Monday, March 21, 2011

A Love Letter to My Younger Son on His 18th Birthday

My sweet Son the Younger (as I've always called you here),

You have always been the life of the party, quick with a joke, the one with unstoppable energy, and the boy with no nerve endings. When you were three, you broke your foot. You didn't cry, but you crawled home. The next day, you were running on it -- no pain evident on your smiling face.

Now, you enjoy a wide circle of friends. I know a lot of parents complain about their kid's friends, but I like your friends. They're intelligent, ambitious, opinionated, and fun. I enjoy your friends, and I love to see how happy you are with them. Does your choice of friends say a lot about you? I like to think you've chosen wisely, that a few of these are people you'll keep with you for a lifetime.

Soon you'll leave for college. I joke about the party I'll have when you move out, but you're my baby. We're close, and I'll miss you, even if you go somewhere close by. We won't have late night talks (about important stuff, or about nothing at all), we won't have TV-thons, we won't fight when I want to hug you and you pretend not to let me. Texting really isn't quite the same thing. I've always loved you, but I like you too, and I'll miss you.

Today you're legally a man. I've told you that you'll always be my baby -- and you will -- but I'm so proud of the man you're growing into.

I love you, son. Go out into the world and give 'em hell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tell me a random funny or weird fact about you.

I have certain odd OCD tendencies (some of my family members are diagnosed or undiagnosed OCD, so I come by it honestly). For example, when I make a sandwich, the filling must go between the parts of the bread that touched (clearly that's how it fits together best), and any spreads (jelly, PB, mayo, etc.) must extend all the way to the crust, which is obviously the driest part of the bread.

I didn't realize this was odd until several years ago when a co-worker watched me make a sandwich. He said that he'd never seen a PBJ so perfectly made. I'm pretty sure the subtext was "I could make three of those in the time it took you to make one."

Ask me anything

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fave & least fave word?

Hmmm, tough question! Been thinking about it all day.
Favorite: Love. All the different kinds. I'm really grateful to have so much of it in my life, from so many different sources.
Least favorite: Worry. Because of what it is, and because of a personal history with the word itself.

Ask me anything

Monday, October 11, 2010

Austin City Limits Festival, Day 3

ACL Fest is awesome.

But I'm SO glad it's only three days long. My (aging) body couldn't take any more.

This was our longest day. For Friday and Saturday, we went later in the day (4 or 5pm), preferring not to get all the heat of the day just to see more bands and exhaust ourselves. We reasoned it's better to enjoy the fest than to die trying.

However, Sunday started with Ashley Cleveland and Kenny Greenberg. Ashley is both an amazing artist and a dear friend of a dear friend, so I couldn't miss her show, on pain of virtual death since our mutual friend won't actually fly down here to kill me. However, since she's the webmaster for my (admittedly little-used) web site, it's better to keep her happy.  =)

So here's what we saw on Sunday. Note how much longer the list is for day 3 than for days 1 and 2...

  • Ashley Cleveland and Kenny Greenberg. There aren't many white women who can sing black gospel so convincingly. Ashley was smokin' hot, as always and SO fun to watch and dance along with. This was her first ACL appearance. She was playing the Clear stage, which was closest to the food court and the only covered stage. It started full but not densely packed, but she pulled in people from the food area throughout the set, and by the end it was pretty well packed. They came to Austin drummerless and picked up a local guy for the set; Ashley said "now he knows the songs better than we do!" He did a great job, but clearly the three main players (Ashley, Kenny and the bassist, whose name I didn't catch) are in sync with each other and have played together for a long time. I got some great pics and will put some in an all-photo post later.
  • Portugal, The Man. Billed as "alterna-pop rock" in the program. We found our friends and sat in the shade, and the breeze was much more important than music at that point in the afternoon. In fact, we sat through most of the next hour as well. Gayngs was supposed to play at the adjacent stage, but apparently their bus driver stole their bus. Lance Herbstrong is now listed on the web site, so that must be who we ended up listening to. We all agreed it was OK, especially for a last-minute substitution.
  • Morning Benders. We had a recommendation or two for these guys, so we finally hauled ourselves out of the shade and made the long hike to the other side of the park to catch the last song by this band. It was laid-back pop and sounded like fun. They had the crowd sing along -- da dum, da dum, da da dum. I was sorry they ended their set early; it would have been nice to hear another tune or two.
  • Constellations. We walked by on our way to and from Morning Benders. On pass #1, we heard them ask the crowd if they liked the blues. Um, clearly you ain't from around here boy... this is the home of Stevie Ray Vaughn! On pass #2, they had a synth thing going on, so there's apparently a wide range of styles in their music. They seemed like fun.
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Definitely made us move! N'Awlins music (soul/blues/jazz kinda thing). Good stuff but way too crowded for the space -- they were in the same space Ashley had played in that morning and probably had 3,000 people crammed around it, whereas Ashley's crowd was probably closer to 1,000 and much more comfortable. We left to get food since there were no lines and we could still hear them.
  • Robert Earl Keen. Yer basic Texas country, an Austin native. Right after his set, we found my aunt (after some "interesting" texting -- I have a QWERTY keyboard; she doesn't) and set up camp with her and her family and friends for the rest of the evening.
  • Band of Horses. This was the time slot with the biggest conflict of the fest: Band of Horses vs. The Flaming Lips (and for me, throw Switchfoot into the mix). I'm not familiar with any of them but Switchfoot. However, the large blister on the bottom of my foot meant I stayed put for BoH. Everyone around me was way into the show, singing along and jamming, so I wished I'd known some of their stuff beforehand so I could appreciate them better.
  • Cage the Elephant. We darted out to catch a little of this show because Son the Younger insisted upon it. He really wanted to see these guys; they're one of his current favorites. Again, everyone around us when we got there was singing along, dancing around, way into the music. I'd listened to a tune or two from my son's iTunes, but that wasn't enough to really prep me for the show. They made fun music, though.
  • The Eagles. From time to time, I heard people disparage them as the choice for the closing band of the fest, but these guys have always been talented and they still have it after all these years. This was an epic two-hour set that flew by as everyone sang along and roared their approval between songs. All four band members played guitar, and their backing band included a drummer, percussionist, four horns, a keyboard, and at least a couple I'm forgetting. They introduced them all, and I was wondering what their travel budget looks like on tour.

