Thank goodness we got free tix…

As I will be coming back from Tampa when the Police finally grace our area with a full blown headlining show at Verizon Center. I was considering going to see them again because the first show was so great, but won’t struggle to get tix because y’know the more I wanted to get back the better chance there would be of a delay. Van Halen’s playing while I’m gone as well, but I’m going to circumvent that by catching them in Philly (and earlier on the tour, in case of imminent implosion).

If you’re interested, the presale starts today for Best Buy Reward Zone members, or Wednesday for fan club members (and you can join during checkout), or wait for the public sale on Friday.

Gone Ballooning

Friday was kinda short, work was good, had pizza for lunch and stopped by the game store, which carries comics, and picked up one I’d missed. Jill made fresh marinara sauce for dinner, and we did some cleaning before calling it a night as she went to bed and I went online.

5AM was way too early to wake up, but Mom was downstairs. For Mother’s Day, we’d gotten her a two person hot air balloon ride, and this was the day she picked (and she picked me to go with her). We were to go to the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Boyce. We got there and Bob from Balloons Unlimited soon showed, and we went to a nearby park and ride lot. I thought that was a meeting point, but no, he started unpacking the balloon. We helped unpack and setup, but we ran into a snag: the fellow meant to drive the chase truck never showed. But a couple people were watching the launch, and Bob found Mike, who was willing to drive the truck (and doesn’t that trust say something about the folks out there?).

We got onboard, and that’s when I learned the dirty little secret: when the pilot opens the blast valve, it’s both really loud and really frackin’ hot. We took off, and the flight was always several minutes of serene floating, followed by several seconds of a loud blast of heat. But it was pretty cool, and all too soon we were landing. Bob had targeted an old plant, and we landed right next to it. We helped pack up, and soon were headed back to the launch spot, most of us in the gondola in the back of the truck (which was almost as much fun as the ride).

More pictures

I was home by 10, enough time to make breakfast but not enough to finish cleaning by the time Jill’s mom and sister arrived. They’d gotten up even earlier than me for the drive down, and they hung out while we finished cleaning. Jill and Robin went to Costco to pick up dinner fixings while Sue napped and I read the paper then made a photo slideshow DVD of the morning’s adventure, as my mom and sister would be joining us for dinner. Dinner took a while, as I grilled salmon and steaks, and made salad to go with them while Jill prepped dessert and made a cheese and cracker plate. We socialized, then ate when everything was ready. It was a good evening, finished off by Jill’s peach and strawberry on angel food cake dessert. We were wiped and collapsed into bed right after folks left.

Sunday I finally got to sleep in, and it was great. I made schmorgles, eggs, and sausage to order in the morning, then Jill and her family left for Tyson’s, leaving Illa and I to delight in the Skins achieving 1-0 (it’s a start). We snacked when they got back, then got ready to go out to Belmont, where we got dinner from the vendors (just a small sub for me) and drinks before seeing Luke Brindley again (he opened for efo in August).

If there was one band I never thought I’d see, it’s Lynyrd Skynyrd. I mean, as far as legendary Southern rock bands with deceased members, there’s a better one (although there are bands I’d like to see less). But Robin is a huge fan, and has never gotten to see them live, so we felt it was our obligation to take her. They were pretty good, and the crowd was into them, but I’ve never loved the songs, and its past time for them to drop some of the imagery they use – it’s just offensive. Still, the show was decent, and we made it out of there quickly.

Long Lunch

I took a 3+ hour lunch yesterday to go to the Borders on L Street in DC. The star attraction was Mark Olson, formerly of the Jayhawks, who put on a great show a couple years back with his former bandmate. His new CD hasn’t gotten great reviews, but I wanted to see some of it and wasn’t sure I’d make it out to Iota that night (I didn’t, the house is a disaster area, and Jill’s mom and sis arrive tomorrow). Still it was good to get a couple songs, and he did do “Poor Michael’s Boat”, a leftover song he wrote with Gary.

The find was the group who played next (they’re opening on the tour, but Mark needed to go tape a set at XM), The Last Town Chorus. Megan Hickey has a hauntingly sweet voice reminiscent of Margo Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies, but then she bends down and pulls outrageous sounds from her lap steel guitar. Something to hear, and see. The video below is a cover of David Bowie’s “Modern Love”, definitely a good guilty pleasure for the week, recommend picking up their CD.

On my way back, I stopped at Marvelous Market and picked up a ham, brie, and rosemary fig confit that I ate in the car on the way back (after hitting my favorite used CD place, of course). The confit was an excellent sweet counterpoint to the salty brie, itself better after melting slightly in the hot car for a couple minutes.

Good news and bad news about Doctor Who

Good news:
Doctor Who’s been renewed for a fifth season.

Bad news:
There will be at least a one year gap between seasons 4 and 5, as David Tennant will playing Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008.

Good news:
There will be three specials written by Russell T. Davies that will air in 2009 to hold fans over (as the fifth season won’t air until 2010.

Bad news:
No one’s saying David Tennant will return for sure for the fifth season.

An anniversary Eve-ning

Last night was our third anniversary. To celebrate, we headed over to Restaurant Eve in Alexandria. The place had been on my short list of places to try for a while, even before the chef was awarded chef of the year. In addition to the plaudits it was winning for its food, my newfound interest in cocktails led me to seek out Todd Thrasher, their mixologist/sommelier.

We had reserved a table in the Tasting Room, which gave us a choice of a five or nine course tasting menu. The nine course had a couple things Jill wasn’t interested in, and I was still a little under the weather, so we went with the five course. That turned out to be a good decision, as we were stuffed to the gills by the time we were through. Jill’s only alcoholic drink was a plum cocktail while I wanted to try something with Todd’s homemade bitters and ended up with a cherry Manhattan – the finest one I’ve ever had.

