Tavern Club Newsletter for November 2020

November Month at a Glance

November 2020 Calendar

Message from the President

The fall was launched with a combination of in-person and virtual Tavern gatherings. The new season’s Tavern dinners are rather elegant for these times. Dress, as always, is highly appropriate. One enters the Tavern to be warmly greeted by Mr. Fay. A stately and distanced walk upstairs takes the Taverner directly to a table, where a few others gather for a drink or two and dinner.

Because we are limited to twenty members and pretty widely spaced, the effect is baronial. But the conversation is just the same in quality, the delight in seeing one another undiminished by time and distance. As we head into winter, the pleasure of your company is sought no matter how you choose to appear. — Nancy Maull

Note: The Tavern Club is open for Monday Night Dinners and Friday Lunches this month, maximum of 20 members. Guests welcome to all Zoom events. Reserve for all events, Zoom and in Tavern, with Mr. Fay, manager@tavernclub.org.

Dinner at the Tavern

Monday, November 2, 6:30 p.m.
Limited to 20; Members only

Election Day

Tuesday, November 3

Election Day

Chinese Contradictions

Thursday, November 5, 5:30 p.m.
Zoom Special Events by Peter Bol

Peter Bol is the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Professor Bol writes:

“China—or at least its government—says China’s future will be linked to its unique past and that it is bringing about the ‘great revival of the Chinese nation.’ Whether this is cause for worry depends on our view of China’s history. I see it as beset by contradictions that China still wrestles with today.”

Please join us for what will be a fascinating discussion on the evolving nature of America’s biggest trading partner and a formidable adversary at the top of new world order.

Lunch at the Tavern

Friday, November 6 at noon; limited to 20; members only

Executive Committee Meeting

Monday, November 9 at Noon via Zoom

Dinner at the Tavern

Monday, November 9, 6:30 p.m.
Limited to 20; Members only

NEW EVENT: The Writing Gym

Tuesday, November 10 at 9:00-9:45 a.m. via Zoom

Attention: writers or wannabe writers! Are you stuck in a creative cul-de-sac? Mired in a metaphoric miasma? Or do you just enjoy writing? Well, then, visit The Writing Gym to re-energize the writer in you. Prompts are offered (you can ignore them!) and you write for one, then two, then three, then five minutes. We stop and read aloud (or not), and then keep going, continuing what we have begun or starting over.

No rules, no apologies. Email anneaitken4@gmail.com for more detail, or just zoom in and try it out.

Veterans Day – Club Closed

Wednesday, November 11
(NB: No Arts Round Table)

Lunch at the Tavern

Friday, November 13 at noon; limited to 20; members only

Dinner at the Tavern

Monday, November 16, 6:30 p.m.
Limited to 20; Members only

Poetry Lunch

Tuesday, November 17, noon, via Zoom

Feeling Satanic? Come to Part II of our Milton Poetry luncheons, in which we explore this fabulous character, Satan, who engineers the Loss of Paradise and fights God. Whose side are you on? Whew! George Heaton, Judith Thomson, and Albert LaFarge will all chime in briefly on the life and character of John Milton (1608-1674) before we dive into some of the juicy bits.

We will follow the conversation wherever it leads (hopefully not too far south).

Guests are welcome and should be greeted in the following manner:

“Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name.”

History Cocktails

Wednesday, November 18, 5:30 p.m. via Zoom

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam, Harvard historian Fred Logevall will join us via Zoom to discuss his recently published, gracefully written, and already widely acclaimed, JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956. Although Fred revisits what would seem to be well-worked territory, Stanford historian David Kennedy concluded authoritatively in the New York Times that,

“None has told the tale of the 35th president’s formative years better.”

Already underway with his second and concluding volume on Kennedy, few are as knowledgeable as Fred about Kennedy, the Kennedys, and America’s experience in the Cold War, Vietnam included. Fred leavens his intellectual mastery with a civilian-friendly style and a very good sense of humor.


Guests welcome.

Senator John F. Kennedy’s After-Dinner Speech at the Tavern Club, November 8, 1956

Film Night

Thursday, November 19, 8 – 9 p.m. via Zoom
The Second Tavern in the Sky Movie Nightcap: Political Edition

Andy Calkins, Anson Wright, P.K. Simonds, and Rusty Tunnard invite you to a discussion of three excellent movies all about…. Well, all about the nation’s Topic du Jour, de la Semaine, du Mois, and de l’Année: politics, democracy, and the future of the free world. You know something light! Bring an airy and fluffy dessert. We’re not able to think and talk about much else, these days, and so the Tavern’s Movie Night will go straight at it.

The Main Event: The organizers encourage all Nightcappers to watch the legendary Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (perennially listed as the best political movie ever made). Find out where to watch it here. This of course is the movie about national politics that dwarfs all of the others. It has likely been decades since most Taverners watched it. It’s Jimmy Stewart in possibly his best role, maybe outside of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s worth seeing again, and after this election, it will really be worth seeing again, no matter who wins.

