April 15, 2017

Weekend in Austin

Impulse-bought tickets to see Kool Keith at Antone's in Austin the weekend of April 7th. In late Friday and out late Sunday.

Friday night was drinks at the Driskill Hotel bar where we were staying (and where we stayed back in 2012). Snacks-for-dinner at the Easy Tiger beer garden where we learned our patio-bench neighbors ran out on their bill (waitress: "I don't suppose you saw where those people went, did you?"). More drinks elsewhere then the best Late Night Pizza I've ever eaten in my life at Peckerheads (sausage and mushroom?). Back to the hotel at around 2.

Not-too-late start next morning/noon and lunch/brunch at Irene's. Biscuits and gravy and eggs and bacon and a bottle of champagne for mimosas. Irene's locale took us west so we went further to Waterloo Records (sadly no purchases) and then HOPE Outdoor gallery. I'd heard about it from a Reddit post where some people painted a cool Ghost in the Shell mural. The mural was long gone, but the park was still cool: weeds and dirt and concrete structures all covered in graffiti with a dozen or so guys painting new ones. Recommended. Then drinks (and A/C) just down the street at a south Louisiana restaurant called Shoal Creek Saloon.

Remnant of the GitS mural

Back to the hotel for what was to be a short nap but what wasn't. Panicky wake up and abandon dinner Plan A (Justine's had a 45-minute to hour-and-a-half wait (enjoy the soft-core porn at their web site!)) to Plan B at Perry's Steakhouse close to the hotel. Piano and guitar jazz/pop at the front room seating with Thelonious Monk, Gerry Rafferty, The Beatles, and several other jazz artists I couldn't place. Next stop: Antone's for some music! Caught the end of the openers Cure for Paranoia: smooth singing/rapping with a touch of psychedelia. Then the beginning of Money Chicha: 60s, singer-less organ/guitar/latin percussion group. (Minor interruption in the middle of their set for me as I had to run back to the hotel to resolve gastro-intestinal dystonia!) Back for Kool Keith who played till around 2. Highlights were sections from Octagonecologyst including the infectious Earth People, several from Feature Magnetic, a tray of chicken wings brought out to the bar (I took caution from my recent history and passed on them), and some freestyle with Bushwick Bill (who later did some recordings with KK in the studio until 5 that night). Perfect concert!

Who's kool?

Sunday started with lunch/brunch at Swift's Attic. Spicy Bloody Mary bar and delicious croque madame for me while looking around for members of the advertised Strader/Fiedler wedding to see if I would recognize any long lost relatives (nope). We then had a couple of hours for museum-going. First, The Contemporary Austin for a show of paintings by Garth Weiser from the last 10 years. Amazing layers of paint and lined textures that look different from every angle and range. Refreshing. We also saw a short silent film by Mark Lewis titled Galveston: camera view slowly descends on a tall office building, ending upside down at street level passing through the town. It made the rest of the day seem unusually right side up. Next stop was the Museum of the Weird! Mummified babies, two-headed animals, and fur-bearing trout (my favorite) in the front room with the Minnesota Iceman stored in a freezer in the back. Four of us also got a show from a man who can hold on to live wires without getting shocked. Coincidence of the day: both he and Bushwick Bill were little people.

Electricity is weird

Final drinks at The Jackalope (in between Late Night Pizza place and Museum of the Weird) where we watched Mars Attacks! Off to the airport where boarding was delayed then takeoff delayed but we lost the right to complain after hearing about what happened on that United flight the same evening. Home in time to be reminded that we had to shut off the water just before leaving for the airport because of a leak. The bucket held throughout the weekend, so no unwelcome surprises.

posted by sstrader at 10:17 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged travel | permalink

August 29, 2016

Seattle and music

Last month we spent a couple of days in Seattle with Danice+Mason to see Peter Gabriel+Sting in concert for their Rock Paper Scissors tour. This came a week after my Big Two Day B-day Celebration first at Terminal West to see ATL Collective do Are You Experienced, then at the wonderful La Grotta for my birthday proper with Lisa+Bob. Seattle was a drunk impulse commitment a month or so before since Danice+Mason love Sting and Lisa+I love Peter. We had seen him almost four years ago in Chicago performing the So album et al. so we were due for another experience. Go West!

Lisa was up north for some company training the first half of the week, and so I met her Wed 20 Jul at ATL late afternoon and then our flight had to abort seconds before actually taking off. Some luggage door wasn't closed correctly. Ugh. We didn't make it to SeaTac until ~11 that night and then wine and cheese in the tinytiny room we ended up sharing with D+M. Still, didn't get to sleep until ~2 local time so 6 (?!) home time. No need to adjust since we return on the Fri nite red-eye to be back home for an important Sat nite event (J+S gettin' hitched). Two full days!

Thu 21 Jul

Start with the breakfast of champions at The 5 Point Cafe. It's like The Vortex inside but more... authentic? Classic breakfast and beer and solid tunes on the jukebox then on to Paul Allen's EMP Museum for music and geekness. The museum had several shows perfectly tailored for me. First was the exhibit on horror films with several original manuscripts and video exhibits on many films including Argento's Suspiria and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Eli Roth's insights in the latter's manifestation of Vietnam veterans' anguish was compelling). Then to the science fiction exhibit that contained: the model for the Jupiter spacecraft from 2001, Leeloo Multipass's orange rubber jumpsuit thing from The Fifth Element, and an original painting from a 50s sci-fi pulf novel that was so fascinating and trashy. As much as I would love to, I really don't need to start collecting paintings like that, just for my own financial security. Two floors of a Star Trek exhibit that included information on every TV show, the animated series, and movies with the original crew, the next generation, and the reboot. Favorites were the tattered, original bridge and the original outfit for the Gorn. Neat! Onto a smaller exhibit covering Hendrix concerts abroad, complementing our ATL Collective concert a week prior; an exhibit on the history of the electric guitar (with the guitar Townsend used to write Tommy); and finally a fantasy exhibit. Phew.

the 5 point cafe

Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929.

emp museum

The EMP Museum undulates next to the steadfast monorail.

Monorail to Pike Place Market where no fish was purchased (or caught, at least by us) but much beef jerky was. Meander the area for drinks and DJ Shadow remixes at the tiny Cloudburst Brewing. It was very much like the tiny local breweries we went to in Portland Maine back in 2013. On to Some Random Bar for late-lunch-early-dinner with an old friend of Mason's.


I hear these things are awfully loud...

cloudburst brewing

The brew bar.

Post food+drink, we wandered over to Key Arena for the PG+S concert, stopping on the way to take pics through their office windows of KEXP's vinyl stacks a dozen or so feet high. I kinda regret that we didn't have time for a record store run while in town. The concert started with the thoughtful, psychological Gabriel piece "The Rhythm of the Heat" and followed by Sting's moody romance "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You". They felt to me perfectly characteristic of the differences between the two songwriters--but then we get the social commentary of "Invisible Sun" and the two become nicely complementary. Best moment was Sting bemoaning the troubles in the UK (Brexit had just stunned the world) by singing the opening verse to "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" (ending at the line "...selling England by the pound.") and then "Message in a Bottle". Bleak yet peppy. He then chastised us for laughing with him at his country's fate, hinting at That Donald Trump Kerfuffle. Surprise guest Eddie Vetter came out decked in Seattle slouch-wear for "Red Rain" but was horribly underused. It was, however, very nice to hear the older Gabriel tunes. The full set list, via Wikipedia:

  1. "The Rhythm of the Heat"
  2. "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You"
  3. "No Self Control"
  4. "Invisible Sun"
  5. "Games Without Frontiers"
  6. "Shock the Monkey"
  7. "Secret World"
  8. "Driven to Tears"
  9. "Fragile"
  10. "Red Rain"
  11. "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" (snippet)
  12. "Message in a Bottle"
  13. "Darkness" or "San Jacinto"
  14. "Walking in Your Footsteps"
  15. "Kiss That Frog"
  16. "Don't Give Up"
  17. "The Hounds of Winter"
  18. "Big Time"
  19. "Englishman in New York"
  20. "Solsbury Hill"
  21. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
  22. "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"
  23. "Roxanne" (with "Ain't No Sunshine" snippet)
  24. "Love Can Heal"
  25. "Desert Rose"
  26. "In Your Eyes"

Encore was:

  1. "Every Breath You Take"
  2. "Sledgehammer"
rock paper scissors

Spock and lizard not shown.

Fri 22 Jul

Friday was our full on walking tour proper.

Start with the Space Needle. We had tried the day before (when it was sunny), but the wait time after you got through the line was 2 hours. Cut to the next day (when it was cloudy) and we got right through. Go and figure. Still, a great view and worth the look on the security guard's face when I checked my messenger bag + open bottle of wine with him. Afterwards, at the waterfront, we all used it to toast a successful trip before late-lunching at Elliott's Oyster House while we wait for our scheduled tour boat to take use around the bay. Tours seem like they should be gimmicky, yet I always enjoy learning whatever local history they provide. This one talked a lot about the architectural history of the Seattle skyline along with details about the massive container ships we passed by. We finished the our tour of the water with a few trips around the Seattle Great Wheel ferris wheel.

space needle

Space Needle Lisa is wistful

2173 miles

We traveled 2173 miles but all we got was this screencap

Save ferris!

The rest of the day/evening was wandering through the alleyway with the gum wall. Wikipedia sez It was named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009 and I can confirm that just standing next to it made me feel 50% more germy. More wandering down an alley plastered with crazy-wonderful stickers and posters, pre-dinner drinks at The Tasting Room, then dinner-dinner at Cafe Campagne for delicious French cuisine with another old friend of Mason's. We had a red-eye to catch after midnight, so we made sure not to stay too long and drink too much. Oops, in fact the opposite happened. No matter, it was the best way to end our Seattle fun. (One thing I learned is that recovery from red-eyes has a daily half life: each day after only gets you half way closer to restfulness again.)

Yes, that is all gum and yes, that is a penis made of gum

So many stickers

posted by sstrader at 9:00 PM in Birthdays , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

April 3, 2016

Where was I?

Lisbon from last Thursday through Monday morning to hang with Lisa on her recent business trip. When she had gone previously it was bad timing for me to join her. I had a new job and was busy with new work. This time I was 9 months into the job and felt settled enough to go.

Thu 24 Mar

Leave Wednesday night on Air France going ATL to CDG to LIS. As is tradition, I had pre-flight drink and food at Ecco in the international terminal. On the flight, I watched the first half of Game of Thrones season 5. Since the plane was full of high school kids headed to Paris I should have felt skeevy watching the wildly uncensored scenes but hey, they need to be prepared for Europe's libertine attitude towards nudity. Sadly, the Air France flight back didn't have the same selections so I didn't get to finish it.

After landing, security was quick since no flights outside of Europe enter Lisbon. 15 minute ride to the hotel and a shower before walking into the city proper. Go go go!

I'm on my own until early evening. First stop is Museu Calouste Gulbenkian where they have a collection spanning five millennia that includes Egyptian sculpture, Greek pottery, Chinese ceramics, Persian printing and weaving, and all forms of European art. Basically, my complete art history textbook excluding the 20th century. Notable were some of the Medieval carved miniature panels of scenes from the life of Christ, and the large-scale European landscape paintings from the 1800s. Many names I didn't recognize, and sadly I also didn't follow my lesson from the Uffizi in Florence and buy a guide... or at least write down the names. Maybe next trip!

gulbenkian gulbenkian

Front of the museum with a wacky bird.

After a couple of hours, travel was kicking in and I started to pass-out-standing-up while looking at the later works. Left to walk the museum grounds then head back. Espresso and an odd-yet-delicious pastry--a light, sweet bread with gelled candies in it--at O Pao Nosso (Our Bread), then back to the hotel. Our hotel, the Lisbon Marriott, is a ~30 min walk north of the museum via the pedestrian unfriendly Avenida dos Combatentes. I decide to walk the opposite side of the street and soon ran out of sidewalk. 28-hours awake and running across six lanes of traffic is how my vacation didn't end.


Shadow selfie with some of the city's beloved graffiti.

Shower, zone out, and then reunite with Lisa, Alicia, Dan, and Rodney at the hotel bar. Taxi to the Baixa neighborhood (pronounced BI-shah, "Low", cf. "bass") to wander the shops and grab drinks and snacks at Cafe Nicola. More walking and we end up having dinner on the patio at Cafe Lisboa. They're situated next to a plaza where, IIRC, the symphony performs. We didn't get to a symphony concert but maybe next trip! Hotel then SLEEP.

cafe lisboa

My food porn at Cafe Lisboa is empty plates.

A week or so before I left for Lisbon, my cell phone contract expired. I impluse-abandoned many years with Verizon based on an Ars Technica article and went with Google's Project Fi. Nexus 5X with Marshmallow at $20/month + $10/GB including international calling and data. Perfect. One great feature is the admittedly-creepy Google Timeline that integrates GPS with map locations and photos you've taken. A long time in one spot probably means you stopped there. This makes remembering restaurants and such so much easier.


Where'd little Billy go all day?

Fri 25 Mar

Lisa and the gang had to work a lot more than expected, so Dan and I were on our own much of the day. It was decided that we'd tackle The Metro, so we walked to the Jardim Zoologico station and hopped a ride to Baixa-Chiado station. Five or so museums were mapped out, but we ended up at the Chiado National Museum of Contemporary Art. This is highly recommended. They have two locations, one was mostly closed for renovations and the other had an amazing selection of Portuguese art from the 1970s to the 1990s across many different styles.

Muito bem!

Basically, the modern history I missed at the Gulbenkian on the first day I made up for here. After getting our modern art on, we headed towards St. George Castle to eventually meet up with the workers once they get free of their shackles. Stop for drinks and charcuterie at Le Petite Cafe on Largo Sao Martinho (excellent), then further up the hill to find whatever patio the paycheck slaves ended up at.

lisa alicia and rodney

Enhance! Rodney, Alicia, and Lisa spotted.

We got to the castle and the line consisted of possibly the entire population of Lisbon. Maybe next trip! Plan B was to just walk around the exterior neighborhoods on the hill and take in the view. Odd area at the entrance to the castle had several large 3D sign letters spelling out random words. KOSMOS and VICTORIA were there with WINU and AM and a couple others that were--I found out later--part of an art installation called LIGHTCRAFT BELMONTE. These particular pieces were from Stefan Kornacki's "Things to Come (Inscription project)". From the catalog:

... years ago [these] were urban signs, topping buildings in the People's Republic of Poland. The irony is that, since these old symbols of innovation and progress were outdone by time ... they reappear now in the urban scape as absurd utterations. ... These 'signs' come from past. But we can look at them also as signs of the future, ruins, of all and any civilizations. Things to come.

This very much expresses the experience viewing them. It was a reference to intentionality that seemed to span multiple, defunct ages. Atlanta needs more urban installations like this.

kosmos victoria kosmos

Messages from the past (or future?!?) and an old apartment building nearby. KOSMOS!!1!

Next stop was lunch at Chapito a mesa: allegedly the 7th best patio in the world. So, of course, I got no pics but I did have many drinks and delicious food. In fact, as much as I love the new phone and service, its battery just cannot survive a full day of mapping and photos and web browsing: no photos after 7 PM. We continued the evening in the heart of the tourist area and browsed several different kiosk-filled streets. The great success for me was: (1) a bottle of 2007 Porto Reccua LBV and (2) a large link of smoky black sausage. The second item--it was assured to me by the butcher--was sealed so that I could get it back to the states without anyone noticing. I did, but only after wrapping it in several layers of plastic bags (which did not eliminate the smoky sausage smell), shoving it in the bag with my workout clothes (still smoky), and spraying down the whole kit with my Polo Black cologne (success). The flight home ended at the Hartsfield Jackson International Luggage Carousel. Immediately after I texted Dan, who was still in passport control, that I'd wait for him, several agricultural dogs started circling the room. Me + poker face exited quickly and now I'm happily ensconced at home with port and sausage!

More wanderings in the neighborhood: Museu da Cerveja where Rodney bough a set of glasses shaped like bottles, Trobadores Taberna Medieval where all things Renfest were happening. We had seen a couple of bars that had traditional Fado music, but needed reservations to get in. Plans were to go Saturday, but that fell through. Maybe next trip! Finally back to the hotel for late-night drinks at the bar.

Sat 26 Mar

Saturday! The good news: Lisa didn't have to go into work. The bad news: Lisa had food poisoning and, though the weather had been perfect thus far, the day turned cloudy and cold. No matter. Dan and I missed each other at the hotel breakfast somehow, then got a late start at Belem Tower for pics (another absurdly long line kept us out, maybe next trip!), and the Museu do Combatente. The museum had presentations for Portugal's role in WWII (less interesting) and for their colonial uprisings in Africa (very interesting). Apparently, Portugal defied the UN resolution on self-determination of colonies and did not allow it's territories to become independent. Rebellions broke out in Angola, Portuguese Guinea, and Mozambique starting in 1961 and continuing until 1974. Spoilers: those countries are free now. I knew Portugal had an empire hundreds of years ago, but never really considered its demise. Interesting history.


Protect the city, oh great Belem Tower!


pew pew


We saw the changing of the guards at Aos Combatentes do Ultramar (Overseas Combatants).

Next stop was supposed to be the Jeronimos Monastery, but we passed by the Museu Colecao Berardo and decided that free admission to contemporary art trumps monks. The museum is in a complex that also has a symphony hall (performing John Adams' 2006 opera A Flowering Tree on the 6th) a theater and a couple of restaurants. In the museum proper we walked through a small installation of Nicolas Paris works called Four variations on nothing or talking about that which has no name, and twelve-or-so rooms of contemporary art from the 1960s to the 1990s. The Paris works were humorous and thoughtful and hard to describe. Tiny, delicate pieces that continued in variated forms. Cut paper; rocks; wires glass and plants. The larger show had some very major works and really nice pieces of minimalist sculpture. None of the pics turned out though! Very late lunch at the East West Pizza Sushi Cafe in the museum complex then Uber back to the hotel to meet up with the gang.

nicolas paris

Long table with various contraptions by Nicolas Paris.

We zoned out at the hotel a little, back to the hotel bar, then dinner at the hotel restaurant with all except Sick Lisa. Pretty exhausted.

Sun 27 Mar

Last day so Lisa and I head out for fun in the sun. She's stir crazy from her Day of the Dead so walking is in order. Walk to the Metro--second and last trip on my 3-day pass did not make it a fiscally sound purchase--then down to Praca do Comercio and some pics of King Jose the 1st.

king jose

The king and his lazy, lazy subjects.

wakka wakka

Another shadow selfie with Pac Man.

Walk the coast and stop for drinks at Monte Mar restaurant on our way to a complex of bohemian galleries and restaurants called LX Factory. Walking and getting lost on the way ate up time, so many of the shops were closed there. Lunch at the wonderful A Praca where I had maybe my most Portuguese meal: cod fish cake. Delicious.


Lisa tags an LX Factory building with graffiti and plots a SmartCar Getaway.

We should have taken the trolly back to Baixa but instead just taxied. Maybe next trip! Once back in the hood, we queued in the first and only line during our entire time in Lisbon: the Santa Justa Lift. Completely worth it for the view that we got.

santa justa santa justa santa justa


It was cold, thrilling, and the exit several stories up at the top took us to the coolest neighborhood in the city: Bairro Alto (high neighborhood, cf. alto vs. baixa, high vs. low). Just as LX Factory was like the Goat Farm or L5P in Atlanta, Bairro Alto was like Soho in NYC. So many great, small restaurants and wine bars, we first stopped at Wine & Pisco in the middle of a small plaza where we had wine and I had a shot of pisco. Pisco is basically Perivian grappa and it will blind you just as easily as grappa. Drink. With. Care. Further wandering brought us to The Old Pharmacy which had an excellent wine selection and an equally excellent soundtrack playing The Rolling Stones performed a la lounge music. We made it back to the hotel around 9? or so and I hung until 11?? so I could get up at 3! to leave at 4!! for a 6 AM flight. No surprises and the sausage made it home (phrasing). Return movies were newly viewed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (3/5) plus previously viewed Trainwreck (4/5) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (4/5). Home; jog in the perfect weather; grab a calzone from Vinny's.

posted by sstrader at 9:45 PM in Where was I? | tagged galleries and museums, travel | permalink

January 9, 2016

Where was I?

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.

star wars cards

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.

posted by sstrader at 10:35 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged new years | permalink

July 11, 2015

Peachtree Road Race 2015

After a 40+ min delay from the rain, we swam our way to a late finish: 56:14. Down four minutes from last year.

Retired my now 3-year-old Vibrams (!) and got my 3rd pair. Went to Abadabba's in Buckhead again; excellent selection and staff.

I look horrible in the photos as I retired both my Vibrams and my 2009 Crescent City Classic t-shirt:

posted by sstrader at 11:45 AM in Where was I? | tagged jogging | permalink

June 4, 2015

Where was I?

Sat 9 May

Off to Prague to meet Lisa and Danice and Theresa after their week in Croatia. First international travel alone in, ever? Oddly nervous. While weighing my luggage at home, I found out I weighed twenty pounds less than a few months ago. Weird, if true. This trip should change that.

Atlanta to Paris to Prague. Ended up going through a different security area and am not sure how. Being alone sets you on different routes for even the simplest choices. Lunch at Ecco: Gruner Veltliner and chicken panini. Read: "Charlie Hebdo and the previous question" (brilliant examination of racism, heroics, and humor), "Love songs, RIP" (rap is killing the love song), "The happiness industry" (uninspired rant against policies that nudge people into better behavior). The Charlie Hebdo article pointed me to the hilarious/informative site Understanding Charlie Hebdo cartoons. And, of course, sitting next to French travellers waiting for the flight to CDG. Gate F12 Paris; gate F14 Knoxville.

On the flight, sat next to Roberta From Tampa and, as I leafed through my Czech language book, we realized our destinations were the same. Her friend's daughter is in cinema school in Prague and she planned to stay a few days then meet her husband in Bologna. She's Italian with absolutely no accent.

Watched: Jupiter Ascending (all it had to offer was spectacle, so an airplane screen was the worst possible option), Project Almanac (childish, avoid unless you have a desire to see Piedmont Park), and Episodes (recommended by a coworker, good).

Sun 10 May

Follow the crowd off the plane to the only possible destinations: ATM and luggage. English signs everywhere, yet airports are confusing in their base genetics. Eventually made my way to the bus stop and was given 24Kč by a Kind Stranger to get a train ticket since I only had large bills. After several false starts I eventually joined the last people remaining. No ticket needed, it appears to be only circling the airport. Rats. Finally, it ended up at an entrance to the underground Metro. Success!

Drop the bags early at Hotel Josef with Filipe who had an awesome Gant watch that I Simply Cannot Find Available Anywhere. Snack and coffee at cafe Opapa waiting for room 114. Unpack, sleep, shower.

hotel josef

Dobre rano, Hotel Josef!

Girl-free until tomorrow night, so today is museum day. First stop: as 20 minute walk to Veletrzny Palac at The National Gallery. Started on the 4th floor and went down. Czech art from the 1850s on, then European art from the same time, then late 1900s and 2000s Czech art. Czech cubist artists would quote Picasso, Cezanne, impressionism to the point of plagiarism. I was kindof shocked. Beautiful late-romantic large-scale canvases. Very good 60s and 70s minimalism and the there was good balance in the present-day styles, presented with "what's next?" uncertainty. I recognized very few of the artists throughout the exhibits. Big mistake not taking notes. Rushed through the Kokoschka exhibit due to tiredness and I'm not that big of a fan.

Leaving Veletrzny as Roberta and her friend Sue were entering. Ha!

atrium, veletrzny palac mr. hotdog

Light-filled atrium at Veletrzny Palac. Unrelated, but equally awesome, Mr. HotDog (coming soon).

Next: back near the hotel to the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia. Hard to find even with GPS and Google Maps. There are no two streets that are parallel. The current show is Medieval Art in Bohemia and Central Europe. Painting and sculpture from 1350s to 1450s with notable transitions to the international style. Nice complement to the moderns at Veletrzny.

Late afternoon and time for drinks and mussels from Nadeem at the bar at Chez Marcel. One of the many times I'd get a bonjour instead of a dobre den.


Brain reset and got a recommendation for a local kavernu for beer and Czech food. Ended up at VKolkovně ("v" is "in" and I'd see it sometimes with street names or locations; usually street signs will start with "U" which is short for "ulice"/"street"). Sausages in gravy with onions and peppers and a basket of heavy bread and Pilsner Urquell. Manhattans after at the bar at Tretter's. Minor people-watching and reading as I wind down (The Vorrh by Brian Catling).

Mon 11 May

Late start and finally get out at ~10. The nap did nothing! Coffee at Opapas (again). They serve coffee with a small shot glass of water. Not sure if Viennese or Czech tradition. The morning itinerary is walk around the old city squares. I see: Church of Our Lady Before Týn and Prague Astronomical Clock. I avoided tours since I wasn't sure what the girls would want to see. My mistake because I never got to go to the top of the clock tower. Wandered old neighborhoods randomly and saw many cool things that I would never be able to find again because of the aforementioned non-parallel street chaos. There were several instances of "oh, I was here before!" later in the week.

lady before tyn

Church tower: stack it to heaven, I say!

old square

Approaching the old city square.