    They had a light motion backdrop that showed photos, animation, all sorts of stuff. It was just as interesting to watch as the screens of the performers themselves; all the backdrops related to the themes of the songs. They opened with the stunning four-part harmony of "Seven Bridges Road" and played all their biggest group and solo hits, with the exception of "Get Over It" from the "Hell Freezes Over" album. None of them have lost the high part of their range; their falsettos were amazing. Great, great show.
Cindy and I took a pedi-cab back to the car. I started the day with a blister, covered with a blister pad that disintegrated during Ashley's set. That wouldn't be so bad, except that it glued the blister to my shoe. Cindy had brought a piece of moleskin, so we put that on top of the whole thing and I limped around all day, but by the end of the day that mile-long hike back to the car was pretty well out of the question. I was beyond happy to go back to my sedentary lifestyle today.

I'll try to get photos posted soon. I don't have a lot of the bands other than Ashley, but I got some fun people-watching photos.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Austin City Limits Festival, Day 2

We learned some things on Day 1 that were helpful on Day 2. For example, there are free water stations onsite and you can bring your own water bottle. Sweet! Big money savings for day 2.

Unfortunately, our sweet free parking garage was charging $10. At least we got one day free.

I discovered about a block from the car that I didn't have my phone with me. We went back to the car, only to discover that I'd left my phone at Cindy's house. D'oh! She had spent Day 1 concerned about her fun new phone (we both just got the new G2), so she grabbed her crappy old phone for day 2. I went without once I discovered we'd have to drive back to her place to get mine.

Here's what we saw yesterday (after arriving later than we wanted to and completely missing Silversun Pickups):

  • Broken Bells. Yes, they were on at the same time as Silversun Pickups, but closer to the gate and at the other end of the park. The guitar player also played keys. Pretty complex sound. They had a trumpet player too. We liked them reasonably well.
  • Kinky. We caught quite a bit of their set inadvertently as we stood in line for food and ate. I don't remember much about them other than they were a dance band, so they weren't really attention grabbing. Or I was hungry and P. Terry's distracted me.
  • Gogol Bordello. My son described them as "gypsy rock," but their first song was definitely reggae influenced. I initially thought the boy didn't know his genres, but as they continued I agreed with his labeling (and he later told me he'd read the description). Pretty frenetic rhythms at times, lots of people up and dancing around. Fun stuff.
  • Monsters of Folk. We walked by on our way from Gogol Bordello to LCD Soundsystem. We didn't stay; they were way too mellow (i.e., sleep inducing). Pretty big crowd there, though, and this was the only band given a two-hour set on Saturday, maybe due to this being a Conor Oberst band.
  • LCD Soundsystem. Dance. Good beat, not too cookie cutter or samey-samey from song to song. They did go a little screamo one song, but only one.
  •  Deadmau5. Holy cow, the BASS. We were a long way back, and it was hitting us pretty hard. Awesome dance groove, great light show (I took several short videos). All the freaks came out to play for this one. It got really samey after 20-30 minutes, and lots of people left to get a spot for 
  • Muse. According to the numbers on the web site, this was the most popular show of the fest. My sister previously told me she liked them better than U2 when she saw them together. I haven't seen U2 live, and this was my first Muse show, but they were amazing. I only own their newest album, but I need to correct that. For the most part Cindy has been really laid-back during the fest. This has been the one time she's put her foot down and said, "Let's move forward," and "We're staying to the end of this set!" Not that I wanted to leave, but it was great to hear that she was really enjoying the set. The lights were fantastic. The sound, honestly, could have been louder. We started out pretty far back, but we were getting some bleed through from M.I.A. clear across the park. Once we got closer it was louder, of course, but we could still talk pretty comfortably. Muse was definitely the best of day 2 by a wide margin, no contest.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Austin City Limits Festival, Day 1

I have a friend who won a pair of tickets to ACL (I love a friend who calls you at times like these!), so we have thrown ourselves into the chaos. And chaos it is! I haven't seen attendance numbers, but it has to be in the tens of thousands.

