Beer and a concert double header

Friday I was late to work as I’d thought of some ways to try and fix some of my computer problems (no luck). That meant I got home late too, and I needed a quick dinner. I was prepared, and I had a cook and serve shrimp, asparagus, and pepper dish, to which I added some more asparagus and roasted peppers. We watched 24 and Jill went to bed soon after, I stayed up to read the paper.

Saturday I decided I wanted to try and get tickets to see Sufjan Stevens at the Kennedy Center. I’d planned on getting there around 7, but didn’t make it until 7:30. Not that it mattered – as I walked up, I saw the line of people stretching down the building, which then wrapped back again and again. By my best estimate, I would have had to be there by 5:30 to score some. Oh well, maybe someone will cut a deal on the day of the show (it’s worked for me before).

I was feeling kinda nostalgic about the whole thing. While I enjoy the “series of tubes” I’m publishing this on, in the days before online ticketing, I’d stand in line for hours for tickets. I was spoiled right off, as I my Dad scored me 3rd row tickets to my first concert (Rush, of course). I started at Hecht’s, but the people that ran the ticket counters were incompetent. I eventually found Tower Records (RIP), and mainly used the Tyson’s Corner and Landmark Plaza ones, especially since they had a lottery for line position an hour before sales began. Once I went to the Georgetown one to get HFStival tix, but since I got a ticket for running a red light, never went back. So standing in line, reading a magazine, not too bad, brought back memories. Too bad I didn’t end up with a ticket.

After that, I decided to stop by CD Cellar to check out the clearance bin, then I went over to my mom’s to see how she was doing. Turns out Forrest had already been over the night before and helped with some things, so we just chatted for a bit before she had to run off, then I headed home with a stop at Safeway for some essentials. I spent the afternoon trying to read that stupid photo CD, using Jill’s Windows 98 box and the old laptop running Windows 95 I’d bought her as a gift when we started dating. No luck, and I left her computer in pieces.

We got going around 4. Our first stop was the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg. We love Dogfish Head, but we’d never had a reason to go to Gaithersburg before. Now I love beer, but we’ve had mostly light beer since New Year’s, Sam Adams, Amstel Light, and the new Heineken Light. Not that they’re bad (add Yuengling Light to the mix and you’ve go the best light beers there are), but other than getting a beer at a club, I’ve missed trying new ones. I had their fine Punkin Ale (first time I’ve had it on draft, even better than the bottle) and their new Snowblower Ale (hoppy, but not too hoppy). The food was good, too – I had the andouille cajun egg rolls and a shrimp, chicken and bacon salad while Jill had the cream of crab soup and a turkey club. I was so full from the egg rolls I had to take half my salad home. Good food and good beer, can’t wait until the new Falls Church location opens.

We headed up to Germantown after that to the Black Rock Center for the Arts. We were early, so we wandered around Germantown Town Center where it’s located to see if they had a bar (why not). They didn’t (we didn’t want to go to Ruby Tuesday’s), so went in the beer and wine store there to look around, and I picked up a six pack of Roxy Rolles, Magic Hat’s new winter beer. It’s a nice smooth hoppy amber ale, although I don’t like it nearly as much as lasy year’s Saint Gootz. Ironically, when we actually went in the Black Rock Center, they were serving beer and wine from their concession stand, so we plopped down and I had a hefeweizen while Jill had a coffee and a biscotti.

The group we were there to see was GrooveLily, whom we’d first seen open for Da Vinci’s Notebook quite a while ago (2002). I’d caught them once in Virginia, and we’d seen them backing up Paul and Storm at Falcon Ridge, but we kept missing them. It looks like they’re another group that plays in the area in January, which is good – it’s always a light month for concerts. The show was excellent, a mix of their rock songs and their musicals. We had mixed feelings about the show in general, because the audience was very restrained, but I quite liked the venue.

We headed home, getting there around 9:30. I fed Illa and took him on a walk while Jill talked to her sister, then we headed out again. Jill had wished she could have seen Todd’s show I’d been to last week, and I’d suggested to Jill several days earlier if she was in the mood, we could go out and see his show at O’Faolain’s later. She was up for it, as much for the music as for the fact I would drive so she could get herself a pint of Guinness. We got there around 10:30 and he was finishing up his first set. We gathered at the table with Linda, Lindsey, and Bryan (who we hadn’t met before). It was a much rowdier evening than the one at Paolo’s, since it was a weekend and the place was packed, but we enjoyed oursleves. We requested random songs (“Cold As Ice” in honor of the Asia/Foreigner tour, “Strutter” when someone requsted some Doobie Brothers and Todd said “Sorry, I grew up with Kiss”). Strangely, no Beatles this time (at least from the two sets we were there for), but we did get him to play some new songs (and they were good). We staye until the bitter end at 1:30, then headed home to play with Illa for a bit before collapsing into bed.

