What excesses happened in December?
Movies: We started with Krampus [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] on Sunday the 6th to remember the reason for the season. A goofy, garish horror flick that re-frames X-mas in the same way that any recent Grimms' stories attempt to honor the source material. Watch if you like Evil Dead or Rare Exports (another seasonal flick) or maybe Troll Hunters (haven't seen tho). End of the month was of course Star Wars: The Force Awakens [ 5/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. We went Sunday the 20th and revisited Saturday the 26th. I was surprised that for all the flaws, it was still so emotional. I didn't have a big problem with the many dramatic parallels it has to the original movie. With the time that's passed, the re-emergence of the original actors, and the purge of George Lucas, calling back to the 1977 original felt a useful touch to clean the slate. Tarantino's 8th, The Hateful Eight [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] was a couple of days later on Monday at Atlantic Station during the 100-city tour with 70 mm film projectors and surprise guest Walton Goggins to introduce. Jennifer Jason Leigh's and Goggins' characters were the absolute best and worth a rewatch just to see their performances again. The 70 mm was impressive and reminded me of watching the re-mastered Lawrence of Arabia last April at Landmark. Next up: more violence with The Revenant at Lafont in Sandy Springs.
Childhood obsession I found a few years back when cleaning out my parents' house.
A gift from Lisa!
Music: Friday the 18th was Yacht Rock Revue's 70s Holiday Party at Venkman's. Not much X-mas music but lots of AM fabulousness with the musicians dressed as Star Wars stormtroopers. New Year's Day +1 we went with a co-worker and friends to Smith's Olde Bar to see Puddles Pity Party to continue the 70s theme of YRR. We first saw him by chance at The Goat Farm for a Halloween party in 2014 where he performed in front of a huge screen projecting video from a drone that was flying around the stage. It broke our brains with craziness and was as enjoyable a second time. Schmaltz pop songs performed by a sad clown with a booming tenor voice. Is he respecting the songs or mocking them as if channeling a McSweeney's detachment? Or is this the apotheosis of karaoke (or American Idol) with concerts consisting of a singer singing covers against a pre-recorded backing band? Cf. also Peaches etc. singing originals against a sequencer or Girl Talk etc. performing with a laptop. Next up: more cover songs with Yacht Rock Review performing a Led Zeppelin vs. The Who battle of the bands tonight at Venkman's.
Jeff Lynne battles the force
Events: my first company holiday party Friday the 11th at the CFO's house/mansion in Buckhead. Wine at the basement bar/piano lounge and food from the ginormous food truck out back. Our Uber driver said that Tyler Perry lives nearby but we never saw him. X-mas proper in Knoxville with Too Much Good Food. NYE proper at Gun Show for the second year in a row with more Too Much Good Food. Next up: dieting.
Saw The Punk Singer [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at The Plaza Theater way back on 6 Dec. I had listened to Bikini Kill during and after college, so it was amazing seeing them "live" and equally amazing seeing what an absolute intellectual bad ass Kathleen Hanna was. Added Le Tigre to rotation afterwards. Personal favorite: Phanta. It's a song I wish I would have written.
Continuing the feminist shtick: reread the Pussy Riot Closing Statements after their recent Sochi fun. Yekaterina Samutsevich's statement was brilliant.
Conversely, after reading Sasha Frere-Jones' 16 Dec review of "Britney Jean", I decided to dig into the Britney Spears catalog. Avoiding the newest and the oldest, I went with post-breakdown Britney Blackout (2007), Circus (2008), and Femme Fatale (2011). Was entertained by many songs on the first two; Femme Fatale was garbage. Recommended from Blackout: "Piece of Me", "Radar", "Heaven on Earth", "Why Should I Be Sad". Recommended from Circus: "If U Seek Amy", "Unusual You". I have yet to dig into the classic Britney.
X-Mas Eve annual holiday party dinner with friends at Bacchanalia. New Year's Eve with friends at No. 246 in Decatur then to Bill and Tedra's where, gratefully, my car did not get broken into. Superb Owl Feb 1st weekend with friends at a cabin near Blue Ridge, GA. Drinks, hot tub, so much food, a very cold river, and a self-induced black eye for Lisa.
Saw Skinny Puppy at Center Stage on 4 Feb. Fun show and the stage bric-a-brac reminded both Lisa and I, independently, of the stage for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
Saw Romeo et Juliette at Cobb Energy Center with Theresa on 8 Feb. Amazing. Loved the play-within-a-play puppet show and the extended scene in slow motion when Romeo murders Tybalt murders Mercutio was brilliant. So much was happening on stage that I should have gone multiple times.