The bands I've heard of are all playing today and tomorrow, so Cindy and I just wandered around and sampled things yesterday. Don't yell at me about "You haven't heard ?" Now I have. I listen to a LOT of music, but I hadn't gotten around to these before yesterday.  =)

  • Pat Green. Your basic Austin country. He busted out a little U2 at one point ("With or Without You"). Pretty good, but I don't listen to a lot of country.
  • Qbeta. They were on a stage that was shaded -- a naturally attractive prospect in the heat of the day. We only caught their last tune, which was kind of a dance-raggae thing and a lot of fun. I was sad I couldn't hear more.
  • The Band of Heathens. These tied for the best of the day for me. They were a mix of several genres, funky and rocky with great harmonies. As we were walking by, the singer said, "We're gonna have a little church now. Y'all need to have some church, I think!" or something like that. In that crowd, it was pretty funny. Then they broke into a funky praise thing. Lots of people were dancing around with hands in the air. They were fun. But we were actually on our way to
  • Beach House. We listened to them for half a song and decided The Band of Heathens was more fun, so we went back. Still only caught like 3 songs though. Curse the hour-long sets!
  • Slightly Stoopid. Several people said this was a fun band, and they were. Good groove, sort of a rock/reggae vibe.
  • Vampire Weekend. Holy cow, what a huge crowd, and a lot of pot in the crowd.  We were a LONG way back and were still packed in. They were OK, would probably have been better if I owned any of the music (I'd considered buying it but hadn't gotten around to it).
  • Sonic Youth. One friend asked me how I was going to decide between Vampire Weekend and Sonic Youth, so I went to both. We found chairs by SY, which was nice. They were highly sonic, but no longer young, and Cindy and I laughed about the 3 minute outros on several songs. In a one-hour set, that adds up. We kind of wished we'd stayed at Vampire Weekend, but it was really nice to sit down, too.
  • The Strokes. We both loved The Strokes, who I probably should have heard before now. I'm not sure how to categorize their music -- it's rock, but with elements of other stuff thrown in. Their singer had some interesting stage banter. The first thing he said to the crowd was, "If all y'all would come out of the woodwork, maybe we wouldn't be so broke!" I hope he gets his wish. I'll probably buy some stuff.
So that's Day 1. I'll try to keep taking notes and posting so all two of my readers can have some new music to try out on youtube.  My dad will hate all of it (except maybe Pat Green).

Oh, a couple of other comments on the fest: with so many people temporarily in one place, there is no way to use your phone in any real way. I'd love to twitter or facebook updates (and I really tried yesterday), but the network just won't handle that many people. There is no twitter, no facebook, no texting. Calls will usually go, but you can forget about data.

And those porta potties? With that many people onsite (all eating, drinking and what-have-you), those need to be cleaned more than once a day, y'all. For real. Yick.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stories from Reunion Weekend: Leaving Town

There are so many stories from this past weekend. One of the best happened before I was even completely out of the Austin area.

I was behind a big vehicle (truck or SUV) in my little 350Z. I decided I wanted to pass him, because hello? Sports car! So I pulled into the left lane...

Or at least I started to. That's when I saw the boulder sitting on the stripe.

Maybe it wasn't a boulder by your definition. But when it exceeds the clearance of my car, it's a boulder to me! It was probably ten or twelve inches in diameter. The clearance of my car is eight inches, max. And it was too late to swerve. I straddled it to avoid blowing out a tire. The rock was big enough that my car lifted off the ground as I went over it. I watched it crumble and roll from beneath my car in the rear view mirror. I may have said an unprintable word; I honestly don't remember.

I pulled over at the next service station -- a Shell at the corner of 183 and 29. I pulled into a parking space well away from the building and tried to look under my car. Now understand, I'm dressed to go straight to my high school reunion. In no way am I lying on the ground peering under my car. I'm more bent at the waist looking to see if anything is leaking.

A woman walked out of the Shell and asked me what I'm doing. I related the tale of the boulder. She gestured at a large tent off to the side, where chocolate Labrador puppies were being sold. "See that man in the work shirt? That's my husband. He used to own an auto shop. Pull your car over there, and he can take a look for you." Breathing a quick prayer of thanks to God for taking such good care of me, I moved my car. Meanwhile, she walked over and told her mechanically inclined husband what was going on.

I pulled up and barely had time to register the name embroidered on his denim work shirt before Elvis was on the ground halfway under my car. "I've always wanted to meet Elvis!" I chirped. Yeah, I'm sure he's never heard that one. He offered me a quick handshake from his prone position and went back to looking around under my car.

He hopped up a few minutes later, telling me he didn't see any leaks or anything seriously wrong from his quick exam. I thanked them both profusely, complimented them on their very cute puppies, and went on my merry way.

It's not every day that Elvis works on your car.