The rest of Boston

So we didn’t just do music while we were in Boston. Friday our plane was delayed out of Dulles (no mechanic to install a part) and luggage delayed in Boston (the machine would only put luggage in, not take it out), so we were late getting started and ran into a fair amount of traffic on the way to Worcester. The bad part about that was there wasn’t time to get seated at any of the sit down restaurants around the DCU Center, so we ended up eating subs at Simon’s, next door to the Palladium. Subs were ok, nothing special, then we headed over to the show.

Afterwards, we just stood next to the cars in the garage since the line of cars didn’t even move for a solid 30 minutes. Eventually we got moving and it didn’t take to long to get back to Chris and Jess’s house (minus a minor detour in Boston thanks to roadwork).

Saturday we lazed about. Chris and I watched Thursday’s Daily Show, then Jess joined us to watch the season finale of Battlestar Galactica (nice twist of the last couple minutes). I glanced at some of Jess’s expectant mother books, and read one, The Three-Martini Playdate, that I really liked (with chapters like “Bedtime: Is Five-Thirty Too Early?” and “Screaming: Is It Necessary?”). I also reread V For Vendetta. Strangely, it didn’t help decide whether or not to see the movie adaption – I think the plot is so right for the Wachowskis.

We were planning on meeting up with Jill’s friend Joanna at Redbones in Somerville at 5, but got a late start, getting there around 6. Thankfully Joanna had gotten there at 5:30 and put here name on the wait list, and we only had to wait around 10 minutes for them to call us.

Jill had told me she’d been having a craving for this place for months, and now I know why. This was some of the best barbeque I’ve had, and I’ve been to Memphis and Nashville to have some. I had the Barbeque Belt, which had Memphis, Texas & Arkansas Ribs plus a brisket. Very tasty, and went well with the beers I tried: St. Bernardus (a Belgian), Gritty’s Black Fly Stout and Harpoon Triticus. Jill had a Ommegang Hennepin with her St. Louis Style Ribs. I especially enjoyed the spicy hot BBQ sauce (one of four choices). The only minor disappointment was I felt the hush puppies were too dry.

Afterwards, Jill and Joanna hung out in the downstairs bar (incorrectly described in the Frommer’s guidebook as the nosiy part), then the rest of us went on our Sky Bar adventure, taking the T down a stop and walking six blocks. On our return, we all met up at J.P. Licks for homemade ice cream. I had a mild bummer in that Jess got the last of the Bailey’s Cheesecake so I had the pistachio instead, which was very good. Jill did not like the potato pie at all (and I agree – too potato-y), but she had a second scoop of coconut almond chip. They’d been bar hopping while we’d been gone, and had a good time.

We returned to Chris and Jess’s place in Quincy, had some beers, but were wiped out, plus we had to get up early. I was up by 7:30 to get a shower, Jill got up around 8 and Chris took us to the airport. No delays this time and we were at Club Pet to pick up Illa just after noon (no charge for an extra day if we pick him up between 12 and 1). We came home and relaxed (or I did – Jill went to get her nails done). I got to enjoy some of the nice weather reading the paper on the deck in t-shirt and shorts. Later I watched TV for a while, catching up on my recorded stuff, now I’m surfing while Jill reads and cross stitches.

Queen 2 The Extreme

Two nights in a row of one of my all time favorite bands, and possibly still not the highlight of the weekend.

We saw Queen + Paul Rodgers Thursday in DC, and Friday in Worcester (near Boston). It was interesting to compare the two shows, since I thought they were very similar but the band thought the second night “was perhaps our best QPR show EVER …. fantastic buzz, great sound, and there seemed to TIME to make everything hit the button” (from Brian’s soapbox).

