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How to sell a house while vacationing in Disney World, part 1

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I was up past 6AM on Saturday the 17th, packing books until I ran out of packing tape. Then I slept for a couple hours and joined Jill on final cleanup. Pictures had been taken the Monday before as Jill shadowed the photographer moving things around so he had a clean shot, then we’d continued to pack all week. The listing went up Friday night and there was an agent coming by at 11AM Saturday morning (first of seven), and we worked furiously to make the deadline. We did, and the agent arrived as we left with Illa. We dropped him at the kennel, then headed over to Manassas to trade in some books and ate lunch at China Jade – both of us had the buffet, quite decent as long as little kids don’t get their hands on them as one was doing to the desserts.

We ran some more errands, getting home around 5:30 (all the agents had left). I had just taken a shower and was relaxing and watching TV when another agent called, so we left again. When we got back I wasn’t in the mood to do much more than make dinner, while I was doing that Jill arranged the new things she’d purchased and kept packing. We finally relaxed after dinner – she packed and went to sleep while I stayed up packing, watching TV and surfing. There was a lot I wanted to get through and stayed up pretty late again.

Sunday morning we were out by 8AM for our taxi (the open house was scheduled for that afternoon) and soon we were at Dulles. We had a quick trip through security and finally got to ride the train to the gates (it’s so much better than the people movers). It was at the gates that I went by the Five Guys and made a marvelous discovery: if they’re open in the morning, they serve egg sandwiches and you can top it with a burger patty, still one of my favorite meals. Then we made our first (and likely not our last, as long as the first bag’s free) trip on JetBlue, a nice smooth flight into Orlando. After we got our bags, we waited for Disney’s Magical Express and were soon joining the rest of the family at Saratoga Springs Resort.

We plan our vacations far in advance with help of our resort club, and Jill had wanted to take her immediate family on a trip for a while. Now that everyone was living stateside, planning was easier and we decided to aim for the kids’ spring break. So besides us it was Jill’s mom Sue, her husband Dave, Jill’s younger sister Robin, older sister Melissa, her husband Dominic, and their kids Madelyn, Jake, Tiernan, and Ava. They were almost done with checking in, so we did too and were soon at our rooms in Congress Park, the section of the resort closest to Downtown Disney. Madelyn, Robin, Jill, and I were hungry and walked over to The Artist’s Palette for lunch, where I had the turkey wrap and Jill had a hot dog. I also had the only authentic Saratoga item there: a Saratoga Lager.

After lunch our lack of sleep caught up to us, and we napped for a while. Sue and Melissa were out at Wal-Mart with Aunt Kelley (who dropped by as she winters there), and they picked up some pizzas. I wish they’d gotten the name of the place, as it was truly the worst pizza I’d ever had – and everyone agreed. Thankfully, it was the only bad meal of the week. The nap was helpful, but we were still tired and had a big week, so we watched The Simpsons with Robin, then went to sleep (I even skipped a concert at Epcot but it had started raining).

Melissa and Dominic

Monday morning we headed to Animal Kingdom – we’d already purchased tickets. The last time we visited, the parks had been fairly vacant, but not this time. So we took full advantage of Extra Magic Hours and that determined the order we visited the parks. First up was Kilimanjaro Safaris and that was good as all almost all the animals were awake, then Madelyn, Robin, Jill, and I took in Expedition Everest before meeting up with everyone at Kali River Rapids where we took turns riding and getting damp (even with ponchos).

Dominic, Melissa, Jake and Kerry

We gathered again and headed over to It’s Tough To Be A Bug with the three older kids (the boys loved it), then continued to Camp Minnie-Mickey to meet Disney characters. The older two (especially Jake) wanted autographs, and they all took pictures. Jake and I stayed behind when everyone else left to continue to get autographs.

Ava and Jake

We met up with Jill and Sue in the Boneyard playground, then got in line for Finding Nemo – The Musical. It took a while to get in, but it was pretty entertaining, a mix of Lion King and Avenue Q. Jill wasn’t feeling well (hadn’t been all day) and she went back to the resort. Sue, Jake, and I went over to Yak & Yeti for lunch where I had an appetizer explosion: Thai chili wings, pork egg rolls, and wok fried green beans along with a Safari Amber (surprising to learn it was from Anheuser-Busch because it was good). Rain was threatening when we finished so we left the park.

