Sunday, July 29, 2007

Live From Niagara... Almost

View from our hotel room
We were supposed to stay an extra day, but after yesterday's activities at the African Lion safari, we decided to come home since we were almost 1/2 way back anyway & because Niagara was expensive as Hell. Hence the "almost" from Niagara. I was planning to blog this morning, but I figured we'd still be in Canada. As it is, I'm in my back room watching the kids play Mario Kart. That said, the trip was fantastic. We arrive in Niagara Thursday afternoon & checked into the hotel from which we had a great view of the American Falls. Thurs. night, we drove around a bit to show the kids the area & then got dinner at an over-priced Italian place... the first of many over-priced meals this weekend. I took the kids swimming & then got to bed in order to rest up for the following day. On Fri., after an over-priced shit-ass breakfast buffet, we found a sweet, sweet day pass for 45 bucks a person that got us into 4 attractions plus allowed us to ride the bus all day long.
Attraction 1: The Maid of the Mist
I did this when I was my son's age & then again when I was 12, & I'm glad I got to take my kids on it now. My son was a bit scared as we got close to the falls, but he claims to have loved it & my daughter loved every second of it. She stood by the edge of the boat w/ my dad & had a great time. it was a bit cloudy Fri. morning & rained for a while, but as we were on a boat below the falls, we were getting wet anyway so it didn't really matter.

The Maid of the Mist

Attraction 2: Journey Behind the Falls
I did this w/ my ex when we passed through Niagara on our honeymoon, but I didn't remember it that well. An elevator takes you down into a series of tunnels behind the falls where you can watch the water fall from the inside. It's not as cool as it sounds though since all you can see is spray & mist... like being inside of a cloud. There's an observation deck next to the falls that's pretty cool though. Afterwards, we got another over-priced meal & had to wait in line behind some french Canadian 70s porn star. Why do so many French/Italian/Spanish dudes love the chest hair/gold chain/moustache look? I don't get it. The guy spent 10 minutes changing his order & discussing the options w/ his brother while we waited behind him for an order of veggie California rolls.

Observation deck at the bottom

Attraction 3: White Water Walk
After lunch, we took an elevator down down to the bottom of the gorge for a walk along the rapids. This s where, in Superman II, Lois jumps into the river to prove Clark is Superman. He is able to use his heat vision to burn a branch off of a tree which falls into the water & she grabs to get to safety w/o her seeing he did it & in turn protecting his secret identity. We didn't have any adventures like that, but it was fantastic none-the-less. The water there is 25 feet deep & moving at 25 mph before ending up in the whirlpool that send the river off at a 90 degree angle. It's insane... & absolutely beautiful. When we took the elevator back up, it emptied us in the gift shop, just like the elevators from the other 2 things we'd done. They definitely know how to run a tourist trap.

The rapids... obviously

Attraction 4: The Butterfly Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
This wa cool, but it obviously didn't have anything to do w/ the falls. It's an enormous indoor tropical butterfly garden surrounded by beautiful outdoor gardens & pathways. It was interesting, but my son didn't like the butterflies fluttering around his head. One landed on my mom, which was pretty cool. Overall, though, I don't think i'd do that again. It may have been cooler though, had we not already done 3 other things. We were dragging by that point. This then concluded the 4 inclusive attractions, but not the day as a whole, as I had promissed the kids a trip up the "Street of Fun." I'll write about that and the African Lion Safari later though, as I have to get ready for soccer now.

