Re-Released! From their cows to your cone

This story was originally published in the July 22, 2021 issue of The Hippo. Re-released free for all to read thanks to sponsors The Big 1, Blake’s Creamery, Granite State Candy Shoppe, Hayward’s Ice Cream and Lickee’s & Chewy’s. Stay tuned to next week’s issue for our annual Great New Hampshire Ice Cream Tour map, which you will be able to find in the center of the issue and use to make your plans for finding new summer cones.

Three or four days each week, a small group of family members and friends will gather at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple to make ice cream. Each person has multiple roles, from hand-mixing ingredients to packing the ice cream in tubs — and, of course, everyone’s willing to do some taste testing. It’s proven to be a highly successful formula for the small family-run business.

“Ice cream sales never stop,” said Mike Connolly, the middle Connolly brother and the farm’s primary ice cream maker. “We keep pumping ice cream out … even right through the winter.”

Since purchasing their own equipment to make ice cream in the early 2000s, Connolly estimates the farm is now up to around 60 flavors made over the course of each year, about 15 of which are made almost every week. All of the farm’s ice cream is produced on site in small batches, from a pasteurized sweet cream base containing its own cows’ milk.

More than just a high-quality summertime treat, homemade ice cream has proven to be one of the many effective ways for local dairy farms to diversify and add value to their product in what has been an increasingly competitive and challenging market.

“The level of intelligence on any dairy farm, when it comes to business and how to survive and make a business thrive, would blow your mind,” said Amy Hall, executive director of Granite State Dairy Promotion. “I have never met a group of individuals who are so able to quickly adapt and find solutions to any problem that gets thrown their way.”

Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm sells its ice cream in pre-packaged containers in several sizes at the farm store and has plans in the works to open its own scoop shop on site. They also work with other local businesses to create specialty custom-made flavors, from maple-infused ice creams you can get at Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, to cherry cordial, peanut brittle, peppermint candy cane or butter pecan-flavored ice creams available at Nelson’s Candy & Music in Wilton.

Contoocook Creamery, at Bohanan Farm in Contoocook, provides Granite State Candy Shoppe with an ice cream base produced from the milk of its cows. They also supply Frisky Cow Gelato in Keene with their milk and cream, and recently began selling their base to Whippoorwill Dairy Farm in Kensington for the purposes of making ice cream as well.

In Boscawen, Richardson’s Farm — not to be confused with Richardson’s Ice Cream in Middleton, Mass., which sells its ice cream wholesale to many New Hampshire ice cream shops — makes its own pasteurized base using milk and cream sourced from Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill, according to owner and ice cream maker Jim Richardson.

So how exactly does ice cream get made? We spoke with New Hampshire dairy farmers and ice cream makers to get some answers on how this sweet treat makes the voyage from cow to cone.

The scoop on ice cream-making

A batch of ice cream starts with a base made up of milk, cream, sugars and small amounts of stabilizers to maintain its consistency and prevent crystallization. Jamie Robertson, who runs Contoocook Creamery with his wife and three adult sons, said about 110 of the more than 200 cows on the farm are milked twice a day, 365 days a year.

Cows from Contoocook Creamery at Bohanan Farm. Courtesy photo.

Three days a week, the milk is pumped from the barn to the processing plant, where it’s then pasteurized and homogenized. When making the ice cream base, Robertson said, the milk is mixed with each of the other ingredients before this step takes place.

“Pasteurizing is what we do to kill all the harmful bacteria in the milk, so we bring it up to a high temperature really fast, keep it there for a little under a minute and then drop it right back down,” he said. “It goes into the pasteurizer at 38 degrees, goes up to over 170 degrees and then comes back out at 38 degrees, and that all happens in under a minute. … Then we homogenize it, which breaks up the fat molecules so that they don’t separate out.”

Kristen May’s family has owned Hatchland Farm since 1971, beginning to make and sell their own ice cream about a decade ago. The farm produces vat pasteurized milk, or milk that is pasteurized at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period of time.

“We pasteurize at 145 degrees [for] 30 minutes,” May said. “The milk and the ingredients that we put into the ice cream are in big 300-gallon vats. … It takes a bit longer to do, but it actually makes [it] a little bit more different of a product. The flavor of the milk is a little more natural.”

Depending on his supply, Richardson said he receives regular shipments of Hatchland’s Farm raw milk and cream, which he uses to make his own ice cream base with.

“Legally, ice cream has to be at a minimum of 10 percent butterfat,” he said. “So we’re blending the milk and cream to get that butterfat level, and then obviously there are sugars involved, and a non-fat milk solid to boost the protein and add body to it.”

Some local ice cream makers will start with a pre-pasteurized base obtained from the HP Hood processing plant in Concord, to which several dairy farms in New Hampshire ship their milk through a number of cooperatives, according to Hall. This is also how Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm gets its milk pasteurized for ice cream making, Connolly said.

“Basically, we ship our milk up to Hood and then we get it back,” he said.

Mike Connolly of Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple makes a batch of black raspberry ice cream. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

The base is poured into a batch freezer, and what ice cream makers do from there depends on the flavor they are creating.

“Sometimes it’s just a pure liquid extract or what’s called a variegate that goes into the machine,” Connolly said. “We hand-mix any of the chunky stuff, so chocolates, chocolate chips, cookies, all of that gets mixed in by hand, just because the machine will pulverize everything.”

Lisa Ilsley of Ilsley’s Ice Cream in Weare, which uses the Hood base mix, said her machine will churn out a batch of roughly five gallons of ice cream in 20 minutes, depending on the flavor.

Ilsley’s Ice Cream in Weare. Courtesy photo.

“The machine whips air into it,” she said. “That’s essentially what you’re doing when you’re making ice cream, is you’re changing it from a liquid to a whipped air solid.”

She’ll also hand-stir her ingredients as the ice cream is ready to come out of the machine. Once all of the swirls, fruits, chocolates or candy pieces are mixed in, the batch of ice cream is placed into a blast freezer designed to rapidly bring the temperature below zero.

After a hardening period, typically lasting at least 24 hours, the ice cream is moved to a holding freezer to bring the temperature back up, slightly softening it and making it scoopable at roughly 6 to 8 degrees.

Milking the opportunity

Dairy was once a dominating presence in New Hampshire’s overall agricultural landscape. There were more than 800 commercial dairy farms in the state as recently as the year 1970, according to Granite State Dairy Promotion. That number has continuously dwindled over the years, to 274 in 1990, 182 in 2000 and just 95 farms in 2020.

Slim profit margins for farmers, a worldwide surplus of milk, and the competition they face at the retail level from out of state, including through the emergence of plant-based beverages onto the market, have all been contributing factors to the industry’s gradual decline.

“Once a dairy farm goes out of business, the chances of them coming back are close to none,” Hall said. “It’s a really tough industry to survive in.”

