Industrial night

Triple bill leans to heavy sound

As a genre, mathcore occupies the intersection of punk, metal and jazz. Among its practitioners is Willzyx, a Manchester quartet with influences including industrial rock pioneers Ministry, late-stage John Coltrane, and modern exemplars like Daughters and French avant-prog trio PoiL.

Willzyx’s latest EP, i don’t feel anything, was released in September. With six tracks clocking in under 15 minutes, it’s at times relentless, as on the whisper to a scream “Feed Your Feelings,” and “Flexible Lies,” which echoes Red-era King Crimson. “We Can Live Our Deaths in Peace” closes out the new disc perfectly, with Ian Seacrest’s screamo vocals soaring over a progression always on the verge of exploding.

For the curious, their name is pronounced Will-Zee-Ack and comes from the killer whale character in a 2005 South Park episode that parodied Free Willy. In a recent phone interview, Willzyx guitarist Alex Hunt and drummer John Funk talked of plans to tone down the band’s wildness.

“When the pandemic hit, we decided to record stuff we hadn’t done yet … in between the next stage of where we’re going sound-wise,” he said. “What we’re working on is branching toward a more choreographed and organized effort, instead of trying to be heavy and chaotic for the sake of being heavy and chaotic.”

Though based in Manchester, Willzyx hasn’t done many local shows lately, with Boston, Providence or Portland, Maine, more frequently on their calendar, with an occasional New York City gig.

“I think we just kind of want to branch out, try to space it,” Funk said. “All of our friends are here, so when we play, it’s fun for everyone to come hang out, but we also want to share with people who don’t know who we are, so we try and go outward.”

The band’s formative period happened in its hometown, however. They’ve appeared at Shaskeen, and a key venue was the now-shuttered Bungalow.

“The whole thing started almost as a joke,” Hunt said. “It was … free experimentation and trying not to repeat riffs, things like that. We tested all of that at Bungalow; it was the main place for us at the beginning.”

They’re back home on Oct. 23 for a show at Candia Road Brewing Co., with two other acts joining in.

Tweak also hews toward a heavier, industrial rock sound.

“They’re kind of in a similar vein to us in that I feel like we listen to a lot of the same music and share a lot of similar kinds of ideas of why we make music,” Hunt said.

Rounding out the night is Doth, the latest moniker for an ambient band that’s gone by Cain Sauce and Sugar Potion, among other names.

“It’s all the same people; this is just one formation,” Hunt said. “It’s a more sparse, electronic kind of thing.”

The event is a bit of a departure for the craft brewery, which frequently hosts solo singer-songwriters, and it’s also the final appearance of Tweak’s current configuration, as one of its members will soon relocate to Chicago.

“They’re definitely an experience I think people should come and see,” Hunt said. “It’s part jump-scare, part dissonant ambient, and part you can’t really follow the rhythms, but you know they’re there somewhere.”

Willzyx members Hunt, Funk, Seacrest and bass player Colin Ward are pleased to present a diverse night.

“There aren’t a lot of shows that cross genre boundaries,” Hunt said. “There’s the metal scene, there’s the songwriter scene, and they don’t really interact very much. Doth is totally not in the same sound as us, but they have the same mentality of bridging those gaps, exposing people to different things that they might not have known they were interested in. It’s cool to have those different styles on the same bill.”

Willzyx / Doth / Tweak

When: Saturday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m.
Where: Candia Road Brewing Co., 840 Candia Road, Manchester
Tickets: $5 – see

Featured photo: Willzyx. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/10/21

Local music news & events

Join together: After a months-long pandemic delay, an evening with Patty Griffin & Gregory Alan Isakov is finally happening. Griffin is the touchstone for many female singer-songwriters, the debut Living With Ghosts has attained near Blue renown, and her eponymous 2019 album won a Grammy for best folk album, coincidentally beating out Isakov’s Evening Machines. The two each perform solo sets. Thursday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, $50 and up at

Soar again: Celebrating 50 years since the release of Blows Against the Empire, The Airplane Family will play the 1971 album in its entirety over two sets, with multimedia accompaniment. The record introduced the Starship moniker, with science fiction themed songs like “Have You Seen The Stars Tonight” and “Let’s Go Together.” It’s a satellite band; only guitarist Peter Kaukonen was an Airplane member at any point in time. Friday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $40 and up at

Pre-fright: Both crowd and performers will masquerade at a Halloween Bash in downtown Manchester, with headliner Gaslighter & Martial Law paying tribute to Slipknot in full jumpsuit and mask regalia, after a set of Deftones music done by Girih & At The Heart of It, Bleach Temple playing Vanna, and Hawthorne Heights done by members of Robinwood and Aversed. Come in costume for a $5 day-of-show discount. Saturday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, $12 in advance at

