Thursday the 2nd I finally found an epic #TBT I’d been looking for. In 1991 I was in LA with my family on Spring Break, and we got tickets to the Tonight Show, hoping to get Johnny, but we got Jay. I remember the Pet Shop Boys covering U2, but I didn’t realize that one of them had walked off stage in the middle of the song, and I didn’t remember Jim Carrey being there until I saw the clip (and how awkward it was to watch what Shelley Winters was saying next to my mom). From Literaly (Pet Shop Boys Fan club magazine): “During the first song (“Where The Streets …”) Chris noticed -watching a monitor showing the broadcast -that he hadn’t appeared on camera once and, understandably miffed, walked off during the song. The people from the TV show refused to re-shoot the song and so the Pet Shop Boys refused to play their second song.”

Jim Carrey Jay Leno

Saturday Jill joined friends at the Maryland sheep and wool festival, while I took Nina to tumbling, then Free Comic Book Day at Comic Logic Books & Artwork where Nina marveled at the staff member dressed as Black Widow and peppered me with questions. She loved her Disney Descendants comic and couldn’t wait to read it, then we ate lunch at Frito Chicken. Sunday we had an ER visit after we thought Nina might be having a reaction to new medication (likely heartburn, thank goodness) then had dinner at Mod Pizza. Nina asked for Oreos for dessert as this was her jam of the moment. I continued exploring the 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer with #gameofbeers part 2. This week was King of the North, a barrel aged stout. Heavy, but decent. B


Monday I thought this is just all kinds of awesome. Maybe we’ll make a return sometime. Thursday the 9th was concert #12: Neil Gaiman at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. On a night where traffic was so bad Google had me go west around Leesburg, we still got some quick seafood for dinner at the Shuckin’ Shack and managed to make it to our seats 5 minutes late, when he hadn’t gone on yet. Plus he read “Chivalry” (first time I’ve heard him do it in 20 years) and answered my question in the first group of questions and answers.
Q: I’ve seen the first episode of Good Omens, [well done] and while I’ve seen people discuss its influences, I felt it owed a debt to the television adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Was that intentional?
A: Absolutely. The first three minutes, more or less, of Good Omens is an absolute hat tip to the late Douglas Adams and to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series. Tried to do it as if it was now. I loved Hitchhiker’s. When I was 25, 26 years old, I got to write The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy companion and worked with Douglas Adams. He was an inspiration and wonderful, ridiculously tall man. And so my brief to our wonderful graphics people was go wild, do what the Hitchhiker’s television show would have done for one of those early sequences where the voice of the book talks to you about something – if they could do it now, if they had our resources, if they had real computers rather than a very sweet man named Kevin Davis very slowly making it look like things were done with them. So yeah, absolutely intentional.


Saturday Dad and Patricia came over again for computer help – this time we had an early Mother’s Day brunch of french toast and bacon. Sunday was #gameofbeers part 3: Mother of Dragons, a smoked porter and kriek blend. Expected more smokiness, but a good mix to pair with grilled chicken and pasta that night (one of Jill’s favorites). B+


Thursday Jill’s car repairs cost more than her car so she got the Subaru Outback she’d been eyeing. Saturday the 18th was Nina’s tryouts for the new cheer year (some lovely new tastes at Old Ox while I waited), then by request I picked up Popeyes chicken for a neighbor’s pot luck party. We left Nina there so she could play with the kids after her babysitter arrived, then we went to concert #13: Eddie Izzard at Warner for his Wunderbar show, which ended with a very funny Lord of the Rings bit. Afterwards Jill and I had drinks at Proper 21 (and how could I say no to a drink called “Benny & The Jets” and made with rum & rhubarb?). Sunday we went to the Fine Arts festival then broke in the two seater inflatable kayak, then that evening was #gameofbeers part 4 and the series finale. Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. A sour blonde ale, kinda goes with my feelings. B

Eddie Izzard

Friday the 24th was Nina’s “graduation” from Tae Kwon Do as she’d been taking afterschool classes. She and I had dinner at Flippin’ Pizza before and I signed her up for some more classes. We also realized we weren’t as good friends with people as we thought we were when we were blindsided to see pictures of friends at a wedding that weekend we thought we would have been invited to. We did finish watching Good Omens as eBay is a wonderful place to find what you want. And yes, the show is as good as I had hoped.


Wednesday I saw this. If you’re a fan of the Dark Tower by Stephen King, there are some fascinating tidbits. Also from Warren Ellis’ weekly newsletter, 100% true for me:
“Also, a continuing personal rejection of Music As A Service. I purchase all my downloads. And if something for sale is offered for free on a streaming site, I try to track the thing down and buy it if I love it. (Hence I now own the Brian Eno “New Space Music” I put here a couple weeks back, thanks to EnoShop.) Sampling is fine. That’s what radio was/is for. I use YouTube and other services to sample things, and I think – I hope – it can help artists. But renting a music collection is bullshit and bad for everybody.
(As is, of course, acting as if music is free like air. That only works if you don’t let all the trees die.)
(But, I reiterate, personal. Not trying to make you feel bad for streaming here. This is just what works for me, and I am well aware of my personal privilege of having an amount of disposable income for music.)”


Friday the 31st what else would I do on a bachelor weekend but drop off the girls at Dulles (it was Jake’s graduation) at 6:30am so I could leave work by 3 to go to George Mason University and go to Fenwick Library for the first time since I was taking grad school classes there 25 years ago? I had an appointment at the Special Collections Research Center I made after seeing this article. I wanted to see if they had any of the articles I’d written for Expulsion then that I didn’t have. Unfortunately they didn’t have many of the papers I was missing. Then I stopped at Crazy Crab for some delicious seafood, loved how the gloves and the bib had me walking away unstained for once. Then it was time for concert #14: Sammy Hagar with Night Ranger at Wolf Trap. 4th time seeing Sammy (1 solo, 2 with VH), but 1st time seeing Night Ranger, and they were great. But Sammy (with Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham) just knocked it out of the park, especially on a cover of Rock And Roll (on John Bonham’s birthday no less).


