Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Catch up

It has been a few weeks since I last posted.  So, I'd better do a catch up post.

Last week our church was promoting a week of unpluggedness.  Staying away from electronic things to spend more time doing things with one's family, reading, things like that.  Well, we did okay.  For those of you who read Angie's blog I won't repeat it all.  For those of you who don't, well, you should.

I finished reading Steve Martin's autobiography, Born Standing Up.  A nice read.  Then I started in on a baseball book, The Last Nine Innings.  It is a look at game 7 of the 2001 World Series.  Very interesting.

I've also been spending some time looking at baseball card blogs and interacting with them.  Yes, a bunch of nuts, but a nice bunch of nuts.

I started another blog on that subject.  Mark's Ephemera.  No, it won't be everyone's cup of tea but that's okay.

The cold snap has passed and the rains are back.  Caroline is wanting more stories told to her.  Now they are to be of the Noggin type.  "Tell me a story about the Backyardigans.  About Max and Ruby.  About Diego.  About Yo Gabba Gabba."  So, I do.

That's what I know from here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Symphony Night - rewind

This is a review/summary of the Knoxville Symphony Blogger's Night. In reading the other blog entries about Thursday night's concert, I'm kicking myself. If I had posted first, then they'd look foolish for using the same adjectives that I did. But I didn't post first. I'm well after the fact. So...

It was awesome. The venue, the selections, the performers, the conducting, the guest artist, the post-concert reception, everything. Awesome.

Really, it was.

Let's start at the end and work towards the front. Angie and I walked out with a reporter from City View magazine. She was there covering the blogging side of the event.

We left the reception room after all the other geeks bloggers had departed. Wine and cheese were served. I know nothing of wine and I avoided the cheese, mostly because it said, "Chili Lime, hand rubbed." I don't know what that means, nor do I want to.

We mingled with the other guests, Maestro Richman and Ms. Perlman, the featured artist. I was bold enough to ask them each for their autographs on my ticket stub. 

It was difficult to hold any depth of conversation because of the constant interruption for photo ops and hand shaking.

Now, mind you, this was at the end of a very long day for the conductor and pianist. Ms. Perlman had a bit of a head cold and was very gracious to attend the small party.

We met other bloggers and most of their names have left my head already. Frank. And Frank's blogfather. And Noah. And Noah's dad. Of course, That Chick and her trouper of a husband, Jason. He's an honorary blogger. He is quoted quite often. And KSO's own blogger, Katie. Then there was a gentleman that I took some photos for, but I can't for the life of me remember his name.

Kudos go to Stephanie Burdette for helping organize the evening and get all of the bloggers together.

After the final number, the Mendelssohn, completed we descended into the depths of the Tennessee Theatre. Beautiful building. On the inside. Nice on the outside, but beautiful on the inside. It was recently (in the last few years) renovated. The seats were comfy. I was very tempted to let my eyes close and let the music wash over me.

The intermission came between the Mozart concerto and the Mendelssohn symphony. Ms. Perlman was the pianist for the Mozart. I was not at all familiar with that piece. I think that it helps a concert goer to know the music, but this time I just listened and watched. Her style was extremely fluid. Her hands were the same. Lilting, graceful. And she had on some shiny silver shoes. It went with the flowing outfit that she was wearing. Normally a performer wears something staid and black. That's staid, not stained. Ms. Perlman's outfit had flowing arms and she looked like she was going out to a nice cocktail party. It worked for her.

Before she came out to the stage, Maestro Richman introduced her. His microphone wasn't working. The concert goers seemed to have no trouble letting him know that. Unruly visigoths. It wasn't on because the sound guy was also a stage hand. He was helping strike the set from the first piece, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto Number Three.

The musicians worked well together. Musically there were parts of it that were almost like the game of Hot Potato, but not so frantic. It couldn't be. Over half of them were wearing tuxedos. You can't play Hot Potato in a tux. It isn't proper. One has to gently pass the foil wrapped vegetable to the next person, not just throw it in the air. That's what they did with the concerto. They passed the figure from one player to the next. It was seamless. I think that the continuo player got stuck with it at the end of the first movement because she ended up playing the second movement by herself.

