I’m officially done with the AFI’s Top 100 film list! I didn’t watch the films in order, and I couldn’t have planned a better final viewing: Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.
I’ve watched a few of his other films, and this one is my favorite (so far). As I laughed out loud while watching it, I marveled at the fact that I was laughing out loud while watching it. This silent film that Chaplin produced 80 YEARS AGO was still funny and relevant and entertaining.
Chaplin plays a factory worker who has a breakdown caused by the monotony of being a cog in the industrialized machine. He gets himself into all kinds of comical scrapes, meets a girl, gets into more scrapes. Somehow he and his girl escape the scrapes and the film ends on a hopeful note.
I read that this film was supposed to be his first “talkie” but he decided to keep it silent to preserve the Little Tramp’s charming, childlike persona. Smart move.
If Chaplin were alive today, I wonder how he would poke subtle fun at the current society: even more industrialization, computers, smartphones, social media. He would have SO much good material.
I’m very grateful for Groupon, LivingSocial, and Gilt City, because they have helped me with the birthday list over the years. They bring to my attention restaurants that I haven’t been to, attractions that I’ve never visited, body care procedures that I’ve never heard of…
Such as eyebrow tinting. Am I the only one who’d never heard of this before?
I rarely wear any semblance of makeup, but I do like to get the brows waxed and get manicures and pedicures once in a while. I’ve been getting my brows waxed at my mani/pedi salon, Glo Studios, lately, and two visits ago, the technician asked if I had gotten my brows threaded before. I said, “Nooo…,” trailing off on an apprehensive/fearful note.
She convinced me to try it by explaining that it was better for the skin and didn’t leave big red welts. I’m a convert!
When I saw a Gilt City coupon for brow threading and tinting at my salon, I snapped it up. I didn’t necessarily want the tinting to draw attention to the fact that my eyebrows have nothing in common with each other (i.e., one is shorter and thinner, one is higher than the other), but I gave it a shot in the name of the birthday list.
I kind of liked the tinting. My brows were a bit darker and thicker-looking, but the difference was subtle enough that I was happy with the result. I have two more threading and tinting sessions left on the Groupon, so by the third try, I’ll decide if I occasionally treat myself to tinting in the future.
One of my favorite pastimes is seeing live music. I’ve often wondered what life would be like as a roadie. Different towns every night, sometimes the same songs played every night.
Well, I had a glimpse of the roadie life last month, when I saw Guster play four nights in a row.
I’ve never been to a concert four nights in a row before. By the third night, it was starting to feel like a job…but a very good job!
This was a special event, as Guster is celebrating their 25th anniversary and the venue at which they played (Paradise Rock Club) is celebrating its 40th. Guster chose this venue because they played there a lot when they were starting out, opening for bands such as Rusted Root.
Guster chose opening bands for the four-day revelry that they had a long history with, which was nice. I only knew of one: Steven Page, formerly of Barenaked Ladies. It was great to see Steven, whose voice has not aged a day. I was a big BNL fan in college but stopped following them after Steven went down the wrong path for a while. I haven’t listened to BNL in years, so I surprised myself by remembering the lyrics to the few BNL songs he played. And I lost my shit when I heard the first few chords of one of my most favorite songs ever: “Didn’t Mean to Break Your Heart.” It’s one of those songs that you play on repeat when you’re going through a breakup.
Anyhoo, on to Guster.
I had a great spot by the stage for Steven Page’s set. But then I had to go to the bathroom and was meeting a friend who was running late, so I lost my spot. This meant that I didn’t see 95% of Guster’s set. We walked around and around but could never even see a sliver of the stage. One tall guy took pity on us for the last couple of songs and let us stand in front of him.
Second Night: I was determined to get a good spot for Night #2. I nabbed a perfect spot in the balcony. A band from Northampton, MA, called And the Kids opened. They rocked it.
Each night, Guster did something a little different. I can’t tell you what they did the first night…but on the second night, they invited a cellist and violinist to perform on a few songs and they were a great addition.