Monday the 1st I was glad that finally there was a well done April Fool’s joke. Wednesday we took Nina to the Kennedy Center as Idina Menzel was headlining the Kennedy Center Gala. Unfortunately our plan to eat at the Kennedy Center was blown because the restaurants were closed for the gala. And the one restaurant close by ran out of food – I ordered pizza from &pizza a half mile away and it was ready when I got there. Concert #9 was still worth the trouble. Nina’s second Broadway related concert in a month, with songs from Frozen, Rent & Wicked, as well as stunning covers of “Dear Prudence”, “I Melt With You” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Kerry Nina Jill

Friday we again headed to Richmond for a cheer competition. A new hotel every time, this time the Four Points by Sheraton Richmond. Nina voted for sushi for dinner, so we ate at the nearby Hiro Sushi. They had a kid’s meal of Chicken & Vegetable Tempura, 4pcs California Roll, Edamame and Miso Soup – she tried everything but the Miso Soup (and bonus points for another girl of the same age there).


The next morning, after brunch at the hotel, I dropped them at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center then checked out of the hotel. It was the third time that season in Richmond, but the first time I had time to make it to a record store like Eric Kader and I used to do in college. This was pretty decent. Jill said “Nina’s team rounded out their season with a huge WIN! As always, so proud of these girls.”


I picked an Italian restaurant, Arianna’s, that was on the way out of town, and we got there first, ordered a cheese pizza and drinks to start, and waited. And waited. Then Jill reached out to the cheer moms, who were wondering where we were – because there was ANOTHER Arianna’s, closer to Richmond, but also closer to the Ashe Center. So we drained our drinks and packed our pizza to go, only to be told by the asshat manager of the Sheppard St location that we couldn’t bring in “outside food”. So we ordered again (and snuck Nina a slice of that pizza). Food was only ok.


The next day Dad and Patricia came over for computer help, but it was also his birthday so I made eggs benedict with steamed artichokes to also dip in the hollandaise sauce (an old family tradition). Tuesday Nina went to a STEAM night at school. Wednesday the 10th Jill said “Nina wanted to know if astronauts could sleep in a rocket ship. So now we know how they do, and we both want to experience something so cool!!”

Patricia Nina Bryce

Saturday April 13th was the start of Shanty Spring Break, as we’d decided to vacation with the Cannons since our spring break coincided for the first time ever. We decided to meet halfway and rented a house in the Poconos for a week. We stopped at Arbys for lunch because neither Nina or Jill had eaten there and they were curious (it was a win/win). We arrived at the house only minutes before the Cannons and the girls explored while Chris and I went grocery shopping at the nearby Wal Mart.

Nina P

Sunday we drove 2+ hours to Hersheypark because it was the only day it was open when we were up there. Nina was delighted to have someone with her in the back seat. The girls all had a fabulous time on the rides. After lunch they admired one guy with 2 giant bears he’d won, and he gave them the bears. We let them lug them around a while before explaining they wouldn’t fit in our cars and they’d have to give them away to other kids. We stopped at La Casita De Familia for some delicious authentic Mexican food. Unfortunately road construction and a storm made for a tough trip after that, although figuring out how to stream the first episode of Game of Thrones made up for that.

V Nina

Monday was continued yucky weather; Jess and Jill did some more shopping while Chris and I took the girls to a local playground during a break. But they’d brought their Nintendo Switch and an extra Kindle (we managed to leave Nina’s charging at home) so they were all pretty happy. Tuesday we walked over to the lake, then after lunch went to Pocono Rocks! so the girls could use the climbing wall, bounce houses, and ninja course. We also checked out Ye Old Village Trader next door. After we were done, we went across the street to the Casino Theatre & Village Malt Shoppe to get ice cream and watch a movie. Or at least that was the intention – after 15 minutes of Missing Link, Nina was done and we played games in the arcade until the movie was done.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday we went to the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Lodge. We started in the wave pool, then went on to the play structure and hot tub. Only the oldest girl was interested in the slides, but after we endured a long wait to get lunch (they’ve never heard of calling numbers, apparently), we took Nina up to ride the Venus Slydetrap (and waited out a closure when we were just about to ride it). After that, she was all in on the slides and more wave pool. Jess, Jill and I started watching Umbrella Academy.

Chris Jess P Nina Jill

Thursday I wanted to go to a CD store and Jill wanted to go to a yarn store, so we all drove to Wilkes-Barre to Gosh Yarn It!, then Chris and I went over to Gallery of Sound while they finished up and got some Italian ice. We traveled to Dickson City Laser Tag next where we all played an epic pirate themed game, then played games in their arcade. The girls had mostly played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but after they went to bed I was curious about Super Mario Odyssey and played into the wee hours.

C Kerry Nina P

Saturday the 19th it was time to leave, we cleaned up and packed up and got going. Jill said “I adopted a BFL sheep this year from Fluffy U Fiber Farm and got to pick up my fleece today! We met the sheep, goats, and sheepdogs and of course, their wonderful shepherd Katrina. It is a really gorgeous fleece! We drove down to Sweitzer’s Countryside Fiber Mill to drop it off in Heather’s capable hands and I will be seeing it again as pin drafted roving at Shenandoah Fiber Fest. I was so grateful to educate myself and my family about the local fiber industry here!” And due to road closures went the last mile to the fiber mill down a narrow gravel road in the rain, it felt very unsafe. The traffic everywhere was terrible and we took back roads and ended up at Maggie’s in Westminster for a late lunch of soup and sandwiches, then by the time we got to the Beltway the traffic was pretty good. That night a tornado touched down just 4 miles north of us. Sunday was Easter and Jill said Nina had a “prep curl selfie! N insisted”. I made a pecan crusted pork loin for dinner.