Lunch at La Veranda (bonjour!). This was included in a list of recommendations the hotel concierge provided when I emailed them before the trip. I actually made reservations just because. French. Sauteed calamari, pea risotto with scallops, limoncello ice and espresso. Very nice wine recommendation. Even the nicest restaurants are so inexpensive here.

Jog. The weather is perfect and continues that way throughout the week. The hotel provides a jogging map with three routes. Neat! I take it and promptly get lost on the first turn. Again, non-parallel streets. I get back on track and wend across bridges and through parks and through the city. It's a nicely joggable city. I'd been worried since Lisa S. went for a jog in Rome and said it was unpleasant. Prague reminds me of Florence for its mix of age modernity and its narrow streets. Lisa S. had a good jogging experience there.

Back and clean up and then drinks and reading at Vino di Vino (ciao!). Picked up bottle to take home to Atlanta (yes, we eventually drank it in the hotel). Amazing wine cellar.

Throughout the trip, Lisa and I had been using an IM account via Trillian to talk. Alternately, she and the girls used WhatsApp to chat when they went their separate ways. The world needs a unified IM protocol. Anyway, at VdV she messaged that she was in the room. After meeting up for drinks at the hotel bar we wandered around the city and ended up for dinner at an Italian restaurant (ciao!). Completely forget the name. I had roasted pork knee with mustards (traditional Czech), Lisa grilled pork with hot peppers and mushrooms. The knee was a complex combination of bones and fat an very, very tender meat. Drinks at Tretter's (again).

Tue 12 May

Coffee at the start of the Charles Bridge. Then through the Mala Strana district (lit. "little side", little quarter), around St. Nicholas Church, and up a steep, steep hill to Prague Castle.

charles bridge

Crossing the Charles Bridge to get to Prague Castle.

prague castle view

Looking down at the small people from on castle high.

prague castle view

St. Vitus Cathedral.

prague castle view

Detail of the solid silver tomb of John of Nepomuk inside the cathedral.

After castle, met back up with Danice and Theresa and stopped at V Laznich traditional Czech restaurant after we saw pretzels hanging on wooden stands at each table. Neat. Had sausage and potato pancakes. Then further wandering in the area to see Lennon Wall filled with graffiti with both peaceful and trolling, war sentiments, and the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

Dinner at the Michelin Starred Alcron. Four courses with wine pairings. Excellent. At the end of the evening the chef created an elaborate food painting for newlyweds at their table.

Wed 13 May

Meet Theresa and Danice at Cafe Louvre. Their tour guide Marcus had given them a 2 hour tour in the morning, so he joined us for a late breakfast. Vienna sausages and horseradish. Although very knowledgeable about the city, Marcus answered a question of greater importance: the cartoon character we had been seeing all over the city is the lovable Czech mole Krtek! The rest of the day involved walking around the Nove Mesto area to see the Dancing House and the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius and Upside Down St. Wenceslas (first Czerny of the trip).

prague castle view

Cross the city to visit the National Monument in Vitkov to see the gigantic sculpture of Jan Zizska on a horse. Met Samuel on the way who gave us directions. He moved from St. Louis to teach English a year and a half ago and is now drawing caricatures. Fun fact: you don't need to know Czech to teach English there. Photos and drinks at the top floor cafe. Off in the distance, Babies Climbing the Radio Tower (second Czerny).

national monument

Communists really know how to build a monument!


No selfie-stick necessary.

Return walk stopped at U Medvidku for X33 beer and bought a bottle to take home (drank it with Matt and Tedra and Bill at Meehan's after Mad Max the Sunday after our return). Stopped at the small Cafe Bar Archa U Prokupku: calimari and my first Staropramen ("old spring/fountain") beer. Hanging Freud (third Czerny of the trip).

FInally, the reason for this whole trip: Smetana's Ma Vlast performed by NDR Philharmonic at Municipal House. Champagne beforehand with what seemed like every nationality on Earth represented. Languages everywhere. People dressed from jeans to tuxedos, we were casually in between. The hall itself was more ornate than pictures suggested. Excellent concert and the first time I had heard the cycle in it's entirety. Perfect.

Nearing the end of the trip, so Danice and Theresa split off for independent studies. Lisa and I went to Chez Marcel (again) for dinner. Hanger steak and gratin potatoes for monsieur, rabbit confit for madame.

municipal house

Who's a swank traveler? You are!

Thu 14 May

Nina our tour guide for the day picked us up early for a day trip to the fantastical city of Cesky Krumlov. Nina grew up in communist Czechoslovakia and experienced it turn into the democratic Czech Republic, so she had many stories of the social change. During the 2-1/2 hour drive, she regaled us with history and such. My only notes:

3 regions: Siletia - north west, industrial; Moravia - south east, agricultural, wine country; Bohemia - central and western (and what else?).

Drove past Archduke Ferdinand's castle. It was renovated for his wife Sophie who was not a noble, so the other nobles looked down on her. He was very traveled and educated, and so made it the most modern castle of Europe. Plumbing, electricity, the works. Nina was worried if we visited that we'd be upset by the many animals from his hunting trips mounted on the walls. She seemed very apologetic about it.

Later, she told us about Ruslan and Ludmila from Ukrainian history. Theirs is a well known love story that I knew from some Russian opera but neither of us could remember at the time (it was an opera by Glinka).

cesky krumlov

No CGI required.

Josef Vachal and Egon Schiele exhibits at the Egon Schiele Center. Excellent museum. Needed two hours and we had 20 minutes.

Drive back into Prague. Drinks at Hemingway Bar. Dinner pasta at Oliva Nera. Drinks at Lokal near the hotel where we sat with Pavel who owns a restaurant in London but grew up in the neighborhood.

Open Vino di Vino bottle back at the room.

Fri 15 May

Last day rush rush rush. Jewish synagogue and cemetery. Late breakfast at the Kafka Snob Cafe: croque monsieur. Museum of medieval torture instruments at one end of the Charles Bridge. Across the bridge for beers with Lisa at Hergetova Cihelna near the Franz Kafka Museum. Piss sculpture (fourth Czerny?) in front, sadly w/out working piss.

Kafka Museum. Grew up in Prague, worked as an insurance adjuster. Overbearing father and combative family cook. Four canceled engagements. Thanks Max Brod! On the Amsterdam layover back home, I purchased four paperbacks to binge-read in the coming months (Schocken, 1998 editions).

Is anyone else paranoid right now?

Drinks at Malestranského (mala strana, small side) Hostince (inn). Baroque concert for organ and soprano at St. Nicholas church. Amazing acoustics. [ updated 5 Jul 2015 ] Flyer for the concert: front and back. Final dinner at Paris Cafe near the hotel.

Sat 16 May

Taxi with Lisa to the airport in the early AM. Separate flights, mine was Prague to Amsterdam to Atlanta. Watched: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (w/ Kramer, very good), Taken 3 (entertaining enough), Leviathan (beautiful, depressing film with cinematography that needed to be seen on a good screen. Deals with ideas of a corrupt government and a complicitly corrupt church, echoed by Pussy Riot's closing statement. One scene has PR on the TV in the background), Louis CK (his younger daughter thinks she's always dreaming). Home and laundry and a jog to sweat out the exhaustion and flight and Marta.

posted by sstrader at 9:22 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged galleries and museums, travel | permalink

August 31, 2014

Where was I?

Cinema: Army of Darkness at Plaza Theatre the 8th of last month and Texas Chainsaw Massacre the 22nd of this month. TCM reminded me of movies from the Drive-In Cult Classics collection that I had picked up back in 2011. At times, the movie was a crazy assault to the senses: abrasive soundtrack, exaggerated malevolence. Guardians of the Galaxy at the beginning of the month (!!!). Must go see it again.

Music: The Musical Box performing Selling England by the Pound at Variety Playhouse the 24th of last month. Great follow up to seeing them do Lamb Lies Down on Broadway January of last year. Was blown away when the lead singer started the narrative that I knew would lead in to Supper's Ready. Really just a wow night, and ended at The Vortex in L5P with death metal fans from a show at the Star Bar.

musical box ticket.the-musical-box.selling-england

Travels: Lake Tullahoma, TN the weekend of July 18th. Fourth annual trip to St. George Island the end of July. Second semi-annual trip to Lake Keowee the weekend of August 15th.

lake tullahoma st george lake keowee

Started new job in Buckhead on the 4th! Commute is now Marta and reading or Vespa-ing on nice days.

posted by sstrader at 5:00 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged drive-in, st george island | permalink

July 5, 2014

Where was I?

Peachtree Road Race 2014 with a personal best of 52:31.

posted by sstrader at 9:18 AM in Where was I? | tagged jogging | permalink

July 1, 2014

Where was I?

Italy April 2014 with the wife, brother, and sis-in-law! Part 1 here. Part 2...

Tue 8 Apr

Florence was my favorite spot in all of our Italianate travels, but in big city form, our time there was a dizzy mishmash of events. Our first full day: we walked through the Piazza della Repubblica then to the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall built in the late middle ages.

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Best art of the trip was in Uffizi Gallery. We spent two hours just on the second (?) floor through maybe 10-or-so rooms. I was completely geeked out over seeing the iconic art live and in person. Another trip should be taken to visit this museum again even if just to re-look at everything I had already looked at since every painting had such a high Look Quotient. In the entrance of the museum, I bought the small official guide and am grateful to have it now for memories and as a quick art history review.

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One of the oddest experiences came during and after lunch. We were in the Piazzo della Repubblica, I think, at one of the outside restaurants when a couple of guys sat at the table next to us. After a few minutes, one left and while the other was eating a bird landed on the empty seat and started pecking around for crumbs and such. From this, we started a conversation as he had heard we were Americans. His name was Gianni and his friend, Franco, soon returned. (Franky and Johnny? Really?!) Franco was the more gregarious of the two and told us of their (1) leather shop nearby, (2) winery they just started, and (3) his ancestry dating back to Dante Alighieri. They invited us to the shop, David 2, for wine and the soft-sell. Their wine's label had--and I am not making this up--a picture of Michaelangelo's David with Franco's face superimposed. I don't know what I was expecting, but that seems normal now. Their two hottie sales girls would chat in Russian, then Italian, then English as they buzzed around getting us drinks and jackets and pimp-like fur coats to try on. After dropping the price to 1/3 of a wildly overpriced initial offer, I eventually bought a leather jacket (perfect for on the Vespa!) and Lisa ordered one from a display piece. (Sadly, she has not yet received it, so we're hoping we don't have to fight too hard to get it or get a chargeback.) We also walked out with a few bottles of Franco/David wine, gratis.


Rest at the hotel, drinks at the rooftop bar where I left to return to a record store (Data Records 93) we passed earlier in the day where I found a copy of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (lost to the college moving gods). I thought I'd remembered where the shop was, but ended up at a different record store (Rock Bottom Records)! Even better, they had multiple copies of various pressings to choose from. They also had an original black cover From Genesis to Revelation, their first album, for $350 Euro! Having purchased many reprints, I'd never seen an original before. Neat. The Asian lady running the shop, I think, spoke no English so we communicated in more fractured Italian. Dinner and wanderings, then end of evening drinks at The Cocktail Bar, of course.

Wed 9 Apr

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Breakfast at Cafe Giocosa in Roberto Cavalli where we completely disrupted the espresso and pastry ordering process. Cue eye-rolls. Back to the hotel and prep for the drive to Rome via Sienna care of driving direction from the lady at the front desk. As she promised, it was much easier getting out of town although the highways there were frequently hobbled to one lane by construction. Sienna is a beautiful old town and definitely part of our Next Italian Excursion. Lucky parking spot (the. city. was. Packed.) and walk to Enoteca Italiano in Fortezza Medicea for a wine tasting. Wines were: Nebbiolo d'Alba (leggiero), Primativo (frutta), Brunello di Montalcino (pesante), and Nero d'Avola (leggiero).



The server at the Enoteca recommended we try the Dievole winery around 30 minutes north of Sienna. The view during drive was unreal in its Italian-ness and I think we all sprouted Luigi-style mustaches by our arrival at Dievole. Because it was either mid-week or off-season or both, we were the only ones there and had the full attention of the guide. I always feel like a poor student in such a situation. Did we have good questions? Were we appropriately impressed at the correct facts? We ended with the grappa. I had tried this once before just to see what it was like and, after my vision was restored, decided it wasn't for me. Still, I had to give a second chance to some from the land of grappa and was pleasantly surprised. I'll maybe try a higher-end label again someday. Other wines were: Rosato, Chianti classico (80% sangiovese), Broccato, Novecento (bottle purchased), and Simone.

Drive to Rome! This is the end of our driving fun in Italy. We dropped the car off at a somewhat seedy-looking rental garage just inside Rome (although, I doubt my judgment of what is and is not seedy in a large, foreign city; in the rental booth, an Indian guy was watching what appeared to be a trashy Indian telenovela) and taxied to the Fabio Massimo Design Hotel. It's in an office building with a puzzling entrance, although maybe we were just tired and confused as was par for the trip. Again, very nice rooms and great location. Dinner at a nearby restaurant (?) and chats with the British couple at the table next to us. She works in real estate so Bob and her talked shop. A little brash and as insults about Germany peppered her conversation, the apparently German couple nearby stiffened. What's the equivalent of Fox News watchers in the UK?

Thu 10 Apr

Thursday was Vatican museum day. Our wonderful tour guide Angela, aka Shelly Duvall, handed out little hand-held radio things with ear-pieces and we tuned in to her mic. Neat. Distance was maybe 20 meters, but Radio Angela would go off the air suddenly if we were moving between stone rooms. If Milan Cathedral was a mega-church, I have no idea what the Vatican would be. It was a world of architecture and art and alcoves and expanse. Wonderful to see the Michaelangelo et al.'s Sistine Chapel live-and-in-person. Again: take an art history course before you go to Italy. My classes were decades ago but added much to the looking.

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Angela was very knowledgeable in both history and art, but I did have one observation she missed. On the ceiling of one room was a painting, Tommaso Laureti's "The Triumph of Religion", of a crucifix hovering over a broken statue of (what was obviously) Mercury. I pointed this out, but Angela insisted the statue simply represented pagan religion in general and no god in particular. I was certain it was a visual pun on "killing the messenger" and my stubborn research paid off, via "The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art":

Tommaso Laureti's The Triumph of Religion, on the ceiling of the Sala di Costantino in the Stanze of Raphael, in the Papal Palace (fig. 42). The painting depicts an antique statue of the god Mercury lying broken on the ground, at the base of the triumphant cross of Christ.

Vindicated! Still, you could look at the artwork there for years and never absorb it all. Not as interesting to me as Uffizi, but still engaging.

Notes are fewer from this point on. After walking to the highly recommended Pizzarium (oh no: it's take out only!) we instead had lunch at La Scaletta. Various combinations of Bresaola, arugula, Parmesan, cheeses, pizza. Some more walking around (?) hotel (?) then one of our best meals of the trip at a place oddly named Tastevin. This really was a high point. After, we walked back to Piazza del Popolo across the Tyber, through what might have been a scary area of town (skate punks!), and learned that Rome is not a late night city. Nothing open, so we close out Rosetti with bottles of wine, olives, and potato chips.

Fri 11 Apr

Metro to the Colosseum was soooo easy possibly because their Metro is as limited as our MARTA: only two lines! Beautiful collapse and decay all around. Nice walk nearby to smaller ruins. Outside alcoves with amazing art barred off. A small church with enormous art. Actors dressed as gladiators. For some reason, the day presented many questions: How old is the Colosseum (built in 70-80 CE)? Pantheon (built in 126 CE)? What is the Jubilee (every 50 years you're cleared of sin!)? Who makes Smart Cars (Daimler)?



Pantheon was as-or-more intimidating in scale than sections of the Vatican. People. Actually. Made. These. Things. Lunch outside at Il Miraggio near Trevi where we finally got pizza (!) with grilled vegetables (!!). Then to a very classy part of town to San Marco for drinks, fancy beer La Rossa Forte. We took over the hotel dining room for pre-dinner snacks of bread, cheese, and meat, purchased from a local grocery store and butcher shop. Dinner around the corner at the very modern Osteria Centouno. Back to the hotel.

Sat 12 Apr

The end.

Ride to airport. Stopover at Amsterdam, "Baby's on Fire" guitar solo playing in the airport! KLM to Atlanta watched Korean time-travel flick 11:00 A.M. (3/5), We Are The Millers (3/5), and Frozen (3/5). Home to a broken washing machine. ¯\(ツ)/¯

posted by sstrader at 11:38 AM in Where was I? | tagged travel | permalink

May 31, 2014

Where was I?

Italy April 2014 with the wife, brother, and sis-in-law! Part 1 (and part 2)...

Fri 4 Apr

Started in the ATL terminal E, headed to JFK then Milan, with beers at the Belgian Beer Cafe. Exotic! Mechanical problems with the plane front loaded our vacation with a 3 hour delay, so we continued to bar hop at One Flew South. More Exotic!! Good wine and scallops for me. A risky gambit before an international flight, but it paid off. JFK was a confusing mess with no signs where to go. We eventually wandered outside, down a street of construction, and then into a different building to the correct terminal. It was a more foreign and confusing experience than all of Italy. Blech.


Sat 5 Apr

We hit Milan a little before noon. Minor difficulties getting the car started (derp) before heading into the city for lunch. Four people, our luggage fit perfectly and was hidden away; Google Maps on my phone guided us towards Milan Cathedral near the Arco della Pace. Once parked, a random lady on the street attempted to help us during our first of many foreign confusions: how to pay for parking?!? Foreign travels allow you to revel in feeling stupid. Once payment was accomplished, lunch at some university cafe that, for our first meal, was a miss. Although the food was unimpressive, the cathedral was stunning in its architectural representation of a Renaissance mega-church. It was also the first of many examples during the trip of X-tian-inspired horror vacui. So many finials!



After wandering about the cathedral, we (eventually) reunited with our car and headed towards Santa Margherita and the coast. If we weren't so tired from the flight, we would have stopped for pictures along the way or even detoured to Turin. This was the first in a checklist of items for our Next Italian Excursion. Once in Santa Margherita, we checked in at the amazing Grand Hotel Miramare, rested, wandered, drank wine outside at a cafe as night approached, and finally ended up at La Paranza for our first official meal. Back to the hotel for drinks at the bar where I think we kept them open longer than they wanted. Insert, I imagine, exasperated Italian eye-roll.


Sun 6 Apr

Perfect weather the evening before continued through the morning and stayed the entire week we were in Italy. I did breakfast at the hotel to read and prepare for our walk to Portofino. The hotel had a xeroxed in-house newspaper to keep us jet-setters caught up with the world. Even though there were only 10 or 15 articles from around the globe, a Georgia politician still made it in with some sort of homophobic or pro-gun mania. Sigh.

Beginning our day on the coast, we followed a narrow road with small groups of other walkers and joggers enjoying the views of ocean and villas. Outside of Portofino, three or four classic sports cars appeared as a tour bus was coming in the opposite direction. Apparently, the swells rent them and tool around the coast. Take-away from Italian traffic: no one ever gets in a wreck and (except for one incident where Italian swearing made an appearance) no one ever gets angry (ok, the one incident was directed at us when we went into the wrong lane of a toll booth and had to back out). First stop: drinks at Sottocoperta and people-watching in the piazza, a little wandering around, then lunch at La Stella after I negotiated a table via my fractured Italian and the host's much-less-fractured English.

For a couple of months prior to the trip, I studied Italian since I greatly regretted not learning the local language before our trips to Thailand and the Dominican Republic. (We were shamed considerably in the DR during one excursion when a French girl chatted both with us and with the locals. I never felt more the ugly American.) My language studies process included audio lessons and Duolingo. The audio I did every morning on my drive to work using some inexpensive CDs by Global Access, uploaded to Amazon for streaming over my phone. Inexpensive = old = many references to using "travelers' checks"! The effort, though not perfect, helped considerably. My biggest mistake was not getting more deeply into food and meals. All said, I will never again not study the local lingo.

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Evening was a cab ride into Rapallo for dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria Bella Napoli. First stop (noticing a pattern?): wandering and drinks and people-watching at Caravaggio Cafe. Every place you go gives you bread and olives and other snacks, so it was difficult not to fill up before dinner. At the restaurant, Giovanni helped us through the menu and brought us some amazing wines. We struggled with a conversation about his love of barbecue and taught him that there's more than one type of barbecue. He was delighted. After dinner was limoncello, gratis, though I'm not sure he expected us to finish the entire bottle. We overstayed our welcome (again, more Italian eye-rolling) and seconds after we walked out the front door the entire staff exited and headed home. Giuseppe cabbed us back to Santa Margherita and then kept us occupied another half hour outside the hotel as he told us of his many, many side businesses.

Mon 7 Apr

[ updated 5 Jun 2014 ]

Morning before leaving, I jogged ~10K from Santa Margherita to Portofino and back. On the way back, there's a path away from the road and up the hill that cuts through woods and neighborhoods and a small waterfall. Beautiful! I wanted to jog in Florence and Rome but didn't get to, so this was perfect. My sis-in-law jogged in those cities: she said that Florence was nice especially along the river but that Rome wasn't very jog-friendly.

Next day! Drive to La Spezia where we took a train to Monterosso with the intention of walking several of the cities of Cinque Terre. Navigating the highways with Google Maps was generally easy--our generation is spoiled, the next is going to be worse--but one wrong turn onto the Italian highways can mean you're stuck for the next several kilometers before you find an exit, and that exit will not allow you to turn around until you're another several kilometers off the highway. Hypothetically. And, hypothetically, the town you will finally be able to turn around in will be called Recco. (Recco's Law, noun - the adage that the simplest task, when done in a foreign country, will take up to three times as long as normal to accomplish.) After this, we were very careful with directions.

Finding and navigating the train station was an experience and after we missed the first train by seconds we eventually hopped onto our Trenitalia car with the other ill timed tourists. Why doesn't the US have an elaborate train system?! We were quickly spotted by a "local" "artist" who tried to sell us some Cinque Terre landscapes and--I kid you not--oil drawing of sad clowns. We, respectfully, demurred. Once in Monterosso, and confirming what Lisa overheard from other travelers, we learned that the walking route was washed out by flooding in 2011, so it ended up being Uno Terre for us. Second item for the Next Italian Excursion. Still, delicious food and wine (and so much bread!) at Cantina di Miky. We did not have the local specialty of sardines, and I have regret.


Next stop: Florence and the Hotel Cavour!

As we entered old Florence, we realized that (1) roads are very narrow, (2) they are filled with people, and (3) GPS drops immediately, leaving you unsure where the hell you are on the map. We drove the maze of one way streets and piazzas that looked-like-you-shouldn't-be-driving-in-them-but-you-really-should and finally found our way to the hotel. It probably only took five minutes but it felt like we were constantly on the edge of something horrible happening. It did not. Once we found the hotel, we could only park on the street illegally 1/2 a block down. Multiple attempts to back up 40 feet to the hotel were blocked by bicycles, cars, and delivery trucks timed perfectly to thwart us. The attempt was abandoned and a hotel driver finally came to rescue us. We would, happily, not join car with Florentine streets again until leaving.


The hotel's rooftop bar has a view of Florence that was worth the entire trip to Italy. We hung out for drinks, too many delicious bar snacks (really?!), and then went to dinner at Paoli. Much like everything in Florence, Paoli is built inside of ancient architecture and stonework and arches. We were immersed in a mix of Renaissance and modern and ended the evening in the modern at a newly-opened joint called The Cocktail Bar. Jazz and craft cocktails. This became our home for the remaining, too few, evenings in Fiorenza.

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Part 2...

posted by sstrader at 10:07 AM in Where was I? | tagged travel | permalink

February 22, 2014

Where was I?

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.

July 24, 2013

Where was I?

Peachtree Road Race 2013 with a personal best of 54:52.

posted by sstrader at 11:16 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging | permalink

May 27, 2013

Different Trains in Portland, Maine

[ updated 4 Jan 2014 ]

Found the flyer:

different-trains.front different-trains.back

A couple of weeks back on Mother's Day, Lisa and I were driving back from my brother's and listening to Radiolab. The episode, titled Behaves So Strangely, included Diana Deutsch examining short fragments of speech. She noticed accidentally that when a few seconds of speech is repeated, its natural, tonal melody becomes more apparent and could be transcribed as a simple music motif. One of my favorite, lost recordings from college, Steve Reich's Different Trains, immediately came to mind. Reich takes interviews with people who rode or worked on trains before, during, and after World War II, and he transcribes short segments. Throughout the piece, the recorded interview segments are played over and echoed by a string quartet. As I was telling Lisa about the piece, I looked it up on Google and found that a string quartet was scheduled to perform it in Portland the following Thursday. We purchased tickets the next day.

Portland has to be one of the friendliest places we've ever visited. This was our first time visiting and the desire to go was never predicated on interest in seeing the city, but we would definitely go again. It's walkable and offers some good restaurants and, obviously, a strong art scene. And the friendly people!

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(Pre-concert at SPACE Gallery and menacing dark tower afterwards)

The concert was at the SPACE Gallery: what appears to be ground zero for interesting artwork and, thanks to the musical program, a notable range of music fans. I can only imagine and envy what the 8-year-old thought of the performance! Music was: John Zorn's "Cat O' Nine Tails", local composer Beth Wiemann's premiere of "Minor blasts, some flurries", and after an intermission "Different Trains". Zorn's piece, written the same year as Different Trains, was madcap chaos. I can't imagine not having heard it live and if Zorn didn't exist, I don't think he could be invented. Very pastiche noise that had such physical humor that it was like few other compositions. Some Zappa works from The Yellow Shark come to mind but even he might not instruct the cellist to pantomime whipping the other musicians as they simulate ouching whines on their instruments. The Wiemann piece was a beautiful, palette-cleansing episode. It put me in mind of the clarity of Walter Piston's harmonies, another Maine composer. Finally, Different Trains. Like Einstein on the Beach early last year and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway last Fall, this was a rare opportunity that met all expectations.