The pandemic only exacerbated the struggles last year, as the sudden shutdowns of restaurants and public schools quickly resulted in an unprecedented oversupply of milk. Cooperatives limited the amount of product they were buying from farms, forcing dairy producers to dump any milk that could not be sold. May estimates that Hatchland Farm had to dump about 11,500 gallons of its milk off and on throughout last year. In the fall, they decided to sell 35 of their cows.

“Never in my father’s life had he worked that hard to produce a product that he had to see go down the drain, basically,” she said. “We’ve had surpluses at different times but we’ve always been able to find a place to get rid of it. We’ve never had to dump milk like that.”

Jared Johnson of Sanctuary Dairy Farm, a 10th-generation farm in Sunapee dating back to the 1700s, said that while milk prices have rebounded and restaurants are back open, input and overhead costs for farms have gone through the roof.

“It was a really dry year last year, so a lot of people had to buy a lot of feed because of the drought conditions,” he said. “Grain costs have increased probably 20 to 40 percent.”

Despite all of the ongoing challenges, dairy farms pivoted and still found unique opportunities.

Ilsley said her family’s dairy farm purchased a cream separator in October and began skimming their raw milk with it. The Ilsley Farm in Weare now sells quarts of its own heavy cream.

“We literally have a new dairy product that we sell now. I don’t think we would’ve done it if it wasn’t for Covid,” she said. “We have people come to the farm all the time to buy our raw milk, so we figured we would at least take the cream off and sell that. Our customers love it.”

Contoocook Creamery, which had been using glass bottles for its milk until the spring of 2020, quickly made the switch to plastic jugs after grocery stores stopped accepting glass bottle returns. This doubled their milk sales and increased the number of local stores you can now get their milk in. One hundred percent of their milk is also now bottled on site, Robertson said.

Supporting local dairy farmers is much easier than you may think, and does not have to involve travelling to a farm directly to purchase their product. Every bottle of milk in the dairy aisle of your local grocery store will have a code on it that specifies where it was processed. The code No. 33-08, Hall said, whether it’s on a Hood brand or a grocery store’s own brand of milk, indicates that it was processed at the HP Hood plant in Concord.

“One of the largest threats to the dairy industry is … milk that comes from outside of the region, which creates direct competition for our local farms,” she said. “If you pick up a gallon of Hood milk with the Code [No.] 33, you can feel good knowing that dairy farmers right here in New Hampshire sent their milk there, and that’s what’s in that bottle that you’re picking up off the shelves. … Not all of the milk in the dairy aisle has that.”

Ice cream for normalcy

After a season like no other last year, ice cream makers in New Hampshire are turning the page.

Christy LaRocca wrote down July 1 as a “back to normal” date for Moo’s Place Ice Cream. It marked the indoor reopenings of both the Derry and Salem shops for the first time in more than a year, and nearly all the company’s staff members were fully vaccinated by that point.

“We’re on pace to have a very, very good season,” said LaRocca, who owns Moo’s Place with her husband, Steven. “We’ve been so excited to open up and welcome everybody back indoors.”

Moo’s Place makes its own ice cream five or six days a week, producing more than 40 regular flavors as well as the occasional special, like chocolate-dipped cherry or wild blueberry crisp.

Ice cream sales have been very strong so far this summer at Granite State Candy Shoppe. Owner Jeff Bart said the Concord shop usually offers ice cream from Easter through the end of October, while in Manchester they scoop it year-round.

Granite State Candy Shoppe. Courtesy photo.

“Things are as good as they were back in the summer of 2019,” he said. “We have noticed that people are definitely interested in coming back downtown and stopping by.”

Around 30 flavors of ice cream are available at each shop at any particular time, including unique offerings like Flapjacks and Bacon, a cake batter ice cream with a swirl of maple syrup and bacon chunks, as well as a Mexican chocolate ice cream with a blend of cinnamon.

New for this year, Blake’s Creamery in Manchester has opened an ice cream window with outdoor patio seating directly in front of its restaurant on South Main Street. It’s now open every Wednesday through Sunday, from 3 to 8 p.m.

“It has been very well-received, and it’s really nice to see people just sitting outside under an umbrella and enjoying ice cream,” Blake’s Creamery co-owner Ann Mirageas said. “There were takeout windows when Blake’s opened in 1963, so it’s actually a return to its roots.”

Blake’s introduces a few new ice cream flavors to its lineup every year, some of which become permanent additions. This year, newcomers include salted caramel brownie, and Mocha Joe’s Dough, a Colombian coffee and chocolate ice cream with cookie dough and chocolate dough.

In Nashua, Hayward’s Ice Cream now has a brand new commissary space downtown where their ice cream is produced, with a kitchen three times the size. Owner Chris Ordway said ice cream is made six days a week and trucked to both Hayward’s stores in Nashua and Merrimack. A whopping 10 gallons is produced every 12 minutes from their machines.

“We’re bringing in something new every two weeks, and it may be something that you had a few years ago that we’re bringing back to get some new interest,” Ordway said of the flavors.

Memories Ice Cream in Kingston is also rotating out specialty ice cream flavors. Owner Dawn Padfield said they are up to at least 50 to 60 different offerings, including not just the hard ice cream but also a selection of soft-serve, frozen yogurt and vegan options.

If you can’t find your favorite ice cream flavor on the menu, it could be because that local stand or shop simply hasn’t been able to get certain ingredients to make it, a lingering issue from the pandemic that continues to affect the industry.

“Week to week, it’s different things,” Steven LaRocca said. “Some products are in stock one week, and then they’re not in stock for the next two or three weeks. It’s a constant battle.”

The New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail

An interactive way to enjoy locally made ice cream while supporting dairy farmers, the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail is a passport program released by Granite State Dairy Promotion every year, usually around Memorial Day weekend. Maps can be downloaded by visiting, or can be found at any one of the trail’s participating locations. Maps are also at the Manchester Airport and at several state highway rest areas.

There are a total of 42 “stops” on this year’s trail scattered across the state, featuring dairy farms that make their own ice cream on site or ice cream makers that use local milk. Participants can visit each stop on the map and receive a passport sticker for a chance to win prizes.

“For me, one of the most exciting parts about the Ice Cream Trail is hearing from folks who have completed it and say that not only they had a blast but they learned some things too,” said Amy Hall, executive director of Granite State Dairy Promotion. “It was developed as a way to creatively get information about the value of dairy farms into the hands of consumers.”

Completed passports will be accepted through Oct. 18 and will be entered into a grand prize drawing. The grand prize winner receives a $200 Amazon gift card and a basket of New Hampshire-made goodies, but all who complete the trail still receive a complimentary sweatshirt.

