Sunday, August 28, 2016

In the Belly of the Feast

August in New England, and you know what means - the Feast of St. Anthony in Boston's North End, one of Andrew's Holy High Days of the calendar year, because, you know, more Italian food than even a growing 23-year-old can devour.
In case you haven't experienced the glory that is the Feast, a little background, straight from the event's website: the tradition of honoring Saint Anthony of Padua dates back to the early part of the 20th century and the large numbers of Southern Italian immigrants that reached America.  Hundreds of thousands of poor European immigrants flooded the northeastern United States, and in Boston, many settled in the North End.  They brought their customs and traditions.  Legend has it that a group of men from the small mountain town of Montefalcione, Avellino, just east of Naples in the Campagnia region of Italy founded the Feast.

And since 1919, as in done in Montefalcione on the weekend of the last Sunday of August, the people of the North End celebrate the Feast of Saint Anthony himself.

The Feast features parades, marching bands, floats, an Open Air Mass with the veneration and the individual blessing of the Relic of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of finding things or lost people.
First up for food was one of Andrew's favorites, bruschetta and toast.
We opted for a healthy start with a fabulous caprese salad
Ever since our first excursion down to the Feast in the 1980s, one of the staples of our visit has been the incredible cherrystone clams that many of the vendors put forth.  This year, it meant the first tasting ever for both Andrew and Brennan.  Mike, as he is wont to do, smothered his in the hottest sauce available (more on that later).  The rest of us opted for the standard cocktail sauce.
Seriously, you can't live in New England without having experienced one of these gems at least once in your lifetime.  You've been put on notice.
Moving on, it was time for Pizzeria Regina, some of the North End's most famous pizza
An interesting addition this time around was Wild Bill's soda carts.  Buy yourself a mug and keep refilling it all night with birch beer, sarsaparilla, root bear, creme soda or black cherry soda.  We availed ourselves of just about all the flavors.
Mike indulged himself in a bottle of hellbazing Chelsea fire hot sauce.  The guy can drink shots of the stuff.  He may have sweated a bit for his efforts.
Brennan held his own with a chicken parm sandwich
And so the sun sets on another Feast.  No pics of the cannolis, those came home with us.  Couldn't score them at Modern Pastry or Mike's, though, as the lines were out their doors and around the corners.  But we made out just fine at one of the street vendors.
The festival still runs through today, so if you've got a free Sunday in front of you, head on down!  And grab a cannoli for us, won't you?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Galumphing with the Jabberwocky

Today's blog post comes to us courtesy of guest blogger John Piekos, writing from the island of Martha's Vineyard, home to many an E Streeter running milestone this new millennium.

Take it away, John:

E Streeter Nation  laced them up this weekend for a worthy Vineyard cause.  Camp Jabberwocky caters to people with disabilities, and this weekend held its annual 5K road race starting at the Farm Institute in Katama section of Edgartown.  You can find out more about the Camp and what it does here: Camp Jabberwocky

Historians may remember that two years ago, Karen won her age group in this storied race.  This year, though, we were unaware of when the race actually was!  Due to "Park Here for 5K" signs, we realized at 8 a.m. that the race was happening, and started at 9 a.m.!  Unphased, we rushed to the start, with Karen running from our house to the start, a robust 1.2 mile workout, while I biked ahead to register.
In the pre-race corral, Karen is in the zone
There were close to 300 participants!  And yes, when the starting gun went off there could be heard the traditional shouts of Carlooooooooos.
The 5K was flat and fast, with people running on the bike path and road.  Karen took the early lead over John, who came out of running retirement (Read: injury, out of shape, gone fishing) for the event.
It was a hot one as turned the final corner on the dirt road finish.
John and Karen posted for a post-finish picture n front of the famous Jabberwocky Bus.
Karen placed second in her age group, with a sub 26:00 performance.  Unfortunately, the registration process was a nightmare (wifi failed, paper registrations delayed results) and she does not yet appear in the official results.  Miraculously, I broke 30 minutes.  All in all a great day for a great run and a great cause.

Thanks, John!

 And with that, we leave you with the words of the Jabberwocky himself, via Lewis Carroll!

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
      And the mome raths outgrabe. 

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! 
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun 
      The frumious Bandersnatch!” 

He took his vorpal sword in hand; 
      Long time the manxome foe he sought— 
So rested he by the Tumtum tree 
      And stood awhile in thought. 

And, as in uffish thought he stood, 
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, 
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, 
      And burbled as it came! 

One, two! One, two! And through and through 
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! 
He left it dead, and with its head 
      He went galumphing back. 

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? 
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy! 
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” 
      He chortled in his joy. 

