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Archive for November, 2005

Beer prevents cancer!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

No, really. It’s in the hops. So from now on, I’ll be preventing cancer every day.

Queen in DC

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

They’ve confirmed that Queen + Paul Rodgers will return for a 23 date tour of the USA and Canada in March and April:

Fri 3 March Miami, Fl, American Airlines Arena.
Sun 5 March Jacksonville, Fl, Veterans Coliseum.
Tues 7 March Duluth, GA, Gwinett Center.
Thurs 9 March Washington, DC, MCI Center.
Fri 10 March Worcester, MA, DCU Center.
Sun 12 March Uniondale, NY, Nassau Coliseum.
Tues 14 March Philadelphia, PA, Wachovia Spectrum.
Thurs 16 March Toronto, ON, Air Canada Centre.
Fri 17 March Buffalo, NY, HSBC Arena.
Mon 20 March Pittsburgh, PA, Mellon Arena.
Tues 21 March Cleveland, OH, Quicken Loans Arena.
Thurs 23 March Chicago, IL, Allstate Arena.
Fri 24 March Auburn Hills, MI, Palace at Auburn Hills.
Sun 26 March St. Paul, MN, Xcel Energy Center.
Mon 27 March Milwaukee, WI, Bradley Center.
Fri 31 March Glendale, AZ, Glendale Arena.
Sat 1 April San Diego, CA, Cox Arena.
Mon 3 April Anaheim, CA, Arrowhead Pond.
Wed 5 April San Jose, CA, HP Pavilion.
Fri 7 April Las Vegas, NV, MGM Grand Garden.
Mon 10 April Seattle, WA, Key Arena.
Tues 11 April Portland, OR, Rose Garden.
Thurs 13 April Vancouver, BC, Pacific Coliseum.

Presales start Wednesday. MCI Center is a must, of course. Doubt I’ll do the top ticket package again (no tour this time, a tour jacket instead), trying to decide between the lesser VIP package and the regular seats. I still want some good seats even though I don’t want to shell out for the top of the line ones. Also trying to figure out if there’s another show I can schedule in. Massachusetts and Vegas look tempting – it’d have to be at the start or end of a weekend.

Barenaked in Baltimore

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Since last year’s Barenaked Ladies tour only came as far south as Boston, I was determined to see them this year, even though getting to Baltimore on a weeknight is not one of my favorite things. Jill passed on doing it (and she was scheduled to work), so I went with my friend Val.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I went to work early, but had a doctor’s appointment at 11:30, then went home for lunch, because otherwise Illa would have not gone out for 13 hours, which is just too much. While I was there, I had a big lunch (roast duck with stuffing and gravy, green beans and garlic bread) which turned out to be a good thing. I left work to make the 5PM bus to the Metro, and got to the Waterfront stop (on the Green Line) by 6:10. It was a short walk to meet Marcia at her apartment. She finished getting ready and we hit the road in her car. I was happy about that for a couple reasons – first, my ankle is still bothering me, and second, I didn’t have to fight my way into DC. It was a good thing about traffic, because other than an accident blocking traffic right after we got on 295, it was clear sailing on 495 and 95. We parked in a nearby garage and were in the Meyerhoff Hall with 15 minutes to spare.

The Meyerhoff is the home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and is very nice. Only bad thing – the sandwiches they had didn’t look that appetizing and were $7 each. Since I wasn’t that hungry, I just had a slice of carrot cake (a more reasonable $4) and some water. By the time we ate and used the facilities, The LeeVees had started. I hadn’t heard of them, but we went anyway to check them out. Good thing, as they were pretty funny. An all Jewish rock band, they had good stage presence for this only being their second live show. Marcia even got their CD after they finished. Now that I’ve looked them up, I feel ashamed – I totally did not recognize Adam Gardner from Guster. No wonder they were good.