Secondary culture visit was the superb Portland Museum of Art on Saturday. Many modern 20th century works on the first floor in the show The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism. 21st century stuff caught my eye up the atrium on the 3rd floor, so we hopped up there for some stunning pieces by artists I've never heard of (and should have written down). Down to the 2nd floor for a selection of Homer, Hopper, and other northern painters. Would definitely return for the modern works.


(These. Guys. Were. Everywhere.)


(The craggy coast of Kennebunkport. The dull-witted feeling you're sensing is President W's house off-camera to the left.)

Restaurants were:

Thursday, Petite Jacqueline the afternoon we arrived. One more reason why French restaurants are infallible, and the string quartet performers showed up as a bonus! I didn't interrupt their lunch, but instead stared and whispered. OTTO Pizza (before the concert) and Nosh (after the concert) for drinks and snacks. Friday, an extended nap after the four hour Maine Beer Tour, a lobster roll at J's Oyster, and drinks at Spread (hip space, drop-dead gorgeous bartender, yet inexplicably filled with what appeared to be Fox News-watching gay Republicans) had us reschedule Five Fifty-Five for the following night and instead go to the late-night Portland Pie Company (half pepperoni, half seafood). The beer tour is highly recommended. Again: friendly people and a chance to get some hyper-local beers that may never get to Atlanta. Saturday - brunch at Duckfat before a drive to Kennebunkport. Finally, the trip's fancy dinner at an upstairs table at the superb Five Fifty-Five. Sunday - donuts from Holy Donut for our drive back to Boston airport.

Another successful impromptu vacation!

posted by sstrader at 9:33 AM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged galleries and museums | permalink

March 7, 2013

Where was I?

The Beetle had been donated to the Elder Niece and it admittedly looks better on her than me:

(she's not really that pale)

Dominican Republic had been visited with friends for a week the middle of Feburary. I made additional friends while there:

(working on my island beard and, apparently, my island double-chin)

Extra work at work and extra music at home has kept me from socializing. This has been a long period off the blog, Twitter, and G+. Nothing of value lost?

posted by sstrader at 11:05 PM in Where was I? | tagged beetle | permalink

January 5, 2013

Where was I?


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.

The Musical Box

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.

X-mas and New Years miscellany

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.

Oh, and my 3-week-old car got broken into and is spending a week at the body shop. Fuck you, thieves. Fuck you in your anus.

November 26, 2012

Where was I?

Long overdue.


Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! at The Fox on Thu 20 Sep. Panelists were Roy Blount, Jr., Faith Salie, and Mo Rocca and the sharp CDC Director Thomas Frieden. After was dinner at the new Proof and Provision in The Georgian Terrace building (along with everyone else from the show). The following two days were the second annual return of Music Midtown. Our Saturday brunch till 1 turned extended into much later, but we made it in time to see Garbage. Other highlights were Foo Fighters on Friday (covered Pink Floyd's "In The Flesh?" from The Wall), Adam Ant and his band's crazy get-ups, and Girl Talk. By then, we were too tired to stay for Pearl Jam, so we ended up at Gilbert's for drinks+food. Sunday was Lisa's b-day dinner at Il Localino.

The weekend starting Thu 27 Sep was in Chicago to continue our year of music with the Peter Gabriel So concert. Too much mayhem to relate, starting with this:


Curse you, gay bar above that Armenian restaurant! We made it to the concert afterwards, but it wasn't our most shining moment. The next day, Friday, was the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA!). Highly recommended and digestible in a single visit. It will be included in any return visits. Evening was science silliness with Radiolab's In the Dark show at a beautiful old theater. Saturday was a jog along the river where I did a 53-minute 10k--personal best! Later, walking along the Navy Pier (right next to our hotel) before seeing the National Theatre of Scotland performing "The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart" at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This was an impulse event that caught both of our attentions and we struck gold: half of it read like lit crit cool and the other like a Three Stooges short. Five performers swapping roles and instruments as they tell a tale that both is a Scottish ballad and is about Scottish ballads. Hoping it comes on tour. Dinner at the amazing MK Restaurant. You are not as cool as us. Hell, we're not as cool as us.

[ updated 4 Jan 2014 ]

Found coasters from the Prudencia play. Quotes are from Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and the Scottish ballad "The Twa Corbies". The choice of these two says much about the play.

prudencia-coaster.front prudencia-coaster.back


October involved Lisa travelling for LSU games, so I went out a lot for soft-serve ice cream from Checkers down the street and took pics of my feet on Marta:

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More social events included Silversun Pickups at The Tabernacle w/ Lisa&Mason and the L5P Halloween Parade with Tedra&Bill. My first Halloween parade; there was so much craziness and fun that it must become a habit.


November has continued our Year of Music with the long-awaited Quadrophenia at Gwinnett Civic Center. The show and spectacle were outstanding, and we had the bonus prize of running into two of my coworkers. How random. Julia visited for a weekend and we nearly got kicked out of The Vortex (not really (well, maybe a little)). And the Monday after we late-in-the-day bought impulse tickets to Asia performing their first album at Variety Playhouse. We were wiped out but the battle of regret vs. exhaustion found us with the rest of the old folks once again in L5P. A week before, I swore that Quadrophenia was the last classic rock concert of the year and that the only thing that would change my mind would be if Genesis reunited and restaged their Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour. Cut to the Variety Playhouse lobby with posters advertising the Genesis cover band The Musical Box's upcoming performance of LLDoB the 12th of next month, sanctioned by Genesis and Peter Gabriel. Tickets purchased. You win, fate. Post-concert was the L5P Vortex where we chatted with the bartender who caught me trying to leave the Midtown location with a beer in my jacket two evenings prior. Yes, I am 14 years old.

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posted by sstrader at 9:13 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged galleries and museums, genesis, the who, year of music | permalink

September 17, 2012

Where was I?

My first half marathon in Asheville, NC last weekend. Retiring my toe shoes for a new pair after 2+ years of heavy use, including getting a stress fracture as I got used to running in them, and then passing out from heat exhaustion and ending up in the hospital. Otherwise, all was normal. Post race retirement photo:


[ updated 27 Nov 2012 ]

Mah numbah:


Ranking: #712/1351, guntime: 2:09:08, pace: 9:52, tag time:2:07:18.

Weekend of the 24th last month was at Lake Keowee with Nat and Frank and Milly. Fun will grilling and inner tubing and what-not. Buddha watched over us:


The week before, we picked up our first non-objective painting for our art collection from the Piedmont Park Arts and Crafts Festival. "Yoru (Night)" by Chris Strawbridge of Stone Mountain, still to-be-hung:


Before that, my company's 2nd annual picnic which included an exotic animal petting zoo (Lisa gets her finger nibbled on) then dinner with the brother's wife's various family (more shenanigans):

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posted by sstrader at 9:48 PM in Art , Where was I? | tagged jogging | permalink

July 30, 2012

Where was I?

Last year's and this year's Peachtree Road Race numbers:

peachtree-road-race.75938 peachtree-road-race.21223

[ updated 24 Jul 2013 ]

Found the pics from online:

peachtree-road-race-2012.1 peachtree-road-race-2012.2 peachtree-road-race-2012.3 peachtree-road-race-2012.4

Had a personal best with 55:18 this year and so have gotten cocky enough to sign up for a half marathon in Asheville, NC Sept 15th. It will be my last run with the 2+ year-old Vibrams. They've held up very well, but it's time for a new pair!

Lisa & I somewhere doing something stupid:

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Fish at One Eared Stag for my b-day and some wine after more seafood at Lure Midtown for my sis-in-law's b-day a few days later:

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Second annual trip to St. George Island with my bro and his wife's relatives all last week. We brought the last bottle of wine, Clos Pegase, that remained from a Napa trip we all went on 13 (?) years ago. Just really, really, good. Crazy crab shell from the beach:

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Ah, the cruelty of Nature! etc. etc.

posted by sstrader at 10:54 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, restaurant, st george island, travel, wine | permalink

June 14, 2012

Year of music

Including our regular Atlanta Symphony concerts, this year's live music experiences have been more varied than usual. All of it reveling in older bands or bands of our past. Sorry, new guys.

  • Rammstein at Philips Area on 23 April was a ridiculously odd and entertaining show. The fireworks, the flamethrowers attached to their faces, the 40-foot-wide fiery wings (see below), and the skit where the keyboard player--exchanging his mirrored body-suit for leather--was cooked alive in an over-sized cauldron by the lead singer. Memorable.



  • Glass's Einstein on the Beach in London in the middle of May!
  • The Beastie Boys tribute band Ill Communication at Vinyl at the end of May. Could have been cheesy. Was instead awesome. Over the past year or so, I've been meaning to listen to the canonical hip hop albums that I should-know-but-don't. Coincidentally, Matt turned me on to A.V. Club's recent series reviewing 90s rap. Timely.


  • Roger Waters performed The Wall at Phillips Arena last night. Tremendous show even though, at times, a little over-angsty for my post-teen psyche. It was also extremely political but moving. It's been years and years since a full listening, so the tracks were both unexpected and familiar. Oddly, the hits from the album that I liked less at the time the album came out shined through for me during the show. "Mother" was acoustic with video of Waters performing the song in 1980 projected behind him. I still love the quiet pair of songs "Nobody Home" and "Vera". I was reminded of the musical and structural parallels between the first and second album and realized (with the prompting of an inflatable pig) that "Run Like Hell" could have been an unreleased track from Animals. Well known trivia: the Animals tour was when Waters came up with the idea for The Wall.




Up next: Yes at Verizon Amphitheater at the end of July. Peter Gabriel in Chicago at the end of September. If I could just get Genesis and King Crimson in there, I'd have my teen years pinned down.

posted by sstrader at 11:14 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged year of music | permalink

May 20, 2012

Einstein on the Thames

London last weekend for the Barbican Center's production of Einstein on the Beach. Planned a couple of months prior.

Fri 11 May

Before we get on our flight, we realize that the tickets are to Gatwick instead of Heathrow. Derp. The change was pretty harmless, and we just had to pay a little extra for an express train in. Slept maybe 30 minutes on the flight. In London proper, we passed by Battersea Power Station. Because it's used on the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals, this was actually a scheduled destination for Sunday. Instead, I snapped a pic from the Monday morning train ride on our return to Gatwick.


Check in at The Metropolitan across from Hyde Park. Quite posh. We scored an amazing deal at Hotwire (but made up for the savings by closing every evening at the hotel bar). Late breakfast at The Breakfast Club; an excellent bohemian restaurant that gave me beans with my breakfast. Beans?! Our first hint of foreignness in a city that felt at first like New York. After was our shopping trip around Carnaby Street which has a bunch of hipster/Mod clothing shops. Lisa spotted a shop called The Face (Mod slang for the coolest of the cool kids) down a side street. Jacket purchased there with matching shirt from a Ben Sherman down the street. Hour 26 of our first day and my EotB outfit was achieved!


Just watched The Who's Quadrophenia on YouTube to relive all that was the Mods. Brilliant!

Prepping for our trip, Verizon told me that my new phone (HTC Rezound) wouldn't work in the UK, so I got a temporary HTC Incredible 2 for Internet and photos. Sadly, it had no SD card to store said photos, so I had to grab one at the local Vodaphone shop. Vodaphone?!? More foreignness! Vodaphone guys get the honor of IMAG0001:


Next stop: London Eye, delicious street vendor ice cream, general walking and gawking, plus our first pub of the trip: The Camel and Artichoke. A perfect little neighborhood spot that quickly filled up with end-of-the-work-week locals and presented us with our first pub questions: How do we tip the bartender? What are all these beers I've never heard of? And why do they all taste flat? More foreign madness.

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Top of the world! Battersea is visible right above the British flag.

All of this walking wiped us out, so a 60-minute power nap brought me up to 90 minutes of sleep by hour 30 of our first day. Dinner was French cuisine at a two-star Michelin restaurant The Square; a short walk from our hotel and still in the Mayfair district proper. The three-course meal was insinuated with what seemed like dozens of amuse-bouches. The portions were appropriately small and the flavor was subtle and varied. We have never done wrong with French restaurants and this was the pinnacle. Walk back to the hotel with closing drinks at the bar where the more acrobatic bartender spun a bottle upside down in the palm of his hand. In bed at hour 36 of our first day, right well exhausted.

Sat 12 May

This is the day. Everything revolves around Einstein on the Beach.

First, a trip out of Mayfair and up Audley Street towards the Sherlock Holmes Museum, prompted by my interest that started seven (!) years ago. Breakfast of pastry and coffee at The Richoux on the way. The museum was three floors of miscellany and wax figures of major characters.

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Left: Trying but not buying. Right: Sherlock's violin!

Nearby was our second pub of the trip: The Volunteer. Glasses were replaced with plastic in anticipation of a contentious football match later in the day. After drinks, a quick walk to The Beatles Museum a few doors down then the underground to a walk through Green Park and Buckingham Palace.

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Change of the guards, change of key.

Taxi to Barbican via Fleet Street for pre-concert late lunch early dinner at Vinoteca. I had mussels and Lisa had their special of the day: hot dogs. Walk to Barbican, pick up tickets at will call, find our seats.


EotB opens with the female "leads" simultaneously reciting a different block of text, sometimes intersecting with homophones or bouncing with accidental call and response, overtop a choir singing numerals to the meter. Prior to the official start, they sat on stage intoning their parts without choir. My heart was racing for the moment and when the choir started, starting the opera, my throat constricted with the feeling that I could hardly believe where I was. 5:30 PM to 9:50 PM. At around three hours in, I finally looked at my watch and decided that an intermission wasn't necessary. There were too many moments that were genuinely unique and varied to express without the mundane "you had to be there." Music, dance, and theater. I have little sense of the meaning of the opera, but the beauty and humor and structural brilliance were enough. I may go again this fall in Brooklyn; I recommend you do too.

After was our third pub of the trip: Two Brewers just up the street from Barbican. We chatted with the owner, his wife, and the bartender after the owner playfully mocked my mod, mod Carnaby jacket. They were, perhaps, the friendliest people we met during our entire London trip, and we'll definitely go out of our way to return during our next London trip. Underground back to the, now very packed, hotel bar and final drinks. The bar was filled with young Euro-punks, flashy dressers, and families (?!?). Female DJ was awesome.

Sun 13 May

Long days and walking everywhere catching up with us. An early start was not achieved. We eventually get to the Tate Modern for the Damien Hirst exhibition.

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The Tate Modern is obviously a product of the same architect that did Battersea. Good omen. Inside was enormous. The Hirst show contained a stunning collection of every style that he's worked in, beginning with a reproduction of his first gallery show (although, that was the weakest piece). Photography was not allowed because--I'll safely assume--Hirst is a manic businessman when it comes to marketing his art. The most stunning pieces were The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (i.e. the shark piece), A Thousand Years, and Black Sun. A Thousand Years consists of two glass boxes. One contains a smaller white box in which flies hatch from maggots. The other contains a decomposing cow's head which the flies fed on. Above it, a bug zapper. Oddly, the the boxes appeared to be sealed directly against the wood floor of the museum so that the head bled and rotted on the same floor the visitors walked across. We were safely separated from the cycle, yet a shared surface transported us into the piece. The tactile aspect was more moving than expected. Black Sun is a 12-foot circle six-or-so inches deep, jarringly black with an undulating texture. It is made from layers of dead flies. The concept is disgusting, but the result is beautiful (much more so than its images suggest). For the Love of God was impressive but, much like the Mona Lisa, difficult to separate image from icon. The most humorous pieces were his hundreds of "facsimile pills" which were replications of actual pills, to scale.

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After was a walk next door to tour the Globe Theatre. No chance for a guided tour, but we walked through the museum and discovered that an American actor championed the effort to rebuild the theater. After walking the Tate and the Globe, we were ready for our first meal of the day at around 4 PM. We ended up at our fourth pub of the trip: The Ring in Southwark (pronounced SUTH-erk, you tosser). Nothing remarkable, but I had the cottage pie and now have ambitions to make it at home. At one point, the music playing was Carol King's "I Feel the Earth Move"; lyrics used prominently in EotB.

There was some further wandering around the city, resting at the hotel and packing, then a long walk through Middle Eastern neighborhoods to dinner at our fifth and final pub: The Windsor Castle in Marleybone. Thai food! Hotel bar, early morning express train, and arrival home at 6 PM Monday night. Plans to return next year during The Proms.

April 9, 2012

Robot apocalypse - two poems by New Orleans poets

At last year's Crescent City Classic, or the year before's, I'd seen a guy on the street writing commissioned poetry on the subject of your choice. I couldn't think of a topic until later in the evening, and he was gone by the time we returned. "Robot apocalypse" simply had to be realized in verse, so I was thrilled when we found a poet at around midnight last Friday while wandering around Frenchmen Street. At the time, he was busy writing wedding vows for a groom whose bachelor party was in full swing. I gave him the title and we bar hopped until he was finished.

Between bars, we saw another poet selling her wares. I had initially wanted to come up with a different theme but eventually realized that getting two different takes on the robot apocalypse would be ideal. So I did. His is colorful and liberating; hers is more wistful but still violent. He composed in a notepad first then typed it; she created as she typed (and so x-ed out in several locations).

robot-apocalypse.heth heth


Their mechanical arms
raising to the sky, in glory...
amongst the beeping of orange and blue lights
Yellow globes of color
as they communicate with a with a grey horizon-
the walls of the city scape covered
with dried concrete blood.

Their mechanical arms
indistinguishable from,
mechanical feet...
cranes meant to lift
motorized machine parts
swinging wide
covered in gore
under iron file skys

they are finally free.

poetry corner
a horror filled night

robot-apocalypse.beatrice beatrice

Robot Apocalypses

Human skin
was a diety to them.
Elusive and tender.
They could never get
the shimmer and give
just right.
Despite having hearts
steel strong as super heroes,
hands that could crumble
mountains over oceans,
making islands
like human hands might sprinkle
feta on salad,
long after
the last man died
they still pined for the salt
the meandering grooves
that collected earth and stories
in warm soft hands
to be carried

xo Beatrice Bywater 4-6-12

posted by sstrader at 8:39 PM in Language & Literature , Where was I? | tagged new orleans | permalink

February 26, 2012

Where was I?

Places I'd forgotten about until I cleaned up my desk this afternoon:


Celebratory screening of Spinal Tap at Shakespeare Tavern on the 11/11/11 anniversary. Pair with their walk-through of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski for silliness.


Break up our Met season of Wagner's Ring with Glass's Satyagraha. This was one of the most moving productions I've ever seen. Satyagraha has been my favorite opera on score along. Seeing it, and with such and inventive set design and puppetry, was a dream. NYTimes review.


Started our ASO season with Beethoven, Elgar, Britten, and Dvorak. Orchestra left this season. Score!

posted by sstrader at 5:29 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

February 1, 2012

Where was I?

New year and new ASO concerts. January was Beethoven's Emperor and Elgar's Symphony No. 1 and then two weeks later the Eroica and Britten's Violin Concerto. I was never a fan of the English composers, but both the Elgar with its clean Romanticism and the Britten with its mid-century tonalism were enjoyable. (ASO has really cleaned up their calendar! I'd always struggled to find notes on performances months after-the-fact. Their old calendar was barely usable, but the new layout is very nicely done.) Tomorrow night is more Beethoven but this time with a French and a Czech.


Then, on Jan 22nd, we went to a Music on the Hill (MotH) concert at the Northside Drive Baptist Church. Alexei Romanenko on Cello and Christine Yoshikawa on Piano played some moderns:

  • Arvo Pärt - Spiegel im Spiegel
  • Schnittke - Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano
  • Fauré - Aprés une Rêve
  • (intermission)
  • Schnittke - Suite in the Old Style for Cello & Piano
  • Stravinsky - Suite Italienne

The pieces were programmed nicely with the meditative Part opening to a very, very fiery Schnittke (the whole reason I was there) and closing the first half with a syrupy few minutes of Faure. The two pieces in the second half--though I liked less--were two modern homages to the late Baroque. The Schnittke piece was, sadly, just a competent student work. MotH has some great Sunday recitals coming up too.


Monday we celebrated our 13th anniversary ("textiles"?!) at La Pietra Cucina. We were there years ago for Alicia's b-day, but they've since re-designed and we really enjoyed it. Fun fact: when you enter you're greeted by one of two signed Steinway wood-finished baby grands that the owner has.

This weekend is our 3rd annual (sortof) weekend in the mountains with friends.

posted by sstrader at 9:26 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 10, 2011

Where was I?

Second trip to NYC for the year.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 11:46 PM in Art , Where was I? | tagged comic books, nyc | permalink

July 1, 2011

Recent code project

Back in the middle of may, the web host that I use for Java projects--Lunarpages--dropped one of my sites because it was getting more hits than was permitted on a shared server. Their proposed solution was for me to purchase a dedicated server, trading an $8/month service for a $100/month one. I was kindof irritated that there was no inbetween, but you get what you pay for. Their business model was probably always to force the more active sites onto expensive servers contracts. I was lucky that I had the means to relatively quickly re-host, but others are probably more limited in their choices.

That killed a few weeks of productivity setting things up and tweaking and monitoring the new server. Once finished, I got back on my current Android project: an application that will let you create applications on the phone. For the past two weeks have had my head buried in code. This week, I got the basic script interpreter written and have it plugged into the application/module/control object framework. Still a lot to go, but as with any good project it has many areas to keep me interested.

posted by sstrader at 7:33 PM in Programming , Where was I? | tagged android, radiowave | permalink

May 3, 2011

Where was I?

Some crazy bird graffiti from Cabbagetown:


The weekend of the 15th was our second, tri-yearly cabin trip with friends. This visit took us to Morganton, GA with all members of the prior craziness plus new pals Eric and Perla and Mike. It was mostly decadent, as expected, but Sat morning I had a good run around the mountain where a gang of three dogs decided to join me in an impromptu pack. Girl Talk was, perhaps, overplayed. Sat nite ended late with a packed hot tub.



The weekend of the 22nd was our 3rd annual Crescent City Classic trip to New Orleans. Due to the voodoo calculus that put Easter three weeks later than normal--making NOLA three weeks hotter than normal--our asses were quickly kicked by the 10k.

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Some crazy bird graffiti from New Orleans:


Last weekend (the 30th) was the Xth annual Inman Park Festival at Dan and Alicia's. At the festival proper, Lisa bought me several prints of robots and rabbits (separately) from Mr. Hooper, and I bought her a painting warning of the evils of sunbathing from R. Land. To the frame shop!

April 6, 2011

Where was I?

Last month's movies:

A restored print of Taxi Driver at Phipps. Atlanta got it and New York City did not. Weird. More humor than I remembered and it was a nice mix of improvised and scripted scenes. La Dolce Vita at Rialto for opening night of the Italian film festival. Another nice get for Atlanta: April 19th is the 50th anniversary of LDV's premiere at the Rialto, so an original 35mm print was unvaulted and donated for the evening. Pause for a break in the film around 30 min from the end, but otherwise a beautiful print of a grim view of humanity. Second viewing and I still love this film. Sucker Punch [ 3/5 ] with Matt the Friday it came out. We were set up for failure as the ~60% Rotten Tomatoes rating plummeted to 20%. Yikes. The critics were much too harsh. It was an empty-ish film at times, but beautiful to look at and inventive. Very much worth the extra $$$ for IMAX.

Last weekend, Sat through Mon, was NYC for Lisa and Nat's 1/2 marathon around Central Park. Poor training but a very good time. Restaurants were: Barboulud for lunch, a swank French bistro. Peasant for dinner; we did this on one of our first trips to NYC and it has stayed my favorite. Philip Marie for post-race brunch, nice enough, bottomless drinks with brunch. Dublin Wine bar for late afternoon goof-offery. Late dinner at Les Halles (more French!), would definitely go again. Finally, lunch at Grimaldi's Pizza to give us energy to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.

Best part of the weekend was the improvised comedy musical that Baby Wants Candy performed on Saturday night. Audience shouts a a title (Somali Pirates of Penzance!) and the actors and musicians go with it for the next hour/hour-and-a-half. This was better than most scripted comedies and tickets were but $20 apiece. I think we maybe sat by this guy.

IMAG0733.small.png IMAG0733.small.png

Sitting in the front row of Baby Wants Candy with the drummer drumming and a be-top-hatted snowman. Subway peace, yo.


Walking the Brooklyn Bridge after some za at Grimaldi's.

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More Brooklyn Bridgery. No, I did not take enough photos.

posted by sstrader at 10:18 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

March 6, 2011

Where was I?

Last month was many interviews and finally a new job at AutoTrader.com. Last week was my first week of new employment. w00t! No, I can't get you a discount on a new or used car.

Also last month, we began getting our new windows at home. These had been planned for months/years and our unit finally hit the schedule. We were supposed to be the first batch and ended up being the last. Not only that but also: they only replaced half the windows and don't have the other half schedule for another month or so (first "two weeks!" then "it may be three weeks" then "we haven't scheduled that far out..."). *cough* *assholes* *cough*.

