Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Hike

It pains me to report that this is the only photo I have with which to document a lovely event yesterday. The Annual Hike, otherwise known as New Laketon Woodstock. I realized just after I snapped this photo that my photo stick was full and I had, brilliantly, forgotten to pack any spares.

Pictured here are: The Pope of New Laketon Woodstock (completely obscured for security reasons) and then from left: Eva, Dennis, and NLW mastermind, promoter and organizer, Mary Ellen. In the background, is the Pope's tent which was the only tent at the event sporting an actual porch on which the Pope could lounge and think popely thoughts. Not pictured here is the Pope-mobile in which the Pope may or may not have later circled the festival.

The weather was beautiful, if a little unseasonably warm. FurGirl and I picked up Mom and then drove down to the rondezvous point. The twenty or so of us set off at two p.m. for Sandy Creek (bottom?) hiking for the first leg of the journey through dense steep (downhill) forest to an old gravel road where we encountered a few small snakes, large earthworms, and were passed by a few hunters in pick-up trucks. Experienced hiker Toby was charged with the important responsibility of carrying The Pope's medication in a large backpack. Thus fortified, The Pope tolerated the trip surprisingly well.

Once at Sandy Creek,which looked to be the sandy bottom of (guess what?) a dried-up creek, several brave souls in the group hiked a ways up the bed in search of arrowheads. Many of us stayed behind (as one jaded hiker observed, "You've seen one arrowhead you've seen 'em all.") and were rewarded for our laziness with a lively impromptu management seminar by an up and coming young professional in the group.

Which goes to show you never can tell what might happen on The Hike.

We then posed for the obligatory Group Photo (and if any of you readers have a good one, will you please e-mail it to me?) before setting off on the return hike.

FurGirl was in her element, trotting happily along, usually among the hikers at the front of the group, but occassionally dropping back to do her duty and check on me. She managed to charm Cindy out of some of the snacks she had brought along doing her, "My Mommy never feeds me" schtick.

The return hike was actually a work out with the second leg being the reverse climb of the earlier downhill slope. We returned to base camp at 4 p.m. tired but invigorated.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

World News Tonight

We awoke this morning to the ABC news crew filming a segment in the alley behind our house:

Immediately, Satan went down and bossed them around for a while. They seemed to take it a whole lot better than I do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Closer to Fine

I've just arrived home from my little tour of southern cities. It's a balmy October afternoon. The perfect day for a drive. I was welcomed by the slightly psychotic meowings of Tigger from up above on the ledge of my balcony has I dragged my suitcase across the sidewalk and lugged it up the steps. It's good to be home.

Christa and I met as planned at a hotel in downtown Nashville on Tuesday night excited to be away and together and at the prospect of seeing the group whose songs we have sung together perhaps more than any: the (warning: noise on the next two links) Indigo Girls. Adding almost more excitement than we could to bear to this prospect was the fact that our lastest musical obsession, a group called The Weepies, was to be the opening act at the historic Ryman auditorium, original home of the Grand Ol' Opry.

I snapped the picture above in our room at the hotel just before we boarded the shuttle that took us to our desired destination: a bar really close to the Ryman. As you can see from the picture, Christa wore The Cutest Shirt Ever to the show. It's a wonder one or both of the Indigo Girls didn't run clear off with her.

Once at the requested bar, as we sipped our TWO DOLLAR (I ask you, how lucky can two girls get?) margaritas as we discussed our usual topics i.e., Botox: should we? and the perfect haircut: possibility or urban legend?, etc. I told Christa I had come very close to buying a set of tickets to the concert that were second row balconey for a fairly insanely expensive price off e-bay, but had decided against it. She told me what everybody had been telling me--that there really aren't any bad seats at the Ryman. I statement which, frankly, I had decided weeks ago was likely horse hockey as I obsessively studied the seating chart on the Ryman website and silently bemoaned our seats in row Q, floor, center.

Guess what? There really aren't any bad seats at the Ryman.

It's a wonderful intimate venue, sort of like being in somebody's really big living room. The seats aren't seats at all but rather curved church pews and, as we made our way to Row Q, seats four and five, I could hardly believe how close we were to the stage and what a wonderful view we were to have of the concert. The building is a national landmark, and while new entrances and lobbies have been constructed around it, the original hall has remained the same small untouched space as when the opry was first broadcast there.

Our concert tickets clearly stated that no photographic equipment would be allowed at the show and so I had left my camera back at the hotel. And it is my sad, sad duty to report that, when the announcer introduced The Weepies, he also announced that photographs WERE to be allowed from one's concert seat only.

People, I had to choke back a sob on that one. From where I was sitting with my 12x zoom I could have catured zillions of wonderful images from the show to post for your enjoyment. I'm still sniffeling about it even now.

Anyway. Bygones.

As expected, The Weepies were wonderful. Fun, sweet, smart and talented, they came onto the stage with little fanfare and a guitar a piece, which they traded with lots of informal giggling and fiddling, back and forth between them depending on the song. They didn't do a whole lot, maybe--eight songs? Many were from their newest, "Say I am You": "World Spins Madly On", "Gotta Have You", "Nobody Knows Me at All".

Christa and I later agreed that Deb Talen sounded spot-on and fantastic on every note, but that Steve sometimes struggled through the notes. We also both also later discussed that I had thought, before the show, that Deb and Steve were simply musical collaborators, Christa had thought them brother and sister, but we both came away with the impression that they are a couple. For no particular reason we could say.