Around 8:45, the lights dimmed and the All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis came out and sang three holiday songs, to an enthusiastic reception. After they finished the third song, a door on stage right opened and BNL strolled out. Gathered around a single microphone in front of the choir, they played “I Saw Three Ships”, “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah”, and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” acoustic with the choir, ducking down when the choir led. Then they hummed :”Sleigh Ride” as the choir filed out, then went into “For You” (I think that and “Maybe Katie” are my faves from E2E). Then they plugged in, starting with “Pinch Me” (of course underwear was thrown). From that point on, it was a typical BNL show with adlibs and classic tunes, mixed with a liberal helping of holiday songs. They played my favorite of their holiday originals (very much a classic BNL tune), “Elf’s Lament”, as well as premiering a new song, “Everything Had Changed”. Later during the show, Tyler drew names out of a Santa hat to decide who’d play what instruments during “Feliz Navidad” (it was Ed on keys, Jim on guitar, Kevin on bass, Steve on drums, and Tyler on vox). They finished off with “If I Had $1000000” going into a very operatic version of “Silent Night”, then came back for two encores including both “Break Your Heart” and “Some Fantastic”.

They didn’t end ’til nearly 11, so we got going during the last song (but didn’t end up leaving before it ended, as I lost my camera bag somewhere and we tried to locate it). To catch the last bus at 12:10, I would have had to be at L’Enfant at 11:40, which was obviously a bad plan. Marcia offered to drop me at West Falls Church, and I made my bus with 5 minutes to spare, getting home a little before 1 (and I didn’t make it to bed until 2:30, so today was a slag).

That was my tenth time seeing them, and I think the best yet. It was a perfect holiday concert with the right mix of holiday tunes and hits. Although they didn’t do their version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (but that’s ok because I saw them do it in 2001). Too bad it was far away, because I think Jill would’ve really enjoyed it as well.

setlist

pictures

The bad and the ugly

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

The bad:
Michael Flatley’s new show, Celtic Tiger, was horrible. The last time I saw him, in Lord Of The Dance, I was blown away, and Jill liked it when we saw the Flatley-less production when it toured. But as Jill said, “I’ve seen better performances in a high school play”.

This review is perfect (I can’t pick a good part, the whole review is excellent):

Irish step dancing can’t be easy in ankle-strap stiletto heels. Still, the girl in the Aer Lingus stewardess outfit gave it a dainty, tentative try to open the second half of Michael Flatley’s new “Celtic Tiger” Thursday at the Bradley Center.

Her discomfort in this impossible task was a little weird, but nothing compared to what came next. Flatley led in a troupe of men in pilot uniforms and aviator shades. They swarmed and hooted around the “stewardess.” It was Bob Fosse meets Tailhook convention.

Then the intimidated stew bucks up and decides to give the boys what they want. Off go the glasses and the cap, down comes a cascade of tresses, and she’s into a full bump-and-grind strip, right down to her red, white and blue bikini bra and panties. At this, the hooting, hollering boys scamper off the stage. When she’s down to her underwear, two of them dash back, wrap the beauty in an American flag and hustle her off the stage.

I swear I’m not making this up.

Now, this takes place in the context of a show purportedly about the courage and persistence of the Irish people through history. The first half makes a swipe at telling a story, with stiff redcoats fighting it out with brave lads in vests and patched trousers. The redcoats have the most engaging and intricate stretch of pure Irish dancing in the show, immediately after singing a rousing chorus of “Rule Britannia.” I wonder whether Flatley is even aware of this bitter irony.

The second half is a hopeless mishmash of Fosse-isms, disco, flamenco, ballet and cheerleading mingled with bits of Irish hard- and soft-shoe style. It makes not one bit of narrative or pure-dance sense. In total, it suggests that Flatley is not competent to choreograph in styles foreign to him yet doesn’t trust Irish dance to carry a show. Heavy reliance on giant-screen travelogue video of Ireland, fireworks, blasting music and sound effects, and the showing of lots and lots of female skin support that theory.

Part of me agrees with Flatley, that exposed navels and lots of cleavage improve Irish dance. However, it’s not the part with a highly developed aesthetic sense.

The highly developed part appreciates Flatley as a hoofer. He’s really splendid when he just dances. In one delicious phrase, he glided backward the width of the vast stage, clicking out effortless triples in counterpoint to the duple music. He has the barrel-chested, winning presence of Gene Kelly to go with outstanding technique and musicality. I wish I could see him in a solo show, just him and some acoustic musicians, without the flash pots and the fleshpots.

This review is also good:

Subtlety is conspicuously absent from Michael Flatley’s latest spectacle, “Celtic Tiger.” His earlier “Riverdance” at least included a semblance of a storyline, real singing (not lip synching) and lots of thrilling Irish step dancing. But his works since have become less about the artistry and spirit embedded in Irish culture, even if shrouded in a New Age overlay, and more about the vacuous pomposity of Flatley himself.