Where to get New Hampshire-made ice cream

This list includes New Hampshire restaurants, dairy farms and ice cream shops and stands that offer ice cream either made on site or, where specified, sourced locally. Some dairy farms also make proprietary flavors for New Hampshire businesses using their own products — those are included here as well. Do you know of another local business serving homemade ice cream that isn’t on this list? Let us know at

Arnie’s Place (164 Loudon Road, Concord, 228-3225, offers more than 25 homemade ice cream flavors, in addition to ice cream cakes, novelties and more.

Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Barn (107 Beech Hill Road, Hopkinton, 223-0828, carries several flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Blake’s Creamery (353 S. Main St., Manchester, 669-0220, offers dozens of unique premium ice cream flavors, and, new for the 2021 season, now has an ice cream takeout window that is open Wednesday through Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. Blake’s also has several seasonal wholesale accounts at restaurants and ice cream stands throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

Bruster’s Ice Cream (621 Amherst St., Nashua, 881-9595, find them on Facebook @brustersnh) has more than two dozen signature and classic flavors of homemade ice cream that are made on site.

Charlie’s Ice Cream (150 Front St., Exeter, 772-7400, find them on Facebook @charliesicecreamnh) offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream made on site in small batches, including a selection of “21+” flavors infused with premium alcohol.

Chuckster’s Family Fun Park (9 Bailey Road, Chichester, 798-3555; 53 Hackett Hill Road, Hooksett, 210-1415; carries more than two dozen ice cream flavors from Blake’s Creamery.

The Common Man (25 Water St., Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-3463; 88 Range Road, Windham, 898-0088; 10 Pollard Road, Lincoln, 745-3463; 21 Water St., Claremont, 542-6171; 60 Main St., Ashland, 968-7030; Town Docks Restaurant, 289 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-3445; Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040; Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road, Tilton, 286-2204; 104 Diner, 752 Route 104, New Hampton, 744-0120; offers its own homemade ice cream across each location’s dessert menus.

The Common Man Roadside Market & Deli (1805 S. Willow St., Manchester, 210-2801; 530 W. River Road, Hooksett; 25 Springer Road, Hooksett, 210-5305; 484 Tenney Mountain Highway, Plymouth, 210-5815; offers Common Man-made ice cream across each location’s dessert menus.

Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm (140 Webster Hwy., Temple, 924-5002, find them on Facebook) offers dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream using a base that comes from the farm’s own cows’ milk. Dozens of flavors are available at the farm store in pre-packaged containers coming in several sizes. Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm also makes proprietary ice cream flavors for other New Hampshire businesses, like Nelson’s Candy & Music in Wilton and Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason.

Countrybrook Farms (175 Lowell Road, Hudson, 886-5200, has dozens of flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Cremeland Drive-In (250 Valley St., Manchester, 669-4430, find them on Facebook) offers multiple flavors of homemade hard ice cream, as well as soft-serve, frozen yogurt and sherbet.

Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4043, offers unique flavors of house-made small-batch ice cream during the summer, sold in cups and house-made cones as well as sundaes and frappes.

Devriendt Farm Stand and Ice Cream Shoppe (178 S. Mast St., Goffstown, 497-2793, offers dozens of flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Dr. Davis Ice Cream (75 Route 13, Brookline, 673-6003, has been in business for more than eight decades, serving up more than two dozen homemade ice cream flavors.

Dudley’s Ice Cream (846 Route 106 N, Loudon, 783-4800, find them on Facebook) offers more than 20 flavors of homemade hard ice cream, in addition to soft-serve and ice cream cakes.

Goldenrod Restaurant Drive-In (1681 Candia Road, Manchester, 623-9469, has more than 30 flavors of homemade ice cream.

Gould Hill Farm (656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, 746-3811, serves ice cream sourced from Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and Manchester.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591; 832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885; has around 30 homemade ice cream flavors available at both locations, with specialty and customizable make-your-own sundae options. All of its flavors are made from an ice cream base sourced from Contoocook Creamery, at Bohanan Farm in Hopkinton.

Hatchland Farm’s “Wicked Good” Dairy Delites (3095 Dartmouth College Hwy., North Haverhill, 348-1884, find them on Facebook) is a family-owned and -operated dairy farm that offers its own milk and ice cream products, including dozens of flavors of hard ice cream and soft-serve. The farm also sells its milk and cream to Richardson’s Farm in Boscawen to make ice cream with.

Hayward’s Homemade Ice Cream (7 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-4663; Merrimack 360 Shopping Plaza, Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack; has been in business for more than seven decades, featuring dozens of homemade ice cream flavors on its menu out of both locations.

Hayward’s Ice Cream of Milford (383 Elm St., Milford, 672-8383, is a third-generation ice cream stand that offers more than 50 homemade ice cream flavors, in addition to frozen yogurts and sherbets.

Ilsley’s Ice Cream (33 S. Sugar Hill Road, Weare, 529-6455, find them on Facebook) offers about 10 flavors of its homemade ice cream during its season, in addition to specialty flavors of the week that are regularly rotated out.

Jake’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream and Bakery (57 Palm St., Nashua, 594-2424, offers homemade wholesale packaged ice cream in a variety of flavors.

Jordan’s Ice Creamery (894 Laconia Road, Belmont, 267-1900, find them on Facebook @jordansic) has been in business for more than 25 years, serving up dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream in addition to a large selection of cakes and pies.

Just the Wright Place for Ice Cream (95 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham, 775-0223, find them on Facebook @wrightplaceforicecream) offers a wide selection of homemade ice cream flavors, and also takes orders for ice cream cakes.

Kellerhaus (259 Endicott St. N, Weirs Beach, 366-4466, always has a rotating selection of more than a dozen homemade ice cream flavors.

Memories Ice Cream (95 Exeter Road, Kingston, 642-3737, has been serving dozens of homemade ice cream flavors out of a converted dairy barn since 1992, also offering ice cream cakes and wholesaling to some local restaurants and country stores.

Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream (27 Crystal Ave., Derry, 425-0100; 15 Ermer Road, Salem, 898-0199; makes all of its own hard ice creams available in several dozen unique flavors, in addition to frozen yogurts, Italian ices and ice cream cakes.

Nelson’s Candy & Music (65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, offers more than a dozen flavors of ice cream produced at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple, using the shop’s own chocolates, candies and other ingredients.

Parker’s Maple Barn (1349 Brookline Road, Mason, 878-2308, offers several flavors of ice cream produced at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple.

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant (245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, has more than two dozen traditional and unique homemade ice cream flavors.

Richardson’s Farm (170 Water St., Boscawen, 796-2788, has dozens of flavors of ice cream made on site, using its own pasteurized ice cream base sourced with milk and cream from Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill.

Sanctuary Dairy Farm Ice Cream (209 Route 103 Sunapee, 863-8940, has dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream available, including many dairy-free, sugar-free, gelato and low-fat options. The farm also has wholesale accounts for businesses that carry its ice cream in quarts, including Achille Agway in Hillsborough.