Third Night: This was my favorite night because they brought out a wheel and determined the set list from wheel spins. This meant that a few lucky fans were invited on stage to sing karaoke style, Guster played half of a song at twice the tempo, and Brian sang the theme song to Cheers. The Bogmen opened and they were fun and rowdy.
I also met Brian for the third time before this show. Everyone who bought a four-day pass was invited to a meet and greet an hour before the third or fourth night’s show. Unfortunately, we weren’t let in until 40 minutes before the start of the show, so I wasn’t sure if I would have time to talk with any of them. But I did manage to say a quick hello to Brian and give him a gift that I had brought for him and the other guys.
Fourth Night: I secured a spot in the balcony again and stood next to a lovely couple with a teenage son whom I had been chatting with in line outside. They mentioned a few other Guster concerts they’d been to, and I kept saying, “I was there, too!” I felt a sense of community with these complete strangers because of these shared experiences we had years ago.
Wesley Stace opened, and I would love to know how Guster initially crossed paths with this British bloke. His lyrics were witty and I appreciated that he shared his vinyl purchases from earlier that day with the crowd.
I could tell that Guster was a little tired that night, but the audience didn’t care. After all, the lads had been running themselves ragged for four days: on top of the shows, they did an interview at the WGBH studio at the Boston Public Library, and they invited fans to bowl with them in Somerville and ice skate with them at City Hall Plaza.
The special guests that night were some brass players who performed on a few songs. They were also a great addition.
Guster ended the four-day hoopla with a fan favorite, an acoustic version of their song “Jesus on the Radio.”
There was a Guster Museum set up in the front bar all four nights. I spent a few minutes looking at the mementos on the third night as I left the show. I loved seeing the Guster Gazette, a printed newsletter that I have a few copies of somewhere, and a copy of a letter that Guster sent out to promoters when they were first starting out. AND a piece of paper with a bunch of potential band names = wow, some of them were terrible. I planned to look more closely as I left on the fourth night, but the museum was already packed up when I walked through.
In conclusion, it was an unforgettable experience and I hope that I’m a merch girl for a band in my next life.
I’ve lived in Boston for almost two decades now. Over the years, I’ve seen the Paramount in Beacon Hill on various lists of hot brunch spots. Every time I’ve seen it on a list, I’ve thought, “I should check it out.”
Well, I’ve checked it out. My friend Mary and I went on a weekday morning during the holidays. I was surprised to see how small the place is. Like, maybe 14 tables small. The restaurant has been open since 1937 and, probably because it is so small, it has always required patrons to order and pay for their food before sitting down.
“Wow, I had no idea…” I exclaimed as Mary and I stood outside in line. Mary had been before so she knew what to expect. When all was said and done, we waited in line for an hour before ordering.
I ordered a basic plate of eggs, bacon, and toast. It was solid, but would I wait in line for an hour for it again? Probably not…but I’m happy to have checked it off the “quintessential Boston” to-do list.
I love it when I can double up on birthday list items in a single day. The Paramount is close to Massachusetts General Hospital, where the Ether Dome was waiting for us.
The dome’s exact location was hard to determine from the map I found on the website. So we headed in the general direction and then asked some employees standing outside of a neighboring building for help. No one knew where it was, so they pointed to another employee who pointed to the building directly behind him.
It’s a very grand-looking building, named after its architect, Charles Bulfinch.
We wandered in the building and followed signs to the 4th floor. We didn’t run into anyone—staff, other tourists…it was kind of strange. We had the room to ourselves for a few minutes before two other tourists mosied in.
What is the Ether Dome, you ask? It’s the location of the first public surgery done with anesthesia (ether) in 1846.
It’s a lovely little amphitheater that is used for staff meetings today (and is a historical landmark open to the public when not in use by staff). It randomly houses a mummy and not-so-randomly a skeleton from the 19th century.
An intriguing little piece of history tucked away on the campus of one of the nation’s best hospitals. All of us should feel grateful that we were born after 1846. Can you imagine having surgery without anesthesia??
It’s the first week of February = four months left to complete 30 things. A little daunting…