Gone is the Flatley who managed, barely, to float the cheesy “Riverdance” follow-up, “Lord of the Dance,” with the sheer chutzpah of his riveting footwork and rhythmic musicality. In “Celtic Tiger,” presented Tuesday at Target Center in Minneapolis, he mostly preens and prances across the stage like a warrior king fresh from an HBO miniseries. Or he’s costumed like a star-spangled Liberace conducting the feet of his young dancers, tapping in forceful unison, and amplified so the sound reverberates in your chest.

All woefully true. He was still a talented dancer, but the show as a whole just blew. I don’t think I’ll be getting the DVD of this one. I was surprised that the composer, Ronan Hardiman, let me down as well, because I really like the music for Lord Of The Dance. Oh well.

And the ugly:
We went to the Skins game today and they lost to the Chargers. We did have fun, though, met my dad around noon and Jill got us some sweet seats in the 10th row of the end zone. And they had Red Hook on tap. Fun afternoon, but I’m pooped.

Good ?:
Hopefully tomorrow is good, planning on heading up to Baltimore to catch BNL with a friend.

Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

I had worked some longer hours earlier in the week, so I was able to leave work a little after 4 on Wednesday. Jill was home that day and had already taken Illa to the vet. We finished getting ready, then had a cab come around 5. Our flight wasn’t until 7:30, but we had heeded the dire warnings about airport delays. For no reason, as we were at our terminal by 5:45 (and we’d checked bags). We went to Fuddrucker’s for dinner, pretty good as usual – only problem they didn’t have the cheese sauce they do at the restaurants. Our flight to West Virginia was a little bumpy, but Jill weathered it ok, and we landed right on time. My mom and sister were a little late getting there, having come from church, bu arrived just after our luggage did.

We drove to my sister’s, unpacked and set up the air bed we’d brought (hers had a slow leak). When we walked in, we discovered her cat had knocked over a pile of china plates that were to be used the next day, and that had to be cleaned up. Her boyfriend, Forrest, came over, and helped as my mom made pies and some prep for the next day. We were all tired and went to sleep before midnight.

Thursday we were up around 9 to start the turkey. Jill and I joined them (and Forrest’s aunt Carol and uncle Ken who were staying with him) at church in Charleston. We came back afterwards and my dad had arrived. He’d decided that instead of $100 roundtrip on Independence Air, he wanted to drive (how much was gas in the Camaro?). It took him 7 hours to get there on the southern route. We started getting all the food ready, and I was turkey chef, checking on it and carving it.

The food was great (except I had to pick mushrooms out of the stuffing), and the conversation was fun. After we’d had seconds and cleared the table, we enjoyed Mom’s pies – pecan and apple (I had full slices of each – why not?). Later, we cleaned up and put furniture back. Dad left for the drive back, and the rest of us gathered around the TV. Forrest had rented several videos (DVD player had just died), and we chose Pink Panther. Not much like the rest of the series, but still has some great slapstick gags. Next, Forrest had brought some games over and we played Cranium. Fun game.

Ken and Carol took their leave, and Forrest came back to watch the Apprentice, his addiction. Mom, Sharon, and Jill watched with him while I read China Mieville’s The Scar, set on the same world as the book of his I’d read earlier in the month. After it was over, Forrest and Sharon had a marshmellow throwing war, then we hit the sack.

We slept in the next morning, me to 10:30 and Jill to after 11. Forrest didn’t show up until Jill got up, as his sleep was interrupted by a jackhammer working on a water main repair in the middle of the night. Sharon whipped up eggs and waffles for us, hit the spot. We didn’t have anything special planned, so we went out on a road trip to see the New River Gorge Bridge. We also stopped to see Kanawha Falls and Cathedral Falls. We had packed before we left, which was a good idea, because we went straight to the airport and got there right on time. 3 gates meant no security line, and we just waited for our uneventful flight.

We didn’t get home until 7:30, and the latest we could have picked Illa up was 6:30. So we took full advantage of our night home alone. That’s right, we went to Don Pablo’s (new Carnitas are tasty as long as you add some queso), then came home, I made a fire and we watched the first Harry Potter movie (then watched all the bonus features). Today I dropped Jill off to get Illa, went to get neurosomed, then hit the grocery store and picked up a duck that’s cooking now. Tonight we go see Michael Flatley in his newest show.

