Greyhound (PG-13)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

Tom Hanks is the captain of a Navy destroyer escorting ships across the Atlantic during World War II in Greyhound, a sleek, no-time-wasted naval action movie on Apple TV+.

It’s 1942 and Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks) is the captain of a ship codenamed Greyhound that, along with destroyers from the U.K. and Canada, is escorting a convoy across the ocean. Other than a brief flashback featuring Elisabeth Shue (which mostly explains that this is Krause’s first command and why he brought a pair of fancy slippers to war), the movie takes place over a 50-hour period when the convoy is outside the reach of Allied air support and is therefore particularly vulnerable to German U-boats. The destroyers are armed with a variety of submarine-sinking weaponry and more maneuverable than the convoy’s troop transporters, merchant ships and oil tankers.

In Krause’s first confrontation with a U-boat, he shows himself to be unconventional in his thinking but effective. Soon, Krause, his second-in-command Charlie Cole (Stephan Graham) and the captains of the other destroyers figure out that they are being followed by a “wolf pack” of U-boats that aren’t attacking the destroyers directly but sort of picking off boats here and there. As the hours wear on (and the Greyhound’s armaments are diminished), Krause subsists on coffee and quiet Tom Hanks worry as he tries to outlast the U-boats on the convoy’s race to the next air cover spot.

When it becomes clear that the destroyers will need help protecting the convoy, Krause asks Cole to plot the quickest path to a spot where airplanes can meet them, which Cole and his team do with, like, rulers and protractors and math. Greyhound is also full of a lot of “right full rudder all ahead two-thirds” type dialogue that is also presented in such a way that you can get what’s going on even if you can’t directly translate every naval command. Greyhound does a good job of conveying “people solving problems” and “people solving problems creatively” even if you don’t fully understand all the mechanics of what they are doing.

This movie, smartly, doesn’t waste time on any “nature of war” ruminations or even all that much filling in the elements of Krause as a person. (Or, perhaps the movie did all the adding dimension it ever planned to do with Krause by hiring Hanks; “a Tom Hanks-y character” is what we get and kinda all we need.) Greyhound, like the convoy’s destroyers, is at battle stations and focused on the immediate fight.

And that works. I think the moments when the movie tries to add a little something extra (the Shue scene, a bit of too-much-ness with radio transmissions from a German sub captain who’s all “we’re coming for you” and even throws out some wolf howls) are the least successful. Just show us a surfacing sub and a torpedo wake and a worried Hanks urgently but calmly ordering “left full rudder” and the movie is able to generate a perfect amount of tension and suspense. B

Rated PG-13 for war-related action/violence and brief strong language, according to the MPA at Directed by Aaron Schneider with a screenplay by Tom Hanks (based on the C.S. Forester book The Good Shepherd), Greyhound is an hour and 31 minutes long and available on Apple TV+.

Palm Springs (R)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti become stuck in “one of those infinite time loop situations that you might have heard about,” as Samberg’s character explains, in Palm Springs, an enjoyably goofy rom-com.

Sarah (Milioti) is less than delighted about doing her maid of honor duties at her younger sister Tala’s (Camila Mendes) wedding in Palm Springs. But then a charmingly doofy Nyles (Samberg) shows up. They have some laughs, make out a bit — and then Nyles is shot with an arrow. He freaks out and runs away, a confused Sarah follows the wounded Nyles into a cave and suddenly she is sucked into a glowy light and — wham, she’s back in bed the morning before the wedding.

She finds Nyles and he explains: they’re stuck in a time loop, one he’s been in for an extremely long time (at one point, she asks him what he does for work and he seems to have genuinely forgotten). No matter what happens during the day, once he passes out (or dies), Nyles wakes up back in his hotel room and the day resets. Sarah takes some convincing. She drives nonstop to Texas, she attempts to balance the karmic scales (with a “selfless” act that’s actually sorta mean) and she drives into an oncoming truck (Nyles suggests unbuckling so she dies fast; the day resets but pain is real, he says). Eventually, she comes to terms with the situation and she begins to hang with Nyles, enjoying his existence of day-drinking and burritos. For Nyles, Sarah’s presence starts to give his life stakes and something to look forward to; for Sarah, her feelings toward Nyles start to push her to find a way out of the loop.

This movie hangs on Milioti and Samberg — are they enjoyable to watch individually and as a couple? The answer is yes and thus the movie works; it’s no more complicated than that. All the time stuff hangs together well enough to serve as a platform for their stories and their relationship. One could argue that it even sort of works as a metaphor for the movie’s take on love — everybody lives in their own time loop but you can choose to spend yours with somebody, which will change what you get out of life. But, it also doesn’t need to be that deep. If you just want a story about likeable goofuses plopped in sunny weirdness and their quirky romance, Palm Springs supplies that with laughs and moments of sweetness. B+

Rated R for sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence, according to the MPA at Directed by Max Barbakow with a screenplay by Andy Siara, Palm Springs is an hour and 30 minutes long and available on Hulu.

Eclectic eats

Bistro 603 to open soon in Nashua

A new eatery coming soon to Nashua, Bistro 603 will offer an eclectic menu of scratch-made appetizers, entrees, cocktails and weekend brunch items when it opens in the coming weeks.

Owner Jeff Abellard and chef Jason Duffy refer to its environment as upscale yet casual. Both men are part of a close-knit restaurant team that has run Bistro 781 on Moody Street in downtown Waltham, Mass., for the past five years.