Stuart & John’s Sugarhouse (31 Route 63, Westmoreland, 399-4486, offers several flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Sugar & Ice Creamery (146 Calef Hwy., Barrington, 888-616-8452, has multiple flavors of homemade ice cream, with sundae options and freshly baked waffle cones also available.

• SuperScoops of Henniker (58 Main St., Henniker, 717-0661, offers dozens of flavors of homemade hard ice cream, along with soft-serve and specialty drinks like frappes and root beer floats.

Trombly Gardens (150 N. River Road, Milford, 673-0647, has more than a dozen flavors of its homemade ice cream, available for sale at the farm store in quarts.

Featured photo: Isley’s Ice Cream in Weare.

Circle of song

Alli Beaudry hosts musical showcase at The Rex

When the Rex Theatre celebrated its grand reopening in late 2019, Alli Beaudry performed. As 2020 dawned, she played and sang for a wine tasting event there, and on March 6 she hosted a trivia night with her husband Bill Seney that would be one of the venue’s final nights before Covid-19 suspended live entertainment.

Being invited to christen The Rex was “the greatest honor in my city,” Beaudry said in a recent phone interview. Born and raised in Manchester, “I have stories of my grandmother and my mom going there when they were kids. It’s such a familial place … for me it is home, and God, it’s a gorgeous home to be dwelling in.”

Beaudry had one event planned that couldn’t happen, however — until now.

In the works since before the pandemic, Alli Beaudry Songfest will finally come to fruition on July 24. It will star Beaudry, fellow singer-songwriters Charlie Chronopoulos and Paul Nelson, and bassist Nick Phaneuf. The idea for the show came to her as she listened to NPR while driving to Berklee College of Music, where she’s an alumna and faculty member.

Live From Here has been a really cool influence,” Beaudry said. She envisioned a hybrid of the Chris Thile hosted show and VHI Storytellers. “Behind the scenes of the songs and them as artists, and where they’ve stemmed from … I’ve always loved the history behind the music; hearing that just lets you connect so much more.”

There’s an element of a classic “song pull” to the evening, Beaudry said.

“We’re each going to individually play, but also come together as artists on each other’s music,” she said. “We’re kind of conspiring to decide what to sing, and it’s just like a kid in a candy shop.”

All of the performers are “more or less bandmates of mine,” said Beaudry, as well as close friends. Chronopoulos is like a brother to her.

“We know each other too well sometimes,” she said. “I don’t even have to speak to him, it just happens with music. I think for an audience to see that symbiotic relationship is so crazy powerful.”

She’s known Phaneuf since her days at Manchester High School Central.

“He went to [Manchester] West; we became friends through mutual musical things, and really just haven’t stopped playing with each other,” she said.

Nelson and Beaudry met at one of the monthly Java Jams she hosts at Café Le Reine in downtown Manchester.

“Another relationship that I’m just super grateful for,” she said. “He’s an incredible writer, really captivating sound and storytelling. Different parts of his life brought him all over the globe, but he’s rooted here.”

One thing all the performers share is parenthood, a theme that’s very much a part of their current music.

“Charlie calls this our Post-Youth Tour. … The things we sing about in our 30s are different than what we did during our coming of age,” she said, naming Brandi Carlile’s song “The Mother” as a good example. “She’s saying, ‘All my rowdy friends are out accomplishing their dreams, but I am the mother,’ of her daughter Evangeline. She just speaks of all the things that make her sure there’s nothing in the world that could compare to having that. It resonates so [strongly] with me.”

The show will be a celebration, Beaudry said brightly.

“The Rex is just such a special place to me now, and I can’t wait to continue our beautiful relationship,” she said. “Seeing live music is a part of our soul that I think was stripped from us, the artist and the listener. There’s such a healing nature to it. As a music therapist, I always respect that, but it’s beyond that at this point.”

Alli Beaudry Songfest
Saturday, July 24, 8 p.m..
Where: The Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester
Tickets: $20 reserved at

Featured photo: Alli Beaudry. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/07/22

Local music news & events

Big Eighties: Video killed the radio star, a cultural moment celebrated by cover band Fast Times. The quartet returns to the MTV era, complete with wild hair, angular jackets and keytar. This event, part of a community playground’s summer concert series, is for anyone who recalls a favorite VJ or couldn’t get enough of Human League, Dexy’s Midnight Runners or Loverboy — or those sad to have missed it. Thursday, July 22, 6:30 p.m., Field of Dreams, 48 Germonty Dr., Salem,

Pickin’ picnic: A Concord Coalition to End Homelessness benefit, Bluegrass BBQ 2021 offers four rootsy acts, with a slate of victuals for omnivores like brisket, pulled pork, sausage and cowboy beans. With a name drawn from the John Prine song “Paradise,” headliner Peabody’s Coal Train is a Contoocook Valley supergroup. Paul Hubert, Whiskey Prison and Bow Junction also appear Saturday, July 24, noon, White Park, 1 White St., Concord. The show is free; pre-order food at

Tent music: Enjoy a scratch kitchen meal and al fresco serenading from David Corson, a singer-songwriter who’s been compared to Ray Lamontagne, Ed Sheeran and Matt Nathanson. Corson’s latest release is the single, “Did You Hear I Got Married?” The venue is a strong supporter of local music, with performers Thursday through Saturday at six locations, including their newest, recently opened in Concord. Saturday, July 24, 8 p.m., T-Bones Great American Eatery, 25 S. River Road, Bedford,

Green scene: The Slakas play cover songs at a free outdoor show. The seasoned Nashua band’s set list is solidly in the classic rock era, with a mashup of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath among the highlights, though they also take on Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” and Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” not to mention a lively Bee Gees/Michael Jackson medley.Tuesday, July 27, 7 p.m., (no rain date) MacGregor Park, 64 E. Broadway, Derry,

At the Sofaplex 21/07/22

Fear Street: Part Three 1666 (R)

Kiana Madeira, Benjamin Flores Jr.

Also Gillian Jacobs and other people who appeared in the first two movies.

The Netflix trio of Fear Street movies wraps up with this episode that takes us all the way back to the beginnings of Shadyside and Sunnyvale, back when they were one town called Unity and a young woman named Sarah Fier was hanged for witchcraft. Deena (Madeira), the Shadyside teen battling zombie serial killers who managed to stay alive when so many other teens didn’t, attempted to put Sarah Fier to rest at the end of the last movie and was suddenly plunged back into 1666 and into the body of colonial-era Sarah. We see the past play out with many of the same actors from the previous two movies playing roles here, including, crucially, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), Deena’s Sunnyvale girlfriend, now standing in for Hannah Miller, the pastor’s daughter and Sarah’s sweetheart.

After showing us 1666, the movie returns to 1994 for a final (or is it?) showdown.