Concerts were the Met simulcast of Nixon in China at Buckhead Fork and Screen (saw Rheingold there back in November, Walkuere is next). Peter Sellars was the director and it was fun to see him interviewed during intermission. Nixon's visit was in 1972; the opera premiered in 1987. Friday the 18th was Liszt's Piano Concerto #1 and Beethoven's Symphony #7 at the ASO. Jaap van Zwenden conducting; Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano. The next Friday, the 25th, was a Nicola Benedetti recital at Emory where she played one of my favorite pieces: Prokofiev's Violin Sonata #1. Beautiful! It was a very psychological recital. The Prokofiev was raw and angular; the Chausson lush and filled with pathos; the Richard Strauss (he wrote a violin sonata?!) equally expressive yet with a more formal outpouring. Neat.

posted by sstrader at 7:33 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged metropolitan opera | permalink

January 31, 2011

Thailand trip, 2011

We went to Thailand for ~two weeks from Sunday 9 January through Saturday 22 January with Friendly Planet's Taste of Thailand package. Our friends Liz and Matt took the same trip a year or so ago and it sold out before we could join the fun so when Liz reminded us that they were offering it again, we pounced.

Continue reading "Thailand trip, 2011"
posted by sstrader at 11:50 PM in Where was I? | tagged thailand, travel | permalink

January 2, 2011

New Years 2010

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!

posted by sstrader at 7:48 PM in Where was I? | tagged new years, thailand | permalink

November 21, 2010

Where was I?

DJ Shadow at The Loft on the 9th. Great show, with Pigeon John opening: an hilariously entertaining rapper working with two female rappers/DJs. Finished the night grabbing a $16 print of the Endroducing cover:

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Zip line tour last Saturday outside Lula, GA with Lisa, Bob, and Sarah. Weather was cold and clear and the treetops are--let me tell you-- quite high up there. Recommended (even though they don't allow you to wear Vibrams and I had to do an emergency $15 shoe purchase at a nearby Wal-Mart)!

On Friday, went to see Venice Baroque Orchestra and Robert McDuffie at Emory perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos and Philip Glass's 2nd Violin Concerto. I'd never seen the Vivaldi live and they put on such a completely natural performance. The musicians--this was the last stop on their tour--were joking and chatting with each other during the performance. McDuffie, the lutist, and the first cello had an especially close relationship as each was highlighted at various points. Second on the program was the Glass piece. We'd seen McDuffie perform an arrangement of Glass's 1st Violin Concerto years ago at Clayton State College IIRC. Second movement of Friday's piece, andante, was absolutely beautiful. The musicians ended the piece with a fierce accelerando. Recording purchased in the lobby.


Saturday was Matt's b-day at Imperial Fez. My first time there and we'll definitely have to go back. The belly dancers were friendly and aren't too intrusive if you just want to sit and eat. Music can be a little loud though. Spoke with the chef and Lisa scored us some of the hot hot sauce. Great food and, later in the evening, groovy chill Middle Eastern music. I learned: Moroccans speak Arabic, shoes are removed before entering the dining area, and coffee-infused tequila is an after-dinner drink.

posted by sstrader at 5:45 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged DJ Shadow, Philip Glass | permalink

October 17, 2010

Where was I?

We took a trip to Boston Thursday September 23rd through that Sunday, prompted by Lisa and Natalie's 1/2 marathon in Hollis, NH (the Applefest Half!) and the fact that the last/only other time were were there was back in January 2000.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 6:15 PM in Where was I? | permalink

September 7, 2010

Where was I?


Busy weekend with guests in town and yet I still didn't (1) see any DragonCon shenanigans or (2) go to the Decatur Book Festival. Friday was the aquarium. It's been four years since we've been there so we were long overdue to return. The little sea worms (aka garden eels) were still as crazy lookin' for their sheer lol-ness:


Saturday was an LSU party at the house. Drink of choice is the youth tonic stolen from The Publik House down the street, found the recipe online with the name berri ricky (?!):

  • 1 part fresh lime juice
  • 1 part agave nectar (or simple syrup)
  • 4 parts club soda
  • Build ingredients over fresh ice in a highball. Stir. Garnish with a lime wheel.

In the words of Kramer: it's very refreshing. Me and my brother and Matt hung out then parted ways to go see Machete (aka Mah-cheh-tay) at Atlantic Station. Not the immersive retro weirdness that was Planet Terror, but still very quotable and violently and babe-tastic.


Sunday was long lunch at North of NOLA. Our first official meal there and it was outstanding. Sadly OTP and so too distant for frequent visits. Mary and Lisa enjoyed themselves more that it appears:


Monday was brunch at Flying Biscuit in Candler, a farewell to all, then the first two Red Riding movies on Netflix streaming. Oh, and I went for a jog and probably got a stress fracture in my right foot. After next Monday's podiatrist appt, I'll probably be spending the next two months in a walking cast. :-(

Oddly, two new restaurants in Midtown were closed all weekend and so we had to cancel plans for both of them. The Publik House next to The Fox and Noon on Crescent Ave. gave up some of the busiest foot traffic days of the year and made us redirect people elsewhere. Come on, guys.

posted by sstrader at 6:13 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, restaurant | permalink

July 20, 2010

Recent restaurants

Visited several restaurants of note for the first time over the past couple of months:

  • WaterHaven a few months ago - Wanted to go ever since this changed from The Globe. The space is very nice and the menu was promising, but the food ended up a little bland. Need to give them another try.
  • Publik Draft House - Quick visit and we shared a tin of the best fries ever.
  • Bistro Niko in Buckhead the night before Lisa ran the Peachtree Road Race on the 4th. The entire experience was 5/5. Great food, great waiter, and great people-watching (although that may have been just because of the holiday weekend). Nice French bistro feel. Lisa wants to go back to sit on the patio and eat mussels and pommes frites.
  • Piola - Delicious pizza in a funky/casual space. This could be a regular haunt for us.
posted by sstrader at 7:31 AM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, restaurant | permalink

June 30, 2010

Where was I?

At the derby last Saturday watching the Dirty South Derby Girls fight the Black Sheep Rollergirls from Cincinnati. With only seeing one game, Lisa & I understand maybe half the rules at this point. Although the DSDGs had a phenomenal comeback after the half, we lost 117-126 to the BSRs, due mostly their "jammer" K Lethal. She was a force to be reckoned with and we were lucky to score what we did. We will definitely be returning for more Saturday nights at the derby. Funfunfun!


Monday night I discovered--apres cold shower--that our dripping A/C unit shorted out our water heater and tripped the breaker and (slightly) smoking up the utility closet. Yipes. We scheduled someone for each unit from the company who replaced our old A/C unit in 2006, Coolray. Tuesday morning both thermostats in the water heater were replaced and normal showering was again possible. This afternoon the drain pipe for the A/C unit was flushed and our steamy sauna-condo returned to its pre-greenhouse state. Although even with the heat, it's been kinda nice having the windows open with the city noises.

Into my 2nd week of dieting after I discovered via scale what I think I knew already via tightpants. My decadent lifestyle and (perhaps) slowwwed metabolism had packed on and extra 15 lbs.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 9:48 PM in Where was I? | permalink

June 19, 2010

Where was I?

Two Fridays ago we revisited movies at The Fox with LC and Alan plus Alicia and Dan. Double feature with Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club but we skipped out on the latter on the general consensus that it's a meh movie and went to Engine 11 for their sliders.


The next night was a great performance at the ASO with new works by Gandolfi and Higdon (those of Spano's Atlanta School of Composers). This was the first Higdon I'd heard and it was phenomenal.


Two Mondays ago, Lisa & I kicked back at Chastain for Kansas (plus Foreigner and Styx). I snapped a video of the first 30-or-so seconds of "Dust in the Wind" if you're not familiar with the song:

The only other time I'd seen Kansas was a great show yearrrrrrs ago at Music Midtown.

posted by sstrader at 9:44 AM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

June 3, 2010

Holiday weekend, Carnival of Souls at Plaza

Friday after work watched a terrifying storm from inside Marlow's down the street. Hail and sideways rain hit and people started taking pictures of the fact that you couldn't see the other side of the street. Rainpocalypse. Went to the matinée on Saturday and saw one of my favorite old creepy movies!

Continue reading "Holiday weekend, Carnival of Souls at Plaza"
posted by sstrader at 12:23 AM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

May 24, 2010

Stabbing in Midtown

In the words of Bart Simpson: "Way to cheat death, man!" Our receipt from Midcity Cafe at 11:10 PM Saturday night:


And the news report of a stabbing that happened 20 minutes later, two blocks away on 8th at the same time that we're walking home up 7th.

posted by sstrader at 11:05 PM in Where was I? | permalink

April 20, 2010

North of NOLA

Two Tuesday's back had an excellent test dinner at Bill and Tedra's to prepare for their upcoming restaurant North of NOLA. Rick Watson will be the chef.

posted by sstrader at 11:17 PM in Where was I? | tagged restaurant | permalink

April 8, 2010

Where was I?

Random places.




posted by sstrader at 12:18 PM in Where was I? | permalink

March 23, 2010

Where was I?

March 3rd went to see the documentary on gig posters called Died Young, Stayed Pretty at The Plaza. Spoke with the director and purchased a copy afterwards. The characters were entertaining and good editing, but the subject wasn't fully examined (what are the copyright concerns? what is the history? are there regional differences?). Still, entertaining.



Shakespeare Tavern on the 10th to see a dramatic reading the Two Gentlemen of Lebowski. They did a more active read-through than expected with some bounding about the stage and frequent White Russian refills for The Dude. It worked perfectly as both Shakespeare and Coens. We, and most of the crowd, were in tears throughout.

Show's about to start on Twitpic tickets.shakespeare.2010-03-10

ASO on the 12th with the Liszt 2nd Piano Concerto and Petruchka (plus a Beethoven overture). This was a nice complement to January's Rite of Spring and last November's season opener with Garrick Ohlsson performing Rachmaninov 3rd. The piano in Petrushka seemed too muted (says the pianist). Otherwise nice.


Friday the 19th was hanging out at the Cheetah where Lisa got a signed pic two years before. Only excitement this year was dropping my phone on the way home and having to replace the battery. :-/

posted by sstrader at 11:25 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

February 18, 2010

Where was I?

Mid-February, catch-up edition with (mostly) restaurants:

  • Last night at Serpas for Fat Tuesday dinner. Cold cold cold out with a second line leading us to our table. The fried oysters are even better than when Scott Serpas was the chef at Mitra in Midtown.
  • Sunday the 14th - Valentine's dinner at Anis in Buckhead. I'd been wanting to go back to Basil's across the street from Anis (we'd been once, probably 10?!? years ago), but we decided to try something new. Paid off. Anis is a cozy little French bistro with suprisingly good dishes. I had the Escolar and Lisa the steak.
  • Saturday the 13th - house party at Jennifer and Snehal's. Beautiful house with rotating art collection (my plan for our place since we're just about maxed out on the art : wall ratio). Hundreds of candles leading up the walkway and driveway. Talks with old friends and new acquaintances (whose names I will never remember).
  • Friday was the snowpocalypse in Atlanta!!

    IMG00197-20100212-1631.small IMG00199-20100213-0919.small

  • Thursday was District 13: Ultimatum at Landmark [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Watched the first one last June on a whim and loved it. This was more light-hearted but just as much fun.
  • Previous Saturday the 6th - Long day with Mickey at The High for da Vinci then lunch at Table 1280 (finally trying the menu there). Excellent. Evening was Bacchanalia Mickey+Mason+Danice. This was another place I hadn't been for prolly 10 years and it far surpassed my fond memories. Every. Single. Item. Was perfect. Flavor!!



  • Friday was Elevation Chophouse OTP with all (Lisa and Mickey had lunch at Flip w/out me). Met M&D's cute new puppy Dooley beforehand.
  • Previous previous Sunday, January 31st - Lazy day (natch) with dinner at Baraonda.
  • Saturday I picked up a top hat of sorts from the costume shop and that became my admittedly lame 20s outfit for Stacie's b-day party at the top floor of The Park Tavern at Midtown. Shenanigans and dancing till late.

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  • Friday the 29th was our 11th anniversary (observed) with a phenomenal performance of The Rite of Spring at the ASO. Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Osvaldo Golijov's Suite from Youth Without Youth. Both beautiful pieces. First complete Golijov I've listened to and much more tonal than I expected (for some reason). Dinner afterwards at Oceanaire. Second time there and recommended.


posted by sstrader at 12:48 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged beetle | permalink

January 17, 2010

Xmas in Vegas

Lisa & I spent Xmas in Vegas from December 23rd to 27th. I should have documented the fun sooner.

Late flight Wednesday and check in at The Venetian with a late dinner at the Grand Lux Cafe where we got to scope out the gambling crowd. Great deal on the hotel made the four night stay cost about the same as the flight.


Thursday we rented a car and headed to Red Rock Canyon for hiking. All cars were taken except for a 15-person van, a Corvette, and a Nissan 350Z. Rental for the day cost about the same as the flight (slight exaggeration) so we decided on the 350Z. Sweet ride. RRC was around 18 miles outside of Las Vegas. Driving out of town was odd because there's no transition from city-to-non-city, but rather just an abrupt end to all buildings and you're immediately in the dessert. Once at the park, we took the scenic drive that looped through the region and stopped at several trails. There were many other visitors, but It wasn't too crowded. What I noticed most about the rock cliffs was that the viewer lost any sense of scale because of the vast patterns on the sandstone. What looked only 10s of meters away dropped much further in the distance as soon as we saw the dots of rock climbers. Brave, brave, rock climbers. Or, as soon as we saw the tiny dots of our shadow on the rocks below:

rock shadow rock shadow

Here we are frolicking:

her me

After the hike, we drove back into town and down to a casino in south Vegas to watch Avatar in 3D IMAX [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. If you're planning on seeing this, definitely go the 3D route. It really is a beautiful film even if most of the characters, with the exception of the male lead, are lazily written, and the themes are a bit obvious. Flaws aside, it was definitely a cinema experience. I remember, however, that after the expansive beauty of Red Rock Canyon, I wasn't as wowed as many reviewers or at all "let down" by the bleakness of the real world in comparison. Although I can imagine how someone living in Detroit might feel otherwise.


Evening was dinner at Alize at the Top of the Palms. Beautiful view and a perfect meal.

Friday started with brunch at Payard Bistro at Caesar's Palace. Lisa had plans to go to the buffet at the Bellagio, but the line in was at least 100-people long (I don't think I'm exaggerating) and it looked rather kid-infested. Blech. Plan B a nice restaurant at Bellagio, but that would have been a 2 hour wait so I searched via Google Maps on my phone and found Payard's. Highly recommended! Small, very French, and the perfect quiet choice for Xmas brunch.


The bulk of the day was various shenanigans walking up and down the strip with what seemed like the entirety of the population of China, visiting the art gallery at the Bellagio, and taking the monorail to the new Las Vegas CityCenter. Along with Asians, the strip was filled with cast-off trading-card-sized leaflets of naked women on them. They stayed in Vegas. Dinner was at Enoteca San Marco back home at The Venetian. The restaurant was in the winding, two-story, indoor mall that had a faux-sky ceiling (see below) so I was expecting only average food but it was very good. They had an octopus, celery, and potato salad (weird, I know) that was outstanding.

boobs sky ceiling

Saturday we started with brunch at Bouchon in The Venetian. It was another French locale and an excellent meal. After, we were again in need of a rental car to get to Hoover Dam (having missed out on a group tour). The hotel Hertz Lady had, again, those same three cars and nothing else so we went online and rented one from a place at the airport. Taxi + rental fee (for a more humble Nissan Versa) was still less than what the 350Z would have cost.


It was a gray day going to see a megalithic, gray structure but still impressive. We wandered a little in the museum. Most interesting construction fact: they had to dig four tunnels through the canyon in order to divert the river while the dam was being constructed. Work on the tunnels took as much effort as constructing the dam itself!

danger dam

Return and dress up for an evening show of Zumanity at New York New York. It was a burlesque version of a Cirque du Soleil show with a 50s-style couple hosting and, along with twin corpulent stippers, playfully pestering members of the audience. There wasn't a bad seat in the theater, but we were sooo happy we weren't up front! Dinner after at Serrano in ARIA at CityCenter for Spanish tapas. We also met our waiter from Payard and Lisa discovered her New Favorite Drink: a Spanish dessert wine called Don PX Pedro Ximenez.


Short day Sunday wandering around one last time looking for gifts for the nieces but we couldn't agree on items that were both Las Vegassy and non-cheesey so ended up with nothing. Rats. Lazy flight home and another week of relaxing!

Continue reading "Xmas in Vegas"
posted by sstrader at 11:40 AM in Where was I? | tagged restaurant | permalink

December 23, 2009

Where was I?

Big Thanksgiving todo last month at my brother & sister-in-law's. Lisa posed with my niece and her (my niece's) friend:

Ugly duck.

House-warming party at the beginning of the month at Ivy & Jason's new mansion OTP. The next day I tried to get Lisa to get some antlers but she wasn't studying me:

Ugly duck.

Yearly holiday party in Asheville the weekend of the 11th with Shelby & Robert. We had big plans on hiking Saturday morning like last year, but with the 20-degree, damp weather we did a lap around the lake and then scurried back to our bed & breakfast.

Ugly duck.

Ugly duck.

Scary serpent.

Scary serpent.

Plan B was to wander around Black Mountain (where we actually stayed, near Asheville) and inject some money into the local economy. A robot and alien were purchased:

robot alien

Yearly dinner-with-friends at Miller Union. It's a small restaurant with tables set back and somewhat isolated yet still with an open feel. Very nice layout. Our waitress was Hungarian and grateful that none of us had names beginning with a W. I almost got everyone in the photo via the mirror:


Now let's go to Vegas!

posted by sstrader at 4:45 PM in Where was I? | tagged annual holiday dinner with friends | permalink

November 8, 2009

Where was I?

A few weeks back, we met friends in Decatur and hung out at The Brick Store.


Halloween was handing out candy in Cabbagetown (tradition), then 1/2 price dinner (!) at Parish in Inman Park. The place was packed and there were several good costumes; one couple came as a chicken and egg, one waitress was a plausible-yet-more-attractive Amelia Earhart, and there was a scattering of cleavage at the bar. Hovering over the Greek statues in the middle of the room was a Halloween cat protecting us from evil, but unfortunately my phone captured him sideways:

Meow! on Twitpic

(Not sure if I blame the updated Blackberry Storm OS or some change on TwitPic, but it's starting to irritate me...)

Yesterday was the Cabbagetown Chomp and Stomp. A police-related snafu cut the 5k around 1k short, so I had a quite impressive time. Afterwards was prep, herding the cats that are the chili cook-off participants, and judging the chili booth Spirit Awards. Lisa got to chat with all of the celebrity chefs who were there to judge the restaurant chilis and enjoy their culinary bon mots while Robert and I did some spirit award stealth judging. LSU game afterwards at Tin Lizzies (a further walk that was anticipated) and hanging out at Mollie and Hugh's.

posted by sstrader at 3:22 PM in Where was I? | permalink

September 29, 2009

Where was I?


Lisa's b-day at Dogwood just down the street last Wednesday. Nice space, nice waitress (we loved the recommendations), and great food. ++ Would Go Again. The next night, since Lisa had plans for an LSU game in Starkville over the weekend, was a rescheduled ASO concert from Saturday. All the better since Thursday was the opening night for the season. Our photo on the red carpet taken from the ASO's Facebook profile:


Tchaikovsky continues to surprise me. A composer I used to dislike, maybe my Old Age is helping to reveal a character I hadn't heard before. Also, Garrick Ohlsson on the Rachmaninov 3rd; the orchestral writing is not much, but the piano work is an outstanding show piece. How many times have we seen Garrick Ohlsson now?

I was a bachelor for the weekend and enjoyed many a movie. Other than Days of Wine and Roses, watched the Danish flick Pusher (3/5) and some less notable anime. Evangelion 1.0 is playing at the Plaza this week, so I might try to see that.

posted by sstrader at 7:44 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

September 5, 2009

Started the holiday weekend with a jog

Was slack for the week, so this was a much-needed workout and I got to run past all of the traffic standing still on Peachtree.

Thursday night, we went to see In the Loop [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at Landmark. Quick of wit and ultimately depressing for its bouncy, manic, nihilistic view of politics and the Iraq War. In other words: it's spot on (as the Brits would say). Many of the quips from the snappy dialog are only sinking in today. Afterwards was dinner at Apres Diem for the first time in a while. Sea bass special was only slightly over-buttered and the vegetables on the side had nicely under cooked baby carrots. A pleasant surprise.

Last night, I watched Il Grido (The Cry/Outcry) by Antonioni on The Auteurs [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]; the first Antonioni I've seen. The story is that of a man (Aldo) who'd been living with a married woman (Irma) for seven years while her husband worked out of country. In the first few scenes, Irma receives news of her husband's death and she realizes she no longer loves Aldo. He attempts to reconcile but eventually is shamed and leaves town with their young daughter. The bulk of the film depicts their travels on the road. He has many opportunities to start a new life with interested women, yet his melancholy and longing for Irma always pushes him back to wandering and eventually back to his home town in an attempt to rejoin with her. It's a meandering, episodic film and the b&w shots are neatly composed, adroitly framing the actors. The overarching theme of individual selfishness and alienation is presented in numerous variations: sexual interest, filial respect, parental love. In a backdrop to the final scenes of Aldo's return home, the citizens of his home town fight against being forced to live his lifestyle on the road, with the government threatening to raze the town in order to build an airstrip. One is always subject to the selfish power of another.

Today, the Blinky and Bettig prints get taken to The Rolling Frame Review. They did an excellent job framing our prints from VaHi Summerfest a year ago. Both prints are more beautiful in person than I remembered. Really very stunning.

posted by sstrader at 12:18 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

August 12, 2009

Weekend cinema and The Auteurs web site

Went to see The Hangover on Friday [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Enjoyable slapstick and a good end of week movie to veg out to. I fixed my laptop over the weekend. It had stopped displaying when I would hook it up to our Bravia and so there were no Netflix or AMC b-movies streamed over the last two weeks. Fix was a mix of FN-key toggling and NVIDIA config. As usual, I have no idea how it went wrong.

Upon its return, we finished watching the outrageous Tokyo Gore Police [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] from Netflix! Highly recommended bit of over the top that I'm sure, without even looking, Tarantino was indebted to when making Kill Bill. Japan has replaced the police force with a private force that hunts down mutant/fetishistic killers called Engineers. Hose-spurting dismemberments ensue. The DVD or soundtrack may be a future purchase. Also watched The Undead from AMC. It was an almost worthless Roger Corman flick. Two "doctors" hypnotize a prostitute in modern day to reveal her past lives. The bulk of the film was some scattered story of her unjustly accused of being a witch several hundred years prior. Most of AMC's b-movies have been very entertaining. Except for the D-cup hottie that played the head witch in the past, this was painful. Also on Netflix was Outsourced [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. A nice enough comedy of an American manager sent to India to train his and his coworkers' replacements. I wanted to like it more, and it was OK, but there were some oddities (the romance was introduced abruptly, the characters were only moderately likable) that bothered me. Resolution was done well though.

[ updated 7 May 2011 ]

The "D-cup hottie" was none other than Allison Hayes of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman fame. The Sexy Witch blog has an article+pics about her role in The Undead.

Went to the drive-in on Sunday to see Viva Las Vegas! (I don't expect anyone to believe this, but when I told one of my coworkers their reply was: what's that movie about?). TCM is showing movies at drive-ins throughout August for $1/carload. We ate fried chicken (fingers) and drank PB&B martinis (peanut butter and banana). The movie was basically a travel ad for Vegas and an exercise video with Ann-Margaret, but it was fun to cheer on the hero with the rest of the crowd.

Earlier this week, Trakovsky tweeted about The Auteurs movie web site. A good selection of classic, foreign, and independent cinema from $0 to $5 a viewing. My first film was Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. I put a quick review on their site; here it is:

First movie I've watched from this director.

More of a formalist study than a dramatic one. The individual scenes are composed as microcosms emphasizing a primary theme. People occupy the same space and yet never connect. Each character's actions and language (or lack) are almost undecipherable to those they wish to communicate with. Distance is emphasized by showing the actors through windows, mirrors, TV monitors, and even a decorative waterfall.

At times a bit too stylish-for-style's-sake, and some of the manic improvised scenes don't quite work, but overall a beautiful and funny film.

What they have in their catalog is wonderful; what they don't have is infuriating. I hope they get the rights to more.

posted by sstrader at 6:41 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | tagged asian cinema, drive-in | permalink

May 24, 2009

Where was I?


Long weekend in NYC with Liz and Matt last week (followed by a long Memorial Day weekend, nice)! Lisa & I headed out Wednesday after work and arrived around 9 or 10. Ride to The Bryant Park Hotel and discover that all the cabs now have video/GPS/weather screens in the back. Meh. Reminds me of years ago when they had famous actors telling you to buckle up in the voice of whatever character they were currently playing (or had played) on Broadway. I just need a cab. The hotel was pretty swank--affordable only through some special deal Lisa found--but there was no place in the room to store your clothes. We unpacked what little we could then hit their basement bar: The Cellar Door. Drinks taste better when served by chicks in corsets. On to food at a hip little wine bar called Terroir.