Sunday we slept in good. Jill got going immediately, I moved a little slower, making schmorgles about an hour after she had her bagel. I watched some TV as I tried to make the laptop do what I wanted, then Jill ran out to the library and I failed on her machine, eventually giving up and putting it back together, then updating some of her software and helping her get some files on her new mp3 player. I was planning on spending the afternoon reading the paper and cooking something with chicken breasts I’d bought around 6 so we could eat by 8, but by the time I was off the computer it was 7:30, so I steamed the rest of the asparagus with some more roasted peppers, then added some frozen shrimp in a scampi sauce. I watched some more TV (Rome) as I tried one more time on the laptop, then gave up and came up here to blog. Not a very productive day – eh, I’m sure tomorrow will be.

Sad news

My mom had to put her dog, Trina, to sleep. Trina had been having problems moving around, for a while, and it’d been getting worse – she had to wear a diaper to stay indoors at Christmas. But she wouldn’t eat or move, and was crying constantly. Mom took her to the vet, and there was nothing he could do for the pain, so he put her to sleep. Mom’s pretty broken up about it, and I’m sad too. We got Trina in 1992 when I got out of college, and it was fun having a puppy that summer, as I didn’t wind up finding a job until August. I lived at home off and on until 1999 when I moved out for good, and Trina was the family dog for all of us. Our previous Siberian Husky, Tasha, only made it to 9, but Trina had a good run.

I’ve got some photos of her I need to figure out how to get off a Photo CD, but I did save one (from 1993):
Trina in the ivy

And here’s some pictures of Trina from 2003. I used those to get custom paints of dog gifts (statues, ornaments, etc.) that year.

Farewell Trina, may you have a place near the fire where ever you are.

My dog likes beaver

Or at least those weak enough to catch. While being walked today, Illa came across a dying beaver, and did what came naturally – grabbed the beaver with his mouth. Our dog walker, Alex, got the beaver right out, but it had been previously injured and was just lying there. The police were called, but they just bagged it. Now we’re in for an unexpected vet visit tomorrow, to give Illa a rabies booster. Alex is 99% sure he wasn’t bitten, but better safe than sorry.

Heroes return

I watched the return of “Heroes”, as well as last week’s “Smallville” and the new “Dresden Files” last night. “Smallville” was good, featuring their version of the Justice League (Superman, Green Arrow, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg), but it still shows its WB origins, where you have to stop the action for a relationship scene. And worse, it’s the same arc they’ve had before, just with Green Arrow and Lois instead of Clark and Lana (why do they keep disappearing when trouble shows?). Not that I’ll stop watching, but it almost makes me want to fast-forward through it.

Which is not a problem with “Heroes”. It was nice that during their winter break, they kept the online comics going, introducing a new character, Hana. They also showed a brief scene with her contacting Ted (the exploding guy) during “Deal Or No Deal”, which they posted online. They’ve also started an online puzzle game like “Lost” did. I like having extra content available, but I don’t want to spend time tracking down clues. Anyway, I liked last night’s episode for two reasons: more of the group getting together, and the introduction of Christopher Eccleston (some pics here of his crazy bearded self). I think it’s the best show on TV right now.

I also enjoyed the “Dresden Files”, which is based on a series of books, but I do like supernatural detectives. The first show was decent, I’ll check out the rest of the series, but I think I’ll have to try out the books, too.

TV and football (wait – that’s just more TV)

Friday I went grocery shopping after work, having put it off all week. I grilled a steak I’d bought and made a steak salad with it. Jill, having gotten up at 4:30, went to bed soon after. I stayed up for a while, did a quick blog post and read the paper and watched some TV.

Saturday Jill was up much earlier than me. I got up at noon and she’d been studying for hours. I made myself some cilantro and feta scrambled eggs since she’d already had a bagel (I’d bought her some Thomas whole-wheat bagels the night before), then I took Illa on a long walk in the woods before settling in for an afternoon of TV (I’d ignored all my other shows to finish “Rome”) and paper (while I watched HD concerts of Heart, James Blunt, and Whitesnake). I also started marinating some chicken, then made my cilantro chicken for dinner. After dinner, we settled in and did what we’d been wanting to do all week – watch the first 4 hours of 24. After that, we were tired, and I’d watched half of my DVR.