The show we saw in October in New Jersey, while it was one of my favorites, had over 20 years of anticipation tied in with the adrenaline of being so close, so it was impossible to judge the performance on it’s own merits. We were a little farther away both nights, DC about 5 rows up on the side from the begining of the catwalk, and Worcester about 5 rows up on the side from slightly before the end of the catwalk. We missed the first song in DC (they started on time, and I’d read they’d been going on as much as 40 minutes late – my bad). Both nights had very similar setlists (they dropped “’39” and moved “Can’t Get Enough” for the second night), but I still came away extremely impressed at their musicianship and stamina (especially after Brian fell into the piano pit the first night as Paul’s piano was coming up, and never displayed any ill effects).

I won’t go on at length (well, anymore that what I have done), since I went on at such a length in October, but I honestly think they’ve gotten better. All three of them were already great at their own material, but have gotten even better on the songs that were new to them before performing together. I was on quite a high after those two shows, but they didn’t throw in any surprises that made me go crazy (though I was pleased they added “I Want To Break Free”, after not playing it since the European tour last spring). The new song, “Take Love”, is a Paul Rodgers song, and it wasn’t bad, just didn’t have a Queen feel to it.

The next night had a thrill, though. Another of my favorite bands is Extreme. They broke up in 1996, but I still follow Gary Cherone(although I don’t think the Van Halen move worked all that well). He often plays in the Boston area since he lives there, but I rarely get the opportunity to see him (I did go to see him in “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2000). But he was doing an acoustic set at the Sky Bar in Somerville on Saturday.

Chris and Jess and I got there just before the doors were supposed to open at 8, and they let people in around quarter after. Sky Bar was nice, reminded me of a smaller version of Iota in Virginia. We waited through some loud opening music, and Gary came out by himself with an acoustic guitar for two songs, including a nice cover of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. Then Paul Mangone came out and Gary moved to vocals (and I was totally unaware Paul was Extreme’s first bassist). Paul said Gary was nervous earlier, funny to think of that happening when he’s played for so many people. The new songs were good, but it’s tough for me to really enjoy something I’m hearing the first time – I’m focusing too much on just figuring it out. “Need I Say More” was great, I was a little surprised that was the only song from the new EP.

I saw Extreme 3 times, and they’d only once done one verse of one of my favorite songs, “Tragic Comic”. To be honest, when I planned on going to the show, I thought to myself it’d be great if he did “Tragic Comic”, but I wasn’t expecting it, even when Dana Spellman came out to play drums and Gary said “We first played this in the basement here”. But the acoustic riff was unmistakable and it was great, especially the crowd singing along. Gary and Dana left the stage and Paul performed “A Prayer To St. Peter”, a moving tribute to our soldiers.

Unfortunately Jess is 7 months pregnant and hanging out in a bar was not the best environment for her, so we left after Gary’s set, but I felt I got my money’s worth. I’ve been on a high since. Got one decent picture from my camera phone. I did see someone videotaping, hope that makes it out at some point.

It’s Late

Ok, much too late but I wanted to get online before heading out of town. Queen + Paul Rodgers was great tonight, but I think I’ll wait for tomorrow’s show and write about them together. I do have the pictures up, though. Nice night before the show, we went with Mel and Scott to R.F.D. where Jill had a steak salad and I had fish and chips (’twas a topic of conversation in the car), and we both had some good beer – I especially liked Magic Hat’s Saint Gootz dark wheat beer.

Doop-de-do

Can’t believe it’s only Tuesday – feels much later.

The Oscars were fun on Sunday – especially since I was the winner of the golden bunny for guessing the most winners (thank goodness for Entertainment Weekly). We also had pizza and some tasty Wegman’s treats, thanks to Mo, our host. Hard to believe he hasn’t been to our place yet, will have to reciprocate soon. I’m on a late schedule this week as a result, as I didn’t make it to be until 1:30 that night, and not until work ’til 11 and 10:30 so far.

Got rid of my extra Queen ticket, thanks to a friend of Mel’s – funny how I couldn’t do that with an auction on eBay, or posts to craigslist or brianmay.com. We’re going to hit RFD before the show, and it’s always nice to relax over dinner beforehand, rather than rushing to beat traffic and getting there just in time (or a little late).

