Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The A-B-C's

Tagged by Beth, who knows I'm not one to turn down blog fodder:

A - Available/Single? Not!
B - Best Friend? My beloved husband
C - Cake or Pie? Pie! Any kind except mince meat!
D - Drink Of Choice? Coffee (Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Skinny Latte)
E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? Soap
F - Favorite Color? Like Beth said, it depends. Also, like Beth, much of my wardrobe is black. In home decor, it's cobalt-titanate-green and cadmium-barrium-yellow-orange. In artwork, it's cerulean blue. 8-}
G - Gummy Bears Or Worms? Sour worms
H - Hometown? Manhattan, KS, The Little Apple
I - Indulgence? Ooh, sweets! Or maybe blogging?
J - January Or February? February, because it's closer to Spring
K - Kids & Their Names? 2 step-daughters, anonymous
L - Life Is Incomplete Without? Jesus
M - Marriage Date? December 20
N - Number Of Siblings? 1 younger brother, 2 step-brothers, 2 step-sisters
O - Oranges Or Apples? Valencia oranges; But Fuji apples are a close second
P - Phobias/Fears? Hmm, no real phobias, but I do fear losing my loved ones
Q - Favorite Quote? Too many to choose from; too few remembered, but I've always liked "Less is More."
R - Reason to Smile. Just one? You, my blogfriends; you don't know how often your blogs make me grin or even laugh outloud.
S - Season? Fall. Or Winter. Fall!
T - Tag Three People? You know who you are.
U - Unknown Fact About Me? Then it wouldn't be unknown, would it?
V - Vegetable you don't like? I can eat most vegetables but the acorn squash filled with applesauce and covered with brown sugar makes me gag...sorry, Mom!
W - Worst Habit? Procrastinating
X - X-rays You've Had? Collar bone, teeth and knee (I insisted; I could have sworn it was broken)
Y - Your Favorite Food? Mmm, tater tots...are you gonna eat yours? Oh, seriously? Key lime pie (the real kind, made with eggs, not Jello brand's pseudo pie), or chicken/seafood gumbo (again, the real kind, made in N'awlins...oh, but then there's those beignets down there...yum!), or homemade bread fresh out of the oven (the most basic kind that smells of heavenly warm yeast), or BBQ meat cooked long and slow in a wood coal smoker...mmm, I'm hungry!
Z - Zodiac Sign? Cancer (how lousy is that?)


Monday, November 27, 2006

The Shuffle - An Update

In a recent post, I noted that the shuffle was especially gratuitous, but in the comments noted that the Christmas music was often ill timed and unpredictable. So I downloaded much Christmas music in hopes of improving the odds that between now and Christmas, I might be blessed with more. For times when the pod is not "feeling it," there are always the local radio stations that have now been playing non-stop Christmas music since the onset of Fall, but frankly, I'd rather just hope for the serendipitous occurrence, as we had in today's morning set, which makes me so happy. Included in the 10 songs played, there were three (3), THREE, Christmas carols (and Mr. Sgazetti thought we would be barren until Spring...okay, that didn't sound right, but I think you know what I mean...30% Christmas music is good):

Dean Martin, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (this is the perfect song for Mr. Martin to sing, don't you think? ;-)

Louis Armstrong, Cool Yule (And this is a cool version)

The Three Tenors, Oh Tannenbaum

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pumpkin Tomato Soup

How to make a fine pumpkin-tomato soup in just 35 easy steps (this is a simple recipe that nevertheless makes a big mess and consumes lots of time; I believe it is a case of not having the right tool for the job; it is also an exercise in the law of diminishing returns as the vegetable matter cycles through a strainer time and again; in the end, you have a very tasty creamy soup without the cream):