My mom & a butterfly

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Looking for a soul to steal

I hadn't seen Blues Traveler since the 10 shows we saw in the mid-90s culminating at Hill Auditorium in the fall of '96 when they played w/in the same 4 day period as Bela Fleck at EMU & the two Michigan Phish shows that fall, but when my dad claimed he had scored a bunch of free tix I figured it would probably be worth the drive to Meadow Brook. I was absolutely correct. (Scroll down for the full list of BT shows I've seen.) It turned out that they weren't free, per se, they were coupons to get in for 5 bucks. Stacey came over, cut off my Mohawk, & then we drove out to Rochester Hills. We were getting off the express way 40 minutes later... the best time I ever made going out that way. At that point, we had to hook up w/ my parents in the lot to score our tickets & after a couple beers, we went in & I had some less than fantastic Phantom Menace nachos. We also split a $13.00 double Captains & Pepsi which was good, but a bit pricey. As it turned out, BT's set was fantastic though & well worth the 5 bucks, at least once we moved close enough to be able to hear. We could hear the opening band from the lot, but couldn't hear well on the top of the hill at all. Maybe there's some sound ordinance in Rochester Hills that demands they turn it down a bit after a certain time. We were sitting w/ my parents & a group of folks w/ whom they went, but had to ditch them after about 20 minutes. We found a great spot next to the board & right behind some young white punks on dope who were much better than the old white trash on blankets that were sitting next to my parants. It's quite possible that the mix/volume wasn't the problem, but rather the incessant conversations of these douche bags who couldn't shut their fucking pie holes. Some were even sitting w/ their backs to the stage as they carried on about the most pointless drivel. Until, of course, "Run Around," when one woman then complained that the people in front of her were blocking her view of the song she knew. Ditching them was a great idea. We could see a lot better, the sound was great, & their playing was really impressive. They didn't play any of the songs I was hoping to hear, "Whoops," "Sweet Talkin' Hippie," "Gina," "100 Years," Whoops," "Alone" "Mother Funker," "Jaberwock," "Go Outside and Drive," or "Out of My Hands," or anything off of Travelers and Thieves which is ironic because that's the one album of theirs that I can't find right now & it's always been my favorite. Even though I didn't get any of the songs I was hoping for, I had a really good time & was really impressed by Chan's little brother on bass. His solos reminded me more of Otiel or Victor Wooten than of Bobby Sheehan. The keyboardist, the guy from Big Dave & the Ultrasonics, was great too. I didn't know if I'd like their sound w/ keys or not, but it really adds some nice textures. The other things to note were the rearrangements of "Hook" & "The Mountains Win Again." They were both slowed way down & given a sort of Spanish Flamenco feel w/ some sort of military-like percussion... almost like in "Five to One," which is what I thought they were going to play. I also thought they were going into "Stand" a couple times, as two different jams had the "The answers come to those who pray" sound. As for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," it was always my least favorite cover in a repertoire that includes "Miss You," "Should I Stay or Should I Go," "Blister in the Sun," "Imagine, "Five to One," & "Come Together." It too was fun though & seemed to make sense in the set list. Until they came back to it in the encore, I'd forgotten that they left it unfinished earlier. All in all, they played for 2 1/2 hours & only stopped 4 times. The jams & segues were great. I would highly recommend checking them out some time. I guess, after 20 years, they've gotten it figured out pretty well. not that they were better than they used to be, but maybe a bit tighter & more organized. They're playing a free show in Lima, OH on the 4th, & if I wasn't going to be at Dunegrass, I'd definitely consider making the drive. I think I'll have to check them out again, next time they come around.

Popper prepares to eat his mic... before the gastric Bypass Surgery

Set 1
Sadly A Fiction>
Carolina Blues>
Back In The Day>
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly>
The Devil Went Down To Georgia>
Run-Around
Just For Me
Money Back Guarantee>
You Reach Me>
All Hands>
Hook
Amber Awaits>
Thinnest Of Air>
Love & Greed
NY Prophesie>
You Lost Me There>
Can't Win True Love>
Mulling It Over>
But Anyway

Encore
The Mountains Win Again>
The Devil Went Down To Georgia


Blues Traveler Shows I've seen:
1994-07-21 H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI (w/ Jason, Clifford, the Josher & my ex)
1994-10-13 State Theatre, Detroit, MI (w/ the Josher)
1995-04-02 Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (w/ my ex, the Josher, & 2 of his friends... Mike & Chris)
1995-04-07 Indiana University Auditorium, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN (w/ Jason, Clifford, the Josher, & my ex)
1995-08-20 H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI (w/ Jason, Clifford, my ex, the Josher, Mike, Chris, & my ex)
1995-10-26 Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (w/ my ex & a couple of Whole Foodsers: Amy & Jerome)
1995-10-27 Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (w/ my ex) (my favorite BT show ever)
1996-07-14 H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI (w/ my ex, Elizabeth, & a bunch of her friends)
1996-07-15 H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI (w/ all of the people listed above except the Whole Foodsers)
1996-11-13 Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (w/ Dawn & my ex)
2007-07-24 Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills, MI (w/ Stacey & my parents)
For setlist info, click here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Obligatory Arsenal Post

