Oct 27th 2014
Our mailbox was hit by a car a few weeks ago. The lady who did it was nice enough to stop and pay for the damages, but it hasn't been fun replacing it. Until last week, we had to make due with some bungee cords and rope holding the splintered post together. I finally got all of the pieces I needed to put up a new one, but it wasn't as easy as the guy at the hardware store made it out to be. To make a long story short, I hammered a post spike into the ground crooked and couldn't get it back out. So, now we have a new mailbox and post that don't exactly sit right. At least it isn't falling apart and our mail will stay dry.
Now I just have to get rid of the remainder of the old post that is still sticking out of the ground. Apparently, a hack saw is not the best tool for the job.
Molly went to Lincoln, Nebraska for work last Wednesday. While she was there, she took some time to visit the capitol building. She saw a nice gated house across the street with a plaque on the gate. As she was reading the plaque, a little dog came up to her on the other side of gate. Soon, the dog's owner came up too and they had a pleasant conversation. After she left, on a hunch, she looked up the governor of Nebraska. Sure enough, she had been talking to Governor Dave Heineman!
I didn't meet any high-ranking officials while Molly was gone, but I did score some cheap tickets to see Bastille at The University of Akron on Wednesday night. The venue, E.J. Thomas Hall, was really cool looking. The opening band was Grizfolk and they were pretty solid. Bastille's performance was really good and the crowd was really it. Lots of screaming girls. My only gripe would be that the vocals were too quiet and the bass was too loud in the mix. I think Dan Smith's singing is one of the most important features of the band and there were times when I could barely hear him. Otherwise, it was a really good concert.
Friday night, I met up with Kurk, Amy, Michael, Lisa, and baby Gracie for dinner at Bubba's Q. Molly was really jealous, but that serves her right for going to Nebraska! (just kidding!) After dinner, Kurk, Michael, and I went to Operation Zombie Strike at Swings and Things. They drive buses with mounted paintball guns through a zombie infested area where you can shoot zombies to your heart's content. The zombies were college students in layers with masks on their heads. I expected them to walk toward the bus with arms outstretched, but it was more like they were bunched up and cringing from all of the paintballs being shot at them in rapid fire. At first, I was pitying them, but then I got into it and really had a good time. A little sadistic? I don't know...
They give you an ID card after you are all done, so you can show that you were a member of the Zombie Civilian Response Unit. Even though they had a sheet with my name written on it and I told them clearly what it was, they typed my name wrong into the computer. So, the ID card they gave me says that I'm Private Pustin Sullivan.
Sep 7th 2014
We have a vacation planned for November, but that seemed like such a long time to wait that when Southwest had a great deal on plane tickets to Nashville we snatched them up. Last week was our mini-vacation and it was rather nice.
Once we settled into our hotel on Wednesday, we walked over to Centennial Park and checked out the Parthenon. It's a full-scale replica of the Athenian original. It was closed, but the outside was impressive on its own.
We walked along the edge of the Vanderbilt campus and had dinner at Jackson's, which didn't impress us much. I turned in pretty early. I think I fell asleep before 9. I blame the dramamine.
Thursday morning, we had breakfast at Fido, which is right next to Jackson's. We were also underwhelmed by this restaurant. Molly said the coffee was horrible and our food was slightly less than okay.
We drove to Dickson, TN where Molly's sister, Mandy, is staying for a couple of months. She and her friends made us lunch and we had a nice visit. After that, we went back to Nashville to tour the Hatch Show Print Shop, one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America.
This was my favorite part of our Nashville vacation. It was really interesting seeing how everything is done and printing our own commemorative posters to take home with us.
After the tour, I tried to find some live music for us to enjoy before meeting up with a friend for dinner. We had one unsuccessful attempt and decided to just head across town to hang out around the restaurant. It was a good thing we did, because it took us forever to get there. We were trying to go through the middle of the city where roads were backed up or blocked off because of a Tennessee Titans game, a free concert (Capital Cities! Can't believe I missed that), a Vanderbilt game were all taking place that night. Rather than being early by an hour or more, we got to the restaurant about 20 minutes before our meeting time.