Om nom nom from Terroir in #NYC on Twitpic

Thursday, Lisa and Liz had their spa time so I got to wander the streets and people watch whilst listening to Yoko Kanno. Perfect morning. I hit the Times Square Sketchers store and got two new pairs to replace the ones I bought... back in October 2006! Way overdue. Then I rambled along to Midtown Comics and basked in the geeky fun. Acquired: the most recent Ex Machina GN + The Umbrella Academy. The latter was an impulse buy and pretty good. After, I met Lisa at Butterfield 8 for drinks.

In line for Jon Stewart #NYC on Twitpic

Afternoon was The Dailiy Show! Best moment was Samantha Bee's bit on the Monsanto lobbyist who--and I am not making this up--is vilifying Michelle Obama's push for private gardens. Classic. Afterwards we parted ways to rest and clean up for dinner at 81 (great food but you must go and eat the bread sticks at the bar!!) and late nite drinks at The Greeley.

Big events Friday were Guggenheim with Matt in the morning and Billy Elliot with all four of us that night. We're in the middle of a Frank Lloyd Wright anniversary (he died 50 years ago) so they had a big exhibit of his work. I was more interested in the Kandinsky exhibit, but it was only two small rooms in preparation for a fall show. Great pieces by Kokoshka, Franz Marc, and Kirchner IIRC. Another show had some Picasso and others who I just can't remember right now. It made me want to start going to The High once a month just to wander around. The weather and walk back was perfect. Weather was up and down all weekend but mostly up.

nyc-2009.billy-elliot.cover nyc-2009.billy-elliot.actors

Billy Elliot was that night. First chance I got to see Greg perform live (Lisa was up with her mom in 2005 when he was in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I was slack for some reason). BE is up for 13 (?) Tonys, tying The Producers for most nominations, but no talk yet of a Midtown Tony part on June 7th (!). It was a great show, but I got reprimanded for taking a photo of the stage during intermission. Same thing happened at the Guggenheim, but I seem to be able to get away without being labeled a terrorist. Neat.

Saturday, Matt and Lisa and I went for a jog in Central Park! Cool but comfortable, but we missed the chance to sign up for some 10k that was already in progress. No free shirts for us. We split up early but all pretty much did the loop around the entire park. I took a detour to do the Marathon Man thing around the reservoir. Odd coincidence: I made a Marathon Man reference at work the week before (yes, it was the "is it safe" quote...). Afterwards, Lisa and I saw a STREET FIGHT at Columbus Circle outside the subway entrance. Two on one. Faces in the pavement. Very uncomfortable. Two large guys large enough to break up a fight with three large guys eventually intervened. We subwayed 1/2 way back, getting off early on a whim and walked right into a street fair. I ended up with a polish sausage sandwich and Lisa with a gyro. Rule #1 of street fairs: you must purchase delicious food. We all met up later at Murray's to tour the cheese caves. They're underground and more like big cheese closets with an entrance was marked by the Batman symbol.


Split up and Lisa and I headed to Williamsburg (in Brooklyn) for Sonic Youth at the No Fun Fest. I had known of and listened to SY's noise rock experiments and knew they were big proponents, but it wasn't until we walked up into the balcony and were knocked back by a wave of white noice, glitch, at screaming that I realized what we were in for. I'd listened to some in college (Throbbing Gristle and The Swans) but never went to a show. This ended up being the most uncomfortable, surprising, and ultimately one of the top five concerts I've ever been to. Every artist seemed to write not only in their own style, but in an entirely unique genre. Ear plugs were mandatory (we were prepared) yet while Lisa and I were constantly checking our for fear that they'd fall out during some of the more brutal numbers, some people went earplugless. I can't imagine. While the majority of the music leaned towards loud and abrasive, there were a couple of outright beautiful pieces. Some of what I remember:

  • First up: German guy yelling insults at the crowd while white noise was generated from his laptop. Afterwards, silence as he sat facing the side of the stage. People would yell insults at him and periodically he would denounce bourgeois society.
  • Three guys facing each other at a table with banks of electronics. Red spotlights illuminating their faces from below. Warlocks evoking music. Very diverse set. At one point they all take off their shirts (to cheering) and one bangs on a piece of metal connected to pickups.
  • Four guys in suits. Two working a table full of electronics; two (one ~60 years old) performing interpretive dance. (Sons of God, video)
  • A six piece band playing the only "rock" songs of the evening. Nice enough, but as Lisa said: "after the other stuff, that was pretty boring."
  • Three piece with drums, violin, and an instrument that consisted of a box in one hand and a thick wand in the other. Variations in their proximity made different sounds. Excellent. (Toral Yeh Tremain, video)

Check out the various videos on YouTube. Here's a clip from SY's set:

Throughout the evening, I was constantly ending up next to one or more of the members of Sonic Youth: out front, at the bar, in the balcony, standing at a urinal. Alas, when I finally had something to say, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore sat next to us at the bar, they were getting their ears talked off by some chatty drunk. Whatever. It was still pretty neat, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg was an awesome venue!

Sunday was low-key brunch at Friend of a Farmer. Very good. We met up with Julie and Greg afterwards and I chatted with him about the show until they had to head home to get ready for the Sunday matinee. Then Lisa and I head over to Giant Robot where I got a cool new sticker for my car:

A Giant Robot followed me back from NYC! on Twitpic

Another successful trip!

posted by sstrader at 3:58 PM in Art , Where was I? | tagged nyc, restaurant, sonic youth, wine, yoko kanno | permalink

May 12, 2009

Where was I?


Out first Mahler symphony live back on the 24th. Runnicles gave a short talk at the podium beforehand outlining the major themes and providing a quick biographic background for the piece. A nice addition to the evening. Forget where we went afterwards for dinner. :-/


Star Trek on Friday the 8th of this month. Outstanding reboot of the series; everything I'd hoped. I went in enjoying the Spock and came out liking the gruff McCoy more. It was the perfect movie for a Friday nite after the work week: action and visual flair but with an engaging story. Dinner at Top Flr aftewards. We sat downstairs in a quiet little back corner booth. Nice.

Looking forward to Moon with Sam Rockwell. June 12th in NY and LA. Love the computer in the trailer:

Off to a long weekend on NYC. Flight leave tomorrow night at 7...

posted by sstrader at 7:59 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

April 23, 2009

Where was I?

Two weekends ago, we went to New Orleans to meet up with Kevin and Chad and run the 31st annual Crescent City Classic 10k. For two weeks prior, I'd been slowly getting back to jogging with no ill effects from my herniated disc. The jog we did in Key West last September was enjoyable but left me somewhat debilitated the next few days. I didn't have any issues after the NOLA run, so I suspect the Key West problems were from hours of walking around. Noted. Our times were unimpressive--Lisa then me then Chad, 1:03 then 1:05 then 1:08?--but it was one of the easiest, most enjoyable routes I've been on. It was flat throughout with the course going through the Quarter, then an old neighborhood, and finally to City Park. Definitely will be a repeat event.


Other NOLA activities included drinking (wha?!?) and some of the best dining in a while. Plus, all the restaurants were new to us. Cochon's (Pig's?) Friday night (Lisa & I took a nap, overslept, and met them there 1/2 hour late), Jacques Imo's Saturday night (beautiful evening with a cozy table in the front window), and Elizabeth's to eat Praline Bacon for Sunday brunch (unfortunately, my Irish coffee had a couple of dead fruit flies at the bottom. blech!). Somewhere in there was lunch at Parasol's (a building touting absolutely no right angles) where we had our ears raped by the Loudest Girl In the World, wearing the most appropriate t-shirt in the world, stating simply: I am New Orleans. Also acquired were two necklaces purchased for the nieces from vendors in the Quarter. Afterwards was drinks at the famous Johnny White's.



#NOLA Rooster parade. on Twitpic

Last weekend was Allison and Matt's wedding in Santa Rosa, FL with Shelby and Robert. Four days of fun in the sun, except the sun kinda kept hidden. No matter. On the drive down, I discovered the Holy of Holies: a sode never before seen by civilized society. I give to you, Dr. Wham!

#santarosa Diet Dr. Wham. Really?! on Twitpic

Diet Dr. Wham. This magic elixir gave us the energy to shop for an absurd amount of food and drink when we arrived Friday. Very nice wine store (Sandestin Wine World?) with one of those fancy, robotic wine tasting machines: you purchase a card to use at the machine and it dispenses a tasting of your choice. We had big plans to return... but never did. Rest, then rehearsal dinner BBQ at the top floor of a neat-o, 3-story beach hour w/ elevator.

Saturday was beach and wedding. I started off with a jog--more nice, flat terrain. Beach was cool-then-cold and windy with the dreaded red flag (high hazard!) out. Then back to the condo and hanging out in the hot tub. It was wet, but did not make me sweat. The wedding was in a glen under a huge, moss-covered oak with the reception in a nearby tent. Perfect evening. We eventually made a quick jaunt (after getting lost) to some bar in Seaside, then back to the condo.

Post morning jog, much of Sunday was relaxing and watching crazy movies since the weather went gray. Oddest experience: everything we chatted about on the drive down appeared in some form or another later in the weekend via movies or Trivial Pursuit trivia questions. Weird. Best of the bunch: Roadhouse (!), The Fifth Element (natch), The Matrix (realizing how horrible (minus Monica Bellucci) the others were), and mostfuckingawesomeofall Zombie Strippers with--and I was quite astounded about this--an unexpectedly gorgeous Jenna Jameson. I would say that it takes zombies to stop her from looking like a skank, but even the womens were enraptured. Dinner at Stinky's was uncharacteristically fresh and unfried. Very good experience.

It was good to return on Monday and live the life of a four-day work-week.

[ updated 11 May 2009 ]

Too cheap to purchase the fotos from MarathonFoto.com so here're the screen caps:





posted by sstrader at 10:26 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, new orleans, travel | permalink

April 3, 2009

Where was I?

Again, remiss in logging my comings and what not. Quickly:

Two concerts last month. First Horacio Gutierrez effortlessly performing the Prokofiev 3rd Piano Concerto.


March 27th was the Sibelius Violin Concerto performed by Leonidas Kavakos. Sibelius wrote two versions, the first being more demanding, and Kavakos was the first person sanctioned by Sibelius's descendants to record it. I'll assume that's the version we heard at the ASO. Like Gutierrez's performance, Kavakos made the impossible look effortless. The concerto was more programmatic than I remember although it seemed to have more the manner of a psychological examination. The first movement had the soloist and orchestra in conflict, melodic statements were contradicted with a blast of horns. Themes echoed in each, but the orchestra seemed decidedly antagonistic to the pathos of the violin. Second movement brought more than a reconciliation. Here, the orchestra was positively sympathetic with the violin's passionate monologue, coming in at times to support and coax the story being told. The final movement brings them together in celebration and allows the soloist full reign without either rude or supportive interruption.


L & I went to the concert with Shelby, Robert, Alicia, and Dan, and afterwards went up the street to Blue Fin for drinks and food.

Last weekend (28th/29th) Lisa was in Knoxville for her first 1/2 marathon! She finished with a notable, nearly Kenyan, 2:09. I on-the-other-hand stayed in town to go to my niece's confirmation. I made the unenviable mistake of getting lost in the church's parking lot and ending up in the Baptist church instead of the Methodist. Realizing my error just as I made it to the ASO-like auditorium, I skipped out and found the next closest church. Success! Although I wasn't too late, it will be a long time before I choose to suffer through (and, Caroline, if you're reading this, first: stop reading my blog because it's usually NC-17; second: I dislike your church, not you!) another interminable 90-or-so minutes of being told (1) the only correct way to live is to live in praise of Jesus and (2) a church's primary goal is to recruit the young into the church. My only hope is that those young learn to think critically and cast off the propaganda. I had thought that church would attempt to be a proponent of community good. From what I saw, your time would be better spent actually volunteering a few hours a week at a food bank or charity organization. I'm sure churches actually do that, but the waste of time that is the weekly insistence that your sky-daddy is the one true sky-daddy only serves to perpetuate and reward ignorance.

That being said... while Lisa was gone I took advantage of streaming Netflix + laptop + TV to watch A Scanner Darkly [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. I'm still not sure what to think of this movie. I never really got engaged with the characters though I'm not sure that the viewer was intended to. The author seems to be denouncing the "war against drugs" because of its symbiotic relationship with addiction itself (a position I can't really see), and also denouncing the cost of addiction. There are a few scenes that resonate: the protagonist being assigned the role of monitoring his alter ego; the constant, big-brother quality of law enforcement given too great a power; the protagonist's nostalgia for the family he may have abandoned. Ultimately, the parts didn't come together for me. Mild recommendation. Some might actually love this film.

Also watched was Dollhouse on Hulu. I've got lukewarm feelings about this show. Lots of fan service which is nice but does not continued interest provide. There are some dramatic surprises paired with some overly self-conscious Joss Whedon dialog. I'll keep watching. And I love Hulu: although the frame rate is a little low, the image is beautiful (laptop -> 40" Bravia). Kudos, I say!

Finally, I'm battling giant cockroaches in my bathroom. Four in the last month, but I think the Agent Red (Raid) I've applied is diminishing their numbers. I've begun tracking cockroach sighting on the chalkboard calendar in the kitchen. No sign of them in any other area of the condo. weird...

posted by sstrader at 4:12 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged philip k. dick, prokofiev | permalink

March 11, 2009

Where was I?

Trying to keep track.

10 yo Barolo for our 10th V Day. on TwitPic

Valentine's Day was dinner at home where we cooked mini-beef Wellingtons with mixed vegetables. Our first time using pastry dough, so it was wayyyy too much but still good. Paired with a 10-year old Barolo given by the mother-in-law originally intended for our 10 year anniversary but moved to two weeks later. A rare and perfect pairing. Plans were for homemade McFlurries after but as usually dinner was completed rather late and there was no need for dessert. Flick was The Rocker. Nice enough.

End of Feb was the loss of more friends from work. Claudia and Deepthi will be missed but I suspect will keep in touch. There was a flood of activity on LinkedIn during that period, but now we at least have a means to find each other.


The 21st was Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at the ASO. She was bouncing and swaying all through the piece. The first time I've seen her in concert and very active. Audience responded well! Drinks before at Table 1280 (always recommended for hangin' out) and after was late dinner at Trois' bar--we had tried after the last concert but they were closed. Awesome bar food! I had some sort of beef tip+aus jus and thin fries. Forget what Lisa had :-/

[ updated 2 Feb 2010 ]

Was remembering another piece performed on the program: Xi Wang's "Above Light - a Conversation with Toru Takemitsu". Short and stunning piece; diverse orchestra and colorfully abstract. Her website has some clips, but unfortunately "Above Light" is not included.

Serpas was awesome. 5/5 on TwitPic

The 27th was a Friday dinner with friends at Serpas, new restaurant. The chef had done time at Mitra down the street from us and the menu was as expected: every dish had unique flavor. Definitely 5/5.


Last Friday (May 6th) was a CD release party for Howlies at Star Bar. I had to miss it because of volunteer work (with which my last two months have been filled) but dinner at The Porter Beer Bar was delicious. Lisa and Shelby said the mussels were the best they'd ever had. Next day was Watchmen [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. The wait was worth it! I hope to get the director's cut when it comes out to enjoy what I hope will be a 4 hour version. Well done, even with the garishness.

posted by sstrader at 9:31 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

February 5, 2009

Where was I?

Been very busy with a new coding project at home, so I haven't been lazily logging my life here. To whit:

Saturday two weeks ago (Sat the 24th?) we went to a coworker's 40th b-day party OTP. Very fun. Got to chat with some people I don't chat with and with their wives that I never chat with. The rest of the weekend... hmm, not really sure. I guess that's why I need to write this stuff down more frequently.

Last weekend was our 10th wedding anniversary on Friday. Hotel room up in Vinings and an excellent evening at The Vinings Inn (where I had proposed to her some 11 years earlier?). Food is great, plus a fine fine low budget menu that would be good to take advantage of during the week. Saturday was late nite movie at The Plaza: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] (alternate title according to IMDB: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Giant Monsters' General Offensive)! Before the movie was a live skit with rubber-suited monsters, evil doctors, and go-go dancing Asian chicks where, eventually, a cardboard version of Atlanta was nearly destroyed onstage before Mothra--a black leather, zippered and D cuped vixen with a fetching Mothra hat--triumphed over the others. Wacky!

Sunday was a Superbowl party at Alicia and Dan's. Crazy amounts of food and actually decent commercials.

posted by sstrader at 5:02 PM in Where was I? | permalink

January 14, 2009

Where was I?

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.

#nye2008 Dance. Dance! on TwitPic

The girls:

girls 1 girls 2

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).

@lmfoley on Kennesaw Mt. on TwitPic

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.

posted by sstrader at 10:36 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged new years, prokofiev | permalink

December 31, 2008

Where was I?

Abbreviated end o' year edition.

Early X-mas eve at Gayle's then dinner with Lisa and the mother-in-law at Atmosphere. Overall good, but I think we got the second-string servers (a misorder and a missed drink). Doesn't really matter though. Place was full when we got there at 8. We stayed through the evening's torrential rains and then headed home. X-mas day was at my brother's. The nieces had fun with their Wii, and the meal of lamb and greens was delicious. Next day, let's see... Slumdog Millionaire at Tara [ 5/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] then late lunch at The Porter in L5P. Great selection of foreign beers! Afterwards Mason came by and handed out "gifts" (I got a stack of the last couple of months of The New Yorker!).

Will eventually be adding to my fractured list of previous New Year's celebrations with this evening's sally to Palate and Feast. Taxis for all!!

posted by sstrader at 3:54 PM in Where was I? | permalink

December 17, 2008

Where was I?

Saturday the 6th we had our 2nd annual Christmas dinner in town with friends at Floataway cafe. We had a nice room with a big table for us and another table with a group that was--and I'm not making this up--much louder than us. Lawyers, I think. We hadn't been to Floataway for many years and it's only gotten better. Much warmer atmosphere than I remember. Guys:

3 guys 3 guys laughing


3 girls

The room we ate in had an awesome, minimalist photo of a cloud:

cloud + me

After was drinks at Beleza. Here're our Floataway waitress and Beleza waitress (with a broken finger!):

floataway waitress beleza waitress

This past weekend was the 5th (?) annual Christmas party in Asheville that Natalie and Frank throw (only record is of the 2005 party when my car's battery died just as we were about to leave on Sunday). Drove up with Mary Miller; met everyone for a nice Friday night dinner at another b&b; then hiking Saturday morning(-ish) at the wonderful DuPont State Forest. Many nice trails, and you can get right up to the base of several waterfalls.

falls 1 falls 2

Lisa & I:

lisa & i

Party Saturday night and financial advice from Frank (now daytrading) Sunday before the drive back and then farewell dinner with Mary at Cypress Street (per usual).

Yesterday was Jack's funeral:

casket family
posted by sstrader at 6:47 PM in Where was I? | tagged annual holiday dinner with friends | permalink

November 6, 2008

Where was I?

Busy couple of weeks.


Thursday the 23rd we went to see Cannibal! The Musical with Kevin Roy. Very funny and very, very weird at times. The best and grossest impulses of South Park's Trey Parker. Highlights: the creepy, mechanical look on the pianist's face during intermission music; the disco number sung by the cyclops on the mountain as his black and white sheep friends dance around the stage in a shall-we-say suggestive manner; the "hit" song "Shpadoinkle". Afterwards was an awesome dinner at Sotto Sotto.


On Thursday the 30th, I voted! Took me ~2 hours this year. In 2004, I had a 1-1/2 hour wait. Voting this year went much more smoothly. No complaints except for the bald-faced lie that we needed to turn our cell phones off because they interfered with the voting machines. One volunteer even said that they had "mishaps" the previous day because someone didn't obey. Fuck you and your lying shit. As with how I felt in 2004, I hate how gays lost big in several states. It's odd and disheartening and gives this country a one-step-forward-two-steps-back sort of score on human rights. *sigh*


Saturday the 1st was Wicked at The Fox. Entertaining and funny (though I didn't think it was as funny as the two ladies who laughed-at-fucking-everything-to-the-point-of-annoyance did). First complaint: it needed an overture to open the piece. It started somewhat too quickly and needed a few minutes of music to warm up. Maybe that's not de rigeur for the modern musical? Second complaint: the music was (generally) standard musical style and less demanding than I'd hoped. Genre writing with few chances taken. With the potential for rich psychological examination of the characters, more could have been done. I think of the continuum of musicals going from Rent (blech! horrible, horrible musical) on one end and Sweeney Todd on the other. Wicked was somewhere in the middle. Overall, it was more buffa than what the subject matter could deliver, but still very enjoyable.

Tonight is Joshua Bell at the ASO. Barber Violin Concerto (outstanding piece!) and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Yay!

posted by sstrader at 11:35 AM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

October 21, 2008

Where was I?

Friday shenanigans with friends at Zaya then Pcheen. Zaya's food is always awesome, and they had $3 glasses/$10 bottles of wine!

Saturday was up at Mom's with my brother to start cleaning (spelled t.h.r.o.w.i.n.g. o.u.t.) junk in the basement. We found out that the dump closes at noon, so we just loaded up the truck for him to take on Monday. Finding some stuff to eventually try to sell on Craigslist including a rotary phone(!). Also found my long-lost copy of Meco's seminal piece of disco crap: Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk:

Found in my parents' basement. Jealous much? on TwitPic

I planned on framing it and was stunned when Lisa recommended the same thing. Rolling Frame Review (who did an excellent job on the prints from the Atlanta Arts Festival) should be sufficiently weirded out.

I also took tons of old books of ours to the Roswell Recycling Center and met a guy who owns an apartment building on 3rd and Juniper. He volunteers for some book donation stuff and was excited to dig through my car load.

Some of Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to cleaning, Container Store, and organization in preparation of Lisa's friend Kevin Roy's visit this Thursday-Sunday. I hate that it takes a guest to get us to clean up, but man the place looks good. And as a bonus, the piano tuner came on Monday. Get in a row, you ducks!

posted by sstrader at 12:15 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 13, 2008

Where was I?

Friday was all-Tchaikovsky at the ASO. The first of a block of eight concerts we got for the season. I was never a big fan of Pyotr, he always seemed the prissy Romantic with flowery melodies, but I'm warming up to him. Francesca da Rimini (enough drama to fill a 2-hour movie!), Violin Concerto in D (soloist Robert McDuffie, seen years ago in a recital where he played a violin+piano arrangement of Glass's Violin Concerto), and Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams". After the Violin Concerto, Bobby McD brought out one of his students for a duet (Ravel piece for violin and cello). Excellent all around but Not Enough Seats Filled! That's bad for the Symphony, but good for me since maybe Lisa&I can take my Mom.


Caturday was an afternoon picnic lunch w/ Lisa and my Mom. Evening, Lisa went to watch the sad, sad LSU game and drown her liver in gin. I got caught up on piano and met her at The Vortex at midnight. We got home somehow.

Sunday was la-zy. Caught up on some TiVo (Supernatural!) and then went to see Quarantine (3/5) at Atlantic Station [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Zombie/Blair Witch hybrid. What gorey, nerve-wracking fun! A few missteps and the people who made the poster and ads can die in fucking hell for spoiling the ending, but it was still a blast with the crowd ewwwing and clapping as bones popped out of legs and people punched the rabid hordes. Afterwards was Cypress Street Pint and Plate with our New Favorite Bartender Lindsay the Philosophy Major. Hipster music, watched Planet Earth on TV (ocean bottom then mountains?), surfed for images of cute baby hedgehogs, and had arguments about race and homosexuality. What a fun bar. I am so glad I live in Midtown!

Lisa got ill in the middle of the night with an unspecified sickness. Hopefully not zombie rabies. She assured me that I haven't planted a seed in her. No need for me to skip town. Yet.

posted by sstrader at 4:56 PM in Cinema , Music , Where was I? | permalink

September 29, 2008

Where was I?

Vacation in Miami and Key West last week!

Flight out Friday night to Miami. After the luggage, rental car, and check-in, we hit Ocean Dr. and camped out on the patio of a little place called The News Cafe at ~midnight. Drinks and tapas until 2 or 3 whilst people-watching.

Saturday we had to purchase beach gear that we didn't want to pack and then head to the beach! I had a horrible meal at Front Porch Cafe (Lisa's was good though), then off to find me a beach book at Books and Books on Lincoln (awesome book store! reminded me of Sundog Books in Seaside, FL), I ended up with the enjoyable World War Z. ZOMBIES! Beach was nice and hot. Toplessness was enjoyed as was the warm ocean water. Realized that with just the two of us, only one could go swimming at a time. :(

MIA: Drinks alone by the hotel pool. Decompress for dinner. on TwitPic

Evening was one of the best meals at one of the best restaurants I've ever been to in my life: Wish Restaurant at The Hotel. Glowing drinks at the rooftop bar with a beatiful view of the city followed by a meal on the first floor patio. We sat at a two-top next to a circular fountain surrounded by larger tables. Those were shaded by large umbrellas and the whole patio was surrounded by a garden wall of flowers and vines. The sounds of the fountain in the small space was perfect. The waitress was a songwriter that had just moved down from NY. Neat!

MIA: A glowing drink. I'm officially gay. on TwitPic

The next morning was checkout (+ a we-lost-your-car scare) and lunch at Versaille in Little Havana on the way out of town. I had some nice, strong Cuban coffee after and we shared some sort of sweet (Dolce Leche?) dessert. Road trip to Key West!


