Sunday, 29 October 2006

Yesterday was really about getting to Chicago to kick things off. And it seems the travel gods were smiling on me as if to say my quest was right and true.

The first good sign was the gate assignment for my flight to Chicago: G18. If you go all the way into the terminal, that’s way out on one of the arms of the airport. Luckily, there is a security checkpoint along a walkway that goes between two of the concourses. That walkway is directly above the airport’s light-rail station. I got off the train, took the elevator upstairs, and was through security and at the gate in all of 10 minutes. And that was with an extra bag inspection because I forgot to take the little bag with my shampoo and toothpaste out of my suitcase before I put it through the x-ray machine.

The flight was uneventful – after all, how much can happen when you’re only in the air for 45 minutes?

About a week before the trip I realized that my hotel was actually about 10 miles North of the city, rather than near either venue for my first couple shows. I can only chalk it up to my being an idiot, but Google Maps and the Chicago city planners are complicit.

The hotel is on 2875 North Milwaukee Avenue. It turns out there are two places in the area that fit that address. One is in Chicago proper, the other is in the nearby suburb of Northbrook. I’m used to how things are in the Twin Cities. You can lay a great big grid over the whole area and pretty much find anything with a single numbering system; one for North-South, the other for East-West. Apparently in the Chicago area the start the numbering over again even when it’s the same street that appears in multiple cities, like Milwaukee Avenue.

I ended up sticking with the same hotel because I got a good rate for a decent size room and they had already charged my card for the room since it was a pre-pay Internet deal.

There must have been two conventions in town, or something. As I pulled into the hotel two tour buses pulled in after me. Out of them came at least 100 Russian or Ukrainian (I couldn’t tell from the language they were speaking) girls and their mothers. Tons of them all over the place. Later I saw a group of 20 or so Chinese guys all gathered together.

I’m still working on a review for the show, but that should be on-line very soon.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Since the Grateful Dead are no more (R.I.P. Jerry Garcia), and I wasn’t into them enough to follow them around the country, I was never a <defn=”/glossary/?deadhead”>Deadhead. However, I have had a long-standing item on my “To-Do This Lifetime” list: Deadhead For A Week.

It wasn’t too much of a stretch, since I have been known to travel just to see a concert now and again. It had to be a road-trip to see a series of shows, going to see just one show doesn’t count.

There aren’t many bands these days that truly inspire someone to follow them around the country. But it just so happens that, at least for me, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers is one of those bands. Every album is full of good songs, rather than one or two like other artists, and the boys put on a great show. And he really cares about his fans too. I’ve seen them several times in the Twin Cities and I’ll keep going back.

When Roger started a fall tour, I immediately checked for a Twin Cities date and happily discovered that this time we got him on a Saturday. He always packs them in at the Fine Line, so it’s going to be a stellar night. After that, I figured I’d just check what the surrounding dates were going to be and decided it was finally my chance. My friend Todd did a road-trip to see them earlier this year, but this time it was my turn. Deadhead time.

In planning the trip, I was going to catch the the series of Roger shows starting November 1st in Cleveland, OH. Then on my usual Sunday scan for upcoming shows I found out Los Straitjackets, were playing in Chicago a few days earlier. If that weren’t enough, Blue Man Group has a regular show in Chicago too.

That cemented it. I decided to make a week of it. Road trip, maybe see a couple friends, but certainly see a bunch of shows.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

A certain national ticket reseller sends me regular emails about upcoming shows. In the latest one, they describe the Moscow Ballet performance of The Nutcracker as “This Broadway-level spectacle…”

Now maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t spectacle, when used as an adjective, tend to cast something in a somewhat negative light? A freak-show would be a spectacle. Dancing around at a party with a lampshade on your head is a spectacle. A GWAR show can only be described as a spectacle. (OK, so that last one isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)

Yes, I know the dictionary definition for spectacle provides quite a bit of leeway, but I’m just saying…

Sunday, 22 October 2006

In my never ending quest for cute/cool/stupid Web stuff, I came across this: Dancing Pipe Cleaners.