Local troubadour: Taking cues from Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, singer-songwriter Tristan Omand spent lots of time on the road early on, venturing to Kentucky, Tennessee and other far-flung locales while making spare gems like 2011’s Toiled Stories. He’s more settled these days, though still pursuing the artist’s life with vigor. He made So Low in 2019 and released the all-instrumental treble revisions last year. Sunday, Oct. 24, 5:30 p.m., Spotlight Room at the Palace, 96 Hanover St., Manchester, $19 at

En Español: On a pair of upcoming dates The Mavericks will feature songs from their first all-Latin album, along with hits that helped cement the band’s country rock bona fides, like “What A Crying Shame” and “Dance The Night Away.” Lead singer Raul Malo called the recently released disc “a whole new beginning … uncharted territory.” It includes seven covers and five originals. Tuesday, Oct. 26, and Wednesday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, $48 and up at

At the Sofaplex 21/10/21

There’s Someone Inside Your House (TV-MA)

Sydney Park, Théodore Pellerin.

Based on a book, this Netflix high school horror film feels far more classic than its modern setting: There are some 1970s and 1980s slasher and YA vibes, some knowing (I think) Scream-ness and some spiritual and tonal similarities to Netflix’s recent Fear Street trilogy. High school students start dying in this Nebraska town but not only are their slayings gruesome, so are the secrets revealed before their deaths. A popular football player and his participation in the vicious beating of a fellow student; the goodie-goodie student president’s secret racist podcast. Quickly the teens become afraid not only for their lives but for their reputations as well.

Recent transfer Makani (Park) has so much to hide she has even changed her name. She is traumatized by the secret she thinks could lose her her new group of friends, which includes cool “outsider” kids like the outspoken Alex (Ashja Cooper) and the NASA-hopeful Darby (Jesse LaTourette). Ollie (Pellerin) is so outsider-y that even those kids think he’s a weirdo — making him an instant suspect for the popular kid murders. One of Makani’s tamer secrets is that she and Ollie are sort of together.

I’m sure “aw, this movie full of violent slashings is plucky and cute” is not necessarily what the movie was going for — but it is! I like these kids, with their mash of trying to do better, normal teen awfulness and earnestness. Without being Scream jokey, this movie has a sense of humor about itself and its characters and has affection for them too.

The Last Duel (R)

The Last Duel (R)

Matt Damon and Adam Driver fight one-on-one but all I’m going to remember is Ben Affleck’s very blond hair in The Last Duel, a movie that takes, like, two hours and 32 minutes to say “gaaah, the patriarchy, amirite?”

Which, yes, movie, gaah, the patriarchy. Thanks for really underlining this one example. See also most of recorded history, which this movie doesn’t seem to think I’m aware of.

For a movie this long and full of Stuff, it has a rather simple plot. Ambitious blowhard Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) rapes Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), wife of ambitious blowhard (but not as good at it) knight Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), in medieval-times France (1386). We see the incident and a lot of context around it from each person’s perspective — first de Carrouges, then Le Gris and then Marguerite. (We are forced to see the actual assault twice. Even though one time is supposed to be from Le Gris’ perspective, I don’t think the movie ever really tries to convince us that we’re not watching a violent and unwanted encounter.) The two men paint themselves as the blameless hero of their versions. In Marguerite’s version, which the movie tells us is the truth (but also even from the men’s own point of views we can guess as much), we get the unvarnished picture of just how unpleasant life is for Marguerite in particular and women in general.

The movie is bookended by the actual duel between de Carrouges (who is demanding “justice” for the wrong which, as he sees it, was done to him) and Le Gris, where the winner will be presumed to be the truthful party about the charge. If de Carrouges loses, Marguerite will be judged as having lied about the assault and will be burned to death. To get us to the big duel, the movie jumps around a lot in time as it shows us the men’s relationship over the years and their dealings with Pierre d’Alencon (Ben Affleck), their nobleman boss. He takes a shine to Le Gris and deeply dislikes de Carrouges, both on a personal level and for his assorted military failures. Le Gris clearly prizes his relationship with d’Alencon, which wins him prestige and property, but he also has a longstanding friendship with de Carrouges.

I’m not entirely sure what the movie thinks it’s doing with the long setup between de Carrouges, d’Alencon and Le Gris. D’Alencon is painted as a prosperous and powerful man who gives in to his every whim (many of his scenes would put Game of Thrones to shame with their sexposition) and who has a wife who knows her role and plays it and probably isn’t d’Alencon’s biggest fan. Le Gris seems to think of himself as cultured and sensible but is also vain and petty — not as petty, though, as de Carrouges. De Carrouges is desperate for respect and position but is brittle, unlikeable, not terribly bright and has absolutely no social intelligence. I think the movie maybe thinks it’s putting us on de Carrouges’ and Le Gris’ sides during their versions (or at least giving them layers) but there is never really a point when any of these people is presented as all that complex or compelling or as having any kind of self-awareness.

