Thursday, December 31, 2009

One lonely December 2009 post

Post #601.

Been a while, eh? You still come around here? You still on the edge of your seat waiting for an update? Or have you given up? I wouldn't blame you. Why keep coming back when I don't update anything for over a month. This being said, the muse to type something relevant or witty or newsworthy on these very pages has seemingly disappeared. The urge and wanting to do so is gone. Those who follow my oh-so-interesting (sarcasm) adventures already do so on the interwebs via The Facebook or The Twitter. Here on The Blogger?....I just don't "feel it" at the moment.

So maybe in 2010, there will be an update on a brewday or a movie or something interesting I've done. But for the most part, the urge to share these types of things on this medium has subsided greatly. I guess I'll be around, just not so often. Try not to wait up.

So to recap December 2009 in one fell swoop:
The Fantastic Mr. Fox / Chargers game / Great Lakes beer school / Steelers game / Dave Matthews Band concert film in 3-D / nasty snowstorm that canceled my yearly A Christmas Carol theater excursion / wicked bronchitis.

Here's to an improved 2010. Finally, a vigorous and hearty FUCK YOU to 2009 and the events that threaten to ruin me as the entity you previously knew.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chicago - Day 3

Sunday saw my Chicago weekend trip come to a close. I debated whether or not to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. Robin mentioned the Art Institute of Chicago as an option. I had one afternoon to do something, and I knew that it would have to occur after lunch of deep dish Chicago pizza at Giordano's which was just two blocks from the hotel near the Sears, er, Willis Tower. Outstanding. (And I'm insanely glad the chick in the boots turned ever so slightly for the nice ass profile shot. Kudos to you fine lass!)

So, instead of just seeing ONE landmark for my final Chicago afternoon, I chose the best of them all: double decker bus tour. Two+ hours driving around town and seeing the sights. Touristy? Yes. Cheesy? Quite possibly. But it afforded me a trip all around town in one fell swoop before I had to depart.

A great weekend chock full of activities and sights. A lot of fun was had. The concerts were stellar. Now, back to reality...

Chicago - Day 2

Woke up Saturday excited and ready to go. My first day in Chicago was a BUSY fun-filled one. Today looks to be another great day out of town for more friendship, more beverage, and more Pixies.

Hopped on the "El" train again and traveled northward to meet up with Jonathan and Robin again. Stopped off at their place to meet Lily and Alice: two chihuahuas of infamous repute. After an interesting and novel display of barking, it was time to lay on the floor and get my ears and nose cleaned out by voracious tongues. Dogs rule.

We walked over to the El through their neighborhood and had lunch at Belly Shack for some Asian/Latin fusion sandwiches. Meatball pita with noodles for me. Appetizers of maple squash and fried plantains. Tasty.

Bellies full, we make our way over to another of the best bars in the land: The Map Room. The Ohio State/Michigan game was on the TV, Great Lakes Brewing's Edmund Fitzgerald Porter was going down the chute, and on a Saturday afternoon the bar became more and more lively with patrons. The place is just so cool. National Geographic magazines line the shelves on the wall. The wallpaper is comprised on (surprise!) maps. Belgian lambic Cantillon Lou Pepe quickly became a winner as more and more goblets of the tart nectar were ordered up.

From here, we walked some blocks over to Piece Brewery & Pizzeria for (surprise!) beer and pizza. The beers here have a decidedly, um, naughty air. I asked for something hoppy, so instead of their Full Frontal pale ale the waitress suggested the Camel Toe IPA. Giggle giggle. Also, some tasters of their Moose Knuckle barleywine were presented. Tee hee hee.

With excellent public transport instructions from my Chicago hosts, I hopped on a bus, then the El, and again arrived at the Aragon Ballroom for my 2nd concert in two nights. Another great set. Now since they're playing their Doolittle CD in its entirety, the bulk of it is the same. However, they ended with my two all-time favorite Pixies songs, making it the best night ever.

  1. Dancing The Manta Ray
  2. Weird At My School
  3. Bailey's Walk
  4. Manta Ray
  5. Debaser
  6. Tame
  7. Wave of Mutilation
  8. I Bleed
  9. Here Comes Your Man
  10. Dead
  11. Monkey Gone To Heaven
  12. Mr. Grieves
  13. Crackity Jones
  14. La La Love You
  15. No. 13 Baby
  16. There Goes My Gun
  17. Hey
  18. Silver
  19. Gouge Away
  20. Encore:
  21. Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
  22. Into The White
  23. Encore 2:
  24. Holiday Song
  25. Something Against You
  26. Vamos
  27. Where Is My Mind?
  28. Encore 3:
  29. Gigantic

Chicago - Day 1

I've been home for a few days now, so I guess it's time to post about my 3-day weekend in Chicago. Why Chicago? The 20th anniversary of the seminal Pixies album Doolittle. The band went on a small tour to celebrate and will play the album in its entirety. The closest town they were coming to for me was Washington, DC. But those dates occur the Monday/Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And as a retail grunt, those dates are virtually impossible to get time off for. So looking at the tour schedule, Chicago fell on my normally-scheduled 3-day weekend off.


