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May

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Saturday the 6th Nina and I went to the Lake Anne Farmer’s Market to meet up with another family to sell restaurant coupon books to raise money for tee-ball (she did pretty well, cleared $108). Then we went over to Vienna where she had a Frosty and french fries at Wendy’s because she’d turned her nose up at the kettle corn she asked for. We checked out Free Comic Book Day at Big Planet Comics, then Jill took her to a ballet themed birthday party. Sunday I took her to another birthday party at Jumping Jack Sports.

Nina

Nina was excited the next week to start her writing journal in kindergarten and to go on a field trip to Imagination Stage to see The Jungle Book (although her favorite thing about the field trip was the nearby playground they went to when they showed up early because of light traffic on the way to Bethesda).

Nina

My mom and David came to visit on Thursday the 11th and got to join Nina and me for dinner at Flippin’ Pizza for our weekly trip Friday. They were hoping to see Nina play tee-ball Saturday, but the game was rained out. They got to see her at her swim lesson instead. That night was the 50th anniversary concert of the Reston Chorale, so Nina went to babysitting at school while the rest of us attended that (Jill and I also snuck in a nightcap at Red’s Table).

Nina Mom

Sunday a neighbor turned 4, got a new bike, and learned to ride it in 10 minutes. We were concerned because since Nina got a bike and scooter for Christmas, she’d only wanted to ride her scooter while the kids her age were learning to ride bikes. Turns out we didn’t need to be worried – it took her 5 minutes to learn to ride. In the evening we had a nice Mother’s Day dinner at Gregorio’s Trattoria.

Nina

Tuesday the 16th I went to see Heather Nova & her brother Mishka at the Birchmere, then Thursday listened to a lot of Soundgarden as Chris Cornell had passed, then downloaded videos from the last solo show I saw. I can’t believe I only saw him 4 times. What a powerful voice. R.I.P. Nina got to go bowling with her teachers and her friend Abby that day (we’d won the outing in a fundraising auction).

Nina

Nina was excited on Saturday as she finally got her booster seat (in Jill’s car) after her fun run with Jill and her tee-ball game. That evening was her final Daisy Scouts meeting of the season as families were invited to roast s’mores and sing songs around the campfire at the Walker Nature Center Campfire Ring. Sunday we met up with the Norwoods and another family and had brunch at Silver Diner, then went over to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

Nina

Since I’d been listening to a lot of sludgy progressive metal for some reason, I followed it up on Wednesday the 24th by seeing Tool. Too bad my friend (and superfan) Jay wasn’t here, they were rocking.

Nina

Memorial Day weekend was fairly rainy on Friday and Saturday, tee-ball was canceled and Jill and Nina reorganized the living room. We also listened to a lot of music: The new Barenaked Ladies album is their best since Snacktime, and then we got the news that Gregg Allman had passed on Saturday and I knew what I was listening to that night, the 2004 Allman Brothers Band show Stuart and I saw. Memorial Day was sunny and we went over to Viva Vienna where Nina got the henna she’d been wanting, plus got to see her friend Abby.

Nina

April

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Saturday the 1st I took Nina to a birthday party at Rebounderz (think trampoline heaven). We were supposed to have Nina’s first tee-ball practice that afternoon, but it was raining and the fields were closed.

Nina

Thursday I sat in a chair most of the day like any other weekday, but previous to that there was a plane and subway ride and my view was band rehearsals for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame instead of a computer. I arrived in Brooklyn around 8:30AM to windy and cold conditions, made my first stop a bodega for an umbrella and walked around. I found Brooklyn Crêpe & Juice Bar and waited for them to open at 9, had a quick breakfast of a crêpe and a smoothie and was at Barclays Center right at 9:30.

Journey

First up was Journey. For all the rehearsals they seated us in section 23, and there wasn’t much happening on stage yet – Gregg Rollie and Jonathan Cain were at their keyboards. Steve Smith sat at the drum set, and they started playing “Separate Ways”. After that, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, and Arnel Pineda joined them on stage and ran through “Separate Ways” again – Gregg did not play keys. There was some discussion after that and Arnel teased “I’m Cryin'” and “Patiently”, then one more time through “Separate Ways”. Aynsley Dunbar switched in on drums and they played “Lights”. Arnel stepped off for a discussion, and the rest of the band played “Lights” again (with backing vocals). Then they were ready for a full run through: Gregg and Aynsley left and the band played the intro for “Separate Ways” and stopped, then played the whole song. Neal introduced Gregg and Aynsley and they played “Lights” together, then Gregg and Aynsley left again. Finally they played “Don’t Stop Believin'” of course, then Arnel had to leave and the band played “Don’t Stop Believin'” again (with backing vocals). No sign of Steve Perry, but I was not surprised. “Don’t Stop Believing” still sounded fantastic even without vocals.

Journey

There was a break after that and I walked over to Bricolage for lunch where I had the 5-Spiced Fried Chicken and a beer, as well as an iced tea to go (I was feeling my 4AM wakeup by then). I made my way back to Barclays and they were still setting up instruments, and we watched the Chuck Berry and Journey videos they would show the next night. Finally Electric Light Orchestra was ready to go – but Jeff Lynne wasn’t there. So they ran through “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Evil Woman” without him, playing riffs of Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (bassist Lee Pomeroy is also a member of Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman) and Rush’s “Cygnus X-1” in between. Finally Jeff rolled in, grabbed his guitar and got down to business and they went through the whole set twice: “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Evil Woman”, and “Mr. Blue Sky”. Then he left, and we left. They sounded as tight as they did when I saw them in September, but I was surprised that Richard Tandy didn’t join them this time (I learned later he wasn’t well).