Bistro 603, Abellard said, is nearly double the size of its Massachusetts counterpart, with bar seating, table dining, an outdoor patio and space for two private rooms. The menu, while similar to that of Bistro 781’s, remains diverse, ranging from small shareable plates to larger meals with optional wine pairings.

“You can have a special dinner with your family … or you can just sit and have a drink with your buddies at the bar,” said Duffy, who has more than two decades of experience in the kitchen. “Anything you want to do here, we can accommodate you.”

Appetizers will include seafood options like fried oysters, clams and crab cakes, as well as potato and ricotta mushroom gnocchi, sweet and spicy barbecue rubbed chicken wings, and steak bomb spring rolls served in a Parmesan peppercorn dipping sauce. The menu is further divided into sections for salads and bowls, for burgers and sandwiches, and for tacos.

“We do a Cuban sandwich, a quinoa burger, and a burger with fried oysters on top of it that’s delicious,” Abellard said. “We also do what we call a Crunch Wrap burger, so it’s actually a burger with a crunchy taco shell around it.”

Tacos will be available with either braised pork belly, braised short rib, tuna tartare, batter-fried haddock, or as vegetarian options with either crispy cauliflower or sauteed vegetables. In addition to house and Caesar salads, there will be a strawberry and watermelon salad; a Mediterranean grain bowl with grilled artichoke and hummus; and a seasoned street corn bowl.

The larger plates will include several staples, like the seafood paella with chicken, chorizo and shellfish; the braised short ribs with potato and ricotta gnocchi, truffled mushroom cream sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts; and the steak frites with smoked tomato chimichurri. There will also be a number of pastas, all made in house, like the Bolognese with veal, pork and pancetta and the sauteed chicken fettuccine with white wine garlic cream sauce.

A separate brunch menu will be available every Saturday and Sunday, according to Abellard. That will include several savory options like omelets, Benedicts and breakfast sandwiches. Other featured items will be the short rib or duck hash with eggs and challah toast; and the shrimp and grits with chorizo, aged cheddar and bacon and sweet pepper relish.

Some of the more notable changes specific to Bistro 603’s menu, Abellard said, have to do with the weekly specials it will feature, as well as its beers and wines. There will be almost twice as many lines on draft, with more options from New Hampshire breweries. A complete brunch cocktail menu of mimosas, espresso martinis and other drinks will be available too.

Two dining areas within the restaurant — one small room and one larger room — are separated by large sliding wooden doors. Abellard said that while tables in these rooms can be reserved for private parties or functions, they’ll be otherwise open to all diners.

“If you’re just having a small little get-together, you can use the smaller room … or, if it’s a larger party, you can open it up and kind of share both rooms,” he said. “We’d also like to build a night crowd … where we bring in some acoustic music, and we’ll have a late night menu.”

Bistro 603
An opening date is expected in the coming weeks. Visit the website or follow them on social media for updates.

Where: 345 Amherst St., No. 1, Nashua
Hours: TBA
More info: Visit, find them on Facebook and Instagram, or email owner Jeff Abellard at

Your backyard animal adventure

Hovering hummingbirds, colorful salamanders, the occasional porcupine and more neighborhood wildlife

Curious about the wildlife you’ve seen during your neighborhood hikes and backyard hangouts? Rebecca Suomala, a biologist for New Hampshire Audubon, and Lindsay Webb, wildlife educator for New Hampshire Fish and Game, shared fun facts about 22 birds, insects, mammals and reptiles you might see in the nature around you.

By Matt Ingersoll & Angie Sykeny


Blackpoll warbler
Most likely seen during the summer into early September, especially in spruce-fir forests
“Blackpoll,” Suomala said, refers to the black cap of this bird seen in males, similar to that of a chickadee or a goldfinch. Blackpoll warblers are characterized by their white breasts, black streaks and yellow feet. They also weigh less than half an ounce. Beginning in September, these birds make long-distance migrations, flying non-stop over the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 2,000 miles before reaching their wintering grounds in South America.

Northern cardinal
Most commonly seen at lower elevations
According to Suomala, the northern cardinal is the only species of cardinal you’ll find in North America. Over the past several decades the species has extended its range farther north, and it’s now found almost everywhere in the Granite State except in higher elevations. Males are bright red with a fat red bill, while females are a brownish color with red highlights and an orange-red bill. The northern cardinal is a year-round, non-migrating resident of New Hampshire.

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Most likely seen during the summer into early September
At around three to three-and-a-half inches long, the ruby-throated hummingbird, Suomala said, is the smallest bird that can be found in New Hampshire. It makes its home in the Northeast in the summer before migrating to Central America in the winter. Males have a bright red throat with feathers that are reflective in the sunlight. These birds feed on nectar from honeysuckle plants and cardinal flowers. According to Suomala, this hummingbird’s wings can flap up to 53 times per second and its heartbeat rests at 250 times per minute. A male can go into a dive at more than 60 miles per hour.


Green darner dragonfly
Most likely seen in your backyard if you live on or near a body of water
Green darners are among the largest dragonflies you’ll see in the Granite State, growing up to three inches long, about the size of a hummingbird, with a wingspan of another three inches, Suomala said. You’re most likely to see them around water — these dragonflies migrate to the north in the spring and south in the fall. Females will typically lay their eggs on vegetation in or near the water. In its nymph phase (or larva phase) it lives entirely underwater, feeding on insects, tadpoles and small fish, before the dragonfly emerges out of the water as an adult.