Step 1 - Saute a large onion in a 10-inch pot (size matters)
Step 2 - Add 3 cups chicken stock (homemade, just like your mother taught you, and if she didn't, then read this book by Crescent Dragonwagon...with a name like that, you've gotta know how to make your own stock, and probably raise your own chickens); simmer for 15 minutes Step 3 - Cook and puree 4 cups of pumpkin (here, you may cheat and used canned pumpkin, I don't think it makes as much difference as the stock; neither does Crescent...this is her recipe afterall)
Step 4 - Puree a 28 oz (or 29 oz if that's all you can find) can of whole tomatoes in their own juice
Step 5 - Strain the onions out of the stock and puree those
Step 6 - Combine all of the pureed items back into the broth and simmer for awhile until the flavors blend (about 30 minutes); add more stock if you're so inclined
Step 7 - Serve with a squeeze of pureed roasted red peppers on top of each serving (roast the peppers, peel them, puree them and store them in a squeeze bottle normally used for catsup, or ketchup)

OR Continue on...

Step 8 - Begin the odious task of pureeing the purees to make the soup smoother, for more refined tastes

Steps 9 - 34 (I am normally a neat freak):

The Process

(Multiple transfers of the soup from the pot to the strainer and back again, siphoning out the ultra smooth soup one drop at a time, then taking the "roughage" and recycling it back through again, and again, and again, until the roughage itself is quite smooth and reduced to only about a cup or two, as compared to the 3-4 cups of ultra smooth puree now back in the pot; in the end, you can add the smoother roughage to the ultra smooth contents, or you may opt to serve only the ultra smooth, refined soup, your choice)

Step 35 - Call in the clean-up crew (that would be me):

The Fallout

A Day At The Races

Testing. Testing. Let's see if this works. This is a video clip I filmed ("filmed" is a very loose term...I've only just recently discovered the video feature on my camera; prepare to be underwhelmed) at the Nextel Cup race, seen earlier this Fall. This was the view for a good solid 5 hours. I can see why millions of people flock to the tracks and spend thousands of hard earned money on this:

The Amazing Video

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Feet

When the noon day dinner was over and the digestive juices settled and the dishes done, we set out for the movies. Anticipating a crowd, I urged everyone to "hurry up so we would be sure to get tickets to the last matinee of the day." Good thing because when we arrived at the theatre, the parking lot was practically empty. Ultimately, there were 32 people in the theater with us. Over half of them were young children. We don't usually count the people coming in, but my husband was trying to make a point. ;-)

This time, we chose "mild peril" over "moronic stupidity." While Borat made its mark as the worst movie I've ever seen, Happy Feet is one that will likely be near the top of my list for a long time. It's a children's movie, but not without adult overtones that are hilarious (I hope Latinos don't take offense at the casting of "the fallen" friends of Mumble, the non-singing, dancing penguin...they were a great addition). The music was very fun. Robin Williams does an outstanding job as the voice of several key characters...as you might imagine, he really brings them to life. The animation production was superb! In fact, it's hard to tell that this is an animated movie. I think it helps to have seen March of the Penguins beforehand, in order to appreciate references to the real (amazing) lives of the Emperor penguins. I also think the peril goes a bit beyond "mild." There is one very scary seal in this movie! But that's all I'll say for now.

I've heard that the ending is sad and a bit confusing for kids. While I didn't consider it sad, I'd agree that it's confusing. I think the ending could have been better, but I enjoyed it all the way through to the end (and beyond...the credits were cute too).

This is a movie worth seeing, even if you don't have kids. My husband and I both loved it and our 17-year-old (the one with whom we rarely agree on what constitutes a "good" movie) did too. She wants to buy it when it is released on DVD. It's also one that I would enjoy watching again. There were several parts where I wished I could have rewound and played it again during the movie.

A good message of hope along with some mild environmentalist "propaganda." Cute, cute, cute! :-) Two thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gratuitous Shuffling