Marguerite is painted as a smart, well-read woman who gets stuck with her unpleasant husband due to some poor choices by her father and is at her happiest when de Carrouges is off losing battles in Scotland and she’s running the estate well enough to afford a fancy new dress. But even when she isn’t saddled with de Carrouges’ company, she’s stuck dealing with his bitter mother (Harriet Walter).

Look, this movie bugged me, presenting some obvious observations about gender politics as though they were blindingly brilliant insights and taking minutes and minutes to give us information about characters when small moments and details would have done it better and smarter. But. But there is a dark sense of, well, not humor exactly but maybe wit in the dialogue and in some elements of the story — which I credit to Nicole Holofcener, who co-wrote this movie with Damon and Affleck. Holofcener, writer of movies like Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Enough Said and Please Give, is really good at moments between characters and little details that give us insight into someone. There is some of that here — often drowned out, like a sea of ranch dressing smothering a few slices of cucumber, by a bunch of just dumb business with, like, de Carrouges’ pride or Le Gris’s self-importance or every single thing to do with d’Alencon. Actually, I kind of enjoyed all the Affleck d’Alencon stuff. It’s such an Affleck-y performance (with such a hilarious hair/beard situation), so entertainingly, goofily sleazy. I don’t know about anybody else, but Affleck seems to be enjoying himself.

Doing actual good work is Comer, managing to present a recognizable human person in the medieval garb. She brought something to what could have been a real cardboard cutout role, particularly in the scenes where we’re seeing the two men’s versions of her. Even then we manage to see the person and her thoughts that they’re not picking up on.

The Last Duel is frustrating. It is way way too long for what it’s doing. It’s very impressed with itself for some real “book report written the night before it’s due” level examination of issues. And the performances by its trio of male actors are frequently daffy. But some of that daffiness is purposeful, I think, and it’s in those moments when the movie is, if not enjoyable exactly, quite watchable. C+

Rated R for strong violence including sexual assault, some graphic nudity, and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Ridley Scott with a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener & Ben Affleck & Matt Damon, The Last Duel is two hours and 32 minutes long and distributed by Twentieth Century Studios in theaters.

Halloween Kills (R)

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode in Halloween Kills, the latest in a franchise that feels like it’s run out of ideas.

Actually, Jamie Lee Curtis largely gives us Laurie from a hospital bed, where she ended up due to a stab in the gut received in the last entry of this series (2018’s Halloween, which is available for rent or purchase and via Hulu and Sling TV). Sometimes Laurie is even unconscious. File this under “nice work if you can get it” and full respect to Jamie Lee Curtis for saying I’m going to stay in bed for a chunk of this one.

As you may dimly recall, Halloween ended with Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and Karen’s daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) trapping Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle, credited on IMDb as The Shape), the mask-wearing knife-wielding extremely-serial killer, in the basement of her fortified cabin, which was then on fire. And thus dies Michael.


Because they haven’t seen the previous movies, in this outing, firefighters arrive at Laurie’s house to put out the fire and are then, naturally, murdered gruesomely as a freed Michael sets out to continue his evening of ambling menacingly and murder. We also get some glimpses back at 1978 and the original spate of killings to weave in stories of the now late-middle-age survivors and cops including Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), Lindsey (Kyle Richards) and Marion (Nancy Stephens). Allyson’s boyfriend, Cameron (Dylan Arnold), and his father, Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), who had a run-in with Myers back in the day, are also mixed up in the night of murder, which is still Halloween. Tommy decides that enough is enough and riles up the townsfolk with the easily chantable “evil dies tonight” call to action to hunt down and kill Michael Myers once and for all.


There are a couple of instances in this movie of people saying that Michael Myers isn’t a normal man, he has strength beyond a mere mortal. In how it portrays Myers, the movie goes way beyond that into “completely unkillable by any means” — and here lies the problem. If nothing can kill Myers and you can never really get away from him, then where’s the tension? There isn’t even much question of how Myers is going to kill everybody because popping up behind them and stabbing them is almost always the answer. The 2018 Halloween seemed to deal with this by adding in some making fun of true crime podcasts and by giving Laurie a hand-built arsenal to fight Myers with (though, looking back at my review, I say that it’s still mostly stab-centric). Here, the only new idea seems to be “what if a bunch of people tried to kill Michael Myers at once” and something that feels like “yada yada mob anger, point TK” but even that feels only half-heartedly applied, what with lots of instances of a group of people going to search for Myers and then approaching him one by one. (Also, this mob attempts to hunt a known slasher largely with baseball bats as their primary weapon. It’s a weird choice.)

The best part of Halloween Kills is its extremely retro visuals (from the font of the title cards to all the cars and wardrobe choices that would feel right at home in the late 1970s) and score. It creates a mood, sets out the building blocks of familiar movie and story-telling elements and even manages to get some actors doing solid horror-movie work (including some moments when it seems to have a little fun with some one-scene slashee characters). I just wish Halloween Kills would do something more exciting, energetic, unexpected, funny or even goofy with its premise and characters. C

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use, according to the MPA on Directed by David Gordan Green and written by Scott Teems & Danny McBride & David Gordan Green, Halloween Kills is an hour and 45 minutes long and is distributed by Universal Studios in theaters and via Peacock.