Nina

They’d asked us to leave the arena between Journey and ELO, but this time they just asked us to go to the concourse where I charged my phone and read. They let us back in about 30 minutes later, and soundcheck was still going on. Yes was the rehearsal I was most excited to see, and the rumors were quickly proven true, as out came most of the Union era lineup (Steve Howe, Alan White, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, and Trevor Rabin) as well the one and only Geddy Lee (of Rush) slappin’ that bass on “Roundabout”. And then something more amazing happened. The other song Yes was doing is “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (and Steve played bass on that – founding member Chris Squire was the bass player prior to his death two years ago). Jon wasn’t happy with the chorus, and looked over at the audience and asked if we knew the words. Quick as a flash half of us were on stage behind a microphone. Unfortunately the powers that be put the kibosh on it, but Geddy was standing 10 feet from me. So now I can say I’ve shared the stage with Geddy Lee. They ran through “Roundabout” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” one more time after that. Also Alex Lifeson was sitting at the table closest to the stage watching the whole thing.

Jon and Geddy

After sitting all day, I made up for it by taking the subway to Manhattan and walking around NYU. I found Generation Records to shop in, then met up with my friend (and host for the trip) Chris. We walked over to nearby Tim Ho Wan where he knew we wouldn’t have to wait if we ate standing up at the bar and shared some delicious dim sum (especially their dumplings). I managed to get on the wrong subway line back to Brooklyn necessitating a long walk to transfer to the correct one. I was tired after my very long day, but I rallied to leave the apartment and make it the half block to the grocery store to buy some Lithuanian beer that convincingly replicates US craft brew labels. Too bad I hurt my foot not paying attention to the step down from the bathroom.

beer

The next morning I was limping and decided not to go shopping as I’d planned, instead got a Bulgogi cheese steak from Hanki before getting back in a seat at a Barclays for Pearl Jam’s rehearsal. It was more crowded and enthusiastic as we waited for the band – the techs tuning got cheers when we recognized parts of “Daughter” and “Better Man”. They started and stopped “Not For You” and “Better Man” before the band entered. First drummer Dave Krusen played as they went through “Alive”, then Matt Cameron took over. Mike McCready played the riff to “Black Diamond” as they waited, then they played “Given To Fly”. They got through the intro of “Better Man”, then stopped, then played the whole thing and they were done. Next, “set for finale” announced a voice and soon Alex Lifeson appeared stage right playing what sounded like the intro to “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Soon Geddy Lee, Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, and Trevor Rabin joined the band and they played it one time through. We also got to see Geddy and Alex’s induction speech and some of Dhani Harrison’s speech before they kicked us out.

finale

My foot was feeling better and I was walking close to normal, so I did manage to go to Fifth Avenue Record Shop and Music Matters before taking a break. I was back at Barclays for the end of cocktail hour, where I found out my life was not all roses – a Pearl Jam fan saw my Rush shirt and asked me who he got pictures with. It was Geddy and Alex. Sigh. Someday. At least the bar had Magic Hat #9 on draft. Also Barclays closed all the cool local food vendors I had planned on eating at. At least Nathan’s is authentic NYC. The ceremony itself was great, the Joan Baez and Lenny Kravitz segments were great and Tupac was ok. Things I learned that night:

  • Rick Wakeman should get a job as a comedian
  • Steve Perry ain’t ever playing with Journey again
  • Geddy and Alex are awesome (OK, I already knew that)
  • If you go get a drink after a show with a fraternity brother (Henry), be prepared to hang out until it appears they’ve started closing the bar down (at the North Pole Pub).
  • If the train you’re looking for shows up on the express side instead of local DON’T get on it (then later I found out that due to construction there was no local stop there, but I might have switched lines if I knew that).
  • Googling “how to unfold a futon” saves you from waking up your host or sleeping on a couch.
  • You can see the back of me in the lower left corner of the picture below.

Me and Yes

My trip back had only one bit of excitement – my determination to get the Cubano I’d missed the night before took so long I nearly missed boarding my flight (it was 100 feet away, but still). The next day was Nina’s first tee-ball practice, and she really enjoyed it (she was a natural at batting, need some work throwing and catching).

Nina

Thursday the 13th was Jill and Nina’s turn to travel – up to Massachusetts for Easter on the train. After some long days at work to make up hours, I spent most of Saturday cleaning and sealing the dock boat. Then I followed up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a tribute to Pete Seeger, who would surely be in a Folk Hall of Fame. I started with a lamb burger at Red Apron Burger Bar, then walked over to Foggy Bottom and took the shuttle to the Kennedy Center. The night was like a super-sized Falcon Ridge Folk Festival workshop. I was pleased that Judy Collins, like Joan Baez the previous week, still possesses her full powers (she brought the house down with “Both Sides Now”). Too bad I had to skip Peter Yarrow & Noel Paul Stookey to catch the last train home. The next day I got to drown my sorrows that Barclays Center had closed all the cool Brooklyn food stands with all that Nats Park has to offer (like kimchi tater tots) with my dad (celebrating his birthday).

Nina

Nina had a great time celebrating Easter with her cousins, even lost her fourth tooth. She visited the Zoo in Forest Park there, and then her class took a field trip to the National Zoo on Thursday the 20th. Saturday was the official start of tee-ball season and Nina got to meet Nationals mascots Teddy and Abe before she walked in a parade with her team. Unfortunately rain started at the end and the rally and the games afterwards were washed out (but Nina and I had breakfast at Ted’s Bulletin). Jill’s mom had surgery a couple days earlier and recovery wasn’t going well, so Jill decided to go up and help out on Sunday, so it was just Nina and me until Thursday night (her mom’s doing much better now). When I took Nina to Daisy Scouts on Sunday I had a fun experience as we were listening to a new CD by Peter Mulvey in the car and he slipped a “f*ck” into the first verse of 2 songs in a row.

Nina

Friday there was a meme about 10 bands you’ve seen (and one is a lie). Everyone knows I’ve seen way too many bands to participate in that meme. So I did a different one: 10 bands with special guests on stage, one is a lie:

  • John Mellencamp (with Tiffany)
  • The Dead (with Tipper Gore)
  • Metallica (with Ray Davies)
  • U2 (with The Black Eyed Peas)
  • R.E.M. (with Thom Yorke)
  • Fleetwood Mac (with Warren Haynes)
  • Dave Matthews Band (with Herbie Hancock)
  • Yes (with Geddy Lee)
  • The Wallflowers (with Jewel)
  • George Michael (with Garth Brooks)

Answer: Fleetwood Mac

Nina

Saturday the 29th was Nina’s first tee-ball game, and I never knew watching it could be so stressful. Things I’ve said:

  • Watch the ball!
  • Stop fighting over the ball!
  • Get your glove off your head!
  • Run to first! No, the other way!
  • Stop climbing the dugout!
  • Stop digging in the dugout!
  • Stop watching the boy peeing in the woods!