For the new year, I promised myself to start practicing piano at least once a day in order to tackle Ballade. The going has been slow since, starting a year ago and progressing, I've had odd carpal tunnel-ly things happening in my right hand. Doctor's advice a few months ago was crap and at this point I can't play some of the stuff I had once been able to. My current plan is hourly exercises described here plus anti-inflammatories twice a day.
Picking up new art today from Kai Lin by Wyatt Graff.
Hoping Matt is recovering.
My first visit to Austin the beginning of Dec for a wedding (not mine). Took Thursday and Friday beforehand in order to soak up all that is, according to everyone I spoke with there, the only city in Texas a liberal would want to visit. My people indeed run a very nice burg. Thursday night was swank, 3-course dinner night at Congress. Post bar-hopping plans were cancelled due to too much good food. No matter. The next morning was donut breakfast at Gourdough's then a walk through the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The internet speaks of great swimming holes but, even though it was too cold for swimming, the creek was bone-dry. I learned later from a local at the wedding that the drought of the last two years hit the Greenbelt hard. Still, it was a nice, alien, southwest landscape to walk through.
Continue to post-hike drinks at Trudy's (no food, still full from Congress and donuts) then on to the entertainment of the trip: a Doug Loves Movies podcast recording at the Alamo Drafthouse. Buy the podcast and you'll probably hear Lisa cackling at one point in the background! Sadly, they weren't doing their Trapped in the Closet Sing-Along while we were in town :-(. Wander the strip and people-watch until time for our second swank locale of the trip: drinks at Midnight Cowboy Modeling and Oriental Massage. Thanks to the name on the apartment buzzer that gets you into the bar, I now know who Harry Craddock is. More wanderings, eatings at a pizzeria, and drinkings to finish our undirected tour of Austin. On to the wedding.
We checkout of The Driskill in downtown Austin and drive to the Barton Creek Resort a few miles out. Beautiful, but to quote Al Czervik
Golf courses and cemeteries are the biggest wasters of prime real estate. The wedding proper was at a ranch a few miles away and it was the pinnacle of swank for the trip. Among the appetizers offered before the wedding were a whole pig on a spit. I got to speak to many fascinating guests including a lawyer for Texas teachers unions. Usually, I attract rabid conservatives (one of the gay guests we were chatting with declared me at first sight as Mr. Conservative, so I guess I give off a vibe), so it was nice to be immersed in a gaggle of liberals.
Sunday brunch with our only live music of the trip (I know, I know), a visit to Waterloo Records where I got a replacement copy of Tales from Topographic Oceans, then home.
Genesis tribute-band extraordinaire, The Musical Box, performed for the last time ever the seminal concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. As much as Einstein on the Beach--seen live in London at the beginning of 2012--this was an iconic work for me growing up. I'd always heard of TMB and their faithful interpretations, but never made the effort. With the range of music, costumes, and sets, this was a stunning show. Memorable: "The Lamia" where the singer was hidden within a glowing cloth tube for the entirety of the song; pulling off the metrically manic solos for "In The Cage" and "Riding the Scree"; "Cuckoo Cocoon" where the singer lies on stage with his head towards the audience during his flute solo. More than any concert, I'm sad I'll never see it again.
The Cheatham's first holiday bash in their Decatur digs; my first holiday party with my current company; A Christmas Carol at Shakespeare Tavern; our (usually) annual holiday dinner with friends, this year at The Optimist; our soon-to-be annual holiday dinner with Bob&Lisa, this year at no246 in Decatur; annual holiday party at The Barry's. Special weekend in Blackberry Farm as a gift from the mom-in-law with the Foley family. Cold days in the mountains with fireplaces, amazing food, nano-brewery tour, and a failed attempt at our first geocaching foray. Finally, a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens--my first--with Lisa and Theresa for their garden lights display.
This is the first weekend in a long time that we're doing nothing.
Early dinner at North of NOLA then party at Chris and Anna's. Dinner was excellent and I retrieved my messy copy of NOLA's menu with signatures from both the mess-maker and the menu-maker. Then we were a week early to a party at Jonelle and Theresa's. Oops. Salvaged the mishap with dinner with them at Davio's Italian place at Phipps. Preparing for last week of work before two weeks in Thailand!
New Year's: taxi to Palate and wine whilst waiting for Shelby and Robert to arrive. Message earlier from Debbie and Kevin that they couldn't make it because of work (!). Quick ride over to Feast and dinner in a big tent with ~20 others + Bonaventure Quartet (minus singer). Spent the midnight hour on the dance floor with Lisa! Rode back to S & R's and fiiiiiiinally got a taxi ride back home. Photos.
At some point (last week?) we went to see Let the Right One In [ 5/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Simply outstanding. We've been very lucky with films recently and this was no different. The love story (of sorts) was cute and unconventional. The story revealed itself and reformed any previous vague events into humorous and grotesque shocks. The snow and mood were perfect.