Monday the 22nd after a lousy start with a visit to urgent care for a tetanus shot after getting the deck boat ready for disposal, I went to Concert #10: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at Constitution Hall. I don’t love all the old Pink Floyd, but I do love Meddle, and “Fearless” live was wonderful. Of course “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and “One Of These Days” were great as well. In a nice flashback, there was even a guy selling bootleg t-shirts after the show (can’t remember last time that happened). Tuesday Nina’s cheer gym had rebranded to Stingray Allstars and they were letting all the old trophies and awards go so as Jill said “The Delta Sportmanship trophy has a new home now… from N’s first team last year”.


Wednesday was Concert #11: Alan Cumming at Strathmore. Very funny, plus some great covers including P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go”. Jill said “We saw Alan Cumming tonight on his Legal Immigrant show tour -absolutely incredible! I had a goofy smile on my face pretty much the whole time he was onstage. One of my favorite evenings out, for sure.”

Alan Cumming

Friday was Nina’s spring school picture. Saturday the 27th Nina went to a birthday party in Warrenton and I was pretty happy when I found out that Old Bust Head was nearby. I brought a growler and enjoyed some loaded Garlic Tots from Two Smooth Dudes. Later, this was relevant to my interests; also, I love this gif they made.

hall of fame

Sunday Jill’s sisters were here for Maddie’s birthday and we went to Cheesecake Factory for brunch (Jill and them had gone to Georgetown on Saturday). Later I went to the GameStop in the other mall to get a working nunchuck and I wanted to finish Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. That night it was time for #gameofbeers. Jill bought me a 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer for Christmas and with 4 episodes left it was time. 1st up was Hand of the Queen barleywine. Don’t drink too many, but smooth with a nice 10.7% ABV to get you through a 90 minute episode. B

Old Bust Head


On Saturday the 2nd we drove up to Whitetail for an afternoon of skiing. Or to be more accurate I skied, Nina went to ski school, and Jill knit. It was our first time in two years, so I didn’t last too long on my first pass, and Nina didn’t remember much from her week in school last time. But we had fun, and stopped at Popeyes and Sonic for dinner before driving home.

Kerry Nina

Tuesday I ate dinner at Pi before heading over to Capital One Arena for concert #5: Fleetwood Mac. I will argue with anyone that Lindsey Buckingham is the all time MVP of the Mac (when Christine McVie isn’t there, they skip her songs; when he isn’t there they hire a guitarist AND singer to replace him). But I was intensely curious to see what would happen as they’d brought on world class replacements this time: Neil Finn (of Crowded House) and Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). I’d waited until the last minute to score a ticket and got a floor ticket 3 hours before the show for $100, and got in with minutes to spare.


It was a hits filled show, kicking off with “The Chain”. Neil had good strong vocals and Mike ably performed the solo (without Lindsey’s finger plucking style). “Little Lies” was back in the lineup (as it had been since Christine McVie returned in 2014), then “Dreams”, “Second Hand News”, and “Say You Love Me”. Next was the first time for me hearing “Black Magic Woman” performed by the Mac – with Stevie on lead vocals and Mike tearing it up on guitar it sounded great (ironically one of the reasons Lindsey wasn’t there was he’d wanted to do more deep cuts). “Everywhere” and “Rhiannon” followed, and then the evening’s only embarrassment: “World Turning” and Mick Fleetwood’s way too long drum solo. The mandatory “Gypsy” was next, and then another throwback: “Oh Well” with Mike taking a turn on vocals (the last time I heard him play that song was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show in 2006, which also featured Stevie).

Fleetwood Mac

One of the highlights was Neil starting solo on “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and Stevie joining in halfway through, and “Landslide” had a different vibe with Neil on guitar. Straight hits all the way through to end the set (“Hold Me“, “Monday Morning“ “You Make Loving Fun“ “Gold Dust Woman“ and “Go Your Own Way”), then the encore started with a moving tribute to Tom Petty with “Free Fallin’” (and a slideshow on the video screens of Tom, Stevie and Mike), followed by “Don’t Stop” and the left field finale of “All Over Again” (from Time [1995] – I was curious if “Freedom”, from Behind the Mask [1990], the only Mac cowrite by Stevie and Mike, would make it on the setlist but no).


Sunday the 10th was concert #6: Laura Benanti at the Barns At Wolf Trap. A Saturday matinee was a good opportunity to introduce Nina to the other venue at Wolf Trap, plus she got a taste of Broadway and an outstanding Tori Amos cover. My first time sitting in the balcony too. Thursday Jill said “we live on a popular walking path and someone left this in our front yard at the crux of the tree roots as they passed. Made me smile. Sooo…someone else noticed it, picked it up and turns out it’s a pretty rad thing!” Friday Nina had a wacky school day.


Saturday the 16th we went down to the Hirshhorn and saw the Pulse exhibit, then saw concert #7 as Baba Ras D performed as part of their Maker Mornings. It reminded me of the Wolf Trap Artsplay classes I used to take Nina to. We also had a cold picnic lunch next to the food trucks outside, then walked over to the National Museum of American History where Nina liked the activities in the Spark!Lab and seeing Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers (she used her money to buy Toto in a picnic basket).


Thursday I laughed and laughed to see them dealing what we have to deal with every day. Also, this is relevant to my interests. Friday the 22nd we endured some crazy weather (including coating the road sleet) to get to the Wingate by Wyndham Atlantic City West just outside Atlantic City (because all the reviews of hotels in Atlantic City proper were terrible). We got dinner at Tacos El Tio, a cute Mexican place nearby with possibly the best veggie side ever (sautéed zucchini, bell peppers, onions,& asparagus with a little chipotle).


The next day I thought Monopoly was all made up, but here we were in Atlantic City and I had just turned from Indiana onto Baltic. It was a decent day enlivened for me with a walk over to the White House Sub Shop for some oversized subs for Jill and I. Jill said “We had a whirlwind trip to Atlantic City where the Diamonds hit a no deduction routine once again!! 2nd place in the biggest competition of the season -Diamonds shining bright in the city! We had to stop at an Italian bakery on our way home for some celebratory treats”.

Jill Nina

Sunday this was the result “…when you have a daughter who wants to practice her make up skills and you realize it’s only fair… not bad for a 7 year old, eh?”