Luna moth
Not likely to see them often; your best chances are at night, or around big lights, in June or July, when the adults emerge from their cocoons
These bright green moths, according to Suomala, are commonly known as giant silk moths because of their size, which can be as large as seven inches with a wingspan of four-and-a-half inches. They used to be very common in New Hampshire, but their population has since declined. If you live in a city you’re less likely to see them, because the caterpillars feed on trees like white birches and hickories. Caterpillars will eat all summer before they spin a cocoon, where they spend the winter before emerging in June or July.

Monarch butterfly
Very likely to see them at the peak of summertime and into the early fall
Monarch butterflies are characterized by their large orange and black markings. According to Suomala, they spend their winters in Mexico, but the same butterflies don’t make it all the way back up north. In fact, it takes about three generations for them to return to New Hampshire in the summer. The caterpillars feed on milkweed and eventually make a chrysalis, which takes them about 8 to 15 days to hatch from.

Large mammals

Black bear
Common, with an increasing population throughout New Hampshire.
Black bears are omnivores, eating with the seasons whatever they can find. “They have a great memory and sense of smell, so keep your trash locked up tight and reduce other bear food sources such as pet food, bird seed, and keep your grill cleaned up and secured,” Webb said.

Sightings have been on the rise in recent years, especially in the southern part of the state
According to Webb, the bobcat gets its name from its “bobbed” tail, which is shorter than the tails on most domesticated cats. The average length of a bobcat tail is around six inches but can reach up to 10 inches. A mother bobcat may raise a litter of two to four kittens in the spring. Elusive and lovers of solitude, these nocturnal feline predators are always on the hunt for rabbits, squirrels, mice, chipmunks and birds, Webb said, adding that they can swim and have little hesitation going into the water in pursuit of their prey.

Reside throughout New Hampshire, but are most commonly seen in the northern part of the state
Moose are active all day but do most of their moving around in the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler. They’re also, according to Webb, “pretty good swimmers.” “They love to feed on wetland plants and will dive down under the water to get at aquatic vegetation,” she said.

White-tailed deer
Common throughout New Hampshire in a variety of habitats, such as fields, farms, neighborhoods and woodlands
Though white-tailed deer prefer to hide out in the woods, they often make an appearance along woodland edges of towns and cities and in many farming communities. “In the summer, you may be lucky to see a fawn curled up in some tall grass or in a hidden spot in the woods,” Webb said. “Don’t be alarmed; this young one is not abandoned. Fawns are left alone for long periods of time while their mother goes off to feed and lead predators away, but she will come back for her fawn.”

Reptiles and amphibians

Gray treefrog
Much more likely to be heard than seen
Despite their name, gray treefrogs have the ability to change their color to match their background, from black to almost white or even a greenish-gray. Suomala said you can identify them by their trilling call at night. They are year-round natives of New Hampshire, hibernating underground. In fact, about 40 percent of a gray treefrog’s body can freeze — it can survive freezing temperatures by producing its own glycerol that’s circulated through its bloodstream and vital organs.

Painted turtle
This is the most commonly found species of turtle in the state
You can find painted turtles statewide, anywhere there are ponds. They reach a maximum length of just over seven inches; according Suomala, their sexual maturity is determined by the length of their shell, not by how old they are. Males require a length of at least three inches before they can reproduce, whereas for females, the required length of their shell is about four inches. If you see a turtle moving away from a pond, don’t move it in the direction of the water; Suomala said this is because female turtles are moving toward an area with sand or loose soil to lay their eggs. Painted turtles are also year-round residents of the Granite State, hibernating below the mud in the bottom of ponds.

Red eft salamander
Most likely found in damp, rainy conditions
Also known as the red-spotted newt, this amphibian has two different stages, according to Suomala — a water stage where it is characterized by its olive-green color with red spots, and a land stage, where it’s a bright orange-red color. You’ll most likely see them on land if you’re walking on a trail just after it has rained, she said. The female will lay its eggs underwater. Once the salamander reaches the land stage, it spends the rest of its life that way, for about two to three years.

Small mammals

Common throughout New Hampshire in ponds, lakes and other wetlands
“If you’re lucky to have a lake or pond in your backyard, beavers might be a common sight for you,” Webb said, adding that, if you see one beaver, a whole family, consisting of anywhere from three to eight beavers, probably isn’t too far away. They can be difficult to spot as their dark brown fur blends in well with dark water, but there is “no mistaking the ‘slap’ of their tail when they feel threatened,” Webb said. Beavers leave a lot of clear evidence of their presence, including chewed stumps along the edges of bodies of water; stick dams that hold back water, creating deeper ponds; and stick lodges that extend down into the water. They may also build their lodges on islands or along the shore.

Eastern chipmunk
Common throughout New Hampshire, in woodland edges and forests
Though similar to squirrels, chipmunks can be differentiated by their size — they are a bit smaller than squirrels — and by their coloring, which includes brown fur with black and white stripes that run down their backs. According to Webb, chipmunks also have extra skin in their cheeks, allowing them to expand their mouths to carry more food back to their burrows. They often build their burrows at the base of a tree or under a stone wall. In the winter they spend most of their time sleeping, waking up every few days to eat from their stockpile of food. In a good year, when food is abundant, chipmunks can produce up to two litters of pups. “If you see a lot of chipmunks this year, you can bet that food availability was really high the previous year,” Webb said.