Today's trip to work on the iPod was an especially good set, one I thought worth sharing (I'm growing to love the shuffle; for once, the perfect set wasn't interrupted by gangsta rap or some other nefarious anomaly that always manages to weasle its way onto my iPod):
  1. Two Places at a Table, Rory Block (a great beginning; if you've never listened to traditional country blues, Rory is a good place to start as she does a great contemporary interpretation of the old Robert Johnson tunes and writes many of her own songs; she plays the guitar like it's a percussion instrument and is a great story teller)
  2. Maria Bonita, Placido Domingo (go ahead and laugh all ye non-opera fans, but until you've heard Placido sing the love songs, ye know not what love is ;-)
  3. Sing Alleluia, Jennifer Knapp (indeed, thank you Jennifer!)
  4. Dream A Little Dream, Chicago (not classic Chicago, but it fit into the inspirational theme of the day)
  5. When He Reached Down, Johnny Cash (I'm no country fan, but I've got more Johhny Cash tunes on my pod than any other artist and this, from his most simple and most poignant of all albums, his Mother's Hymn Book, is among the best)
  6. Knockin on Heaven's Door, Eric Clapton (an old favorite, off of an old album)
  7. Track 10 off of a Putumayo Zydeco collection (I've got 4 "Track 10s" on my iPod; I've since learned always to enter the other data manually when it doesn't load up automatically)
  8. I'm Ready, Muddy Waters (one of the true old country blues masters)
  9. Too Hot, Kool and the Gang (for funk, this song has a nice smooth jazzy hue to it)
  10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Peggy Lee (the perfect ending)
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and your families!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Borat

I am embarassed to say that I actually went to see this movie. It is the terrible!! Do not go see it. I implore you. And now, don't go running off to see it just because I said not to either. DON'T! DO! IT! You will be sorry and ashamed and embarassed just like me. There has never been a worse movie made unless you add pron to the mix. It was vile, offensive, and disgusting without any redemptive value whatsoever. It should have received more than an "R" rating. And it was not funny. At all. I know, I know...I'm the one who named Rocky Horror Picture Show as the horror movie I want to take with me to a desert island. Who am I to judge this piece of work? But really, RHPS has a certain historic and musical quality about it. No? Well, maybe it's just the high school memories of throwing toast and shooting water pistols in a movie theatre then. Anyway, Darko warned us not to go see the Borat, but I did not listen. Well, that's not entirely true. My husband was the one who wanted to see it and I did pass along Darko's warning, but we went anyway. The only reason I can offer with any validity whatsoever is that if people are going to be talking about this movie for years to come, I wanted to know what all the fuss (and lawsuits as it turns out) was about. Now, all I can do is rant that this one should never have been released. Just. Awful.

The next movie we will pay money to see is going to be Happy Feet, rated PG, for "mild peril." I think I can handle a little mild peril, accompanied by dancing penguins.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Get No Respect

I'd just like to say, I had this story first! See, Mom? If only I had Dave Barry's wit and ability to draw crowds of strangers from all around the free world to my site every day, I'd be...well, I'd have more strangers at my site every day. Yeah.

I especially liked these questions from Dave's clever readers (not that my readers aren't clever; I value each and every one of you for your wit and clarity on the important life issues that we discuss here each and every day):

"What if you have '2' half-quart plastic baggies with zip-lock tops??"

"How about if you put your toothpaste in a 1 gallon baggie and then put it in a 1 quart baggie?"

"Can I put the screaming child in row 32 in the Ziploc(R) 1 quart bag?"

"Can I just throw my toothpaste in the baggie with my quarter of pot?"

Dave's response, of course, is:

"I believe you may carry anything onto the plane -- drugs, guns, etc. -- as long as these items are in A ONE-QUART, CLEAR-PLASTIC BAGGIE WITH A ZIP-LOCK TOP."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oh, the Things I've Done

This meme brought to you by the letter "T" for Texas Trifles, also seen at Sticky Doorknobs.

Because I haven't time or energy to come up with material on my own, I have stolen yet another idea from the b'sphere. Which of course begs the question, "why blog?" I hate it when people ask me this question because I never have a good explanation. My conclusion is that people fall into two camps, those who just "get it" and those who think we're out of our ever lovin' minds. Nothing we can say will change that. My own mother falls into the latter camp. She doesn't have a computer and has heard horror stories about people getting sucked into cyberspace, devoured by chatroom predators and destroyed by computer blow-ups. At least these are the reasons she gives when I offer to give her my old computer and fix it up for her free of charge. On her recent visit in October (she lives far, far away in the land of California), I showed her my blog (the rest of my family has access to the blog, but as any astute reader might have observed, they don't visit often and none of them are brave enough to leave comments *waves to family* and none of them have developed the itch to start their own blog which tells me they pretty much fall into the latter camp as well).