Jill Nina

Monday the 35th I didn’t know why this exists, but Elton John shows up halfway through like the Wizard of Oz and I wasn’t expecting that. Tuesday I grabbed a quick sandwich at Wawa because I was late leaving for concert #8: Experience Hendrix at the Warner Theatre (got there with 5 minutes to spare). I last saw the tribute show in 2007, and it had to be an amazing lineup to drag me out on a night Jill was working. So they got Dave Mustaine (from Megadeth) and Joe Satriani, and I was in. Great show, hadn’t seen Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson or Jonny Lang before. The first 2/3 of the show was fun with everyone swapping in and out, including Taj Mahal and Hendrix’s own Billy Cox on bass. But the highlight for me was the end where Joe Satriani came out with Doug Pinnick (from King’s X) & Kenny Aronoff – they had obviously rehearsed a lot together and blew everyone away. Thursday Jill chaperoned Nina’s trip to the American Indian Museum (and got thank you cards from the kids afterwards) while Saturday she finished an epic sweater.


25 years of Pearl Jam live

I was a fan of Pearl Jam right off the bat, but didn’t see them for the first time until April 1994 at the Patriot Center. It was very intense, I recounted it at the time here (and follow up here).

After such an amazing experience, I was determined to recapture the magic. They announced they were playing two nights of benefit shows for Voters for Choice at Constitution Hall in January of 1995, and the only way to get tickets was with a postcard lottery. At this point I was working at a record store I co-owned, and we would print and mail brightly colored postcards to our mailing list so I made 20 and sent them in. I got chosen for the first show and took my sister.

It was an amazing show. L7 and Neil Young opened, but the audience was clearly there for Pearl Jam. And they were rewarded for their patience with an epic show featuring plenty of songs from Vitalogy (still my favorite album of theirs). New drummer Jack Irons took on his first full length show without a problem and Neil Young joined them during the encore for Neil’s new song “Act Of Love”.

I then saw Jeff Ament’s band Three Fish in July 1996 at the 9:30 Club. There were rumors of special appearances by other PJ members, but nothing came of that. Then I saw Pearl Jam again at Merriweather Post Pavilion in September 1996. I still enjoyed the show (got my first “Yellow Ledbetter”) but the new album No Code left me a bit cold after the run on the first three albums and my fandom died down a bit.

Still, I was happy to see them again at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1998. I was happy to go both days, especially after the first day was cut short due to an audience member getting struck by lightening, but they put on a great show to supposedly end the day. I left as they finished, so I missed them setting down their instruments so that the Red Hot Chili Peppers could play a short set (didn’t see them until the next year).

I didn’t see them again after that until they played the MCI Center in 2004 on the Vote For Change tour. They played a short set that night with Tim Robbins joining them on “The New World”, my favorite was “Masters Of War” which I’d loved their version of since Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready played it at the The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. Eddie also joined R.E.M. that night for “Begin The Begin” and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding” and “People Have The Power”. Full color coverage here.

I next saw Eddie Vedder when he did a solo set at Radio City Music Hall for the Change Begins Within benefit. He did a killer cover of “Under Pressure” with Ben Harper & Relentless7, which would have been the highlight of the night if there hadn’t been two members of The Beatles performing together (he joined Ringo Starr for his set and the last two songs of Paul McCartney’s set with Ringo and everyone else). More here.

Next my wife saw Pearl Jam for the first time when we attended the Austin City Limits Festival and they closed out the final night with guests Ben Harper and Perry Farrell. Too bad we left on the early side after squelching through mud all day. More details on the festival here.

The next time we saw Pearl Jam was by luck. I won an auction for Saturday Night Live tickets for March 2010, and that night turned out to be host Jude Law with musical guest Pearl Jam. They were great, and even turned up in a sketch. Many more details here.

No PJ proper for a long while after that, but I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in April 2013 to see Rush get inducted. An amazing night for me as a huge Rush fan, but one of the surprises was Mike McCready guesting on “Barracuda” with Heart. Full story here.

My most recent Pearl Jam show was really incredible, to see them inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2017. Ok, I was primarily there for Geddy and Alex from Rush, but I got to see the rehearsal and the show and they were fantastic. Complete wrap up here.


Saturday the 2nd it was time for Jill to head out solo for once, this time to see My Favorite Murder. Jill said she was “getting my sock ready to #SSDGM tonight at DAR constitution hall with 2 of my favorites, Karen and Georgia! I’m going with my friend from work since Kerry is absolutely fine with GTFO”. Sunday Nina took pictures for cheer. Tuesday this was a hard read about white privilege, but useful to learn. And here’s her website.


Friday we headed down to Richmond for the second time. The usual Friday traffic had us diverting to 29 and 17 and arriving after dark to the Graduate Richmond. We went out to eat dinner at nearby Tarrant’s Cafe where we found a number of Nina’s cheer team already there. The food was good, and you gotta love a cocktail with a name like “Pearing Us Apart”. Everyone had dessert delivered from Insomnia Cookies in the form of “Wiches” (ice cream sandwiched between two cookies) that were delish. The next morning we had an early start and got Nina to the Richmond Convention Center for the first time (the last time we were in Richmond the competition had been canceled because of snow). Jill and I walked over to Pop’s Market on Grace for bagels. Jill said “Another fantastic performance from the Diamonds today! We were proud to get 2nd place with some stiff competition! Great sportsmanship and flawless routine!”. Afterwards we had lunch at a Bojangles off 95, then another bad traffic afternoon on the way home.


Wednesday the 13th I saw that my favorite book finally comes to the screen May 31. Thursday was Valentine’s Day and Jill and I took advantage of a daytime meeting to have an early Valentine’s Day lunch at Ornery Beer. Saturday the 16th we were up early to do Nina’s makeup at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Maryland before heading to the nearby Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. It’s very near Dad’s house, so he and Patricia were able to join us. Now we were more than halfway through the season with 4 competitions done, 3 times first in their division. Jill said “First place out of 7 teams and awarded a Best Jumps trophy! Our Diamonds shining bright today! Another fantastic performance!”. It was also nice not to have to leave the DC area on a Friday afternoon for once.