(Lisa at the Southernmost point in the US.)

Key West is a mishmash of bars and restaurants and walkin' around. Everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, we refreshed ourselves with frozen drinks at The Flying Monkey Saloon. Sqeeze bottle with cheap refills FTW.

rooster.1.key-west beer.hogs-breath beer.kalik

(Roosters abound in Key West! Hog's Breath at said saloon and Kalik at our last lunch in Miami. Not show: a bottle of Quilmes enjoyed on the drive in.)

Monday morning we went for a jog. It was my first real jog since I found out about my herniated disc almost two years ago. It felt sooooo good, and it was fun jogging with Lisa, but that combined with a half day of walking the next day put me in somewhat constant pain for the next couple of days. I still may try a 10k sometime and just accept that I'll need a week to rehabilitate.

rooster.2.key-west clouds.key-west

(See, I told you. And some clouds on the drive back to Miami.)

Weather was perfect every day except Lisa's b-day on Tuesday. We spent that day walking around the city (*ouch*), saw the six-toed-cats at the Hemmingway house, and made a failed attempt to hit the beach when we thought the rain had stopped. We were wrong. I'd never read any Hemmingway, so when Lisa spotted a German translation of Der Alte Mann und das Meer in the gift shoppe, I picked it up along with the English version. Sentences are short and readable, so it will be a perfect exercise. B-day dinner was at Cafe Marquesa. Excellent food with an atmosphere inside similar to La Tavola in the Highlands.


(I was pitching him a story about kids in a rock band trying to stop an evil genius from taking over the world. He wasn't buying it...)

Final day was delicious breakfast at Croissants De France (logo: gecko eating a croissant), souveniers of coffee and coffee mug at Cuba Cuba, then a slice of key lime pie and final frozen drinks for the road back to Miami. In Miami we had some time, so we ended where it all began with drinks at The News Cafe. Ahh.

Lisa just reminded me that I forgot about our parasailing trip. We went on Monday in Key West and had a blast! Good group of ~10 people on the boat plus the two crazy guides from South Africa. Gettin' ready:


Goin' up:


Smilin' at the Earth:


We got pretty high up and saw (1) a sea turtle surface and dive and (2) a porpoise or some-such animal swimming around. My fear of heights kicked in and it was really fun.

posted by sstrader at 11:28 PM in Where was I? | permalink

September 15, 2008

Where was I?

Goofing off, mostly. Saturday night, dinner at Cakes and Ales in Decatur. Excellent menu, right-sized portions. Highly recommended. Comfortable and intimiate space. Sunday was the Atlanta Arts Festival. A little warm, but the trees helped and it wasn't nearly as oppressive as when I bought the ducks-riding-a-wiener-dog print at Virginia Highlands Summerfest. Three purchases: First up was a print of robot heads by Geoffrey Aaron Harris:

Robot Heads

I had my robot evolution t-shirt on, so we were kindred spirits. His painted robots were awesome too and may eventually find themselves next to the robot heads. Next up, two prints from Daniela I Ovtcharov:

The Inspirer

Chestnut Girl

After purchased, we realized that there was a third in the set:

Afternoon Walk of the Three Pomegranates

This was Lisa's favorite, and we immediately regretted not completing the set while there.

posted by sstrader at 5:13 PM in Art , Where was I? | permalink

August 3, 2008

Where was I?

In Destin last weekend. Left Friday morning and returned Monday morning. Relaxing, but I got burned the first day out on the beach :(. There were eight of us in a dee-luxe house, so there was a lot of stayin' in and drinkin' and eatin' and gabbin' and watchin' goofy DVDs. Minor drama when I went walking one night and came back two hours later with a rented scooter, but scooters are fun so it was a win. Until Monday morning when it ran out of gas on Lisa & I on our way to fill up and return it. Another :(.

Detox during the week whilst I finished various reads. I wanted some funcrazy cyberpunk for vacationing, so I picked up Mona Lisa Overdrive for the beach and read most of it on the drive back. I had gone to Kroger on Thursday beforehand because I'd been wanting try out its DVD rental kiosk. I flipped through the movies, saw Cloverfield was already checked out (!), and realized that that's the movie that needed to be taken. I must find it! Planning to find another Kroger, instead I just went to B&N, bought a copy, and realized I needed to pick up a beach book. They only had MLO in mass market paperback, and I'm struggling now to find the other Gibson novels I don't have in either hardback or oversized paperback. Oddly difficult. Cloverfield was a win and FEAKED EVERYONE'S SHIT OUT during the subway scene. I pass-ed out-eth so Lisa & I watched it again when we got home.

On our return to the ATL, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Eighth Season graphic novels (#s 1 and 2) and the last book of Y: The Last Man were waiting for me. Hoo. Ray. The Buffy stories were fun and it was great seeing the wild changes that have occured; probably would've been difficult with a TV budget. The artwork had two problems: body proportions and likenesses. Most of the time, people's heads were absurdly too large for their bodies. Not Peanuts-large, but large all the same. Skilled artists otherwise, so I can't explain it. Getting the likeness right is always a pitfall of adaptations. They were close-enough. The painted covers had them perfect. I powered through Y the morning before work on Tuesday. Had started the night before and got hooked while trying to avoid work. Ultimately Yorick's five year trip was the enjoyable part of the story with this final episode simply capping things off. The whole series was a way to offer riffs on sexual politics (and reversals) and sexual identity. The defining scenes at the end were when 355 lectures Yorick, worried that he alone would not be a good father-figure to a son, that mothers are more responsible for molding men than fathers. Later, an aged Yorick lectures one of his 22-year-old clones that it was Dr. Mann's asshole father that pushed her to be a great scientist. You gotta find a balance. The scene with Ampersand made me very sad.

Last night was Dark Knightus Interruptus. Ten-or-so minutes in and the Great Atlanta Storm of August 2nd 2008 hit. It directed its greatest force at the powerlines that fed to the Midtown Landmark Cinema. Specifically to the theater that was showing The Dark Knight at 7:00 PM. BLAST! Sad tweets here, here, and here. We gave it 20 minutes, then headed back to Pint and Plate where the drinks were flowing, the sliders were ... sliding, and power flowed through the tubes like Coca-Cola!

posted by sstrader at 11:22 AM in Cinema , Language & Literature , Where was I? | tagged comic books | permalink

July 7, 2008

Where was I?

Fighting a cold all weekend (and doing things that only aggravated it). Thursday was relaxin' with Prokofiev sonatas after work until Lisa & I decided to get some take-out from Noodle. Woody Allen's Match Point and silly TV with dinner and not much else.

Friday was relaxin' on Juniper and 7th watching for Lisa in the mass of runners. She must've run right by me, but I missed her for watching all of the crazily-dressed runners. My niece Caroline's assessment when told by Bob that Lisa was running the Peachtree: Aunt Lisa? Aunt, Lisa?! You mean makeup and high heels aunt Lisa?!? We were non-plussed. Afternoon/evening up at Liz and Matt's pool.

Saturday evening up at my brotherandsisterinlaw's place for family birthday and anniversary get-together. Bob's old friend Chris was there (hadn't seen him in a loooong time) along with his cool parents Amy and Mike.

Sunday was going to be hangin' out at the Gay Pride Parade, then we decided we were way too worn out to go, then we heard the absolute insanity as the rain poured down and we knew it was a not-to-be-missed situation. Highlights were: seeing Baton Bob just as we walked out of our building, Wet Bar's Navy ship with confetti canons (!), and the tshirt that said "fagulous" on the back. The rest of the day was at The Vortex watching, alternately, Wimbledon, Ninja Warrior, Extreme Rodeo, King of Kong, and some nature show where people were camping in -40 weather.

posted by sstrader at 5:02 PM in Where was I? | permalink

June 23, 2008

Where was I?

Dinner at Parish on Friday with Tedra and Bill. Food was just OK, good-not-great, but the decor and ambiance was perfect and the staff was friendly and entertaining. Very much worth a trip. Aaaand, Alicia and Dan had dinner at some Mediterranean restaurant down the street and stopped by our table afterwards. Downstairs Parish has coffee, wine, and a variety of desserts with various brick-a-brack for sale a la Cracker Barrel (though not so hayseed). We bought a Doodle All Year coloring book for one of the nieces; it has drawings of various people with the scenes missing ("where is this car going?" or "draw someone who likes cold weather and someone who doesn't..." amidst breezy trees). Neat-o.

Saturday was a failed attempt to de-clog the dryer vents (professionals are coming this Wednesday) and a successful attempt to replace the kitchen faucet. The latter included cleaning out from the water trap the most disgusting congealment of protein goo I ever had the horror to gag over. I don't know how it got there, or what it was made of, I'm just glad it's gone.

Late lunch at The Vortex where we got sucked in to Women of Ninja Warrior on G4 along with a majority of the bar. Guilty pleasure (check out Ayako Miyake kicking Ninja ass). Home, clean up and off to The Seen gallery for a wine tasting and some Pete The Cat artwork that we originally saw at Summerfest. As a bonus, they had some crazy robot art by Travis Smith. No purchases were made. Post art wine at Palate right next door before going to dinner at Wisteria. Excellent eats; only the second time we've been there.

Lazy Sunday (for me) until the afternoon when we went to a cookout at Danice and Mason's. We braved the heat, ate too much food, and then stopped at Pint and Plate after we got home for late night drinks and (oh god why?) more food.

posted by sstrader at 10:36 PM in Where was I? | tagged galleries and museums | permalink

June 9, 2008

Where was I?

Friday over at Mollie and Hugh's celebrating her new job and just doin' that Friday hang out thing. Shouldn't have moved from wine to vodka. I'm sure there's some saying that rhymes and tells you not to do such combinations, but I can think of nothing that rhymes with vodka, so there you have it.

Saturday was Lisa & I & Alicia & Dan first stopping off at a studio show at our neighbor's art studio near the Mattress Factory lofts. Around 20 artists were available with their works and works-in-progress. We all pitied the 2nd floor artists who had to suffer 110+ degree temperatures in their studio (making ice sculpture a desirable yet impractical medium). Odd coincidence of the year: after we left the gallery, we realized that not only had we all worked with Todd's brother (who was at the show) but also had drank with them several times after work. I'd been talking to him for months and we never made the connection. Weird. Eventually continued on to the 7:00 PM Braves game. We had tickets to the 755 Club and seats behind the Braves dugout, but ended up staying the whole game at an outside table at 755. Post-game bars consisted of The Shed, Depot, then Top Flr, where we were the Worst Friends Ever and made Alicia and Dan call for a taxi to get home.

Sunday was the Virginia Highlands Summerfest. We missed hanging out with the brother, sister-in-law, and niece at the Summerfest on Saturday, and missed the Murphy's wine sale, but made up for it on Sunday with the purchase of some new artwork!


A collograph by Linda Gourley titled The Red Baron: Study I. Her work was various mixed-media-type printing with crazy animals doing crazy things. Ducks riding a wiener dog was a must-purchase item. There's another version of the print on her site, but the colors and details don't appear as interesting as the one we purchased. The frame she made fit it nicely and it works well above our Asian-influenced China cabinet (Peking Ducks!). After an hour or so of hellish heat, we abandoned the fest for a late lunch at Atkins Park, then went our separate ways. The sun absolutely drained us, so it was lazy pizza dinner at home with the not-quite-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been Lucy Liu movie Rise: Blood Hunter.

posted by sstrader at 9:46 PM in Art , Where was I? | permalink

May 27, 2008

Where was I?

Friday we got to leave work early, so I got some piano in before meeting the wife and brother-in-law at the Cypress Street Pint and Plate for a few drinks ... who am I kidding? We were there until an undetermined time when somehow we walked the two blocks back home and scarfed on a take-out box of their delicious meatball sliders.

Saturday was exercise and coding, and then an evening of crawfish at Tedra and Bill's XXth annual Crawfish Boil. Sunday was a cookout at Alicia and Dan's (delicious lamb burgers filled with feta and spinach), then to Eddie's Attic with A & D & Jonelle & Theresa for a fun set of music by The Bonaventure Quartet (with Amy Pike of the long defunct Lost Continentals).

We cut out just before midnight to get Lisa home and rested for her Monday morning 10k at North Point Mall where I hung out at the only Starbucks in the world that doesn't offer wifi, free or otherwise. OTP is barbaric. We kicked back until noon and then headed up to Liz and Matt's to relax around the pool. For the rest of the day. Drinks and snacks that we really didn't need at the Vortex after we got home, resisting the end of the long weekend.

Two days out in the sun and no sunburn. A first, and a good omen for summer.

posted by sstrader at 2:44 PM in Where was I? | permalink

May 13, 2008

Where was I?

Lisa and I were in Portland for the Indie Wine Festival Thursday April 30th through Monday May 5th. Wineries, book store, lots of amazing restaurants and bars, and some great hiking. All documented in Twitter but not easily linkable. Photo entry and highlights to come.

[ updated 1 July 2008 ]

Photos posted here (somewhat slow) and a few random artifacts from the trip. The flight there:

portland.flight-there.1 portland.flight-there.2

And back:


The access card from the Hotel Deluxe (a classic movie themed hotel):


And the card from a small shop in Dundee called The Dapper Frog. We picked up a couple of wine toppers when we were there for the Willamette Valley wineries:


[ updated 21 Dec 2009 ]

A friend was asking about restaurants in Portland, so I dug up our TripIt page for that trip to help jog my memory. Andina had crazy South American drinks (Lisa first discovered the Caipirinha there) and deliciously unusual, Peruvian recipes. Saucebox was a hip seafood and sushi joint (aren't they all?) with a crazy mural of robots and aliens and somesuch nonsense of which I wish I would have gotten the artist's name. Lunch at The Dundee Bistro in the tiny tiny town of Dundee when we went to Willamette wineries. Super-fancy dinner at Bluehour (which I think we were late getting to because of a post-Willamette nap). The service and food was absolutely outstanding.

Went to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at The Shakespeare Tavern last Thursday (runs through June 1st). One of my favorite movies and the play was outstanding. Much more bawdy than I remember from the movie, and I caught more of Stoppard's wordplay in this version, sometimes clever and sometimes vaudevillian.


Friday was Iron Man (3/5) at Atlantic Station. Without Downey and Paltrow, the movie would have only been a minor effects-vehicle. They were electric throughout (he getting most of the screentime, of course). I had difficulty getting past the silly science that seemed to stretch the bounds of even comic-book-science. Radical direction changes in a metal suit (whether in the air or hitting the ground) would be catastrophic to the body. And when Paltrow reached into the metal tube that went into his heart in order to pull out some faulty wire, well ... just silly. All-in-all a fun ride though.

Saturday was my niece Sarah's ballet recital. There were some very good dancers there and (at times overly) complex choreography. One senior was Absolutely Amazing showing off such grace and flow throughout her whole body that she can only be moving on to professional dance. I noticed the greatest sense of flow in how she used her hands and wrists in relation to the rest of her movements. Seeing such art helps you more clearly differentiate mere skill.

posted by sstrader at 12:17 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

April 15, 2008

Where was I?

Last week was festive: Wednesday with the bloggers at P'cheen; Thursday with friends at Stats where, upon leaving, Lisa and I got lost in the Omni hotel until I braved a trail through its secret, authorized-personnel-only passageways to exit right in front of our parking garage. I rule. The parking garage itself had a strange, om-nom-nom-nom creature guarding access.

Friday, fun night at Cuerno with co-workers and spouses. Lisa had the monk fish, I had the lamb, the paella looked awesome but that'll be for another trip. A little bit noisy and we had some too-long delays with the waiter, but overall good.

Saturday, fourth year going to the Atlanta Steeplechase with friends (third year attending). I was the 2nd-place winner this year (by a nose!) and brought home a cool ten-bucks, four of which was used as tip for our Sunday pizza guy. Made it back in town after getting lost in north Georgia (yipes!), then hung out at Alicia and Dan's.

Sunday was lazy morning on the couch until I somehow twisted my back simply getting up for a snack. Lean forward, twist, stand up, and then a loud POP POP POP at the vertebrae of my lower back. I'm barely mobile the rest of the day, but got 50% back on Monday and and almost completely restored today. There's no way I'm going to miss Climb Atlanta this Saturday...

posted by sstrader at 5:05 PM in Where was I? | permalink

March 8, 2008

Where was I?

Wednesday: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] (4/5) at Landmark. Like Maria Full of Grace, less painful to watch than I had feared yet still moving. Otilia's expression in the last couple of seconds of the film was agonizing and perfect. Except for the time period, it is almost a Dogme film and that served the story and locale. How did this film get ignored by the Oscars? Fucking hacks. I just wish now that I would've gone to see another overlooked film, The Band's Visit, when Landmark had it. Next week, In Bruges; after that, Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park (note to anyone: rent his film Elephant, stunning).

Last night: Diva [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] (4/5) at Landmark. This was a favorite of mine in college, and it was great to see it again, anew. Funny and frantic with the style-over-substance approach failing in only a couple scenes. Labeled as French New New Wave (no Wikipedia entry for that style, but many refs from a Google search), it almost made the 80s look cool. Afterwards was dinner at Steele and drinks at a new bar next door to Steele called Amore. Wow! The interior--at least from my drunken memories--was like an ornate Italian opera house, with small tables throughout, alcoves, an interior balcony, and warm lighting. Definitely go for dinner.

posted by sstrader at 2:54 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

February 21, 2008

Where was I?

Last Friday dinner at the Corner Tavern in Little Five Points then The Howlies et al. at The Star Bar. Saturday dinner at Paul's in Buckhead. I give it a medium recommendation: good food, service, and atmosphere, but nothing wow. We had later reservations and so got a table in the main area; I'd like to go back and see what the upstairs looks like.


Tuesday I received my Asus EEE 4G laptop. I had been thinking about getting the Nokia N800 for travel, wifi hotspots, and to use as a portable internet radio machine but then ran across recommendations for the Asus whilst browsing Amazon. The Asus is less handheld but more powerful, so I went with it. Specs: 2 lbs, 7-inch screen, 802.11b/g, 512 MB memory, 4 GB flash drive, 3 USB ports, web cam, Linux Xandros with KDE, Firefox, OpenOffice, etc. I've heard that you can put Java and Eclipse on there, but I'll have to get over my Linux-ignorance first. First impressions are positive. It's fast, typing is easy enough (my mitts are not beefy), and the screen is bright and roomy enough. We'll see what happens with Eclipse...


Lunar eclipse dinner and drinks at Eclipse di Sol (wha-huh?). We had a perfect view of the event from the patio, and the clouds cleared out completely around halfway through. That little sliver in the photo above is the moon taken from my crappy camera phone. First, animated fun at Landmark with The Academy Award Nominated Animated Short Films. Best was Peter and the Wolf [ Wikipedia | IMDB ], an inventive telling of the standard story and without the narration. Peter's duck and bird friends were a-dorable and this version has a noble twist at the end. Descriptions of all five shorts below stolen from the Landmark web site:

Don't miss this rare opportunity to see all 5 of the short films nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2007 Academy Awards. Program includes: I Met the Walrus (Canada), an animated documentary about 14-year-old Jerry Levitan, who snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in 1969 and persuaded him to do an interview; Madame Tutli-Putli (Canada), in which a timid woman boards a mysterious night train and has a series of frightening experiences; Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go To Heaven) (France), about a priest who tries to sell an old man a machine that he promises will transport him to heaven; Moya Lyubov (My Love) (Russia), in which a teenage boy in search of love in 19th century Russia is drawn to two very different women; and Peter & The Wolf (UK & Poland), Prokofiev's classical music drama of a young boy and his animal friends who face a hungry wolf.

posted by sstrader at 3:48 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

February 6, 2008

Where was I?

Ninth anniversary at Aquaknox in Buckhead. Awesome food and nice view. It was our first meal there and we scored. I had the mussels for an appetizer (a little meaty but fresh and great flavor in the white wine sauce and with enough crusty bread to appreciate the sauce) and filet mignon for the main course (with mashed potatoes and broccoli and a single teenytiny sliced carrot). Despite the meat-and-potatoes quotidian sound of the meal, the flavors were rich and telling. Afterwards was another experiment, this one not so successful, at Beluga. Lisa's comment, now iconic, was simply: "one drink and we get out of here before someone asks us to drop our keys in a bowl." And no, I'm not put off that no one did.

Cathy's wedding at the Episcopal church in the Highlands (Episcopal priests got my money for stand up comedy) and a fun and swankified reception at The Peachtree Club a couple of blocks up (and walk-homeable).

Watching Cowboy Bebop. I got the full 26 episode on 3 CDs for thirty-bucks. When I first watched one episode I was not impressed. Then, I gave it another chance and got sucked in to the nonsense/sincerity. It has the standard mawkishness of all Asian cinema, but with a clowning nature and some well-placed and vague plot points to hook you in.


Listening to Yoko Kanno (although I've been over-listening and am ready to move on). She creates such an unbelievable variety of style that her skill scares me. Simply put: I'm jealous that I'm not her. I'll share the wacky photo that everyone else has:

posted by sstrader at 10:11 PM in Where was I? | tagged anniversary, restaurant, wedding, yoko kanno | permalink

January 29, 2008

Where was I?

Spent the first two weeks of January doing Scott's Patented Slash and Burn Diet. Monday through Thursday only 1000 calories per day; weekends do whatever I want (within reason, no setting hobos on fire). I was in a sad fatty fatty fatso state from the holidays and needed to take control. Success!

Beginning of January was spent caulking and puddying the molding my brother helped me put in in December (250 feet around the entire condo). We threw away my college bookshelves and just purchased new bookshelves from The Container Store but there are still continents of books distributed throughout.

Last weekend at a cabin in Blairsville with A & D and S & R. Hell ride up through Friday traffic down 85, over 285, then up 75 to pick up Lisa and get supplies for the gang at Total Wine on Barrett Parkway. Quick 2-hour trip once we got out of rush hour traffic and we were rewarded with a meal of lamb, couscous, and asparagus. And wine. Saturday was wandering around outside (I forded a Major Waterway), extended session of Oh Hell (re-dubbed "I'm Fucked"), dancing, Cabin Fever, etc. Sunday was another session of Oh Hell and considerable denial drinking. Great weekend and now Lisa & I are on the hunt for some North Georgia land on which to build a cabin.

Tomorrow night is our 9th anniversary at Aquaknox and Saturday is Cathy and Steve's 0th anniversary. No other big plans AFAIK.

posted by sstrader at 12:40 PM in Where was I? | tagged annual cabin weekend with friends | permalink

December 16, 2007

Last Christmas

Lisa and I spent last Christmas in NYC and I never posted about it. I found tickets, the only artefacts of the trip, as I was cleaning up my desk:

nyc-2006.moma nyc-2006.avenue-q nyc-2006.top-of-the-rock

And, the plane tickets! There:


And back:

posted by sstrader at 1:46 PM in Where was I? | tagged nyc | permalink

November 26, 2007

Where was I?

Thanksgiving Eve drinks at Northside Tavern where I saw the funniest/most offensive graffiti joke about Cabbagetown, crack whores, and the relative cleanliness of the NST men's bathroom, in between watching episodes of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich. After that, an early-ish dinner at Marlow's and an early evening home.

Thanksgiving was just Lisa and me and my parent here at Peachtree Lofts Central. I cooked up the Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Cornish Game Hens (aka "Midtown yardbird") and Lisa slaved over garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and prosciutto, and the best cornbread chorizo and mushroom stuffing ever. Everything turned out surprisingly well.


Friday, Lisa suffered through an LSU loss after three overtimes, then we went to the ASO to watch The Wizard of Oz with full orchestral accompaniment. They need to do this with more movies (although, I'm not sure which would benefit most). It may have been The Live Affect, but the WoO soundtrack seemed to have so many more ideas than the orchestral soundtracks I hear today. I think the contrast is similar to, say, a Mahler or Wagner compared to a Copland or Diamond. Not necessarily better.

Sat nite was drinks and chicanery over at Alicia and Dan's then late nite appetizers at Milltown Arms (you know, because we'd been starving ourselves most of the weekend...).

Lazy Sunday in front of the TV catching up with Heroes and Dexter.

posted by sstrader at 11:18 PM in Where was I? | permalink

November 17, 2007

Where was I?

Catching up on the past couple of months, for Future-Scott:

  • Lisa out-of-town a lot, so I got to watch a bunch of anime. Kite was very very very dark with hardcore sex that mistreated its protagonists. Bleak ending. Mezzo Forte was very fun, but also had hardcore sex that mistreated its protagonists. There's a contract that a writer has with their audience that says that any transgression will help the character or the story. These were very borderline. Mezzo Forte was good in that the transgressions actually "didn't happen" to the heroes, but they were a little extreme for western sensibilities. Still, I recommend Mezzo Forte (if you're OK w/ the 5 min. of hardcore porn). The Cowboy Bebop movie was completely G/PG and very entertaining. Except for the standard genre idiosyncracies, it was a classic action flick. If you have no problem with the animation/japaniquirks/slapstick, this is highly recommended.
  • Company dinner at Buco di Beppo (sp? later) where the spouses met the spouses. We were in "the Vatican Room" where a crude visage of The Pope sat upon a lazy Susan (lazy Lilith?). Bland wine and very bland food except for a few good dishes. Great to finally get the better halves together.
  • Went to see Resident Evil: Extinction [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at the Starlight Drive-in. Been a while since we went to the drive-in and this was the perfect movie for that. It was Milla Jovolicious. Prior to that was a light dinner at Haas in East Atlanta. Nice bar, nice food, recommended.
  • This past week was a $25 5-course dinner at Food Studio. Excellent. The next night was dinner at Houston's then drinks at Eno top flight night. Barbarescos that Lisa liked but I thought were average.
posted by sstrader at 4:57 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | tagged drive-in, resident evil | permalink

October 17, 2007

Where was I?