We had a great visit with Molly's college roommate and her husband at the Rosepepper Cantina. The food options were the standards you would expect at a Mexican restaurant, but they were executed exceptionally well. The company was exceptional as well. We had a lot of laughs and an all around good time. After dinner, I dragged Molly to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams across the street for dessert. I had buttercream biscuit and peach ice cream which was a noteworthy experience. I don't know how biscuits work as part of an ice cream flavor, but they do.
Friday, we got up and went for a hike at Percy Warner state park. We had done a 3 mile hike a couple of weeks ago with no problem, so I didn't think this 4.5 mile trail would give us much trouble. Boy, was I wrong. At one point, we came upon a sign that looked like the one we saw at the beginning of the trail and we thought we were done. I rememeber saying to myself "That was a nice hike!" Soon, Molly pointed out that the was not the way we had come in. It turns out that we were only about halfway done. We backtracked, and before we figured out we were still on the right trail, I thought "At some point this stopped being fun and started being about survival." After a bit, we found a landmark that matched up with my map, so all was well. Although things were a bit dicey there for a while, we enjoyed the hike. Even if we were sore for a couple days afterward.
For lunch, Molly was craving chinese and I was craving BBQ, so we just got our own lunches for seperate places near the hotel. I went to Hog Heaven BBQ, which is a rinky dink place I noticed on the way to the Parthenon on Wednesday. The size of the place belies the popularity and quality of the restaurant. I got a pulled pork sandwich with white bbq sauce on it which tasted great and hit the spot.
Mandy came out to the hotel around lunch and we all spent some time relaxing at the pool. Then we went to Third Man Records. This is Jack White's recording studio and I had read a bunch of reviews about it being a really cool place to visit. I must admit, that I was underwhelmed. It was small and quirky. I walked in and looked around for less than 5 minutes before I was pretty much ready to leave. Still, it's cool to say I've been there.
Next, we hit up the Grand Ole Opry. We didn't do the tour, but we walked around it and checked out the gift shop. Shovels & Rope had played there Tuesday night, which was another great missed opportunity for seeing a good concert in Nashville.
We walked over to the Opryland Resort. This was a huge hotel with shops inside of it. It felt like a mix of being in a mall and on a cruise (without the ocean). We had some fun exploring the resort.
For dinner, we went to Peg Leg Porker. It was pretty funny when the woman in front of us kept asking everyone else in line if they were from Nashville and no one was. Molly and I shared some dry rub ribs and they were fantistic. Hands down, the best meal we had in Nashville. After dinner, we walked to a club and finally saw some live music. The band was playing some mediocre indie rock with horrible sound tech problems and Molly got a headache pretty quick. We left after the third song.
Saturday, we had breakfast at the Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse. I had a fried egg sandwich with avocado and sprouts that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, Molly's omelette was suffering from a lack of omeletteness. A couple whole slices of bacon and a whole slice of cheese in a folded over egg do not an omelette make.
After breakfast, we toured the Belle Meade plantation. It was pretty neat and the hard rain held off until we were ready to leave.
We grabbed lunch at Porta Via Italian Kitchen. We had some good pizza and I enjoyed a bit of housemade gelato for dessert.
The bad weather caused our flight to initially be delayed by almost an hour, but we actually ended up getting home on time.
Molly and I talked about our trip and we both agreed that Nashville reminded us of Cleveland a bit and we liked it. Not a ton of sights to see if you don't like country music, but it's a good place to relax and enjoy some warmer weather.
Jul 31st 2014
This book was interesting and kept me engaged the whole time I was reading it. I did tend to skim some sections, though. Sometimes it was because the ins and outs of furniture restoration were being described or periods of drug use resulted in stream-of-consciousness-type prose. Other times it was because the story was exciting and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. I have very mixed feelings about the book because I didn't like the main character, but the self-reflection at the end of the story may have been worth it. I'm not sure.