Eastern cottontail
Common in southern New Hampshire, often seen nibbling on clover and grass in backyards and parks
Eastern cottontails have multiple litters a year. In New Hampshire, they can have up to four or five. The mother cottontail builds a small shallow nest in the grass, well-disguised, with dead fern leaves covering the hole. “She only visits [the nest] a few times a day, so if you find a nest of kits — baby cottontails — just leave them be,” Webb said. “They are not abandoned; their mother will be back soon.” A rarer species of cottontail, the New England cottontail, can also be seen within a smaller range, restricted to the southern part of the state.

Eastern gray squirrel
Common throughout most of New Hampshire in woods and neighborhoods with plenty of deciduous trees
While gray squirrels have, as their name implies, mostly gray fur, there can be some variations in color. “Melanistic gray squirrels are black in coloration and albinistic gray squirrels look white,” Webb said. “Sometimes, small localized populations of black squirrels show up and persist for a few years. Gray squirrels often bury more acorns and seeds than they can recover, facilitating seed dispersal and resulting in the growth of many new trees every year.

Most likely found in forested areas
Fishers — or “fisher cats,” if you prefer — are not actually cats. According to Suomala, they’re part of the mustelid (or weasel) family, with brown fur, a long tail and a pointed nose. They have a reputation for emitting a loud, caterwauling scream. But in reality, Suomala said, this sound is more likely made by a fox, while fishers are generally silent, instead occasionally making low chuckling or hissing noises. They’re the only animal in the state that regularly targets porcupines.

North American porcupine
Most likely seen in forested areas, at night
One of nearly two dozen species of porcupines throughout the world, the North American porcupine is found throughout New Hampshire. According to NH Wildlife Journal, a publication from New Hampshire Fish & Game, porcupines are large rodents covered in around 30,000 sharp quills. These quills, Suomala said, are hollow hairs with barbed tips made of keratin. Some people believe porcupines have the ability to shoot or throw their quills. In reality, Suomala said, this is not the case, although they can raise their quills in self-defense. Porcupines are nocturnal animals that feed on woody vegetation. They do not hibernate in the winter.

Common throughout New Hampshire, in wetlands, woods, farmlands and neighborhoods
Raccoons often do their food hunting, with much success, in human-populated areas and claim their den sites under porches and sheds. In fact, raccoon populations tend to be higher in cities than in their natural woodland and forest habitats. “Raccoons have easily adapted to the presence of humans and will gladly check your trash can for scraps of food,” Webb said. “[If] you’re battling a raccoon family this summer, keep your trash locked up tight or store it in a secure building instead of outside.”

Red squirrel
Common throughout New Hampshire in forests with plenty of coniferous trees
“These chattery squirrels are quick to let you know when you are bothering them with their red bushy tails raised, announcing themselves with loud trills, chatters and chips,” Webb said. Surviving on food they stashed during the winter months, the squirrels often forget to dig up all of their hidden seeds and nuts each year, which then grow into trees.

Especially likely to be found if you have a garden in your backyard
Not to be confused with moles, voles are small rodents that are experiencing a population boom in New Hampshire right now, according to Suomala. They look similar to mice, except they have smaller eyes and smaller ears. Voles are a nuisance in backyard gardens and orchards, but are actually a key food source for large birds like hawks and owls, as well as foxes and coyotes, she said. There are two types — meadow voles, and pine voles, which are slightly smaller, lighter in color and have a shorter tail than meadow voles. One female vole can produce four to eight litters per year, Suomala said, with about five young per litter.

Signs of Life 20/07/16

All quotes are from The Friendly Persuasion, by Jessamyn West, born July 18, 1902.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) Eliza always said Labe never put a foot out of bed until he heard her start to scrape the gravy skillet. Don’t eat gravy for breakfast.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) The town blazed under the July sun; it throbbed with the heat of the season — and the heat of fear and excitement and wonder and resolution. At first Josh thought it was as alive as he had seen it for an August fair or Fourth of July celebration. Outdoor dining is nice.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) This hour, this house, this season. All was as it should be. It was one of those contented peaks a woman reaches and clings to. Not a thing clamoring to be done, not so much as a piece of lint beneath the hired man’s bed to keep the mind from resting. … The sitting room was like a welcoming hand: chairs saying, Sit and rock; flower saying, Sniff and smell. Eliza sat and rocked. She rose and sniffed and savored. She did not see that anything could be bettered. Ahhhhhh.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) Jess pined for music, though it would be hard to say how he’d come by any such longing. Put your favorites on repeat.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) No horse had ever looked so much like traveling and had traveled so much like standing still. Save a horse, ride a bicycle.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Jess leaped down into the cellar, took the box, turned it round and round. ‘An old-timer,’ he said. ‘A box of the kind they used to carry maps and deeds in, a place of safe-keeping for what was treasured.’ Is your smartphone charged?

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) Eliza shut the door firmly behind her and heard no more. She sat again in the sitting room, she rocked … but she got no pleasure from it. Perfection was a hollow thing after all. It’s an illusion.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) Old Lafe was not a man to hold a grudge and Eliza hadn’t burned his only hat. He was soon back, wearing, so far as Eliza could see, the egg container’s twin, ready to further instruct and edify. There’s always another hat.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) It was an in-between time: afternoon bygone, night not yet come, neither summer, nor fall. You can make of it whatever you want!

