A January 2006 trip
to Massachusetts by notso62
Quote: I have been to many special events in and around the Boston area-some planned, some by accident. All were fun :).
Attraction | "Blue Man Group: Tubes"
No one could accuse the Blue Man Group of not having a sense of humor and wit. From how they deal with late entries, to the use of teleprompters in non-traditional ways, these Blue Men are pretty entertaining. They are probably too sarcastic for children under 15 to understand, but are pure fun for adults.
The basic premise of the Blue Man Group is three guys that dress in completely black suits and paint their bald heads and bare hands bright blue. They pretend that they are from another planet and they might as well be- not speaking at all and acting as if the most ordinary things like Cap'n Crunch and Twinkies are the most unusual things that they have seen. It is fun to see them discover our Newfound World.
The Blue Man Group's visual effects will dazzle your mind. Thier synchronized drumming, dancing and spraying phosphorescent paint in a black-lit environment is very visually pleasing. Their finale (no spoilers here) is unlike anything I have witnessed and involves a great deal of audience participation. You won't be snoozing in this show- even if you have too much to drink at the Charles Street Playhouse's on-site bar.
Perhaps the most understated part of the Blue Man Group's show is the great physical talent of the actors involved. Not only do they synchronize everything to music and so that visual effects are maximized, they also have a certain degree of underrated talents. What underrated talents you ask? How about catching 27 marshmallows in your mouth as they are thrown across the stage one by one- not ever dropping one or taking time to chew and swallow. Not only is that what I consider an underrated talent under normal circumstances, the presentation of these talents makes for an excellent show.
Tickets to the Blue Man Group can be obtained at the Charles Street Theatre box office or 1/2 price the day of the show at a Bostix kiosk around Boston. Advanced seating reservation is recommended- they sell out quite a bit.
I highly recommend going to the Blue Man Group if given the opportunity. For those that don't mind a little splatter- sit in the orchestra section designated "the poncho section" where patrons are given a raincoat to minimize clothing damage. Audience interactivity is fun and you will leave the theatre feeling like you did more than just watch a show- you participated in your own entertainment!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 6, 2006
Blue Man Group at Charles Playhouse
74 Warrenton Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Attraction | "Museum of Fine Arts- Americans in Paris"
I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of Impressionist or post-Impressionist painting from Europe in the late 1800s. My mom is a huge fan and a museum member though, so we ended up going to this exhibit upon her last visit to Boston. I was pleasantly surprised by this collection-the masterworks are beautifully displayed within three categories-outdoor spaces, portraits, and paintings which the artists painted once they got back to the United States after obtaining their Paris influences.
Most paintings in this collection were featured in the prestigious "salon" in Paris when they were first publicly debuted. Paintings from the "salon" were thought to be masterpieces in their own right and were snatched up by collectors for lots of money. A far cry from the typical "starving artist", Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent actually lived the life of typical upper-class Parisians; though they were both American by birth.
My absolute favorite painting in this collection is "Madame X" by Sargent. It is amazing what a controversy this painting caused when it first debuted 100 years ago (since it's subject was an American who was thought to have beaten the Parisian women at their own game). There she stands, haughty, beautiful and larger than life. It really is quite a lovely painting to see in person-pictures do not begin to capture Madame's attitude in its entirety.
Also on display are several other very famous works by the artists- "Whistler's Mother" (the woman wearing black in a chair facing left), "Woman in a Pearl Necklace", by Mary Cassatt, and Sargent's interpretation of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. All of these paintings exhibit lovely impressionism and post-impressionism styles and are excellent pieces to examine in detail. Brushstrokes and little things that go unnoticed in prints seem to stand out in the MFA's gallery setting.
Tickets to the exhibition should be purchased ahead of time (either online or by phoning the ticket counter at the MFA). The exhibit typically sells out on busier days and weekends. When you purchase tickets, they give you a specific viewing time to ensure that traffic through the gallery is not too much at any one hour. Tickets are about $23 a person and include general museum admission. An audio tour is also available for $5 a person and is highly recommended.
If you enjoy these kinds of exhibitions at the MFA, you may want to consider becoming a member. Each family membership comes with exhibition tickets for one event during the year. It turns out to be an excellent value, and then you can save on even more museum cost items like the dining and parking.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 17, 2006
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Attraction | "Harpoon Brewery- Harpoon Festival "
The Harpoon Brewery is located in South Boston's Marine Industrial Park on the Fort Point Channel. Most days, the brewery is a typical manufacturing environment with your occasional factory tour. Large hoppers of hops and other fermentation ingredients stand around the plant ready to produce the famous Harpoon beer. All the Harpoon beer you can purchase nationwide is brewed here or in their Vermont facilities.