As I showed off my blog to my mom, the conversation went something like this, with many quizzical looks and pregnant pauses in between:

Mom: "So, how do people find your blog"

Me: "Mostly, they don't," I assured her.

Mom: "What do you write about?"

Me: "Mostly nothing"

Mom: "You mean, anyone in the world can read what you write here?"

Me: "Yes, but why would they?"

Mom: "But doesn't it bother you that anyone in the whole world can see what you put here?"

Me: "Not really. Besides, only about 10 people a day stop by, mostly the same ones, people that I've gotten to know through blogging. They're very nice people."

Mom (looking a little paranoid...she worked in law enforcement for years): "Aren't you worried about all the strangers who could stop by?"

Me: "No, I wish more would."

Mom: "Hmmm...so how do they find you?"

Mom: "And why would you do this?"

Me: (At the time, I was composing my post on Liquids and Gels) "Nevermind, it's nothing." *turned off the computer*

So now, for something completely pedantic (the things which I have done are in bold):

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain (many!)
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone (in a heart shaped jacuzzi tub at Motel 6's Honeymoon Suite :-)
8. Said "I love you" and meant it!

9. Hugged a tree (not that I remember; what does this mean anyway?)
10. Bungee jumped (NEVER!)
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (and on a river, and a lake)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (though I'm not sure what constitutes "huge")
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (this is the most ethereal experience I've ever had)
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Drunk tequila (um, this would be the only explanation I can offer for why I chose to ride my bicycle down the stairs of my apartment and out the front door)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (in hindsight, no)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight (that's so junior high)
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (I'm sure I did this as a child)
32. Held a lamb (ahem)
33. Seen a total eclipse (through a pin hole)

34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Scored a winning goal (high school water polo)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (see #41)

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Visited all 5 continents (working on it...and there are 7, not 5 continents...duh!)
40. Taken care of someone who was drunk (and diabetic, just to further complicate things)
41. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country (see #36 and this post)

42. Watched wild whales
43. Stolen a sign
44. Backpacked
45. Taken a road-trip (too many to count, but I remember every one of them)
46. Gone rock climbing (not the kind that requires equipment though)
47. Midnight walk on the beach (many)
45. Gone sky diving (NEVER!)
49. Taken a train through Europe
50. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love (can we just not talk about this?)
51. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them (in Europe, this is standard behavior)

52. Milked a cow (once, on a school sponsored field trip)
53. Alphabetized your CDs (they were LPs then, but still)

54. Sung karaoke (completely against my will and it was not pretty)
55. Lounged around in bed all day (ahhh)
56. Gone scuba diving (does snorkeling count?)
57. Kissed in the rain
58. Gone to a drive-in theatre
59. Started a business
60. Taken a martial arts class
61. Been in a movie
62. Crashed a party (those darned college days)
63. Gone without food for 5 days (WHAT?!)
64. Gotten a tattoo (I was old enough to know better)
65. Got flowers for no reason

66. Performed on stage (does teaching count?)
67. Been to Las Vegas
68. Recorded music (as in recording a copy of my friends' CDs? Of course! Otherwise, no.)
69. Eaten shark
70. Buried one/both of your parents (thank heavens, NO!)
71.Been on a cruise ship
72. Spoken more than one language fluently (I never could get to the "fluent" part, but I tried French for many years)
73. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
74. Walked a famous bridge (The Golden Gate Bridge; I've also bicycled it)
75. Had plastic surgery
76. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived (see my "Near Death" posts)
78. Wrote articles for a large publication (exactly one article; I'm still waiting for the royalty checks to come in)

79. Tried to lose weight seriously (see #63)
80. Piloted an airplane
80. Petted a stingray
81. Broken someone’s heart (amazing, but true)
82. Broken a bone (I fell out of bed and broke my collarbone)
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Parasailed
86. Skipped all your school reunions (all but one)
87. Shaved your head
88. Caused a car accident (only fender benders but I've had 3, all by the age of 20, two were my fault)
89. Pretended to be “sick”
90. Swam in the Pacific Ocean (see #76)
91. Saved someone’s life (maybe?)
92. Fainted
93. Been in the room while someone is giving birth
94. Hitchhiked (does holding out your thumb and then ducking in the bushes when a car actually pulls over count?)
95. Adopted a child (does step-parenting count?)
96. Been caught daydreaming
97. Been to the Painted Desert
98. Called off a wedding engagement
99. Donated your blood
100. Had an out-of-body experience

Now, won't you play along?