Bank of NH Stage in Concord
16 S. Main St., Concord

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

The Flying Monkey
39 Main St., Plymouth

The Music Hall
28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth

O’neil Cinemas
24 Calef Hwy., 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


A Nightmare on Elm Street (R, 1984) on Thursday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre. Tickets cost $10 ($8 with student ID).

Frenzy (1972) screening on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

Halloween (R, 1978) Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Music Hall. Tickets cost $15.

21+ Trivia Night for Rocky Horror Picture Show at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. Reserve a seat with the purchase of a $5 food voucher.

The Velvet Underground (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres, Friday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 24, at 1, 4 & 7 p.m.

Bergman Island (R, 2021) (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres, Friday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 24, at 4:30 p.m.

Lamb (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres, Friday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 24, at 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.

On the Beach (1959) screening Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre.

Fire Shut Up In My Bones — The Met Opera Live at the Bank of NH Stage in Concord on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 12:55 p.m. Tickets cost $26.

Huckleberry Finn (1974), a musical adaptation, on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre.

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (PG, 2001) at Chunky’s in Manchester and Nashua on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. Dressing in costume is encouraged.

The Bridges of Madison County (PG-13, 1995) as well as the presentation of a new documentary film, at Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (G, 1971) on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m. at the Rex Theatre in Manchester. Tickets $12.

Beetlejuice (PG, 1988) at O’neil Cinemas in Epping with multiple screenings Monday, Oct. 25, through Thursday, Oct. 28. $5.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 2013) Baz Luhrmann’s high-energy take at Rex Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12.

Vintage railroad melodramas

The New Hampshire Telephone Museum will present two train-focused silent films on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m. at the Warner Town Hall in Warner. See The West-Bound Limited (1923), starring Ella Hall (pictured), and Transcontinental Limited (1926) with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Tickets cost $10; see

Featured photo: The Last Duel. Courtesy photo.

I Left My Homework in the Hamptons, by Blythe Grossberg

I Left My Homework in the Hamptons, by Blythe Grossberg (Hanover Square Press, 290 pages)

Earlier this year Netflix released a documentary on the college admissions scandal that was dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. If there were to be a prequel, it could be based on I Left My Homework in the Hamptons, a memoir that reveals the lengths to which the wealthy go to ensure that their children do well in high school.

Massachusetts native Blythe Grossberg is a learning specialist who spent nearly 20 years tutoring “the children of the one percent” in New York City, all the while tucking away unflattering anecdotes about her clients and their offspring. It is, in many ways, a story of “poor little rich kids.” Grossberg is sympathetic to the teens, not so much to their parents, some of whom seem to view children as a sort of designer accessory.

Grossberg, who now runs a tutoring company based in Boston, made up names and changed identifying details to create composite characters for the memoir. That seems justified for ethical reasons, if not legal ones, but it does drain the book of some of its power, knowing that Lily, Alex and Trevor, some of the students featured in the book, don’t actually exist, at least not exactly how they are depicted.

That said, maybe that’s a good thing.

Alex, for example, is among the teens portrayed here whose parents play a minimal role in his life. Their job is to make money and hire the tutors, drivers and housekeepers.

For much of the year Alex’s driver picks him up in a black Cadillac Escalade so he can play tennis before and after school. Practice doesn’t end until 7, and then his tutors (plural) await. “He spends far more time with his driver than with his parents, who often don’t come home until long after I’ve tutored Alex in writing,” Grossberg writes.

In addition to Grossberg, the teen has a Yale-educated tutor for math and science, and another tutor, who charges $800 an hour, to prepare him for the SAT. He also has a team of psychiatrists who help with his anxiety.

Although his days are packed with activities, there’s plenty that Alex doesn’t have to do. He doesn’t do homework on his own; that’s saved for tutoring time. His meals are prepared, his clothes washed and put away, his room cleaned, all by others.

Grossberg sees another of her students, Lily, a high school freshman, in between squash lessons and personal training, to which she is driven by the family’s housekeeper. There are few family dinners; in fact, there is no time for dinner at all — Lily eats sushi while she is tutored.

Grossberg works with 16-year-old Ben in the business center of the fancy hotel where he lives. “His parents live in a room nearby with a younger brother, but they are never home.” He eats mostly room service, his favorite a $27 burger on a ciabatta roll. “Bereft of parental supervision, Ben spends his days shuttling between his allergist and therapist and ordering room service. He often goes to school without the proper clothes because his parents forget to go shopping for him.”