Sunday Jill beat me up again as she was meeting a classmate to study. I got up and made eggs benedict, then started a black bean soup as I watched Patrick Stewart in The Eleventh Hour. I took Illa on a long walk – snow had been falling and it was starting to stick. I tried to let Jill know, but her phone was off and I didn’t have her classmate’s number. I finished the soup as I watched SNL, then started watching the Bears vs. Saints. Saints tried valiantly, but they were no match for the conditions. I can’t believe they didn’t practice outdoors this week – what were they thinking?

Jill called shortly after the game started to drive home. Conditions were not that great and it took over twice as long for her to get home as it normally does. I went out at halftime and cleared off the sidewalk and her space. We had a snack (leftover crab dip and crackers for me, apple and potato chips for her), then she went upstairs to study and I started watching the Colts vs. Pats. Nothing against my extended family up north, but I was rooting for the Colts – Brady’s had plenty of glory, and Peyton is a talented guy who deserves a shot at the brass ring. I didn’t think they had much of a shot, as they’d gone from 18 points down to 15 at the half. Jill came down and made a salad to go with pizza (the soup was for later in the week), and while we were finishing, the Colts started on their tear, finally tying it up, then ping ponged with the Pats pulling ahead and the Colts tying it again before the Colts finally wrapped it up with a touchdown over the Pats’ figgie and an interception to end it. Great game to watch, and the Superbowl looks promising.

Jill kept studying and I came up to check to see who’d won my eBay auctions, then went downstairs to pack up the winners’ packages while I watched “Battlestar Galactica”. Now I’m printing postage for those who’ve paid, and doing a little surfing. Hopefully I can get to bed soon.

The Three Es and The Beatles

For a long time, my favorite local bands were the Three Es: emmet swimming, eddie from ohio, and The Excentrics. But The Excentrics split in 2002. Happily, singer/songwriter Todd Wright, started another band, The Getaway Car, and I’ve been enjoying going to see them recently. It amuses me that the first three shows of this year have been the good old Three Es, as last night I caught Todd at Paolos. He was setting up in a corner of the bar when I walked in, and we chatted briefly. The only other person there to see him was his girlfriend, and we talked as he finished soundchecking. I’d heard from my friend Linda (who showed up a couple songs in) that he had a new looping board, and I was looking forward to hearing what he did. I was amused after he used it initially to play a rhythm guitar part in “American Girl”, he recorded and played back the intro to “Down Under” – then took a bathroom break! I asked if he was taking requests – when he said yes, I asked for the old Excentrics song “Wheelbarrow”, but he just teased it. He did mostly covers, because while a couple other fans showed up, it was mostly a bar crowd he was playing to (including one older gentleman who got increasingly drunk as the night wore on). Good covers, and I requested a couple I knew he did well: Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” and the Beatles “She Said She Said”. He had requests that ran the spectrum, at one point dueling requests for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Nine Inch Nails (he passed on both).

“In My Place”

The Beatles have been on my mind lately, as first I’d enjoyed the new Love CD, then my boss turns out to be a big fan, he loaned me The Compleat Beatles and I in turn loaned him The Beatles Anthology. Todd had played a couple other Beatles songs: “I’ve Just Seen A Face and “Rocky Racoon”, as well as McCartney’s “Band On The Run”, but he wasn’t done yet. For his third set, he started with “Wish You Were Here” segueing into his own “All Time Low”, then took a request for “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” and finished with all Beatles: “Til There Was You”, “Dear Prudence”, “Nowhere Man” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”. A great ending to a good show. Jill had watched part of “The Compleat Beatles” with me, and asked why they were important – was it because they did more than people expected? No, it’s more than that – they did make timeless songs, but they revolutionized both studio recording and songwriting over their short life. They have a legacy that probably will never be equaled and songs that will never be forgotten.

Useful security site

Go here, and the site will ask you to download a Java applet that will check your machine for several major software packages and check to see if you haven’t updated any major patches.

Restaurant week, hanging out on the couch

The weekend got off to a good start Friday with a work happy hour at Breakers, a bar/pool place at the “Bavarian Monstrosity” (some still call it the Clock Tower Shopping Center). Some nice beers (hadn’t had a Blue Moon in a while), appetizers, and music (ok, I picked a bunch of songs of the jukebox). As I was leaving work to go, Jill called me and told me to eat there as she’d just picked up Five Guys. Of course I didn’t think of the double entendre until one of my coworkers pointed it out while we were playing pool. Fun, and it started early so I was home by 9 (got out at 8:30, but I stopped at Shoppers’ Food for essentials). Just watched some TV and read the paper when I got home, we were both pretty tired.

