Driven

Yngwie Malmsteen hits Tupelo

When he’s not revving his Fender Stratocaster at impossible speeds, shredding with a fury that other guitarists aspire to, Yngwie Malmsteen likes to drive Ferraris — he owns five, all of them red. During the pandemic Malmsteen had a lot of time for both endeavors. What resulted was a tour de force album, Parabellum.

Like his fiery playing and his fast cars, Malmsteen’s mind moves at a frenetic pace. A year in the studio, something he hadn’t experienced in decades, was a unique challenge.

“I learned a long time ago to be careful with having too much time,” he said from his home in Miami. “I had 80, 90, 100 ideas; I only took the most inspired things and refined them.”

Malmsteen pointed to Van Halen’s early albums as a source of inspiration.

“They were done very spontaneously in the beginning,” he said. “I keep that spontaneity. … Every time I come up with something new I record it right away, and usually I keep that take.”

Malmsteen played every instrument on Parabellum and sang on the non-instrumental tracks. He once hired guest singers but stopped using them a few records ago.

“That’s definitely a thing of the past,” he said.

When Malmsteen’s first tour since early 2020 begins, a band he calls “a good group of guys” is expected to learn the new songs, and expect surprises.

“We go through the songs at soundcheck; that’s all they get,” he said. “Here’s another thing I do — half an hour before show time, I call them in and we put a setlist together. Then we go on stage and I play different songs anyway! They just gotta know it.”

Malmsteen has long sneered at the idea of collaborating with other musicians, and his history helps explain why. Swedish-born, he grew up in a musical family.

“Everybody was very artistic, which was unusual there in the ’70s, because it was a socialist country [that] didn’t allow that. God bless America, man,” he said.

Classically trained from the age of 5, Malmsteen discovered rock music when he saw a clip of Jimi Hendrix smashing his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival that accompanied a news report of his death in 1970. Later came blues from John Mayall, and hard rock via Deep Purple.

As soon as he could, Malmsteen headed to the United States.

“I took my guitar, my toothbrush, and I got on the plane,” he said. “I had a plan — my plan was to not live in a socialist welfare Marxist bull—- country.”

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, he joined Steeler, a rising glam rock band. His first gig with them attracted a small crowd, but the following week at L.A.’s Troubadour, Malmsteen looked from his dressing room and saw a line stretched around the block.

“I said to someone working there, ‘Who’s playing tonight?’ He points at me and says, ‘You are.’ It was pretty crazy,” he said. “I was 18 years old, and all of a sudden people were digging it.”

He was in Steeler long enough to appear on their lone album, then joined another metal band, Alcatrazz. His stint there lasted less than a year, an exit hastened by onstage clashes with singer Graham Bonnet after Malmsteen received a solo offer while the group was on tour in Japan.

A reunion is, emphatically, not in the cards.

“When I left, they fell into obscurity, but I kept on going, kind of like rising up, I never stopped,” he said. “These guys … they’re selling car insurance; I don’t know what they’re doing. They asked me so many times to join, and I’m, ‘No, I didn’t sit on my ass for 40 years.’”

Malmsteen insists, “I don’t have a chip on my shoulder; the only person I feel have to prove something to is myself,” and on one of Parabellum’s standout cuts, “Eternal Bliss,” he expresses gratitude for his continued success and life’s blessings.

“I have the most beautiful wife in the world, I have a great son, nice house, I’ve played music I want to play and I never compromise,” he said, citing two reasons for his longevity. “One, I find it exciting and challenging, and only because I improvise all the time. If I were to play the same thing over and over that wouldn’t do it. Also, to quote Paganini … one must feel strongly to make others feel strongly.”

Yngwie Malmsteen w/ Images of Eden and Sunlord

When: Friday, Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry
Tickets: $45 and up at tupelohall.com

Featured photo: Yngwie Malmsteen. Photo by Austin Hargraves.

The Music Roundup 21/11/25

Local music news & events

Recovery covers: Wind down from Black Friday shopping and the holiday meal with Project Mess, something of an institution in the area with its 30-year anniversary coming in 2022. Now a trio with Dave Dillavou, Greg Thomas and Phil Plant, the band’s wheelhouse is classic rock with an edge, blending favorites from Tom Petty, Pink Floyd and Santana with the likes of Godsmack, Ozzy and Seven Mary Three. Friday, Nov. 26, 8 p.m., Backstreet Bar & Grill, 76 Derry Road, Hudson. See projectmessrocks.com.

Green eggs: It’s a busy day for Vermont troubadour Brooks Hubbard, as he performs for a brunch crowd in downtown Manchester and then heads back to Sunapee for an evening show. The singer-songwriter made the journey to Nashville a while back to build a name with songs like the bittersweet “Snow & Sunshine,” and mid-decade worked with Jackson Browne guitarist Val McCallum, appearing at a few showcase events. Saturday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester. See brookshubbardmusic.com.

Guitar hero: Playing a free show, legendary Boston band Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters is fronted by a four-time Blues Music Award winner who’s worked next to many of the genre’s greats, from Muddy Waters to Stevie Ray Vaughan. The late B.B. King said of Earl, “I feel the respect and affection for him that a father feels for his son. He is one of the most serious blues guitarists you can find today. He makes me proud.” Saturday, Nov. 27, 7 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 617 Main St., Laconia, tickets at coloniallaconia.com.

Dream combo: Enjoy sweeping views of the Piscataqua River and music from The Brethren at a farm-to-table eatery situated atop a Portsmouth hotel. The supergroup plays jazz standards and covers with a twist, with setlists featuring Lady Gaga, The Beatles, old-school hip-hop and more. It includes Red Tail Hawk guitarist Eric Turner, who’s also a member of Duty Free, and the band’s rhythm section. Sunday, Nov. 28, 11 a.m., Rooftop at the Envio, 299 Vaughan St., Portsmouth. See facebook.com/thebrethrenband.

Family tradition: Touring in support of Evergreen, its sixth Christmas album, Pentatonix is the biggest a capella group in the world. Band member Scott Hoying said the new disc is “more folky and intimate … almost singer songwriter-y.” Since winning NBC’s The Sing Off in 2011, the five “choir nerds” have sold over 10 million albums, amassed nearly 20 million YouTube subscribers, and won three Grammys. Tuesday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., SNHU Arena, 555 Elm St., Manchester, $39 and up at ticketmaster.com.