Jill was asleep and I joined her as I was tired. We woke up for a bit, and I checked email to learn we’d gotten two offers on the house, both more than $10K less then the listing price. I called our agent and arranged to counter the higher offer, then we snacked before Jill headed back to bed and Robin and I explored Downtown Disney to get a lay of the land, find some stores and a sweatshirt for her. We took our time getting back waiting for the boat shuttle around Downtown Disney then another one back to the resort.

Tuesday was another early day, this time we headed to Epcot. Once in we headed directly to Test Track, where some folks rode it twice. We went directly from there to Soarin’, but they already had a long wait so we picked up a Fastpass for everyone, then went next door to Honey I Shrunk The Audience (still pretty fun). Jake wanted more autographs, so Dominic and I went with him to get some.

Jake and Dominic

We met up with everyone at Sunshine Seasons (the cafe next to Soarin’) where folks who hadn’t had breakfast yet did, then took on Soarin’. Jake decided last minute it wasn’t for him, so he and Dominic ducked out. It was pretty fun, but it’s not good if you’re afraid of heights. After that, Dominic, Jake, and I headed over to Innoventions to play some games. Lunch was with everyone at the Rose and Crown. Jill and I split a salad then both got fish and chips, very good choice. We met up with Alice and got some adult slushies on the way out.

Jill, Sue, Robin, and Madelyn

Once again it was nap time after we returned. Sue and Dave had stayed at Epcot, and Robin, Jill, and I joined them again for dinner at Nine Dragons. I wasn’t that hungry after a big lunch and had the cucumber salad and sliced beef appetizers while Jill enjoyed the Kung Pao chicken. They stayed to watch fireworks while I went back to the resort – it turns out Melissa is also a Lost fan and it was the only show I wanted to watch all week (good, but not as good as the Hurley ep the week before). We got to enjoy the hot tub after Robin and Jill got back.

Kerry, Jill, Robin, Sue, and Dave

Party, etc.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Friday night I was ready for a break, so after some TV hooked up my old NES last night and played Super Mario and other games until my thumbs hurt (got to 5-4). I was surprised about how many of the other games don’t hold up (well, Castlevania II was decent).

Saturday I slept in a long time, over 10 hours. Then I took Illa for a nice walk, our contractor came over to finish his work, and I desecrated a Reuben (by adding a fried egg). At 7, we walked over to the Jewells for Stuart’s 50th birthday party. Music was provided by Mercy Creek, and food by Patrick Crump, Janice’s brother and executive chef at The Clarendon Ballroom. Both music and food were fabulous, and a good evening held by all.

Mercy Creek

Today was more packing, cleanup outside, a little open house visiting and surfing, followed by a packaged beef and broccoli for dinner followed by Simpsons -> Family Guy. Simpsons is on a hot streak lately, some great funny stuff.

Much lazier weekend

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I only left the house once all weekend (other than walking the dog), and that was only a quick trip to get groceries. We had a bit of frenzied cleanup of downstairs Saturday afternoon because I’d asked my mom to come over for dinner, and the dining room was unusable. We got it in order, then I made Reubens and a fruit salad for us when she came over, we had a nice time. We’d had dinner early, so later on I made popcorn when we watched Monsters Vs. Aliens, fun flick.

Sunday it was glorious to sleep in with the windows open and not be woken up by a yippy dog. I also got to read on the deck with Illa snoozing before heading inside to work on the office and the basement. Later on I grilled burgers for dinner with oven fries and a Caesar Salad, then we watched Fox’s Sunday night ‘toons (I think Simpsons was my fave).

3 Days in NYC: TV Shows, Musicals and Food

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

We started the weekend on Friday night with a mini-version of Saturday: awful transit followed by an entertaining time. Rain and Friday nights aren’t a good mix for the DMV area, it took a while to grt to the Birchmere. Once were there, we met up with our friends the Fureys, then settled in for an evening of comedy. It was the usual line up of Paul and Storm opening up for JoCo, always good and better when Paul and Storm came out to help out on JoCo’s songs. We left a bit early as it was an early morning wakeup the next day.

Stuart did us a favor Saturday morning and dropped us at the Park and Ride, then we waited for the 5A, which was running late. We gave up when we saw it going the opposite direction (meaning a good 20 minutes until it was headed back) and caught the 950, then two subway lines to Union Station. We still managed to get there on time, but the train didn’t, left about 20 minutes late. We took the train to New York 3 times last year, and each time the experience was perfect. Saturday was the exception, as the late start was just a premonition. Twice we had to stop for several minutes while they checked things, then the ceiling above Jill started leaking, and when she moved across the aisle that was leaking too. We stopped in Newark already close to an hour behind schedule, and didn’t move again. Apparently the signals were out, and they didn’t know how long it would be.