We followed that with her school’s International Day and then her swim lesson, and we all needed a break after that. Nicely timed was an offer by Janice to host dinner as Tony and Charissa were down picking up Stuart’s train set.

Nina

Sunday I again went to watch the Nationals with my dad, this time bringing along Nina and Jill for the first time in two and three years, respectively. As I hoped Nina was much more into the game now. The Nats were up 5-1 after 1 inning. Nina may be a good luck charm. She certainly can scream loud enough to be heard from across the field. They finished off the Mets 23–5, one of their biggest offensive performances ever. That night I noted that the new season of Silicon Valley is now 2 for 2 with laugh out loud moments at the end of each episode.

Nina Dad

March

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Monday the 1st I was thinking of leaving after the first half of Game of Thrones Live, but I’m glad I didn’t. Quick jump cuts of various scenes with orchestral accompaniment made way to long scenes with pyro and lights. Don’t know if I would go again, but props for something different than just showing a movie while the band plays on. I had planned on eating at Reren before the show, but Jill got stuck at work and I got there right as it started. So I got my Kung Fu Noodle on after the show – no wait as it was practically empty. Meanwhile at home, Nina lost her 3rd tooth.

Jill Nina

Wednesday the 9th we flew to Canada (Nina’s first international trip). The flight to Montreal and the drive up to Mont-Tremblant were fairly painless, stopping just short for a late lunch at McDonalds for Nina (someone finally started eating french fries again after a 2 year break) and grocery shopping at Metro before arriving at our resort. We had roasted chicken for dinner after we unpacked (Nina didn’t like the chicken nuggets we bought, so she ate my chicken and I ate her nuggets).

Tremblant

We had wisely planned nothing for the next morning. In the afternoon we took the resort shuttle over to Tremblant and got our gear. Nina had a 3 hour intro lesson, Jill had a private lesson, and I went up and skied on my own. After I warmed up (hadn’t skiied in 2 years) I had fun on the green and blue trails until it was time to meet up. We had an early dinner together at Ya’ooo Pizza Bar – ok pizza, and when Nina had more another day Jill said it was fresher. We picked up some missing clothing at Explore! before heading back.

Nina

Friday morning Nina had a full day of ski school, and Jill and I skied together until she got tired, then I went alone for a while until lunch. Because we weren’t sure about Nina’s food allergies, we picked her up from ski school and walked over to Le Shack. Jill and I both had burgers and Nina had a adult portion of roasted chicken and fries after the kids menu didn’t work. After lunch Nina and I went back to skiing while Jill knitted, then back to the resort where spaghetti was on the menu in our kitchen (plus I needed to make a quick grocery run because I’d left the milk out that morning).

Kerry Jill

Saturday turned out to be the coldest day at Mont-Tremblant in 8 years. Jill and I were already planning to take the day off, but we had to get a balaclava for Nina to stay warm on the bunny slope. Meanwhile we went back and enjoyed the hot tub and massages before picking her up in the afternoon. Later Jill enjoyed knitting in front of the fire while Nina and I played games in the arcade and game room at the resort.

Nina Jill

Sunday we discovered there is no better way of dealing with “Spring forward” than being on vacation – we never felt it. Jill and Nina went swimming in the morning while I finally took on some black trails on the mountain while it was a toasty -4 degrees Fahrenheit at the top (it was below freezing the entire time we were in Canada). Jill and Nina had lunch at Ya’ooo again, then I joined them after getting some maple syrup taffy (it was my candy day, had a bar for breakfast). Later we went to Aventures Neige (located out back of a Comfort Inn) to go snow tubing before eating delicious Mexican food at the nearby Tacos Lolita.

Jill Nina

Monday we spent our morning separately, Nina in ski school, Jill snowshoeing around the top of the mountain, and me in the hot tub. We had lunch together at Le Shack again before we all headed up in the gondola for our first family ski down the south side. Jill was tired after her morning, but Nina was raring to go and we went down to the bottom while Jill went back to the gondola and down. After about 10 falls later, we made it. Nina wanted more, so we headed up and tried the north side. This time Nina didn’t fall once, holding her snowplow well and starting to turn, then zooming down the mountain like a rocket. It was getting late then, so we went back up to head down to Jill on the south side and Nina only fell twice (and once wasn’t her fault, someone fell right in front of her). I was glad to be done with skiing as my knee had started twinging. We picked up some poutine to try for dinner. Turns out adding bacon is very filling, and Nina found a french fry she didn’t like.

Nina Kerry

Tuesday the 14th we checked out of the resort and headed back to Montreal. We tried to leave on the early side, as the giant snowstorm that had hit the DC area the previous day was due to hit Montreal that afternoon. It started snowing when we were on the highway, but the streets were pretty drivable and the accumulation didn’t start for a couple hours. After we checked in to the hotel, we walked over to a pizzeria in Montreal where Nina decided she wasn’t a fan of the authentic neapolitan pizza. Later Jill checked out the hotel gym while Nina and I did some grocery shopping, then played 2 rounds of Laser Quest (the harness was too much for her the 2nd game, but an employee wore it for her while she ran around, which she loved).

