Dining

Girlyman at Birchmere

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Last night was our 13th time seeing Girlyman live. The last time we saw them was the only time we took no guests. Last night, we set a new record (previously 19 at Highline Ballroom). Including us, we purchased 26 tickets for last night’s show. Two of our expected guests missed their flight in Chicago, so only 24 of us showed up. That worked out, since we sat at two tables for 12, right up against the stage.

Since I’ve written about Girlyman endlessly, I’ll make this one very short (ha, you say!). Last night was the last show on their East Coast CD Release Tour. I think they played 11 out of 12 consecutive nights. Given that, the change of weather, the various colder northern states they played in (we saw them on the opening night of this tour, in Norfolk, CT, and it was 40 degrees that night), it wasn’t a surprise that both Ty and Nate had pretty bad colds. 🙁

DorisMuramatsu TyGreenstein NateBorofsky

The show was still generally excellent, as excusing a slightly sub-par performance was easy to do. The crowd gave them rousing ovations for every song. The banter was top notch, so their brains weren’t foggy, it was just their throats that were froggy. 😉

They played a long and well-balanced set (songs from the new album, but also songs from the early ones). They were on stage for roughly 100 minutes, including the encore.

I don’t begrudge Girlyman their political views, but Nate couldn’t resist taking a shot at the Bush Years when introducing the song True Enough (a somewhat tongue-in-cheek homage to Obama). I’m just curious as to when Obama supporters will start owning this nation’s problems. It’s so easy to only blame the past, and I’m sure it’s fun. Until you own the problem, you can’t and won’t fix it. Time to follow your most favorite advocacy group, and Move On!

Opening for Girlyman on this tour (with the exception of Joe’s Pub) was Po’ Girl. They were very good at Infinity Hall when we saw them on September 30th. That night, they played a 30 minute set. Last night, they were better, in fact, significantly better. They played a 45 minute set, and while they repeated a few songs (two or three I think), there were a number of new (to us) ones in the mix, and they were all really good.

PoGirl BenSidelinger JJJones

While we knew what to expect, none of our guests did. I was overwhelmed (in the most positive sense) by the spontaneous reaction of all of those around me to how awesome they thought Po’ Girl was. The two couples sitting immediately near me both went out and bought a Po’ Girl CD (one during intermission, they couldn’t wait to get their hands on it) and the other one after the show. I think others in our group also bought CDs (both Po’ Girl and Girlyman) after the show.

Everyone thanked us after the show and told us how much they enjoyed it. I’m sure that the entire experience delivered that feeling. The food was excellent (as it always is at the Birchmere), and a number of people commented to me how surprised they were at that (clearly first timers there).

More than half of our party saw Girlyman before (at least once), so they could factor the colds out and still know how awesome Girlyman is (and can be), but I felt a little bad for the first timers, who didn’t quite get to experience the real magic of Girlyman, even though it was still a really good show!

A bunch of shots of a portion of our our gang:

Birchmere11 Birchmere1 Birchmere2 Birchmere3 Birchmere5 Birchmere6 Birchmere7 Birchmere8 Birchmere9

Mary Poppins

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Laura and Chris saw Mary Poppins on Broadway last year and raved about it. Aside from Wicked, we rarely see any shows unless we go with friends who are visiting NYC.

Chris’ parents are in town visiting them this week, and Chris and Laura bought four tickets to take them to see Mary Poppins. When they realized we would be around as well, they invited us to join, which we happily did.

Laura was able to get tickets at a nice discount, and even though she bought the tickets on separate days, we were able to get two tickets in the center orchestra, roughly 15 rows back, immediately in front of them.

Lois and I both felt that the sets were the most creative and technologically sophisticated of any show we’d seen on Broadway. Amazingly, Lois has never even seen the movie (Disney has long been searching for the one person in America who hasn’t!) so everything about the show was fresh to her!

The entire experience was delightful. Good moral tale, enough magic to please kids and adults alike, and excellent singing and dancing throughout. One very creative scene (when the stuffed animals come to life) is apparently being taken out of the show next week and replaced with something different. Considering how much I enjoyed that scene, I’m doubly glad we went last night!

The entire cast was wonderful, I didn’t feel that any of the performances were weak. That said, I feel it necessary to specifically call out the Mary Poppins actress, Scarlett Strallen, who was perfect in the role. While a few people (including Lois) rose to give the Bert character (Adam Fiorentino) a standing ovation, the entire audience rose to their feet when Scarlett came out for her bow.

It pays to have friends in high places. 😉 A good friend of Laura and Chris plays in the Mary Poppins orchestra and was in the pit last night. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife and spending a wonderful day with them hiking in Bear Mountain.