Aries (March 21 – April 19) Eliza lifted her breakfast bell to ring, then let arm and soundless bell drop to her side. She felt a profound reluctance to disturb in any way the morning quiet. Avoid chaos.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) But the day she rode through was more to Mattie than her destination. The roses smell nice.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) Enoch was instantly equipped, for the most part, with feelings on every subject. Feelings can change.

The Music Roundup 20/07/16

Dance night: While pulsing music can’t be experienced on a packed dance floor, Velvet Rope offers a socially distanced night of rhythm sensations. Presented by talent collective Pangea, the evening promises deep house and tech with four DJs (a resident and three guests), and ample space to dance. It’s the first in what they hope will be a regular series of events; the next is set for July 24. Friday, July 17, 9 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester,

Fiddle time: One of the busier musicians during quarantine, Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki frequently brought his wife and kids to online shows, which provided many charming moments. The fiddler extraordinaire and his trio play an outdoor show that’s part of a Concert on the Lawn Series. Tirrell-Wysocki excels at Celtic-Irish music, but his talents range across the spectrum, and he sings, too. Saturday, July 18, 6:30 p.m., First Baptist Church, 201 North Road, Brentwood,

Folk affair: While the venue remains idle, Bank of NH Stage is hosting shows, including Kimayo, a singer, songwriter and activist. The al fresco performance happens in a Concord park. Kimayo released her debut album Phoenix last year and is readying a follow-up LP. Fellow folkie Guy Capacelatro praised her talents, saying her set was “a wallop of sound that was delightfully delicious.”​ Saturday, July 18, 6 p.m., Fletcher-Murphy Park, 28 Fayette St., Concord. Tickets $10 at

Let’s rock: Popular local cover group The River Band plays a free show, one of many in a midweek concert series that wraps up the Wednesday before Labor Day with Eric Grant. Upcoming events include 60’s Invasion (July 29), B Street Bombers (Aug. 5), Oxford & Clark (Aug. 12), Studio Two playing Beatles songs (Aug. 19) and Billy Joel tribute act Cold Spring Harbor (Aug. 26). Wednesday, July 22, 7 p.m., Milford Recreation Department, 1 Union Square, Milford,

Music that matters

Alternate Routes performs at Tupelo Drive-In

Crisis is often a catalyst for great art. That’s been true twice for Alternate Routes — a few years back the band, fronted by the songwriting duo of Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly, addressed the epidemic of gun violence with “Somewhere in America.” Featuring lyrics by Donnelly, it crystallized the issue by melding the personal and political, without judgment.

Now, as the country endures a pandemic, the pair have delivered a song that fit the moment perfectly. “If I Ever” is a meditation about standing at the brink and vowing to come back with purpose — loving more, worrying less, and facing life’s demons. “I’m gonna be better,” Warren sings in a high lonesome voice. “Because I’m gonna be grateful … if I ever get out of this.”

“If I Ever” wasn’t exactly new. Warren said in a recent phone interview that “bits and pieces of it have been around” for a while. He sent an old demo to producer Chris Ruggiero to buff up, then had Donnelly lay down subtle but essential guitar to build on the rough home recording.

“That’s when it definitely was an Alternate Routes song,” Warren said. “After that, we didn’t do much to it. We just were like, ‘OK, this is cool, here we go’ — then we just put it out.”

It’s the video made to accompany “If I Ever” that lifts the song to a higher plane. Shot at dawn in New York City in its early days as Covid-19’s epicenter, it’s both beautiful and harrowing. The frame fills with socially distanced joggers, a delightful 8-year-old girl named Daisy, encountered during filming, dancing fluidly, and shots of vast empty streets. It ends with frontline workers sharing encouraging words hand-lettered on signs: “If I can feel hope so can you” and “I’ve learned the power of communicating with my eyes.”

Creating the video was a very moving experience for Warren.

“It was such a desolate scene there in Brooklyn,” he said. “Moments on the bridge where there was nobody but us, the police officers sitting there, and a few other people jogging by, I’ll never forget it.”

It came together quickly and was released in early May.

“That’s why I wanted to do it,” Warren said. “We finished the song in the pandemic, and we put it out during the pandemic, and that’s really what it sounds and feels like to me.”

An upcoming duo show at Tupelo Drive-In is their first since before lockdown, and may be their final performance of the year.

“I’m glad we’re going to be able to get to do one,” Warren said. “I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I’m not sure how many of them we’ll be getting to do before we ring out 2020; I just don’t know.”

Other projects will suffice for the well-traveled band. Warren is hungry to make a new album after releasing a series of singles — “It seemed like a good fit for the way people were putting music out over the last couple of years, but for me that pendulum is swinging the other way.”

Both are focused on family. Donnelly and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter, in March, while Warren and his wife are expecting their third in September.

Such activity makes another project nearing completion even more exciting: their call to community, Nothing More will be published as a children’s book, with drawings by Mae Besom. She’s best known for illustrating Kobi Yamada’s What You Do Matters trilogy.

“This woman is really brilliant, and I can’t wait,” Warren said.

With its anthemic chorus “we are how we treat each other and nothing more,” the song became a phenomenon. It played during the 2014 Olympics closing ceremonies, and the band has performed it at hundreds of schools, while receiving requests to use it at hundreds more.

Warren and Donnelly hope to take it even further.

“We’re going to try to put together a choral music package … together with ‘Somewhere in America’ and a few other songs that can create a dialogue in schools amongst kids learning music, about some of the social stuff that’s spinning around the world right now,” Warren said. “That feels like important work, you know?”

