Hobbit forming

Friday was the only part of the weekend that wasn’t scheduled, so of course I used that to clean after having some frozen pizza and fresh sautéed spinach for dinner. I did catch up on newspapers before I went to bed so that was good.

Saturday I slept in a bit, then headed over to Clarendon for the CHAAMP fundraiser. I mostly organized books, and took Illa for a bit when Jill brought him by. I hurried home when we finished, as there was still some cleaning to do. My friend Norm was in town for the night with his girlfriend for the show, and we had them over for dinner beforehand. I grilled steaks and made a Caesar salad, and we had a leisurely dinner before heading over to Ned Devine’s to see emmet swimming. They were fabulous and deserve their own post, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Today I had a bunch of computer stuff to do, getting my computer reasonably patched and then a bunch of auction stuff. Jill and I did have breakfast together, which is unusual since we don’t have many breakfast foods in common, but I offered to make French toast and she couldn’t resist. I thought I’d finish before the rain came, but I failed and had to take Illa out in the rain. It only got worse and is still pouring down, and made our trip this evening pretty poor.

We were supposed to meet the family at Bilbo Baggins (named after what you’d expect, but the doors aren’t circular) in Old Town Alexandria at 5. We were still in transit at 5, and my sister hadn’t yet arrived to pick up my mom. But Dad had a table when we showed up, and Jill and I split the beer on a stick to pass the time (Rogue Hazelnut Nectar was the highlight). Everyone was there by 6, and we ordered and got food quickly. Jill and I both had soup to start, French onion for her and a lobster and shrimp bisque for her. For entrées, I had a chicken breast stuffed with Andouille sausage and jalapeño jack cheese, while she had Penne pasta and chicken with pesto, both pretty tasty.

We were in the area because Sharon wanted us to go to a concert that evening, so we headed out without a chance for Mom to even open her gifts. We had parked a distance away, and Sharon gave us a ride to the concert. The Solo Committee wasn’t bad, but it was getting late and we knew we had a tough drive coming back. It was nasty, but we got back by 10.

Summer concerts

It’s getting close to summer, and they’ve already started the Friday concerts in Herndon (going through August), so I’m going to highlight my faves.

Summer kicks off with Memorial Day, and the Herndon Festival is always held the next weekend. Highlights this year include local ska greats The Pietasters on May 30th, local rockers The Sketches on May 31st, and ’90s rockers Fastball on June 1st.

The next weekend is Celebrate Fairfax! featuring OK Go on June 6th and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts on June 7th. Also that weekend is Rusted Root and moe. at Wolf Trap (I’m leaning towards the latter).

June 13th brings Robert Plant and Alison Krauss to Merriweather Post Pavilion, the only act to get me out there this year. I’m heading up to Boston later that weekend to see Rush with Chris, so I’ll be skipping the Alexandria Waterfront Festival with Toad the Wet Sprocket and Little Feat.

Dave Matthews Band will do their annual stop at Nissan Pavilion June 28th. The thing I’m looking forward to is guitarist Tim Reynolds (who often performs acoustic with Dave) is joining them for this tour, so they’ll surely play some older songs.

Coldplay is at Verizon Center July 2nd; also at Nissan Pavilion July 13th is Motley Crue. It’s the original lineup and I still haven’t seen them, so I’ll probably go.

Pop rockers Sister Hazel open for Pat McGee Band at Wolf Trap July 18th in a show guaranteed to be a big party, then I’ll head back to Nissan Pavilion to see Rush for the second time this leg.

We head off on vacation after that, in part to make our annual pilgrimage to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival to see faves like Crooked Still, Dar Williams and Eddie From Ohio, and to camp with our friends. Doubt I’ll get back in time to see Chris Cornell (from Soundgarden) and Linkin Park at Nissan Pavilion July 27th, but I might try.

Extreme reunited for a couple shows two years ago (that were superb), but now are back for good with a new album and tour that will stop at the Rams Head Live in Baltimore August 2nd.

The Virgin Mobile Festival returns for a third time August 9th (with Wilco, Jack Johnson and the Foo Fighters) and 10th (with Bob Dylan, Stone Temple Pilots and Nine Inch Nails). Hopefully the broiling hot weather that accompanied the festival its first two outings won’t return.