What is the big evil creating a legacy of murder in Shadyside? It’s not just the patriarchy but that’s also not an incorrect answer. This factor, and a general “stand up against various forms of bigotry” strain running throughout, helps to give the movie some pluckiness; I was getting some real early-seasons Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes off several parts of this movie (in the best possible way). This series ended up with a pretty top-notch cast of young actors for these sorts of roles — Madeira in particular is a great Final Girl-style action hero.

I also like the overall presentation of all three films: there is decent craft in all aspects of these movies and fun soundtracks (no expense spared in the music here). And I like the three-Fridays-in-a-row release schedule. You can binge them now but you could also have made an event out of their release. I’m impressed, good on you Netflix and R.L. Stine adapters. I gave the first two movies B+; I think this fun little triple feature might just deserve an A- overall. Available on Netflix.

Gunpowder Milkshake (R)

Karen Gillan, Lena Headey.

Also Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Paul Giamatti.

Sam (Gillan) is a no-nonsense assassin working for crime guy Nathan (Giamatti) in this richly colored, entertainingly mannered shoot-’em-up movie.

Sam learned the business from her mom, Scarlet (Headey), who had to take off abruptly 15 years ago after angering the wrong people. For reasons that don’t quite make sense, Scarlet doesn’t leave the then-teenage Sam at the Library, a sort of professional association for lady bad-asses staffed by some lady bad-asses: Anna May (Bassett), Florence (Yeoh) and Madeleine (Gugino). But when the now young-30s-something Sam has herself killed the wrong people, she turns to the Librarians to help her dispose of some weaponry and later for some extra firepower. She also finds herself protecting the 8-year-old Emily (Chloe Coleman), who quickly starts to call herself Sam’s apprentice.

Gunpowder Milkshake feels like a very appropriate name for this movie in that it often comes across like a McFlurry or a Blizzard with bits of Guy Richie stylings and the Kill Bill movies swirled with thick ribbons of John Wick and a vaguely Carmen Sandiego outfit worn by Gillan. The result is not unpleasant. It’s a bit weird and lumpy at times, like some pretzel-fudge-cookie-dough-cinnamon concoction would be, but it’s overall affable. It’s an accessible ladies-kicking-butt-plus-slo-mos movie. It’s violent but not cruel, it has its gory moments at times but not grisly. It has the feel of a highly stylized, well-cast one-off comic book come to life. B- Available on Netflix.

Werewolves Within (R)

Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub.

You know Milana Vayntrub even if you’re thinking “who is Milana Vayntrub?” She is the woman-girl-lady of indeterminate age from the AT&T ads and when you see her here she feels at least as famous as your average sitcom star, bringing the same quirky energy from the commercials to her character here.

Vayntrub plays Cecily, the mailwoman in Beaverfield, who shows around Finn Wheeler (Richardson), the new forest ranger in what turns out to be a pretty strange small town. A man named Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall) has pitted neighbor against neighbor, husband against wife, with his offers to buy people’s land to bring his pipeline through. Cecily also fills Finn in on assorted hot Beaverfield goss — who left who for whom, who had an affair with whom and who is just a straight up weirdo.

With a big storm approaching, the town is suddenly shaken by two startling, maybe-or-maybe-not connected events: a woman’s small dog is eaten while she lets him out on a leash, the townsfolks’ generators are slashed and damaged. Add to this the dead body that Finn finds and soon everybody is holed up in Jeanine’s (Catherine Curtin) inn, trying to figure out whether the danger is outside or inside.

As the title suggests, “werewolves” soon become the most considered suspect — even if there are plenty of other people with motive for Muhr-Der and also, really, werewolves? It’s a fun little blend of locked room murder mystery and possibly-creature horror and the movie seems to play the tone just right — jokey but not aggressively so and with characters who are wacky but not insufferable. I guess you could call this movie (which is apparently based on a video game) horror but I feel like it is far more a light (well, light with some gruesome injury and death), fun comedy. B Available for rent.

Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG)

LeBron James joins the Looney Tunes on the animated basketball court in Space Jam: A New Legacy, a pretty impressive flex by Warner Bros.

More than anything else, this movie seems crafted to remind you of all the properties under the Warner Brothers umbrella — Harry Potter, the DC superheroes, Game of Thrones, The Wizard of Oz, the Matrix movies. It’s like Warner Bros. was like “what can we do to convince people Disney doesn’t own everything?”

I should admit up front that I don’t think I’ve ever seen 1996’s Space Jam. It’s not like there’s some overarching mythology that I’m not able to plug in to but if there is some kind of nostalgia factor, I’m not going to hear the sounds at that particular frequency. (On the flip side, this movie also isn’t going to destroy my childhood memories or anything. I suppose I can catch up if I want as the original Space Jam is available on HBO Max.)

Human LeBron James lives in live-action Los Angeles with what Wikipedia calls a fictionalized version of his real family: wife Kamiyah (Sonequa Martin-Green), young daughter Xosha (Harper Lee Alexander), oldest teen basketball-star son Darius (Ceyair J. Wright) and younger teen “basketball, meh” son Dom (Cedric Joe). Dom’s thing isn’t real-world basketball but a basketball themed video game he’s constructing. Despite the impressive graphics and potential profitability of the game, LeBron just sees it as a distraction from Dom buckling down to really work on his basketball skills. Why can’t you appreciate me for me, says Dom, echoing every movie kid ever.

As if to underline just how profitable Dom’s skills could be, LeBron and son go to the Warner Bros. lot to see a presentation for Warner 3000, a plan by Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), a try-hard attention-seeking algorithm/artificial intelligence/sentient digital being that’s making content for Warner Bros.

Al demonstrates how he can put a computer-generated version of animated LeBron in a variety of Warner Bros. intellectual properties, thus making money for everybody without LeBron ever having to physically step on set. Dom is impressed by all the tech but LeBron says hard pass to this plan that he thinks will just pull his attention away from basketball.

Because Al is very upset that nobody recognizes his contributions and hurt that LeBron made fun of his Warner 3000, he sucks Dom and LeBron into the, uhm, digital “serververse.” He tells LeBron that if he’s so keen to focus on basketball now he can — the catch being that if he doesn’t win an in-the-digital-world game against Al’s team (crafted from Dom’s game with versions of current NBA/WNBA players) he and Dom will never get out of the Warnerverse.

When Al sends LeBron off to gather his team, a now animated LeBron winds up in Tune world, where he meets Bugs Bunny (voice by Jeff Bergman). Bugs tells him that Al convinced the other Tunes to scatter to other Warner worlds and thus do Bugs and LeBron set out to find Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote and the rest to fill up the Tune Squad and take on Al’s Goon Squad.

Just in case you needed another swing through Warner’s content offerings.

