Pavlovas with (or without) berries

Just under a year ago I shared a recipe for double strawberry pavlovas. Today’s recipe is its more simplistic sibling. Sometimes I want a pavlova that is bursting with strawberry flavor, and other times I want a pavlova as plain as can be.
When I was first working on this recipe, everything seemed to shout, “Since they’re vanilla, you’ll need to top them with berries.” So I made my first batch of pavlovas, macerated some berries, and served them together. The result was quite delectable.
Looking at the leftover pavlovas, I decided to eat one just as it was. I fell in love. Sure, it was just a simple vanilla pavlova, but there’s a lot of deliciousness in that. There are the great pavlova textures — crispy and chewy — plus all of the sweetness.
Make these pavlovas whichever way you prefer. You can’t go wrong no matter what you decide.
Michele Pesula Kuegler has been thinking about food her entire life. Since 2007, the New Hampshire native has been sharing these food thoughts and recipes at her blog, Think Tasty. Visit to find more of her recipes.

Pavlovas with (or without) berries
Makes 8

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 cup diced strawberries
1 Tablespoon sugar

Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Blend sugar on high in a food processor for 15 seconds.
Measure sugar again. (You need 1 cup)
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the processed sugar.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk on medium-high speed until foamy peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Gradually add plain, processed sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the egg whites, whisking until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.
Add cornstarch and sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until whites are stiff and glossy, about 1-2 minutes.
Add vinegar and vanilla; whisk for 1 minute.
Using a spatula, spoon meringue into 8 mounds on the prepared baking sheet.
Using a butter knife, spread each into 3-1/2″ disks.
After that, using the back of a spoon, make an indent in the center of each.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Turn off the oven, and prop the door open, placing a wooden spoon in the opening.
Let pavlovas cool in the oven for an hour.
Meanwhile, combine blueberries and strawberries in a small bowl; sprinkle with sugar.
Stir well; allow to sit for at least an hour
Transfer the pavlovas from the baking tray to a cooling rack.
To serve, top with berries, if desired.

Photo: Pavlovas with (or without) berries. Courtesy photo.

This Week 21/07/01

Big Events July 1, 2021, and beyond

Thursday, July 1
It’s a weekend of baseball! The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are in the middle of a run of home games at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (1 Line Drive in downtown Manchester; against the Portland Sea Dogs through Sunday, July 4. The games start at 7:05 p.m. Games Friday through Sunday will feature fireworks, including a “4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza” on Sunday.
The Nashua Silver Knights also have a game this weekend; they’ll play the Pittsfield Suns on Saturday, July 3, with the game starting at 6 p.m. See

Thursday, July 1
Kick off the weekend with some arts and music: the Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; 669-6144, holds its weekly “Art After Work: Free Thursday Nights” tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. when admission is free but bring money for food and drinks at the Winter Garden Cafe. Catch live music tonight from Paul Nelson. Advance registration online is recommended.

Thursday, July 1
Hear some live music in the fresh air. Rebel Collective, who describe themselves as a “New England based Irish/American pub, Celtic folk/folk-punk band” (according to their Facebook page), will perform tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Eagle Square in downtown Concord.

Saturday, July 3
Get some laughs this holiday weekend with comedian Mark Scalia performing tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Manchester (707 Huse Road; Tickets cost $20.

Sunday, July 4
Nashua will once again hold a Fourth of July fireworks, tonight at 9 p.m.-ish, according to the Nashua Public Works Facebook page. Holman Stadium will open its doors at 5 p.m. and there will be a Holman Stadium Hall of Fame presentation at 8 p.m., the post said. Food will be sold at the concession stand and from food trucks. Find more firework listings in our story on page 16.

Save the Date! Sunday, Sept. 26
Add the Capitol Center for the Arts (44 S. Main St. in Concord; 225-1111, to the list of venues filling up their fall schedules with indoor shows. Get tickets now to shows such as John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band on Sunday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. (tickets start at $49 plus fees), Eaglemania on Friday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. (tickets start at $35 plus fees) and An Evening with David Sedaris on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. (tickets are $49 plus fees).
David Sedraris. Photo by Ingrid Christie.

A Fourth full of fireworks

Communities plan Independence Day celebrations

Fourth of July fireworks are looking more promising this year. Concord, Manchester and Nashua are all planning fireworks events, and so are several other communities in southern New Hampshire. All events take place on Sunday, July 4, unless otherwise noted. All events are subject to change or cancellation, so check with the town before heading out.


Where: Over Newfound Lake

When: July 3 at dusk; rain date July 4


Where: Canterbury Elementary School (15 Baptist Road)

When: Saturday, July 3, at 9 p.m.


Where: Memorial Field (70 S. Fruit St.)

When: Approximately 9:15 p.m. The Nevers Band will perform starting at 7:45 p.m. Rain date is July 5.


Where: Suggested viewing along Tsienneto Road, Hood Commons, Folsom Road and Crystal Avenue

When: Dusk (approximately 9 p.m.)


Where: Set off at Garrison Hill Park, viewable from around the city

When: 9:15 p.m.


Where: Swasey Park (316 Water St.)