While Grossberg at times works to defend the parents as hard-working and well-meaning, they don’t come off well in this book. They complain when she can’t come on the evening they request, or when their children receive Bs. When a grade is not to their liking, it’s either the teacher’s fault (the child is “a bit politically conservative” for this school) or Grossberg’s. Incredibly, some have to be dunned to pay Grossberg’s invoices, sometimes because an accounting firm handles all the family’s expenses.

Grossberg calls the teens “Gatsby’s children” and says they are the spiritual heirs of Fitzgeralds’s hero, who lived in luxury on Long Island. The Great Gatsby, of course, is required reading for most American high school students, and Grossberg’s charges read about Jay Gatsby and his friends with little self-awareness. In fact, they have little awareness of the world outside their world; as do their parents, who are incredulous when Grossberg tells them that she is not summering in the Hamptons. (Does anyone not in the 1 percent use “summer” as a verb?)

Essentially, this is a book not just about tutoring but about the outsourcing of parenting that can occur when enough disposable income is present. One night Grossberg had just gotten home to her family when a student’s mother called and asked if she would speak with her daughter, who was upset about a grade. Grossberg says she could tell from the background noise that the mother was at a restaurant. She called Sophie, who had gotten a B- on a test and was sobbing. She ranted for a while and then announced she had to go study for another test. “I realized she just needed to talk and her mother outsourced it to me,” Grossberg writes.

The same mother later appears in the book when her husband is under investigation for financial wrongdoing and is pictured on the front page of The New York Times. On Grossberg’s next visit, she worries about what to say, but needn’t have: The mother launches into a discussion about her unhappiness with the B+ her daughter has just received.

And on it goes, a car accident in book form that you can’t stop ogling even though you know this is all none of your business, not what’s going on in these children’s lives, nor in their parents’, nor in Grossberg’s. And here’s the thing: While Grossberg is sternly opposed to the lives that Gatsby’s children are leading and makes clear that neglect is one of the parents’ sins, she is collecting all these anecdotes by working long hours after her own teaching job, leaving her young son in the care of babysitters for six days a week. The circumstances are much different, and Grossberg repeatedly compares her impoverished lifestyle, replete with holes in her shoes, with those of her clients. And yet, on some level, both the rich and the (relatively) poor commit the same parenting sin.

Grossberg, the daughter of lawyers and married to an Ivy-League educated magazine editor, makes clear that she needs the money she earns tutoring, but she also lives in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. I found myself wondering why the couple didn’t just move somewhere cheaper, and devote more time to her son.

Ultimately she does move, back to Massachusetts, although by then her son is a teenager. She’s now president of a tutoring company that, from the looks of the website, still caters to the 1 percent. The poor we will always have with us, Jesus of Nazareth said, to which we can add, and they’ll do their homework by themselves. The rich will have help, and it makes for entertaining reading. As for the writing, people probably won’t hire Grossberg based on this book. B-

Book Notes

With William Shatner having formally gone to space the dawn of space tourism is officially here, and the publishing industry was ready for launch.

The most promising read for the general public is Christian Davenport’s The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos (PublicAffairs, 320 pages), but it’s three years old, making it practically ancient history in a rapidly changing field. Similarly, Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the New Space Raceby Tim Fernholz (Mariner, 304 pages) was published in 2018.

More recently, there are two choices. Liftoff by Eric Berger (William Morrow, 288 pages) is a narrower look at Musk and “the desperate early days that launched SpaceX.” There’s also Test Gods by Nicholas Schmidle (Henry Holt & Co., 352 pages) which looks at the third major player in space tourism, Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic.

Shatner, meanwhile, might want to update his autobiographyUp Till Now (Thomas Dunne Books, 358 pages). From his remarks after his return to Earth, it sounds like the flight he made was life-changing, and the memoir was published in 2008. But even more remarkable than going into space at age 90 is the number of books Shatner has written, to include science fiction, multiple memoirs and even a book about horses, published in 2017, The Spirit of the Horse (Thomas Dunne Books, 304 pages). By some accounts Shatner has published 22 books even while continuing to work as an actor, a remarkable second act. It’s a safe bet that a 23rd is already in the works.

Meanwhile humorist David Sedaris has published Round 2 of his diaries. A Carnival of Snackery (Little, Brown and Co., 576 pages) spans the years from 2003 to 2020 and is a followup to 2017’s Theft By Finding, which covered 1977 to 2002. Sedaris already written about many of the events recounted here, but this promises to be an even more unvarnished look, the original material, so to speak

Book Events

Author events

WENDY GORTON Author presents 50 Hikes with Kids: New England. Virtual event hosted by The Toadstool Bookshops of Peterborough, Nashua and Keene. Via Zoom. Sun., Oct. 24, 2 p.m. Visit

RAVI SHANKAR Author presents Correctional. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Wed., Oct. 27, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit or call 224-0562.

CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE Author presents Comfort Me With Apples. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Fri., Oct. 29, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit or call 224-0562.