Nina

Nina and I had been gone so long that Jill and Nina had room service for dinner while I went out. After reading about it for the first time two days previous, I went to the Montreal Opera’s world premiere of Another Brick In The Wall. The snow had started to pile up, but I only needed to make it 2 blocks to the subway (the theatre was accessible from underground). It was considerably sexier and more violent than previous versions of The Wall, but the music is different enough to be almost a new thing. My favorite moment was “Outside The Wall” with 50 people singing. Afterwards the snow was really coming down and cars were getting stuck, but I soon made it to the hotel bar for some drinks and a cheese plate.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday it was supposed to snow all day, so we didn’t go too far. Luckily the Museum of Fine Arts was only a couple blocks away, and we spent a long morning checking out the exhibits, especially the Chagall one. Nina loved Stuffed Animals by Claude Cormier (She also loved “Untitled (Schooner and Fireworks)” by Sarah Anne Johnson). We walked over to Mesa14 for Mexican, and owing to the snow, street construction, and lateness we were the only ones there. Which was great, as they let me order the Tacos Alambre off their dinner menu. Jill and I were stuffed after that, so when we walked to McDonald’s for Nina’s dinner, we stopped at vegan restaurant Copper Branch to get a salad for me and a soup for Jill.

Nina Kerry

Thursday the snow had ceased and the streets and sidewalks quickly appeared as a great number of vehicles removed the snow. Jill wanted pancakes and there was an Eggspectation visible from our hotel window. As we walked up the stairs to the second floor to eat, my knee started bothering me again (I had to baby it the rest of the day but it’s been fine since). After breakfast we walked to the subway, took it 2 stops and then explored The Underground City (didn’t match Nina’s expectations, but she loved watching the purple fountain in one mall while Jill went to David’s Tea). We exited at the subway station to the south and walked past Notre Dame to the Montreal Science Centre where Nina had a fun afternoon playing with the activities there, including building a sail car, boat that floated, and a light. We picked up some cupcakes on the way back as well as roasted chicken for dinner from St-Hubert.

Nina

Friday was our driving day. We got the car and drove to Espace Tricot for Jill to buy yarn and accessories, then on to Le Nouveau Soundcentral so I could browse CDs. We ended up at the Biodome, our only returning spot from our previous trip there, after a quick lunch at McDonalds since Jill perused the food options at the Biodome and didn’t see anything Nina friendly. It was a nice afternoon excursion and Nina enjoyed the colorful birds, the otter slide, and the penguins. She loved that when she finished coloring near the exit, she was able to hang her picture next to two other Ninas’ pictures.

Jill Nina

After we get back I walked over to Cheap Thrills for more CDs, then since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we went to a restaurant called Reuben’s, where I had fried wontons filled with beef brisket, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, and washed them down with Murphy’s and Jameson. Jill had a smoked meat sandwich and Nina, who claimed she was full (after polishing off an avocado and 3 strips of bacon), ate nearly an entire plate of French fries, barely saving any for me. When we were waiting for a table, Nina and I stumbled on the HMV on the next block having a closing sale, so I did the most shopping of my trip after dinner (Nina insisted she needed this cat).

Nina

Saturday the 18th it was time to head home, so we gassed up the rental car and returned it, got the shuttle to the airport and then had lunch (Jill and I split a Cuban and a salad) as we had 2 hours to kill. The flight back was fine and soon we were at National, then home. Nina got to play with some friends outside as it was warm while Jill shopped for groceries, then it was an early night.

Kerry Nina

Tuesday the 21st I was a chaperone on Nina’s class field trip to Meadowlark Gardens. It was a little cool to do the planned picnic there, but she enjoyed being in the gazebo where we took some wedding pictures.

Nina

Wednesday the 22nd all the Shantytowners held an online chatka for Stuart – gone but not forgotten. I enjoyed the stout crafted in his memory. Thursday I had to share the 100km mark I passed in Pokemon Go (just about every time I’ve walked outside since December, with the daughter, the dog, or alone). #whoneedsafitbit Saturday I signed up for CrashPlan and it said it would take 36.3 days to back up all my data online. I wondered if that was a good thing, but guessed 2.6TB of data would take a while.

chatka

Sunday Nina and I went to Modell’s to buy her a bat and glove for tee-ball, then tried them out when we got home (she loves batting the best so far). It’s hard to explain how to throw and bat – I decided to wait for the coaches. Wednesday I decided after the first season finale that Legion is officially my favorite comic book turned TV series ever. Noah Hawley can currently do no wrong – now I’m looking forward to Fargo Season 3. And if you watched, I hope you stayed through the credits.

Nina

February

Monday, March 6th, 2017

I was already looking forward to the concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Band’s Last Waltz on Saturday the 4th, but then they added Garth Hudson (one of two living members). The biggest pain was the location, the new MGM National Harbor (where parking was horrendous). But I’m a fast walker and I still arrived for the opening song. On vocals was Jamey Johnson, Michael McDonald and Warren Haynes, with John Medeski on keys and Don Was on bass. Special guests included another player from the original album (Bob Margolin) as well as a couple Neville Brothers. Great long show – I’ve been to a lot of concerts but that show featured the first tuba solo I’ve seen. Earlier that day I introduced Nina to Lada Gaga, so I became a backup dancer. No costumes yet, but she’s a demanding choreographer. That was in preparation for the Super Bowl the following day. I made wings and we attended a party at one of Jill’s friends in Reston, stayed until the 3rd quarter (so I didn’t get to see that comeback until later).

Nina

Monday and Tuesday were teacher workdays and Jill stayed home with Nina, bringing her to my work Tuesday afternoon as we started our new schedule of me taking her to dance class while Jill took a health class. Jill flew to Newark for the day for work on Saturday the 11th, then she took Nina to a birthday party at Sport Bounce on Sunday and later we saw Beth Patterson at The Old Brogue.

Nina

Wednesday the 15th I was a chaperone on Nina’s class field trip to Tae Kwon Do in South Lakes. We wore pads and the kids got to hit and kick at us, then everyone broke a board. I’ve seen Queensrÿche twice, but it wasn’t until that night’s Geoff Tate show at Jammin’ Java that I finally saw “Silent Lucidity” live. Great revue of their whole catalog.

Nina

That week I finally hit 2003 on my current project of digitization of my concert videos. This was notable for being the first proto Quitter UK show (wasn’t true 1st show because Chuck was on vacation) and finally I have a recording of the song “emmet swimming” and of course “The Mailman Song” with lots of other great covers.

Nina

Nina had Valentine’s Day at school on Friday the 17th, and then another birthday party to attend on Saturday where Nina swam for 2 hours, then ate 4 slices of Domino’s – finally eating pizza other than Flippin’ Pizza (we walk over for dinner once a week when Jill works late). She also had a slice of cake and came home with a tummy ache.