Dinner at my brother's Friday night to celebrate Sarah and Jack's birthdays. Also saw their painfully cute new dog, Roxy. She had as much sass as her name.

Ivy and Jason's wedding on Saturday at the Galleria with: the start of the LSU game at Jocks and Jills beforehand, my first Jewish wedding (Eric later enlightening me that a Saturday wedding is kosher as long as it's after sunset), the rest of the LSU game at a bar afterwards (3 overtimes with not-the-best outcome), cocktail hour, a great dinner, some unfortunate dancing by me, and finally back to the hotel room.

Sunday we weren't feeling socian so it was brunch at Garrison's in Vinings. The ride home we spotted a DORCUS license plate (why?!?). After we caught up on TiVo, it was a walk through Piedmont Park (crowded with the final day of the 3-day breast cancer walk), then drinks at Einstein's (next to a couple who made out the whole time, only to take a "break" for 15-minutes in the bathroom I shit-you-not).

Monday was a surprise visit from Debbie and Kevin with dinner at Baraonda. And finally, last night was the first blogger get-together in months (years?) at Fox Bros. BBBQ.

posted by sstrader at 7:10 PM in Where was I? | permalink

August 22, 2007

Where was I?

Long week.

Last Wednesday, I got the itch to go to my newfavoritesushiplace Fune. We fell in love with their salted squid appetizer the first time we went, but every time since it has gone downhill. Still, there is much good to enjoy. Drinks at The Vortex after where we saw our long-lost bartender Artie.

Thursday was the downtown dinner week evening with friends at Pacific Kitchen. Outstanding food; we'll definitely be going again for the full menu. And to top it off, we walked to a new(ish?) bar just down the street called The Albert. Tin ceiling, gothic arch liquor shelves behind the bar, and a friendly bartender.

Friday was a vacation day for me. Call it an atheist holiday: Friday is our sabbath. I got caught up on things I needed to get caught up on, and then we went to Enoteca with Codermonkey and his wife before they went to see Kathy Griffin (a surprise that I pretty much spoiled with my big mouth). We got the lowdown on their honeymoon in Europe: Paris was spent on jet lag and bad weather, London was much better with musicals and late-night chicanery. Lisa & I are now talking about doing a London weekend and catch Wicked or maybe even Lord of the Rings (I didn't even know they made it into a musical!). Lisa & I continued on to Avra for drinks and gabbin' with the bartender and ourfavoritewaitress, then more drinks at The Vortex while we played the pornographic video games. Rearrange puzzle-pieces to reveal naked ladies from the 70s! Awesome!!

Saturday we went to see Paris, je t'aime (3/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. A quirky, varied, and satisfying collection of 18 short stories about love in Paree. For all of the variety contained, it held together. A hot walk up Highland for pre-dinner wine at Murphy's then tapas afterwards at Noche. I ended up snagging two bottles of Syrah at Murphy's wine shop: a Rosenblum and an Australian Molly Dooker. The walk back to the car off of Ponce was much cooler after dinner. Ended at McCray's.

Sunday was low-key with drinks at The Grape before watching the 7:50 show of Superbad (4/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at Atlantic Station. We had intended to see the 6:30 show, but everybody in Atlanta was in line to see a movie that night. I don't need to add to the praise, but Seth's "drawing affliction" was ridiculously funny. Home after and The Asphalt Jungle (4/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] from my film noir collection.

I need a break...

posted by sstrader at 1:54 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

August 12, 2007

Where was I?

Drinks and pizza over at Alicia and Dan's on Friday. Low-key in preparation for Cathy's b-day dinner at Shaun's on Saturday. Items of note: We accidentally yelled "surprise!" to a Cathy look-alike who, after the initial shock wore off, handled it well. Cathy arrived later in all black while her look-alike was in all white. Odd. Our end of the long-table-of-16-people lamented the horribleness of the movie Battlefield Earth. Lisa & I caught the last half earlier in the day and so the scars were still fresh. Alicia's had long healed over. Fun fact: one of BE's record-setting eight Razzies is Worst Screen Couple for Travolta and "anyone sharing the screen with him." For dinner I was the winner with the beef tartar appetizer and grilled trout with corn risotto entre. Both excellent. Post-dinner was drinks and dancing by everyonebutme at The Warren. Possibly going to see Stardust tonight and get 1/2-priced bottles of wine after at Avra.

posted by sstrader at 6:32 PM in Where was I? | permalink

July 16, 2007

Where was I?

Vacation day on Friday just for the hell of it. Lots of piano and reading. Braves that evening with Ivy and Jason. Front row by the dugout! It was cool but disorienting.


Saturday was Shelby's b-day with a VIP table at Opera (ne 1150 on Crescent) where I executed possibly my best drunk signature ever:


Sunday was a simple b-day dinner at Baraonda. Their halibut special was superb. No photo available.

posted by sstrader at 11:31 PM in Where was I? | permalink

July 9, 2007

Where was I?

Codermonkey's wedding two Saturdays ago (June 30th). They shuttled off to Gay Paree soon after, then to London, and they're probably back home (although his blog is still curiously quiet).

The fourth was spent at Stacy and Alby's joint where I was slightly more anti-social than usual when I saw that someone had brought a deluxe DVD of The Kids are Alright (purchased soon after). Then drinks on Ecco's back patio w/ Shelby and Kabao and a very slow-to-recover day at work the next day.

Friday was my brother's b-day dinner at Rathbun's Steakhouse. Mixed reviews from friends but we had a great meal (despite the two bottles of port that were accidentally added to the bill). Drinks afterwards at Ecco (see a pattern?) and then I--and I am not fucking you about this--logged in to work to help with a midnight upgrade. In bed by 5.

Saturday afternoon was all piano. I went through Bach's French Suite #4, the Stravinsky I've been working on (the last two pages are the killer), and variation #29 from the Goldberg Variations. 29 has like the most oblique rhythms of all of those. I had avoided it because of that but I'm now completely warmed up to it. Saturday evening was Allison's b-day and drinks afterwards at the Old Towne Bistro and The Catch, OTP.

Sunday was that crazy Russian movie Daywatch at The Plaza on Ponce with Scott and LC. The four of us had watched Nightwatch a year or so ago, so this was the long-delayed part two. Very visually creative. The plot is a mishmash but worth the ride. I recommend hunting it down. Dinner at Manuel's.

posted by sstrader at 1:55 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

May 29, 2007

Where was I?

Friday nite at Slice in Glenwood Park with friends. Glenwood Park has a small neighborhood with walkable streets but only just a few restaurants so far (Slice, Vickery's, and Vino Libro). Friday was perfect for some patio food and wine.

Saturday was the Symphony with the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony and the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi's Garden of Cosmic Speculation based on Charles Jencks garden in Scotland. First time I'd heard the Pastoral live, and it was a very lively performance with the separate sections of the orchestra really standing out. The Gandolfi was, in places, phenomenal. He has MP3s of the work at his site, and I can only assume they are from the ASO's performances this past week. Movements I-V were outstanding with a mix of Messiaen, Reich, and a little Persichetti yet still original and at times very rock and roll. Good use of polyrhythms throughout. He lost the crowd with his Baroque pastiche in the sixth movement suite. Although well done, it didn't fit with the rest of the work. The remianing movements got back on track and the final movement, "The Nonsense," provided a spectacular ending. During the intermission, before his work was performed, we actually saw him mingling in the lobby. I had the chance to go say something, but what? After the performance I realized that an invitation to free drinks at The Vortex would have been appropriate. Maybe next time.

Afterwards was a late dinner at Trois. Nice atmosphere and great food. I had: Alaskan Halibut with pea fricassee, tender onions, and tomato confit. Lisa had: Braised Beef Oxtail with roasted scallops, butternut squash, thumbelina carrots, and pecorino. Both were outstanding. Chatted with an older couple having their last meal in Atlanta before their return home to Manhattan.

Sunday was, of course, poolside drinks and chatter up at Liz and Matt's. Many arguments were had; I got scraped in odd places while swimmin' around with the dogs; and I got schooled on various human rights issues by Matt's friend and his friend's g-friend (whose name I forget but who is in school for international studies).

Movies were: The Killing of Satan, which would be a good challenge for Joel and the robots; The Narrow Margin, an outstanding protect-a-mob-informant cop drama from 1952, smarter than most coming out today; the 1933 King Kong, which I can't believe I've never seen; and the first 3rd of Clash by Night with Barbara Stanwyck, Marilyn Monroe, and directed by noneotherthan Fritz Lang.

posted by sstrader at 7:26 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

May 14, 2007

Where was I?

Saturday nite was 28 Weeks Later (70/82 on Rotten Tomatoes). When it's violent, it's much much much more gorey than the original. The opening chase is perfect and nerve-racking. There are several points where you question the logic (although you're grimacing at the same time). And the daughter in the film is distractingly gorgeous. Not as good as the first movie--simply based on originality--but still good and it had me creeped out for the rest of the evening.

Got caught up on Lost (4 episodes) and Heroes (3 episodes) this weekend. Lost finally got to the we're-actually-dead theme, which was probably the major theory out there. Heroes had their wonderfully tragic future episode, "5 Years Gone," where everyone dies and evil wins, hopefully setting us up with key information to defeat said evil.

Drinks Sunday night celebrating non-mother's day for Lisa.

posted by sstrader at 6:59 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

May 2, 2007

Where was I?

Inman Park Festival on Saturday. Where I: (1) saw a great monkey clock for a mere 39-bucks, (2) saw some outstanding lithographs from an artist whose name I forget, and (3) slacked off and purchased neither. (2) is showing in a gallery somewhere around the Inman Park area, so there's hope in finding it again. (1) is probably lost forever. Also, throughout the day there was (1) an emotional meltdown, (2) an alcohol-related gustatorial meltdown, and (3) neither were me. Which is somehow surprising.

Sunday was a wine dinner with Tedra and Bill at Sugo. Good food and a couple of very good wines from the Antinori Winery. Get the Tormaresca Rosso and the Villa Antinori Toscana Rosso (which I learned is a super Tuscan).


posted by sstrader at 8:19 AM in Where was I? | tagged inman park festival | permalink

April 13, 2007

Where was I?

Not blogging, that's where.

The past week has been a knock-down-drag-out with my JSP hosting service. Their reliability has been spotty these past few months, and now they're blaming me for one of their servers going down. I doubt my sites get that many hits. What I've learned: I have a new-found mistrust of the Resin app server, MySQL 4.1 chokes on non-ASCII chars, JProfiler kicks more ass than I thought it kicks. If you're a Java developer, stop being a jackass and get JProfiler. Possibly even a legal copy.

Fun stuff:

Friday was the (crappy) Braves game, prefaced by a couple of bars--including Fune--and ending with a wild ride back to Cabbage Town with the Cabbie Who Knows All Shortcuts and dinner/drinks at Caroll Street Cafe then crashing at Alicia and Dan's. Saturday was Mollie and Hugh's housewarming. Great house! And a nice, small yard. Sunday was Easter with the extended family up in Alpharetta.

Wednesday was Tears of the Black Tiger (3/5). Highly recommended Thai western that's more over-the-top than you can possibly conceive. A few jumbled scenes, but so creative overall that it must be watched.

posted by sstrader at 5:02 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

April 1, 2007

Where was I?

Last Sunday tried the new sushi restaurant on 7th called Fune. Excellent sushi-on-a-conveyor-belt and good wines. I'm not hip enough, but they'll just have to get used to me.

Friday was The Crazies! on TiVo--I like me some B-movie--and then re-watched Eternal Sunshine. That's definitely in my top 10, and re-watching brought back some swell but forgotten details that I won't spoil here. I had recently passed it around to co-workers, and from our discussions I got the itch to see it again.

Saturday was goofin' off over at Alicia and Dan's after they and the wife and others drank all day watching some sort of sporting event that was happening in Atlanta. We ended the evening with the Borat movie. 3/5 with many laughs. I don't know how he survived some of those skits. Not the least of which the naked wrestling, although I heard that the rodeo was a narrow escape.

Lisa's in Tulsa till Tuesday (hey, it's a Nora Ephron novel!) so I'll be bachelorin' it and will probably be quite stir crazy by then.

posted by sstrader at 6:36 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

December 21, 2006

Where was I?

Enoteca Carbonari (the best new Italian restaurant in Midtown) last night and had a perfect meal. A rare thing indeed. Get the mushroom and teleggio crostini appetizer and pair it with the Salsiccia (homemade sausage of the day). Last night's was buffalo with andouille. Complemented nicely with a tempranillo.

posted by sstrader at 1:04 PM in Where was I? | permalink

November 8, 2006

Where was I?

In Knoxville last weekend getting more drunk than you.

The mom-in-law put together the 5th Annual Boat Party for Lisa and Mason's b-day (skipped last year for a wedding) and so there were generous amounts of shaking our booties down on the dock. Videos exist, but if they end up on YouTube I'll have to file a DMCA complaint so that my copyrighted image isn't compromised. We have a lifetime supply of leftover food, mostly bar-b-q, that thankfully a co-worker pointed out can be frozen. I've about reached my limit on pork sandwiches.

Voting on Tuesday morning with the rest of Midtown. No real problems, but I did see another sign of how we've traded privacy for convenience: instead of curtained booths, we vote on bright screens that are tilted for anyone behind you to read. An enclosed booth would make it too likely that those feeble-locked Diebold machines would get molested.

Doctor's appointment today at Atlanta Medical Center, for my leg, that ended up being a whole-day ordeal. First to the neurologist where I was attacked by rubber mallots then by electroshock doo-hingeys. The shocks were disturbing and not really painful but kinda so, then one of the female doctors seemed flabbergasted that I wasn't showing more serious symptoms. The only thing worse that expecting bad news is being treated like you're overreacting. Ultimately, however, they were all very nice and I was quickly whisked away to get an MRI in Dekalb. A nice 30-minute nap while I listened on headphones to the president blab on WABE about the Democrat's non-win, and then back to AMC with a CD of spinal images:


Third one down, that's the fucker. So the doctor says that I need to go through 20 sessions of IDD physical therapy to try to fix a herniated disc. Yay. All in all a successful day, and I do have to say that the doctors and assistants were all very helpful.

posted by sstrader at 8:29 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 22, 2006

Where was I?

Focused on programming at home all last week, then: late Friday night at the Vortex waiting for Lisa to get back from some Haunted House in Newnan (man, I hope that I closed out my tab), and Saturday at Vinyl for the Kabao show. Great show and there were even three other bands to add to the mayhem. Some crazy kids from LA who apparently just learned to swear and be angry at the world, and some hardcore techno guys with some scary/fun hardcore fans who started a five-person mosh pit. See, angry can be fun too.

Not looking forward to this week, but what are you gonna do.

posted by sstrader at 11:49 PM in Where was I? | permalink

September 21, 2006

Where was I?

Last Friday was a post-wedding wedding celebration of sorts for airline friends who had gotten married in Thailand several months back. The festivities were at the Blackstock Winery outside of Dahlonega. I had always heard surprisingly positive reviews of N GA wineries, but I was really taken back by how good their wines were. No matter what people said, I was still expecting syrupy muscadine and this was everything but that. They had a selection of several reds and whites, but by far the best was their Family Reserve red titled ACE (after the owners' three children). Go.

Following on the heels of my birthday bash a couple of months back, we had Lisa's BB over at Alicia and Dan's last Saturday. Italian-themed to commemorate/memorialize the vacation we could have had but didn't. Instead we'll be going to California to experience the furthest reaches of the PCH. Startinggggg.... NOW!

posted by sstrader at 7:10 PM in Where was I? | tagged thailand | permalink

August 25, 2006

Where was I?

Last week:

Friday at Dan and Alicia's for grilled pizza. Completely exhausted from the previous evening's b-day get-together for Cathy, but I made it to an acceptable hour.

Saturday an early dinner at The Best Restaurant in Atlanta, according to Atlanta magazine, The Globe, where the chef created what I can only assume was a culinary joke: seedless watermelon salad with feta and pumpkins seeds. Not a hilarious joke, but I still think he was up to something.

Sunday morning we finally made it to the aquarium. Favorite fish: the fish that looked like leafy plants and the colorful worms who swayed like fingers sticking out of the sand in one of the smaller tanks. They would peck at the random fluff that would float by and then disappear into their holes when their larger tank-mates would swim by. In the evening we went to Little Miss Sunshine at Atlantic Station. Great film and a solid cast. The young girl lacked all of those affectations that make you hate seeing children in movies.

Tonight is The Descent (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) and then dinner at Kyma with our $20 coupon. That's one free glass of wine!

posted by sstrader at 6:31 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

August 6, 2006

Where was I?

Thursday was The Maltese Falcon (and Key Largo) at The Fox. We got restless and hungry after The Maltese Falcon so skipped the second feature and had dinner at Ecco. Su-poib.

maltese falcon

Friday was finishing up on a release to QA at work. We were to have all of the code in by 4, but several events conspired to continue the fun until Saturday afternoon. A post mortem:

  • I missed a key design decision and expected a low-level module to have access to data within a high-level module. It took a few hours to write a proxy to the low-level module.
  • Our database server ran out of space (!) at noon.
  • A database configuration change that didn't make it in until Thursday broke everything and had to be backed out Friday morning.
  • The low-level libraries we use from another group were reorganized on Friday morning and caused some build issues.

All-in-all, not horrible but still something to learn from.

Saturday night was Fellini's 8 1/2 [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ]. The DVD had an interview with Terry Gilliam praising its examination of the life of a movie director. I thought that was the least interesting aspect simply because it was the most indulgent. I would focus less on the specifics of the director as character and more on the generalities of the character in life. Throughout the file, the lead and others are doubting the path they've taken in their lives and are responding to that doubt differently. The lead has tried to achieve everything and now doubts that he's accomplished anything and fears that he has lacked focus. His wife feels that there was no alternative choices to those that she made. The movie is filled with dream sequences that get silly at times but still ring true. Their drifting logic is in fact not much different from that of other scenes.

I wasn't as happy with it as La Dolce Vita (that I'd watched back in March) but still recommend it. These are the only Fellini films I've watched and I have to say his signature is unmistakable.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 6:04 PM in Where was I? | permalink

July 25, 2006

Where was I?

Out of the loop, apparently.

This has been the month of birthdays: Saturday the 8th was birthday #1. The 15th was birthday #2 and a Big Fat Party here to celebrate my 40th. I'd been itchin' for a summer party and this fit the bill--although I was only in like three of the 60-or-so photos. What the hell was I doing? And finally, last Saturday the 22nd was Shelby's big bash. I don't think she's 40, but then I was in no state to judge.

Last Friday was Dames Aflame at the Laughing Skull Lounge downstairs. It was goofy and offensive all at once: well worth the $25/person and the lounge is a perfect venue for such shenanigans. Not everything was offensive:

luna luxx
posted by sstrader at 10:41 PM in Where was I? | permalink

July 11, 2006

Where was I?

Take-out from Fresh 2 Order on Friday and a movie at home where we watched most of Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies (3/5) [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ]. We finished it on Sunday. I liked it more than the critics and enjoyed the twisty ride back and forth with the flashbacks and the multiple, unreliable narrators. And as a post-script, I watched Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ] later on Sunday. Lewis's transformation from himself to an unkind depiction of Dean Martin was just bizarre.

Saturday was a friend's pool party birthday OTP. Nothing like cookin' out and drinkin' and swimmin' on a Saturday afternoon. The evening ended for some at Bamboo in Marietta. Lisa & I on the other hand knew our limits and came home, finishing up with drinks at The Vortex.

Sunday was movies and recouperating.

posted by sstrader at 11:55 PM in Where was I? | permalink

June 19, 2006

Where was I?

This past weekend was supposed to be Chuck Close and jazz at the High (their third Friday of the month event), but Lisa worked late so instead we met some friends at our new-favorite-bar, Ecco. Great restaurant and nice bar, aaaand immediately behind our building on 7th and Cyprus. Friday was a lot of coding at home (personal, not work) and then celebrating my mom's birthday and Father's Day at my brother's. My older niece was oddly quiet in nervous anticipation of a week away at summer camp. I'm sure she'll come back with several new stories.

Sunday, we finally watched A History of Violence. It had the halting momentum of a Jim Jarmusch flick. The ending in particular makes History worth watching. Most people I know loved it with only a few polar exceptions--some scenes are artfully affected, and those probably put them off of the film. I enjoyed it. And recommend it. And I hadn't realized that it was based on a graphic novel by John Wagner. Coincidentally, this weekend I received and finished volumes 1 through 7 of Y: The Last Man. I'd been itching for a good graphic novel, and this came recommended by many. It's very character-driven, and although the writer hits you with a lot of different themes it's more active than scholarly. An enjoyable ride that I'll have to wait a year or so (16 issues left?) to get to the end of.

On Thursday we're heading off to Bethlehem, PA for a friend's wedding. Woohoo, short work week! Nothin' better.

posted by sstrader at 11:20 PM in Where was I? | permalink

May 13, 2006

Where was I?

Last Friday: neighborhood Cinco de Mayo party OTP at Tedra and Bill's with some other ITP friends. Lisa came in second in the limbo contest (on Cinco de Mayo?!?) to the less top-heavy Shelby. I should have escaped with a giant, eight-foot-tall inflatable cactus sticking out my sun roof but can see now that it might have brought undo attention on the drive home from unwanted persons.

Saturday was the Kentucky Derby party at Mary and Andrew's. Last year, Scott took home the purse; this year, LC and I raked it in. I can't speak for her, but I spent my winnings on My Pretty Pony collectibles.

Tuesday, we went to see Sophie Scholl at Landmark. Simple and moving. I compare it in emotional impact to The Constant Gardener but less artfully filmed. Her arrest occurs relatively quickly, after a few scenes familiarizing us with the main characters and the society they live in, and is followed by a series of interrogations that make up the bulk of the film. The interrogations become a battle of philosophies between her and an investigator who is impassioned yet ultimately reluctant to sentence an intelligent and sincere young lady. Nazis are an easy target, but this film is more about an inspiring act of bravery. You'll be in tears for the last 30 minutes.

Thursday we had a new HVAC unit installed in our condo. Our old one, though only 9 years old, was installed poorly and died an untimely death. After an estimate of $4100 from CoolRay we got a second estimate of $6500, and the choice was simple. The installation took all day, but I got to go up on the roof for the first time. What a view! Although we pay approximately $1,000,000-a-month in association dues, they say it's too expensive to build a deck up there. Jackasses. Anyway, we now have a fancy new digital thermostat that keeps us below the 80-85 we've become accustomed to.

That night was The Fantasticks at Shakespeare Tavern for Alicia's b-day. I knew very little about the show except that the sheet music was ever present in the music room in high school. Because of that, I expected a silly little musical but was very very pleasantly corrected. The play is smart and the theater's directing keeps your attention. The female lead knocks everyone else off stage with her resonant coloratura flourishes--with such skill in a relatively small theater, one viewing will make you realize what jackasses those American Idol contestants are. Social criticism aside, this was such an enjoyable show I've been recommending it to anyone. It's playing through June 25th.

We got home that night--after seeing Alicia's playful new dog Jesco and having a few drinks at Milltown Arms--and drunkenly watched the season finale to The Office. We usually don't delete drunk viewings of shows, just-in-case, but that rule was forgotten and now we're downloading it for $1.99 from iTunes. Anyone know how to de-encrypt iTunes videos?

symphony may 2006

foxen cabernet franc

Friday was the ASO and a wonderful and varied program of Borodin (Overture to Prince Igor, clip), Berg (Violin Concerto, with Cecylia Arzewski, clip), Schubert (Symphony #8), and Liszt (Les Preludes, clip). We hadn't been in quite a while and this was a perfect evening to return. After that, we had a drink that the hip-yet-accessible Table 1280 right next door. Dinner reservations were at 11 at South City Kitchen down the street on Crescent. Too. Much. Food. So. Good.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 12:53 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

April 15, 2006

Where was I?

Began the month with a purgation. Dan and Alicia's wedding was a culmination of over-indulgences including food, alcohol, and a long stretch without jogging. Years ago, I had gotten 20-25 pounds heavier than I am now and started the slow process of getting down to where I am now. Having acheived that, I became image-obsessive and weigh myself probably at least once a day. Obsessive. So, I'd just gained 5 pounds and decided somethingmustbedone: I've been jogging every day, only missing the evening I went out with my brother and two sick days earlier this week. It took three weeks, but I'm back in line.

Tuesday and Wednesday this week were spent with some sort of illness contracted from that dirty wife of mine. I did the excessive sleep thing and came through on Thursday almost completely cured. I am indestructable!! *cough*

Apparently, extra jogging infringes on my music schedule. At about the same time of my purgation, I decided to cautiously begin working on the first movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 1 in B-flat minor. It's just beyond my abilities and will be a nice stretch. I hessitated starting because it's always very difficult to give the time required to such a piece. Updates later.

chopin page 1

Last Friday, Lisa and I had dinner at Feast in Decatur where we radomly ran into Matt (it happens more often than either of us can explain). Feast was wow and you should go there immediately. Last Saturday, we went to a housewarming for a previous boss and friend and had a riotous feast of Indian food. Namaste.