At the Sofaplex 21/11/25

Home Sweet Home Alone(PG)

Rob Delaney, Ellie Kemper.

Another kid is left at home during a family trip and another feckless duo of adults attempts to steal from his house in this remake/sequel of the 1990 holiday film.

This time, it’s Max Mercer (Archie Yates) who suddenly finds himself home alone when his family, including mother Carol (Aisling Bea), has had to take two separate chaotic flights to Tokyo. A few days before this, Carol used the interesting mom-hack of stopping at a real estate open house to let Max use the bathroom. It was there he met Jeff (Delaney) and Pam (Kemper), a couple reluctantly selling their family home because a job loss has required some financial downsizing. Jeff happens to be moving a box of weird dolls he inherited from his mother and Carol mentions in passing that one particularly creepy-looking one may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Later, when Jeff checks this out with eBay, he finds that in fact, yes, the “ugly little boy” as he calls the doll may be worth more than $200,000 and be the answer to the family’s financial problems. But, when he goes to find it, the doll is missing. He suspects Max, who was sassy when Jeff denied him a soda, and he goes looking for the Mercer household to retrieve it. One thing leads to another and soon Jeff and Pam are trying to break in to what they think will be an empty home to steal back the doll they think Max has stolen from them. Except, of course, when Max overhears them talking about selling an “ugly little boy” he thinks they’ve come to kidnap him and thus does he plan an iced-over-driveway, butter-on-the-stairs series of booby traps to keep himself safe.

On the one hand, this creates a gentler setup — nobody’s really trying to harm Max. On the other hand, Max sets Pam on fire and uses thumbtacks as a weapon and just generally offers up a lot of interesting ideas for children looking to do some mayhem. So be advised if you’re thinking of showing this to younger kids (by which I mean “don’t show this to younger kids”). Common Sense Media gives it a 9+ age ranking but I might go even older than that.

As entertainment that parents might also be roped into watching, I’m equally unenthusiastic. There are some nice moments of broad comedy with Delaney and Kemper, including a few that skew a bit toward the weird, which is an appreciated bit of tartness in this corn syrupy Christmas cookie. And original Home Alone fans will like the nods toward the source material. But there is less exhausting fare out there for family viewing. C+ Available on Disney+.

Finch ( PG-13)

Tom Hanks, voice of Caleb Landry Jones.

Cranky engineer Finch Weinberg (Hanks) is desperate to help his dog Goodyear survive without him in a post-apocalyptic world in this movie with shades of Castaway, WALLE and also George Clooney’s downbeat Midnight Sky, which you probably didn’t see and don’t need to.

Living alone with only the dog and rover-bot named Dewey, Finch is, as the movie starts, putting the finishing touches on a bipedal AI-run humanoid, which eventually calls itself Jeff (Jones). Finch needs Jeff to be smart and adaptive enough to take care of Goodyear in a world where all food must be scavenged from abandoned stores and the heat and ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause skin to sizzle after a few moments. Apparently solar flares at some point in the recent past have turned the ozone layer into “Swiss cheese,” as Finch explains to Jeff, and now much of the continental U.S. is a dune-filled desert, beset by sandstorms and other extreme weather. After some number of years living in such an environment, Finch is now dying from the radiation exposure.

Finch is not quite finished uploading data into Jeff when a superstorm is predicted to hit the wind-powered St. Louis-based factory where he and Goodyear (and Dewey and Jeff) live. Without the food (or the longevity) to last the 40 days that the storm is predicted to be overtop him, he decides to pack his canine and robot family into a fortified RV and head out toward San Francisco, the only region of the country he doesn’t know for a fact is some kind of hellscape.

So it’s a road trip movie! And along the way, Finch tries to teach Jeff, who is extremely emotive, how to be a real boy and convince Goodyear, who isn’t so fond of this new robot caregiver, to treat Jeff as his new “person.”

Granted, my current appetite for apocalyptic entertainment is at a particularly low ebb. But this movie grated from the beginning, with its seemingly-cobbled-together elements from previous movies and its insistence that I root for (and find charming) what is essentially a walking Siri.

So I will stipulate that I am probably not this movie’s ideal viewer. And, look, Hanks is fine in this role — I mean, of course he is, he’s done it before. And the movie has some nice visuals — both in terms of scenery and how Jeff and Dewey are presented. But it’s not an enjoyable watch and it does not give me the “triumph of the human spirit” glow that it seems to want to deliver. C+ Available on Apple TV+.

Madres (18+)

Ariana Guerra, Tenoch Huerta.

A couple expecting their first child and newly moved to a rickety old farmhouse is terrorized in Madres.

Diana (Guerra) and her husband Beto (Huerta) leave 1970s Los Angeles to move to a small town in agricultural California where Beto will manage a large farm and pregnant former reporter Diana plans to write a book. They get to the house that Beto’s boss Tomas (Joseph Garcia) has secured for them to find a lot of faded paint, creaky floorboards and a shed whose door can scarily flap open at random. Beto tries to calm Diana by explaining it’s the country, weird sounds abound, but pretty quickly visions of a ghostly woman in red and a creepy music box that seems to follow her around convince her that there is more going on than Beto wants to believe. She also finds a cache of pamphlets and newspaper clippings from the home’s former occupants, many of which suggest that a condition called Valley Fever, experienced by lots of the Latin American women in town, may be related to the pesticides the farm uses.

Diana’s ability to suss this out — and just to make friends in general with Beto’s coworkers — is stymied a bit by a language barrier. Beto, a recent immigrant from Mexico, speaks fluent English and Spanish but Diana, a woman of Hispanic background born in the U.S., is shaky at best when speaking Spanish, the main language of many people in their new town.

Are the women of this town cursed, as local healer Anita (Elpidia Carrillo) says they are? Or is something more man-made causing the illness (and strange dreams and odd visions) that Diana herself begins to experience?

This movie won me over almost instantly with its little moments exploring Diana’s self-consciousness about not speaking Spanish and various socioeconomic tensions within the Mexican-American community in this town. These elements offer a nice bit of complexity to the story.