After the show, we all met him outside the stage door, and he took us for a tour back stage. It was fantastic. We got to stand on the stage, and look out at the theater, and get a sense for what the actors feel like. Apologies, but I couldn’t get the red eye out of this photo…

On Stage at Mary Poppins

On Stage at Mary Poppins

Looking up at all of the cables and gadgets that make all the magic happen was wonderful too, and didn’t detract from the mystery in any way (since they were all sleeping at the time).

Cables Off Stage at Mary Poppins

Cables Off Stage at Mary Poppins

We then walked down in the orchestra pit itself, which was interesting too. It’s quite a maze down there, and all of us commented on how it was much warmer than we expected. At least they have a bunch of fans spread out for the musicians.

After the tour we walked back to the apartment at a leisurely pace, and had some of Laura’s award-winning (well, I don’t know if they’re formal awards, but they are from me!) apple pie on the deck. The weather in NYC yesterday could not have been more delightful.

Before heading to the show, we had dinner at Bobby Van’s (the one on 50th Street). Getting there was a bit of a nightmare, because the Pulaski Parade was still underway, and most of the cross streets were closed off. We enjoyed a terrific meal there, with excellent service, but had to rush out at the end to make the curtain. That worked out, as it left room for Laura’s apple pie, since we had to skip dessert at Bobby Van’s. 🙂

Bobby Van's

Bobby Van's

An absolutely delightful afternoon/evening with wonderful people. One of life’s true pleasures! Thanks all for including us!

Ceili Rain at Tin Angel

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If you’ve visited this space before, then you know we love Ceili Rain. After listening to them for years, we finally got to see them live this summer and I wrote about it in this post.

That show was awesome in every respect. That said, it was an outdoor concert, and that has it’s own feel (and in this case, particular problems). I was talking to the drummer of Ceili Rain (the amazing Bill Bleistine), and he told me that one of the best places for us to catch one of their shows indoors was at Tin Angel in Philadelphia. Shortly after seeing them at Joyful Noise II, they announced a show at the Tin Angel, and we immediately purchased tickets!

Tin Angel is a pretty small club, with a very nice atmosphere and vibe. It has the feel of a long railroad car. The stage is teeny tiny, and with Ceili Rain showing up with a full band (six people on the stage), there were some acrobatic moves necessary to stay out of each other’s way (especially given how active Bob Halligan Jr. always is!).

They performed the same entrance last night as they did at Joyful Noise III, which was surprising and impressive given the vast difference in the venues. Bill Bleistine, playing a drum strapped around his neck (as in drum and fife), along with John Dreibelbis playing the bagpipes, came up the stair case in the back, so that at first you just heard the drums and pipes, then you saw them. The crowd clapped to Bill’s beat, and was already in a frenzy by the time the procession reached the stage, and the full band joined them!

Drum and Pipes Processional Ceili Rain Arriving on Stage

The majority (all?) of the crowd were hard-core Ceili Rain fans. Nearly everyone knew the words to every song, and reveled in the opportunity to sing out loud with Bob (or on occasion without him!), when prompted. Since I sing That’s All the Lumber out loud in my car all the time, it was a hoot to sing it at the top of my lungs last night, with 100 other people. 🙂

Each of them could sustain my interest for an entire set, even if they were on stage alone, that’s how good they are as musicians, individually. Obviously, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but I’ll give a sentence or two on each of the parts. Standing left-to-right on the stage:

John Dreibelbis (I couldn’t find a good link for him) played the pipes, tin whistles and flute. He was good throughout, but I was significantly more impressed with Burt Mitchell who we saw at Joyful Noise III.

John Dreibelbis

John Dreibelbis

Joe Davoli on the fiddle. Awesome, as he was the last time. He has an incredible touch on the fiddle, and when he took solos (specifically, on Yankee’s Revenge, which he played mostly with John), his fingers ran up and down the fiddle like greased lightning!

Joe Davoli

Joe Davoli

Bob Halligan Jr. on vocals and acoustic guitar. I could listen to him sing a capella all night, what a voice, it’s really an instrument, not just a delivery vehicle for lyrics. He’s also superb on the guitar. He’s excellent on keyboards too, but Tin Angel is way too small to have crammed that in as well.

Bob Halligan Jr Bob Kicking

Raymond Arias on electric guitar and vocals. As I mentioned in the last post, Raymond’s voice and harmonies complement Bob perfectly. His guitar play last night was on fire in general, but really smoking in a rock and roll medley that highlighted him singing lead and playing lead guitar.

Raymond Arias

Raymond Arias

Kevin de Souza played bass. He was incredible throughout the set. Given the size of the stage, and the pressure they had to not go over (there was another show after Ceili Rain), Kevin didn’t get to take a solo like he did at Joyful Noise III. We missed that, given how great he is, but he still kept the bottom full all night, and toward the end of the show (I believe on Love Travels, but I wouldn’t swear to it), he threw in some really fast bass lines at the end of the song.