KEN FOLLETT Author presents Never. Virtual event with author discussion and audience Q&A, hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Sun., Nov. 14, 1 p.m. Tickets cost $36 and include a book for in-person pickup at The Music Hall. 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.

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

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

Album Reviews 21/10/21

Jim Snidero, Strings (Savant Records)

Ha ha, the other week Kenny G got in a meme war with Pat Metheny, if you didn’t hear. Pop-jazz guitarist Metheny attacked the hilariously trite sax player for — I don’t know, something about he didn’t like him, and it went on from there. It was sort of like one of the Osmond brothers dissing the Brady Bunch Band, but the real takeaway is that listenable/commercial/accessible jazz isn’t something that’s worth dissing, even if it’s Kenny G. Take for example this album from alto sax guy Snidero, a recording that just welcomed its 20th anniversary with a CD re-release and first-time issuance in online digital formats. It’s a very clean, often gently swooping thing, with Snidero’s sax/piano/bass/drums band backed by six-odd guys on strings, all hammering out tunes that sound 1950s-ish, 1970s-ish and Leonard Bernstein-ish by turns. It’s a treasure, but the backstory is the thing here: The band was set to record the album in Brooklyn on 9/11, and some of them got stuck in traffic when the attacks happened. A+

Gone To Color, Gone To Color (self-released)

Well this one’s a keeper if you’re a Massive Attack/Zero 7 type of fan. Here you have an experimental rock/electronic-based pair of guys, a duo that originally formed in Cincinnati and are “currently coexisting in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.,” i.e. they collaborate remotely, a setup that’s allowed them to bring in some pretty impressive names, not that these exquisite beats really need any salvaging. Right off the top you have Luyas singer Jesse Stein floating her soprano all over the joint in a beachy joint (“The 606”) that might make you think of Massive Attack’s Martina Topley-Bird, and then, whoa, speak of the devil, Topley-Bird shows up next on the more snappy but still chilly “Dissolved.” “Redok” is a gorgeous-weird-gorgeous walk in the clouds, and then, who but Clinic singer Ade Blackburn pops in for the highly syncopated “Illusions.” You should see the list of contributors: Wilco’s Pat Sansone, Guster’s Luke Reynolds, Liars singer Angus Andrew — I’m left with who the heck even are these guys? Jeez Louise is this awesome. A+


• If you’re marking your calendar, Oct. 22 isn’t a holiday, because it’s the day after my birthday. However, it is a big day for some bands and ‘artistes’, as they have new albums coming out, and I will talk about them now, starting with San Francisco-based rock band Deerhoof, whose new album, Actually You Can, will be at the stores in a matter of hours, in case your little brother hasn’t used his elite hacker skills to pirate it for you already. As usual I have confused this boring indie band with all the other boring indie bands that have the word “deer” in their names, like Deerhunter and Deerfield, although Deerfield is actually kind of non-horrible if you like garage-country music, and who doesn’t. But anyway, Deerhoof, everyone. You know them from such forgettable Pavement-like garbage as “Fresh Born,” which — OK, you don’t know that one? OK, how about — oh, let’s just forget it, if you hate music, you’ll love Deerhoof, let’s leave it at that and try to get through this exercise in one piece. Their new single “Scarcity Is Manufactured” is already out there, so let’s check it out, whattaya say. Hmm, one part is like 1970s-era Yes but with Yoko Ono singing. I have no idea why anyone would want to listen to that, but that’s what it is, and I had no hand in its creation.

• In looking at Fun House, the new album from one-woman-band Hand Habits, I figured I’d try something different: get in touch with the artist (Meg Duffy) and have her write this little bit, so she could tell you herself whether or not this new album is awesome. But weirdly enough, she doesn’t go on her Twitter very much, and I wasn’t going to try to contact her on her very busy Facebook, so I guess I’ll have to do this myself. The single, “No Difference,” isn’t bad, like, imagine if the Beach Boys were actually just a girl and a few of her friends but nevertheless they still made mindless but catchy pop songs and sang “ba ba ba” a lot. I have no idea who would seriously love this, but that means nothing these days, literally nothing.

• Holy crow, look, guys, it’s arena-pop sarcophagus-mummy Elton John, with a new album, The Lockdown Sessions, comin’ right up! As a seasoned newspaper reporter and former CIA double agent, I have deduced that the album’s title refers to a bunch of songs Elton recorded while the country was totally closed down owing to the coronabug. I further predict that guests on this album will include someone old, like Paul McCartney; someone young and boring but inexplicably popular, like Ed Sheeran; and some rising star who’s edgy, like any singer you’ve never heard of. Whatever, barf barf barf, the first single is a collaboration with singer/model Dua Lipa. It is a PNAU-remixed version of the old mummy-radio song “Cold Heart.” Ha ha, the video is a Teletubbies-like cartoon and it’s wicked stupid and lame. The remix is uneventful, not much different than the original snooze-rock version that won a dentist-office poll as being the worst part of going to the dentist, this by a 90-percent margin. Congrats, Elton, for being the stuff of nightmares!

