Monday, July 31, 2017

Immaculate Conception Church, Tarrytown, NY

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Tarrytown, New York, was first founded in 1917. The parish moved to various locations until they were able to buy the current site, formerly St. Mark's Episcopal Church, in 1956. The parishoners came together and were able to renovate (and reconstruct) the church so that it was usable by Advent in 1957. The Gothic Revival style makes for a very fine church, indeed. The church transferred from the Achdiocese of New York to the Westchester Maronite Catholic Mission, which has renamed the parish St. John Paul II Maronite Catholic Church at Immaculate Conception. The weekend liturgies include Roman Catholic Masses, Maronite Divine Liturgy, and the Traditional Latin Mass. We went to the 10 a.m. Roman Catholic Mass on our way to Boston.

Immaculate Conception Church

View from the back (which is the main entrance for the parishoners)

The church has the classic high ceiling and nave with two side aisles seen in most Gothic churches. 


 The altar is simple and unassuming, letting the liturgy take the center stage, though the stained glass window above the altar is quite impressive.

Main altar

Cross over the altar

Stained glass over the altar (click to enlarge)

 The other windows are also expressive and inspiring.

Stained glass on the aisle

What appears to be a more modern window in the back

Agony in the Garden/Burial in the Garden

The view from the altar shows the nice symmetry of the church.

Looking back to the choir loft

Stations of the cross are done in mosaic with large, vivid images.

Station 6--Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face

Station 13--Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

 The church is full of nice statues though they are mostly in the back. The nave doesn't have any niches for statues and most are on tables.

St. Anne and the young Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Frances Cabrini (in a niche!)

St. John the Baptist

 St. Maron (founder of the liturgy) is depicted in a painting by the confessionals.

St. Maron

The baptismal font is in the back and I was surprised to find it with a faucet!

Baptismal Font and Pascal Candle

One of the nearby pillars has the sacred oils used in baptism and confirmation, along with a small altar.

Olea Sacra!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Movie Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) directed by Travis Knight

Kubo lives with his mother in a quiet sea-side village. He goes to town each day to tell tales, always returning before sunset to take care of his mother. She is in a semi-catatonic state with occasional flashes of coherence. Clearly she loves Kubo and has a great trauma in her past that made her this way. Things go as normal until the one day Kubo stays in the village to see the lantern festival, which happens after sundown and triggers the return of powerful figures from the past. Kubo is soon on a quest to find a magical suit of armor that will help him save the village.

The movie is as much about storytelling as it is about the adventure plot. Kubo has a shamisen (a three-stringed guitar-type instrument) that creates origami based on the tale being told. The stop motion animation follows this origami style, giving the story a fresh visual appeal and a lot of creativity. The fantastic journey reveals more about Kubo and his world and his family, grappling with ideas of love and immortality in an accessible and natural way. The movie is both a fun adventure and a reflection on the meaning of life.

Highly recommended.

The movie is discussed in A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast #148.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Food on Our June 2017 Trip

On our trip to Boston, we had some great food on the road and in Boston.

In my brother's town, we ate ate Hot Rods BBQ which had really yummy barbeque and tasty local beers.

The next day, we stopped for lunch in South Britain, Connecticut, hoping to find a British-like pub. We found Maggie McFly's, which isn't quite a British pub but is delightful nonetheless.

Maggie McFly's

I had a local brew from Two Roads Brewery. No Limits Hefeweizen is a classic Bavarian wheat beer and tasted very good.

The beer

Since it was Sunday, they had a brunch menu available. I decided to mix my German beer with some Mexican food and had the breakfast burrito. It was packed out with cheese, onions, peppers, sausage, and bacon, with a side of home fries and the usual sour cream, salsa, and guacamole on the other side. 

Breakfast burrito, maybe not so well paired with a beer but that's the way it went down

We also had an order of pretzels which were fabulous--warm and soft and buttery.

In Boston, the first night we ate at Parish Cafe (recommended by our DK tourism book), known for highly individualized sandwiches made by two brothers. I had the Mexican Meatball, which had the right amount of spiciness and a fun mix of greens for the "salad topping" which I usually abhor on burgers. Cole slaw and potato salad rounded out the plate. I had a summer ale which was a little too IPA for my tastes.

Mexican Meatball at...

...Parish Cafe

One night at the hotel I worked on the blog at the bar and sampled some local brews. Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger Black Lager is refreshingly different from a usual lager, with a dark and smokey flavor that I enjoyed. The brewery is in Framingham, Massachusetts, so it is fairly local.

