Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I left out an entire day, which was one big highlight in itself - the day we flew back from the Big Island to O'ahu. I would leave out the part about my getting the flight time wrong and arriving at the airport an hour after the plane had taken off, but Mike would probably bring it up.

It's okay, Mike was just going to be guesting on a college radio show (KTUH, Catharsis w/ DJ Dirty). I got him there in time for the second half of the show, which worked out well as there was another guest and both Mike and Motely Woo are rock geek windbags. They were on the air together briefly and I had to kick a path clear after all the name-dropping and band geneaologies. They spent most of the remaining time making out in the stacks. Then we had Greek food because the manager at the place down the street has a crush on the dj and let us order takeout even though they weren't going to open for another two hours. Dessert at Bubbies, a locally owned and operated ice cream shop that specializes in the unusual (so of course Mike had...Oreo cookie ice cream). I had chocolate eggnog mochi ice cream, which is a little disc of ice cream wrapped in a skin of mochi (sweet sticky rice paste). I like to let them soften and then bite a hole in the side and suck the ice cream out.

Later in the week, we ate at a noodle shop and watched Brokeback Mountain, and Mike wanted to know if I was okay to drive 'cause I cried during the movie. How Mike managed to not cry during a beautifully done romance film, I dunno.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I kicked off the new year with a trip to a national park, something I've been meaning to do. I don't know that I'll wind up getting a National Parks Passport and hectoring the park rangers for a stamp, but I do intend to begin planning trips to include a visit to a national park.

Volcanoes National Park has, well, volcanoes. Plus Mike F was in town, and what's niftier for a New Hampshire Boy Scout than a National Park with volcanoes?

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(this is not the caldera I was looking at while standing behind the Volcano House hotel. I didn't take pictures there; I was too busy realizing that I could tell the difference between the canteloupe and honeydew melon in my fruit cup only by the color and watching Mike chase a food container lid around).

Standing out back of the Volcano House hotel (located in the park, historical significance for being there for a long time or something), looking out over the caldera, I figured this is what tourism on the moon will look like. Standing there with a cup of watery orange juice, watching people mill around and take photos, looking out at the blasted landscape and seeing tour buses pull up and unload groups that dutifully trot out and take pictures of the scenic vista and then get back into the bus, on to the next photo opportunity. Looking around and thinking, “I’m not one of these tourist people,” then realizing that I so am. After all, I was standing next to the guy taking photos of the view with his mobile phone while having a chili dog for breakfast.

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I should have known better and checked when making the reservations, but the rooms don’t have television sets, a serious drawback when the Patriots are playing. Mike said he could live without seeing the game; I said he could also live without a kidney, but it wouldn’t be fun. He found a television in the hotel bar and booted the elderly man watching golf, to the delight of a handful of diehard football fans.
Highlights of Mike’s visit include: Mike moving the car to a different part of the hotel parking lot while I ran back in to get my notebook. Mike thinking he had gone colorblind in a shopping mall parking lot (red car + yellow/orange lighting = car looks gray). Back on O'ahu, me trying to avoid going to dinner with both my sisters and my nephew (sister saying, "have you eaten yet? me saying "uh gee, just picking up his luggage, have to get him to his cousins house, really"), failing, putting up with the torment all through dinner, the kids deciding Mike is much more fun than I am. My nephew and Mike throwing down over football (the kid thinks the Patriots suck). Going to the Poke Stop*, where Mike was brought to his knees by the menu and I got a soft shell shrimp po’boy with Hawaiian chili pepper remoulade, which made the inside of my mouth feel filthy in a really good way. Mike ate an entire tempura sushi roll, paused for a beer and a breather, then had a poke wrap sandwich. I could only manage half of my bowl of seafood gumbo, which I described to my brother as chicken and seafood in gravy over rice. Oh, and I picked up Mike when he arrived from LA (Mike, refresh my memory - what were you doing in LA?) and took him to my college surrogate parents house, where he was plied with local microbrew beers, Larry Byrd DVDs, and ice cream.

Zach, if the Appalachian Trail doesn't get emo enough for you, I'll take you to Volcanoes National and we can take a hike. Turn back? Hell no! Turn right!

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Yes! Devastation! thisishowifeelontheinside! imagine what this looks like at night!

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But only if you get down off your high horse, mister.

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*I have already subjected Angie to the lowdown on the Poke Stop - local boy trains under a couple of the big-shot chefs here, does an internship in VA, works for Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, decides he wants to a) move home and b) spend more time with his children. So he opens up a small poke shop. Pronounced poh-kay, poke refers to seafood (usually raw) in bite-sized pieces, dressed lightly and served as a snack or an appetizer (especially with beer). High-end restaurants have fancy-schmancy versions, grocery stores usually have 2 - 3 kinds in the seafood department, including ahi (tuna) poke (usually dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil, and onions) and tako (octopus) poke. Small fish shops generally carry the best poke, both in terms of variety and quality, but there aren’t many of those shops left. The chef who opened the poke stop opened his shop in a small working-class town, offering a mix of the familiar standbys, new variations, and what he calls “Casian” (Cajun-Asian). It started out as takeout only, but there are now two small tables with umbrellas, forced upon the shop by the landlord. A good move; I had only a short drive back to my sisters house with the aromas filling the car, but the tempura sushi roll is something that must be eaten hot. Anyone with a longer drive would otherwise be reduced to eating in the car or standing up in the parking lot.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I did nothing whatsoever on New Year's Eve. I worked a bunch of overtime and went home. Hurrah!