Then we get to the real evil and, if it isn’t the most horrifying Bad Thing I’ve seen in a horror movie ever, it is still pretty high on the list. This movie winds up in a pretty unsubtle place but it is well done and the impact is exactly as gut-punching as it should be. A- Available on Amazon Prime.

Zog and Zog and the Flying Doctors

Lenny Henry, Hugh Skinner.

Both of these shorts are unrated and based on books by Julia Donaldson, both illustrated by Axel Scheffler, who also illustrated her Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo books. These shorts very much have the look of those books and the same gentle rhythm in their tale of the dragon Zog (voiced by Rocco Wright as a young dragon, Skinner as an older one), who learns assorted dragon skills like breathing fire and roaring but eventually becomes part of a team of flying doctors with Princess Pearl (voice of Patsy Ferran in both movies), a young woman who prefers medicine to fancy dresses and crowns. Also patching the ouchies and illnesses of the enchanted land is Gadabout (voice of Kit Harrington in the first movie, Daniel Ings in the second), a knight who has realized that splints and bandaging is his true calling.

The movies — from 2018 and 2020 — are charming, funny and pretty adaptations of the books, with very little in the way of story addition. Instead, the movies fill in the expanded storytelling space with dragon silliness and often impressively light-touch visual gags. I think I laughed as much as my kids when we watched these two. While perhaps not the absolute perfection of the 2012 Room on the Broom short (which is a must-see), these two shorts are a sweet delight and perfect for, maybe, kindergarten and up. The stories subtly reinforce the “you can be who you want to be” message while providing plenty of gentle fun. A- Available for rent or purchase.

Queenpins (R)

Kristen Bell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste.

Connie (Bell), a former Olympic athlete who medaled in speed walking, and JoJo (Howell-Baptiste), a victim of identity theft who is trying with minimal success to make her makeup business work, are best friends, neighbors in their Phoenix suburb and couponers, who load up on deals so that they can “buy” more than a hundred dollars worth of groceries but only pay $16. Does Connie, who is struggling after the miscarriage of a baby, really need all the diapers and toilet paper she stockpiles? Maybe not but she definitely doesn’t need IRS auditor husband Rick (Joel McHale) and his constant badgering her about money and their debt to the fertility clinic. The coupons are, as she tells us in voiceover, her only real wins right now. But then a chance encounter with that biggest of big wins, the “one item free” coupon, sets her on a path to an international crime caper: She and JoJo find employees at the printer in Mexico that produces all the “free item” coupons to help them obtain (i.e. steal) coupons that they can then sell in the U.S. for half the value of the item. The buyer gets a good deal and the women make a very tidy profit.

They make so much money — and the sudden influx of coupons becomes so noticeable to the companies making the cereal and diapers — that they attract the attention of a supermarket’s loss prevention investigator, Ken (Paul Walter Hauser), for whom the illegal couponers become his white whale. He attempts to get the FBI to join him on the case and eventually gets the Post Office involved in the form of postal investigator Simon (Vince Vaughn).

I get the sense that the movie has some opinions about, like, gender and corporations but it has too much going on to really be able to do much with these ideas. Still, I liked all the performances here and even some of the sillier stuff. You get the sense that this movie sometimes thinks it’s doing a The Big Short but it reminded me more of Buffaloed, another recent light ladies-doing-crime movie. B- Available on Paramount+.

The Guilty (R)

Jake Gyllenhaal, Adrian Martinez.

Joe (Gyllenhaal) is a Los Angeles police officer working as a 911 operator. We learn through bits of dialogue that he is in deep personal and professional trouble and perhaps staring down more trouble due to something that’s going to happen in court tomorrow. His stresses are all the greater as he works a shift in a smoke- and fire-filled Los Angeles with all sorts of frantic calls coming in. But then a woman who Joe eventually learns is named Emily (Keough) calls pretending to talk to her child, allowing him to figure out that she’s been abducted. Joe quickly becomes invested in Emily’s predicament, leaning on various law enforcement agencies to try to get her situation investigated.

I don’t know that I buy everything the movie seems to be saying message-wise (if it is saying anything) but as a straightforward “90-ish minutes of tension” exercise, performed by a very small cast in a very small number of locations (basically just Joe’s call center and a few neighboring rooms), The Guilty is sort of fun. It’s a little bit puzzle, a little bit chase, a little bit detective story. It’s like a less goofy version of Fox’s 9-1-1 drama but just as stripped down when it comes to the action.B- Available on Netflix.

The Protégé(R)

Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson.

And having a boatload of fun is Michael Keaton, playing somebody IMDb claims is called Rembrandt, though actually I don’t recall his character having a name. He’s sort of a “vice president in charge of killing” type for a rich and powerful Big Bad. Michael Keaton is sent to “take care of” Anna (Maggie Q), the titular protege for Moody (Jackson), a top-notch assassin. An inquiry about a person connected to one of Moody’s old assignments gets her and Moody the notice of Michael Keaton’s employer. Anna finds Moody dead and decides to go after everybody involved.

Along the way, Keaton’s character and Anna develop a kind of “game recognizes game” relationship of mutual respect, trying to kill each other and also having the hots for each other. I suppose I can suspend disbelief and buy this aspect of the movie, but I also don’t know that it was entirely necessary and it is one of the times the movie needs to be either smarter or way dumber to really work. As it is, The Protégé is doing its best work in its choreographed fight scenes and feels a little half baked at all other times. Maggie Q, Jackson and Keaton are all good in these roles, but — outside of the action sequences — they don’t always feel like they are exactly in the same movie. I liked this movie fine as low-effort, lazy-night- on-the-sofa entertainment but I don’t think I’d rush out to rent it or anything. C+ Available to rent or own.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (PG-13)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (PG-13)

Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and the spirit of the late Harold Ramis star in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a distant sequel to the 1980s Ghostbusters movies.

Ramis was Egon Spengler in those movies, the most nerd-minded of the Ghostbusters. Here, the movie opens with Egon, seen in shadowy profile and from behind, running from some supernatural thing and holding a clearly full ghost trap. He meets some kind of end at the claws of a spooky something — but his adult daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon), believes he has died of a heart attack.