When: July 10, after 8 p.m.


Where: Hampton Beach (Ocean Boulevard)

When: 9:30 p.m.


Where: Hillsboro fairgrounds (17 Hilldale Lane)

When: July 10, 10 p.m.


Where: Weirs Beach and Opechee Park (915 N. Main St.)

When: July 3 at 11:59 p.m. at Weirs and July 4 at 10 p.m. at Opechee

The second annual Independence Day Boat Parade on Lake Winnipesaukee will take place at Weirs Beach from 1 to 4 p.m.


Where: Arms Park (10 Arms St.) and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (1 Line Drive)

When: At 9:30 p.m. on July 3 at Arms Park and after the Fisher Cats game on July 4


Where: Merrimack High School (38 McElwain St.)

When: 9 p.m.

The town is also hosting its annual Fourth of July Parade, which will feature bands, militia units, clowns, community organizations and more. This year the town is celebrating its 275th anniversary, so the theme for the parade is Celebrate Merrimack’s History – Past, Present and Future. The parade begins at the Commons Shopping Plaza (515 Daniel Webster Hwy.), then travels south down Daniel Webster Highway, onto Baboosic Lake Road, then O’Gara Drive, ending in front of Merrimack High School.


Where: Keyes Memorial Field (45 Elm St.)

When: July 2, dusk


Where: Holman Stadium (67 Amherst St.)

When: 9 p.m.

New Boston

Where: Hillsboro fairgrounds (17 Hilldale Lane)

When: 9:15 p.m.


Where: Leary Field (Parrott Avenue)

When: July 3, 9 p.m.


Where: Town Common

When: July 10, 9:30 p.m.


Where: Tuscan Village (72 Rockingham Park Boulevard)

When: July 3, 9 p.m.


Where: Sunapee Harbor

When: July 3 at dusk


Where: Town center

When: July 17 at dusk


Where: Windham High School (64 London Bridge Road)

When: June 30 at 9:30 p.m.; rain date July 1

In lieu of fireworks…
There won’t be any fireworks in Amherst this year, but the town is hosting a “reverse parade” at Souhegan High School (412 Boston Post Road) from 9 to 10 a.m. Clowns, cheerleaders, bands and more will be standing on the sides of a looped route, allowing people in cars to drive through the loop and wave.

This story was possible with the generous financial support of Hippo readers. Hippo is very grateful to have the support of its readers. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider a small contribution. Your contributions allow Hippo to write more stories and gets you access to additional stories and columns. 

The Music Roundup 21/07/01

Local music news & events

Folk romance: Named after a Cape Cod salt marsh, Crowes Pasture, the banjo/guitar duo of Monique Byrne and Andy Rogovin perform. Their most recent album, Slow It Down, was released in 2019 at Cafe Passim. Recently, they paid tribute to Bob Dylan with a gorgeous cover of his song “Forever Young.” They’ve also done elegant versions of Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” and “Is This Love” by Bob Marley. Thursday, July 1, 8 p.m., Whipple Free Library, 67 Mont Vernon Road, New Boston. More at

Adventure time: Amidst the zip lines, water slides and axe throwing, Sunday Ave will play an afternoon set of rock tunes. The southern New Hampshire trio debuted with the no-nonsense EP White Noise in 2019. They recently released a new single, “Friday Night Massacre,” which begins with a Peter Gabriel “In Your Eyes” vibe, then takes off into prog rock overdrive — Katatonia meets Metallica. Saturday, July 3, 1 p.m., Candia Springs Adventure Park, 446 Raymond Road, Candia, tickets $8 for music only.

Spy music:  Band From U.N.C.L.E. is led by vocalist Gretchen Bostrom with her Silvertone & Ms. G partner Steve Coveney on guitar, with Brian Cutler and Warren Mannell on drums and bass. Expect to hear a healthy helping of ’60s rock, soul and R&B, from Stones and Beatles to Janis and Motown, along with selections from Phil Spector’s Brill Building hymn book. Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., Emerson Park, 6 Mont Vernon St., Milford,

Winery tunes: Slurp a Seyval Blanc slushie and enjoy music from singer-songwriter Joel Cage to kick off the weekend. A veteran performer, Cage is an accomplished guitar player who won the Kerrville New Folk Competition’s top prize and played for a while in Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Playing solo, he brings the intensity of Pete Townshend on acoustic guitar, with Chris Smither’s lyrical sensibility. Friday, July 2, 6 p.m., Winnipesaukee Winery, 458 Center St., Wolfeboro,

Day on the Green

Regional acts gather for Fourth fest

Necessity breeds solutions, and last summer Justin Uhlig needed one in a big way. The founder of Barnstormers Music and Art, he presented his first show in 2015. It starred the pirate punk Jonee Earthquake Band and a bunch of local acts, including Uhlig’s own Yelloyüth.

He’s been at it ever since, often teaming up with Seacoast arts collective Wrong Brain to throw colorful all-day festivals at venues in New Hampshire and Maine. The semi-constant home is Stone Church in Newmarket, but Barnstormers shows have also happened in Manchester, at the now closed Bungalow Bar, and Penuche’s, when it was located on Hanover Street.