Already looking like a good night, some tastings arrived – a deviled quail egg, duck confit, and a croquette, all exquisite. A second one came with a small bit of mushroom soup Jill enjoyed, and shockingly I didn’t mind it too much – it was rich. The courses had their own names – the first was Creation (palate teasers). Jill had a corn custard with avocado and habanero sauce (that was both spicy and sweet) while I tried the blood sausage. Both were good, but my favorite dish of the night came with the Ocean (seafood) course: lobster poached with Kerrygold butter, and Jill really enjoyed her deconstructed/reconstructed scallop sausage.

My second Edenesque Cocktail happened after a discussion with Todd himself about what to mix with an Irish Whiskey. They had one cocktail on the menu, but when I asked him if it was better to get that or the gin and tonic, he recommended the gin and tonic. A good choice, as it’s prepared with his house-made “tonic” and Citadelle gin and was also the best of its kind I’ve had (almost convinced Jill she might be cured of her distaste for gin).

For the Earth & Sky (meats and game) course, I could not avoid the lamb, and it was scrumptious; Jill had a chantrelle pot pie she devoured. We were slowing down but there was still time for more cocktails. Luckily they make virgin versions of most, so Jill tried a version of the “Reunited”, made with peaches and rosemary (most cocktails there featured some kind of herb) and I had the Eamonn’s Cocktail, which mixes Powers whiskey, yuzu juice and red lemonade. It was very good, and now I’m curious to try Todd’s advice on using blackcurrant juice as a mixer.

Jill had a Stilton tart and I had Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese on peaches for the Age (cheese) course – both very good, but neither of us could finish the last little bit. For our finale in Eden (desserts), I had a sesame mousse that was coated in chocolate with a slive of date ice cream, while Jill could not pass up the pistachio ice cream that came with the crème brûlée and figs. We barely made a dent in the cookies that came with Jill’s coffee, but we made a valiant effort. A fine meal, but not cheap, but if you’re a foodie, you’ve got to try it at least once (just like The Inn at Little Washington). Personally I’m looking forward to a visit to their fish and chips place and their speakeasy nearby.


Panoramio is a site that lets you upload location aware pictures (which made for a visually stimulating Spycraft last week, courtesy of Foucalt). The reason this is significant is Google acquired them a while back, so now you can import pictures into Google apps. I’ve uploaded some and you can check them out in Google Maps or Google Earth (if you’ve installed it).

This was a nice bonus as I struggle to meet my goal of having all my pictures online by the end of the year.

Unlabored weekend

The rest of the weekend was pretty lazy on purpose. That crick in my neck developed into my head being pulled down and to the left, so the week was totally a pain in the neck, and I couldn’t get in to see my chiropractor or massage therapist until next Wednesday. So while Jill had a busy weekend finishing a project, I sat around and read comicsand newspapers and watched TV on Saturday. I made a quick trip out that afternoon to get my car from the bus station, stopped at Target to get a CD, then went to Safeway and picked up some pork kebabs for dinner, which we enjoyed outside with some black beans and rice and a watermelon/pineapple salad.

Sunday, more comics and movies, plus a new fun thing for me – a runny nose (although my neck was feeling better, must have been the muscle relaxants I drank). So plenty of fluids and Cold-Eeze, and my portion of the BBQ sauce I made for the pork ribs I grilled was extra hot.

Monday was the annual Herndon Labor Day Jazz & Wine Festival, and I got free tix for doing that quickie website. Unfortunately Jill still wasn’t done with her project, so we only went for a little while, but we caught up with some friends, and she saw some classmates. I made BLTs for lunch (so good with fresh tomatoes) and reheated pizza for dinner while I made a salad. More comics read, all done with my pile (those were waiting for me to reread the stories in the hardcover). On the plus side, my neck’s feeling better and my cold feels like it’s ending.

Beer and Birchmere

Friday I headed over to Alexandria after work, Jill picked me up and we went to dinner at Rustico. An extensive selection of draft beers and great pizzas already had the place on my radar, but then I found out the new chef (from Zola) had created a tapas-like menu, with beer pairings. I started with the air-dried beef with greens while Jill had a mixed baby romaines salad. For entrees, she had the beef and chicken pot pies and mac & cheese, while I had the pork trio, which included a funky ham and grilled cheese sandwich, fried pork belly grillades and pig trotters. I had the beer pairing with the pork, which was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Bluegrass Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Unibroue Maudite (my favorite). For dessert, we ordered a beer popsicle. They’d had some trouble with them, which may be why they’re not on the menu. But our server brought us one when I asked about it, we got one made with a plum lambic that was just right to follow the meal. It was superb, I’m already planning a follow up visit sometime.

We then went over to the Birchmere to see Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton. We’d missed them their last show together at Jammin’ Java, but since it was overcrowded when we’d seen them there before, I’m sure the seating arrangements weren’t any better. That was in contrast to the Birchmere – even though I’m not a fan of the food, the layout is great and it never feels overcrowded, even at when it’s sold out. This show wasn’t sold out, but it was close (beware the power of nerdcore). Paul & Storm have a new CD out, which was good, because I like them, but they can wear thin with repetition. They went over well with the audience, but JoCo drove them crazy. Crazy like littering the stage with stuffed animals, during the early part of his set. Some had money and notes tied to them. Paul picked one up when they came out to sing along, and read the note – it was a proposal to have JoCo play a bachelor party in Las Vegas. He kinda blew it off, to which someone replied from the audience that Neil Diamond had blown them off too. For some reason that led into a fullblown rendition of “Sweet Caroline”, with audience singalong. Very fun, even if we had to leave early because Jill was falling asleep.