Callie is not super broken up about her father’s death; he abandoned her family as a child, she says. But as she is being evicted from her apartment, she decides to take her two children —15-year-old Trevor (Wolfhard) and 12-year-old Phoebe (Grace) — to the rickety farmhouse where Egon had been living. In the middle of Oklahoma, the town would seem to be unremarkable except for a mine (that secretly houses an ancient temple) and loads of scientifically inexplicable earthquakes.

Trevor doesn’t care about any of that but he is quickly interested in the local drive-up restaurant and roller-skate-wearing server Lucky (Celeste O’Connor). Phoebe is interested in the strange seismic activity and in the odd devices she finds lying around her grandfather’s home. She finds a science buddy in Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), her summer school teacher who keeps his class busy with VHS movies like Cujo so he can spend his time monitoring the town’s earthquakes on his geological equipment. Together with Podcast (Logan Kim), a fellow student of Phoebe’s who is always working on getting audio for his show, Grooberson and Phoebe investigate old equipment Phoebe finds, with Grooberson explaining its 1980s origins.

Along the way, Phoebe finds herself communicating — first via a chessboard and then through the movement of items throughout the home — with the grandfather she never knew but quickly feels a lot of commonality with.

This movie has moments of charm, most of them related to nostalgia and good will toward Harold Ramis, but it’s not nearly as charming as it thinks it is. Without getting into the whole thing of the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters (where the Ghostbusters were ladies and I thoroughly enjoyed it), this movie shows more reverence to the source material — too much reverence, in my opinion. In my review of 2016 Ghostbusters, I compared it to the joyful Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This movie feels more like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, where the canon of the previous movies doesn’t get out of the way enough to have fun in the present. This movie is at its best when it boils down to the oddball foursome of the confident Lucky, the tries-to-be-cool Trevor, the self-assuredly nerdy Phoebe and the podcast-star-wannabe Podcast realizing they have to actually fight supernatural beings to save the town and possibly the world. These personalities are maybe not actually big enough to carry the whole film, but they are at least sort of organic together. When a bunch of original Ghostbusters stuff is layered on top of this, we just get what feels like “nostalgia product,” like we’re watching the movie version of one of those reissued 1980s toys you sometimes see at Target.

A bigger problem is that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is short on a sense of fun. The original movies and the 2016 reboot realized the inherent goofiness of the movie’s premise and its non-horror-film approach to the whole ghosts thing. Here, the zaniest energy is coming from Paul Rudd, who is an entertaining character but isn’t central enough to carry the energy of the movie on his own. I almost felt like this movie — which is rated PG-13 and very much feels like a movie for teens and up — maybe should have skewed younger if it was going to play things this straight and gone for more of a tween-friendly/whole-older-family film. Ghostbusters: Afterlife feels like it has a good premise and some interesting ideas but it needed to be smarter or sillier to really stand on its own. C+

Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some suggestive references, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Jason Reitman with a screenplay by Gil Keenan & Jason Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is two hours and four minutes long and is distributed by Columbia Pictures in theaters.

King Richard (PG-13)

Richard Williams is a man with a 78-page plan for turning his daughters Venus and Serena into tennis superstars in King Richard, a middle-of-the-road biopic with a solid Will Smith performance.

Richard Williams (Smith) will tell anybody who listens about his big and detailed plans for his two young daughters. He and wife Oracene (Aunjanue Ellis) work long hours at their jobs and then spend their off hours pushing Oracene’s three older daughters at schoolwork and Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) at schoolwork and on the tennis courts, even if those courts are in a rundown Compton, California, park. But Richard spends his time at his job going through tennis magazines to find coaches, later traveling to pitch each one with homemade brochures about his daughters. His ask is big: for these famous (and expensive) coaches to take on his daughters for free. But the exchange is a piece of their future earnings, which Richard confidently believes will be astronomical.

Eventually the undeniable talent of the girls is able to get them coaches, first Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn), who only coaches Venus much to Serena’s disappointment, and then Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal), who brings both girls — and their sisters and parents — out to Florida to live and train. What the coaches may not realize at first is that in taking the Williams girls they are also taking on Richard, who is nearly as confident in his own abilities to coach and manage the girls’ careers as he is in their greatness.

While Venus and Serena are the big names, Richard, as the title implies, is the movie’s focus. But though the movie is a biopic, I’m not sure how thoroughly we know him by the end of the movie. We see how he pushes his daughters but we don’t ultimately feel like we know the man himself outside the tennis context. Is he a self-promoter, is a question the movie asks but doesn’t really answer. The movie drops in biographical information — his upbringing in a racist southern town and a father who was absent as he got older; Richard and Oracene having both been athletes in their youth; Richard’s other children, whom Oracene mentions during a fight. But it both seems to be more interested in the personality of the man than a Wikipedia-like recounting of facts and feels more slight on that interior stuff than I was expecting. (And the movie still goes through a lot of timeline, resulting in a more than two-hour runtime.) The result is a totally fine performance by Will Smith, one that I can completely see in the mix for awards-season discussion but that didn’t have me thinking “role of a lifetime!” either.

I can see why in this story about two very young athletes you’d pick the adult to make the movie about. But everything we see of the girls and the pressures they’re under (the movie gives us quite a few scenes of other tennis children berating themselves when they lose), especially in this moment of wider cultural conversation about top-level sports and mental health, makes their situations seem like the more interesting story. This movie only really covers the earliest stages of Venus’s career and I ended the movie wishing I knew how they felt about Richard’s plan and the course of their careers.

King Richard seems like a perfectly adequate prestige fourth-quarter film but for a movie about such dynamic and culturally significant athletes it is lacking a certain bit of sparkle. B

Rated PG-13 for some violence, strong language, a sexual reference and brief drug references, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green with a screenplay by Zach Baylin, King Richard is two hours and 18 minutes long and is distributed by Warner Bros. in theaters and on HBO Max through Dec. 19.