There were a few nitpicky things that bothered me in the writing. The author is very detail-oriented about so many things, but it took me out of the story when she tried to convey teenagers texting. Not only does no one text like that ("He only likes 2go 2 3mpty rstrnts where nobody goes"), but this story is supposed to be reconstructed by journal entries from the main character. Why would a teen transcribe the "txt-speak" instead of writing the gist of the conversation? Also, someone should let the author know that restarting your computer does not clear your browser history, no matter how many times you restart it.
I was really affected by this story. At a particularly low point in the main character's life, I found myself in a bad mood for most of the day. I laughed out loud pretty hard at a few things. I was shocked by some turns of events. The end of the book gave me a lot to think about.
Overall, I think I had a love/hate relationship with this book. There were things I really liked and things I really disliked. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I wouldn't say I didn't like it, either.
Jul 27th 2014
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a free concert series every summer. I was ecstatic when I found out Reignwolf would be one of the featured artists. This is a band I have been pretty excited about since first hearing their first single in January.
I hadn't heard of the opening band before, but I checked them out after seeing them listed on the schedule. Thaddeus Anna Greene are a blues/soul rock band from Cleveland with a frontman reminiscent of Jimmy Hendrix. They put on a pretty good show. The music was great, but it was slightly disappointing that TJ Maclin turned around to face the drummer for almost every guitar solo. The drummer has seen his work, the fans should get a chance!
Where Thaddeus Anna Greene were tight and controlled in their performance, pouring out the grooves to the audience, Reignwolf was unhinged and reckless, slamming the crowd in the face with crushing riffs. The main ingredient to the Reignwolf sound and experience is founding member Jordan Cook. In less than a minute of taking the stage, he attempted standing atop one of his monitors, tipped it over, and fell flat to the stage. After picking himself up and resuming his jam, he quickly worked his way around another speaker and got his guitar cord caught. This resulted in a trip and the cord coming unplugged. What an entrance. Luckily, he managed to stay upright for the rest of the show and there weren't any more gear glitches.
Speaking of gear, it was pretty cool that Cook played an electric mandolin for, rather fittingly, "The Mandolin Song". The second guitarist/bassist, Stitch Rapaport, plays something he developed and calls a Buitar. It allows him to play both bass and guitar at the same time without much compromise to either sound.
At one point, the other two members of the band left the stage and Cook was playing guitar and drums at the same time.
It was an intense show. I think it was soon after the next picture was taken, that one of the strings broke on his guitar and he kept wailing away at it. Then he laid it down on the stage and kept wailing while ripping out the other strings till there was nothing left. A couple more smacks at the pickups then he stood up, said thanks, and walked off the stage. They had only played four songs.
At this point, I thought maybe that was really it. I had only ever heard four of their songs before. They haven't released an album yet. I thought maybe that was all they had.
Then one of the more dedicated fans jumped up on the stage and led the crowd in chanting for an encore and the band acquiesced. Cook picked up a new guitar and dropped down into the audience. I was standing right next to him as he started rocking out once more. I tried to get a picture, but he was seriously so close that they all came out blurry because my phone couldn't focus. I almost got hit in the face a couple times, but it was awesome.
When he got back on the stage, he asked a kid who looked about 12 years old if he would hold the mic for him. That kid's face said that this was the most amazing thing that ever happened to him. He stood in awe the whole time he was holding the mic up.
The concert started at 7 and was over well before 10. I think it may have been the earliest I ever got home from a concert. Even so, it was definitely a show I would have paid to see. I think the rock hall is pretty great for putting on a public free event for everyone to enjoy some amazing music in our beloved city.
Jul 19th 2014
Their sensationalized programming, shoddy fact-checking, outright fictions and unethical PR have transformed them. Like P.T. Barnum and the showmen of old, they happily sacrifice the truth to draw a bigger crowd and do whatever it takes for money and fame. Discovery no longer seems to care about the ‘highest quality content’—so long as they can become The Greatest Show On Earth.