Nina

Thursday the 23rd I noticed this calendar for Merriweather Post Pavilion from the summer of 1973 and wished for a time machine. After a crazy warm couple of days, we took a family walk over to Terraset on Saturday when it was in the 70s, then I took Nina for yet another birthday party at a Reston gym, this time during a thunderstorm (in February).

Nina

January

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Sunday was New Year’s Day, and I wondered if “Last Christmas” or “Firework” was more annoying to hear at the maximum volume five year old lungs can achieve – we were subject to a scientific experiment and results were inconclusive. Friday Nina was very excited about getting to touch a snake at school.

Nina

Saturday the 7th Nina got glammed up at a birthday party, then I went out to a concert, for what would prove to be 5 Saturday concerts in a row. First up was 3 weeks of Eddie From Ohio related concerts, with singer/bassist Michael Clem kicking things off at Jammin’ Java with ex-Red Molly Carolann Solebello’s No Fuss and Feathers opening. It was cold the next day, and we stayed indoors so Nina worked on her songwriting. Of course Illa wanted a 20 minute walk that night. Brrrr. Then by Thursday I couldn’t believe it was mid January and I had to open the basement door because it was warmer outside.

Nina

Sometimes I go through my collection of videos and wonder why I recorded it. Then I get to jaw-dropping gems like this one, the 6th song in the show. It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t making a joke. Jazz and/or metal fans take a look at this Slayer medley by jazz guitarist Frank Vignola (he also threw in a nice Frank Zappa cover that day).

Nina

That was on Friday, when I also saw this shiny meme: Ten influential records from my teenage years (all cassettes save the first, then mostly from Columbia House and RCA Record Club):

  1. K-Tel Blast Off (1982 compilation with Billy Idol, Genesis, Van Halen, Kansas, Joan Jett, John Mellencamp & more, still feels wrong when I hear the songs and they don’t skip)
  2. Rush – Grace Under Pressure (the very first cassette I bought, explains why I never gave up on the synth years)
  3. Queen – Greatest Hits (still expect “Somebody to Love” to be followed with “You’re My Best Friend”)
  4. Hall & Oates – Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 (it’s criminal there was no Part 2)
  5. Weird Al Yankovic – In 3-D (I like them all, but I got this first and played it the most)
  6. Paul Simon – Graceland (the first cassette I wore out)
  7. Foreigner – 4 (“Juke Box Hero” was my first favorite song)
  8. The Cars – Heartbeat City (I had Greatest Hits too, but it didn’t have “Hello Again”, very memorable after the high school cheerleaders performed a routine to it)
  9. Heavy Metal soundtrack (great songs from Sammy Hagar, Devo and Don Felder among others, plus the movie…)
  10. The Traveling Wilburys – Vol. 1 (so perfect)

Nina

Saturday the 14th Nina had babysitting at school and we were off to The Birchmere to see Eddie From Ohio in the middle of their annual 3-night run there (with singer/violinist Jake Armerding opening and playing with them), and helped make a big cheering section for a mention of Stuart with Shantyfriends Lorna and Dave, as well as Seth, Chris and Anna making the trip from NYC. I passed 3000 concerts sometime last year, and this show was the most moving of all of them, an emotional night – reminders of loss and how we respond to it. Afterwards we ended up at Pork Barrel BBQ for a late dinner because we’re meh on the Birchmere’s high priced food, and folks were delighted by their vintage soda. The next morning we joined them again for brunch at Lorna and Dave’s.

Kerry Nina

Monday the 16th was MLK day and Jill was working. Nina had mentioned wanting to go to the “Space Museum” on Monday, so we ended up Metroing to DC, meeting up with the Norwoods & Marcia for a couple hours of exploration, as well as an IMAX movie and lunch at McDonald’s (weird how their Happy Meal toys are 2 years old from Hotel Transylvania 2).

Nina

Tuesday I had dinner in DC at Brick & Mortar (investor credit to use up and they have good bar snacks and drinks) before heading over to Lincoln Theatre to see Keane’s Tom Chaplin touring behind his new solo CD. Thursday it was Father’s night in Nina’s class and she showed me her number chains.

Saturday the 21st Jill had many adventures getting to and from the march, while I took Nina to a birthday party over at Life Time. That night we all went to see Robbie Schaefer at Jammin’ Java where he busted out a cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Bill and Tassy had come in for the weekend, and we joined them for another brunch at Lorna and Dave’s on Sunday. Bill’s eagle eyes spotted me in this video. Jill took Nina to yet another birthday party that afternoon. Tuesday Nina had a kindergartners only field trip to Lucia’s to learn how to make pizza.

Nina

Saturday the 28th was the day we introduced our daughter to the wonders of the Spice Girls – she memorized their names faster than The Beatles. That night I went solo to the Tally Ho Theatre to see emmet swimming (with ebo opening) where I was delighted to see their cover of “Angel Of The Morning” return. Nina’s music education continued on Sunday with Zwan (totally underrated) and ZZ Top (aka she can only reach the Zs on the shelf). Also, she had her first Daisy Scout meeting and created her first sandwich: sausage, avocado, peanut butter and cheese on an English muffin. Monday Jill and I attended her annual company dinner at L’Auberge Chez Francois for what’s probably the last time, and I will miss it – always a fabulous meal.

Nina

December

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Saturday the 3rd Nina got to see her first Nutcracker ballet with dancers from her dance school with Jill, then I took her to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese in the afternoon. Jill and I went out to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Mosaic that evening – very well done addition to the canon. We needed a very quick meal beforehand and Spice 6 obliged with tasty Indian food, then had a drink at B Side afterwards. Friday I wondered if 2016 would not give up as I learned Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer had passed away right after I was listening to his Christmas song. I suggested if I was Carl Palmer, I’d spend the rest of the year in a bunker (Keith Emerson died earlier in the year).