Barnstormers Music and Art was created with a goal of organizing a frequently disparate regional scene into something more distinct, Uhlig explained in a recent phone interview — and giving it a stamp.

“Local bands, a lot of them, come and go, change members and names, and have a hard time establishing a brand,” he said. “I incorporate music and art, and when people see the name Barnstormers, they know it’s going to be a good time.”

When the pandemic threatened to derail an outdoor event on a 70-acre lawn close to his home in Epping, Uhlig devised a clever workaround. He built an FM transmitter, then wired it through the soundboard, and staged a drive-in show. Unlike similar offerings at Tupelo Music Hall and Swanzey’s Drive-In Live, patrons listened to the music in their cars, through the vehicle sound system.

“I wanted to put on a show with a live feel where people felt safe, and if they chose to, they could commingle,” Uhlig said. “It went really well, with about 150 people spread out. Some of them camped, there were a bunch of bands, fireworks and a barbecue. We had a good time celebrating Independence Day.”

Though distancing restrictions are gone this year, the throwback technology remains — along with the name. Live at the Drive-In will feature a number of performers from the Concord/Manchester area, along with some Seacoast bands.

Strange Language is a progressive rock band based in Merrimack.

Saint Mary’s Vandals. Courtesy photo.

“Two guitarists, really fantastic,” Uhlig said, noting that they’re currently recording a new album at Blackheart Sound in Manchester. “Really fun band to watch, this is their first gig since before Covid.”

Odd Fellow’s Way has a new name, Saint Mary’s Vandals, but the same raucous sound.

“They’re a band of street punks,” Uhlig said, “that make you want to drink a beer and dance around, maybe bump into each other a little bit while you’re dancing.”

Sauce on the Side has a throwback punk vibe going.

“They’re young, but with a real Misfits style,” Uhlig said. “Definitely an up and comer, the next generation in my opinion, along with Take One; the guitarist in Sauce on the Side is their bass player. I had the pleasure of singing a cover of Fugazi’s ‘Waiting Room’ with them last year.”

Others on the bill include Felix Holt, Blind Drive, Dead Time, Andrew Polakow, Hansen Barlow Band, Slow Coyote, Brian Munger and ex-Catastrophic OK singer Madison West performing with a yet to be named group.

“Definitely something that people are going to want to check out,” Uhlig said of West’s band. He described their sound as “progressive rock mixed with some classic influences, but really an Alice in Chains kind of vibe. They definitely are some top-notch performers and instrumentalists.”

The event begins at noon and ends when the last note is played.

“We’re going to go till about midnight,” Uhlig said. “There’s a huge field and we’re going to have a big bonfire going all night and we’ll have some food, nice clean porta potties. It should be a really nice night to check out the stars and have a good time.”

Live at the Drive-In – An Independence Day Soiree
Saturday, July 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where: 25 Hedding Road, Epping
Tickets: $20 per carload at

Featured photo: Sauce on the Side. Courtesy photo.

At the Sofaplex 21/07/01

Good On Paper (R)

Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen.

Also Margaret Cho, who is absolute perfection here. Andrea (Shlesinger, who also wrote this movie based on a story from her real life) is a comedian trying to break into acting and, while appearing to kill it on stage every night, seems to be floundering a bit in moving her career where she wants it to go. After what she calls one of the worst auditions of her life, Andrea boards a New York-to-L.A. flight and finds herself sitting next to Dennis (Hansen), a charming, funny and smart man who manages to be all of those things while also mentioning that he went to Yale, works for a hedge fund and has a model girlfriend.

Andrea and Dennis hit it off, in a friend-y kind of way, and she invites him to her comedy show. He comes and they hang out even more, drinking at the bar owned by Margot (Cho), Andrea’s close friend. As Andrea explains in a (remarkably not annoying) voiceover, she never particularly finds Dennis attractive but she enjoys his company and they become friends, though the look on Dennis’ face always suggests he wants more.

This movie doesn’t go where you think it will go but I like how this story comes together and I like how it treats its female characters, Andrea and Margot but also Serrena (Rebecca Rittenhouse), an actress Andrea resents and compares herself to. While there is some movie wackiness, there is the sheen of real human beings in crazy situations here and I like that one of the themes of this movie is “trust yourself and your own abilities and instincts,” which makes the movie work for me even when it’s not uproariously funny. Shlesinger, whom I know mostly from her Netflix standup specials, is solid here giving us a character who is likeable but believable. Hansen, whom I still mostly think of from his Veronica Mars role, is exquisitely well-cast. B Available on Netflix.

Fatherhood (PG-13)

Kevin Hart, Lil Rel Howery.

Also Alfre Woodard, Deborah Ayorinde, Paul Reiser, DaWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan and Melody Hurd playing Maddie, the young daughter of Hart’s Matt.

Matt and Liz (Ayorinde) are sent to the hospital for an emergency Cesarean, which is how Maddy comes into the world. But just a short time after her birth, Liz has a pulmonary embolism and dies and a grief-stricken Matt suddenly finds himself as a single father. He appreciates the help of his mother, Anna (Thedra Porter), and his mother-in-law, Marion (Woodard), and is even happier when they leave, even if he’s not sure how to fold and unfold the stroller or what to do when his infant daughter won’t ever stop crying.