Going to make $100 tomorrow night – I’ve been invited to take part of a focus group in Fairfax that want my opinion on TV. Easy money.

Catching up

As last weekend, no big plans for this weekend, so I mostly caught up. We finished watching TV recorded over vacation (watched 3 24s mid week, 2 Losts last night and I’ve watched several music shows as well as Daily Show/Colbert Reports, Real Time, Battlestar Galactica, and Smallville, as well as I, Robot), and finished all periodicals and web surfing. Had clam chowder and crab stuffed shrimp Friday, made burgers last night, going over to an Oscar party tonight where we’ll probably have pizza.

Took the dog on a couple long walks, including a “brush clearing” one to get the thorns weeds off the path in the woods – not sure why the prez likes it so much, I was sweaty and tired when through. Favorite thing I did today was read Nick Hornby’s Songbook, a collection of essays about songs he likes, that came with a companion CD (only hald of the songs, and I only had another 5, but that’s ok). Interesting reading with an actual soundtrack, since I usually read with music on. And it really resonated with me (pun intended). I especially liked this passage:
And all my life I have relied on others to tip me off,
enthusiasts effectively and happily serving as Austenesque
matchmakers between eligible wallflower music and those
who have the capacity and resources to love it. It’s people
like these who are the difference between a feeble little CD
collection that will fit into some stupid designer tower, and
a wall of shelves occupying a disproportionate part of your
living room. And what are you going to do with an empty wall?

I totally agree with that empty wall problem. Weird fact – we’re going to see him talk in Reston this month for the first time, but I’ve already got two of the three book by him I own signed. I picked up a copy of High Fidelity at a London used bookstore and it turned out to be signed – then Jill picked up Long Way down for me at Costco and it was signed. I figure the next one I pick up won’t be, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the fifth.

Fave bands

So after Queen + Paul Rodgers plays here this Thursday (and they debuted a new song last night), we’re going to Boston the next night to catch them there (I vowed to catch them at least twice, and our friends Chris & Jess want to go as well). It’ll also be the first time we’ve been in Boston since last summer, and Jill wants to catch up with some friends as well.

Anyway, another favorite band of mine is Extreme. They broke up nearly 10 years ago, but I’ve tried to catch the solo projects of Nuno and Gary since. Of course, it’s easy if you live in Boston, since they still both live there. Anyway, I found out yesterday that Gary’s doing a solo acoustic show at a club in Boston on Saturday – and we don’t fly back ’til Sunday. Very sweet.

New favorite channel

It’s nice having all the video music channels, especially since MTV2 became weighted down by shows instead of videos. I mostly keep it on VH1 Classic, sometimes going to MTV Hits or Soundtrack Channel (really quite good). Not just ’cause I’m a music fan, I like video music channels because I can watch them or ignore them if I’m reading or talking, as anything else sucks me in and I can’t turn away.

So I’m channel surfing this weekend, and flip through the HD channels. Verizon had added MHD, basically MTV in HD. And it looks amazing, I was surprised there was that much music available in HD (though I suppose they’ve been stockpiling it recently in preparation). First thing I watched was a Coldplay concert, absolutely mesmerizing. Makes me wonder if something like this will actually make people watch, or it’s doomed like every other MTV channel eventually to carry all their crap shows I hate (I found on vacation even MTV Europe plays “Made” and “Cribs”).

Vacation reading

I did something a little different this trip. Often I bring several hardcovers, some graphic novels, and a couple of paperbacks from the “I’ve got to read this and decide if I want to keepit” pile. That pile kept growing, and I decided to bring the whole thing with me. I did bring one hardcover and some graphic novels as well, and we made a trip to McKay’s before we left as well.

Nick Hornby – A Long Way Down: Author of High Fidelity, he’s coming to talk this month in Reston, and Jill got me his latest. Good read, though I was hoping for more stuff on music since he does it so well. Interesting side note: one of two books to mention the island of Mallorca.