Nina

Saturday the 10th was our annual holiday party, and the kids threatened to outnumber the adults. Nina had a blast, as usual (she helped bake cookies the day before too). Too bad the next night we hosted a party as well: St. Nick’s night at Emmaus UCC for a “spaghetti dinner”, actually a giant potluck dinner with a special visit from you-know-who, but the weekend exhausted everyone.

Nina

Thursday the 13th was parent’s night at ballet, with a special performance of “Frosty The Snowman”. The next morning was Nina’s school’s winter concert with her class singing “Shake Those ‘Simmons Down”. Saturday our next door neighbors hosted a party, which resulted in the following firsts for Nina: first grownup party (with downstairs babysitter) and first caroling (she was one of the doorbell pressing scouts). Other firsts from Sunday included first programming (with a robot) and first time losing a tooth at a concert (and 2nd tooth ever) as we went to see David Wax Museum at Jammin’ Java.

Nina

Wednesday the 21st Jill’s mom was down and the girls were going to Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, so I got takeout from Dumpling Queen for dinner (delicious), then went to see Rogue One in IMAX – enjoyed it (although I liked Episode 7 more). That was a good day – the next morning was not as Nina refused to go inside the jump camp she’d been to twice before because there were “too many kids”, and I had to drop her off at the dentist where Jill was. Of course I left my coat at the camp so I had to go all the way back there again (plus we thought her backpack was there as well, but that turned out to be at the dentist).

Nina

Friday the 23rd we got an early start on our drive up to Massachusetts. Not too bad a time until we got to Hartford, then we needed to stop at Blue Back Square to get a gift that was on hold and ended up at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. The food was fine, but it took a while and then there was a traffic jam on the highway so we took back roads to get closer to Melissa’s house.

Nina

Christmas Eve my Mom and David and my sister and her family arrived and we all met up at a church for their Christmas Eve service. We planned on everyone getting takeout but the baby was tired and the visitors went back to their hotel while Jill and I got Chinese food for everyone else. It was probably a good thing they didn’t stay as it was over an hour until our food was ready (got some last minute shopping done at Walgreens). I had to post the best tweet of the day later:
@omically: John: I’ve done it. I’ve written the worst Christmas song ever
Paul: Hold my beer

Nina Dominic Jake

Christmas started with Nina and her cousins opening stockings and gifts (and there was a special video for Nina from Santa explaining why her bike was at home and not there), then all the immediate family on both sides trickled in. We opened more gifts and had a big dinner of ham, plus the 1 year old boy cousins got to play for the first time. My sister in law doesn’t have BBC America, so we used the Verizon Mobile app (first on my phone, then Jill’s tablet) to watch Doctor Who live later. Worth it, that was a good one.

Nina

Boxing Day we went to Jill’s sister’s Robin’s house for lunch with my family, and the boy cousins got to play all afternoon. We followed my family over to Northampton with the intention of exploring but it was getting icy, so we explored Thornes Marketplace before ordering takeout from Paul and Elizabeth’s. Jill, Nina and I stayed to wait for the food while everyone else went to Jill’s mom’s, and Nina and I got a chance to shop at Turn It Up! and the surplus store before we had dinner (almost everyone got the fish and chips, very good).

Jill

The next day my family went we went to Jill’s dad’s house where we met up with Robin and her family as well as Jill’s dad’s parents. More gifts were passed out, and we had meat pie and sandwiches for lunch, then Jill, Melissa, Dominic and I went out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Wednesday Jill and I took Jake out for Indian food in Springfield (nicely spiced lamb for me) before taking Nina and Ava to see Moana.

Nina

Thursday morning Melissa and I took Nina, Ava and Maddy to see Sing (both movies were good with catchy songs), then we’d planned to go to an escape room in Easthampton. The weather had different plans (snowed hard enough to close the road to Easthampton), so we came back to East Longmeadow and had dinner at Center Square Grill (the best meal all week, I had the lobster roll). I went to Walgreens for materials, then designed an escape room for everyone else after the little kids went to bed (Jill knew she’d solved the puzzle of the two presidents when she figured their order was 21 and 12, won’t get away with that number sequence again). Friday morning we took our time to let the roads clear, then started the long drive home.

Us and Bradys

Saturday the 31st was New Year’s Eve, and we actually went out for the first time in years (so out of practice, but it was the 15th anniversary of our first date). We did late dinner at the reincarnated TenPenh in Tyson’s (absolutely fantastic selection of dim sum), then walked over to Earls (we had taken the Metro from Reston) and had drinks at the bar while we did the countdown before heading home (babysitter Julia slept over).

Kerry Jill

Artists To Watch 2017

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Eyeball
Again this year my music buying was mostly online, free tracks from NoiseTrade, Google Play, and Amazon as well as preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and PledgeMusic.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on soundcloud.com.

Band Song Why them
01. Look Park Shout Part 1 Chris Collingwood leaves Fountains of Wayne, but brings Winterpills.
02. The Dollyrots Save Me Power pop punk parents.
03. Tommy Gann Medicine A Todd Wright co-write he sings at his shows.
04. Letters To Cleo Can’t Say Reunited and it feels so good.
05. Miike Snow Genghis Khan The video is great, but so’s the song.
06. Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion Chairman Meow Woody’s granddaughter goes in a different direction, but I like it.
07. Elle Macho Your Sister Called Butterfly Boucher returns as part of this trio.
08. Ryan Wright More Than You Another Todd Wright co-write, this time with his daughter.
09. AJR Weak Brothers who toured with Ingrid Michaelson, good match.
10. The Krickets Guinevere Lovely folk harmonies.
11. Pop Etc Please, Don’t Forget Me Released a lot of great covers as The Morning Benders before coming out with their own stuff.
12. Valerie Vigoda Just Getting Good GrooveLily singer and violin player goes solo.
13. The Cowards Choir Name The Fear Local Andy Zipf’s new band.
14. The Accidentals Parking Lot Wants to work with Ben Folds and Jack White – sounds about right.
15. Miles to Dayton Reason And Rhyme Second married couple in this year’s mix.
16. No Fuss and Feathers Union Pacific Folk supergroup with an ex-Red Molly.
17. Tom Chaplin Still Waiting Keane frontman tries the solo scene.
18. Cimorelli Up At Night Six sisters singing.
19. Abbie Gardner & Jesse Terry Joyful Noise Speaking of Red Molly, here’s Abbie with her tourmate.
20. Applewood Road Honey Won’t You Amy Speace’s new trio.
21. The Legal Matters Anything Power pop pizazz.
22. Infamous Stringdusters Run To Heaven I like Aoife O’Donovan solo, but still miss Crooked Still. This track is the closest thing since they split up.
23. Johnny Kasun and Caroline Powers Haven’t Seen The Sun Todd Wright co-write one more time.
24. Birds of Chicago Dim Star Of The Palisades Lovely song to end on.