Saturday was the busy day. Jill went out and ran some errrands, and met me at Shear Pleasure, the place we go for haircuts in Reston (ever since I went there when I was working down the street, and Jill declared Blanca was the only one allowed to cut my hair from then on). We both got shorn, then went home for a couple hours before we dashed off again. It was Restaurant Week again, and we hadn’t managed to make it anywhere, but since we were going to the Birchmere, decided to stop at a participating restaurant on the way there. We decided on Sette Bello, a traditional Italian place in Clarendon (I wanted to go to Willow, but they had nothing open). It was a good choice. I tried their Restaurant Week menu, starting with polenta with braised sausage, then the pork shank ossobucco with lentils. Jill had the bean soup to start, then a mushroom pizza with a side order of steamed asparagus. She wasn’t that fond of the prosciutto on her pizza, but liked everything else – we both really liked the asparagus. My favorite was the pork, its flavor twined nicely with the lentils. For dessert we shared the prune and torrone pastry with almond ice cream that Jill compared favorably to a hot fig newton. The real treat was the almond ice cream, we nearly fought each other over that.

I’d made reservations for 4PM, so we had plenty of time to stop at the Clarendon CD Cellar for me to pick up some CDs and Jill to go next door and pick up a purse. We made it to the Birchmere about 6:30, and it was filling up fast, but we still got a decent spot. I’m not sure at this point if there’s any need to get there so early for a table and wind up eating their overpriced, bland food. We just got some drinks and waited for the show.

Apparently the set for eddie from ohio’s show was very similar to the previous night, just one song substitution. Still, it was a great set, highlighted by the return of “Tommy The Canexican” and covers of Shawn Colvin’s “I Don’t Know Why” and Lowen and Navarro’s “We Belong” (known for being covered by Pat Benatar). The opening act, Antje Duvekot, was also very good. She had a funny story about trying to play a Scrabble like game with young relatives being raised by fundamentalists, and knowing since they didn’t teach their children evolution, they probably didn’t want her using a word for a body part that rhymes with Dolores, even if it would have been a 26 point score. The best moment from efo’s show was a bachelorette party complete with a scavenger hunt which included “kiss a bald man on his head” to which Robbie reluctantly complied, while wearing the bride to be’s pink boa (Hmm… bachelor party at an efo show, that sounds familiar). We stayed up for a little bit after the show, Jill read and I wanted to see some of the NFL playoff highlights, as I hadn’t caught any of the games that day.

Sunday was my do nothing day, important on a three day weekend. Jill went out to run errands and I made pancakes and veggie sausage. I finished just in time to start watching the playoffs. We had leftover wings at halftime (sometimes it’s good to be one of the last ones leaving a happy hour) of the Pats/Chargers game. Neither game was thrilling, but both were close to the end. I’m looking forward to the conference championships next weekend. I caught up on newspapers, then watched another “Rome”.

After that, I spent the rest of the night on the computer. Some time was spent starting an eBay auction for some comics, more just hitting my regular sites, but most of the time I was looking for Dave Matthews Band songs to download. I’ve been a long standing fan since I first saw them in 1993. I was renewing my membership in Warehouse, the fan club (always a source of fantastic seats) and I stopped by, the best site with news on the band. They had an article detailing the Lillywhite sessions, the story of the shelved songs that were later mostly released as Busted Stuff and were eventually leaked on the Internet. The news in there was that there was a song from the sessions, “Build You A House”, that leaked out two years ago, and I’d totally missed it, so that started a search not just for that, but other rare trax out there (I won’t download things I can buy legally, but unreleased stuff and live recordings have always been of great interest to me).

Jill was up early Monday to shadow some CRNAs with her classmate for her research project, so I slept in (since I didn’t go to sleep until after 3). She called home at one and wanted to go to Clyde’s for lunch, and I joined them. We both had the cream of crab soup, then she had the steak salad and I had a caesar salad and a reuben. We got home and Jill went upstairs to study while I worked my way through “Rome” and read the paper. Now I’m going to make a turkey dinner with turkey frozen in November – hope it still tastes good.

Busy week

Work’s been busy, and tonight I went to a Herndon Festival meeting. Could be a very good lineup this year. Still had time to grill lamb chops for me and a burger for Jill before I left. Oh yeah, if you didn’t already know, Jill’s blogging now.