David’s page containing several interations of the little guy can be found here.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006

Monday, 25 September 2006

One of the original purposes of this site was so I would have a place to post CD reviews. In an attempt to return to my roots, as it were, I’m going to start actually posting the reviews — at least once I actually write them.

It’s possible you will notice a tendency toward positive reviews, and there’s a reason for that: these are CDs in my collection; stuff I actually buy. I try to stay away from music that sucks, but one or two are bound to skip through on occasion.

If you’d like me to review your CD, drop me an email and I’ll give you the mailing address. While I can’t guarantee that I’ll like your music, I do promise to review it in a timely manner. In all fairness, I’ll be sure to mention it when the review is based on a CD that someone sends.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

I try to keep informed, so one of the first things I did with my Crackberry was set up an RSS reader. I removed it a couple days later because it was just too much available all at once. Before my digital retreat, I happened across an interesting story stemming from the latest shuttle mission.

It seems that one of the astronauts let a couple bolts escape while they were performing a few repairs: Spacewalkers Lose the Darndest Things

The article goes on to say that NASA and the Air Force track objects larger than about 4 inches. Four. Inches. This are items whipping around at 15000 MPH some 1200+ miles away. They can track stuff that is smaller, but at 90000 pieces, it’s just too much.

The funniest part, to me at least, is when they talk about SpatSat. While I’m sure it’s just an ordinary tool, I can’t help but wonder what they’re doing with a spatula in outer space — and if pancakes are still light and fluffy at zero-g.

Holy Crap! NASA even has a newsletter about this stuff!

[AP article found via CNN]

In what has to be a first for me, a spam subject line actually made me laugh today, so I had to share:

ancestor hurling

No, I don’t know what it means and I’m not sure I want to find out.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

For someone that works in high-tech, I’m not exactly known for having cutting edge personal tech. A couple buddies like to call me a Luddite, mostly because I’m usually the nay-sayer, the voice of temperance and prudence when it comes to gadgetry, but also because they like how I cringe every time they say it.

It’s not like I’m completely hopeless: I did drop my home phone service in favor of using my cell phone exclusively. It wasn’t too much of a leap since I’d been telling friends for a few years to try my cell. The only thing I really kept the analog line for was to support the Series 1 TiVo. The modem in it got fried by an electrical storm last September, so I finally put the thing to rest, both the TiVo and the phone line.

I used a Nokia 8200 series phone until it wore out. I liked its size, small bordering on tiny, so I replaced it with a second one off eBay even though I hated its address book. I kept the 8200 for another year or so, then switched to a Sony-Ericsson T610 (again through eBay). I picked it mostly because the address book didn’t suck, but it also had Bluetooth and voice dialing. Late to the as usual, the T610 had already been out for a couple years by the time I bought it.

This is all to help you understand why it’s a big deal when I say that I bought a new cell phone on Tuesday. Not just new to me, but new as in not used. And not just any phone either…

I bought a Blackberry Pearl. Yes, the day they came out.

Mainly I chose it because I’m doing a lot more text messaging than I used to (this is the start of a short rant, but I’ll save that for another time) and the SureType keyboard on the Blackberry will make that less gruesome than it was on the T610.

What do I think of it so far?

It’s sleek. It’s sexy. It has a built in Web browser (not a big fan of it), can do IM via Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo, and their kin. I don’t have it completely set up yet, so at times it can be a bit frustrating as I try to figure out how it works and tune the thing to my liking. It’s even got a camera, but only 1.3 megapixels which means I’m unlikely to use it for much of anything.

The good folks at Opera have released a mini version for smart-phones so I installed that, plus an RSS newsreader, a couple extra games, and a few ring tones converted from MP3 files. The Internet access has already come in handy, so it’s not the fourth horseman I thought it to be, but it still takes getting used to.