the Dead" (which is really funny).  Heck, for that matter, I have "She's Not There" on my iTunes!  (That was done by The Zombies...I know, a stretch...)

Anyway, for my money, just the fact that the show is about zombies is reason enough to give it a shot.

2.  The Hero of the Show is Not Very Heroic

Rick Grimes, the small town sheriff who by default becomes leader of the group of surviving humans who make up the main cast of the show, is, well, sort of a weenie.  


He lacks the cajones  to confront his wife and "best friend," who are pretty obviously hot for each other.  

He absolutely sucks at making any sort of tough decisions.  Even his kid is tougher and smarter than he is!  But still, for whatever reason, the entire group considers him their leader.  Go figure.  It does make for some interesting stories, and it definitely breaks the monotony of all those shows where the leader is some sort of mythic, super-brave, super-smart hero.

Rick Grimes (and some Walkers, most of
whom are probably better leaders than he is)

3.  The Writers Are Not Shy About Killing People Off

It always bothers me when a movie or series about something like this shows all these people getting killed by the plague, or the vampire, or the serial killer, or the zombies...yet the core group all manage to survive.  It's just not realistic.  And when I started watching "The Walking Dead," I assumed I'd be seeing more of the same.

I was wrong.

This show kills off main characters on a regular basis!  I love it!  I don't want to give anything away to those of you who, after reading my blog, are understandably inspired to start watching the show, but suffice to say, don't get too attached to anyone in the group, because at any moment, they could become a zombie's dinner.

4.  This is Where All Those Strong Female Characters We Never See Are Hanging Out!

If, like me, you have always hated how reliant on the "menfolk" women tend to be in these sci-fi/horror shows, your disappointment is about to be abated.  This show is chock full of brave, smart, resourceful women!  From Lori Grimes (surprise - she's smarter and braver than husband Rick, just like, well, pretty much everyone else on the show) to Maggie to Andrea, there are more strong, interesting female characters than you can shake a stick at.  (And, by the way, I would not shake that stick at any of the zombies, it just pisses them off.)

For a long time, my favorite was Carol, the former victim of a wife-beating jerk who, once her creepy-ass husband is out of the picture, becomes the real leader of the group in a lot of ways.  Smart, tough and determined, she kicked ass week after week.

But then a new character showed up.  And that brings me to reason number five.

5.  Michonne

We had already become firmly addicted to the show when, at the end of the second season, a mysterious muscled and dreadlocked black woman showed up, toting a katana (have I mentioned Mike and I were both completely enamored of the Highlander series and films?) and leading around two chained walkers who've had their jaws and arms removed to prevent them from attacking her.  She saved one of the show's main characters, but was still oddball enough for both of us to look at one another and go, "what the...?"

But Michonne stuck around, not saying a whole lot at first, but instead speaking with her katana.  And man, is she good with that sword!

By the end of the third season, she was our favorite character on the show.  She is strong, smart, resourceful and absolutely fearless.  She's played with supreme perfection by a woman named Danai Gurira.  I know nothing about her, but she does an absolutely killer job.  The show is worth watching just for Michonne.

Michonne - the best female character
on television!

And there you have it.  The best series on television.  If you watch it already, you know.

If you don't - what are you waiting for?