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Dessert Island

10 movies I would want with me on a desert island (or is it dessert island...I think I'd prefer the latter, with lots of creme brulee)? And if I had to take movies instead of books, here's what I would take (truth be known, I really have a hard time watching any movie more than once, with one exception and that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail):

Western - Blazing Saddles (so sue me, I'm calling this a western because it uses the word "saddles")
Horror - Rocky Horror Picture Show (same thing...it may not be your classic "horror" flick; it's actually much worse, but it contains the word "horror" and it makes me laugh)
Sci-Fi - 2001 Space Odyssey
Musical - The Wizard of Oz (I am from Kansas afterall)
Comedy - The Holy Grail
War - Glory
Action - Lord of the Rings, the trilogy (because I haven't seen it yet)
Foreign - Seven Samurai
Classic (before 1960) - Casablanca (I know, I know, so cliche)
Documentary - Koyaanisqatsi
Bonus Pick (any genre) - The Godfather (although how I'd feel about watching this on a desert island, I'm not sure; maybe It's A Wonderful Life would be the better choice)

Via Eric, whose choice of Shaun of the Dead might actually be a better pick over RHPS, but I've still got time to think about it, I hope.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Like Books

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

I wasn't planning to post the results of yet another quiz until I read the blurb. I couldn't agree more with both of those statements! As a kid, we lived walking distance from the public library and I spent many, many hours there, for fun.

Via Jen and Beth, fellow book lovers.

Tax Law Changes?

My first post-election post! As most of you know, Nancy Pelosi is to be the next speaker of the House, and thanks to Democratic control of both the House and the Senate, she's going to control the legislative agenda. What should we expect over the next two years? Here is her track record on taxes…

Pelosi's Tax Vote Record:

Voted "NO" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends. (December 2005)

Voted "NO" on providing tax relief. (September 2004)

Voted "NO" on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit. (May 2004)

Voted "NO" on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty. (April 2004)

Voted "NO" on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (April 2002)

Voted "NO" on a $99 billion economic stimulus package that included capital gains & income tax cuts. (October 2001)

Voted "NO" on tax cut package of $958 billion over 10 years. (May 2001)

Voted "NO" on eliminating the estate tax (death tax). (April 2001)

Voted "NO" on eliminating the marriage penalty. (July 2000)

Voted "NO" on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business. (March 2000)

Thank goodness she is not moving into a really powerful position, like chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Whee, we're in for some fun now!

Accent? What Accent?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
North Central
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

The "lowest common denominator?" Well, alrighty then. Funny thing is I have lived in several parts of the country and picked up various accents along the way, none of which I'm aware of until I move to another place. Born in Tennessee, I spent most of 2nd grade, in Kansas, shaking the serious Southern drawl that was cause for some serious dissing on the playground. Moving from Kansas to CA in high school, I struggled with square roots in math class, not the way most people struggle with them, but in how I pronounced the word, "root" (I pronounced it like soot, not boot). Now that I'm back in the Midwest, folks in CA tell me I have a Midwestern "twang." Jim, is that true?

Via Jen, whose Northeastern accent I hope to hear one day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Awkward Years

Via Anne, who started this torturous but humorous look back at those incredibly awkward years, the years in which our true character was no doubt formed. I'm too lazy to dig out a more formal class photo. This one, from the Age of Aquarius, will have to suffice (in which I look like an 11-year-old Janis Joplin living in a commune and partaking in an illegal activity...I really don't know what I was doing or where I was or why it warranted a picture, but here it is):

Seeing this picture reminds me why I found the act of smiling so embarrassing. I hated all those gaps in my teeth. I always smiled with my mouth closed, if at all. I decided that if I wanted more friends, I would need to smile more and ultimately had some cosmetic dentistry done to fix the gaps. The inventory of friends did not expand, but the self esteem improved.