On the days of the Harpoon Fests, the Harpoon Brewery is transformed from a manufacturing environment to a gathering place. They typically set up several large tents (heated for the Winter-month's festivals) and stages for live entertainment. They emphasize the season's new brew (IE. the Summer has IPA), but have booths offering Harpoon's other varieties as well.
Admission to the Harpoon fest is usually about $10 and includes a souvenir pub glass. Once you get your glass, tokens to get beer at one of the stands must be purchased separately (last time it was $2.50/drink). You give a token to your brew-tender of choice and they fill or refill your glass.
Lines to get into the Harpoon Fest are always very long, but tend to be lighter earlier in the day. Once you're inside, the beer lines are also very long- but at least they have live entertainment in the form of a band as you wait.
Harpoon Fests always have a large crowd- not a good place to go if you're the slightest bit claustrophobic or you prefer not to have beer spilled on you (it is almost unavoidable). Still, for the 20-something crowd there is a magnetic attraction to these festivals. The Harpoon Brewery sounds like a strange place for a major social gathering, but that is what makes these festivals so fun. They offer a very laid back environment perfect for mingling and meeting up with different friends.
If you're in Boston on the weekend of a Harpoon Festival and think that it sounds the slightest bit fun, I would definitely recommend checking it out. You can find more information about upcoming festivals at www.harpoonbrewery.com . For extra discounts on admission to the festivals you can join the brewery's "Friends of Harpoon" network through their website.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 20, 2006
306 Northern Ave.
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Clarkson only has one Division 1 sport and that is hockey- every weekend when there was a home game when I attended school there my friends and I would go and cheer on the team. I get nostalgic for these hockey games every now and then; making it very lucky for me that they play Harvard on the road.
Last year's game, Clarkson and Harvard had set up a special section for Clarkson alumni that wanted to attend the game. Tickets for Harvard's rink are $12 a piece for adults and could be reserved through Clarkson's alumni website for the special section. It was nice to be seated near several familiar faces.
Harvard's hockey rink is fairly small with not a lot of the amenities that you may find at newer college hockey rinks. The seats are old fashioned, the concessions a bit tired and the establishment itself is set back out of the way (behind the football stadium). Still, the Harvard fans fill the space and you are guaranteed a good seat in the house anywhere you sit. Not all bad.
Harvard's hockey rink is easily accessible by public transportation (I believe a bus route or two run right by it). Parking is difficult near the rink but not impossible.
Though Clarkson lost the last game I attended in 2005, Clarkson's alumni association and Harvard's public relations department did a very nice job to make sure a nice experience was had by all. I would highly recommend attending a hockey game here if you are a fan of either Harvard or the visiting team. I could not ask for a more convenient way to fill my nostalgic hockey craving.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 21, 2006
Harvard-Clarkson Hockey Game
Harvard Hockey Rink
Attraction | "Celtics Game at TD Banknorth Garden"
Binoculars are a pre-requisite for the cheap seats in the TD Banknorth Garden. They seem like they are miles away- I felt as if I were watching the game on a very far away TV screen when I tried to concentrate on the court. The jumbo-tron offered better perspective, but I don't like having to go to a live sporting event only to watch another television perspective. Sigh... such are the problems of basketball bargain hunters. For $10 though, it's the best sports bargain in Boston (with Red Sox and Patriots tickets always ringing in over $100 a pop).Players for the Celtics in recent times have not put on a very good show for the home crowd - and such is reflected in the empty stands and cheaper ticket prices. With very few playoff appearances in the last few years, it seems as if the Bostonians have given up on their once-beloved Celtics. Most have learned to concentrate on baseball, football or even hockey. Stars like Larry Bird are no longer, but I still enjoy the occasional game in the TD Banknorth Garden just to see what the new roster holds. Though not a place of nostalgia like the old Boston Garden, hopefully one day this place will be treasured if the Celtics were to ever win a championship again.