Kerry Patricia Nina Bryce

Wednesday the 20th school was closed for a snow day. For a while Nina had been asking after creating custom Lego Descendants figures based on a video from ellieV toys, and I’d slowly been acquiring pieces of figures to match, but some of the colors weren’t exact and she wanted to paint them as well. So a day at home was a perfect opportunity to break out the paints. It was amazing how much painting Lego figures is like painting Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, lots of flashbacks.


Friday Nina went to open gym and Jill said she “was thrilled to fill in as a flyer to help practice stunting with the big girls tonight at open gym!” Sunday Nina was out for a second time selling Girl Scout cookies outside Safeway. Tuesday the 26th I saw this and thought that now I want to watch all the movies again before Episode IX. Thursday I was glad Momo was a hoax. I wasn’t looking forward to watching all her YouTube videos with her.



We were still in Massachusetts on vacation in January. The night of the 1st we moved to Jill’s mom’s Sue’s house. On Wednesday the 2nd Dave dropped us off at the Springfield train station on his way to work at 6:30AM. We caught 2 trains and arrived at Penn Station in NYC by 10:30. We stopped at Schwartz Luggage Storage to store our luggage, then stopped at Mood Fabrics so Jill could look around. After a while I went on to Midtown Comics where I picked up a toy for Nina and Jill met me there.

Jill Nina

We had a delicious lunch at Dim Sum Palace, then walked over to the Lyric Theatre for Show #1: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (our Christmas present to each other). Part One started at 2PM, and ended on quite a cliffhanger. We also had ticket to Harry Potter: A History Of Magic at the New-York Historical Society and didn’t have a lot of time before our start time (which was also the last of the day), so got a Lyft up there (which we almost missed because my GPS had us on the wrong block). The exhibition was wonderful, the best part was J. K. Rowling’s early drafts and drawings.


We took the subway back down to the Theater District and had dinner at City Kitchen (I had the supreme seafood crossover of sushi from Azuki and a Lobster Grilled Cheese from Luke’s Lobster). We were back in our seats just in time for Part Two at 7:30. The whole thing was truly wonderful and unforgettable, a day of magic. Jill said it “was especially amazing since most of the principals were the original London cast. I would have loved to see it in London but this made it especially wonderful for me. It was such a special gift; the experience was worth anything I could have asked for.” I got our luggage while Jill tried a jumbo slice (plus she’d pulled a muscle in her leg), then we took the subway out to Brooklyn where we stayed in Seth and Emily’s guest room. It was too late for anything but sleep, but the next morning we shared the train with Emily halfway back to Penn Station. I picked up lunch from Pat LaFrieda (again) and donuts to share from The Cinnamon Snail. We only had a single train on the way back to Springfield, where Jill’s mom and Nina picked us up and told us all about their adventures.

Cursed Child

The next day we drove home, stopping at White Castle in the Bronx on the way. Eddie From Ohio’s Quick is still a marvelous driving CD (although “Let’s Get Mesolithic” hasn’t aged well) and singing along to “Number Six Driver” as we approach Point of Rocks from a long day of driving can’t be beat. Nina’s favorite song from the trip was “Manic Monday”. While I can’t fault her taste in singers (or songwriters) we had listened to “The Essential Bangles” 4 times in a week, which is a bit much. Parenting is not having a lot of options for breakfast but still making these cream cheese cinnamon rolls from scratch Saturday morning, only to have my child tell you she prefers the “normal” ones. I added bacon and raisins to a third of them. They were delicious. That night Jill had a work party at 2941 – unsurprisingly excellent food.

Jill Kerry

Saturday the 12th Nina went to a birthday party at a dance studio where she learned a routine, then we helped her with her newest obsession, Disney’s Descendants, by watching the first movie (it’s got some pretty catchy songs – Adam Schlesinger wrote one). Sunday Nina saw this and now is rethinking cheer… Monday I saw these cool views of our house over time. Tuesday I got to rent an SUV as my car had developed a leak somewhere and I dropped it at Pollet’s.


Friday the 18th I got dinner at Liberty Barbecue (fried chicken sandwich was superb, hush puppies were meh) before concert #2: The Smithereens at The State Theatre. I like both The Smithereens and the Gin Blossoms, and with Robin Wilson filling in for the late Pat DiNizio it was a must see. Great show, especially the encore with a cover of “No Matter What” into “Girl Like You”. Jill was reading: “I finished Heavy by Kiese Laymon a few days ago. I’m letting it sit with me; it was so powerful and challenging to read; I felt it on a guttural level. Next up, Hunger by Roxane Gray.”


The next day it was strange to listen to Sharon Jones cover The Rolling Stones when you know she’s gone and Mick and Keith are still here. That night was concert #3: Eddie From Ohio with Sarah Niemietz & Snuffy Walden at the Birchmere. Only Mike Clem could write a song like “China Uses Facial Recognition Software To Crack Down On Toilet Paper Theft”. Great sounding show as usual thanks to Bob McNichols. Nina’s 3rd efo show and 1st Birchmere show, plus first time meeting the band. Good times all around (except the average food at ridiculous prices and no water problem) as Sue and Mrs. Cannon joined us and we sat with Janice, Chris and Joel.

Eddie From Ohio

Monday I was wrong, this picture is the clear winner of the aging challenge meme. Wednesday I posted what may be my most popular social media picture of the year (caption: Well, who isn’t?)

CVS receipt

Thursday the 24th I got my car back (the windshield had been replaced on my car at some point and the glue they had used had failed), but then some sad news as we lost Jill’s father’s father, and Nina’s only living great-grandfather. Jill said “We love you and will miss you, Pepere. I imagine you are meeting Jack LaLanne right about now and challenging him to a chin up contest. Thank you for all your love.”


Friday we got another fun rush hour departure for a cheer competition, this time to Pennsylvania. But the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square was very nice – Nina got to go to the pool before she and Jill had food from the hotel restaurant. I was willing to wait until bedtime so Sue and I could go to The Pressroom for dinner (we both got the duck two ways).