November

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Wednesday the 2nd I was up way too late to watch the Cubs win the World Series (extra innings and a rain delay?). We needed to figure out a winter camp for Nina and she wanted to do ice skating, so on Friday she had a lesson to see if she liked it (she did). Saturday I had to go to my mom’s house to meet a furniture donation truck, and I took Nina as she wanted to play on teh Wakefield Forest playground. She was hungry and we stopped for lunch at Jason’s Deli and got soup for Jill, who took Illa to the vet (he’s getting very anxious at night).

Nina

Sunday Nina and I went to a playground in Vienna in the afternoon, then saw Callaghan’s early show at Jammin’ Java. Monday school was closed Nina tried the other option for winter camp, Jumping Jack Sports, and liked that even more than ice skating, asked if she could have her next birthday party there (although in the morning she didn’t want to go, told me to drive slow on the Toll Road).

Nina

Tuesday the 8th we were over at a neighbor’s for pie and drinks and election returns (I made homemade tonic so we could have gin and tonics, but left when the kids got tired (and there wasn’t much worth celebrating). Friday I was off for Veteran’s Day, went to my mom’s house to meet a junk removal truck, hit CD Cellar and stop at Taco Bamba on the way back for a tasty lunch before working on cleaning the basement. That night Jill’s sister Melissa and her daughter Maddy came to visit.

Nina

Saturday everyone but Nina and I went to visit Marymount while Nina had her swim lesson. Sunday we all had dinner at Nando’s, then Jill saw Serenity at the nearby Alamo with her knitting group.

Nina

Tuesday the 15th saw Wolf Trap’s summer schedule released (Little Mermaid 6/29-7/2, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 7/7-7/8, and Neil Gaiman 7/9? Going to be a busy week), followed a short trip to the Barns. I’ve only been to a handful of concerts where they play an album all the way through, but Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare was worth it. Man, it was loud – my ears rang a little, even with earplugs. My friend Eric would have especially enjoyed him playing “Liberty” alongside video from 1991’s Guitar Legends in Seville.

Vai

Thursday Jill and I went to Nina’s school for her classes’ Thanksgiving luncheon. The kindergarteners baked chewy bread, and guess who lost her first tooth in that bread?

Nina

Saturday the 19th we drove up to Philadelphia. Nina loved the Smith Memorial Playground and did not want to leave, but we were there to have “Friendsgiving” (early Thanksgiving) with our Shantytowne friends. An excellent spread, we wished we could have stayed longer but we needed to make it back home that night.

Friendsgiving

Wednesday Jill got maids to clean and need to cook, so Nina went to Jumping Jack Sports again. She was shy again at first (only 1 other girl there), but enjoyed herself. Thanksgiving itself on Thursday the 24th wasn’t too bad, we hosted a family from church with two kids (since we no longer have close family with my mom moving to Rochester), as well as having another family with two kids for dessert (Nina was exhausted). Friday Jill worked and I took Nina to Reston Town Center for the Annual Reston Holiday Parade. We found several friends, sat with one and had a playdate afterwards, another exhausting day for everyone.

Darth

Sunday the 27th we went to my dad’s for a delayed Thanksgiving. It was good, but Jill went from feeling a little queasy to a a lot by the time we got home, and was in no condition to go see Dave Matthews host a concert for Standing Rock that night. Out friend Linda came, and I was glad not to miss unforgettable performances Dave and Tim Reynolds had with Graham Nash (“Teach Your Children”) and Neko Case (“The Maker”, if you can believe that).

Nina Dad

October

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Saturday the 1st my nephew Jake was still in town. I took him and Nina to play at Kid Junction, then Jill took them to watch a roller derby game before meeting up at Nando’s for dinner (preferred dining destination for all my nieces and nephews). Sunday Jake and I took Metro down to Nats Park to watch the Nationals beat the Marlins in the last game of the season. He’d never seen a major league game of football or baseball before, and I had offered him a choice since both teams were in town that day. While we were out, Nina was at a birthday party at Walker Nature Center, then we had takeout from Hunan East for dinner

Nina

After we couldn’t find her vest, found out she had Spanish class that day, and didn’t bring the troll toy from the cereal box that morning, Nina had a world class meltdown right in front of school on Thursday. And when we sat on the bench, of course it was wet.

Nina

Saturday the 8th we had a photo session (this power loader comes with the tea party option package), I took Nina to the Oktoberfest Reston after swimming, had some food and walked around. Later, we all went to see Beth Patterson at a house concert in Fairfax Station. Nina wasn’t into the concert, but did enjoy sitting on the circular stairs, watching their dog run around. The next week I was home with Nina on Columbus Day (finally got around to making her the car out of cardboard boxes she’d been asking for since she saw it in her Highlights Magazine), then in training in Sterling for 3 days, trying to study and answer work emails.

power loader

Some years, all the tours I want to see hit DC. This year, not so much, so Saturday night the 15th I was off for the 3rd concert trip this year. This time, just a drive up to Philly for the closest stop on the Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman tour. All former Yes members, and most importantly included Trevor Rabin who hasn’t toured in 20 years and wrote many demos that became 90125. His tenor combined with Jon Anderson’s alto tenor are a large part of my favorite Yes performances, and I was not disappointed by the show. I also stopped at Main Street Music before the show for some really good used CD shopping, and at Lee’s Hoagie House on the way out to get a hoagie for the 3 hour drive home (shopping earlier meant skipping dinner because of traffic on the way up).