After watching Matt adjust to those tough first months, the movie jumps forward to when Maddy is 5 and chafing at the rules of her strict Catholic school and Matt is just beginning to consider dating. How does he balance his own needs with hers? How does he know what’s best for her?

Though Hart is still funny here and there are still moments of humor in even some of the saddest scenes, this feels like the most stripped down I’ve seen him. He gives a good performance, perfectly capturing that parental blend of dizzying love, bone-deep exhaustion and the constant sense that you’re probably failing at something. It’s a more nuanced kind of performance than Hart gives in his broader comedies and he is able to make his character a recognizable real person. The same is true for the supporting cast, particularly Woodard, whose Marion turns her grief about her daughter into a ferocity about Maddy that even she seems to realize isn’t always about Maddy’s best interest.

Fatherhood is an engaging dramady with performances that make it enjoyable despite the movie’s sadder elements. B Available on Netflix

F9 (PG-13)

F9 (PG-13)

Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto gets even more reason to talk about family in F9: The Fast Saga, a rather slow entry in this “what if James Bond were a muscle car” franchise.

Dom (Diesel) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living off the grid. They are raising Dom’s young son, Brian (played by Isaac Holtane and Immanuel Holtane), and they don’t even have a phone (really?), so when old work buddies/Toretto crew “family” people Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridge) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) need to talk to Dom and Letty, they have to drive to the couple’s farm. (What do they farm, you ask? As far as I can tell, fancy guns and old vehicles.)

The trio arrives to tell the couple about a downed plane and an emergency communication, both involving Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), the shadowy government guy from previous movies, and Cipher (Charlize Theron), a villain from the previous movie who was being transported in Mr. Nobody’s plane. Also being transported in that airplane, which seems like a super terrible idea, was part of a potentially society-destroying weapon, which means that when the plane is run out of the sky the baddies involved can collect both a piece of the weapon and a possible ally.

After some “I can’t get involved, I’m a parent now” from Dom, he eventually decides to join Letty in joining the crew to help Mr. Nobody. They head to the spot in Mexico where the plane went down but before they can learn too much about what happened, a local military force shows up. In the midst of what turns into a shootout car chase, another set of bad guys arrive, this one featuring a face Dom recognizes: Jakob (John Cena), his long estranged younger brother.

The Dom vs. Jakob battle serves as the center of this movie, and forces us to flash back to 1989 to the brothers as young men (teens? 20somethings?). The movie spends a lot of time on their relationship and how it formed the kind of adults they became and how Jakob suffered when Dom shunned him because “the worst thing you can do to a Toretto is take away his family” — blah blah blah, it’s a lotta chat that really takes the time away from the good stuff, like a scene in the present day where Sean (Lucas Black), of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift fame, straps a rocket engine to a car or a scene where some of our heroes are driving on a rope bridge after one side is cut.

Other things happen: As has been spoiled all over the place, Han (Sung Kang), who died in Tokyo Drift (the third movie) and then appeared in the next three movies of the franchise (because time, like gravity and physics in general, works differently in the Fast & Furious movies), returns here. Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), who has been out of the franchise since the real-life death of Paul Walker and the retirement of his character Brian (to whom Mia is married), returns. This movie’s biggest star is probably the concept of magnetism; the movie has some fun with giant magnets in its various fight and chase scenes. An element of the final showdown involves space, which was great.

Yeah, I said space.

This may not be a popular opinion in the Fast & Furious community but I think these movies need at least a little action star power in the form of a Dwayne Johnson or a Jason Statham (the latter of whom was apparently in a post-credits scene that I did not stick around for because this movie is two hours and 25 minutes long and just enough with all that post-credits business, man). When Helen Mirren shows up to reprise her role as Queenie Shaw, mother of Statham’s Deckard Shaw character, you can see the difference between a strong screen presence having a good time hamming it up in these movies and the, uhm, not-exactly-master-thespians (at least, as this franchise presents them) in the main roles just sort of earnestly presenting some really silly dialogue. John Cena, who can be fun, isn’t given much room to play here; he frequently comes off as just sort of wooden until the movie’s final act. Theron really feels more like a guest role — it’s like even the movie realizes its bad guys aren’t that exciting and so it tries to dress things up with a little Cipher, all hissing insults and wacky hair.

Without big fun personalities having a big fun silly time and spreading that joy to you through the screen, you’re left with time between big action set pieces (which are the movie’s true big stars) to ponder the oh so many things that don’t make sense or aren’t explained or may have been explained in the last movie but no character details from the last movie are as memorable as the scene with a submarine-related car chase. Things like: Does the 1989 flashback mean that Dom is in his 50s? Actually, how old is anybody supposed to be? Is this really how magnets work? Is that really how space works? How does time work in this movie?

F9 isn’t the sort of movie that should leave room for you to ask any hole-poking questions while you’re watching it. But the length — much of which goes to the Dom/Jakob relationship, which I was never all that interested in —really bogs the movie down where it should be light and zippy. A merciless editor needed to get in there and slice a good 45 minutes of story. Depending on how you count it, this movie has like three villains and that is at least one and a half villains too many.