I was supposed to fly out of Raleigh Thursday night (an hour away but super cheap Southwest fares), but that FAA computer glitch from that morning rolled along and affected later flights. I thought I'd be out of the woods with my 6:30pm flight, but it ended up delayed 4 hours...making me miss my connection. Soooo....EARLY Friday morning it was. In bed by 10pm, up at 3:45am to have enough to time to drive over to make the flight.

By 8:30am Friday I am in Chicago. And by 10:00am I am here:

103 floors up and 4 feet out. "The Ledge" on the Sears, er, the Willis Tower. Took a cab from the airport, dropped off my bags at the hotel, then walked the 2 blocks from hotel to the tallest building in the U.S. Incredible views. Ears popped constantly on the elevator rides up and down. Unbelievable structure.

Chicago is a great beer town. Fellow beer geeks Jonathan and Robin moved from Chapel Hill to Chicago a few years ago. Since I was in town, we planned to meet up and do some pubcrawling together. First stop for lunch? The Lincoln Park neighborhood and Goose Island - Clybourn. A tasty burger with bacon of course was my fare. Delicious Belgian-inspired Matilda, offered a sample taste of their new altbier, then their dark Belgian Noire, Imperial Brown Goose, and finally a Black Cat Espresso Stout. (Wow, we went through a bunch of beverages didn't we?)

From here, it's to a divey bar with plenty of taps called Local Option. Just had a couple here, most notably the hoppy sensation from Three Floyds Brewing Co., Dreadnaught. On tap. Hear that Bones? Dreadnaught on tap. It was quite delicious.

From here, it was to one off the better beer bars in the country let alone Chicago: Hopleaf. Surly Brewing's Bender and a Stone/BrewDog collaboration called Bashah were the hits. Robin got some sort of muddy silty creation from Belgian brewer Wostyntje: Mustard Beer. Looked absolutely disgusting, but was actually pretty tasty. Looks nasty. I mean, look at it:

For dinner, I did have a delicious sammich: a CB&J. Cashew butter, fig jam, and gruyere cheese. Serve it with mac-n-cheese? Sold! YUM!!!

From here, we parted ways as I had a PIXIES concert to go to. They performed at the beautiful Aragon Ballroom. It was so sweet to see them live!!! People were cramming to get centerstage, but I was interested on hanging around towards the right of the stage in front of uber-cool bassist Kim Deal. Got it. Right up front. Leaning against the barrier. NICE!!!! The concert was a dandy. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

  1. Dancing The Manta Ray
  2. Weird At My School
  3. Bailey's Walk
  4. Manta Ray
  5. Debaser
  6. Tame
  7. Wave Of Mutilation
  8. I Bleed
  9. Here Comes Your Man
  10. Dead
  11. Monkey Gone To Heaven
  12. Mr. Grieves
  13. Crackity Jones
  14. La La Love You
  15. No. 13 Baby
  16. There Goes My Gun
  17. Hey
  18. Silver
  19. Gouge Away
  20. Encore:
  21. Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)
  22. Into The White
  23. Encore 2:
  24. Isla De Encanta
  25. Nimrod's Son
  26. U-Mass
  27. Velouria

Saturday, November 14, 2009

John Hodgman

Drove over to Salem College after work Friday for hors d'oeuvres, wine, discussion, book signings, photos, mingling, and VIP seating within an austere and bucolic setting. Salem College was the setting. John Hodgman was the reason. Sound elitist? I hope so, you fucking bloody commoner!

Brandy and robustos in the drawing room, anyone? From April, 2008:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Hodgman - Elitist Persecution
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

A book tour commenced to celebrate the paperback release of his book More Information Than You Require. Winston-Salem was the only North Carolina stop on his tour. Heard about it on NPR as the alarm clock went off one morning at 7am. In a sleepy haze I thought I heard that John Hodgman was coming to Winston-Salem. No, that couldn't be true. Alas, upon checking WFDD's website, it was TRUE! Instead of the usual 7:00pm auditorium-only ticket, I opted for the 5:30pm pre-show meet-n-greet on campus. What a treat! Hodgman was genuinely pleased to meet those of us who were there. With a warm and caring smile he engaged us all individually with empathy and care. It was really pretty sweet.

Books were signed. Wine was drunk, specifically for me the Cupcake Merlot. Photos were taken. Schmoozing and mingling were occurring. Then it was time to walk over from the fancy campus house to the auditorium and our VIP front 4 row seats. Life is indeed difficult. He spoke for almost two hours in a loosely moderated Q&A forum.

It was indeed a fantastic evening.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Darwin's Meditation for the People of Lincoln

Drove over to Raleigh and the campus of NC State to see yet another performance by Daniel Bernard Roumain, otherwise known as DBR. This piece, a multimedia production entitled Darwin's Meditation for the People of Lincoln. Two iconic figures born on the same day in 1809. DBR wonders, what would they say to each other if they met? The performance and the piece can be best described by the man himself:

Not knowing what to expect, some "modern" portions of Act I were oddly intriguing. I suppose I had it in my mind that traditional melodic measures would flow. Act I included many sporadic notes and off-tempo beats. Once I settled into the show, it really opened up for me and I enjoyed it immensely.