• Finally, let’s look at Blue Bannisters, the new record from Lana Del Rey, who’s really only mesmerizing to you because she’d never date you in a million years unless you’re a professional unicorn polo player. Here’s a single, “Arcadia.” I’m sure this will basically be Goldfrapp but shrinkwrapped, let’s go: It’s a piano gloom ballad, with bad singing that certain people will say is good because otherwise they wouldn’t get paid. She’s quickly turning into a meme, you notice?

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).

Baseball and beers

There’s something about fall ball

“Are you OK?” my wife asked.

I was gripping — white-knuckling — our living room coffee table as the Red Sox clung to a slim lead in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the division round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

I was not OK. While I’ve increasingly become a fair-weather Red Sox fan as the game has evolved to be (too) heavily focused on analytics, rather than the good old-fashioned eye test, this was still the playoffs and this was still the Red Sox.

I took a pretty hefty swallow of my beer, in this case a Patina Pale Ale by Austin Street Brewery in Portland, Maine, and took a deep breath. It didn’t help, as the Sox quickly gave up three straight hits to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to tie the game. By now you know the Sox ended up winning so all’s well that ends well. But you get it. Things were dicey in the moment.

There is something about the flow of a baseball game that lends itself to drinking. It’s actually not that complicated. In addition to inning breaks, there’s a little mini break after each pitch that begs for a sip of beer.

If you do like baseball, fair-weather fan or not, there is something truly special about October baseball. It is so intense. The game hangs in the balance on every pitch. Beer does help with calming the nerves for overly intense viewers like myself.

Now that said, in a close playoff game, you’re not going to be paying close attention to your beer. I don’t think pulling out the most coveted can or bottle in your beer fridge is a great move in the middle of the game — you’re just not going to be able to appreciate it as much as you should because your attention is going to be on the game. (Save it for the post-game celebration.)

That’s not to say I think you should drink something lousy either. I’m just suggesting you choose something you don’t have to think about as much.

Super-hoppy beers are great but they tend to be high in alcohol and I feel the need to remind you that baseball games can run very, very long. The team needs you there for the ninth inning.

Big stouts and porters can be a nice choice but I wouldn’t bother with overly complex brews — again, you’re just not going to be able to take the time to pay attention to layers of complexity.

For game time, I’m looking for something simple. I’m talking Pilsners, pale ales and dry stouts. Maybe toss in an amber ale or something along those lines. I still want the beer to taste good but I don’t want to contemplate its nuances.

Here are three New Hampshire beers that I think pair quite well with October baseball.

Auburn American Red Ale by Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. (Merrimack)

The pour on this is quite dark but don’t let that fool you: This is about as sessionable a beer as they come. The brewery describes it as “smooth, crisp and satisfying” and I can’t do better than that.

Hank’s Pale Ale by Throwback Brewery (North Hampton)

This has a nice backbone of grapefruit in a very crisp and dry package. You’ll want to have a couple of these, regardless of how the game is going.

Dirty Blonde Ale by Portsmouth Brewery (Portsmouth)

Take a sip, don’t think about it and repeat. This light-bodied ale is a perfect choice when you just want a beer that tastes like a beer.

What’s in My Fridge
Pale Ale by Navigation Brewing Co. (Lowell, Mass.)
First, we should talk about the fact that I love that this brewery just left the name as “Pale Ale.” I love the simplicity. I enjoyed the beer right in its taproom, which is a neat spot in an old mill building. The beer was fresh and clean and featured some light grapefruit notes — very sessionable. Cheers!

Featured photo: Beer and Red Sox playoff baseball. Courtesy photo.

Savory Parmesan biscotti

Homemade biscotti have been in my baking repertoire for ages. However, the majority of my biscotti baking has been focused on sweet baked goods. More recently I have come to discover the delightfulness of savory biscotti.

This is the perfect time of year for an introduction to these savory biscotti. With cooler weather arriving, fall is practically begging you to turn your oven on and create some baked goods. Plus, this season usually heralds the returns of soups and stews, which are even more enjoyable when served with a carb-centric side. But forget cornbread and biscuits next time and try biscotti instead.

There are so many reasons to pair these biscotti with your soup or stew. As they are twice-baked and crunchy, they have the perfect consistency for dipping in the broth. Plus, biscotti keep really well, so you can make them when you have a little bit of time and store them until you need them.

Ingredient note: If you don’t have Parmesan on hand, any other hard cheese could be used as a substitute, such as romano or asiago.

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.