After close to 30 minutes we gave up and got on a PATH train to World Trade Center. It took a while since it was a local, but I only realized today it was a great idea: 500 people were stranded on a different train for more than five hours, and I saw tweets from people who were stuck more than seven hours. After we got into the city, the rain drenched us so fast we quickly gave up on the idea of walking (even to another a subway station) and caught a cab to the hotel. We’d planned on having several hours to relax, but we did have enough time to change before dinner.

When we were in NYC in July, we failed to get into the Daily Show, and in order to try again, Jill indicated she was interested in attending the Rachael Ray show. It’s not easy to get tix soon for that, and those are on whatever day they give you, so I did some investigating and eventually found a charity auction for two VIP tix to her show, two nights at a hotel, and dinner at Asia de Cuba. I won it at a very fair price, and Saturday we were staying at the hotel and going out to eat at the restaurant.

Asia de Cuba is just what the name implies, Cuban food with an Asian flair. We took the subway there (easier to not get wet without luggage), and got there right on time. We started with crab croquetas and asian spiced pork spare ribs (Jill’s highlight, they were scrumptious). The waiter warned us that most people split the entrees, but we had a gift certificate to use up and went with two. Jill didn’t really like her coconut mustard seed sustainable Chilean seabass (it was a huge plate with the vegetables) although I really enjoyed my tropical hoisin roasted duck. We could have skipped dessert except I realized we still had some credit to burn, so I ordered the bread pudding just so I could have some of the cheesecake ice cream (it was so worth it).

After dinner we headed up to 30 Rockefeller Plaza for Saturday Night Live. We were a bit early so we headed downstairs to sit for a bit, then joined the line when we came back upstairs. We went through security (Val Kilmer was right in front of us, but he was whisked out of line), and they brought us upstairs. A little after 11 we were seated as the house band was playing, then after everyone was seated Don Pardo said a few words, then Jason Sudeikis did some stand up and Kenan Thompson sang a song.

Soon it was 11:30 and the show got started. It was a whirlwind of activity for the next 90 minutes, if there wasn’t a sketch going on then the band was playing and they were putting together or breaking down sets. We were seated stage left and could see what was going on most of the time, but there were plenty of monitors if we couldn’t (but we saw Pearl Jam just fine, they were great as always). Things that surprised me: the small size of the studio, the clock only drops down from the ceiling for the opening and closing shots and many of the sets go up on the main stage (not to mention during the final sketch the set wasn’t stable until after it started).

After the show, we hung out to meet with the writer who’d donated the tix to the other charity auction I’d won, and we chatted for a bit (he’s one of the writers on MacGruber), then he took us and another couple on a brief tour of the studio. It was fun (and we saw Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis), but soon we were outside, and we took a cab back to the hotel with a driver who knew the capital of every country and US state.

Sunday we slept in, it was a good thing as with the time change and the busy day we’d been pretty tired. We had brunch downstairs at Wall & Water, where I had the Eggs Benedict, Jill had a Western Omelette and “the best hotel coffee ever”. Next we headed uptown to a yarn shop, then another subway ride to the P & G Bar (with a quick yarn shop stop on the walk over from the subway), where we met up with our FRFF buds Seth and Hilary (Hilary was bartending) and spent a couple hours catching up.

We had an early reservation at Gramercy Tavern, so we said goodbye and went directly there. It was the nicest restaurant we’ve been in for a while, the food and ambience reminded us of Restaurant Eve. I started with the whole spelt spaghetti while Jill had the butternut squash custard – we each liked the other dish more and switched halfway through. For entrees she had the squab and I had the lamb, no trading there as both were superb. I had the butterscotch sundae for dessert – since it had pear sorbet in it, I paired it with a pear cider, very nice. Jill had a peanut butter semifreddo that was also very good. Afterwards we had made no plans – no show or musical act had really interested us. So we went to Times Square, and saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Good flick, much better than their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We went back to the hotel afterwards, intending to hit the bar, but it was closed, so we had some wine back at Wall & Water.