The treat before the 8pm show was the 6:45pm discussion in the student center on campus. Got there right as it began, and no one was sitting in the very front row! Hell, I'll sit there! Great to hear his thoughts on the piece firsthand. Also cool to hear his tackle audience questions with humility and grace. And finally, even better for him to offer to shake my hand after the discussion. I squeal like a girl.


Triad Stage season pass night, this time for David Mamet's Oleanna. A two-person play of "he said / she said". College professor and young co-ed. What happened? What can be proven? What crime is defined? Each sees the proceedings with their own eyes: How could the professor DO that to the student? How can the student try to RUIN the professor?

The characters names are Carol and John. So what is Oleanna? Oleanna is a utopian vision of society. Whose vision are we striving for? Whose dreams should be squashed in reaching these heights?

An uncomfortable performance. Couldn't get comfortable in my seat watching it. But that's the point.

Paul Krugman

Tuuesday November 3rd and it was time for another Guilford College Bryan Series lecture, this time with Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman. It was a sobering evening of financial crises, looming despair, and "avoiding catastrophe but facing tragedy". Ugh.

Not blessed with the business mind, I found myself wandering at times. A heavy topic that SHOULD hold my attention, but business and economics and accounting hold no interest for me. A speaker whose merits and knowledge are unsurpassed, yet I struggled to pay attention. I struggled to decipher the topic.

You can see a clip here as embedding is not authorized into websites.

Krugman_blogPaul Krugman—Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Paul Krugman is an American economist, columnist, author and intellectual. He is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, a centenary professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” Krugman is well-known in academia for his work in international economics, including trade theory, economic geography and international finance. His most recent books are The Return of Depression Economics and The Conscience of a Liberal.

Read and respond to Paul Krugman's New York Times blog here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Between Two Ferns

Zach Galifianakis is an absolute nut. He was awesome in The Hangover and also in Visioneers. Now I've stumbled upon a series of "interviews" he's done on Will Ferrell's Funny or Die website. Classic. Here are all 6 for your enjoyment:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pearl Jam

Wednesday night October 28th, after a long wet cold day in Philadelphia, it's time for the main reason for the trip: PEARL JAM. Nice. Ten Club fan club tickets on the floor of the arena. Social Distortion opened up, then Pearl Jam goes on and plays for almost 3 hours. Fantastic. They rocked. Absolutely rocked.

Video from my seat of their opening tune:


OK, so recently we had the weekend trip to DC, followed immediately by the Yo-Yo Ma concert Monday, and immediately followed by a Tuesday night post-work flight to Philadelphia, PA. Boom, boom, boom. I'm here, I'm there, I'm everywhere. The reason for the trip? A Pearl Jam concert Wednesday night. The beauty of this trip? No vacation days required.

DC? No vacation.
Yo-Yo Ma? No vacation.
Pearl Jam? No vacation.

Tuesday, work 8-4. Scheduled flight out of Raleigh at 7:35pm. Concert Wednesday. Flight out of Philadelphia 8:20am Thursday. Work 2-10 Thursday. Whew.

But, before the concert, there's sightseeing to do. PLENTY of historical items to peruse in Philadelphia. Sadly, it rained the entire day. So the entire day was spent wet and cold and soggy and miserable. Here's what occurred:

Start off with a 9:45am tour of Independence Hall.

Then THE room inside the building where the Declaration and Constitution were debated and voted upon:

The courthouse that originally housed Congress:

The House downstairs:

The Senate upstairs:

Then it was a visit to the Liberty Bell in the shadows of Independence Hall:

Afterward, a walk (in the ever present rain) to visit Benjamin Franklin's grave at the (open via appointment only) Christ Church Burial Ground:

Then a walk towards Chinatown to catch a cab to travel to South Philly for lunch. The item on the menu? CHEESESTEAKS. The destination, Geno's Steaks:

From there, a walk through the Italian Market and a stop at Anthony's Italian Coffee House for some Pumpkin Latte and a canoli. Time to warm up and infuse some caffeine.

From there, a walk through the South Philly neighborhoods until finally finding a cab-friendly zone. Cab it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a cheesy touristy "Rocky" pose at the top of the steps:

Then, another cab to the hotel to drop off any souvenirs, bags, books. A walk from the hotel back towards the Independence Hall area to acquire some dinner. But on the way...

American Philosophical Society museum:

American Philosophical Society library:

Carpenter's Hall, home of the first Continental Congress:

Then a walk for (a planned) dinner at City Tavern, home of many a discussion and debate concerning revolution. However, I stumbled upon a beer geek nirvana of unparalleled proportions: Eulogy Belgian Tavern. Revisited my trip to Belgium one year ago. Belgian food and Belgian beer. However, they don't open until 5:00, so let's continue on to Penn's Landing:

Now, back to Eulogy for a Grilled Three-Cheese sandwich (with tomato and bacon) and some fine refreshment with Vuuve, translated literally to "boobs".

So, my wet, cold, soggy, miles-walked day is complete. From Eulogy there is one final destination for this chock-filled Philadelphia day: Pearl Jam.