Do your kids like basketball? Do they like the Looney Tunes or cartoons in general? They will probably at least tolerate A New Legacy. I kind of feel like “parents will be familiar with it, kids will at least tolerate it” and “we can pull out all of our recognizable properties” are the point and driving purpose of this movie. A summer film with this mix of marketability would probably always do well but seems like it has particular potential now, with family movies being some of the most successful sustained hits of the pandemic era (it won its first weekend in theaters, making a little less than $32 million, according to IndieWire).

If it sounds like I’m talking about this movie solely as a product it’s because it feels very much like a product. Not a bad product; A New Legacy feels like the fast-food chicken sandwich combo meal with movie tie-in bag and collectible toy that can nonetheless really hit the spot sometimes. But there’s nothing deeper there. LeBron James is, well, not an actor but he’s plenty affable and he does what the story needs him to do. The movie doesn’t do anything particularly clever with its tooniness (though there are the occasional good jokes, such as when one of the toons reminds LeBron that they’re not called the “Fundamentals Tunes” when he tells them not to do anything looney out on the court).

Space Jam: A New Legacy doesn’t feel like a classic in the making but as someone always on the lookout for “mostly attention-holding and not inappropriate for kids” entertainment (with some general messaging about trying and being yourself) this meets that standard. C+

Rated PG for some cartoon violence and some language, according to the MPA on Directed by Malcolm D. Lee with a screenplay by Juel Taylor & Tony Rettenmaier & Keenan Coogler & Terence Nance and Jesse Gordon and Celeste Ballard, Space Jam: A New Legacy is an hour and 55 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. It is available on HBO Max and in theaters.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (PG-13)

People you probably remember as “oh yeah, that girl” and “right, that guy” return for another bout of puzzle-solving and death in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, a sequel to the 2019 movie.

That fact right there might be the most shocking thing about this movie: its preceding entry was released in January 2019. That’s a mere two and a half years ago but also, like, easily a decade or two ago in terms of how far it feels from now and how much I even remember January 2019. This movie seems to know this and shows you clips of the first movie with some voiceover that basically gives you the gist: This escape room puzzle competition is actually To The Death with nameless rich people out there in the world watching and betting on the hapless “players.” Someone survives sometimes, I guess, and in one of the games (the one we in the audience saw in 2019) two people survived: Ben (Logan Miller) and Zoey (Taylor Russell), who was smart enough to kind of break through the game and save Ben from a murderous game master.

After they escaped they couldn’t get anyone to believe their story that a company called Minos was killing people for entertainment, but Zoey is still determined to find evidence that will bring that company down. She found a clue leading to New York City and eventually worked up the nerve to go there with Ben. (This is more or less where the first movie ended, with the pair planning to go to New York. In this movie, they make the trip.)

While investigating, they wind up in a subway car, just a totally normal mostly empty subway car with a few similarly aged people, all of whom seem to be sporting some kind of scar or visible sign of a past trauma. When that subway car comes loose from the rest of the train and goes hurtling toward an empty stretch of track, Zoey, Ben and four people (Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Carlito Olivero), who hopefully are paid up on their life insurance, pretty quickly figure out that they have all experienced a Minos game before and are now in some kind of “tournament of champions,” as one person correctly guesses/states the movie’s title. Since they all know how the game is played, they quickly get to work trying to figure out how to not die but this game is deadlier than their first outing. I think, or maybe they’re just more freaked out from the jump so it seems more intense. It also feels snappier than I remember, which I appreciate.

So, do you personally need to know the mythology of Minos and the game or can you just live in the moment? If, like Zoey, you want to know who is behind this and bring the whole system down and make them pay and yada yada yada, this is probably not your movie, in that “yada yada yada” seems to be the overall approach to the grand story here. If you can just be in the moment of each puzzle room and ride the rollercoaster that is spotting the clues and figuring out how that particular room is likely to kill one of the people who is left (and then you get the fun of guessing who that is going to be), then this movie is fine. Not thrill-a-minute but not boring, not smart but not too dumb and with a kind of silly cleverness. It’s fine, it’s adequate, it meets the basic requirements of entertainment in that you can watch it and be distracted from your immediate surroundings.

There’s nothing here that in the slightest reaches out to anybody not already inclined to go see this second of what I suspect will be at least three movies but I feel like if you liked the first Escape Room movie enough (enough to say remember that there was a first Escape Room and basically what it was about without having to look up details) this won’t disappoint you. C+

Rated PG-13 for violence, terror/peril and strong language, according to the MPA on Directed by Adam Robitel with a screenplay by Will Honley and Maria Melnik & Daniel Tuck and Oren Uziel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is an hour and 28 minutes long and is distributed by Columbia Pictures. It is in theaters.

Pig (R)

Nicholas Cage wants his pig back in Pig, a movie whose basic description does not match its surprising amount of grace.

Rob (Cage) lives somewhere in the woods of Oregon, hunting truffles for a living but otherwise shutting out the rest of the world. His hunting partner is a pig who is clearly not just a working animal but his one living source of emotional connection. When two people break into his cabin, beating him and stealing his pig, the first thing Rob does when he wakes up is to start searching.

Because a busted old truck can’t take him much beyond his own property — and probably because he wants to start his search with the one other human he sees regularly — Rob calls Amir (Alex Wolff), the guy who buys his truffles. After some searching around his rural area, Rob gets a clue — the guy his pig was sold to was “from the city.” Though Amir thinks that’s not nearly enough information to go on, Rob gets Amir to drive him to Portland to search for his beloved pig.

I’ve seen at least one headline that called this movie “John Wick with a pig” and while that’s not untrue in terms of some of the themes and there are some similarities to the basic details of the plot, the movie I thought of most while watching this was First Cow. Something about the relationships between people and animals, the Pacific Northwest setting and the way food is a source of comfort, memory and commerce kept bringing me back to First Cow. That and something in the way the movie can be mournful but dryly funny, grimy (both visually and in tone) but also full of grace (again, both visually and in the way it displays people’s core emotions).

While we get a few clues about Rob pre-pignapping, it’s when Rob and Amir get to Portland that we learn Rob has A Past. I like how the movie unfolds this information — which is why I’m not getting more into it — and what the movie chooses to tell us about Rob. In the end, we don’t know his whole biography, but we do get to what kind of person Rob is. And, as much as I credit the script for this, Cage deserves a lot of the credit as well. This is a restrained but rich performance from him.

Pig has that satisfying feel of a really good short story — sure, you don’t get every answer but you get a thoroughly engrossing experience with a fully realized world and set of characters. A

Rated R for language and some violence, according to MPA on Written and directed by Michael Sarnoski, Pig is an hour and 32 minutes long and distributed by Neon. It is in theaters.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (R)

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is probably well titled in that it is “a” documentary, not necessarily a definitive documentary, about the late chef turned author turned TV personality.