The 07/08 Premier League season starts in just a few short weeks, & I know you're all on the edge of your seats waiting to see how the Gunners do. Furthermore, if you're interested in joining the Dirty Bastard Fantasy League, make your team & then send me your e-mail & I'll forward you the league code. Thierry Henry, one of the best players in the world over the last 10 years, was transferred to Barcelona, so there's a little concern as to how they will progress w/o him. They picked up Eduardo de Silva from Dinamo Zagreb though, & considering the fact that he's on his way up & Henry may be passed his prime, it seems like a good move. In Henry's wake, Gilberto has been named captain & Cesc Fabregas, an amazing 19 year old, has been given the vice-captaincy... probably to persuade him to stay rather than going to Real Madrid who offered him a shit-load of cash this summer. Along w/ Eduardo, they've also picked up Barcay Sagna, another fantastic French defender, but speaking of French defenders, it sounds like Gallas may be on the way out, which bums me out a bit as he is a fantastic central defender & Senderos isn't good enough to be stepping into a starting role. W/ the new acquisitions, they started their pre-season friendlies 2 weeks ago by beating up on Barnet 2-0, & then last week they played Genclerbirligi 3-0 w/ van Persie getting 2 & Theo Walcott getting 1. Check out the highlights from the game here: 1st Half & 2nd Half. Next up is a friendly in Salzburg on the 25th followed by The Emirates Cup next weekend when they'll face Paris Saint-Germain & Inter-Milan. Then, during Dunegrass, they'll be in the Amsterdam Tournament playing Lazio & Ajax, before the season starts on the 11th. Along w/ the few personnel changes, they also have a pair of new away jerseys: a white one for the Premiership & a striped 3rd jersey for Champions League away games... it looks like Barcelona on its side.
Eduardo in the new white shirt
Fabregas in the stripes

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Celtic Festival

As most of you are aware, The Saline Celtic Festival occurred this weekend. I took the kids out there on Thursday night to watch some Rugby which was pretty cool. We watched Detroit RFC v Flint Rogues RFC (or at least I did; the kids played on the nearby playground most of the time).The women's game was 1st & Detroit rolled over Flint 68-0, but the men's game was much better. I wish there was more Rugby on TV. The Fox Soccer Channel used to be Fox Sports World & they showed that type of stuff more. I like the idea of channels devoted totally to soccer, but between seasons, I can only watch re-runs of Arsenal beating Man U so many times. That's a bad example; I could watch that every day for the rest of my life.On Friday night, as many of you are also aware, I went to out to the Festival beer tent w/ Laura & Stacey. We met up w/ Laurie & Pete & then I was treated like a piece of meat as I was paraded across a stage in the "Mr. Pretty Legs (in a kilt)" contest. That little bit of objectification was alright I suppose, but I'm still coming to terms w/ the fact that those women only saw me as legs in a kilt. I have a mind too, you know. I'm more than just soccer legs & tartan. Well, after prancing my ass across the stage a few time, I won the contest. I beat the other 10 contestants & won a crown, a sash, a sweet walking stick (that I considered my scepter), & a gift bag w/ Walkers shortbread, a can of some energy drink & some medicated body power which came in handy yesterday after walking around the festival all day yesterday w/ my kids & dealing w/ the chafing that always goes w/ kilted walking in the summer. More importantly, I won the bragging rights & the hearts of all of those horny 30-mid 40 something women. I even got my picture taken w/ the mayor of Saline. I was drunk and started flirting w/ her, but I don't think she minded too much. In fact, a couple more beers & I might have had a chance w/ her. I think I won because Laura brought me amore beer while I was on stage & because Stacey had me all psyched up for it as she was my self-proclaimed coach. Speaking of drinking, they had 1/2 gallon jugs of Murphy's for 10 bucks which made the contest that much more funny. Not to mention the flask of Glenfiddich... This little victory made me some sort of local celebrity. Random women were grabbing my ass (which is offensive & uncalled-for) & women wanted their pictures w/ me all day yesterday. I even ran into a couple people at the Shadow Art Fair who recognized me. After the beer tent, we all went to Jules' for his fairwell party. He's movig to San Fran next week. It was a good time & we got to hang out w/ a house full of great people.Speaking of yesterday, I took the kids to the festival w/ my mom & we had a great time. We met up w/ Dawn, her son & her mom for a little bit too. As I said, all day people were asking me about my victory the night before & wanting pictures. It was hilarious. So many people asked me where my crown was I finally put it on & wore it around. Most people were looking at me wondering "Why the fuck is that asshole wearing a crown?" However, the 30-45ish women/MILFs all seemed to know what was up. The kids had a great time playing in the HUGE play area, riding the little Celtic rides & watching the sword fighting. Aiden even got lessons. He was so attentive to the instructions. By far, the youngest kid in the lessons, he was listening so hard & really trying to follow along. Solstice got a new Celtic doll... she's been collecting them since we started going to these things & has a bunch now. We also saw the Hairy Cows, the Border Collies, some enormous horses & the vendors tents. It rained during lunch, but that just meant that we needed to sit inside & enjoy another beer while the kids ate ice-cream. Other than that the weather was great & we had a fantastic time. There are more pictures up on my myspace page for those of you who just can't get enough of this cheesiness.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Railroad Earth