You've gotta check out Foo's entry also. Hilarious! His 6th grade look is not entirely unfamiliar though...I was a few years older when I looked like this (it was Halloween, okay? And yes, I was old enough to be drinking legally):


This picture reminds me that it's always best to stay on the other side of the camera.


Gagged To The Gag Step

Can anyone tell me what this phrase means (as seen today, while sitting at a railroad crossing, on every. single. train. car.)? I'm thinking it's all like, you know, totally a mix of Moon Unit's "gag me with a spoon" Valley Girl, with Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Train Unit lingo. Any clues?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


It's Wednesday already. Everyone else is involved in some version of NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo while I, apparently, have entered NoMoBloMo (No More Blogging Month). I am cursing my chaotic client demands and extra-curricular activities as we speak. There is no time for blogging this month. Okay, more rightly, there is very little time for blogging this month.

All prayers, cash and iTunes welcome!

(Thanks for the button, Eric! I'm afraid I have no idea how to put it into my template.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Down The Road

Ah, Marcia Ball. Just awesome! Blues/jazz/rock/zydeco/boogie-woogie, all rolled into one fabulous performer. She hails from Texas originally and now lives in the New Orleans area. We last saw her at the NOLA Jazz Fest. “Long and Tall Marcia Ball” is how she is introduced, but until last night, I had no idea just how tall she really is. I had only seen her from a distance at past performances. No one can help but notice her tall, thin, graceful, lady-like presence, in her signature short skirt and high heels, playing the keyboards with legs elegantly crossed. Last night, I got to meet her. And she towered over me. Granted, she was in heels and I was not, but it seemed like she was a good foot taller than me, and I’m 5’9.” I kept looking down to see if she was standing on a step or a platform or something. Nope, we were on the same floor, although the ground she walked on was superior in my eyes. ;-) Meeting her in person took away some of the “lady-like” impression that I had. She has a raspy voice from all her years of singing the blues, and a very down-to-earth demeanor. I’d still say though, possibly with more enthusiasm than before, that she is one of the best blues pianists in the world, and certainly the most elegant.

I’ve never seen anyone play piano so energetically without both feet on the floor. She always plays with her legs crossed, always. How is that even possible? Having taken piano lessons as a child and playing in a few recitals (I’m not going to go so far as to say that I ever “played” the piano), operating the pedals was a key ingredient in any successful performance. Playing the electric keyboard eliminates the need for pedals, but still. It seems unnatural. Watching her is half the fun. She was built to play the piano, with her long fingers and hands that seem to span the entire keyboard and then, like a beauty queen, she uses them to gracefully acknowledge her band members.

Last night’s venue was very intimate, being in a honky-tonk and all. In fact, I’m surprised they managed to get her there, but Knuckleheads is gaining quite a reputation as THE local blues venue even though it is also a dive bar.* Last night, we also had the pleasure of sitting next to the governor’s table. I had heard that the governor (Kathleen Sebelius, KS) was a frequent patron but had yet to witness this with my own eyes. And let me just say, white girl can dance! She obviously had more than just a photo-opportunity interest in Marcia’s music and Knuckleheads saloon, lip syncing to most of the songs and fitting into the crowd without any special gubernatorial fanfare. I’ll have to poke around and see if there is any local coverage of her whereabouts last night. Also in the crowd was a former player for the KC Chiefs, sporting his Super Bowl ring and full Harley gear, complete with chaps. I actually work with him and am accustomed to seeing him in a suit and tie, so the Harley gear elicited a few giggles from this blogger, but it was fun to see how many people recognized him even in his “biker” get-up.