Monday we slept in again, but that didn’t leave us much time as we had to checkout and change hotels. We checked in at the New York Helmsley (thankfully let us check in early) and headed out. Jill wanted a burger for lunch, and the closest good one was Good Burger (she wasn’t familiar with the film). We ordered burgers and shakes (got mine with an egg on top), and they soon came out. The burgers were good, and grilled on a actual flame, reminded me of Foster’s Grille.

We went uptown so Jill could do a little more shopping (clothes and yarn), then went over to The Daily Show. I was only able to get regular tickets for it, but I had the benefit of trying once before and we got there right before 3PM, right on target. Jill was free for at least the next hour as your guests need to join you by 4:30, so I just read my book until she returned (she found a car dealership serving coffee). They let us in a little after 5, but we still had to wait in line a while longer until they seated us. A comedian came out to warm us up, then Jon Stewart came out for a funny Q&A, then they started about 6:30. They recorded straight through (and it was fun watching Jon crack up while the Aasif Mandvi piece played), but there was audio problems during the segment with Wyatt Cenac and Mick Foley, and they had to film it again (I was happy they used the first take of Jon getting away from Mick when they aired it, it was much funnier).

We didn’t have a lot of time after the show, so we caught a cab to Times Square and wolfed down a couple slices of delicious pizza at Patzeria’s Perfect Pizza, then headed down the block and into the theater where the The Addams Family was playing. We were soon seated, and enjoying drinks in our seats due to the best theater invention ever: souvenir sippy cups. Nathan Lane was simply amazing as Gomez, and the musical was really good. Seth had recommended we stop at Junior’s for some cheesecake, so we did. We weren’t that hungry, so we just had slices of cheesecake, strawberry shortcake for Jill, carrot cake for me. They were decent, but huge and we didn’t finish either one. We went back to the hotel, but Jill wanted something to counteract the sugar. Everything in the hotel was closing, but I figured the McFadden’s up the block (near the burger place) was still open, and I was right. We nursed beers and had a good conversation with the bartender, who reminded us of Seth Meyers.

We got up early the next morning, checked out and left our luggage with a bellman, then headed a couple blocks south to Daniel’s Bagels where Jill had an everything bagel with cream cheese and I had a ham, egg and cheese on sesame. Later we went back up and got in line for the Rachael Ray Show. It turned out we didn’t need to get in line, the tix really were VIP and as soon as they started letting people in we got to skip ahead of the line. Then we waited for while inside, then they seated us (kind of a theme). We got another warm up comedian, unfortunately this one not only more obnoxious but he never left, basically serving as a cheerleader. We ended taping two separate shows (don’t know when they air yet), and the guests were surprises until they appeared.

Rachael Ray Show

Ingrid Michaelson was first (and best), singing Everybody, then Bruce Jenner (meh) and Timothy Olyphant (he was fun, and I’m a big fan of motherf’n’ Deadwood and plan on watching his new series Justified). There were two cooking segments, one a Western Omelette sandwich and the other a “bullseye” (perfectly preserved onion slice) burger. Parts were fun, but we’d been there a while when taping finished and time was running short – we had a little over an hour to catch the train, and were one of the last in line to get out.

But the hotel was two blocks away, and soon we were in a cab hurtling towards Penn Station. We made it with fifteen minutes to spare, enough time for me to get a Nathan’s dog and Jill to get a Moe’s burrito. The ride back on the train was more like our earlier trips, no problems and no delays. We almost got back home according to plan, but just missed the bus out of West Falls Church that would have connected us to the last bus going past our house, and instead we took one near to the Herndon library, I left Jill there and walked home and got the car and picked her and the luggage home, then I heated up some frozen jambalaya, then we watched Chuck and collapsed into bed.

Map of NYC locations

No more football, please

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Friday night I got my hair cut on the way home from work, then grilled pork chops. Later we watched TV, including the blow your mind finale of Dollhouse (Whedon fans, if you dropped it, the second season is great).

Saturday I watched a bunch more TV as the DVR was filling up, then we headed out in the afternoon over to the Birchmere with the Jewells and got our line tickets, then went over to Rt’s Restaurant for appetizers. Jill and I split a Cajun Caesar salad (using Creole cornbread for croutons), then I had oysters three ways and she had shrimp and grits.

We got back with plenty of time, got a table for four next to the soundbooth and helped Janice with her onion tangle, then split a pepperoni pizza (they’ve dropped their burgers from the menu). Jake Armerding was not only playing with the band, he got to open this night, had a nice but short set. Eddie From Ohio was of course great, lots of great banter and a nice setlist with some old gems.

