Elections

I’m pretty happy about the way the elections went. Only thing better would have been for the Democratic candidates for the House from Northern Virginia to win, and for the “marriage” amendment to fail. Honestly, I’m surprised the Dems didn’t blow it – but I’m glad they didn’t.

I was a little surprised Allen conceded, but it sounds like he doesn’t want to be a sore loser in case John Warner doesn’t run again for the Senate in 2008, or maybe he wants to run for governor again in 2009.

I was most surprised about Rumsfeld. That’s almost admitting Bush was wrong, and that’s not his style. However, now’s the best time for him to do it if he wants a confirmation hearing before the Dems take control.

I hope the Democrats can actually pass some of their agenda, particularly lobbying reform, a minimum wage increase, and removing some of the tax cuts. If they fail to get things done in the two years they’ve been given, they deserve to lose control again in 2008.

Operation: Mindcrime

Yesterday was pretty laid back, I made scrambled eggs for breakfast, then Jill and I hastily cleaned up as my mom was coming over to drop off her car on the way to the airport. I watched some TV, websurfed, and read some papers while Jill ran errands. I didn’t even make dinner, Jill mad a quick but tasty meal of Trader Joe’s artichoke ravioli, asparagus, and shrimp.

Last night I had the opportunity to once again recapture a ’90s experience I missed. I’ve been doing that a lot of lately (Golden Smog, Alice In Chains) and you could include the Extreme reunion of something ’90s I wanted more of. First stop was Tower Records to see what discount they were at in the liquidation process. 30% on CDs, which meant $11.90 since most were originally $16.99. I may not go at 40%, just wait for 50% which would be $8.50 (since that’d be a lower price than getting them used).

Queensryche first came to my attention through their concept album Operation: Mindcrime. Released in 1988, the first time they toured behind it was 1990 for their “Empire” tour (that was when they had their biggest hit with “Silent Lucidity”). I didn’t see that show, and didn’t think I’d ever get a chance. However, this year they released a sequel, Operation: Mindcrime II. I figured the subsequent tour would feature both albums and I was right.

I got to the club with 10 minutes to spare, so I got a beer (a peach lambic sounded good) and took my place on the stage right balcony. There was a curtain, but it soon came down and the band came out. It was an intesting hybrid of rock show and musical. The band was at the front of the stage (minus the drummer at stage right, and the rest of the stage contained the set. The singer, Geoff Tate, wore a headset mic and never really interacted with the band, only the other actors and actresses.

They finished Operation: Mindcrime, then took a 30 minute break, so I had a Dogfish Head Indian Pale Ale and people watched (wasn’t nearly as fun as the Alice In Chains show). I actually felt more familiar with the material from Operation: Mindcrime II, since I’ve been listening to it all week (and I’ve listened to Operation: Mindcrime so much over the years). Both were good, and it was nice to see the storyline wrapped up.

I’d read that they would come back and do a couple of hits for the encore. I was hoping for at least one from “Empire”. They played “The Whisper” (from Rage for Order) first (to appreciative cries), then finished with the title track from “Empire” (one of my two faves, I would also have accepted “Jet City Woman”). While I never liked Queensryche as much as Dream Theater, I always enjoyed their early material and was happy to finally see Operation: Mindcrime live.

Jill was asleep when I got back, so Illa and I had dessert, then I read some more papers and went to bed. Today Jill left early to study, when I got up I walked Illa, then made myself an omelette. I took Illa on a long walk ending just as the Skins game started. They finally pulled out a win, then I finished the paper, watched more TV, and stirfried some beef and veggies for dinner after Jill got back. Now she’s chatting on the phone, and I’m surfing. She’ll be studying again soon, and I’ll probaly start my monthly comics, since I’m nearly caught up on TV.

NPR

Yesterday I got up at 6, so I could get my remaining hours in and still get a bus at 2 and be downtown at 3:30 to meet Jill at NPR. Her alumni association had arranged a reception and tour of NPR Headquarters. We got in a little early, and got to go on the first tour. We saw several programs being aired (including All Things Considered), and the very impressive studio they had prepped for election night returns. Afterwards they had a room with snacks and an open bar, so we had some of those (not too much, as we had dinner plans). The reception was not only for alumni, but also supporters of WUMB, the folk radio station run from UMass Boston. The general manager of that station talked, as well as the president of NPR and the chancellor of UMass, then they let us chat by ourselves for a while, and I got into a fascinating discussion of streaming radio technology with Grady, the chief engineer at WUMB.

The highlight of the night was seeing Catie Curtis. Even though she’s recorded and performed with many artists we like (Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Mark Erelli, Erin McKeown), we’d never listened to or seen her. That was a mistake, happily corrected. We thought we’d just watch her play on a radio show, but she came out in the room we were in with John Jennings and played a nice set, mostly songs from her new album. She did throw out a great cover of Richard Thompson’s “Walking On A Wire” as well. Catie wondered if there were any questions, and Jill asked if she’d brought CDs. Catie said we’d all be taken care of, and we were – we all got gift bags of swag that included an autographed copy of her new CD – very cool.

Next, we walked over to Corduroy in the Four Points hotel. I’d asked if we could go to Citronelle for my birthday dinner, but they were all booked up. So Jill picked a place with one of Michel Richard’s protégés. We were nearly an hour early for our reservation, but they were able to seat us right away (which we were happy about because it really filled up later). I’d read that the lobster salad was a very good appetizer, but they were out of it – that was the only disappointing note of the evening. I had the duck egg and confit salad instead, great texture and flavor, while Jill had the mélange of baby greens with shallot vinaigrette (she had most of it, but I think the greens were a little bitter for her). The entrées were great, though. She had the prime beef strip loin with lyonnaise potatoes and a mushroom sauce and I had the roast lamb sirloin with mini goat cheese ravioli – an amazing combination that I’m still salivating over. For dessert we shared a chocolate sabayon. It took extra time to prepare, but it was worth it, the warm chocolate contrasting nicely with the ice cream on top.

We came straight home afterwards, both exhausted from our week. We stayed up a little to play with Illa, then went to bed.

Furry Houdini

Illa’s new nicname is Furdini, short for “furry Houdini”. A week or two ago he escaped the baby gate we have up to keep him downstairs when we’re asleep or out. He hadn’t done it again until Saturday, and he’s gotten out three times since. Yesterday we moved the chair next to the landing (maybe he was getting on that) and put another baby gate on top of the first one. Nope, he was out when Jill got home, and he’d torn up a banister (where the chair was) climbing out.

So last night I put the wheelbarrow in the upright position where he’d gotten out and both baby gates up. Good enough? Wrong! About 2AM (I actually was asleep by then), I woke to such a clatter (and it wasn’t from the roof). He was bounding up the stairs, and I told him he was bad (it only makes sense to yell at him when I catch him in the act). I flipped the wheelbarrow upside down (on my left big toe, ouch) and put a trashcan on top, then dragged him back down. He was still trying a couple minutes later, so I went back down and threatened him with the spray bottle (how we successfully trained him not to get too close to the table or kitchen counters). He hasn’t gotten out this morning or this afternoon, so we may keep doing that for a while.

Last night I needed a quick dinner and cooked some older CSA veggies (bok choi, broccoli, potatoes) while I heated up some premade crusted tilapia. Tonight I made the rest of my enchiladas. They went over well at work, but they’re much better coming out of a hot oven with a nice cold beer (Sam Light tonight). Lost was good, now I’m surfing and will be off to bed soon (I hope).