Man, I can't wait to get on the Trail. I'm losing it in Greensboro. I'm so bored I can't take it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Year End Briefs

Best moment: went to a Muslim wedding. The ceremony and reception were held at the same place. Men and women were separated the entire time. I’m talking two different halls. I never saw the groom, not even a glimpse. It was really cool but far different from anything I’d ever experienced. I only had to wear a head scarf during the religious ceremony.

Albums: A friend of mine let me borrow copies of Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits and the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.” I was really surprised to learn how many of Elvis Costello’s songs that I know and love. “Exile” is an awesome album, and I wish that I would have discovered it sooner in life. I might just have to invest $100 the next time the Stones come around these parts for a tour.

Food stuff: Attended two foodie parties recently. Highlights were green tea pork loin, butternut squash lasagna, crabmeat and hearts of palm salad over avocado halves, fig tapenade served over goat cheese and crackers.

New favorite dessert: blue cheese over honey comb (not the cereal) and bread with a sparkling dessert wine.

Movie suggestion: “Crash.” It was one of the most profound films that I’ve seen my entire life. If you haven’t watched it yet, make it a priority. I’ve had numerous, in-depth conversations about the film, and I plan on watching it again with a group of friends.

Reading recommendation: “Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. I managed to finish the book in two days. It’s about two Afghani boys – one is a have, the other is a have not.

My best holiday gifts: a necklace made of Venetian blown glass, purse note cards and a pet massager for Sandy.

A cocktail recommendation: toasted almond martini. Hmmmmmm, so good.

Resolution: be more spontaneous.

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Z: I’ve only given Cold Roses a good listen, and I really like it. I’ll get to the other ones at some point. What do you think of Filter Magazine?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My New Year's Eve tendency for the past several years has been to skip it. This year, it involved going to the Navy commissary, cutting pieces for a baby quilt, and using up the last of my Lush cupcake facial mask. The livestock and pets were all fine and nothing on the property caught on fire.

This year marked my first attempt to make New Year's Day more festive. It's mostly a way for me to have a baked ham. Thanksgiving and Christmas are turkey, because both of my sisters prefer turkey to ham and we can fit only one of the two into the oven. There really isn't any other time of the year when I have the time and enough people to feed to justify doing a ham - hello NYD! This year I didn't have to work, so we'll see if I do this next year, when I may have to work. Baked ham glazed with brown sugar, orange juice, and ground cloves, surrounded by canned sliced pineapple. Green beans, collard greens, lentil-tomato soup made with the remains of the Xmas turkey, red-eye gravy, and black japonica rice. I would have served black-eyed peas but I didn't buy any yesterday, thinking that I still had some at the house. I was a) wrong, and b) don't spend any money during NYD.

I love red-eye gravy. I made it with a coffee labeled "Goat Rock Roast"; similar to cooking with wine, I think using a coffee one would happily drink is important. Goat Rock Roast did not disappoint.

Quickly:

2005

1. Crooked Fingers - Dignity and Shame
Favorite record of the year, just barely beating the Decemberists. This one is so full of surprises that it never gets old.

2. The Decemberists - Picaresque
So much better than their second album. Better even than their great first record.

3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
It's amazing that people's brains can conceive of albums like this. Beauty.

4. Magnolia Electric Co. - Trials and Errors
This is what Neil Young and Crazy Horse would sound like if Neil Young would stop writing shitty concept albums and boring acoustic albums.

5. Spoon - Gimme Fiction
I have tried a hundred times to rip off Spoon for Dawn Chorus songs and it never works out.

6. My Morning Jacket - Z
Shorter than their last album and more varied in sound. Much, much better than anything they've ever done.

7. Uwharria half of the Crimson Spectre/Uwharria split
The Spectre stuff is good, but Uwharria are unbelievable. "Winter Bear" is the jam of the decade. "Porcupine turd bed!"

8. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
Did not like this record at first, but it has really grown on me. A few of the songs are a little dopey, though.

9. Lungfish - Feral Hymns
Lungfish is more raw here than on any record in their last few. This one doesn't come close to touch their last, Love Is Love, but still Lungfish is the world's most awesome band.

10. Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities
I don't know most the original versions of these songs. Maybe that's the best way to experience this album.

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Ajoe - I've only heard the Ryan Adams album(s) a couple of times. I'd like to have them, but I haven't gotten either yet. I like that he openly admits to trying to write Grateful Dead-like songs for Cold Roses.