I watched one football game (Saints/Cards) before we headed to bed, then Sunday morning watched the Colts/Ravens – since both weren’t close at the end, it was fairly quick to watch them both. In the afternoon I went shopping to find a receiver for my mom to hook up to her new TV, found this. We headed over to her house where she made us waffles and I hooked up all her components (and worked on her computer). When we got back home, we watched the Viking/Cowboys game and 24 (back in a big way), then Jill headed for bed and I watched the Jets/Bolts and the Golden Globes (nice to be able to stay up late and finish everything).

Today Jill wanted to go to Virginia Kitchen for breakfast so we did, I had the Eggs Benedict and she had the Western omelette. She was out after that, and I read newspapers and played some Wii (including my new favorite training regimen). I made taquitos and salad for dinner, then hopped online for the first time all weekend. Now it’s time for Chuck and hour 3 of 24.

Beer, skiing and football

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

We headed over to Dogfish Head on Friday night as a friend from high school was attending a happy hour, and we had a beer and chatted for a bit, then got a table for dinner as the bar was way too crowded. We split a Caesar salad to start, then both had burgers. When we got back I finished off the old and new Dollhouses – really picking up steam.

Saturday we were up early to meet up with the DC Ski Club at Shady Grove Metro, then head up to Ski Liberty. My Christmas gift to Jill was her plane ticket to Denver and ski lessons, and I urged her to take a lesson (the fact that the lessons were cheaper had nothing to do with it – maybe).

By the time we got her resolved (including me going back to the car for her socks) and I finished getting ready, the other folks were nowhere to be found, but that was ok as it was my first time skiing in two years. My form was horrible at first, but memory started returning, and by the time I took a break to meet up with Jill, I was feeling pretty good.

Jill was done after two hours of extensive instruction, but I wasn’t and kept going as she got her knitting out. I had tried most of the green and blue runs by that point (the blacks were moguls and I hate those), so I finished the others then focused on perfecting my favorite run, Sidewinder -> Lower Strata. I was getting sloppy right as time ran out, so that was good.

We hadn’t made plans for the night (and Illa had the dogwalker), so we decided to stop in Frederick on the way back. I want to go to Volt at some point, but we didn’t bring a change of clothes. Instead the first place we spotted after parking was Brewer’s Alley, which was a great choice. We both started with soups, a cheddar ale for me and a gumbo for Jill, went well with our six beer samplers. Next she had a pulled pork sandwich and I had a chili rubbed steak sandwich with a tomato-jalapeno jam that hit the spot. After we got home I watched the end of the Bengals/Jets game and all of the Cowboys/Eagles game – didn’t care about the first one, disappointed by the second.

Today was a lazy day, made breakfast then watched SNL and LOTS, then hopped on the computer for more video editing fun and surfing. Then it was time for football and dinner. The first game I was surprised that the Pats got steamrolled, and the second was the game of the weekend, thought the Packers could come back all the way.

I made pork chops and green beans and heated up mac and cheese for dinner and Tom Sietsema’s favorite quick and easy dessert later (with Splenda instead of sugar and store made whipped cream), nice tasty low sugar dessert. Then we settled in for a nice evening of Chuck – hopefully with all the promos it got some good ratings. I like him as an ass kicking spy, although I wish the second episode hadn’t reference a first season episode.

NYE Weekend wrapup

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Jill was working a 12 hour shift on NYE day, and we both knew she wouldn’t have much energy for the evening, so didn’t plan anything. So we ended up doing appetizers for dinner, starting a fire, reading and watching Foo Fighters videos (from their great new collection) until it was time and switched over to NBC for the ball drop.

I never left the house all three days of the weekend except to walk Illa. Friday we both had large piles of paperwork to get through, plus I started organizing my comics for the first time in months. We had pork chops and stuffing from Whole Foods for dinner, then watched a number of Dollhouse episodes in the evening.

Saturday I finished my comics, then worked on my new computer. I finished transferring all files, then started moving over the HD video I’d captured with my new camera. I was in the mood for a big salad for dinner, so I made one with ham and cheese. It was chilly, so I made hot chocolate and we cuddled up on the couch and watched Up for the first time. Great movie, but I expect that from Pixar at this point.