Pictures from West Virginia

Poor Sony

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Feel sorry for Sony these days? Show your support with a t-shirt!

Chris Whitley gone

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Chris Whitley passed away from lung cancer Sunday – I just found out. I only saw him four times, but his music was timeless, seemed to bubble up from an alternate universe. He always seemed frail, but attacked his guitar with a ferocity that surprised you. I’ve got all of his CDs, but a good starting point is the collection of his Sony years.

Interesting tablemate Thursday night

Monday, November 21st, 2005

We went to see Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky Thursday night at the Birchmere. We were late getting there, got a late start that wasn’t helped by Illa relieving himself in the upstairs hallway (forgot to ask Lezlie about that when we saw her Saturday). We thought we’d be late for Lucy (one of Jill’s faves), but they switched and Richard opened, and he was on his second song when we walked in. Good show (they played together several times), but we had an interesting tablemate – Robbie from efo! Jill wanted to go in on the stage right side, but I like sitting on the stage left side (my right ear isn’t as fond of high volume, so that puts my left ear towards the speakers). Jill noticed Robbie as he turned around, sees us, and waves us over to his table. He was sitting by himself in the back because he’d been backstage ’til right before the show. Turns out Robbie’s a huge fan of them both, and when we chatted during intermission, it was a weird mix of him talking about how great they were, and I was asking some efo questions (a fanboy chain).

Julie just posted to the band journal what’s been going on with her lately, but he confirmed this has been a rough week for her. They’re booking some dates for next year, but they’re trying to be flexible for Julie (the next Alexandria and Annapolis shows are on sale, I bought tix for the Saturday shows both places). The rest of them are busy on side projects (Mike’s doing a solo CD, Robbie’s doing a CD of the kids songs he’s performed and written, and Eddie’s got Brother Shamus shows). He said FRFF is a possibility. He said some more about touring, but I’m not sure if some of it’s for public discussion. It was nice since he was the one band member we didn’t get to chat to on the cruise, and some of the questions were things you don’t want to ask when you’re both on vacation – the real world intrudes soon enough.

Dog Day Afternoon

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

That was Saturday (also the name of the place where Illa will get obedience training).

We got up, went to the CHAAMP bake sale, saw Lezlie and met some others in the organization. It was funny that both of the people who’d walked Illa when he was at the kennel remembered him. Then I stopped by CD Cellar (my favorite store), not the original in Falls Church but the spin off in Clarendon. Turns out there’s a pet store next door that Jill took Illa to while I did a little shopping. Finally we went to my mom’s where we attached Illa’s lead to the lead she had so he nearly had full run of the yard, and he played with Trina a little while we chatted (and I had to check on why Mom’s email was wonky -turned out it would never finish downloading a huge email full of pictures, so she’d turn it off and get the old messages each time).

We went home and Illa was worn out, left us alone pretty much the rest of the day. Jill went out to run a few errands, then came home and made a tasty chicken and sausage bean soup (using up the veggies that could be used for soup. This week was the last week of our weekly fresh veggie bag, but we still have quite a stockpile. I got through most of the newspapers before we ate. Later, we watched an old Threshold and Desparate Housewives (we’re still about 6 hours behind on our TV viewing, maybe we’ll catch up next weekend).

Today Jill worked, so I got up and walked Illa, then made an omelette while catching up on Daily Show and Colbert Report. Still love the Daily Show, and Colbert Report is getting better. Watched the Skins lose another close one, then raked the leaves out front and went grocery shopping. I slow cooked pork all day to make barbeque, came out nicely. I’m nearly all caught up on TV I’m not watching with Jill (still got this week’s SNL to watch, but I’ll do that tomorrow before she get’s home).

Or maybe the 19th century

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Last night and this morning everything was working fine, but by the time Jill got up, the phone, internet, and cable were out. I went on the website to report it, and they sent a tech out (supposedly between 3 and 6PM, but he didn’t come until after 6). It was up by 9, but we were out, so I missed Alias and Smallville (asked a friend to gasp videotape Alias).

Apparently the line got cut, and they’ve got a patch for now until they do a more permanent fix and rebury it in the next couple days.