Warren Ellis – Transmetropolitan volumes 1-4, Ocean: I’m a big Ellis fan, but only recently acquired his Transmetropolitan graphic novels. Great gonzo stuff. Ocean is hard sf (with commentary on a certain software company we know and love) that I enjoyed.

Orson Scott Card – Treason, Pastwatch, Songmaster: Card has said some stupid things lately about evolution and homosexuality, but he’s still a good writer. (Ender’s Game is still a classic, and I brought Children Of The Mind, last in that series, but decided not to read it without rereading the earlier ones). Ironically, the first book seems to refute his views on evolution, as the plot would be impossible without it. Songmaster does support some disturbing prejudices about homosexuality, and was the least enjoyable. Best one was Pastwatch, about why Christopher Columbus was so driven to get to the new world. Very enlightening.

Chris Claremont – Firstflight, Grounded, Sundowner: Claremont’s trilogy has some good moments, but I decided there’s nothing there that isn’t better done in his X-Men comics. I also brought Shadow Moon, first book in the Shadow War trilogy co-written with George Lucas, but one look at the cover convinced me otherwise. I’d read the hardcover and never read the last two, but I’d picked up the paperback to take on the trip and the front cover mentioned (that I’d never realized) that the series was a continuation of the story of from the movie Willow, so I need to rewatch that before starting the series.

Peter David – Star Trek:The Next Generation:Strike Zone, Star Trek:The Next Generation:Double Or Nothing, Incredible Hulk:What Savage Beast: David, in addition to writing a number of good comics I read (currently X-Factor, Fallen Angel, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Spike vs. Dracula – yes, that Spike), writes the best Star Trek books – good combination of action and humor. These were books I was missing and picked up at McKay’s. Good reads, even Jill enjoyed them (after she ran out of her own books). The Incredible Hulk book was good as well (David was a long time Hulk writer), especially with the George Perez interior art.

Robert Sheckley – Star Trek:Deep Space Nine:The Laertian Gamble: A disappointment, but in a weird way. The book ended up being a typical slapstick Sheckley book, but that doesn’t mesh well with Star Trek (think Spielberg vs. Kubrick in AI). Not a bad read, but not a keeper.

Diane Carey – Star Trek:Best Destiny, Vonda N. McIntyre – Star Trek:Enterprise: Two decent early Star Trek novels (about Kirk’s youth and the first time he captained Enterprise, but ultimately disposable.

Robert B. Parker – Stone Cold, Double Play: I’m a big fan of his Spenser novels, but I read everything he does. Stone Cold was a Jesse Stone novel about a small town cop trying to solve a serial killing (not bad, I enjoyed Tom Selleck in the recent TV adaption of the first book in the series more than I thought), but the surprise winner was Double Play, about a ficticious bodyguard to Jackie Robinson in his first year in the majors. Obviously a labor of love and well done.

Tom Holt – Expecting Someone Taller: An English writer not well known here, much in the fantasy humor style of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I aws surprised to find a copy of this at McKay’s, but was pleased as I didn’t have it. Fun read, though I’d wished I had a chance to read the myths it’s based on (Norse) before I read it.

Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder – Buffy the Vampire Slayer:Blooded: Simply awful. I ‘ve enjoyed the comics based on the show, but the characterizations here just grate. None of them ring true, what a waste of time.

Greg Bear – Dead Lines: A mainstream mystery horror book by Bear (I like how nothing in the book lets you know he’s a SF writer, interesting take on the horror of cellphones (though having read the first chapter of Stephen King’s Cell, I think Cell is a lot more scary).

Kate DiCamillo – Because Of Winn-Dixie: A friend gave it to me because Dave Matthews is in the movie version, cute (and quick – think it took me 20 minutes) read.

Janet Evanovich – One For The Money: One of Jill’s books (because I ran out). Not bad, but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading the series. I see why Jill likes it, though.

Also read:
Washington Post – Friday February 10th
International Herald Tribune – Sunday February 19th
Washington Post Magazines December – February (I almost never read them until vacation as they’re great to read while I stretch and exercise)