I wanted to enjoy F9; I have been looking forward to it for months. But too much of its runtime featured me impatiently waiting through all the yammering. I wanted more fast, more furious and less of the franchise flotsam. C+

Rated PG-13 for sequences of (totally, delightfully improbable) violence (including so much shooting where nobody hits anything) and action (magnets! space!), and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Justin Lin with a screenplay by Daniel Casey & Justin Lin, F9: The Fast Saga is two hours and 25 unnecessary minutes long and is distributed by Universal Studios in theaters.

All the Fast

F9 wasn’t my favorite Fast and Furious movie but I am no less a fan of the overall franchise (heck, I’ll probably even watch this one again some day and enjoy it even more, freed of the whole “F9 is bringing back movies” thing).

So where can you find all the previous Fasts and Furiouses?

The eight-film collection — which includes a bunch of extras such as the 2009 short film Los Bandoleros — is for sale on iTunes for $69.99 for the bundle (as with everything mentioned here, this is as of June 28). You can get physical DVDs of that same grouping of movies for between $34.96 and $62.99, depending on the format, from Amazon. Even better, you can also buy a physical copy of the nine-movie set, which includes Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (a spinoff that is just a chef’s-kiss perfection-level example of this series at its least serious), for $52.99 for the Blu-ray. On its own, Hobbs & Shaw sells for $9.99 on iTunes.

In addition to buying or renting, where can you see the movies individually (preferably for “free” with a subscription service you already have)?

As of earlier this week, The Fast and the Furious, the 2001 first movie in the series, and 2 Fast 2 Furious, the 2003 second movie (and only Fast film not to include Vin Diesel’s Dom) are both currently available on HBO.

2006’s Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, which features neither Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor or (in any significant way) Diesel’s Dom, but does have characters who factor in to F9, currently appears to be just available for rent or purchase.

The key characters from the first movie are all back together for Fast & Furious, the 2009 fourth movie, which is really when the series starts to hit its stride (and where Gal Gadot joins on). I recently caught a few minutes of the super fun early scenes of this movie (Dom and his crew steal gas from a tanker truck while it travels at high speed; Brian crashes through several windows chasing a bad guy) on some basic cable-type channel. It also appears to be only available for rent or purchase but Fast Five, the 2011 movie that introduces Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs, is currently available on Peacock for free.

Fast & Furious 6 from 2013 brings back a character who died in an earlier movie, as well as introducing the London-based Shaw family (in the form of Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans). Roku says this entry is available from Peacock with a subscription as well as TNT, TBS and TruTV (all with subscriptions or cable service).

Furious 7 from 2015 brings in Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw and sends off Walker, whose real-life death leads to the retirement of the Brian character from The Life. This is also the movie where a car drives from one skyscraper into another skyscraper way up in the sky in Abu Dhabi. I’m not going to try to argue that it is the best moment in film but, like, it’s on the list. Pretty high. You can see this movie on Hulu with a Live TV subscription or, according to Roku, with a cable provider login to FXNow.

The Fate of the Furious (the eighth film, from 2017) is poetry — you get Helen Mirren as mum to Statham’s character, the beginning of a beautiful frenemyship between Statham and Johnson’s character, a superbly well-choreographed fight scene involving a baby, a car chase involving a submarine.

As with Fate, Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (a sidequel from 2019 with more Johnson, more Statham, more Mirren, Idris Elba and Ryan Reynolds plus the Oscar-nominated Vanessa Kirby) doesn’t appear to be available on a streaming service, only for rent or purchase. But I greatly enjoyed it and these last three movies — Hobbs & Shaw, The Fate of the Furious and Furious 7 — might be my favorites of the franchise and would make a great dumb and fun triple feature.

All the more reason to shell out for the whole package.

Featured photo: F9

The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green

The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green (Dutton, 274 pages)

If you only know John Green as the author of young adult novels such as The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down, you don’t know John Green. Of the successful pop novelists working today, Green has one of the more interesting careers, to include a YouTube channel and podcasts created with his brother, Hank.

Sometimes when a famous person tries to hoist a sibling to fame the effort seems sort of awk, as the kids say. (Two words: Randi Zuckerberg.) But Hank Green, John’s younger brother, has a mind equivalent to that of his more famous brother, maybe even superior. John Green says he looks up to him, even though he’s two years younger. He’s written two novels of his own (2018’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and 2020’s A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.). And it was Hank who came up with the title of John Green’s latest book, The Anthropocene Reviewed.

The brothers were talking about “the sudden everywhereness” of reviews on a 1-to-5-star scale, and John offered that he’d long wanted to review Canada geese. Hank’s response became the title of the book, but before that, a podcast. Which is why, after five novels, John Green has moved into the contemplative essay space — and he has done it expertly.

To be honest, Green had me at the line in which he mentioned “writing” a podcast, which seemed a wondrous thing. Who “writes” podcasts? The ones to which I subscribe don’t seem to follow a script. But in fact, “The Anthropocene Reviewed” podcast is deeply researched, and its episodes (which indeed include one on Canada geese) translate nicely to the page.