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

Friday, August 12, 2016

MermaidMan, Miller, Davros and DuffMan, - Boston Comic Con 2016

The temperature outside hovered around the 100 degree mark, and inside the Seaport World Trade Center, it was even hotter, for a variety of reasons.
Boston Comic Con 2016 is here for the weekend, and apparently it's no longer the best kept secret in the New England comic book world.  At least judging by the THOUSANDS who packed into the sprawling complex for Day One on Friday.  I can't even imagine what today's crowds are going to look like.
Right up front, just as you enter the expo, you'll be greeted by the folks from a local comics shop, Larry's Comics of Lowell, where variant covers abounded!
And yes, as you can see, Boston Comic Con also runs on Dunkins
Beyond the comic books and collected trades, some of the more interesting items you can find at the tables include off-the-beaten-path artist posters spotlighting both comics and pop culture icon shows.  And yes, I did indulge.
I first met Mike Cassidy in the fourth grade of St. Margaret's School in 1973.  He was a kindred spirit, it turned out, as he was also a comics collector.  I was into Marvel, he, DC.  We found a middle ground, and 43 years later, we're still walking the beat at the Comic Cons and representing with our comics swag together.
If you're a fan of Lego, you HAVE to see the customized collections of figurines for sale
Mid-day, Mike and I headed to a DC Comics panel, to hear from comics legend Frank Miller, on a panel with writer Brian Azzarello, and hosted by DC Publisher Dan Didio.
The majority of the panel focused on the pair's recent work in the Dark Knight series, another sequel to Miller's groundbreaking Batman series from 1986, upon which the recent Batman vs. Superman movie was based.  By the way, Miller's take on that movie?  He really liked Wonder Woman.
Afterwards, Mike and I went up to thank the creators for having put pen to paper to publish the books we've enjoyed over the decades.  As you can see, one of us is a tad more adept at capturing those encounters on film than the other.....
Outside the conference hall, I was slightly stunned to run into MermaidMan himself!  Sadly, Barnacle Boy was nowhere to be found.
MermaidMan and Barnacle Boy UNITE!
And hey, what's a convention without an appearance from DuffMan?

That's a mug you don't want to chug!
Bumped into Nick Laganas' favorite Mandalorian Bounty Hunter as well
And yeah, I'll confess.  Probably the coolest moment of the convention for me was a chance to step inside the Tardis.  It was a special moment in Timey-Wimey for me.
Davros, however, wasn't too pleased to see the blue police box parked nearby
Not happy with this year's Presidential candidates?  Don't worry, Comic Con has an alternative answer for you. This would be a Force to be reckoned with if you're in the market for an evil Empire.
Heading back later this weekend with the rest of the Rat Pack.  God only knows who we'll bump into during that tour of duty!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Get Your Comicon!

This weekend, the Holy Grail of comic book events makes its triumphant return to the Bay State as Boston Comicon comes back to the Seaport World Trade Center, giving us geeks a three-day smorgasbord of all things comic books, TV and movie fandom, and provides for the most outrageous cosplay (costume play) you'll find anywhere outside of the American Revolution re-enactment on Patriots Day morning in Concord.
So as the extended Spartans spend the next few days charging up for the event, I figured it would be a good chance to revisit last year's Comicon, pics of which never made it to ye Wicked Good Blog.
Before heading in to Beantown, it was a group shot for the Magnificent Seven, with Brady cosplaying as Bandit, Johnny Quest's dog.
Inside the hall, we immediately saw a tee-shirt promoting a candidate for President we could all get behind.  Except, for, you know, Tony Stark and the Red Skull.
Speaking of whom, nice to catch up with Cap and Peggy Carter in person.
Andrew, channeling his best Daily Bugle photog Peter Parker, seemed befuddled by the split-face tee exposing his secret identity for the world to see.
And there, walking the floor was the star of the night, who actually spent time with STAN LEE HIMSELF!!!!!!!!!  Shea and her dad Sean were there as VIP guests of the godfather of all things Marvel.  She quickly set upon casting a Scarlet Witch spell on the rest of us.
Gamora and Starlord took a break from Guarding the Galaxy long enough to pose with us.
When he wasn't busy setting off a Civil War, the Winter Soldier was an okay joe.
This Vision was worthy to carry Mjolnir, if only for his kick-ass synthezoid hue.  It didn't hurt that I happened to be wearing a tee-shirt depicting the Vision's first ever comics appearance (also one of the first comic books I ever remember buying at the tender age of 4.) 
Russell couldn't make it, so Andrew stepped in to give Mr. Frederickson the thumbs Up. 
Clan Nicholson got down with Up too
And then it was time for the headline moment of the night for the boys.  Their chance to meet the Undefeated Gaul and Deathstroke himself, Manu Bennett.
If you've ever hesitated to hit guest star tables for fear of meeting one of your celebrity faves and not digging him/her in person, this guy put those fears aside with a slam dunk.
Simply put, the guy could not possibly have been nicer to the boys.  He spent an inordinate amount of time talking about filming both the TV shows Spartacus and Arrow, his workout regimen, the action scenes - you name it!  AT NO POINT did he try to rush the boys off!
Ben got his autographed photo, which still hangs proudly in his Sanctum Santorum
Then it was time for greeting his brother warriors
This year's guest feature Captain Kirk himself, who I had the opportunity to interview in person
at last year's Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum
He's a blast - don't miss the chance to chat him up!
Also featured are, among others, Doctor Who companions and buds, Clara, Amy Pond, and Captain Jack, along with a host of others from DC's TV shows!
For the real lowdown on the show, visit its website here:

So there you have it, a quick tour around the floor of Boston Comicon 2015. Check back here next week for pics from the 2016 edition!  We'll see if we can surpass last year's photo greatness!