Alternate Routes
Thursday, July 23, 6 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Drive-In, 10 A St., Derry
Tickets: $20 per person (restaurant), $75 per vehicle at

The Old Guard (R)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

Charlize Theron is an immortal warrior in Netflix’s The Old Guard.

Andy (Theron) leads a small team — Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) — of sorta-immortal fighters. Andy has been around for millennia, Booker “died” the first time fighting in the Napoleonic wars, and Joe and Nicky fell in love after killing each other during the Crusades. Fighting in battles big and small throughout history, these immortals heal and come back to life every time they’re “killed” — though, we’re told, eventually their time will be up.

Mostly they’ve stayed hidden but a man named Copely (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an ex-CIA agent, has figured out their abilities and sets them up for capture. His intentions aren’t so terrible, maybe, if you don’t think about it too hard: he wants to bring them to petulant hoodie-wearing biotech bazillionaire Merrick (Harry Melling) for study so that their regenerative abilities can be used to heal disease and injury. But Merrick is clearly evil so what are the odds this experiment will just be a peaceful gift to humanity, as Copley intends?

As the group is on the run from Merrick, they get a psychic alert that there is a new immortal: Nile (KiKi Layne), a U.S. Marine recently killed in Afghanistan. Or she appeared “killed” but then healed — freaking out her squad mates. Andy sets off to find her and explain her weird new powers to her before the U.S. government or anybody else can ship her off to a lab.

In addition to the problem of Copley and his motivations (he is presented as a basically good, smart guy, though his initial actions undermine this), The Old Guard has, for me, a structural problem: the “Episode 1” trap. This movie feels so intent on setting up a series of movies that it piles up exposition and slows down the action. The Old Guard does a lot of filling us in — about characters or plot points that are clearly meant to pay off in the future — that doesn’t necessarily add to a fuller understanding of this story and that is a drag on the progress of this movie.

Near the movie’s end, when we get well-choreographed action and characters making decisions, I could see what this movie was and I enjoyed the world this had all built. But all the “TV pilot” business weighed the movie down.

These problems aren’t, however, fatal. I like the characters set up here. Much like in ABC’s Stumptown, another property based, as this is, on a Greg Rucka comic, The Old Guard has a good handle on how to create well-rounded female characters who feel like real people, not just one-dimensional Strong Ladies. The romance between Nicky and Joe adds much needed joy and humanity to the story. (They are a romantic-as-heck couple and it’s a treat to have something so swoony tucked inside an action movie.) Their scenes and scenes of Nile figuring out her new “eternal” status are good examples of the movie folding in heart and lightness without resorting to quippiness. (KiKi Layne, who I liked in If Beale Street Could Talk, holds her own next to Theron here.)

Did I immediately add The Old Guard graphic novel to my library request list? Of course. And the movie’s final moments set up a next chapter that I am eagerly awaiting. I just wish this movie could have been a little tighter and able to stand on its own. B

Rated R for sequences of graphic violence and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood with a screenplay by Greg Rucka (who created the comic book with Leandro Fernandez), The Old Guard is two hours and five minutes long and is available on Netflix.

Book Review 20/07/16

The Great Indoors, by Emily Anthes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 220 pages)

In any other year, a book about “the great indoors” arriving at the start of summer would seem strange, a publishing mistake.

In 2020, however, it’s perfect.

We’ve all been under house arrest, and whether you’ve enjoyed it or are one empty-toilet-paper-roll away from strangling your housemates, the quality of the experience may have much to do with the design of your house. Science writer Emily Anthes explains why, in what she promises is “the surprising science of how buildings shape our behavior, health and happiness.”

The average American, Anthes writes, spends 90 percent of his or her time inside a building, to include offices, stores, restaurants, gyms, theaters and everything else we’ve been missing during the pandemic.

Our love of the outdoors, it seems, is fantasy, or myth. Outdoors is rain and mosquitoes. Indoors, a fridge and sofa. If you’re like Anthes, “anxiety-prone and risk-averse,” you prefer to enjoy the outdoors from your window. But until recently scientists mostly concerned themselves with the environment outside the home rather than in it. But that, Anthes says, is changing, and new research is emerging on how the design of buildings affects our brains, our moods, our productivity and our choices; and how features of buildings, such as windows, affect our mental health.

Some of these findings are intuitive: “Warm, dim lighting makes schoolkids less fidgety and aggressive. Fresh, well-ventilated air boosts office workers’ cognitive function.” Some make sense upon reflection: People who live on the highest floors of a skyscraper are the least likely to survive a cardiac event. But some are simply surprising.

Take, for example, the idea that a more challenging environment might extend life.

One couple in Japan took this to an extreme, building a nine-unit apartment complex that looked “less like a home than an oversized carnival fun house.” The homes were designed to befuddle. They had circular living rooms with kitchens in the center, round studies, ladders that led nowhere and what amounted to speed bumps in the floor. The creators were artists who believed death to be “immoral” and thought it could be cheated and that brain-stimulating architecture was one way to do it. They also created “destabilizing” parks and single-family homes.

Unfortunately, they died, so there were limits to the couple’s genius. Their work could be dismissed as the legacy of passionate fools, but for this: Lab animals housed in stimulating, challenging environments live longer and are healthier than animals confined to boring cages.