Before the small ensemble took the stage, there was much tuning and warming up. Typical musicians. No, wait. Most of the musicians that I know don't take time to do those things.

Jason and Stephanie were seated in the row just ahead of us. I guess they got the good seats. Actually, all the seats at the Tennessee are good seats.

The program actually started at about 7pm, when Maestro Richman took the stage for a chat, letting the concert goers in on some of the stories behind the music. He told us what to listen for, why Mendelssohn wrote the way he did (he studied Bach intimately). He invited Ms. Perlman out to talk about the Mozart concerto. Then a bit of question and answer. Yes, she has a family and stays in touch with them when she's on the road. She has a head cold. No, she's never recorded with her father (Itzhak Perlman, not Ron).

We arrived at about 6:45pm after a dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. I dropped Angie off at the front door while I parked at the State Street Parking Garage.

And that's the evening.

Summary: Top three things I liked about the evening...
  1. Watching the orchestra respond to Maestro Richman's conducting.
  2. Meeting other 'normal' people. People that enjoy music and life. And blogging.
  3. Having the opportunity to enjoy a world class artist, Ms. Navah Perlman.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another day, another motor coupling

Our washing machine started to make some strange noises last week. Moving it to do some cleaning resulted in the discovery of a small pile of shaved rubber. A search on the web produced the answer. The direct drive appliance had worn out the motor coupling. It was a $10 part at the appliance parts store. About an hour and fifteen minutes later, the beast is back together and washing a load of dark clothes.

I'm rather proud of myself. Only a few bruised knuckles. We saved the cost of a service call and I was reminded that I can actually perform mechanical repairs.

Who'da thunk?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Symphony night

In about a week and a half Angie and I will be attending the Knoxville Symphony as part of their Blogger's Night. I first heard of it through a post at Byron Chesney's Knoxville Trivia Blog. Byron picked it up from a Frank Murphy post.

It has been several years since I've been to the symphony. Mind you, I like classical music. I've played many concerts, from grade school through college and beyond. The KSO will be playing some Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn. The pianist, Navah Perlman, will be the featured artist.

It baffles me how the beautiful Navah Perlman

can be the daughter of Rhea Perlman
and Ron Perlman

I jest. I'm sure that it will be a good night.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I love my wife

On the 30th of December we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  

Monday afternoon we ditched the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and headed to Gatlinburg.  After a bit of sorting out some miscommunication about the hotel, we headed to Olive Garden for dinner.  It was not to be as the wait was about 45 minutes.  Not after thinking I messed up the hotel.  Relief was at Damon's Grill.  All you can eat ribs was the special of the evening.  After filling up we headed to the actual hotel, River Terrace.

On Tuesday we went to Pigeon Forge, to a little pancake restaurant just before the spur.  They were kind enough to give me real butter pats instead of whipped margarine.  We did some shopping in Pigeon Forge and then headed back to Gatlinburg.  There was a youth conference in town, so many teenagers were roaming the streets and shops of the mountain towns.  We headed out for a bite for lunch, ending up at McDonald's.  Not great, but better than waiting for some unspecified time for a table at some nondescript Chinese joint.  Then we found a popcorn shop that didn't understand the words, "No, stop.  That's enough of the cheese popcorn.  You can add some carmel corn now.  Stop.  Really.  Stop."

We wandered the Gatlinburg Mountain Mall where we saw an old friend at his photoshop.  Angie suggested that we might find a smashed penny machine.  She was right.

Back to the room where I took a nap, but not before our friend Andrea came and showered us with amenities that are found in the honeymoon suite.  Rose petals (strewn about the room and bed), chocolate kisses, sparkling cider, bath salts, that sort of thing.  We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Angie had the fajitas and I had a California Chick Club.  Both were good.  We got to see several fun guitars and other memorabilia.  Pictures later.

Back at the room, Angie beat me at Five Crowns and then Cribbage.  I need to stop playing games with her.

Wednesday morning we checked out and headed back towards home.  A few stops for shopping and then Angie "called my bluff" when I suggested that we eat at Tony Gore's restaurant.  We enjoyed some good BBQ sandwiches.

The best part of the whole time was that I got to spend it with Angie.  I'm the luckiest guy there is.