Sunday I watched the last episode of Doctor Who with the tenth doctor (great coda), read newspapers, then worked on the computer until the football game. Jill brought me a spinach calzone from Pomodoro for lunch, very tasty. I suffered through one last game (I just knew they could find a way to lose), then grilled steak for dinner. We watched some of the Sunday ‘toons, then Jill headed to bed and iwas up way too late on the computer again. I cut back on the general surfing over the weekend, hopefully can get a routine going on videos that isn’t so time consuming.

Fall TV Review

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Sunday
The Simpsons/The Cleveland Show/Family Guy/American Dad
Also known as 3/4s of the Seth MacFarlane evening. I thought spinning Cleveland off of Family Guy might make a weak show, but they came up with a good new cast. I still find most Simpsons funny, and American Dad has really grown on me. B

Curb Your Enthusiasm
I’ve only watched one episode before this season (not really loving the comedy of discomfort), but I did like Seinfeld and wanted to check out the reunion. Unsurprisingly, I really liked the ones with the Seinfeld cast and was meh about the others (Larry needs strong foils to bounce off, and Jerry and Jason are best against him). If you only watch a couple, be sure and see the last two. C (season), A (Seinfeld cast)

Metalocalypse
Metalocalypse expanded to 30 minutes this year, and it’s only better. In a world where a metal band is the seventh largest economy on Earth, they are idiots and the show is hilarious, Spinal Tap on a bigger level. B+

The Prisoner
The original? Fantastic. This remake? Horrible. Way to jettison all the great ideas from the old series, guys. D

Monday-Thursday
The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
Some people thought with the executive and legislative branches leaning left these shows would miss a step. Not a chance, they still make me laugh as often as they did last year. A

Monday
Heroes
Oh Heroes, why can’t I quit you? At least this season is the best since the first – please don’t bring Mohinder back again. C+

Castle
I’d prefer to have more Firefly, but if I can’t I’ll happily take this Nathan Fillion mystery show with my favorite family on TV. B+

Tuesday
V
I don’t like it as much as I liked the original miniseries, but it’s a pretty good remake. Judgement not final, only four episodes aired so far. B

Wednesday
Glee
The pilot was incredibly good, and the tone varies on episodes based on which creator is writing. Still, I never thought I’d be watching another show set in high school and I’m hooked. B

Cougar Town
I certainly wasn’t expecting this to be my favorite new comedy, the only one I’m keeping, but maybe I should have since it’s from the creator of Scrubs. B

Eastwick
Soon to be canceled, but I tuned in because I love the movie, and it was a decent take. C+

Thursday
FlashForward
Best new show, and with “Believe” showed the emotional core that positions it as a worthy successor to Lost. A-

30 Rock
The more absurd it gets, the funnier it gets. B+

Friday
Smallville
Last season was ok, but this season has been promising so far as the big bad is unpowered Kandorians. Clark is using his powers at last, even though his uniform isn’t the version we know. B-

Dollhouse
I wouldn’t say this is my favorite Joss Whedon show, but it’s the only one he’s done where there are no clear heroes and villains. Everyone is damaged in some fashion and it has rich, morally complex storytelling (see “Belonging”). Looking forward to seeing the rest. B+

Sanctuary
The second season didn’t start out so great by killing off my favorite character, but they’ve gone in some surprising directions. B-

Stargate Universe
I hadn’t watched any of the other Stargate series, but hearing that John Scalzi was consulting on this made me watch. I think I should stop and go back if he starts writing. C-

Saturday
Legend of the Seeker
The first season was ok, but suffered from episodes of wildly different tone. Season Two is darker and all around better. Adding Cara, a Mord’Sith, to the team was a great idea, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes. Most improved show of the year, gone from try to watch to must watch. For all fans of fantasy series. B

SNL
Erratic as usual, but a couple have been great. Bring back Taylor and Justin, please. B

Home and football

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Friday night neither of us really felt like cooking, so I picked up some Tortilla Factory goodness on the way home, chicken enchiladas for Jill and shredded beef enchiladas for me, as well as some black bean soup. After dinner we didn’t have any mutual TV to watch, so I started watching Changeling while Jill knitted. She was disturbed by the storyline, and horrified after I told her it was based on a true story. After a quick Wikipedia check, she decided she only wanted to watch the end of the movie, so we stopped that and watched Hellboy II instead. Good Friday night movie, she’d never seen the first but you don’t really need to. I never really got into the comics (not a big fan of Mignola’s art), but Guillermo del Toro sure makes nice movies.