ARW

Sunday the 16th Jill and Nina mad fall candles. Tuesday Nina had a field trip to Trader Joe’s to shop for pumpkins. Friday I went by myself to Lisner Auditorium for the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees tour. I try never to miss Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle were good, and The Milk Carton Kids were a delight. Saturday was my birthday and was fairly ordinary to start – vacuuming, mowing and tree trimming. Then Jill brought Bon Chon chicken home, and we all went out to Disney On Ice. Finally we came home and I had homemade carrot cake my girls made – delicious.

Nina

Sunday I worked to get a day off the following week – Jill took Nina to church and had her during the early afternoon, then dropped her off at my work and I took her to Arrowbrook Park to play. I was caught up to issue 150 of The Walking Dead, but that still didn’t prepare me for the season premiere of the TV show that night – devastating.

Nina

Tuesday the 25th Nina had decided gymnastics was no longer for her – instead starting dance (ballet and tap) at Greater Washington Dance Center (she loved it). After the class our friend Patty was in town, so we went to Lorna and Dave’s for dinner for a Mid-Lanty Shanty and all had takeout from Thai Tada.

Nina

Wednesday was Nina’s school picture day and my day off, with lots of errands and cleaning. That night and the next I had the pleasure of two concerts at the Barns at Wolf Trap with the former lead singers of Fountains of Wayne and Great Big Sea. Both offered good helpings of their former bands, while following new paths. Chris Collingwood’s Look Park (with Philip Price from Winterpills, I was hoping he might be opening, but I’ll take him anytime) was a bit softer than his old band while Alan Doyle has brought electric guitar into his mix. The second night was vastly improved by Jill joining me and our dinner beforehand at Caboose Brewing (belated birthday celebration, good cheese plate and beer sampler combination). Also on Thursday Nina had her physical (first flu shot) as well as her passport application.

Jill Alan

Friday the 28th Nina rode her bike while I followed and we had dinner together at Flippin’ Pizza. Saturday Nina’s school had their Halloween Party and I volunteered to work a shift of games. That evening we went to a chili party at the house of some of Jill’s friends from knitting, and Nina got to roast marshmallows.

Nina

Sunday I was out for the 3rd night in a week, this time to see Weird Al, Emo Philips and Tig Notaro talk over UHF at the Lincoln Theatre. Great fun, especially when they turned up the audio so we could yell our favorite lines. Chris would have loved it.

Emo Al Tig

Monday was Halloween and Jill made scary popcorn bags for Nina’s class potluck lunch. Later we met at one of Nina’s friends and had pizza, then the 3 friends went trick or treating around the neighborhood.

Nina

September

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Friday the 2nd was Nina’s birthday. She got the entire collection of DC Super Hero Girls in the morning (including Katana, a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive), then we went to Disney In Concert at Wolf Trap that evening with Sue and Dave for summer concert #26.

Nina

The next afternoon was Nina’s birthday party at Goldfish Swim School, and truly the best run birthday party we’d ever been part of, plus Nina had a blast with all her friends. My dad and Patricia came over for lunch, and Mom and David were over after the party for dinner, as well as brunch the next day.

Jill Nina Kerry

Monday the 5th we went into the city with Sue and Dave. We visited the Natural History Museum, then walked over to the Old Ebbitt Grill for an early dinner. Tuesday school hadn’t started yet, so Jill took Nina apple picking. Wednesday Nina was excited for her first day of kindergarten.

Nina

Nina got a Luigi figure at school, and wanted to know all about him. She was excited when she learned he helped rescue princesses, and wanted to know all about them (and we downloaded an emulator and Super Mario Bros. to her tablet). Then she ran across this image and had me read it to her, and wanted to know why Princess Rosalina was good. #sheisnotoldenoughforthisconversation

princesses

Sunday the 11th I took Nina to see Cheap Trick and Joan Jett at the Lube. She had an ok time, but it would have worked better on a Saturday night or a closer venue. That was summer concert #27 and a wrap on summer concerts; Nina was with me at 18.

Nina

Friday the 16th I finally got to the top of my concert bucket list: Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra. And they’d been there for a long time – when they were going to tour in 2001 they weren’t scheduled to hit the DC area, so I’d planned my first trip just for a band. I was going to fly to St. Louis to see them, but ticket sales were bad and they scrapped the whole tour (later that year I flew to Seattle for 1 song from someone else, but that’s a story for another time). There were two small shows last fall for the new album that sold out instantly, so the 3 shows last week in LA and 2 this weekend in NYC felt like my only chance.

ELO

But the show was worth the wait (and the trip). His voice hasn’t let up one iota, he’s got a crack band, and a killer set list. The weirdest part was noticing the bassist is the same one that’s playing in the mini Yes reunion next month. The trip up and back was easy, took Amtrak as usual, had a quick early dinner at Antico Noè and stayed at Pod 51. I can’t see me in this picture, but I’m in there somewhere.

ELO

The next morning I stopped at Ess-a-Bagel to get a breakfast sandwich for myself and a dozen bagels for Jill before catching my train. In the afternoon we met up with a lot of Shantytowners at Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern for the Stuart Jewell Memorial Concert. Lots of locals and friends on stage to honor his memory in the way he would have enjoyed the most. We had made no special plans, and belatedly realized a babysitter would be a good thing. Luckily Sarah, our regular, was available and we joined the crowd at Lorna and Dave’s for a bonfire after the show.

Kerry Jill

Friday the 23rd Nina had her first field trip of the year – back to Stribling Orchard where she’s gone apple picking before. The next afternoon I took her over to a friend’s house where most of her class was gathered for a get together. Later she started going down hills on her balance bike.

Nina

Wednesday I saw an interesting question on a message board: Longest span between seeing same band/artist?

My response:
21 years apart seeing Mr. Big (open for Rush, than at M3). Yeah, so uncool, I know. Oh, wait – 22 years apart seeing Joan Jett. Much better. And Veruca Salt would also be 21 years.

Nina

Friday the 30th, my nephew, Jake, came to visit, and his first event was with us at Nina’s school birthday celebration (which I had to leave early because a contractor at my mom’s house showed up early).

Nina