The conceit of both the podcast and book is that Green rhapsodizes about any one or two topics — from Diet Dr Pepper to viral meningitis to the wintry mix — and gives it a rating. This is a brilliant concept that could have been done superficially and unsatisfyingly on TikTok or Twitter; in fact, probably someone is doing that. But Green thinks more deeply than that, and his ruminations on the QWERTY keyboard (4 stars), Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (2 stars) and Super Mario Kart (4 stars) are charming forays through personal and product history.

There is a theme to all the ruminating, which is that humans are destroying the planet. The anthropocene, of course, is the unofficial name for the present geologic epoch, the proposed successor to the holocene. The term is largely used by people who study and/or worry about humans’ impact on the planet, and Green does both. In his chapter on Kentucky bluegrass, he imagines aliens coming to Earth and questioning us about the “ornamental plant god” that we worship in the front and back of our homes. “Why do you worship this species? Why do you value it over all the other plants?”

Green wonders that as well. Nearly one-third of drinkable, residential water in the U.S. goes to our lawns, which are a relatively new addition to the anthropocene. (Until about the 1500s, we spoke of only pastures and fields.) He also bemoans our use of fertilizer and pesticides (10 times more per acre than American farmers use on corn and wheat fields) and the grass clippings rotting in landfills. Maintaining a lawn is, essentially, “an encounter with nature, but the kind where you don’t get your hands dirty.” Kentucky bluegrass gets 2 stars.

Better, but not by much, is air conditioning, which has allowed “the most privileged among us” to put a barrier between us and the weather. “I am insulated from the weather by my house and in its conditioned air. I eat strawberries in January. When it is raining, I can go inside. When it is dark, I can turn on lights. It is easy for me to feel like climate is mostly an outside phenomenon, whereas I am mostly an inside phenomenon.” Three stars.

If there is a slight air of moralizing in the essays, it is well taken with Green’s acknowledgment of complicity with the sins. He has a lawn that he mows; he uses air conditioning. “Like an expensive painting or a fragile orchid, I thrive only in extremely specific conditions.”

So whether you wind up liking him or not may hinge on what you think of his assessment of Monopoly (the game, not our Big Tech overlords), Teddy bears, the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” or the band The Mountain Goats.

But to be clear: Despite an occasional foray into the whimsical and comic, this is a book of largely serious reflections by a man who once planned to become an Episcopal priest and is writing (at times) during a global pandemic.

The book is heavy on wonder and gratitude, while cognizant that life can be wonderful and terrible at the same time. Five stars for the content, 10 for the delightful relationship of the Green brothers. A

Book Notes

In warmer climes, the unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day; in these parts, it’s the Fourth of July, which means it’s time to bring out the beach reads.

The term has been around for a couple of decades, beginning as publisher lingo for blockbuster books that would come out in the summer. Since then, it’s evolved to mean anything light and frothy and fun, preferably in paperback so it doesn’t matter if it gets sandy or wet.

Some authors have built careers on the beach read, most notably Elin Hilderbrand, who actually writes her beach reads on the beach. (She writes in longhand in a notebook on Nantucket.)

Hilderbrand’s 2021 offering is Golden Girl (Little, Brown and Co., 384 pages), which recently made headlines because of a controversial quote from one of the characters. After backlash on social media, Hilderbrand apologized for the reference to Anne Frank, which some saw as anti-Semitic, and the publisher will delete the quote in digital form and subsequent print editions.

Another no-brainer is from Emily Henry, the author who last year shrewdly published a novel called Beach Read (Penguin, 384 pages). It’s about two writers with writer’s block who wind up living next to each other at the beach for three months. She followed this up with this year’s People We Meet on Vacation (Berkeley, 384 pages). It’s about best friends who always vacationed together until they had a falling-out two years ago. This year, they’re trying to fix the rift by going on vacation again.

A few others making waves:

Summer on the Bluffs by The View co-host Sunny Hostin (William Morrow, 400 pages) is set in Martha’s Vineyard.

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst (Berkley, 384 pages) is about three generations of women traveling through Tuscany and Rome.

Seven Days in Juneby Tia Williams (Grand Central Publishing, 336 pages) is about two writers who briefly loved each other in high school, then fell out of touch but kept writing about each other in their published books. Jodi Picoult is reported to have loved it.

The Guncle by Steven Rowley (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 336 pages) is about a gay sitcom actor who has to unexpectedly parent his young niece and nephew. Reviews say it’s both heartwarming and funny.


Author events

PAUL DOIRON Author presents Dead by Dawn. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., July 1, 6 p.m. Tickets cost $60 to $180 per table. Visit or call 436-2400.

TERRY FARISH Meet-and-greet with picture book and young adult author. Kingston Community Library, 2 Library Lane, Kingston. Thurs., July 8, 3:30 p.m. Registration required. Visit

CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE Author presents The Exiles. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., July 13, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

MEGAN MIRANDA Author presents Such a Quiet Place. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., July 20, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.