Allagash White Belgian Style is brewed in Portland, Maine, so it's less local. The beer is a wheat beer with spices and it isn't as pleasant as other Belgian and Belgian-style beers that I've had. Something about the spice combination isn't satisfying to me. Oh well.

Only this picture came out, alas

Just off Harvard Square is Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers, a Harvard landmark according to our travel guide and their very own sign.

A simple sign for an unassuming (sort of) place

The menu is full of comically-named burgers, some more funny and/or more appropriate than others. 

A sample of the menu

An eclectic interior too!

I had the John "Solly" Solomon burger because it had pineapple on it. The burger was delicious and the onion rings were light and tasty.

Teriyaki and pineapple! With onion rings!

For dinner that night, we went to a nearby restaurant, Basta Pasta, which is highly rated by locals. I had the stuffed eggplant on homemade pasta which was scrumptious and perhaps a bit too much for one meal. The kids got individual pizzas which were so big that we brought a whole pizza back to the hotel. It was dinner the next night!

Stuffed eggplant

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: Spill Zone by S. Westerfeld et al.

Spill Zone written by Scott Westerfeld, art by Alex Puvilland, colors by Hilary Sycamore

Addison is an adventurous photographer who lives outside Poughkeepsie, New York. Po-town, as it's referred to in the book, had a major and unexplainable event a few years back rendering it into a wasteland. It's a cross between Chernobyl and Cthulhu, with weird and unnatural creatures inhabiting it. The black market for pictures from inside the Spill Zone, as it is also called, is profitable, so Addison keeps going back. She has to support her little sister, who barely escaped the Spill Zone back in the day. Their parents did not escape. One of Addison's worries is that she'll run into her parents or what's left of them at some point. But still she goes in.

If that wasn't odd enough, another spill zone opened up in North Korea on the same night. The North Koreans are interested in finding out more about the American counterpart and have sent someone to find out more. The situation is slow to develop, leaving fodder for future issues. I found the story intriguing enough. With the odd plot twists and an engaging central character, I am interested in reading more. The sequel doesn't come out until July 2018, but their web site says it will start serializing in October 2017. I better mark my calendar!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Random Bits of Boston

One of our hotel shuttle's drop off points was by the Boston Public Library, which is an impressive edifice if nothing else. We did go in change a diaper. We actually didn't see any books, which my older son remarked upon. The book are well protected.

Boston Public Library

Front doors

 Flanking the front doors are two statues. On the left is one memorializing scientists; on the right is another for artists.

Lady Science?

Lady Art?

Across the street is Copley Square, which features a farmers' market several times a week (or so the shuttle driver told me). 

Copley Square with market

Copley Square also has a fun sculpture of the tortoise and the hare. My children were happy to pose. Getting a photo where they were all looking in the same direction was a bit of a challenge.

No wonder the tortoise is slow--two riders!

A sassy hare!

The plaza is named after John Singleton Copley, a portrait painter from the late 1700s and early 1800s. He lived in both London and Boston.

John Singleton Copley

The plaza has a church, Trinity Church, that reminded us of many of the churches in Europe--it was undergoing a face lift! We have almost fond memories of scaffolding-covered cathedrals in Germany, Spain, and Belgium.

Trinity Church, Copley Square

The chapter house, also getting some work done

We rode the subway in Boston. I was with the children and must have looked particularly beleaguered since one of the transit workers offered my children an activity book each. They also each received a set of crayons for the activity book!

MBTA activity book

Unfortunately, the toddler developed a habit of pooping on mass transit, requiring some waits for a diaper change (like our one trip inside the public library) or, in one case, a stairwell change with the older kids standing guard!

Near Boston Common is Arlington Street Church, which was charming enough for a photo.

Arlington Street Church

Our toddler was manic about pushing the buttons for our hotel elevator and swiping the card key for our hotel room door. One day, my daughter did it instead of him which turned into the classic meltdown--he was so mad he couldn't even stand.

Or he was appreciating the fireworks carpet in the hotel hallway

We did a very quick visit to MIT for the kooky-looking buildings.

King Kong might have given it a punch

Inside are fun scientific gizmos and displays, as well as tributes to some of the greats.

Digi-Comp II

Greats of horror classics

More greats of horror classics

Outside are some fun house-style mirrors that the children loved. And more kooky architecture.

Bricks made of mirrors?

More fun shapes