Kerry Nina Jill

The competition the next day went well – Nina’s team got first place in their division, a best performance trophy, and a zero deduction routine! Everyone else wanted lunch from McDonald’s (and Jill bought boxes of nuggets for the girls), then I got lunch at Silantra Asian Street Kitchen (perfectly spicy hot wrap on a cold day). The next day we went to show #4: The Phantom Tollbooth. I love the book, but the actors mimed to prerecorded songs, and it felt lacking.


Monday the 28th I was disappointed in PledgeMusic, I’ve backed a number of projects there, but they “failed to hold artists’ campaign funds separately and securely and instead invested it back into the company”. Jill flew up to Massachusetts for the funeral on Tuesday, then it was fun to have school closed Wednesday due to weather. I got Nina over to Lifetime for the day and rewarded her with a Glory Days dinner (she loves face paint night).



On Saturday the 1st we were up super early and on the road. We were trying to get to the Metropark transit center in New Jersey by 9AM. Miraculously, we got there at 8:40. We took a NJ Transit train to New York Penn Station, where we met Jill’s mom Sue and her niece Ava, then went upstairs so Nina could get her first look at New York City.

Nina Kerry

First stop was Macy’s, where we checked out the shop windows on the west and south, then went upstairs to look around and Nina wrote a letter to Santa. We went back outside and saw the windows on the east side, then walked over to the Empire State Building. Several hours later, we’d been to the top and the gift shop, and were running a bit behind. Luckily we got a free ride on the subway as the lines for the fare machines were very long and soon got to Radio City Music Hall where we joined the long lines waiting to get in. My mom joined us as her train had arrived and she’d taken a cab over.

Jill Nina Kerry

We got inside just in time and rushed the girls upstairs to see the Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes while the rest of us dealt with lines for food, drinks, souvenirs and bathrooms. The show was pretty good (although more explicitly Christmas-sy than I realized). After the show we made the mistake of trying to get a picture of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, along with about 10,000 other people (the first Saturday after it’s lit is a very bad idea). Mom got lost looking for a bathroom and ended up in a church – in the meantime Jill and her mom took the girls to FAO Schwartz. We had wanted to get dinner together, but by the time we’d all found each other it was time for Mom to go. Nina and I helped her hail a taxi, then the rest of us made our way back to Penn Station. We had time for dinner there and I went upstairs to Pennsy to get sandwiches for Jill and I from Pat LaFrieda.


We all left for our respective trains, and then started driving. I’d decided that 9:30 was a little late to drive all the way home since we’d gotten up so early, so we stopped for the night at the Hampton Inn Bordentown. In the morning Nina was in the pool again (more energy burn off), then we drove home.

Nancy Nina Jill Ava Sue

Monday night I drove up to Strathmore to see concert #52: Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman with Marty Stuart. I missed out seeing The Byrds, but I couldn’t miss this tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. With Marty Stuart sitting in for Gram Parsons as they performed the entire album and other Byrds classics, they managed to surpass themselves with a tribute to collaborator Tom Petty during the encore. And totally worth it, the vocals, the jingle jangle of Roger’s Rickenbacker, it was all there (plus Marty Stuart owns Clarence White’s guitar). Have to remember to find a better parking place next time, as getting out of the garage was a real mess. Interesting side note that in the last month, I’ve seen 5 acts for the first time – an oddity when you’ve seen more than 3000 concerts.

Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman

Thursday the 6th Jill said “Not sure whether Nina is more excited for the start of competition season or Christmas… it’s a toss up!”. Friday Nina had a ice skating birthday party she attended. Saturday we drove down to Richmond for a cheer competition and we stopped in Ashland at my alma mater on the way down so Nina could see it. I’m glad we did – looks like they’re about to knock down the Holiday Inn I spent my freshman year at. Nina got to swim at the pool with her team and they all did their hair while I had dinner at the Secret Sandwich Society. Early the next morning Jill woke me up with the news that the competition had been canceled as a dusting of snow had changed to a serious snowstorm, and we were on our way home as the flakes started coming down. That night I wondered what did parents do before superglue?


Monday after Nina’s nightly compulsory reading was done she chose to read her new Descendants graphic novel. On the 12th I wasn’t expecting to have to take Nina to a concert I didn’t want to go to so soon. Now we’re heading to JoJo Siwa 7/19 at Wolf Trap. Jill said “Ever since we need to do curls for cheer competitions this girl has been asking for curls to wear to school for ages. I finally obliged – fingers crossed!”, and the next morning “and after! This girl loves those curls!” Nina also got to share what she loves about her school with friends in an official video that day.


Saturday the 15th we went to National Harbor for the next cheer competition. With a couple hours to kill, I went over to the Brass Tap and had tater tots with beer cheese, chicken sliders and a beer sampler, then went over to the thunderously loud ballroom where we’d spend the next several hours, and came up with 3 rules to survive cheer competitions:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Caffeine
  3. Repeat

Happily Nina’s team won their category – her first time getting first place in cheer (and her first cheer medal). Our friends Meg and Toby stayed with us because they had an overnight layover at Dulles, so of course we took them to the holiday party hosted by our neighbor John. The next day we had our holiday party in the afternoon (because there was literally no other time in December that would work) and had a nice turnout as we had cookie decorating for everyone. That night I didn’t know why some places are banning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” when “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” is so problematic. She started asking questions about it that night. Luckily the worst one was “How does he stay warm?” I also saw they did a Doctor Who Christmas Special after all!