Symphony Friday the 9th: the great Brahms Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham [ IMSLP ] and Prokofiev's 5th Symphony. Shaham rocked, jumping all over the stage (at least, as much as you can in that space). Great to see that he had a long line of fans waiting to get his autograph during the intermission. The 5th I should know better, but even though I have his complete symphonies I haven't given them a dedicated listen. I'm just happy it wasn't the 1st. So. Sick. Of. That. Work. After, we tried to hit Trois' bar but it was closed for some stupid reason (Lisa was pissed) so we ended up at Marlow's. Eh.
Sat was volunteering at Kennesaw Mountain to clear trails. Ended early because of rain, but it was fun and will definitely be continued next month (1st Sat of every month).
We were s'posed to head over to Villa Rica for fondue with Debbie and Kevin, but their youngest got ill and plans were cancelled minutes before we were about to head out. Over the past couple of years, every attempt to go out with them has been usurped by chaos.
Other than goin' out fun, we: got a new TV for a BARGAIN (40-inch Sony Bravia), will be giving our old one to the nieces tomorrow to serve as a Wii TVii, got checked up and qualified for life insurance (kicking in the beginning of next month), and are working on a re-fi for the condo. Crazy, and expensive, month.
[ updated 23 Jul 2014]
Years represent New Year's Eve year!
Our various New Year's celebrations (how come I can't remember more?!?):
[ updated 23 Jul 2014]
Lisa found what we did in SC:
Hotel: The King Charles Inn: http://kingcharlesinn.com/ Not "inexpensive" but worth it. We hung out in the pub every night, before we struck out for the evening and upon our return from the evening.
Dinners: Two great dinners... We rang NYE in at Cypress; one of 3 sibling restaurants that all get great buzz (Blossom and Magnolias are the other two; Cypress is the newest): http://www.magnolias-blossom-cypress.com/
Another night was spent at 82 Queen: Nestled into an old home with a huge magnolia in the courtyard: http://www.82queen.com/
Brunch before we left: Poogan's Porch, tucked away in a very quaint home: http://www.poogansporch.com/gallery/
[ updated 23 Jul 2014]
Christmas in Knoxville and a continuation of the over-indulgence of the season (which included probably the best turkey dinner ever).
A lazy 3-day week of work prior to New Years during which I managed to descimate my server. All is well now, and I'm better for it.
New Years party at friends' until 4 or so, when Lisa--apparently getting sober while I enjoyed an extended contest of who can create the more disgusting shot with the liquors available--decided to drive us home. Clear sailin'. I do remember that the host had an immediately recognizable edition of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. The very paperbacks that I had back in high school and had since, lamentably, sold (see the covers on this page by searching for "Foundation"). Hey, maybe they were my copies!
Lazy, worthless Sunday after New Years that included The Producers (meh, a little dated) and a double feature of Sinbad: Sinbad the Sailor (1947) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). The earlier one, with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was corny and incredibly over-acted, but held up well as a story. The later, with the famous Ray Harryhausen "claymation" and Bernard Herrmann soundtrack, wasn't nearly as strong. It seemed like a vehicle for special effects, and although the Herrmann soundtrack had its moments, I didn't like it nearly as much as the lush, syrupy Roy Webb from the 1947 flick. The first violin solos, referencing Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, were cliched but fit the mood.
I got interested enough to read up on The Book of One Thousand and One Nights and order (among other books) a newer translation:
1 "The Histories (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Herodotus; Hardcover; $16.32 1 "The Oresteia : Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Aeschylus; Hardcover; $14.96 Shipping estimate for these items: January 10, 2006 - January 11, 2006 Delivery estimate: January 12, 2006 - January 17, 2006 1 "The Arabian Nights II : Sindbad and Other Popular Stories (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Arabian Nights. English. Selections; Hardcover; $16.32 Shipping estimate for these items: January 9, 2006 Delivery estimate: January 11, 2006 - January 13, 2006 1 "The Arabian Nights (Everyman's Library (Cloth))" Husain Haddawy; Hardcover; $16.32
Good news: I just met the owner of the storage room down the hall from our condo. That room was part of the biggest regret of my short life. When we bought our condo, the developer was selling that room (like around 150 square feet of storage!) and asked that I make an offer. I low-balled and they would never return my calls. The one time in my life that I try to haggle and it goes south. So anyway, the lady who owns it was inside rearranging some stuff. It was completely filled and although I didn't think she'd want to sell I had to ask. Lucky break--she's interested and will call us next week with her asking price. Groo. Vee. I love it when a plan works out.
Happy New Year.Continue reading "Goodbye 2004"