Your Choice of Second Options: Other movies the organizers suggest watching are Wag the Dog and Lincoln. Your choice (or watch both). Wag the Dog is the still-extremely-relevant film with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman. “With a sex scandal about to dismantle the president’s reelection, a spin doctor (Robert De Niro) hires a big Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to fabricate a war. With amazing performances and a wickedly smart story, the movie is a scary look at the tricks done to make us believe the people in power. Some could make the argument this movie is more relevant today than it was back in the late 1990s when it was made.” (So says Insider’s list of best political movies). Find out where to watch it hereLincoln is the Spielberg tour de force from a few years ago that starred Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning role and demonstrated Lincoln’s adeptness in marshaling warring factions to pass the Emancipation Proclamation. Taverners who saw Ted Widmer’s Zoom night on his book, Lincoln on the Verge, will be fascinated to see Day-Lewis bring him to life. Find out where to watch it here.

Space is limited to 30. Bring your own nightcap of choice, and some popcorn – or your own favorite political junk food (and let everyone know what it is).

Let Anson  (ansonwright@gmail.com) or Andy (acalkins@nextgenlearning.org) know if you need technical help.

Lunch at the Tavern

Friday, November 20 at noon; limited to 20; members only

Dinner at the Tavern

Monday, November 23, 6:30 p.m.
Limited to 20; Members only

Play Reading Lunch

Tuesday, November 24, noon, via Zoom

The 2020 season will conclude with something quite different from what we have read in the past.  That is: modern, American, one-act, with a bit of cross-media excitement.  It will be Wendy Wasserstein’s “Waiting for Philip Glass.”  In this play, inspired by Shakespeare’s rather bitter Sonnet 94, seven people wait for Glass at a posh party in East Hampton.  As he never arrives, it gives them an opening to bare their souls in good dialogue.  And a chance for us to insert some of the wonderful Glass Piano Etudes.  We will provide you with the text, as the Wasserstein plays are not online.  There is a hardcopy, “Seven One-Act Plays,” available on Amazon.

Guests welcome.

Book Club Lunch

Wednesday, November 25, noon, via Zoom

Book Club will meet to discuss Herman Melville’s last work, Billy Budd. Ed Tarlov will lead our consideration of this beautifully written powerful little jewel which deals with truth, beauty, martial law, forgiveness, fate, and human nature in its 82 pages, against the background of the great Royal Navy mutinies of 1797 at Spithead and the Nore which protested the cruelties of life at sea in Nelson’s time.


Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27
Club Closed for Thanksgiving

Dinner at the Tavern

Monday, November 30, 6:30 p.m.
Limited to 20; Members only


Bridge continues online.  All levels of competence are welcome.  Just contact George Heaton at george.r.heaton@gmail.com.


Thursday, December 3, 5:30 pm via Zoom
Tom Kelly
on Wagner.

Wednesday, December 9, 5:30 pm Arts Round Table by Zoom
Taverner PK Simonds will speak about his role as writer and producer of “Reign,” a spectacular historical drama TV series about the life of Mary Queen of Scots, now on Netflix.

Thursday, December 17 via Zoom
The Christmas Feast Webinar

Monday, December 21
Tom Kelly with a Christmas Theme

In Case You Missed It:

On October 15, in person and at the Tavern, John Finley IV spoke to an elegant group of Taverners, all gathered to be reacquainted with his work in founding and sustaining the Epiphany School in Dorchester.  Asked to give us his thinking on race, diversity, and the experience of his school, he had interviewed teachers, some of whom are graduates of the School.  His perspective and advice elicited questions on the art of listening, mentoring, and growing our own membership. We’ve not heard the last of this discussion and will try to re-engage it in the future with both speakers and informal discussions.

The Halloween Plays, October 29, 2020   –   John Tittmann writes:

In response to the Pandemic, the Tavern held the annual Halloween Plays Competition entirely online.  More than 80 Taverners logged in to a Zoom Webinar hosted by the Tavern Players.  The warm-up to the presentation of the plays featured short interviews of Jane Shaw, Martha Sieniewicz, Andy Doherty, and John Rabinowitz by John Tittmann.  A heartwarming short video, made by Andy Doherty, reminded us what #4 Boylston place looks like!

After seeing the plays, attending Taverners voted to award the Bruin to the author of Just the Ticket, who was then revealed to be Anne Carter Aitken.

The first play, Just the Ticket, by A. Gambol (Anne Carter Aitken) was directed by Andy Doherty.  The play was “filmed” on a phone camera by Andy Doherty, and edited as a black and white silent film, complete with scratchy patina.  Jim Terry laid down an overlay of original piano.  The play follows a group of ne’er do wells who hang out at a Bar (the Tavern).  Sharpie (Sam Dennis), a thieving convenience store owner, pilfers a lifesaving and winning lottery ticket from Bag Person (Pieranna Cavalchini), only to have it stolen back from him as just desert when he goes to the Tavern for a celebratory drink.  The Bartender (Katharine Boden)  presides, and a Customer (Jeff Peters) observes all.

