Shopping, TV

This week’s been a slog after that nice 3 day work week last week. Monday was nice because I left early to get a massage, then went grocery shopping at Bloom, one of the new Food Lion stores (the other ones they’re converting into are Bottom Dollar, which is like Shopper’s Food). Nice store and layout, especially if you’d been in the old Food Lion there. We had leftovers Monday, but steak and hamburgers yesterday and today.

I was mostly caught up on TV before yesterday, but in addition to “Heroes” and “Studio 60” (both were great), SciFi broadcast the last four (unaired) episodes of Threshold. Hopefully I’ll get to those by this weekend, because I also want to check out their new miniseries The Lost Room next week.

Drunken turkey

Thursday I got up and went straight to the kitchen. Jill’s mom, Sue, was finishing one of her two stuffings to go with one of our two turkeys. I had the idea after getting an email from Magic Hat about using #9 to baste a turkey. I always cook a turkey in a cooking bag, so I had decided to just pour in the beer after I got the turkey in the bag. My mom doesn’t drink alcohol, so this meant we had a drunken turkey and a sober one, and subsequently had drunken and sober stuffings and gravy as well (though she did have some – it did pretty much cook off, but made a much richer gravy). I made cidertinis (apple cider, triple sec, and vodka) for me and Jill.

The turkey went in, and I was off to feed cats, then came back and showered and stretched. Sue and Jill were finishing up the potatoes and rutabagas, and the turkeys were almost done. I pulled them out and got the juice out, then set that aside for Sue to make the gravy. My mom and dad had arrived by then, and my mom assembled the Pillsbury rolls and biscuits, then put them in the oven. I carved the turkeys when everything was almost ready, then we sat down to eat and Jill said grace. Everything came out great, and we stuffed ourselves.

We took a break to clean up, and watched a little football. After a suitable stomach clearing time, we sat down again for coffee and pie. Jill made a chocolate pudding pie, and Mom made three pies: individual pumpkin pies, a pecan pie, and her famous apple pie (though I don’t know if I prefer the apple or pecan). Mom and Dad hung around for awhile after that, but finally headed home after 7. Sue, Robin, and Jill went to bed before too long, and Dave and I stayed up and watched TV. Dave went to bed around 12:30, but I had to stay up a little longer – we’d left the unopened sparkling pear and apple juice Dad brought in the freezer, and that was a bad idea – it shattered. It took a while to get it cleaned up, but at least the freezer’s clean now. I guess it’s karma for the Cokes I left in Mom’s freezer when I was young.

The ladies had gone to bed in order to hit the Black Friday rush. Crazy, but they wanted to get their Christmas shopping basically done in a day. More power to ’em, but I was glad to have to battle the crowds, as they were at two store openings: Kohl’s and Target. Still, they got what they wanted, and were home before I got up. Of course later they took naps, so Dave and I headed off to Tower Records in Tysons Corner. The CDs were still only 40% off, but on Thursday and Friday, it was buy 4 get 1 free, which was effectively 50%. I loaded up on CDs, 10 regular and 10 singles, and Dave got a couple DVDs. Still a good selection, I may try another Tower when they hit 50%. We got back and everyone was back up.

Everyone was getting hungry, so we had some discussion and decided to go to Charlie Chiang’s for dinner. In addition to a Chinese buffet, they serve Mongolian BBQ, and Sue was raving about one that her and Dave had been to back home. We stuffed ourselves once again, then rolled home for more pie. We exchanged gifts (since we won’t see each other until after Christmas), I got a nice selection of beer and some more hot sauces. Then Jill wanted to watch “White Christmas” as she decorated the fake tree she’d bought the previous day (time doesn’t work for a real one). We went to bed not too long after that ended.

Saturday we had leftovers for breakfast. We finished the stuffing and the bread, and almost all the pie. I went off to feed cats after that, and when I came back they were packing Jill’s car. She went to drop them off to get their train at Union Station, then stopped by Target on the way home. I took Illa for a long walk after they left, then went out on the porch to enjoy the sun and read the paper. I moved on to magazines by the time Jill got back. She wasn’t hungry and I snacked on some frozen waffles, then went to my TV backlog. I continued watching TV as I made Jade shrimp (with cilantro and spinach), but it took a while, I didn’t finish until after 10. Jill and I made an early night of it as we both had big days planned.

I made it out by 9:15 (had hoped to make it by 9), but still caught the Metro train I needed and met my dad at Largo Town Center before 11. The friends I was cat sitting for are also Redskins season ticket holders, so they’d offered me their tix for the game. We headed over to a good parking lot within walking distance we’d used before, making a stop at a nearby mall for fast food (McD’s for Dad, Popeye’s for me) and beer (Corona Light and a lime). We were parked by 11:30 and ate our food and chatted. We were in our seats well before the game, and enjoyed the usual pregame spectacle. The game was awesome – the defense finally showed up, Jason Campbell was again effective on offense, and TJ Duckett finally got some playing time. I stopped at CD Cellar on the way back (only spent $10). Jill’s big studying plans never happened, as she started not feeling well. She did some, but not a lot, and ended up going to bed early. I watched TV (read most of the paper on the train) and made myself a turkey sandwich. I was going to start an eBay auction tonight, but I think I’ll postpone that for next weekend – it’s getting late and I need to get up early tomorrow.