DOWN CELLAR POETRY SALON Poetry event series presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Monthly. First Sunday. Visit

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

TO SHARE BREWING CO. 720 Union St., Manchester. Monthly. Second Thursday, 6 p.m. RSVP required. Visit or call 836-6947.

GOFFSTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2 High St., Goffstown. Monthly. Third Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Call 497-2102, email or visit

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email

NASHUA PUBLIC LIBRARY Online. Monthly. Second Friday, 3 p.m. Call 589-4611, email or visit



Offered remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week session with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $225. Visit or call 623-1093.

Featured photo: The Anthropocene Reviewed

Album Reviews 21/07/01

KPT, Obliterate (Give/Take Records)

Any gothies out there remember industrial DJ Terrorfakt? Oh come on, that’s got to jog a few low-tier brain cells if you were in the vampire-club scene around six or 10 years ago. He was quite the badass, making beats that were a little bit like Swans and a lot of bit like Skinny Puppy, thus he was more, well, danceable, for lack of a better word. This Minneapolis dude is somewhat similar but more Throbbing Lobster-ish, tabling noise experiments that are in general not at all danceable but plenty edgy. In fact this loose collection of six tunes is more in the vein of Kurt Vile or Einstürzende Neubauten than any of the usual Metropolis Records-signed suspects, but as I alluded, the binding vibe is Terrorfakt: unhinged darkwave intro bits eventually get taken over by pneumatic-drill pounding that’s super cool if you like it rough and dystopian. Odd factoid about this EP is that all the songs were written as agent/label demos and other such things, and none of them ever panned out. Now that’s what I call bleakness! A

Kenny Garrett, Sounds from the Ancestors (Mack Avenue Records)

Usually I try to avoid talking up a record whose release date is this far away (late August, so they’re saying), but me-oh my-oh, what a sweet album this is, from the veteran post-bop jazz saxophonist/flautist, here reminding everyone that his early days included stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and Freddie Hubbard, while wearing his Detroit (and Afrobeat) heritage proudly on his sleeve. The band is Garrett’s go-to quintet, gathered here to pay homage to legendary thises and thats, such as Black American church music (“When the Days Were Different”), Afro-Cuban (the title track) and (more than referentially) Roy Hargrove. Drummer wonks will feel their jaws dropping while trying to comprehend “For Art’s Sake,” in which Ronald Bruner and conga guy Rudy Bird morph into a relentless but gentle polyrhythm machine churning out a concoction of modern jazz and Nigerian Afrobeat. Doesn’t get more urban than this, guys, and the sound engineering is impeccable. A+


• All ahead flank and raise the mizzenmast, ya swabs, July 2021 is here, and with it will come bikinis on vacuous Instagrammers, the awesome new strain of coronavirus, and of course, on July 2, a bushel of new, freshly line-caught albums, from musicians, bands, and maybe even a few bored nouveau riche Hollywood imbeciles who have nothing better to do than make horrible albums with starving musicians and washed up “producers” who can be purchased outright with American Express Rewards Points! Ah, here’s one now, a new album, spazzing its way out of the fish barrel and onto my fisherman’s platter, it’s Get Up Sequences Part One, from British band The Go Team! You may have been exposed to their actually cool ravings before, a concoction made of hip-hop, indie, “double-Dutch” jump rope chants and “plunderphonics” (in other words, sound collages made of many familiar songs), but more likely you haven’t, and that’s OK! Throughout their 20-year career, these guys have collaborated with such artists as Deerhoof and Chuck D, had an album nominated for a Mercury Prize, and basically been accused of being incredibly awesome by everyone who’s ever heard them. At this writing, the newest single is “Pow,” a trippy dance track that sounds like a cross between Salt-N-Pepa, 1970s-psychedelica and Sonic Youth, something of that nature.

• I don’t know why anyone would want to, but if you were to go way back in time, specifically 1992, and you were a metal fan, you would have the pleasure of being one of the first people to hear The Red in the Sky Is Ours, the debut album from Swedish death metal band At the Gates! That album is a direct cross between math metal, Venom, and hearing your dad freak and run away from a nest-load of bees. They were gone for a long time, 19 years to be precise, until they resurfaced in 2014, with At War With Reality, and their latest, titled The Nightmare Of Being, is being released as we speak. That’s a lot of coverage I’ve just given these guys, but the fact is that I’m only interested in hearing whether they still sound like early tape-trader-era metal, with boom-box quality. Well, turns out they’re still all about crazed Cannibal Corpse caterwauling and Cookie Monster growl-singing but nowadays they’re also into epic Equilibrium-esque opera-metal, to go by splashdown single “Spectre Of Extinction,” which probably isn’t representative of the bulk of what they’re doing now, but it’s all good.

Desperate Journalist is a post-punk-revival quartet from England, In other words they’re basically an ’80s band. They’re up to four albums as of Friday, when their newest, Maximum Sorrow, hits the streets! The push single at this writing, “Fault,” isn’t desperately ’80s at all, just a crockpot of Florence Welch, Joy Division and other common edge-rock. Matter of fact, there’s vibe from the first Cult LP too. It’s OK I guess.