Both Deb and Steve were charming and talked seemingly, anyway, off-the-cuff about Deb's case of raging "band envy" for the Indigo Girls back-up band and Steve about his time in NYC living with a roommate in an apartment so small that he sometimes had to write as he put it "angry little songs" in a bathroom the size of a broom closet at night. They each did a song from their solo days. They both seemed thrilled to be at the Ryman and still surprised by their success. And just...NICE. So genuine.

And, before we knew it, the Indigo Girls were introduced.

Now, I don't know why, but I for some reason just had this idea that the IG's would be a couple of girls perched on simple wooden stools on a darkened stage strumming away earnestly on their guitars .

Not so much.

As Deb had alluded, they have a great back-up band--all girls except for a male drummer. And Amy and Emily rocked. Hard. For two hours.

As I watched, it made me realize just how infrequent it is that you see two strong women fronting a band. Not often enough, I think. Both girls played an instrument the entire concert, but they almost never used the same instrument twice. After each song a new banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin or electric guitar would be carried out to each of them by the crew. They sounded, seriously, better than the CD's we've been listening to all these years. And they both looked great. We couldn't have asked for more.

About midway through the show, Emily introduced Mindy Smith, who came on stage and played and sang a song--what a great break for her. Of course, she really did sound (just call me a broken record here) great.

Perhaps the high point of the concert came when the girls did "Closer to Fine". They broght The Weepies back to the stage to help them sing. Every single person in the place stood and sang the song with them. No kidding. I saw no one NOT singing. Pretty amazing considering how little airplay the IG's get and just how old the song is now.

As we walked back to the hotel, a group of guys were behind us discussing how disappointed they were that the girls didn't sing a song called "Kid Fears". I mean seriously. Kid Fears. We were in the company of some seriously die-hard fans.

We are both a little closer to fine for the experience.

(coming soon: Part Two: On to Louisville)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Greetings all—I keep hearing from more and more people that they read or have heard tell of my blog.

It’s a little scary.

I had a wonderful, if busy weekend, what with the barbecue, shopping, cleaning, and getting ready for my big trip to NashVegas for the Weepies/Indigo Girls concert—woohoo! I was thrilled to receive not one, not two, but THREE CD’s chock full of the appropriate pre-tunes from my concert-going companion, Christa,—we are READY! Also, we will be sure to take jackets, pack Aleve, and both of us remain hopeful we still possess the ability to remain vertical past 10 p.m.

Sunday, after a delightful dinner of my increasingly popular Pad Thai with charming friend and neighbor Mark, we all caught the last showing of “Little Miss Sunshine” (stupid blogger will not let me post a photo today...DRATS!) at our local cinema. Three thumbs WAY UP on that one. Add it to your Netflix queue, pick it up at Ballbusters when it’s released, you will not be disappointed. LMS is the story of a dysfunctional family with a capital DYS making a cross-country trek in a VW bus in order that the youngest member of the family, little Olive, played by a charming Abigail Breslin, can compete in the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant in California.

Along for the ride are Olive’s stressed-out parents, played by Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear, her silent teenaged brother played by Paul Dano, and way left-of-center grandpa played by Alan Arkin. Perhaps most surprising is the performance given by Steve Carrell who rounds out the cast hilariously playing Olive’s depressed gay uncle. You’ll recognize Steve from his role as a wacky reporter on The Daily Show. (IMDB tells me he got his start on SCTV—who knew?) Anyway, this one is headed for Oscar-ville for sure. And deservedly so. It is easily the best movie I’ve seen this year.

Otherwise, Satan and I continue to lose ourselves in the hit TV series “Lost”. Initially, I added the first few episodes of season one to our Netflix queue, but was pleasantly surprised yesterday to discover our local library has the entire first season available for FREE check-out. I was able to pick up the remaining DVD’s from season one yesterday and I’ve now added all of season two DVD’s to the Netflix queue.

We’re both loving “Lost”, a series about a commercial airliner that takes off from Sydney, Australia and crashes a thousand miles off course on a tropical island. Miraculously, forty or so passengers survive the crash. The show splits its time between telling the stories of the sometimes practical and, more importantly, sometimes creepy going’s-on on the island and showing the back-stories of the castaway’s previous lives in civilization off the island. The show is sort of a cross between adventure and thriller and could be classified as sci-fi (which may be the channel that originated it).

I know season three of “Lost” is airing on TV this season in real time, but Satan and I have found we much prefer immersing ourselves in TV shows this way, after the fact, watching as few or as many episodes as we want to at a time SANS commercials. In this fashion we’ve discovered “Project Runway” as well as “Dead Like Me”, of which I’m in love with both, Satan only the latter. Sadly, “Dead Like Me” was so good it had to be cancelled. I am eagerly anticipating the release of season three of “Project Runway”.

Otherwise, I can hardly believe it’s October…OCTOBER! How did this happen? Didn’t we just have Christmas? The only good news is that sweater weather is, or should be, here. Frankly, I’ve already busted out the sweaters, eighty degrees or no eighty degrees.

And, I'm prattling on like this because I'm afraid to say, what I should be saying for fear the universe will hear me...

(I had a lovely weekend. I am happy.)

So there.