I missed the blogger get together on Thursday just to play it cautious with my health and also to dive back into music--Lisa was at the Braves game with friends so the condo was all mine. Last night, with the mother-in-law in town, we met first at Vinocity for their 4:20 happy hour: Four $20 bottles of wine along with $2 bottles of Sweetwater 420. They have a great patio, shaded and breezy, and the weather was perfect, but the event was fatally flawed by including pleasant-enough live music that was I-kid-you-not turned up to 11. Four of us were sitting closely but still had considerable trouble having a basic conversation over the volume of the acoustic guitar and harmonica (I know) that was amplified to the point of distortion. Don't go until they fix that. My email:

Ouch. Everything was great except for the volume of the music. This should not have been treated as a Solo Rock Show. The guitarist was a good performer just too loud by far. He needed to turn the volume down so that people can relax, enjoy the music, *and* have a conversation.

The wines were good, the bartenders were nice, your patio is perfect and the weather made it more so, but don't let the music ruin an otherwise ideal locale.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 11:40 AM in Where was I? | permalink

April 2, 2006

Where was I?

The Wife's out-o-town (for the LSU game in Indianapolis, with unfortunate results) so The Bro' came down Friday night to drink, avoiding his oldest daughter Caroline's birthday party at their house, attended by a dozen or so 9-year-old girls. No boys allowed. First Baraonda then the Vortex with political arguments all around.

Tonight (Saturday) was a birthday dinner at our parents. Our mom makes The Best Lasagne in the World (tm). Caroline played a few songs for us on her guitar. Groovy. Photos:

bro and dad

bro and dad

The younger niece, Sarah, couldn't hang:


I had to get gas on the way home. Wacky vandals!


posted by sstrader at 1:58 AM in Where was I? | permalink

March 28, 2006

Where was I?

All roads lead to Dan and Alicia's wedding. Thursday was hanging with Dan and his Crazy Friends at Five Seasons in preparation for the Saturday wedding. I was the only one without a nick-name. Friday was the rehearsal dinner at their house catered by none-other-than The Varsity. I've never had so much grease flowing through my veins since, well, since the last time I ate Varsity. With The Varsity involved in your wedding, you qualify as Atlanta royalty. Brilliant. Lisa dressed from the future and then did a cowboy dance:




The wedding proper was on Saturday at Rhodes Hall, a wonderful late-Victorian castle (also described as Romanesque or Victorian Romanesque). A little cold for an outside wedding but very fun and always a good reason to get together with friends. Afterwards was continued drinks at Midcity Cuisine where I met the bartender, Bethany Marchman (a friend of friends at the wedding), who is a very accomplished painter.

Second wedding of the year with two more lined up. A personal best.

posted by sstrader at 10:46 PM in Where was I? | permalink

March 10, 2006

Where was I?

Wednesday nite, some friends were making the rounds to the bars in our neighborhood: first The Votex (aka, the first floor of our building) where I missed them. Then McCray's where we met up and chatted movies. They too are lovers of TCM and their No Commercials Allowed policy. Marc & I then moved on to HALO--my first visit and probably wayyy too hip for me if it wasn't a weekday. They had my favorite beer (Corsendonk), several hot-chick waitresses, and a light weekday crowd so there was room to breathe. Nice.

Lisa had been out of town Thursday through Sunday, out again Monday through Wednesday, then was supposed to be staying over at an OTP friend's house Wednesday night, so I stayed out late. Last night was finally a simple evening at home with (a TiVoed TCM movie) The Philadelphia Story. Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. Wacky!

Tonight is APWBWGTTD at The Bucket Shop.

posted by sstrader at 3:01 PM in Where was I? | permalink

February 28, 2006

Where was I?

Last night we went to Eddie's Attic to see what's what at their Monday night open mic. I play there in two weeks. Although I had played there before manymany years ago, I had forgotten what a comfortable space it is. Eddie manages the process very well and keeps everyone moving at a good clip. (More importantly, he didn't try to grab half the evening for himself.) The process of early signup and cash prize at the end gives everyone a fair time slot and keeps the musicians in the audience till the end.

There seemed to me to be less variety than at the Red Light Cafe, but Lisa thought there were more accomplished musicians. I'm not so sure--people need to learn how to tune their guitars--but some were pretty entertaining all the same and there were many out-of-towners (and a couple out-of-staters). Because of the final prize, I think the smart players knew to sign up later in the evening as more and more musicians filed in--thus increasing the audience of musicians' friends. I, on the other hand, was so happy to get a chance to play before 11 that I signed up for the 7:30 slot. Sucker.

Afterwards was DaVinci's (of course) where I met a fellow Treo owner who was also a fellow programmer and--get this--owns a record company. He was visibly unimpressed by my rock opera about space aliens and Aztecs and diabolical plots, giving me the "how nice for you" sideways nod, but we still had a good talk and he'll be an entertaining character to know at DaVinci's.

Oh, and IIRC, DaVinci's bartender is going to be in a play at 7 Stages based on Barbara Ehrenright's book Nickel and Dimed. What a crazy world.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 10:55 PM in Where was I? | permalink

February 25, 2006

Where was I?

Fiery Furnaces show on Wednesday with Lisa & Scott. Tried out my new camera phone (I'm one of those people now) with poor results:



First time to see them live and it was very entertaining. Much more noisy-rocky than their recorded stuff. She still cracks me up with her Freaks and Geeks fashion sense and complete non-persona on stage. It's perfect. I think we saw some of the famous sibling squabbling, but not sure.

Yesterday was my every-ten-years physical and believe-it-or-not I'm very healthy. Well, we'll confirm in two weeks after my blood gets examined.

Last night was Moresight at The EARL (forgot to post it here beforehand, jackass). Good show, but my sparse diet throughout the day--despite the food at Graveyard Tavern before--led to one of those hazy/blurry nights. LC was there. This photo proves it (sort of):


No good shots of the band.

Movies have been: Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story (3/5) (a little thrown together, but it had its moments), Oldboy (5/5) (Asian extreme cinema that was very difficult to watch at times, but had an amazing story and range), Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (5/5) (bought it along with the three W&G shorts). Also re-watched Wild, Wild Planet and watched half of Mission: Stardust, but it had a bad scratch and I'm waiting for a replacement. Grr.

posted by sstrader at 3:36 PM in Where was I? | permalink

February 17, 2006

Where was I?

Watching movies: Heights was quiet and even flowing with a range of characters' lives intersecting. What's that style? Altmanesque? The only issue is that your radar goes up immediately and starts looking for the obvious ironic coincidences that might happen with (apparently) disconnected individuals. Done right--as Heights does and Crash does--and the coincidences build the characters rather that make the story simply gimmicky. Before that was Red Eye. Short and gripping; well-structured. I also just received Wild, Wild Planet and Mission: Stardust and am about to throw up from excitement. There's gonna be an Italian sci-fi double feature in my future.

Valentine's Day was going to be a nice dinner at home, but our refrigerator finally died. As would be expected, not much food was lost and we got it repaired by the extremely capable Mr. Appliance (who also diagnosed our washing machine) yesterday. Anyway, with no way to store leftovers, we decided to try for reservations at Toast and got in easily. Nice night on the patio with one grainy photo on my new Treo to prove it.


posted by sstrader at 2:11 PM in Where was I? | permalink

February 6, 2006

Where was I?

Dinner out on Friday at Baraonda (they refuse to seat us in the newer area) where we crossed paths with hollismb. Then late-nite drinks at Avra. Manhattans for everybody! hic. Saturday was shopping for Lisa at Fab'Rik on W. Peachtree where she got a very cool dress for later that evening. Ooh la la. Said evening was a group dinner to try out the new-ish Lobby at Twelve over in Atlantic Station. Very nice. Afterwards, the crowd thinned down to just Lisa & I, so we ended the evening at Midcity Cafe. It's been a while. The long-haired bartender was now in a short-haired state after he donated the difference to children with cancer (maybe something like this). What a great cause. Who knew?!?

Sunday was a few hours at work then the superbowl at a friends where we warmed up with Napoleon Dynamite and I learned that I'm a horrible foosball goalie.

Throughout we've been watching season two of The (British) Office. Just two episodes left, plus the Christmas special, but I'm already depressed. I love The British Office, but The American Office is easier on the emotions--without being watered-down or cheesy.

posted by sstrader at 10:03 PM in Where was I? | permalink

January 22, 2006

Where was I?

Sometime around summer of last year, I remember having a busy week where I was out late every night from Tuesday through Saturday. By Friday morning, I felt like a shell but still kept going. I think that was the first time that I realized that my days of burning twice as bright are coming to an end. This week was another reminder.

Wednesday was open mic and late dinner at DaVinci's. Thursday was Big Fun at the anniversary blogger meet up consisting of Part 1 at Trader Vic's and Part 2 at The EARL. Neon Poisoning was dubbed King of the Irish Car Bombs--definitely the new signature blogger drink. Friday started with Moresight at The Red Light Cafe (very good show) and ended with a few of us closing down McCray's Tavern. Saturday was the wedding of a couple of Lisa's previous/current co-workers up in Alpharetta. The reception had: great Italian food and an open bar. We wisely stayed at the hotel.

Sunday came too soon.

posted by sstrader at 4:14 PM in Where was I? | permalink

January 16, 2006

Where was I?

Early Friday at Fernbank's Planetarium to see the special on Einstein. A little to light with the facts it left us both wanting more, but the hour-long show was otherwise breezey and pleasant. I'll still never be able to point out Sagittarius, though.

Birthday party for a friend at Front Page News in L5P on Friday then birthday dinner for another friend at Taurus in Midtown/Buckhead on Saturday. Both featured exclusive rooms ... oooh. I had the Pan Roasted Filet Mignon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (not great, but good) and Lisa had ... Grilled Veal Porterhouse (I don't do veal ... oddly, Taurus had some dishes with pork from free range farms, but not all dishes were).

Having segued with that rant: we'll be hitting Whole Foods on the 24th to support the Animal Compassion Foundation. It's sort of like the middle class version of the $1000-a-plate dinner at a fund raiser. Not the most noble effort but not all that bad either.

posted by sstrader at 10:08 PM in Where was I? | permalink

January 8, 2006

Where was I?

Busy working, practicing piano, and coding.

Went to Asada with friends on Friday night based on several recommendations. I had had upset internal things going on since like New Years, so I've been trying to cut down on food during the week. To keep with the theme of paucity, I only had the salad and mussels, which were good. A majority of the table, however, felt that the dishes had not-much-special to them. Nice atmosphere and definitely worth a second try. Later was drinks (from a seedy liquor store) over at Alicia and Dan's then we poured ourselves home.

Yesterday was season two of Arrested Development (X-mas gift!). My post last April noted that the phrase "Franklin Comes Alive" garnered 17 hits at the time. It's up to 2,040 now. The deleted scenes were throwaway, but we got hooked on the cast commentary for the "Good Grief" episode.

Last night, we finally made it to the much-anticipated Grape restaurant on 10th. Great appetizers and extremely useful pairings for everything on the menu, however the wine descriptions were somewhat lacking. More goofy than informative. Oh well. The staff was very helpful--I think they pegged us as locals and obvious alchoholics.

posted by sstrader at 5:25 PM in Where was I? | permalink

January 2, 2006

Where was I?

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 
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
posted by sstrader at 8:58 PM in Where was I? | tagged new years | permalink

December 12, 2005

Where was I? What was I doing?

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking with Rupert Everett as an appropriately cold Holmes and the singularly unique appearance of Watson's wife (!). The Holmesian themes were present but not over-present, although I swear that much of the soundtrack (by Adrian Johnston) was stolen from Philip Glass's sound track for Mishima.

Eventful weekend up in Asheville at Nat and Frank's. Lisa had my car for a business trip to Charlotte on Friday, so I rode up with Shelby and Robert Saturday morning. We met for lunch at a nice restaurant called The Fig Bistro. Asheville has a surplus of fine restaurants. That evening was N&F's Christmas party in Black Mountain--the reason for our trip up north. Fun was had by all. I passed out on the couch while the rest of the Atlanta people returned to the cabin. The next day's (Sunday's) lunch was postponed by my car not starting. Yet another technological glitch. Frank and I fumbled around for much too long until we decided to give up and go to lunch. Worst case: I would leave my car for the VW dealer in town and fly/drive to get it back next weekend.

During lunch (at Table in Asheville), Frank got a call from his mechanic. (1) Cheap jumper cables will fail in cold weather, (2) as will old batteries. After saying goodbye to Lisa&Shelby&Robert with the optimistic intention of fixing the car that night, we found that both items described our situation perfectly. A different set of jumpers started the car, but the battery had nothing left to charge. New battery and free installation from Advanced Auto Parts (much to their regret 30 minutes later--Beetles are a bitch to replace anything) and I was on the road, headed back to the Dirty South.

And after all of that, I think I kicked the cold that I was getting last week.

Lisa's up in NYC with her mom for the next few days. They've got tickets to see our-famous-brother-in-law-in-law in the famous musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Groovy.

posted by sstrader at 10:15 PM in Where was I? | tagged nyc | permalink

December 4, 2005

Where was I?

Thanksgiving (Thursday a week-and-a-half ago) at my brother's with their friends from Tampa Lisa and John, their current neighbors Juliette and Greg, and Juliette's parents (British, but living in Spain) Chris and Alan. Add to that our parents and my sister-in-law's parents, the two nieces, and L&J's three kids and it was quite a crowd. Lisa (my Lisa) and I spoke with Alan about their travels through eastern Europe and into China by train.

That Saturday, we went to Lenny's to see Alicia's brother's band Moresight (with two other bands whose names I don't remember). Good show and a great hole-in-the-wall bar.

This weekend, friends were in for the LSU v. UGA game. Friday night was dinner at Soho (mmm, elk) in Vinings. Always good, but we had a very weird experience. After tipping the waitress generously, we stayed at the table to talk and finish our drinks. After a little while, the waitress came back to our table and gave some circuitous explanation of why she needed to re-run one of the cards. She explained something about moving a charge from one card to another. Everyone is always very nice there so we went with it, but may be regretting our accommodating natures.

Saturday (last night) was Mollie's b-day pool party at Smith's Olde Bar (which was lousy with hot women ... not the least of which being The Wife). I spend some time talking with friends in front of the ginormous mirror that completely freaks me out. It's too ... reflective. Shelby and Robert gave Aeon Flux a good review. Rotten Tomatoes reluctantly disagrees. I was hoping for something like Blade Runner without all the rain, but I guess it's just not meant to be. Best line from critic Richard Roeper about the studio's mistake of not screening the movie to critics: she's got a wacky haircut and a rubber outfit, what's not to like?


posted by sstrader at 3:00 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | permalink

November 18, 2005

Where was I?

Pot luck lunch with the developers on Thursday. We have: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Brazilian co-workers, so the eats were varied and delicious. I brought my famous chili (that's American, isn't it?) and got many compliments. It's the spice that makes it nice (TM).

Drinking with blogfriends (TM) on Thursday night at Limerick Junction. Mingaling made the plans and was roundly mocked for picking a place with live music (that interrupts our briliant conversations?!?). However, the space worked very well for those who attended, and M got us all to impluse-drink a round of Irish Carbombs (or, as I remembered them, Irish Pipe Bombs) with the waitress. I give it seven thumbs up. I talked to people afterwards, although I'm not sure who. Later in the evening, HMB and I met up with The Wife and The Gals at Bazzaar. With my slackwear jeans and old sneakers, I'm not sure how I got in to such a swank joint.

posted by sstrader at 6:34 PM in Where was I? | permalink

November 13, 2005

Where was I?

Dinner Friday night at Avra. Greek food that was just OK. Appetizers were octopus and dolmades, then I made the unusual choice of tomato and pepper stuffed with rice and beef (I usually go the lamb route, or as it was advertised at a restaurant on Mykonos: lamp) and an equally unusual choice of Metaxa as a digestif. Later, we each had a flight of four Barolos at Eno.

Saturday was jogging, practice, and coding, while Lisa was at Milltown Arms freaking out over LSU's narrow overtime win. Later was a house party OTP to socialize and watch the DJ battles. Grr! We only watched the first set because we're slackers.

battle royale

I should get my four-month-late emission's test done today, but won't.

posted by sstrader at 2:54 PM in Where was I? | permalink

November 7, 2005

Where was I?

Man, this past week has been weird. Or busy. Or I just lost track. I waste time on the weekends (mostly recovery from over-indulgence) and then feel hurried during the week.

Last weekend (not yesterday, but the one a week before) we went to a big fat fuckin' Halloween party on Leslie St. in Kirkwood and met Matt and Lori (briefly) and Lady Crumpet and Scott (with whom I crawled into a crawlspace to dig through a cache of Ebony magazines circa 1970). It was the third year of my gorilla suit, so Lisa and I came as King Kong and Faye Wray.

No, the other way around: Faye Wray and King Kong.

Anyway, it was relatively low-key except for The Driving Home of the Annihilated Friend. And no, it wasn't me. That happened around midnight and we headed back till I'm not sure when. Bonfire in the back and creeeeepy decoraaaations.

faye wray

The night before was an Octoberfestivus celebration at Liz and Matt's where I made it through Shaun of the Dead but crashed halfway through The Shining. I'm a lousy guest but at least it saved my energy for a late night of creeeeepy decoraaaations. Sunday was recouperatin'.

The next weekend (the past few days) began with a false start on Friday at Krog Bar (way too small) which quickly moved to dinner at Eclipse Di Sol on Highland. The occasion was our old co-worker/friend/thespian Diane (old photo of us here) was back in town for the weekend and we were wont to celebrate. After that it was--ugh--off to Hand in Hand where I'm told we hung out until 3 or so. Photos exist documenting the night, but who knows where. Saturday, recoup and head over to Alicia and Dan's housewarming at their extremely neat-o house. I am such a condo person, but this was the first time I was ever jealous of a house. And surprise of surprises: Lady Crumpet and Scott were there too! Things happened and I think I kissed another old co-worker when she and I were re-enacting a series of humorous sight-gags. I apologize, friend, but I suspect it got the laugh I was shooting for. Movies exist documenting the night, but again, etc.

My first thoughts the next morning, mostly headache free, were of the I-gotta-change-my-life sort. Yeah, I know, I know...

Yesterday was the Wyeth exhibit at the re-opening of the High which I was eagerly anticipating. Beautiful beautiful pieces. Then a lousy lunch at Einstein's (Chardonnay instead of Sauvignon Blanc and then very only warm biscuits and gravy). Walking into the place, I got a really weird vibe as sort of a premonition of a bad meal to come. I had originally passed it off as someone just giving me the stink-eye, but realize now that a bad vibe is a bad vibe. Respect the vibe.

Oddly, I had a good week or so of piano practice and a couple of days jogging. This week should be very busy work-wise though.

posted by sstrader at 10:03 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 22, 2005

Where was I?

The Wife out of town with friends for an LSU game in Baton Rouge, my bro' had an unexpected free night so he headed ITP and we got sloshed and had a great meal at Mitra. Many topics were argued, few were resolved. Or remembered. And our wine cellar at home (aka, our wine rack) was low before last night, now it's shamefully deficient and must be remedied.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 12:51 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 18, 2005

Where was I?

Back from Mason's wedding but not completely recovered. What happened?

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posted by sstrader at 10:16 PM in Where was I? | permalink

October 1, 2005

Where was I?

Working, that's where.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 11:54 AM in Music , Where was I? | permalink

September 25, 2005

Where was I?

Spent the weekend with Lisa & Mason & the Mother-in-law. Saturday wedding in Kingsport, TN with Lisa's b-day dinner the night before at Harmony Grocery in Jonesborough. Great Cajun food out in the wilderness of Tennessee. Recommended.

Back in Knoxville, we met friends of the Mother-in-law and ate at Sapphire--where the waitress got extra points for telling me that my favorite wine, La Crema Pinot Noir, was not listed but available. We passed on ordering the $350 Sapphire Martini with, you guessed it, a 2+ caret sapphire in it. Our waitress said that when she sold one the guy tipped her $100. Later in the evening, Lisa & I continued on to the Downtown Grill & Brewery for more drinks and jazz. The band opened with the Miles Davis standard "So What." When did Knoxville become so cool?

Just got home and am now ready to jog off the excesses of the weekend.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 3:16 PM in Where was I? | permalink

September 3, 2005

Where was I?

So busy bitching that I lost track of where I've been.

Wednesday, we had intended to so see March of the Penguins (my nieces give it four thumbs up) and ended up re-routing to 97 Astoria to celebrate Alicia and Dan's house closing. And because I'm such a shut-in, I goofed off here and missed all of the fun, so after all of that I guess I did nothing. No wait! Lisa picked me up and we went on a successful search for the new-and-cool Slice down in Castleberry Hill. We felt a little out of place at first (ifyouknowwhatImean), but it's nice and laid back and had a good DJ--not too loud. Lisa says best pizza ever.

Thursday was a few after-dinner drinks at Midcity Cafe to toast Robert's b-day then a few more at DaVinci's.

Last night was The Brothers Grimm and The Skeleton Key at the Starlite Drive-in to celebrate another Robert's b-day. There was a slight emergency room related incident--everyone's OK--which kinda dowsed the rest of the evening.

And I have an interview next Tuesday! Look at me, Mr. Going To An Interview, Mr. Trying To Get a Job. Woop-de-doo!

posted by sstrader at 11:47 AM in Where was I? | tagged drive-in | permalink

August 8, 2005

Where was I?

Ended the contract a-day-early-but-two-weeks-late last Thursday then tied one on with The Wife and The Brother. First dinner at Agave Oops: it was actually Inman Park Patio. Agave was a 45-minute wait. Bah. with Lisa (had a nice, grapefruity Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc) then we headed to Eno for drinks with Bob, and finally home to argue about cinema and finish off a couple of our cheaper bottles. Hey, I'm unemployed now, so the good stuff has to be saved.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 10:57 AM in Where was I? | permalink

July 23, 2005

Where was I?

Finished up the DoD certification yesterday at 1:20 (woo-hoo!) and worked until 4:00 with cleanup and documentation. Contract ends on Wed. I was completely burned out from the previous few weeks/weekends of long hours so got home and crashed--which then had me awake reading for several hours in the middle of the night.

Watched In Good Company [IMDB] last night. It had some very nice surprises and avoided most of the cheap, sit-com irony. Its satire of the Business World was more nuanced than most, yet it still went a little too far with the Evil Corporate Merger and the Evil Backstabbing Corporate Climber. The relationships of the main characters--Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Scarlet Johannsen--were perfect.


posted by sstrader at 11:58 AM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

July 15, 2005

Where was I?

Had a good interview this morning. Well, it seemed good in my mind, but then look who's telling me that. What's weird is that I interviewed with these people before and (obviously) didn't get the job. This time around, many of the same people were at the table a-grillin' me about threads and such. Best line from the interview:

Them: If you disagreed with someone on a design issue, what would you do about it.

Me: I'd form an alliance.

Maybe that's why I'm not getting hired.

The contract's up in a week (which is nice) and I'm in major crunch mode with some major last-minute features (which is etc.), so I'll be in the office another weekend (etc. etc.). And my Web server was on the fritz most of the day for some reason or another. At least that meant no spam! It's the simple things in life.

Dinner at Nan tonight! We had planned to go there for the anniversary, but got kiboshed by an ice storm of all things. An ice storm. In Atlanta. I can't make this shit up. Anyway, I don't see another ice storm on the horizon, so we'll see what's what.

posted by sstrader at 6:03 PM in Where was I? | permalink

June 27, 2005

Where was I?

Hit my 40 hours early on Friday and struggled through traffic to get home. Jogged and then sweated my way up MARTA (it takes me, I swear, hours to cool down after a jog, especially when it's in the 90s) to meet everyone at Copeland's before going to see Land of the Dead at Buckhead Backlot. It was a fun, stupid movie in an appropriate venue: people were noisy and having a good time.

land of the dead

We continued the evening at The Bucket Shop for (more) drinks and (more) greasy food. Latelate night.

Hijinks on Saturday with more jogging and some piano time. Out for dinner at Wahoo in Decatur. Average food, nice atmosphere. We had a very nice chenin blanc though--can't remember the winery. Finished up at Thinking Man's Tavern just down the street (which we were originally introduced to by the Kirkwood Duo). Another late night.

Recovery Sunday consisted of cleaning: bathroom, floors, laundry, desk. Also celebrated our sixth year of not watching the gay pride parade that runs right outside our front door. Judging from the two hours of cheering and honking, I don't think that we were missed.

Busy week up ahead as a laundry list of new features has appeared that need to be coded and tested in the 11th hour. Naturally. End of the first week of my new messenger bag and I'm the Hero of the Playground! To top it off, my new laptop fits in it perfectly.

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posted by sstrader at 1:11 AM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

April 6, 2005

March 16, 2005

Where was I?

Hipster people buzzing about M.I.A. (BoingBoing et al.). I'd usually ignore it except that some of the music blogs have picked up the obsession also (gathered and glossed nicely in Tim Rutherford-Johnson's recent entry). He refers to clap clap blog's detailed analysis of M.I.A.'s song "M.I.A."

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posted by sstrader at 8:42 PM in Where was I? | permalink