Maroon 5 and Counting Crows hit Nissan Pavilion August 16th – it’s a maybe. What’s not is a show at Wolf Trap with Great Big Sea and Eddie From Ohio, we’ll show up early and go home late.

If you like ’80s music (another guilty pleasure), you can check out the Regeneration Tour with A Flock Of Seagulls, ABC, Belinda Carlisle (from the Go-Gos), Naked Eyes and The Human League at Wolf Trap August 26th, and if that’s not enough ’80s for you, close out the summer with Cheap Trick, Heart and Journey at Nissan Pavilion the next night.

Books I’ve read, week eighteen

28. Incredible Hulk Visionaries – Peter David, Vol. 1
Writer: Peter David Artist: Todd McFarlane Issues collected: 331-339
Guess which auctions are coming up? This week and next I’m reading Peter David’s long run on the Hulk (161 issues). The start of his run also introduced an up and coming artist, Todd McFarlane. The first issues aren’t that great – David is saddled with previous storylines (Rick Jones is the Hulk when he starts), and McFarlane struggles early with how to portray the Hulk. B-

29. Incredible Hulk Visionaries – Peter David, Vol. 2
Writer: Peter David Artists: Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, and Jeff Purves Issues collected: 340-348
David gets control of the story, and McFarlane gets good takes on the Hulk and his gamma irridated enemy, the Leader. The Wolverine appearance is a classic, and the end of the storyline is great. B+

30. Incredible Hulk Visionaries – Peter David, Vol. 3
Writer: Peter David Artists: Jeff Purves, Alex Saviuk, and Keith Pollard Issues collected: 349-354
Following the last storyline, the Hulk is presumed dead, but there’s a big gray enforcer in Vegas. David makes a clean break from past storylines, and introduces some new supporting cast members. Not bad, but it lacks something having no Bruce Banner. B-

Comedy, milkshakes and music

Friday we headed into DC and had dinner at The Oval Room with our friend Colleen. They started us off with a two part amuse bouche: a mixture of pureed beets, cilantro and seaweed over which a sea urchin reduction was poured (not so high on that since I’m not a beet fan) and a shot of potato soup with cheese (much better). I had a sauteed shrimp appetizer with rhubarb and olive powder (interesting combination that worked well) while Jill had a crab salad where the crab was pressed into a slab and served with blood orange pieces and some blood orange sorbet (salty but good). I ordered a honeydew martini (not too sweet) and our entrees arrived: a pork tenderloin with smoky potato, broccoli rabe and ancho chili sauce for Jill, and roasted chicken with pumpkin risotto and egg for me (both scrumptious). I was too full for dessert, but Jill had a coconut cream tart that was tasty.

We stopped at Potbelly on the way out to get some dinner for Colleen’s husband Jim, then walked over to Constitution Hall. We met up with Jim and chatted briefly before we went in to see Eddie Izzard. Eddie came out a little late, but was absolutely hysterical. I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. If you haven’t, start with Dress to Kill, but it’s all worthy. A little delayed getting home due to Metro delays, but it was fine.

Saturday I took Jill to pick up her car (she didn’t feel like driving home from my work Friday night) and she helped me load up my car, then I headed out. I hit three library booksales first, then went to Arlington and dropped the eleven boxes of books I’d been keeping since last year’s Chaamp book, bake and plant sale for this year’s (which happens next Saturday and if you’re local you should come out). Finally I hit Hole in the Wall because it was Free Comic Book Day and I wouldn’t miss it.

We had discussed going to see Kids in the Hall that night, but Jill decided she didn’t want to go to DC two nights in a row (instead, we may go see Lewis Black in two weeks). I grilled burgers and made a salad for dinner, then read outside for a while. Later we watched The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because even though it had commercials, it was in HD and had some previews for Prince Caspian. I also made popcorn and strawberry shakes with strawberries, frozen milk and ice cream bars. The bits of chocolate from the ice cream bars added some interesting texture to the shakes – a keeper.

Today I got going early with my auction thing, then headed out on the porch to read. I made orange shrimp for dinner, then headed out to see the Mark Olson Trio at Jammin’ Java. Last time he was in town, I only caught a brief lunchtime performance, and then I heard he had a disappointing turnout at Iota that night, so I was determined to catch him on this swing of the tour. He was very good, the trio format worked well, and I’m always happy to hear “Blue”.

Mark Olson at Jammin' Java