Though, “TV personality” doesn’t seem exactly right for Bourdain or for the legacy of his TV shows. Some of the people here argue that his shows, which changed titles and channels and eventually became Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN, are doing journalism, or at least a kind of journalism. And, they say, the more he traveled, the less they were about food and the more they became about people and even the impact that traveling to new places and meeting new people has on the traveler. This feels true. I watched Bourdain’s shows on and off over the years but the ones I saw most frequently and that really stick with me are Parts Unknown, particularly the last four or so seasons, which really seemed to capture the mood of the world at the time in addition to talking about food. (All 12 seasons are available on HBO Max, which is one of the producers of this film. The show before that, No Reservations, appears to be available on Discovery+.)

Here, we get something like a biography of Bourdain, focusing on the period starting in his early 40s, when he was a working chef at Les Halles in New York City, through his fame as an author and then as the host of TV shows. The shows started as, roughly, food-themed travel but morphed into something that captured the “be a traveler, not a tourist” saying. In addition to his career (though not all of his career; I recall some Top Chef years that aren’t mentioned here) we get a look at his personal life. We see the toll the course of his career takes on two marriages, his desire to be a good father after having a daughter late in life, his love for/obsession with travel, the lingering effects of his addiction to heroin and his general life outlook that is frequently described by friends and coworkers as “dark.”

The movie does a good job showing how Bourdain found his groove as a host of his shows, how it brought out his voice and how he was able to mold the shows into something more complex than food tourism. Because this movie is so focused on his TV career, we get a lot of what went in to developing these shows and I always enjoy this kind of processy element. Bourdain comes off as a kind of artist — largely an artist of things (food, cable TV shows) that exist in the moment.

This movie definitely has a point of view. The people interviewed here are, in addition to friends, largely people connected with the production of his shows. Asia Argento, whom he had been dating at the time of his death by suicide in 2018, doesn’t give an interview and it’s been reported (all over the place but I read it in Vulture) that this was a choice that the director made. This wouldn’t matter so much except that Bourdain’s TV coworkers who speak here do not seem to like Argento and did not enjoy working with her around. The crew is self-aware enough that one of the directors realizes what he’s saying comes off as a kind of blame that is maybe not fair, but everything about Argento here is just odd in its presentation. Like elements of Bourdain’s life, it’s a situation for which there is no easy solution. It would have been odd not to mention her; it would have been odd to make the movie more about her.

As has also been widely reported, the movie uses some deepfake vocal effects to have Bourdain’s voice say things he wrote but which there is no recording of him saying out loud. This is an odd choice. Bourdain has such a distinctive writerly voice, as is evidenced by an instance of someone reading a note from him, that we don’t need some simulacrum of his voice saying the words for us to know they’re from him.

These things get in the way of what is often a funny and puffery-eschewing documentary that calls nonsense on some of the “foodie bad boy” stuff and also offers an interesting examination of his work.

The documentary isn’t perfect but I suppose that fits — Bourdain wasn’t perfect. And there’s something very affecting about the way the movie talks about his death and his mental health and how his friends and longtime coworkers wrestle with it.

Ultimately, the movie made me want to revisit Bourdain’s work, maybe check out some of the books I haven’t read over the years. He was a massive talent and the movie offers a bittersweet reminder of this. B+

Rated R for language throughout, according to the MPA on Directed by Morgan Neville, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is an hour and 59 minutes long and distributed by Focus Features. It is currently in theaters and, according to a July 18 story on The Hollywood Reporter website, it will be available on VOD in a few weeks and later be broadcast on CNN and stream on HBO Max.

Featured photo: Space Jam: A New Legacy



Chunky’s Cinema Pub
707 Huse Road, Manchester;
151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua;
150 Bridge St., Pelham,

O’neil Cinemas at Brickyard Square
24 Calef Highway, Epping

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord

Rex Theatre
23 Amherst St., Manchester

Wilton Town Hall Theatre
40 Main St., Wilton, 654-3456


Hotel Transylvania (PG, 2012) a “Little Lunch Date” screening at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua & Pelham on Wednesday, July 21, at 11:30 a.m. Reserve tickets in advance with $5 food vouchers. The screening is kid-friendly, with lights dimmed slightly, according to the website.

Grease(PG, 1978) a senior showing on Thursday, July 22, at 11:30 a.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham. Admission free but reserve tickets in advance with $5 food vouchers.

21+ Scratch Ticket Bingo on Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester and Nashua. Admission costs $10.

The Sandlot 21+ trivia night at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $5, which is a food voucher.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain(R, 2021) Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25, at 12:30, 3:30 & 6:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres.

Pig (R, 2021) Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25, at 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

I Carry You With Me (R, 2021) Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25, at 4 & 7 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

Summer of Soul (PG-13, 2021) Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25, at 1 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

21+ “Life’s a DRAG” Show on Saturday, July 24, at 9 p.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester. Tickets cost $25.

Branded a Bandit (1924) andThe Iron Rider (1926) silent film Westerns with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Sunday, July 25, 2 p.m., at Wilton Town Hall Theatres. Screenings are free but a $10 donation per person is suggested.

Jaws screening and kitchen takeover with Chef Keith Sarasin of The Farmers Dinner on Sunday, July 25, at 7 p.m. at Chunky’s in Manchester. The dinner costs $65 (plus tax and tip). Vegetarian option and a wine pairing option are also available. Buy tickets in advance online.

The Goonies (PG, 1985) at the O’neil Cinema in Epping on Monday, July 26, and Wednesday, July 28, at 10 a.m. Tickets $2 for kids ages 11 and under and $3 for ages 13 and up. A $5 popcorn and drink combo is also for sale.

High School Musical 2 (TV-G, 2007) screening on Wednesday, July 28, 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre to benefit the Palace Youth Theatre. Tickets cost $12.

Jaws 21+ trivia night at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $5, which is a food voucher.

Jungle Cruise (PG-13, 2021) a sensory friendly flix screening, with sound lowered and lights up, on Saturday, July 31, 10 a.m. at O’neil Cinema in Epping.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) at the O’neil Cinema in Epping on Monday, Aug. 2, and Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 10 a.m. Tickets $2 for kids ages 11 and under and $3 for ages 13 and up. A $5 popcorn and drink combo is also for sale.

Noise, by Daniel Kahneman

Noise, by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein (Little, Brown Spark, 398 pages)

Five years ago, writing in Harvard Business Review, the esteemed psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman joined with a few other enviably smart people to discuss the concept of noise: not the kind your neighbors make while you’re trying to sleep, but the kind that clouds judgments, sometimes to devastating effect.

This kind of noise, as Kahneman describes it, is the wide variance in outcomes that we might think should be similar but instead are all over the map. One of the most obvious examples of this is in criminal justice, where one person might get a 20-year sentence for a crime, while another gets five years and community service. That makes the criminal justice system particularly noisy, in Kahneman terms.