Saturday the 22nd was concert #53: Todd Wright’s Annual Santa Clauster-f@%! at Jammin’ Java. Unfortunately Nina was under the weather with asthma so I was solo – on the plus side I got to see the whole 3 hour plus extravaganza and got to see my first live performance of one of my favorite songs, Tom Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again” by Anthony Fiacco. Meanwhile Jill and Nina had a Christmas movie marathon. Jill said “I love that she chooses the Tulle shawl I made for her to help comfort her while she’s sick”. The next afternoon was concert #54: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Capital One Arena. With lunch at Nandos beforehand, Nina had a fun day, only complaining because we left early. Later was the church Christmas Pageant, representing the “kings and queens”.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

On Christmas Nina was delighted with her big gift of a Barbie Dreamhouse and lots of LOL dolls, then Jill had a 3 hour nap. Dad and Patricia joined us for lunch and we had ham with all the trimmings, then I got a nap before Jill left for work that night. The next day Nina and I built the Lego Hogwarts Express she’d received from my mom. Jill took Nina back to National Harbor for ICE! on Thursday, saying “we had a fun filled day at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel to experience ICE! It was pretty cool (see what I did there?) . We also walked around the National Harbor, then dropped into Fibre Space on the way home (and shockingly just browsed!)”


Friday the 28th we endured all day rain on our drive up to Boston, stopping at Nina’s new favorite restaurant, White Castle. We arrived at my sister’s house in time for Nina to have dessert and go to bed. Saturday we had a belated Christmas with them and my mom and David who’d driven over as well. That night we had Chris and Jess over as Jill and I made fajitas, then Chris, Jess, Sharon, Tom, Jill and I went to concert #55: Enter the Haggis at Spire in Plymouth, MA. Because in the season of friends and family you go to your last concert of the year with friends and family. Great gift, sis! Too bad they shut down Plymouth for an event making it tricky to park.


Sunday we drove over to Jill’s sister in western Massachusetts and stopped for lunch at Stone’s Public House for a delicious brunch. Delighted to see the Ashland in Massachusetts also has train tracks running through town. Melissa made spaghetti for us for dinner. New Year’s Eve Jill’s younger sister Robin came over with her family and we opened gifts from Jill and Robin’s dad who was sick. We and the Bradys went out to see Mary Poppins Returns in the afternoon (practically perfect), then Jill and I sent Nina back with them and got drinks while we waited to get takeout from North Garden (totally slammed). After dinner, we opened crackers. Nina had campaigned hard to stay up for the New Year. Her youngest cousin was, so we let her (her first intentional one), then everyone went to bed.


Artists To Watch 2019

Again this year my music buying was mostly online, free tracks from NoiseTrade, as well as paid tracks from Bandcamp, and preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and PledgeMusic.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on

Band Song Why them
01. Steamcog Orchestra (featuring Beth Patterson) Harry Poppins Beth Patterson is one our faves, and this is a genius mashup.
02. Dark Desert Eagles Santa Ana Pat Badger from Extreme and producer/singer/songwriter Bleu put together a tribute to the Eagles, and decided to write some songs in their style.
03. The Mammals Make It True Mike + Ruthy reform The Mammals and come out with a great album.
04. Goodbye Road Ring The Bells Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors joined forces to make an album full of hope for these times.
05. Fortunate Ones Northern Star We saw this fine duo open up for Alan Doyle, and he co-wrote other songs on their album.
06. Lord & Lady Dance It Out I found this charming free holiday EP and enjoyed them, so checked out the rest of their music, and it’s also charming.
07. Sidecar Astronauts Too Much Love Storm (from Paul and Storm & Da Vinci’s Notebook) turns out to have a talent writing power pop songs.
08. Low Lily Hope Lingers On Lovely harmonies from this trio.
09. J.S. Ondara Revolution Blues Opening for Lindsey Buckingham and before his album came out, he held his own with his voice and humor..
10. Laurie MacAllister Ten Year Night Lovely cover of one of our favorite Lucy Kaplansky songs.
11. Willodean Devil & Me Trio creates pop gems.
12. Pale Waves Heavenly Goth-y synth pop delights.
13. River Whyless Van Dyke Brown This year’s Herndon Festival discovery.
14. Dawn Landes Traveling Nice intersection of country and pop.
15. Fox and Bones Love Me Like A River Portland folkie duo with good harmonies.
16. Amanda Duncan Big Time Superhero Off her upcoming album, and not out yet, so here’s a live take.
17. Parks Fools Another Boston band rocking out.
18. Jade Bird Lottery An English songbird with a stunning voice.
19. Ben Folds Mr. Peepers My love of Mr. Folds is no secret, nor that I’ve been pushing this song for a while.
20. Alicia Witt Still Sorry Yes, another actress who sings, but she’s good.
21. The Push Stars Nightclub Singer A comeback with horns!
22. Ross Lara (with Emma Rowley & My City Glory) Wide Open Todd Wright brought out Emma Rowley in concert, so I had to dig deeper and find this gem they cowrote with Ross Lara.
23. Drakeford Ready Or Not Husband and wife pop/folk.
24. Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa Black Coffee One for my wife.
25. Matt Costa Sharon And one for my sister.
26. Katie Herzig Beat Of Your Own Singer-songwriter with a lot of songs in TV shows.
27. Ben Tsakopulos (feat. Todd Wright & Will Salzmann) Sunshine Speaking of Todd Wright, here’s a song that’s since shown up on his new album.
28. Arthur Buck Are You Electrified? Ben Arthur and Peter Buck (from R.E.M.) weren’t creative with their name, saving it for their music.
29. Ben Lee B-E-E-R A musical about beer? How 2018 (but a collaboration with Tom Robbins in the works for years).


Friday the 2nd was concert #46: Regina Spektor with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Plus bonus Ben Folds during an encore of “Dear Theodosia”. I was late getting there and missed dinner, and ended up stopping for dim sum at Hong Kong Pearl in Seven Corners after the show. Saturday morning I took Jill and Nina to National Airport for their weekend in Massachusetts, then back to bed. Once I got up again, it was off to CD Cellar, then over to my dad. We had a light lunch, then drove over to the Eastern Shore. It was a lovely day with beers at Eastern Shore Brewing, then seafood on the water at Capsize. Finally it was time for concert #47: Don McLean at the Avalon Theatre (I’d offered Dad him or Brian Wilson), a great show by a classic act.

Don McLean

Monday I don’t watch Family Guy anymore, but this is pretty good. Tuesday I voted, then picked Jill and Nina up from East Falls Church (they had a lot of fun with Jill’s family), then went to work. That night I stayed up late watching the live shows until the blue wave was confirmed.