And, as Anthes writes, it’s long established that challenges are important for human flourishing. “Start lifting weights, and your muscles will swell. Learn to speak a new language and your brain will sprout new connections.” So who’s to say that a living room with shocking colors and speed bumps on the floor won’t positively affect us like a wheel and maze will stimulate a rat?

But not all changes need to be exhilarating. Anthes writes about a neonatal intensive care unit in Rhode Island that was redesigned from the traditional crowded ward to single rooms equipped with sleeper sofas where the parents could stay instead of just visiting. The infants fared dramatically better in the family rooms.

Having convinced us that the right buildings matter, Anthes embarks on a tour of the great indoors, from her own bathroom, where microbes seethe in the showerhead, to redesigned school lunchrooms in New York City, to a community in Phoenix, Arizona, designed for adults with autism to live their best life. She also takes on the housing of the incarcerated, controversial for those who think prisons shouldn’t be humane. (“We should send fewer people to prison, and we should treat them better while they’re there,” Anthes says.)

And she examines two disparate types of housing: that of the most basic shelter, such as the sustainable huts made out of sandbags fastened together with barbed wire, which an Iranian-American in California invented (locking doors are made out of shipping crates), and the high-tech, Jetson-like homes of the affluent, which could allow more seniors to age in place.

But the Jetson-stuff is passe now. What is really cutting edge in buildings are “buoyant foundations” that literally allow homes in flood-prone areas to float when water rushes in. This is part of a new interest in “amphibious architecture” that will allow humans to stay near the coasts as the oceans creep in. Anthes admits that amphibious homes are “more of a curiosity than a bona fide building trend” and that’s unlikely to change in the U.S., as long as these structures are not eligible for subsidized insurance policies, as is now the case. Still, the possibilities fascinate.

In closing, Anthes takes on buildings in space — what it would take to build a village on the moon or on Mars. “The irony is that our continued existence may hinge on figuring out how to live in environments that are literally lethal,” she writes. You’d think there’d be no research to draw from here, but Anthes sniffed out people who are already designing space cities for a living, such as the CEO of a California company called Mars City Design. (True, it’s in California, and its website says to email the company for its research, so invest carefully.)

“Blueprints for the Red Planet” is the shortest chapter and the least fulfilling, filled as it is with speculation. But the rest of The Great Indoors is a solid and satisfying read, even if its title might induce a nap. B

You cannot predict elections by book sales, but if you could, President Donald Trump’s campaign should be worried.

The No.1 and No. 2 best sellers on Amazon last week were literary grenades thrown at the president: Too Much and Never Enough, a memoir by first niece Mary Trump, and The Room Where It Happened by former national security adviser John Bolton. Both portray the president as immoral and inept.

To find a conservative viewpoint, one that Trump voters would relish, you had to plunge all the way to No. 27, where Ben Shapiro’s How To Destroy America in Three Easy Steps sat three places above Sean Hannity’s Live Free or Die.

To be fair, Hannity’s book was No. 1 in the “elections” category, and it doesn’t release until Aug. 4. But that’s also the release date of Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun, which is Twilight from Edward’s point of view and everyone knows how it ends. It’s still selling like toilet paper (the new hotcakes), at No. 8.

There’s no good recent data that easily explains why there are more liberal/progressive titles than conservative in Amazon’s top 30. Occasionally, a study asserts that Democrats read more than Republicans, but a 2012 survey of GoodReads readers found that supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney read the same median number of books a year: 26.

If none of these appeal (and for the record, Hannity’s book appears to be nothing about New Hampshire), there’s a rollicking good time to be had in Scott Conroy’s Vote First or Die, which is actually about New Hampshire and its outsized role in the election of presidents. Published in 2017, it’s a whimsical look at the path to the 2016 election and a timely reminder of how we got where we are.

Also, new and notable this week isLet Them Eat Tweets, How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality, by political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.

Album Reviews 20/07/16

Jeff Cosgrove, History Gets Ahead of the Story (Grizzley Music)
This album is pretty niche indeed, combining a few things I tend to avoid (improvisational jazz, old-school classic organ, like, I mean right out of Lawrence Welk) with something I do appreciate regardless of setting, namely top-drawer musicianship. The story behind this (I assume) one-off is a bit convoluted; Cosgrove is a Washington, D.C.-based drummer leading a bass-free trio (himself along with organist John Medeski and sax player Jeff Lederer) in a tribute to bassist William Parker, who’s still alive. Got that? No bass playing in an album of tunes written by a jazz bassist (who, incidentally, played in a trio with Cosgrove until 2015). So, an odd duck indeed, but it gets odder; both Cosgrove and Parker love them some ad-libbing, so on the whole the record could be categorized as “skronk-coffeehouse,” if you will, a roller coaster ride of precision and spazzing. Some stellar organ-noodling on “Gospel Flowers”; adept modal sax things on “Moon”; even some noise on “Little Bird” (I had to double-check to see if a guitarist wasn’t messing around with pick-scraping in there or something; I still can’t guess what the sound is). Anyway, that; it is what it is. B — Eric W. Saeger

Skeleton, Skeleton (20 Buck Skin Records)
Debut LP from a crew of Austin, Texas-based guys who stalk a middle ground between old-time black metal and neo-street metal a la High On Fire. I have no idea why this isn’t more of a thing in the metal scene, but then again, any bunch of Air Max-wearing suburban dudes whose sole mission in life is impressing the barista girls at Starbucks knows that the quickest route to being able to brag that “we got a record contract” is to play some boring, pedestrian emo through a Mesa Boogie amplifier that’s been made wimpy and useless through too much processing. No, these guys have better riffing than any ’70s-revivalist band that I’ve heard lately (The Sword can sit down now), and it’s cut with Venom-style spazz-outs that keep listeners on their toes, or at least listening. I like everything about this one, but wait, there’s more, folks: the singer sounds like he ran out of enthusiasm for doing a scary-devil-guy Quorthon imitation the minute he got in the studio. A giant leap for mankind, in short. A+ — Eric W. Saeger

Retro Playlist

Erik W. Saeger recommends a couple of albums worth a second look.