The main problem w/ hippie music is all the hippies it attracts. Particularly this one older Ann Arbor hippie I've run into at shows over the last 15 years. He's this late 40s rich asshole I first saw at a Deep Space show, but I remember him from H.O.R.D.E. fests, Further Fests, Phish shows and Allman Brothers concerts. I think I heard once that he's a doctor or something which affords him the opportunity to see so many shows. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it has also given him the ability to act as though he is the shit. I imagine some of you know him. He can often be seen drumming or prancing around in his afro-like mullet (until recently when he finally cut it). I ran into him again at the Blind Pig the other night. Or rather, he ran into me... w/ both hands as he moved me over and took my spot on the floor. Asshole then tried to do it again, but that's when I took it upon myself to spill my beer on his back. Other than that, the hippies were alright, but the young ones made me realize how ridiculous we must have been back when we were younger. Other than him, the crowd was fun though & I ran into a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a while. The staff at the Pig was another story though. We walked in & had to get our hands stamped & get a wristband. We waited for the door guy to take our tickets while he then ignored us & talked to his buddy. Dawn finally asked if he needed them; his reply was, "No, you're all set." As we started walking away, the douche yells "Hey! here are you going? I need your tickets!" Dawn & I looked at each other & I had a really hard time not giving him shit for his attitude. We proceeded to the bar where I got a $3.25 mug of Guinness... which turned out to be the smallest mug of beer I've ever seen. To make matters worse, the bar tender charged me $3.75. When I pointed to the price list & questioned his pricing, he just said, "$3.75 tonight." While I'm n expert in consumer rights, I know that one can't charge more than the advertised price. I didn't have many options though, so I just gave him a 25 cent tip to go along w/ my middle finger. Nikki & her friends then got a pitcher but had an extra glass. I took it & placed it on a table for them w/o realizing the table was the Railroad Earth merch table. Their self-important merch lady came running up to me yelling, "Hey, don't leave you shit on my table! What's your problem?" These 3 incidents happened in the 1st 5 minutes we were there so by the time asshole hippie started pushing, I'd had about enough. I don't know how I maintained my control & avoided getting thrown out. If it wasn't for the fantastic bluegrass, I'd have left right away. Railroad Earth is damn good though; they played for about 2 1/2 hours & they're really tight. I can't wait to see them at Dunegrass next month. It should be a great time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm quite the mother fucker

sThe Sun-Burned Mother Fucker:
I went to the beach yesterday w/ Stacey & we thought it would be a good idea to do a little skinny dipping. Aside from the fact that I didn't put sun screen on my lower back, it was a good idea (at least it was just my lower back... it could have been much worse). We had a great time floating around in the middle of the lake for 4 hours. Aside from the major burn on my back, the only other problems were the cramp in my leg... I hadn't even eaten w/in the danger time of 20 minutes... & the moment when I lost my suit. It had been affixed to the raft upon which I'd been hanging, but when I suddenly noticed it was gone & then had the realization that the beach was crowded, I understandably freaked out. You might ask why skinning dipping in the first place. Well, the same drunken party that inspired my Mohawk also inspired a great fundraising idea for the pool: after hours adult skinny dipping for 20 bucks a person. Stacey then realized that if that were to happen, she would require the always popular "all over tan." People seemed to love the idea, & when I ran it passed Eric (the pool guy) the other day, he seemed to think it might be alright. I got a good start on the all over tan (other than my lower back which has an all over burn) & I found my suit so no indecency had to occur. It was floating about 15' away. I'm damn lucky it didn't sink.
The Out-of-Shape Mother Fucker:
I went running this morning for the 1st time in quite a while... not counting the running that happens while playing soccer. I was dead in less than a mile. I ended up making a mile & a half, but it wasn't pretty. I used to run 3-4 miles a day, but I suppose it will take a while to get back to that. My 1st inclination was to blame the heat, but who am I foolin'? I'm just in rough shape. I need to pick things up too because I've been tapped to head up an over 30 soccer team to bridge the gap between the Canton over 40s & Jean's team of 20somethings. I think it'd be a lot of fun, but if I can't run for 45 minutes, I don't think it's a good idea. Which means I'll be out there in the heat a lot for the next couple months.
The Hot Mother Fucker:
Speaking of soccer, we've been playing a neighborhood pick-up game on Sunday mornings, but this week was a bit ridiculous. Surprisingly, no one threw up or passed out, but if the temp doesn't let up, I can't make any promises about next week. We played 7v7 for 2 hours & I thought a few of us were going to die. If you hadn't noticed, it's hot as a mother fucker out there this week. I even had to haul the air-conditioner up stairs & hang out in my bedroom w/ it & Mallrats after the game.
The Excited Mother Fucker:
I started the Premier League Fantasy League, The DB2, the other day. As of now, there are 3 teams registered. Jason, you need to get off your ass & do it so as to defend your title. The Purple Cobras will be going down this year just as they're going down in the MLS league. Joining the league is simple, as is maintaining your team, so if any of you would be interested in playing, go here to register & create your team & I'll send you the invitation to the league.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy 5th of July