• We’ll wrap up with Birmingham, U.K., R&B singer Laura Mvula, whose new record, Pink Noise, is on the way! She is bald, which means she hates conformity, and the new single “Got Me” has the same beat as Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” In fact, the song is mostly Thriller throwbackism, which is rather conformist, now that you mention it.

Retro Playlist

’Twas late June 2011, and as always there were new albums all over the place, and I reviewed them here in these pages and tried to make funny jokes, some of which probably rubbed some people the wrong way but I can’t be sure. All the new albums came out on Tuesdays back then, and the July 5 slate was pretty full. There was British stuffed-shirt proggers Yes, who released their first studio album in 10 years, Fly From Here, but there were no advance songs for me to snark about. Nevertheless I forgave them “for not updating their MySpace profile with a teaser track” (it’s been so long that I can’t even remember if MySpace had become a punchline yet, but I’ll assume it was).

As well, I brought up Neon, the third LP from “cow-pie-kicking country star Chris Young,” who had “won top prize on the Nashville Star TV show in 2006, mostly because he doesn’t sound like Toby Keith.” Surely you remember.

One of the two main focuses that week was Devil’s Music, the 2011 from the great soundsystem Teddybears. It was something of a very mild letdown compared to 2006’s Soft Machine, which featured the tune “Punk Rocker,” a masterpiece of shlock-techno featuring none other than Iggy Pop. Only problem with putting something that awesome on an album is that it’s literally impossible to top, but these nutty Swedes were able to get B.o.B. to add his pop-rapping to the street-cruising “Get Mama A House.”

“Generation Ringtone” was what millennials were called before they became hyper-woke Instagrammers later in life. In 2011 they usually ignored and insulted new prog-rock acts (bands like Mars Volta are still treated horribly to this day), but if a band snuck in a little country/folk/Grateful Dead vibe, they usually did get some unwarranted respect (the dreadful Umphrey’s McGee for example). Anyway, White Denim released an LP titled D that week, and it was OK, I summarized: “If you wish ELP had jammed with the Allman Brothers, certainly, buy this album.” That’s actually pretty high praise, technically, come to think of it.

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. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

Fireworks and beer

Celebrate the Fourth of July with the perfect brew

Do you remember what you had planned for the Fourth of July last year? That’s a trick question. We both know you had absolutely nothing planned. The 2020 Fourth of July took a hit just like everything else last year.

Actually, that said, my family was preparing for my dad’s 70th birthday, as he was born on July 5. It was supposed to be the first time we got together as a family, albeit outside and socially distanced, since the world came to a halt in March 2020.

I was looking forward to having a beer with my dad, and it was off to a good but very brief start when the skies opened up and thunderstorms took over. Hey, we tried. But Covid-19 won in the end. In hindsight, I suppose it was predictable.

This year, we’re all overdue for a party. I know my dad is.

With last year behind us and a light visible at the end of the tunnel, this year feels different. I don’t think people are going to be attending the same old Fourth of July cookout this year. This is the year to take things up a notch.

I mean, bring the burgers and dogs, but let’s also throw a couple T-bones on the grill in honor of what we missed out on last year. I think we should all be allowed to have an extra-large ice cream sundae on the Fourth this year too, or maybe an ice cold root beer float.

That goes for beer too. Don’t hold back on your beer choices this year. This is the year to wait in line for the beer you want. There. I said it.

Here are three beers that will help you celebrate the Fourth of July.

Combover IPA by Schilling Beer Co. (Littleton)

You should probably just go to Schilling for the Fourth and have some delicious pizza by the river as you drink amazing beer. You can’t beat the view. You can’t beat the pizza. And you can’t beat the beer. This is your quintessential American IPA: supper hoppy, bursting with notes of citrus and pine, and, maybe surprisingly, a little hint of strawberry. I would wait in line for this beer.

Seize the Bean Coffee Milk Stout by Throwback Brewery (North Hampton)

I know, it’s super hot and who wants a rich, creamy stout when the sun is cranking? Well, sometimes when the sun goes down on the Fourth of July, people light fires and then enjoy toasted marshmallows and smores. And I think this brew would go absolutely perfectly with a summer bonfire on the Fourth. This is rich, decadent and full of chocolate and coffee flavor but relatively low on alcohol, which makes this just slide right down.

Tie Dyed Dry-hopped Pale Ale by Great North Aleworks (Manchester)

I’m legitimately scared you are going to drink too much of this. It’s got the hop character that beer drinkers these days love but in a package that is just so much more palatable and drinkable. I hadn’t had one of these in a while and cracked one open recently, and I said to my wife, “I could drink a million of these.” I didn’t and I’m not going to, but I think you’ll appreciate how this beer combines big hop flavor with an easy-drinking brew.

What’s in My Fridge
Naughty Nurse by City Steam Brewery (Hartford, Conn.)
I went to my cousin’s wedding a couple weeks ago and it was just so hot and humid. It’s the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in a suit — and I didn’t even wear a tie. It’s an understatement to say I was thirsty. The Naughty Nurse is an amber ale — and can I just say amber ales are underrated as a style — and this was both refreshing and flavorful. It’s got a little caramel sweetness and a little bitter spice in a very sessionable package. Cheers!

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