FILM

Venues

AMC Londonderry
16 Orchard View Dr., Londonderry
amctheatres.com

Bank of NH Stage in Concord
16 S. Main St., Concord
225-1111, banknhstage.com

Capitol Center for the Arts
44 S. Main St., Concord
225-1111, ccanh.com

Cinemark Rockingham Park 12
15 Mall Road, Salem

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

Dana Center
Saint Anselm College
100 Saint Anselm Dr., Manchester, anselm.edu

Fathom Events
Fathomevents.com

The Flying Monkey
39 Main St., Plymouth
536-2551, flyingmonkeynh.com

LaBelle Winery
345 Route 101, Amherst
672-9898, labellewinery.com

The Music Hall
28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth
436-2400, themusichall.org

O’neil Cinemas
24 Calef Hwy., Epping
679-3529, oneilcinemas.com

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord
224-4600, redrivertheatres.org

Regal Fox Run Stadium 15
45 Gosling Road, Newington
regmovies.com

Rex Theatre
23 Amherst St., Manchester
668-5588, palacetheatre.org

The Strand
20 Third St., Dover
343-1899, thestranddover.com

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

Shows

House of Gucci (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord on Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 24, and Thursday, Nov. 25, at 3:30 & 7 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 26, through Sunday, Nov. 28, at noon, 3:30 & 7 p.m.

National Theatre Live No Man’s Land A broadcast of a play from London’s National Theatre, screening at the Bank of NH Stage on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 ($12 for students).

Paths to Paradise (1925) and Hands Up! (1926) Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Admission is free; $10 donation suggested.

The Metropolitan Opera Live — Eurydice Saturday, Dec. 4, 12:55 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage in Concord. Tickets cost $26.

National Theatre Live The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time A broadcast of a play from London’s National Theatre, screening at the Bank of NH Stage on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 ($12 for students).

An evening with Chevy ChaseA screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989, PG-13) plus Q&A with audience on Saturday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. at the Cap Center. Tickets start at $59.50.

Featured photo: Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Courtesy photo.

Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan

Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan (Harper Muse, 320 pages)

His good friend J.R.R. Tolkien might be more popular in Hollywood, but Clive Staples Lewis — you know him as “C.S.” — continues to sell books nearly 60 years after his death.

The Oxford scholar and Christian apologist not only wrote books but inspired them. The Lewis-related catalog includes more than a dozen biographies, memoirs by people who knew him (among them A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken) and collections of Lewis quotes.

And now Southern writer Patti Callahan is capitalizing on Lewis’s enduring popularity by writing novels in the Lewisverse. They’re not quite historical novels, not quite fan fiction, but a blending of two disparate genres.

Callahan’s first was Becoming Mrs. Lewis, the 2018 account of the relationship between Lewis and his wife, New Yorker Joy Davidman. Written in first person, the book is Callahan’s imagining of how the relationship transpired, but apparently quite factual. Davidman’s son called it “extraordinarily accurate” and said the novel was more truthful than many nonfiction accounts about his mother.

Callahan’s latest, Once Upon a Wardrobe, again takes first person, this time the voice of a 17-year-old college student, Megs Devonshire, who befriends Lewis and his older brother, Warnie, in order to answer a question for her little brother.

Megs’ brother, George, is 8 and not expected to live until 9 because of a heart condition. He spends most of his time in bed and has become enthralled with a recently published children’s book, Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A deep thinker for his age, George is obsessed with learning where the idea for Narnia arose, if the place is real. Since Megs takes classes near Magdalen College, where Lewis teaches, he begs her to find out.

Megs agrees; she adores her brother and wants to provide whatever happiness she can in his limited life. “I loved Dad with a fierce love, but I loved George more,” she says. “Maybe when we know we will lose someone, we love fiercer and wilder. Of course there will always be loss, but with George the end lingered in every room, in every breath, in every holiday.”

Although she often sees Lewis walking around the Oxford campus, she’s too shy to approach him directly and instead follows him home one night and takes to hanging out in the shrubbery, trying to summon the nerve to knock on the door. It’s there that the kindly Warnie discovers her one day, and, this being before stalking was a thing, he invites her inside for tea.

From there, a relationship evolves between the Lewis brothers and Megs, who is a math whiz studying physics and was initially dismissive of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, until she read it with her brother and became equally entranced by the story. C.S. Lewis, who went by Jack, is reluctant to answer Megs’ question outright, and instead offers her a series of stories about his life, told over a number of visits, which she goes home and relays to her brother.

In this way, Once Upon a Wardrobe is yet another Lewis biography, told in a fresh way, and like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it’s told in deceptively simple language. The narrator, after all, is a 17-year-old girl, although she delves into mature themes, such as illness and death. She’s a bit heavy-handed with the book’s theme, which is that life, and our experience of it, is the sum of the stories we tell ourselves, or that others tell us.

Even 8-year-old George grasps that, telling his sister, “I know you think the whole world is held together by some math formula. But I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think the world is held together by stories, not all those equations you stare at.”

The book at times feels somewhat formulaic (all protagonists must be earnest outsiders who don’t quite fit in; children are dispensers of wisdom) but Callahan has a deft touch and is beautifully descriptive. She goes to the source — Lewis’s memoirs and letters — to try to craft an answer to George’s question. When it comes, it might not be what you think. In fact, Lewis’s first imagining of a faun carrying an umbrella more resembles Stephenie Myers’ dream of a human and a vampire in a field than a theologian trying to create an allegory that represents Christianity. And Narnia, the name, didn’t come from a dream, but from a map: It’s derived from the name of a town in Italy.

Ultimately, this is a book for the diehard Narnia fan; people with little interest in those stories would have zero interest in this novel. But the prolific Callahan has 15 other novels worth checking out, including one published earlier this year. Surviving Savannah is historical fiction about an 1838 shipwreck that was called “The Titanic of the South.” B


Book Notes

The best-selling Hollywood memoir this month looks to be Will, a memoir by actor Will Smith, co-written with Mark Manson (Penguin, 432 pages), and this probably would have been true even before Oprah Winfrey deemed it the best memoir she’s ever read.

The Manson-Smith collaboration is an interesting one. Usually celebrity authors get writing help from relative unknowns. Manson is an author who may not be a household name but has serious publishing cred by virtue of his own books, 2016’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** (Harper, 224 pages) and its followup Everything is F***ed, a Book about Hope (Harper, 288 pages).