Saturday we cleaned before we had a staging lady over to analyze what we need to do to sell the house. I’d had a home inspector over when I was off on Wednesday, and as soon as we get her report we’ll decide what we want to with the time and money we want to spend. Jill went shopping and ran errands in the afternoon while I read and surfed. For dinner I got fancy, served grilled pork chops with a chipotle mustard, roasted asparagus and cranberry glazed butternut squash. The squash was a test run for Thanksgiving and came out well, so that’s a keeper.

After hearing what Sunday’s weather would be like, I’d called Dad on Saturday to see if he wanted to go to the Skins game. I’m not very happy with the owner these days or their performance, but I’m still a die hard fan and Dad and I try to go to at least one game together during the season (I’d previously gone to a game with Jill). Dad called me back shortly before dinner and indicated it was the best date for him, so I hopped on Craigslist and found someone in Ashburn with great seats and a parking pass. I headed over there in the fog, completed the transaction and headed straight home. I’d watched most of Changeling during the day, and we watched the end after that as well as some TV including the first half of SNL (I could have stopped there).

Sunday I headed out, making my train by seconds and arrived right on time. I met dad at Largo and we headed over to FedEx, parking in the Orange Lot. We headed in to our great seats, fifteen rows back from the corner the team comes out from with beers and food (dog for me). The game was great, and we got the win I was hoping for with plenty of action. We left after the last touchdown, and I got back to where I’d parked in Falls Church by 5. I hit my favorite CD shop and stocked up on some 2009 releases in the clearance bin to help me build my annual sampler, then headed home. I grilled a steak and made a salad, then we watched the remake of The Prisoner (I’d made Jill watch the original a few years back, so she remembered it). I liked it, not quite like the original but definitely in the spirit of it (like the new BSG).

Skins vs. Broncos

Concert bookends

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Friday night I went out to see Dan Navarro at Jammin’ Java with the Jewells (it was an early show and Jill was working late). I haven’t been the hugest fan of Lowen & Navarro (although we did see their final show), but some enticement was offered: Michael Clem & Eddie Hartness of efo would be his rhythm section for the gig. So knowing the Jewells were saving me a seat, I was able to leave work at the last minute (got to work late) and still get a good seat. And the show was good too, David Glaser added some nice guitar and Robbie came up for a duet on “I Don’t Believe In Yesterday”, though I was surprised that Mike didn’t sing (or banter, for that matter).

Saturday I got to sleep in and spend all day at home. I took Illa for a run/walk (two weeks until the next 5K) then had Jill’s Worst Breakfast Ever, also known as lamb and eggs (she won’t eat either). In the afternoon I burned 10 audio CDs of live shows I’d downloaded, then tucked into newspapers and TV (plus I watched Stargate again to refresh my memory before watching the new show. I’d marinated chicken in a new tandoori recipe, then roasted it in the oven while I cooked spinach and chickpeas, best homemade tandoori yet.

Sunday we tried to catch up on some more TV, I enjoyed last week’s Dollhouse, then I watched the awful Redskins game. Then we headed over to the Birchmere to get a line number and walked a block to Po Siam, a Thai restaurant we’d decided on. The chive dumplings were just too heavy (fried), but Jill’s steamed ones were pretty good. My Pad Prik Kra Prao with duck was excellent, and Jill enjoyed her Panang with chicken. We went back to the Birchmere and got seats, discovered we were still hungry (just can’t do only two meals in a day) and split a taco salad. Soon Po’ Girl was opening the show, and I was glad we hadn’t skipped them. The CD I got was ok, but they’re a really good live band, with eclectic instruments – for the first song, they had drums, an accordion, a clarinet, and a banjo (later on they used a washtub bass).

Soon we were treated to a classic Girlyman show, Nate was on fire, especially when he learned his zipper was down for the first half of the show (you had to be there). The new CD is really great (even if it didn’t have our names in there), and I really enjoyed the new songs live, especially “Storms Were Mine”, “Easy Bake Ovens” and “True Enough” (with a 495 shoutout). Ordinarily on a Sunday night that would have been it, but Jill was off today and Angie Aparo was playing at Iota (she really likes his voice). So we went by, scored a spot halfway down the block and headed in. He was just finishing up his first set, and we stayed through the end. Too bad we missed “Hush”, but we got “Broken” and a nice “Cry”, then headed home. I’m dragging today (early dentist’s visit didn’t help), but it was still worth it.