Savory Parmesan biscotti
Makes 24

1/3 cup salted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on speed 2 for 2 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.
In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano and basil together.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix on speed 2 for 1 minute..
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 10″ x 3″ rectangle, using floured hands.
Set loaves 2″ apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is set.
Leaving the oven on, remove the biscotti loaves and cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet.
Using a butcher’s knife, cut the loaves into diagonal slices, 3/4″ thick.
Place slices on cookie sheet with the cut sides down.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes.
Turn over slices, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan.
Bake for an additional 8 to 9 minutes.
Remove biscotti from oven, and transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Photo: Savory Parmesan biscotti. Courtesy photo.

In the kitchen with Leo Short

Leo Short and his wife Shannon of Milford are the owners of Sammich NH (, and on Facebook @sammichnh), a food truck specializing in made-to-order hot and cold sandwiches they launched late last month. Popular sandwiches include the house pastrami Reuben with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, spicy bread and butter pickles and Russian dressing on marble rye; the Speziato, featuring Italian cold cuts, mozzarella, pickled red onion and hot cherry peppers on focaccia; and the hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich, which has freshly sliced jalapenos, cilantro and a spicy barbecue aioli, served on a ciabatta roll. Soups, chili and other comfort foods will soon be added to the menu as well. Originally from Connecticut, Leo Short has decades of industry experience, most recently as the chef of St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua for nearly five years. Find Sammich NH at 589 Elm St. in Milford every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, for breakfast sandwiches and other items.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A good, sharp knife.

What would you have for your last meal?

It would be vanilla Swiss almond ice cream from Kimball [Farm] in Jaffrey.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Here in town, it would be Union Street Grill [in Milford]. Fantastic breakfast and fantastic people.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from your food truck?

Danny DeVito.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

My personal favorite is our chicken cutlet, [which has] roasted peppers, provolone cheese, greens and prosciutto. It’s a twist on a sandwich I had at a deli down in my old stomping grounds in Connecticut, at a place called Gaetano’s.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

I think it’s finding a niche or something that’s missing, not necessarily a specific type of food. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and a lot of people who do something outside the box or reinvent the classics.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

We love to cook breakfast, be it hash and eggs, bacon and eggs, or baking scones. … My wife is the baker in the family, and she’s tremendous.

Bacon and cheddar scones
Courtesy of Leo and Shannon Short of Sammich NH,

1 stick cold unsalted butter
2½ cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup chopped cooked bacon
¼ cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter and flour until the butter is the size of peas. Incorporate the baking powder, salt and sugar into the flour and butter mixture. Add milk, bacon and cheese to dry ingredients and mix gently until incorporated. If sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. Fold dough over twice and cut into approximately eight pieces. Bake on parchment paper or a lightly oiled cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes.

Featured photo: Leo Short. Courtesy photo.

Drive-thru Greek eats

Nashua church to host gyro and baklava pop up

It’s been a full year since St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua has had any type of food festival or takeout event, but the demand for more has never gone away. On Saturday, Oct. 23, the church will welcome foodies back for a one-day-only drive-thru gyro and baklava pop-up.

“We know just from conversations with our friends and neighbors here in Nashua that this is something that has really been missed in the community. It’s very much a tradition for people,” said Christina Eftimiou, who is co-chairing the pop-up with fellow parishioner Tina Alexopoulos. “This is our first foray into co-chairing an event like this, and so far the support has been great.”

Unlike at other pandemic-era Greek food events you may have attended, this one does not require any pre-ordering. Visitors can simply arrive at the church between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“It’s going to be like ‘Welcome to St. Philip, how may I take your order?’” Alexopoulos said.

On the menu will be gyro sandwiches, featuring a combination of lamb and beef, homemade tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and crumbled feta cheese wrapped in pita bread. Each gyro order also comes with a bag of chips and bottled water, Coke, Diet Coke or Sprite for a drink.

Sold separately will be a four-pack serving of baklava made using an old church recipe.

“We don’t purchase anything and bring it in,” Alexopolous said. “We’re known for offering everything homemade and fresh, so the baklava is all being prepared by us within a week [of the pop-up], and the gyros are made on the grill right then and there.”

In preparation for the pop-up, Eftimiou said she and Alexopolous looked at gyro and baklava sales from St. Philip’s previous festivals, and they also also reached out to other local church communities that have put on similar takeout events with success.

“We saw how they were run and knew that we could take them on as well,” she said.

Plans are still up in the air to have St. Philip’s Greek food festival return to its traditional in-person format in May 2022, but Eftimiou said another pop-up featuring Greek cookies and pastries is already in the works, likely to take place near the holiday season.

“Beyond just baklava, we’re hoping to also have a few other pastries available for people who want to have a plate of them around their Christmas or Hanukkah tables, or if they want to ship them to a loved one,” she said.

Gyro & Baklava Pop Up

When: Saturday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church, 500 W. Hollis St., Nashua
Cost: $10 for a gyro sandwich with chips and a drink; $12 for a four-pack of baklava (drive-thru only; no pre-orders necessary)

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

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