We can safely assume there will be expletives in Will, but from the opening, it looks like a powerful, poignant read with no gratuitous cursing. An excerpt: “What you have come to understand as ‘Will Smith,’ the alien-annihilating MC, the bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction — a carefully crafted and honed character — designed to protect myself. To hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.”

Also in the entertainment category comes two “oral histories” of popular shows: The Office and The Sopranos. Setting aside how it can be an oral history on a printed page, these books promise to tell the most ardent fans stuff they don’t already know.

Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office (Custom House, 464 pages) is written by Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin on the show, with Ben Silverman and Greg Daniels, the producer and original showrunner, respectively.

The other, also published this month, is Woke Up This Morning, the Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos (William Morrow, 528 pages). It’s by Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher in the HBO series, and Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri.

For the record, if it doesn’t explain the series’ infamous ending, they need to stop calling the book “definitive.”

Book Events

Author events

BRENE BROWN Author presents Atlas of the Heart. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Thurs., Dec. 2, 8 p.m. Via Zoom. Tickets cost $30. Ticket sales end Dec. 2, at noon. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

ERNESTO BURDEN Author presents Slate. The Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester). Thurs., Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m. Visit bookerymht.com or call 836-6600.

JACK DALTON Kid conservationist presents his book, Kawan the Orangutan: Lost in the Rainforest. Toadstool Bookshop, 375 Amherst St., Nashua. Sat., Dec. 4, noon. Visit toadbooks.com.

DAMIEN KANE RIDGEN Author presents Bell’s Codex and My Magnum Opus. Toadstool Bookshop, 375 Amherst St., Nashua. Sun., Dec. 5, noon. Visit toadbooks.com.

MICHAEL J. FOX Author presents No Time Like the Future. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Tues., Dec. 7, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Tickets cost $17.99, and include a copy of the book. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

JEN SINCERO Author presents Badass Habits. Virtual event hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth as part of its “Innovation and Leadership” series. Tues., Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. Includes author presentation, coaching session and audience Q&A. Tickets cost $22. Visit themusichall.org or call 436-2400.

KATHRYN HULICKAuthor presents Welcome to the Future. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Toadstool Bookshop, 12 Depot Square, Peterborough. Visit toadbooks.com.

Poetry

NH POET LAUREATE ALEXANDRIA PEARY Poet presents a new collection of poetry, Battle of Silicon Valley at Dawn. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Tues., Dec. 14, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

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

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit bookerymht.com/online-book-club or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com/gibsons-book-club-2020-2021 or call 224-0562.

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

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

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email bookclub@belknapmill.org.

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

Album Reviews 21/11/25

Papercuts, Baxter’s Bliss EP (Psychic Friends Records)

Papercuts is the stage name of Jason Quever, San Francisco-based dream-pop guy who was last heard from in 2018 in the Slumberland Records-released full-length Parallel Universe Blues. He’s produced records from the likes of Beach House, Luna/Dean Wareham, and Sugar Candy Mountain, and between that and his very agreeable tuneage his resume is pretty formidable if your thing is tasteful, non-posturing indie. Like a lot of indie things that have appeared on my desk recently, it has light-headed singing, but steeped in obeisance more for Simon and Garfunkel soundscaping than the half-cocked Beach Boys stuff that was all the rage for what seemed like forever. “A Dull Boy,” the opening track of this five-song EP, is wide, lush and comforting, reminiscent of Clinic but with much less of an unstable edge. “Try Baxter’s Bliss” is even dreamier, tabling so much lazy beach vibe you can practically smell the vinyl from your childhood blow-up raft. The spell is broken somewhat when a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “The Partisan” appears, with its folksy examination of fascism, but you could still tan yourself to it. I’d recommend it, sure. A

Curtis Roach, The Joy Tape (self-released)

Today I learned that TikTok view counts can be a little — OK a lot — deceiving. See, when you land on a TikTok video, it counts that first play as a “hit” and then every replay that follows, if any (once a TikTok video plays, it’ll go right back to the start and play again). I can’t remember a time when I watched one of those 5- to 15-minute clips just once, especially if they were funny, so, again, TikTok hit counts are deceptive, including the eleventy-billion views this laid-back Detroit rapper racked up for his 15-second “Bored In The House” clip, which became one of the big coronavirus mini-anthems in 2020 and subsequently led to a cooperation with Tyga, who knew a fast buck when he smelled it and partnered with Roach for a three-minute version. Cut to now, with Roach fully branded as a blissfully phlegmatic-sounding emcee with, ahem, anxiety. Oh, it’s all good, I don’t have a problem with this record; there are clamorous beats everywhere, woofer-blasting thumpings and whatnot, and his nasal what-me-worry flow is totally inviting. Brands gotta brand and all. A-

PLAYLIST

• Heyyy, it’s Thanksgiving, ya turkeys. Ha ha, I’ve always wanted to write that! I doubt there will be a lot of new albums for me to insult, I mean briefly critique, here, but I shall go look, in the name of duty and humanity. Many people will be spending Thanksgiving at home, so maybe the record companies are putting out some albums and I can put an end to this mindless riffing and get to some business here. Ack, nope, there are only three albums on my radar for Nov. 26. That seems kind of stupid to me, like, wouldn’t you think Black Friday would be a great day for new albums? No? Well I would. You know, go to the mall, eat a fancy pretzel, get some coffee that doesn’t taste like the rat poison you have during the morning commute and buy some albums. No? Well, what if one of the albums was called Ascension Codes, and it came from a band called Cynic? That’s reason enough to go to the mall and get triggered by all the people who are/aren’t wearing face-bandanas, isn’t it? What’s that you’re asking? No, I’ve never heard of them either, but we need to start somewhere on this album-less album-release Friday, so let’s slog over to see what Wikipedia has to say about this band, shall we? Hm, they’re from Miami, and they are a progressive metal band, which I never would have guessed from the album title, which totally sounds like some egghead catch-phrase that only astronauts ever use when they start heading back to earth, not that I care either way (you don’t either, right? Good). So anyway, one of the songs from his album is called “Mythical Serpents,” and it’s actually not that bad, for a band that uses heavy metal guitars to make fusion music. It’s complicated and rather cool, like imagine 1980s-era Return To Forever except with nothing but heavy metal guitars and a few Cookie Monster growls — wait, there’s some actual singing, the guy sounds kind of like the Smashing Pumpkins singer, which isn’t something I’ve ever heard before. Maybe there is hope for this egghead-metal band and their fusion-metal and their stupid astronaut album title, go hear it for yourself.