Ava Nina

Thursday the 8th was concert #48: Toto at Warner Theatre. The last two concerts were the first time seeing acts, and both of them stretched their biggest hit out for more than 10 minutes. Good career spanning show, though. Saturday Jill was out at a baby shower and after Nina’s tumbling I took her to Chick-fil-A for lunch and then Monster Mini Golf.


November was a good month for comics about Jill, with this, that, and of course this (also mustaches, as I decided to grow one for Movember). Saturday night we dropped Nina at the gym and saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was outstanding. History may have been twisted in favor of drama in spots, but a fun look at how many classics were created. Bummed they didn’t cast our friend Dave at Live Aid though. Tuesday some nights were just about playing Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.


Friday the 16th we picked up Nina from school and attempted to drive north. Traffic was so bad on the Beltway Google said 15 was a better option, but that was a crawl until Maryland. We stopped for dinner at Franco’s Italian Bistro in Catonsville and had a lovely dinner and by the time we were done traffic had died down and we were soon at the Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel. It was late and soon we were in bed.


The next morning we were in the pool first thing (the reason for choosing the hotel so Nina could burn off some energy), then had breakfast at the restaurant (we’d been comped for some reason) before heading into Philadelphia. We stopped at a bakery near the University of Pennsylvania where Nina picked out a delicious and expensive chocolate cake, then we went over to Tony and Charissa’s house where they were hosting Friendsgiving again. This was the longest we’d stayed, but we vowed to stay 2 nights next year as we hadn’t visited with all the Shantytowners before it was getting dark and time to drive home.


Sunday was concert #49: Alan Parsons Live Project at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. My favorite moment was when he directed us on a chorus and said “Now you’ve all been produced by Alan Parsons”. I had a quick dinner first at Carpaccio. Thursday we had a nice Thanksgiving at home with my favorite new discovery: Popeye’s Cajun Turkey. The only problem was the juices were a bit too spicy to make gravy for Nina, so we had to use chicken broth, but otherwise perfect.


Friday the 23rd we went over to Reston Town Center for the holiday parade, with one big change: Nina was marching in the parade with her fellow Brownies. It was a crisp cold morning, but we were bundled up well and survived waiting until it was our turn. Nina had a lot of fun marching and seeing friends, plus we got to wait at the end and still see Santa. We stopped by Scrawl Books for a reading and buying some books, then lunch at Ted’s Bulletin. The next day was super rainy, but we still made it over for lunch and visit with my dad and Patricia, for the first time at her house.


Tuesday I was laughing so hard I can’t breathe at this. That week was a bit busier than normal as Jill picked up one of Nina’s cheer team from school before the Tuesday and Thursday practices, plus Nina had a private lesson from Coach Kyle after Girl Scouts on Wednesday. But we got everything done and on Friday they did open gym while I went to concert #50: Crash Test Dummies with Todd Wright at The Hamilton. Honestly, this concert was a maybe, trending to no because we had an early start the next day. But then Todd announced he was opening, and I took a listen to “God Shuffled His Feet” (25th anniversary tour) and knew every song, and suddenly it was a must. I got to DC late, but had a backup plan of tacos at the bar at MXDC next door, still in a seat by showtime.


I’ve seen Todd a lot, but this may have been his finest lineup yet, playing to the crowd with Ethan Mentzer, Emma Rowley, and Tommy Gann. I had some sushi and sake after I talked to them and picked up their new Christmas CD then the main event. Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid’s voices were unchanged by time, and the songs sounded great (especially Ellen’s cover of an XTC song). Worth the sleep deprivation.


On Tuesday the 2nd Nina had fun at school making guacamole. Saturday we went to Joe Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow for the first cheer performance of the season. Nina had sun with the rides, and we got concert #41: Wesley Spangler, because sometimes you go to a festival and run across a decent country act. That night was concert #42: Shag at the Recording Industry Association of America for my 30th high school reunion. Decent covers and voice, and appropriate for a reunion (where it was good to catch up with folks).

Nina Kerry

Monday the 8th we took Nina to Cox Farms for the Fall Festival, where we met up with one friend and found some neighbors. Weird to be there when it’s blazing hot and walk out with pumpkins. The next day I went down a rabbit hole I had no idea existed with this very long read. Wednesday was Walk/Bike to School Day, and the only time besides the 1st day of school we’ve walked to school so far this year.

Jill Nina Kerry

Thursday I posted this video. Watch the bottom right corner for Jill, Jolene, and a special guest enjoying her first Herndon Festival. Friday was concert (show) #43: Mystery Science Theater 3000 at Lisner. Good to see Jonah and Joel together, and they picked an excellently terrible movie to riff on. Afterwards we had dinner at Burger, Tap & Shake, so good.

Kerry Jill

Wednesday the 17th I found out that Joe Satriani and Dave Mustaine (from Megadeth) were at next year’s Experience Hendrix tour and bought tix. Also, I and my fellow fraternity members got called out.


This was a fascinating read Friday on the way to concert #44: Lindsey Buckingham with J.S. Ondora at Warner Theatre. Nice overview of his solo career, with several Mac classics thrown in. And J.S. Ondora is one to watch, great voice. The next night was concert (show) #45: Beetlejuice at The National Theatre. Perfect pre-Halloween timing for a funny musical with some good songs. I predict great things for Sophia Anne Caruso (Lydia). Pre show dinner at upscale Mexican restaurant Poca Madre was fantastic (the cocktails should have been served at the Harry Potter event in September).


Monday was my birthday and we had a nice dinner with some Bonchon chicken, with neighbors over for the homemade carrot cake. Saturday the 27th Nina started her new YouTube channel. Sunday she had a Pep Rally at her gym showing off all the groups and their routines. Later we introduced her to Jill’s favorite holiday movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jill said “verdict: she liked it. Maybe didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it, either!”


Wednesday the 31st was Halloween. Nina was Hermoine Granger again and got to trick or treat with the usual neighborhood bunch.