Beatles Love

So I was reading my Entertainment Weekly this morning and came across their review of the new Beatles CD Love. I knew it was a soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas of the same name, but what I hadn’t realized was that George Martin (with his son Giles) had put it together. I wasn’t really interested in it before reading the review, but it sounded so good I had to pick it up. I was in Sterling anyway this morning, so I swung by the Best Buy on the way into work, and have been listening to the CD (and DVD with 5.1 sound on the deluxe edition) since.

Verdict? Absolutely worth it. It’s an amazing mix of fragments of other songs mixed in with ones you know (but sometimes different versions) that forms a cohesive whole. And here’s a nice interview with the Martins about their work.

Sleepy now

Didn’t make it to bed until 3 last night as I was trying to make the basement fit for human eyes. I think I succeeded, but it sure took a long time. Jill’s family got in this afternoon, but I was stuck at work (almost last one to leave) as I didn’t make it in until 11 (had to feed a friend’s cats on the way in too).

Not too much sleep anyway this week as we’ve been busy with cleaning, just having leftover soup and frozen pizza for dinner the last couple nights. Tonight I picked up dinner from Pollo Campero. Very good chicken, first time we tried it. I was a little surprised that the plaintains got the thumbs up from everyone.

Big day tomorrow, off now.

Heroes news

Since it is the best serialized show on the air right now, what with “Lost” lost until February (although it will take a 6 week break until January 22nd), three awesome bits of casting news:

Father/son day

Saturday I got going a little later than I thought. I’d hoped to be gone by 12-12:30, but didn’t leave until 1. I still managed to stop by Best Buy to pick up the new Tenacious D CD and the CHAAMP bakesale to return some crate parts we found and make a donation. I did find a new term that perfectly descibes Illa – he’s a velcro dog. I made it to the East Falls Church Metro just in time to catch the train I wanted, and got to Foggy Bottom ahead of my dad.

We had a big day planned, starting with the new Bond movie. When I was younger, we used to go to a fair amount of movies together (it’s a brave man that takes you to the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time), but one thing we always enjoyed was the Bond movies. I missed the last couple Pierce Brosnan ones with him, but they weren’t that worthy of seeing in a theater. We got there right at 3:15 for a showing in Georgetown, but it was sold out. I hadn’t planned on that, so we did the next best thing and got tickets for 4:15. I cancelled the reservations I’d made at Chef Geoff’s and we killed 30 minutes walking around Georgetown, then went back to the theater and got some decent seats.

The movie was really good. They rebooted the franchise, taking us back to when Bond first became 007. Daniel Craig was a good Bond, reminiscent of Sean Connery as a very physical spy. The plot is fairly close to the original Casino Royale book, and it seems to me movies that follow the source material closely are usually the better for it. It felt a bit padded towards the end, but both us still enjoyed it. We got Dad’s car, then drove over to the Warner Theater and parked. It was 7:30 by the time we got to the bar at Chef Geoff’s.

Yes, even though we were too late to have dinner, I still wanted to get something at the bar. Dad had a Corona, and I had a 34 ounce “supermug” of Magic Hat – they have happy hour all day Saturday and Sunday. We ordered chipotle wings with jicama slaw and a pizza with soppressata and pepperoncini from the bar menu. Both were really good and hit the spot. We ate fast, but still didn’t leave until after 8. The Warner was right across the street, but we walked in after they started their second song.

We were there to see Brian Wilson. Now I’d seen him last year and it was pretty good. Dad had been going to see the Beach Boys for years, but never with their principal songwriter. I went to see them a couple months back and enjoyed it, but It didn’t grab me. After I’d told Dad about the Brian Wilson show, he told me he wished he’d gone, so after I heard not only was Brian coming back to the area to play his masterpiece Pet Sounds but bringing Al Jardine (another founding member of the Beach Boys) I knew Dad would like to go.

The show started off with an acoustic set, then an electric one, both packed with Beach Boys classics and obscurities. The second set was straight through Pet Sounds (much like his tour last year was “Smile” during the second set), finishing with a great run – “Johnny B Goode” -> “Help Me Rhonda” (with Al on lead) -> “Surfin USA” -> “Barbara Ann” -> “Fun, Fun, Fun”. I could tell Dad enjoyed himself, and I thought it was an excellent show as well. Interesting to me was that Brian Wilson vs. the Beach Boys was the mirror image of David Gilmour vs. Roger Waters as far as the one I preferred. Maybe the edge goes to have two of the original singers vs. just having one.

We went our separate ways afterwards. Jill was still up, but not for too much longer, so Illa and I watched SNL. Today’s been spent around the house. I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast as Jill ran errands, then I watched the game (a good debut for Campbell, if not a win). I swept the deck and raked the yard very quickly as rain began falling, then watched Comic Relief as I put away comics. Jill was cutting up a pineapple earlier, and I found inspiration in the rinds. I had chicken thighs, and I took the remaining pineapple off the rinds and mixed it with thyme, lemon pepper, and olive oil and marinated them for a couple hours. I grilled them while I sauteed fresh asparagus, then served the chicken with the reheated marinade and the asparagus with the last of my hollandaise sauce. It was good, though I blackened the chicken skin on the grill (Jill took hers off anyway). I think I can finish cleaning up the dining room tonight, but the basement will have to wait until tomorrow.