• Shows you how lame Deep Purple’s public relations people are, they never even told me about Whoosh, their 21st album, last year. I feel besmirched, because I would have been happy to give it the thorough trashing it probably deserves, but it’s too late, and I only talk about new things in this space, and one new thing is their latest album, Turning To Crime! Yow, look guys, it’s an album of nothing but cover songs, probably all from bands whose members are even older than the guys in Deep Purple, if it’s even possible to be that old. Like, the single is Love’s “7 And 7 Is,” a song that was probably really groovy to listen to if you were driving an Austin Powers Shagmobile in 1966. But Deep Purple gave it a jolly good try, so their version isn’t hilarious, just mildly amusing.

• Hard-rock-metal whatevers Black Label Society‘s new LP, Doom Crew Inc., is on the way! Spoiler alert: Zakk Wylde still sings like Ozzy, and the single “Set You Free” sounds like a filler track from when Ozzy really became boring. So psyched!

• Last stop, kiddies, let’s have a quick look at NOËP’s new EP, No Man Is An Island! NOËP is an Estonian, Andres Kõpper, and his new single is “Kids,” featuring singer Emily Roberts, who, like everyone else on Earth, sounds exactly like Lorde. The song has an LMFAO vibe, but it’s not very fun, but by all means be my guest.

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).

Bring a bottle

Wine to serve, gift and save

The holiday season is upon us, a time to gather with family and friends around a tree with a dinner table laden with a lavish assortment of food and special wines.

I have selected three wines to give, receive and possibly store for the future. These wines are more than appropriate for the hearty fare, the endless buffets, the snowy evenings. A gift of one, or all, of these wines to someone special to you not only enforces your love and caring for them, but also exhibits your exceptional knowledge and taste in wine.

If you are lucky enough to receive one, or all, of these wines and are not ready to open them on the spot, what do you do with them? Long after you have drafted your last thank-you note, you may have one or several of these superb wines nearby, and you may be wondering, “How do I store these for the short, or perhaps long, period of time before I open the sangiovese for a rich Italian meal of pasta in a red meat sauce, or the red Bordeaux alongside a roast duck, or the ‘Cadillac’ Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon accompanying a thick grilled steak with bearnaise sauce?”

First, even though the New Hampshire State Liquor & Wine Outlets have their retail inventory standing up, do not store your wine standing up! Exception: Fortified wines like ports and sherries can and should be stored standing up. The corks in wine bottles need to be kept wet. Second, find a location in your house or apartment that is dark and has a comfortable to cool temperature, without drastic swings. If you have a basement (or a part of it) that can maintain 55 degrees and 60 percent humidity, take advantage of it. That is the ideal temperature and humidity for the long storage of reds that age well. You will likely not keep your wines for decades, so the perfect temperature and humidity is not a requirement; however, the control of humidity is important, and if it falls below 50 percent corks tend to dry out. When you open a bottle of red and the wine has begun to creep up the sides of the cork, it may be likely due to storage in an environment of low humidity.

Our first holiday gift wine, the 2013 Petroni Estate Sangiovese Poggio Alla Pietra (originally priced at $74.99 at New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, reduced to $32.99), hails from the Moon Mountain District of Sonoma County. Grown throughout Italy, this grape is well suited to the steep and arid soils of the south-facing Petroni Vineyards. This wine is made in the style of brunello, the coveted wine of Tuscany. With a deep red color and notes of red cherries, along with some leather from the barrel aging in new French oak, this is an ideal wine to pair with a rich red pasta dish or game, like venison. This wine needs to be decanted or opened at least an hour before serving.

Our second wine, the 2016 Château La Gorre Cru Bourgeois Médoc (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, originally priced at $49.99, reduced to $23.99), hails from where else but Bordeaux, France. It is a classic blend of 60 percent merlot, 35 percent cabernet sauvignon and 5 percent petit verdot. This is an outstanding value, as similar wines cost upwards of $50 a bottle. With a deep ruby color and silky notes of cassis, blackberry and plum joined by the oak from barrel aging, this is an ideal wine to pair with beef or to accompany a roast leg of lamb or casserole after decanting.

Our third wine brings us back to the Napa Valley of California. The 2015 Stewart Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, originally priced at $69.99, reduced to $34.99) has deep red-purple color. I call this wine a “100 percent Cadillac Cab” as it has a thick, fruity mouthfeel. It is rich in black currants and blackberries to the nose and taste, and has medium tannins, perfect for that porterhouse steak!

These are impressive wines with subtle but distinctive differences, one to the other, to pass on to a good friend or family member, or to simply treat yourself, purchase and store for a couple of years to enjoy at future holiday seasons.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Two Thanksgiving cocktails

A palate-cleanser

This is your first big, blow-out meal of the decade. You’ve been locked away for two years and you fully intend to throw yourself into everything Thanksgivingy.

But, if you’re going to eat cheese and snack mix and olives and pigs-in-blankets before dinner, while simultaneously avoiding getting sucked into your brother-in-law’s conspiracy theories, you’re going to have to be light on your feet.

Then comes turkey and stuffing and far, far too many mashed potatoes. You can’t afford to get bogged down with something heavy. You need something light and fascinating to keep you light and fascinating.

Elderflower Collins

1½ ounces gin
½ ounce St. Germain – a sweet elderflower liqueur
1½ teaspoons absinthe
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
Seltzer – I like Topo Chico; it’s aggressively bubbly

Combine everything but the seltzer in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly.
Strain into a Collins glass with 2 or 3 ice cubes.
Mix 50/50 with seltzer and stir gently.

On first sip, you might be forgiven for asking yourself if this is too light. Then, you’ll remember the fascinating part. Although there is very little absinthe in this drink, it pushes its way confidently to the front of your attention. The gin brings a clean, bracing quality, which is rounded out by the gentle sweetness of the elderflower liqueur. If you’ve ever heard a drink described as “dancing on your tongue,” this is what they were talking about.