With a new renaissance of thought and cultural realism dawning, I’m surprised that heavy metal hasn’t made a massive comeback. (Note that by “heavy metal,” I mean crazily angry music of a type that should, by all rights, be soundtracking the cultural transformations that are in the air everywhere, at least in an in vitro sense on social media.)

One of the things that may annoy you about me is the fact that I tend to ignore what’s happening in the area of “middle-of-the-road metal.” To clarify, that’s a pretty loose catchall I use to describe a wide range of bands, from mildly dangerous-sounding metalcore bands (Bullet For My Valentine, et al.) to nu-metal nonsense like Avenged Sevenfold. In contrast, my tastes gravitate to things that make Everymen feel their true power levels.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Like, for some, death metal peaked with Slayer (along with the 127,287,558 bands that sound like them) and it does the trick for them. Older folks just want some Black Sabbath. But for me it’s Ministry or bust. Their 1996 LP Filth Pig is an F5 tornado of rebellion; if you haven’t ever cranked that album’s “Dead Guy” to the point of permanent hearing loss, please do so now.

Zoomers, if you ever want to be as unstoppable as Greta Thunberg as a group, you need angry, uncompromising instrument-driven anthems, that is to say, riffs. Black Veil Brides is a cool band, but they’re literally too good in a politely melodic sense. Know what you really need, Gen Z? Sweaty fat guys with awesome, awesome guitar riffs, like Bachman Turner Overdrive. On their 1974 album Not Fragile, the title track may not have been the cleverest or most innovative use of a Marshall amp in history, but it’s perfectly conceived. The riff is exquisitely played; way past fed-up; boiling over with stubborn, overconfident resolve; and only really effective with the volume knob set to 11.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Email for fastest response.

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases
• The next traditional date for new album releases is Friday, July 17, and, as seems to be common these days, I must eat a few stupid words I said before. The Chicks’ new album Gaslighter is out on that day; it wasn’t released on March 4 as I previously reported. That was just the title-track single. It is a great song; otherwise there’s no way on Earth I’d have ever copped to this oversight, like, as if, and I blame anyway, so feel free to send hate mail to them, because it’s all their fault.

• I reviewed Gang of Four’s EP This Heaven Gives Me Migraine back in February, but guess what, there is another Gang of Four EP coming out, called Anti Hero, on the 17th. If you recall, and you probably don’t, I did like Heaven, even though it was just a bunch of reruns of past GoF tunes that Andy Gill wanted to get off his chest while he was dying of pneumonia. There’s a similar downer history to this EP, a short collection of the last songs Gill was working on from his hospice bed; the story is that he was working on new tuneage until the very last. The kickoff single, “Forever Starts Now,” is an above average post-punk song, with art-wave elements borrowed from Talking Heads. By now you’ve either made up your mind about the band or avoided them like the plague, so in honor of Gill’s memory I’ll just keep my wise mouth shut about this one.

• Like everyone else on Earth, The Pretenders have something to say about the unspeakable train wreck that is the current American sociopolitical environment, but since it’s Chrissie Hynde putting in her two cents, I’ll actually pay attention, because Chrissie is my rock ’n’ roll waifu, accept no substitutes. But wait, the band’s new LP, Hate For Sale, isn’t some sort of political statement, it’s actually a tribute to The Damned, because Chrissie thinks they’re awesome, which only means that Chrissie is even more awesome than ever before. HFS is their first release since 2016’s Alone, and guess what, the original release date was May 1, but then there was the coronavirus, and here we are, it’ll finally be out at Strawberries or Tower Records or whatever store’s open. Hey, wanna know something hilarious, of course you do, they were supposed to do a five-month tour this summer with — you’ll die, I swear — Journey, of all the bands in the world. To me, that’s the ’80s-rock equivalent of Imagine Dragons touring with Black Lips, but anyway the new single, “You Can’t Hurt a Fool,” isn’t a tribute to The Damned, it’s a ’60s-Motown-influenced chill song about being in a stupid relationship, or maybe a diss of J-Lo (listen to the words), I don’t know for sure.

• To close out the week, we have Florida band Surfer Blood, with a new album, Carefree Theatre! Like so many milquetoast-indie bands, despite their scary name, these guys specialize in, you know, milquetoast-indie, but the single “Karen” is kind of loud, a little bit, and would almost be art-rock if it didn’t sound like Death Cab For Cutie with their volume accidentally cranked. It would make a great closing song for a trite hipster movie about a bunch of hipsters who are on an endless quest for an unused pair of 1971 PF Flyer sneakers, and one of the hipsters smokes weed all the time, which hurts his chances for ever finding true love, except for maybe with the crazily shy girl who works at Whole Foods and likes Perry Como records, and then it thankfully ends. — Eric W. Saeger

Local bands seeking album or EP reviews can message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

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