But even if you don’t plan on going to jail, noise in human judgment probably affects you, as people such as doctors and loan officers also have wide discretion in their decisions. It’s not just unusual — it’s unnervingly common— for physicians to offer different diagnoses a few weeks apart when researchers present them with the exact same case.

And completely unrelated things such as whether people have eaten recently and whether their sports team won over the weekend can affect the decisions they make.

It’s an important subject and one worthy of consideration, more so if you’re in a noisy profession or at the mercy of one. And so fans of Kahneman, whose 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow was universally lauded, might be excited to delve into his latest, Noise, A Flaw in Human Judgment, written with Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein. Unfortunately, most of us would be better off just reading the Harvard Business Review article from 2016, which lays out the principles of noise without causing the reader unnecessary pain.

Noise is a scholarly book written for a scholarly audience that is at the forefront of the literary conversation only because Thinking, Fast and Slow was so well-received. Had this manuscript fallen into the hands of a publisher who knew nothing of the authors or their past credits, it would have been cut in half or, equally likely, still languish in the slush pile.

To their credit, the authors did try to simplify their subject for a mass audience. Or at least one of them did. You never know, with three authors, who is writing at any given point, and Noise is erratic in its understandability. You might say the book itself is noisy.

Some chapters read like AP psychology, others like an Ivy League dissertation. (Example: “You may have noticed that the decomposition of system noise into level noise and pattern noise follows the same logic as the error equation in the previous chapter, which decomposed error into bias and noise.”) Not that they didn’t give us warning. In the opening to the book, the authors suggest some readers might want to skip the first four parts of the book (there are six) and go straight to Part 5, essentially skipping half the book.

But people who do that will miss some of the book’s interesting content, including how the free-throw averages of NBA players have the wide variability of noise despite the hoop always being 10 feet away and the ball always weighing 22 ounces. That’s because the players are susceptible to the same lottery-like forces that we are in our daily lives. We are not the same people that we were 10 years ago, or even 10 minutes ago, because of variables such as mood, stress and fatigue. So decisions in ordinary life can be noisy as well, although they can rarely be documented as such.

So what to do about this problem? Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein have some solutions. One is to adopt the social-science concept known as the “wisdom of crowds.” Researchers have shown that while individuals may not be great at guessing things, whether the number of gumballs in a glass bowl or the number of airports in the U.S., as a group we come close, when researchers combine individual guesses into an average or mean. Taking the average of four independent judgments can reduce noise by half, the authors write.

Outside a social-science lab, the best way to leverage this finding in our daily life is to get other people’s opinions (independent ones, not people with the proverbial dog in the fight) and make a decision that best represents the mean. If you don’t have time or inclination to consult others, social science has another solution: create an “inner crowd” by coming up with your own best guess, and then basically challenging your own decision: Assume your first decision is wrong and consider why. Then make a different decision, based on these reasons. Often, the best decision will lie in the space between your first and second choices.

That’s one strategy in creating a personal form of “decision hygiene,” which the authors suggest. But they write about a nebulous topic and concede that it’s nearly impossible to know how good decision hygiene helps. “Correcting a well-identified bias may at least give you a tangible sense of achieving something. But the procedures that reduce noise will not. They will, statistically, prevent many errors. Yet you will never know which errors. Noise is an invisible enemy, and preventing the assault of an invisible enemy can yield only an invisible victory.”

Like Kahneman’s previous work, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 2002, the theories put forth in Noise will be considered groundbreaking and this book will likely win awards that have nothing to do with its readability. Outside the academy, it’s a hard row to hoe, but there’s value in skimming. C

Book Notes

The 2020 Olympic Games, postponed because of the pandemic, kick off this weekend, but don’t feel too sorry for the athletes competing a year late and without spectators.

Things could be worse, and in fact have been, as you will learn in Total Olympics by Jeremy Fuchs (Workman, 336 pages), who promises to reveal “every obscure, hilarious, dramatic and inspiring tale worth knowing.”

The worst in recent memory has to be the 1972 Olympics, the year of the Munich massacre. But in terms of sheer hassle and inconvenience for the athletes, consider 1948, when London finally got around to holding the 1944 games (canceled because of the war). The city was so spent and countries were so broke that this was dubbed the “Austerity Games” with athletes making their own uniforms and bringing their own food. But they pulled it off and let it be known that a Dutch mother of two won four gold medals in track and field and became known internationally as “the Flying Housewife.” It looks to be an entertaining read between commercials.

For a narrower look, specific to track-and-field athletes, check out The Fastest Men on Earth by Neil Duncanson (Welbeck, 384 pages). It’s a new paperback that tells the stories of 25 Olympic sprinters, including superstar Usain Bolt.

Also worth a look: Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher (Atria, 400 pages), billed as “the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” The hardcover edition came out last year; a paperback will be issued in September.

And for those of you with zero interest in the Olympics, celebrated science writer Sam Kean has a new book out this month. The Icepick Surgeon (Little, Brown and Co., 369 pages) is an entertaining, if deeply disturbing, look at rogue scientists throughout the ages. An introductory quote by Dr. Thomas Rivers sets it up nicely: “All I can say is, it’s against the law to do many things, but the law winks when a reputable man wants to do a scientific experiment.”


Author events

JOYCE MAYNARD Author presents Count the Ways. Toadstool Bookstore, 12 Depot Square, Peterborough. Sat., July 24, 11 a.m. Visit or call 924-3543.

GIGI GEORGES Author presents Downeast: Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America. Toadstool Bookstore, Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., Route 101A, Nashua. Sat., July 24, 2 to 4 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

JESS KIMBALL Author presents My Pseudo-College Experience. Virtual event, hosted by Toadstool Bookstores, located in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Tues., July 27, 6 to 7 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

CATHLEEN ELLE Author presents Shattered Together. Virtual event, hosted by Toadstool Bookstores, located in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Thurs., July 29, 6 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

KATE SHAFFER & DEREK BISSONNETTE Authors present The Maine Farm Table Cookbook. Outside the Music Hall Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., Aug. 12, 6 p.m. Tickets cost $60 for a small table (two people), $120 for a medium table (four people), $180 for a large table (six people). Visit or call 436-2400.

MONA AWAD Author presents All’s Well. The Music Hall Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., Sept. 2, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $13.75. Visit or call 436-2400.


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

SLAM FREE OR DIE Series of open mic nights for poets and spoken-word artists. Stark Tavern, 500 N. Commercial St., Manchester. Weekly. Thursday, doors open and sign-ups beginning at 7 p.m., open mic at 8 p.m. The series also features several poetry slams every month. Events are open to all ages. Cover charge of $3 to $5 at the door, which can be paid with cash or by Venmo. Visit, e-mail or call 858-3286.

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

Featured photo: Noise.

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!