For those of you Celtics fans like myself that like to enjoy a cold beer at the game, make sure to bring your passport if you are from outside of Massachusetts and there is the chance you could be mistaken as being under 21. I had the unfortunate experience of not having my Connecticut license accepted - thus left to wallow soberly in my Celtics misery. Not my favorite experience at this venue, but I have learned for future visits.The TD Banknorth Garden is a very nice facility with modern amenities like luxury boxes, dining options, and appealing lights, sounds and visual systems. It is a large venue - able to seat over 30,000 people. Unfortunately it is overly big for the unpopular Celtics, but hopefully someday this will change. The Banknorth Garden is convenient to both subway and commuter rail lines so transportation to events could not be easier. Parking in the area is tricky and should be avoided if at all possible to utilize the public transportation.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 26, 2006
226 Causeway Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Hotel | "Dane Cook: Vicious Circle"
If you don't know who Dane Cook is, chances are that you are not in your late teenage years to early thirties. His humor is very popular with the Generation X/ Y crowds. When he came back for his tour wrap up and HBO special taping in the TD Banknorth Garden, I was very surprised by how young most of the audience was that was in attendance. I would have to say that the average age was about sixteen- though in my opinion Dane's off-colored humor is not meant for kids.
Dane's show at the TD Banknorth in August of 2006 was unlike any other he had probably done up to this point. The stage was in the middle of the arena and the audience circled Dane as he delivered his act in 360 degrees. This was also probably a bigger audience than he usually plays- comprised of some 25,000 people.
The setup at the Garden was not a good one if you were stuck up in the nosebleed section like I was. The large jumbotrons that circled the stage above Dane had their screens obstructed by other lighting and sound equipment- and these also obstructed the view of the stage so there was no way you could see the act. The sound was too loud and Dane's voice sounded grating and annoying at times.
Dane's performance otherwise was probably not worth the ticket price. It seemed like he was milking the audience for applause- just for the simple fact that he was on stage and famous. He was not very funny, and his act seemed random and dragged on for over two hours. There were times when he would just walk around the stage for a minute waiting for the fifteen-year-old girls to cheer for him. Such behavior was unexpected and slightly disturbing- I had heard his comedy albums before and did not expect his to be this unfunny.
When the show aired on HBO, I was wondering if they would cut it down and make it funny. In my opinion, it wasn't funny the second time I watched it either so it wasn't just the stuffy environment of the Banknorth Garden nosebleed section that effected my opinion.
If you ever have the chance to see Dane Cook live, I would do so with caution. Firstly; make sure the venue that you are seeing him in will not attract masses of high schoolers that could possibly detract from the performance. Secondly; see Dane in a smaller venue where he will not be prone to sucking up too much audience adoration.
I still believe Dane Cook has potential to be funny; hopefully fame has not changed this and this show was just an off night.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 30, 2006
TD Banknorth Garden
100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114
Attraction | "Patriots Game at Gillette Stadium"
Because the New England Patriots are so popular amongst the locals, tickets to games are almost impossible to get. Tickets go on sale for home games in May and typically sell out within ten minutes for the whole season. Season tickets waiting lists are years long and expensive to be placed upon.
Online scalpers may be your best bet for games that you absolutely "need" to see in person, but you may have to auction some vital organs in order to be able to afford seats in the lower levels (going rate is about $300/ticket - even more expensive for popular games). For cheaper seats, the upper deck has several options, but you may not want to sit up there if you are at all scared of heights due to the steepness of the seats. Standing room is also a cheaper option, but is still around $100/ticket without any guarantee that you'll be able to see. What a racket!
Prices aside, Gillette Stadium is truly a nice place to take in a game if you are a Patriots fan or even if you're cheering for one of their contenders. Like other state-of-the-art stadiums of today, seating is not too uncomfortable, aisle layouts are spacious, and the concession stands offer anything you may want to eat or drink. Several chains like Starbucks and McDonald's have even made their way inside the stadium and set up shop. It seems sometimes like an outdoor mall instead of a football game.
Parking at the Stadium during game days is quite expensive (around $50/car). For cheaper options, park in one of the parking lots on Route 1 on your way to the stadium that offers $20 parking. It may be a hike, but you'll get out of the game's traffic quicker too after the game is over.
The Patriots fans are a passionate bunch, so if you go to Foxborough and aren't a fan be forewarned. Myself, I am a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, so for the game between the two teams I decked out completely in Lions paraphernalia. The Pats fans (including my boyfriend) gave me such a hard time that I had to cover up my Barry Sanders jersey with a jacket by the end of the first quarter. I guess there's something to be said for loyalty, even if it does manifest itself in rabid team pride. I nonetheless enjoyed my experience at Foxborough and would recommend it to anyone that is lucky enough to obtain tickets!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 12, 2006
1 Patriot Place