Happy ending

An average week, but a nice ending. I put extra hours early in the week so I could leave at 1 today. Straight to my massage, then a bit of grocery and comic shopping, and I was home by 4. Jill was out until 8, so Illa and I had the place to ourselves. We played inside, then heard barking outside and it was his friend Bear and his owner Fern, so we went outside and played catch. That tuckered him out, so I came back in and made a salad and cooked a pizza (California Pizza Kitchen’s garlic chicken was disappointing in both the flavor and texture).

I watched TV until Jill got home, then we chatted and played with Illa some more (he’s wiped out now). She was tired as well and went to sleep, and I read the paper, now doing a little surfing and planning for tomorrow, then bed.

New QB

So the Skins, faced with the implosion of their season, are finally putting in the quarterback who’s been warming the bench for the last season and a half, Jason Campbell. At the very least, he’s got to be better than Mark Brunell, who has been average at best and cover your eyes awful at worst (I read his completions between 10-20 and 20-30 yards were 40% and 30%, and that was a couple weeks back before the pitiful effort on Sunday. They went to a lot of effort to draft Campbell, and he apparently was very good at Auburn. It’s a shame it took them to reach 3-6 before putting him in, but hopefully it’ll help.

Losing Clinton Portis for a month is awful, though. He’s been the driving force behind this team and got them to the playoffs last year. At least this means T.J. Duckett (high priced receiver) may get some real chances now.

Long weekend

I don’t think I could of chosen a better day to be off than Friday. Beautiful sunny day, and it was a holiday, as well. I got up somewhat early to finish cleaning and vacuuming before the carpet cleaners arrived. I took Illa for a long walk, returning right before they packed up. Since they’d done both the middle and upper floors and we couldn’t be on them, we stayed outside. I raked the front and swept the back, then sat on the front stoops and read the paper with Illa on a lead until Jill got home. Then Illa and I switched to the back porch, and I switched to reading comics. Jill went to her massage, and when she got back took a nap. Around 4, she got up and I showered, and we left a little before 5.

We swung by Storehouse to see if there was anything interesting at the store closing. We passed, and headed over to Don Pablo’s because Jill had a craving. We started with our normal bowl of queso, then she had the steak and chicken fajitas and I tried the new chorizo sausage with jalapeno hollandaise fajita. Not bad, but you could hardly taste the jalapeno hollandaise. We had dinner there partly because we like it, but also to avoid the Birchmere’s food. We headed to the Birchmere and found they still offered the same food, but now they’ve raised their prices, about $2 across the board – $9.50 for a burger and $12 for a pizza. Now I know why there’s been an ongoing joke in the 9:30 club forum that “I only go to Birchmere for the food”. Thank goodness the beer hasn’t changed, as that was all we had. Don’t know what we’ll do when we go back for Aimee Mann in December and efo in January.

Anyway, we were there to see the opening act, Crooked Still. Their new CD, Shaken By A Low Sound, is Jill’s favorite new CD, and she was jonesing to see them since we hadn’t seen them since Falcon Ridge. Their set was great, and the crowd really got into it. I always enjoy “Orphan Girl”, but Jill was hoping for “Come On In My Kitchen” and I wanted “Ain’t No Grave”, but it was worth it. I’d seen Chris Smither at last year’s Falcon Ridge and thought he was ok, had gotten his new CD too. Jill shared my opinion, and we left about halfway through his set. I also snagged a copy of the new CD from The Wild Band Of Snee, the side project from Rushad, the incredible cello player (Meg, do you have a track list for their first CD?). We came home and played with Illa for a bit, then went to sleep.

Saturday morning I got up early for a HOA inspection, then came home and made schmorgles. Jill went out for breakfast and ran errands. She went upstairs to study when she got back, and I caught up on TV while I organized comics. Later on I decided I wanted to do cook the asparagus, and wanted something to go with it. I thought chicken kiev would go well, but it’d been a while since I’d made it and I needed to look up a recipe. I had everything but bread crumbs, and I improvised by crushing soy & flaxseed tortilla chips. It came out very nice, and the asparagus went nicely with the hollandaise. Later, I made a crisp with some Asian Pears, and we watched SNL while we ate. Lotsa guest stars last night – best moment was when Paul McCartney surprised Alec Baldwin during a sketch, that show was one of the best in a while.

Today we slept in some, Jill went out for a bagel and stopped by Trader Joe’s while I made eggs benedict and walked the dog. She left to go work on a presentation and I watched a miserable Skins performance while I read the paper. I went in the basement after the game to rustle up comics for an eBay auction, took pictures and started it. Now I’m surfing a little and Jill’s back, will do Mexican or chili leftovers next (I made a whiskey chili for a chili cookoff at work, but didn’t place).