This is a drink that will help you go the distance.

Full-blown decadence

New York Flip. Photo by John Fladd.

You’ve been stuck in your house, listening to Baby Shark on repeat since Valentine’s Day two years ago. This is Thanksgiving. You’re going to start drinking during the parade and drown out your mother’s parenting advice with the sound of your slurping.

This is pretty much the richest, most wanton excuse for a cocktail that you are likely to have had in the past 22 months. It has bourbon, cream, port, An Egg Yolk, and Absinthe for crying out loud. Do it.

New York Flip

1½ ounces bourbon
¾ ounce tawny port
¼ ounce nutmeg syrup (see below)
¾ ounce half & half
1 egg yolk

Dry shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker — this means without ice. (Trust me, you really, really want to mix the egg yolk thoroughly with the other ingredients before introducing it to ice.) Shake it for at least 30 seconds.
Add ice, then shake for another 30 seconds or more.
Strain into a coupé glass.

Decadent as it is, this cocktail isn’t all that alcohol-heavy. There is a modest amount of bourbon, but bourbon always tastes a little boozier than it actually is. The tawny port adds a touch of sweetness that builds on the nutmeg syrup. The cream and egg yolk are there to fortify everything and hum Victorian holiday songs in the background.

Nutmeg Syrup

¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup water
2 whole nutmegs

Using a mortar and pestle — or alternatively a tea towel and a hammer — break the nutmegs into medium-sized pieces, about the size of roughly chopped nuts.
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the solution boil for 10 to 20 seconds, to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and let the syrup steep for 30 minutes.

Strain and bottle. This should last at least a month in your refrigerator. It is appallingly good.

Featured photo: Elderflower Collins. Photo by John Fladd.

Healthy pumpkin oatmeal

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! More than likely this weekend is filled with food, whether you’re surrounded by family and friends or are keeping it more intimate. Among all that food, you might be seeking some respite. This oatmeal recipe is here to save the day, or at least get your morning off to a healthier start.

Not only is this recipe healthy, it is also incredibly easy to make. You combine all of the ingredients in the evening, refrigerate overnight, and then have a small amount of baking time in the morning. At that point you are rewarded with a piping hot breakfast with a heaping serving of pumpkin to start your day.

If you have company for the long weekend, this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled as needed. Plus, it is made with pureed pumpkin, and how much more fall-like could a dish be? Although it’s simple to make, it definitely gives the appearance of a much fancier breakfast dish.

Ingredient notes: Make sure you buy 100-percent pure pumpkin puree. You do not want pumpkin pie filling, which will be much sweeter. You also want to use old-fashioned or rolled oats. Instant oats will lose a lot of texture and become soggy. Finally, I recommend using almond milk, as it is my go-to milk. However, skim milk, soy milk, and coconut milk all could work and keep this a healthy dish.

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 thinktasty.com to find more of her recipes.

Healthy pumpkin oatmeal
Serves 2

1½ cups canned pumpkin (100% pure pumpkin)
½ cup old-fashioned oats
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened almond milk*

Spray a small baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine pumpkin, oats, egg whites, sugar and cinnamon in the prepared dish, and stir well.
Cover with foil, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bake oatmeal mixture, covered with foil, for 20 minutes and uncovered for another 10 minutes.
To serve: Scoop half of the pumpkin mixture into a cereal bowl.
Top each serving with 1/4 cup almond milk.
Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and sugar, if desired.

Photo: Healthy pumpkin oatmeal. Photo courtesy of Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with DJ Belanger

Chef Dennis “DJ” Belanger of Nashua is the new owner of Culture (75 Mont Vernon St., Milford, 249-5011, culturenh.com), a locally sourced artisan sandwich shop also offering baked goods, pastries and fresh breads out of a scratch kitchen. A native of Hudson, Belanger got his start in the industry as a dishwasher at the age of 15 and went on to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Mass. For nearly a decade he worked his way up the ranks at Burtons Grill of Nashua, eventually becoming the eatery’s executive chef for a time. He has been with Culture since the shop opened in August 2020, assuming the role of owner earlier this month.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

There are two. One of them is what I call a bottom feeder, but it’s really just a wooden spatula that I use to scrape and mix everything. … Other than that, I would say my Vitamix blender.

What would you have for your last meal?

It would probably be just roasted chicken with rice and vegetables. It’s one of my go-tos if I don’t know what I want to eat, and it’s one of those things that I can eat every day and wouldn’t even think twice about.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

La Santa [Tacos & Tequilas], which is literally right over the line in Tyngsboro, [Mass.]. My fiancée and I go there probably at least once a month.

What celebrity would you like to see eating at your restaurant?

Matty Matheson. He’s a chef out of Canada, and he’s pretty big in the States now, too. I feel like he and I have a lot of similarities in our styles and philosophies of food, and I just really respect him as a chef and an entrepreneur. I would love to be able to pick his brain.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

Either the La Capra, which is our Italian sub, or the roast beef.

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

It’s definitely farm stuff, and just keeping things as local as possible. There’s a lot of focus on foods made from scratch and not anything that’s processed or mass produced, and that’s something that we definitely want to continue.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

My go-to at home is fried rice. Especially if I’ve got any leftover rice from the night before, it’s just a really good, fast dish.

Cranberry vinaigrette dressing
From the kitchen of Chef DJ Belanger of Culture in Milford

12 ounces frozen cranberries, thawed
1½ cups whole-grain or Dijon mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
3 cups oil (half extra virgin olive oil and half canola oil)
¼ cup finely chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Add cranberries to the cup of a blender and puree on high, making sure there are no chunks of berry left over. Add mustard, vinegar and salt and blend until fully combined. With the blender on medium-high, slowly add the oil into the mixture (should take about 30 to 45 seconds). Mix in chives to emulsified dressing (do not blend). Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or mason jar for storage. (Note: When blending cranberries, you may need to add a little water to help get everything blended together. You shouldn’t need much more than ¼ to ½ cup. You can also substitute almost any type of frozen berry or fruit to make this dressing).

Featured photo: DJ Belanger. Courtesy photo.

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