Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 01/17/08


TODAY, the Battle of the Brownies at MIT, 7-8pm in MIT room W20-407. See the Web site map.

The weird event of the week is learning to become a stunt actor, at Boston Movie Studios. At 2pm on Jan 20, they will have classes to learn bar room brawling, sword fighting for film, basic handgun safety, martial arts and story telling through action. Free but $5 donation requested. If you have talent you’ll get to be part of the Boston Independent Film Festival. (This is their way of saying they’re not going to pay you anything for risking your life.) The Stage Combat Studio at Baystate Fencers, 561 Windsor Street, Somerville, MA.

Also this week is Arisia, the biggest SF convention in New England. It’s a broad conference, so if you’re a broad, check it out. What I mean to say is, they cover everything from science fiction to fantasy to anime. Jan 18-21. Cambridge.

Also weird, the Annual MIT Mystery Hunt! It’s a puzzle hunt competition where the clues are so difficult that it almost isn’t fun anymore. Maybe they should make a “junior hunt” that takes at most 5 hours and limits teams to 2 people.

I’ve been saving this one for an especially cold week. There is a completly indoor, all-season water park in New England. Yay! It’s the CoCo Key Water Resort at the Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel, 50 Ferncroft Rd., Danvers, MA. (978) 777-2500. It’s fairly expensive but they have family rates and group rates.

It’s Martin Luther King weekend, and the City of Boston is celebrating. On Monday, Jan 21, there will be a speech at Faneuil Hall.

The Gardner Museum has a special night every 3rd Thursday, and you can mingle, drink cocktails, and even take a drawing class. The story of the Gardner is basically this. A rich but crazy lady bought all the art she could get her hands on, and told her trustees that if they ever modify any of the exhibits, the entire museum will be sold off. So they change nothing. But they are planning an extension. Those sneaky trustees! Also, people named Isabella get free admission. Anyway, I’ve been and it’s worth seeing. Yes, they do have a garden.

What’s better than shopping! Instead of visiting “galleries”, i.e. retail stores for art you can’t afford, go see some antiques and who knows, maybe you’ll find something priceless, cheap. The Greater Boston Antiques Festival is Jan 19-20, at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. (781) 862-4039.

Because it’s too cold to be outdoors, it’s a great time to see some theatre shows. The Little Dog Laughed runs Jan 18 to Feb 16, it caught my attention as being witty and romantic and comic, and it’s the Boston premiere of this Broadway hit. Boston.

Everyone I’ve asked to go ice skating with me lately seems to feel they Just Might Die. Get a spine, people! It’s not that hard. Just schlep around and make baby steps and you won’t fall flat, I promise. Here’s where to go:

— Kendall Square, Cambridge.

— Boston Common, Boston,

— Harvard Square, Cambridge,

— Brookline. To March 4.

— Other places,

Continuing events:

— Independent Activities Period at MIT,

— Napoleon exhibit at the MFA, thru Jan 27.

— SPAMALOT, Jan 15-27,

Finally, this list isn’t nearly long enough, since January and February are slow months for activities. So it’s a good time to check out some local museums. Here are some recommendations. Because New England has so many brainy, arty people, even our small museums really pack a punch!

MIT has several museums, but my favorites are the MIT List Visual Arts Center, which is free and has a bunch of strange videos, at and The MIT Museum, which was just renovated, at 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. 617-253-4444. It’s a truly world class museum and worth visiting. And every 3rd Sunday of the month is free admission.

Did you know that you can eat brunch at the Museum of Science in their skyline room? The Museum sits directly on the Charles River and it’s truly a spectacular setting. They also have an IMAX theater, a planetarium, a butterfly garden, and huge amount more. Science Park, Boston, MA. (617) 723-2500. Free to MIT students and alumni.

I’ve never been to either of these, but the next time you’re near Boston Common, check out the Museum of Afro-American History & Black Heritage Trail. 46 Joy Street, Boston, MA. 617-725-0022. Also, Black Heritage Trail tours start off from there.

Also see the National Center of Afro-American Artists, 300 Walnut Avenue, Boston, MA. 617-442-8614.

Staying with the ethnic theme, did you know that the biggest Armenian museum, at least on Google, is in Watertown? The Armenian Library and Museum of America is at 65 Main Street, Watertown, MA. 617-926-2562.

Also on the ethnicities that have been hurt a lot theme, the Semitic Museum has all kinds of Israeli and other Jewish artifacts. That’s at 6 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA. (617) 495-4631. It’s part of Harvard.

While you’re at Harvard, how could you fail to visit the Harvard University Art Museums (Fogg and Sackler). 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA. (617) 495-9400. The Sackler is at 485 Broadway. Free Saturdays 10-12 and everyday after 4:30pm.

Right next door is the Peabody Museum, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, is where they dumped the artifacts from all those “Livingstone I presume?” forays into deepest darkest Africa and Polynesia.

Also right next door, is the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which has the glass flower exhibit. Before they had freezers, making flowers from glass was the only way that botanists could really study flowers from around the world. Unfortunately, while it shows spectacular craftsmanship, the glass looks so much like flowers that you sort of shrug and say, oh look, a bunch of flowers. 🙂

Anyway, the museum — which is NOT for naturists, you must wear clothes! — also has a ton of rocks and other fun stuff from the era when all sciences were dumped into the term “natural history”. 26 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA. (617) 495-3045. Free Sundays 9-12. AAA discount.