Yesterday started out as average as most days. I put rearranged my CDs so as to make more room for my books & then I saw the end of the parade. Jimmy John's & a viewing of The Man Who Would Be King lead into the evening party where things went a bit awry. It was a theme party where we were supposed to eat & drink foods that represented Amaricana from the mid-20th century... jello, casseroles, mac & cheese, etc. We enjoyed some Old Fashioneds, some Schlitz, & a few (6 or 7) rounds of shots. We stared w/ Moon Shots, Kaluha, Rumplemintz & Bourbon, but we quickly moved on to the Jagermeister which in turn lead to the new hair style. At about midnight, after Matt & Andy shot off an ass load of Roman candles, it seemed a though my hair needed changing. We adjurned to Stacey's kitchen where Kate had her way w/ me. Enjoy the pics.

Schlitz: the beer that made Milwaukee famous

Cut my hair & you too will have access to my nipples!


Artist & Model

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The People's Party

For the last month & a half, people have been on me to host another party, so I finally caved & had everyone over last night. Technically, it was supposed to be my birthday party, but it was also Dawn's b-day. Mine was actually last week, & when that fact is coupled w/ Dawn's b-day & the public outcry for the gathering, it only seems fair to call it the People's Party rather than trying to associate it solely w/ my b-day. I cleaned all day & my sister & her husband showed up early to take the kids to the pool so I could finish up & shower which was fantastic. As they were getting back, I was already working on my 1st of 3 Mexican Slayrides: a glass of Negra Modelo w/ a shot or 2 of rum... fantastic! Most of you are well aware of the origin of the Slayride, but for the few of you who aren't in the know, I'll explain. Last fall, Jean & I were watching the pilot episode of The A-Team which is called "Mexican Slayride." Until that point, we'd been living under the ridiculous misconception that "Slayride" was spelled "sleigh ride." We were a couple of simple, simple fools. Of course, the first thing that we both thought was that it sounded like a sexual position, so we proceeded to figure out what it would be: missionary anal while doing a line off of the woman's tits (down one & up the other). Then, last week at Deep Space, I brought in a pint of Captain Morgan's & needed a place to dispense it. I bought a Negra Modelo into which the rum was poured, & it was like the first time a dude eating peanut butter walked into a dude eating chocolate. I'd had rum in Corona before, but I'm not a big Corona fan. This, on the other hand, is straight from the Gods. Try a slayride, you won't be sorry. Annette's interest in Jagermeister also meant that we had to polish off a pint of that along w/ a pint of Petron. I also had my 1st (but certainly not last) Mint Julep. Along w/ the healthy dose of booze, we had tons & tons of great food. People brought instruments and jammed on the deck until 3:00 AM. Warren even brought a full size keyboard & his accordion. I got some great presents including a couple bottles of Scotch & a couple of books, & all of the ladies pitched in & got me a gift certificate for a fucking utilikilt! Brook, Laura, & Andy all brought cake & they were all fantastic. Andy's even had a fountain in it so it looked like it was pissing. Pretty cool. In a couple months, once this hangover is gone, we'll have to come up w/ a reason to have another People's Party.

I took lots of pictures, but I'm still getting used to the settings on my new camera so many didn't turn out too well. I took a bunch of what seemed like good shots, but they were pretty blurrly. I need to spend a bit of time playing w/ the different settings so I can get them less blurry. Here's a sampling of the best of the lot:

Everybody was kung fu fighting


My 3 lovely ladies


Rock & Roll!