We got there early (7:00 pm) and sat in the very back (in the comfortable, cushioned, upholstered bar stools), but we were no more than 30 feet away from the band. Marcia didn’t start until almost 11:00 but played until 2:30 in the morning. By then, the crowd had thinned down to about 20 able-bodied dancers and 10 of us old fogies sitting in the back of the bar (blues fans are aging, along with the performers, you know, and most simply can’t stay out that late any more). Despite the dwindling crowd, her enthusiasm never waned; in fact, she seemed to enjoy the smaller group even more, playing “St. Gabriel” for us like we were her closest friends. Her passion sparkled and engaged the crowd.

There were other “divas” on the warm-up list last night, most of them local, all of them good, but none compared to Marcia. For Darko's sake, Angela Strehli was not with Marcia last night (often a back-up vocalist), but Marcia held her own with her very capable back-up band.

And that is the follow-up to Coco Montoya earlier this week, a vast improvement and well worth the wait and the $20 price of admission, a bargain by any standard.

I’m gushing, aren’t I? Okay, I’ll quit. But if you’ve never heard her before, check out her latest CD (Live! Down The Road), which is essentially a greatest hits album, performed...live, duh!

* And in a truly bizarre footnote, I have actually been to the dive bar that is the illustration for the Wikipedia entry (The Merrimaker). It is located on the Central Coast of CA where I lived for 17 years. This qualifies me as an expert in "dive bars," I think. ;-)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Out of the Ice Age

Refrigeration...we finally have it! At last.

A quote from the link above:

"The use of ice to refrigerate and thus preserve food goes back to prehistoric times. Through the ages, the seasonal harvesting of snow and ice was a regular practice of most of the ancient cultures: Chinese, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans. Ice and snow were stored in caves or dugouts lined with straw or other insulating materials. Rationing of the ice allowed the preservation of foods over the hot periods. This practice worked well down through the centuries." Until people started buying refrigerators made by the same companies who bring us televisions and cellular phones.

Multiple visits and replacement parts from the fine man who works for Maytag repairs (the only company known to service Samsung refrigerators, I guess) and we now have cold air. In our kitchen! It's a day to rejoice. And put away the ice chest. And do some grocery shopping.

Do not buy a Samsung refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Celebrating 16 Years

October 31st is the day when my husband and I met. When the girls were little, we used to celebrate the day by trekking them around the neighborhood, begging for candy. Those days are now behind us. Now, they abandon us in search of more exciting alternatives like costume parties with their friends and leave us to find our own form of humble entertainment. Foraging for free candy, while this sounds almost too good to be true...I love the old Seinfeld clip on this...is not it.

So, in our quest for fun and excitement, we went out for dinner last night (Wendy's, if you must know) and a concert (at the Knuckleheads Saloon). The dinner part kind of fizzled out on us. We got off work too late to fit dinner in before the concert, but we thought we'd make do on bar food at the Saloon. When we arrived, they said the kitchen was closed but we could help ourselves to hot dogs in the back. We ordered a hot dog and promptly spit it out. I have never not finished a hot dog before, but this one was awful! Possibly composed, not of the usual pig, cow, or turkey parts, but of digested wood pulp. It was mealy and chewy but with a certain squish that I've never experienced in all my years of hot dog consumption. So we left the building and drove down the tracks to the nearest fast food establishment, and enjoyed at least consistently so-so food, a chicken BLT salad for me and a spicy chicken sandwich for MBH.

With copius quantities of food in our bellies, we were prepared to enjoy an evening with Coco Montoya, blues guitarist, formerly with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. And while this left-handed guitarist is not bad to listen to, the last concert we went to at Knuckleheads was much better. I even closed my eyes and did that head jerk thing we do just before falling asleep, which is something I've never done at a concert before, not even at the symphony. Not that it was a bad concert, it just wasn't the rousing kind of concert I was needing to stay awake, apparently. But then came the rousing drum solo, that went on longer than medically necessary, and I was wide awake after that. We're looking forward to seeing Marcia Ball, blues pianist at the same joint this weekend...we may just become regulars (and if we do, we will insist that they get rid of those awful hot dogs). We saw Marcia perform at the New Orleans Jazz festival a couple years ago and she's a favorite. So the best is yet to come, as they say.