The second play, Zoom Doom, by Holly Wood² (Mary Rhinelander) was zoom Halloween ‘meeting’ directed by Martha Sieniewicz.  Recorded earlier, the play was presented on one screen in four zoom boxes.  The rather dysfunctional family, virtually gathers on zoom before dinner, all in the same house.  The Mom (Judith Thomson), prepares dinner in the kitchen;  Dad (Frank McGuire) drinks his quarantini in the library (was that a fly in his hair?);  the Daughter (Jane Manopoli), casts aspersions from her room;  and the Son (John Finlay) expresses his inner Cro-Magnon from his corner.  The surreal play ends with the doorbell ringing spookily like a death knell, followed by the mysterious disappearance of all.

The third play, Logic in the Time of the Coronavirus, by Impatient, (David Greenway) was presented live, in the zoom boxes.  Directed by John Rabinowitz, the play took us to a hospital room, where a recovered Covid patient, played by David Scudder, tries to get a discharge.  The Nurse (Margery Kennelly) is quite sympathetic, as is Doctor Jenkins (Phyllis Thompson).  Though Doctor Senior Doctor (Anthony Pangaro), following byzantine hospital policies, refuses to let him go home.  The Nurse, isn’t worried that he’ll be trapped, though, the hospital needs the bed!

And of course, all attending Taverners made their “appearance” for a virtual party at the end.

Technical help and was provided in great collaborative spirit by ever-optimistic members of the Plays Committee and the Directors three.  The Bruin itself was ferried across the Charles River from his berth at #4 by Warren Ross for his appearance on Zoom.

— Rusty Tunnard, Secretary

Download the Newsletter
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Some Notes

The Tavern Photo Directory has been updated. If you have registered and have a password, access it on the Tavern website at https://tavernclub.org/member-directory.  Otherwise, you may request a copy from Mr. Fay.

Committee on Elections:
There is a new name in the Book; you can log in with your password here.  
If you can’t access either, you can check the name with James Houghton, Chair of Plays Committee.

Fall 2020 Guidelines from the Committee on Elections (revised from July 2019)
If you have a friend in mind for membership who is familiar with the Club and who strikes other members as a potentially agreeable candidate, please get in touch with the Elections Committee and follow the procedure below.

  1. Please call the Chair of the Elections Committee, James Houghton, to let him know of your intention before formally beginning the process. (617-416-9806.)
  2. Once you have had a chance to discuss the basics with James you will then be asked for a letter or email describing the person you would like to propose, how long you have known them, why you believe they would be a good Taverner, who in the club might second the eventual proposal and who in the club you think the candidate knows well enough to potentially write a supporting letter. At that point James will take the name of the proposed candidate to the committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting.   Please do not ask for a seconding letter or solicit other supporting letters until the Committee has had a chance to review the proposed nomination and agrees that the process should move forward.
  3. Once the Committee agrees that the process should start you will then be asked to solicit a seconding letter, as well as at least four additional letters of support from club members who know the candidate. Ultimately you and the seconder will be responsible for ensuring that the supporting letters are mailed or emailed directly to the committee.     The letters should be reasonably substantive and should indicate more than passing knowledge of the candidate.
  4. Once all of the letters are in, the nominating process is underway and in the Committee’s hands. Acquainting the candidate with the Club and its members are your part of the process.
  5. Please know that in addition to the required letters of support from club members, the bylaws require that, the candidate must be acquainted with at least four (4) members of the Elections Committee. To the extent that the candidate does not already know 4 committee members, or does not have the opportunity to meet them through club gatherings or private social events, the Committee will work with the proposer to ensure that this happens.
  6. Once the Committee has voted to move the candidate forward, the candidate’s name then goes into “The Book,” located in the top drawer of the desk in the Library, where it stays for two weeks from the date of Notice or email announcement. TO ALL MEMBERS: If you can’t get in to check the Book, ask another member to do so for you. During COVID, names will be confidentially emailed to members.
  7. After the two weeks in The Book, and after reviewing any additional comments or input provided by the membership, the Committee will vote on the candidate’s membership at their next monthly meeting.

Additional Thoughts:

  • You may well find a good potential Taverner not known to many in the Club. It is your job, as proposer, to acquaint the possible candidate with members of the Club before any letters are solicited.
  • To acquaint the candidate and members, you may arrange a gathering which can be inside or outside the Tavern Club.
  • Bringing the candidate to the Tavern Club to meet members and get the flavor of the Club is always an important part of the process.
  • Once your candidate has been elected, please make an effort to bring her/him into the life of the club as soon as possible. Have your friends help you invite our new members to take part in Club events and activities; make them feel very welcome as the Taverners they now are.

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