Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Events at MIT

College was great for free stuff. I joined the Commuters Club, International Students Club and the 8 Minute Abs Club. I wasn't a commuter, a foreigner or in possession of ripped abs. I was in it for the free food and fun events. My only weekly expense running the NYUSwings! Club? Brownie mix and milk.But now that you're out of college, what to do? I luckily have a college ID without any dates and a youthful complexion, so I save a lot of money on tickets for shows and museums. But there's more. I'm in Boston--this is college central. One of the best for events I've found is MIT.
That's right. The university of uber-nerds is actually a hub of social activity and free food. I suppose I've known this for a while. I've been a big fan of the Wednesday night free swing dance.

But there's also free tango dancing, movies and more. One of my favorites this year was the F.A.T. (Friday After Thanksgiving) event where 35 teams produce Rube Goldberg contraptions that are linked to create a chain reaction. You got to check out the video here.

A full events calendar is online at the MIT website. Sure a lot of events are MIT students only, but I doubt they'll check or just say you left your ID in your dorm room. (Better figure out the name of a dorm I suppose.) Here's some favorites: Annual Hummus taste-off (tomorrow), Fried Rice Iron Chef (tonight), MIT Charm School (this weekend). I'll be putting my favorites on my events calendar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yelp Karma?

I go posting about how great yelp is and then just a day later they end up using a quote of mine in the Yelp weekly review!

'Boston Cheese Cellar in Roslindale is "the only store you actually want to be smelly," yelps Megan S, who finds she's "always free to taste any of the dozens of cheese they have in house." '

Make sure you get out there to celebrate National Cheese Lover's Day today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Yelp, is no longer the sound a dog makes, it's the sound of twenty-somethings writing mini-reviews of their most favorite and hated, restaurants, stores, salons, and just about anything else these days. If you're not on Yelp you are probably not going to the best bars, the cheapest eateries or the tastiest restaurants. Worse yet, you could be going to dull, over-priced places with bad service.

Since Yelp I've only had fantastic meals, drinks and massages.

Here's why Yelp isn't just another Citysearch:

1. The writers are snarky, clever, irreverent and often hilarious. These aren't Zagat's reviews here or even a Lonely Planet tour book. Each person has their own style and it's usually well-written and brutally honest.

2. The map feature is pretty cool - see what top-rated eateries are around where you are. Want somewhere else? Just drag the map over and new places pop up.

3. You can 'bookmark' places to try later and put notes with it. "To Try: Masa Note: $1 tapas on Thursday."

4. Many businesses offer Yelper's discount. Say you saw it on Yelp and at Blu you get 30% off your lunch or $15 off your Thai bodywork session at Boston Thai Yoga.

5. Events and community are also key on Yelp. Waste some time trolling the message boards to see some funny drama. Check out user-posted events like Paper-Rock-Scissors Tournaments. And if you're in the Yelp Elite Squad you get invited to free events put on by local stores and eateries where they wine and dine you to get your 5 star rating.

6. The reviews are usually right on. Folks are encouraged to use their real name and photo and write truthfully. There's also a ton of folks on the site. There's a graph that shows you how many people gave it 1, 2, 3, etc. stars and the average rating. So in the end you get a pretty good picture of if the place is worth checking out.

Hop on Yelp and be sure to friend me!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Highlights from Holiday Happenings

This is the first year that I skipped our paid vacation to Aspen. After my 3 week trip to Mexico I decided I'd had enough of planes for a while. And no matter--I planned a week full of exciting (and cheap!) events while most in the office were gone.

First off was the new Harpoon Beer tasting at the Kinsale and trying out Minibar's cocktails and Aspen-like interior decorating and fireplace.

The next day I organized a group to go the Wine Bottega's chocolate and wine tasting (free) and dinner in the Italian North End (not free).

More free booze on Thursday at Albert Winestein's tasting.

Then Friday I went to the Lexington annual Handel's Messiah. Now on it's 49th year, this is certainly the best sing-a-long Messiah there is. Many people there have been going, 10, 20, 30, event 40+ years! There was an air of camaraderie and a somewhat dorky love of singing aloud. At one point the bass singer finished a particularly good solo and I found myself grinning and nodding. I happened to look around and almost everyone was smiling and nodding in appreciation.

I spent Christmas at home in South Jersey, which is always a unique sensory experience. I spent most of the weekend being shuttled between relatives and family friends' homes. Because my father drove, I usually slept through the rides. It was if I'd magically awake in another strange house. Windows were small and it was dark out, so it was if the outside never existed--just funny knick-knacks, TVs always on and different people's wedding photos.

I'm used to being very aware of my environs. Up until recently I'd bike to work. Thursday I walked the 2 miles to the grocery store in the snow (safer than driving), stopping in shops and the library along the way. You notice the new art hanging in the gallery. You say hi to neighbors and you pet others' dogs. You notice a house's new paint job and feel the immediacy of the wind and weather.

The car to house, to car to house routine got a little surreal after four days. It's almost as if the state of New Jersey didn't exist, just a few folk's homes--and cars.

This week I returned to Boston with a vengeance. Went to Redbones for a beer launch. The wait was one cold, cold hour outdoors and the keg was kicked by the time we made it in, but the free appetizers of corn fritters, fried catfish, shrimp made a fine dinner. Partied perhaps a little too hardy for New Years with our home-made glögg.

I made up for January 1st's day of sloth with early morning sledding today, followed by more sloth.

Do holidays get any better than this?