Kevin de Souza

Kevin de Souza

Bill Bleistine was squeezed into the back of the stage trapped behind his drum set. That didn’t stop him from reinforcing my belief that he’s one the best drummers I’ve ever seen/heard live (and I’m a big fan of quite a number of drummers!). The man is just amazing, and tireless. Keeping up with Bob’s energy on any instrument is difficult enough, but the drummer better do cardio and weight training as well, or he’ll easily pass out during one of these shows!

Bill Bleistine

Bill Bleistine

They were on stage for 95 minutes, and were definitely being rushed by the club to wrap it up and clear the stage and club for the next show. I understand the commercial nature of the business, so I’m not annoyed, but it was disappointing nonetheless. These were adoring fans who wanted either more music, or more time to schmooze with their idols, and the band was certainly happy to give them either (both I suspect), but it wasn’t to be.

Most of the audience respectfully caught up with the various band members as they were packing up their instruments and then we all said goodnight and piled out into a lovely Philadelphia evening.

On our way out, Lois bought six more CDs, even though we own them all. Buying CDs at shows is one of the most direct ways that you can support the bands that you love. When we buy extras like this, it’s always for the purpose of giving them out as gifts, to introduce new potential fans. Try it, you’ll like it! 🙂

That’s it for the music. On to our back story, if you have the patience for a bit more magic. 🙂

In the post about Joyful Noise III, I called out Rich Baringer, the main coordinator of the event. Right after we bought the tickets to the show, Lois said that she thought it would be special (for us, for Rich and his wife, and for Ceili Rain as well) if we were to invite Rich and Mary Beth to join us for the show. I thought it was a great idea. We reached out, and they agreed.

A few weeks later, Lois was exchanging emails with another member of their church, who had been involved in the fund-raising aspects of the show, and with whom we interacted quite a bit during the day, and we invited him along with his wife (we had not met her yet) to join as well. They too accepted, and we bought two more tickets.

To get a reserved spot at Tin Angel you have to eat dinner downstairs (street level) at their restaurant, Serrano, otherwise, the show is first-come first-served. We made a reservation for six people at 5:30pm (the show began at 7:30pm).

The food was exquisite (all six of us had different dishes, and all raved about their meal). We got to know the other two couples better, and are very happy for it, because our instinct that they were exactly the type of people we would like to be friends with couldn’t have been more on target! We both really enjoyed meeting Bruce’s wife (Bunny), as well as enjoying all of the conversation, food, and the show, with four lovely people.

Dinner Friends Dinner Friends

While I highly recommend the food at Serrano, and the staff were all very nice as well, it wasn’t all smooth as silk. The place is as long and narrow as Tin Angel (one building, separate floors), and couldn’t have been noisier if they were pumping in heavy metal (I think the noise was all from dinner conversations!). We had to scream at each other to be heard.

Our entrees came out very late, which made us nervous about missing the start of the show, and caused us to wolf them down. To repeat, they were fantastic, so in the end, it all worked out well, but a slightly more pleasant dinner experience could have been had with less noise, and the food served 15 minutes earlier…

We headed home after the show and walked into the apartment at 11:20pm. Not too bad in terms of the logistics, and well worth the 4-hour round-trip drive to enjoy such a wonderful evening with so many wonderful people!

Girlyman at Infinity Hall

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Last night was our 12th time seeing Girlyman perform live. You’d think there wouldn’t be an opportunity for too many firsts but you’d be wrong. Amazingly, this was the first time we’ve seen Girlyman where we went alone. In the previous 11 shows, the smallest group we brought was two additional people, and the largest was 19 (including us).

Girlyman recently released their brand new studio CD, Everything’s Easy. I reviewed that CD in this post. A few weeks ago, they toured in Canada. Last night, they began an East Coast tour in support of this new CD.

Last night’s show was at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT. This is a beautifully restored building (from 1883) that opened for live music just a year ago. In May, they also opened a top-notch Bistro.

Infinity Hall Outside

Infinity Hall Outside

Infinity Hall Inside

Infinity Hall Inside

I’ve written about Girlyman so many times, that regular readers would be bored if I just repeated how wonderful they are/were last night. I’ll just mention a few things that were different (keeping in harmony with the opening paragraph, where I say there were a few firsts last night!).

Nate played a little electric keyboards (mostly with his left hand, with his baritone electric guitar still strapped on). This was a keyboard supplied by their opening act (who I will cover after I say a few more things about Girlyman).

Nate

Nate

Ty played a red electric guitar on a few numbers.

Ty Electric Guitar

Ty Electric Guitar

Doris was just her usual awesome self:

Doris

Doris

For roughly 2/3’s of the set, Girlyman had a drummer on stage with a full drum set. Her name is JJ Jones, who is the drummer for the opening act. She was excellent, throughout both sets. What was particularly interesting for me was hearing Joyful Sign (the second song of last night’s set), with a full drum set, live. It has a full drum set on the studio CD, so this was a more faithful reproduction of that.

I still love Girlyman without the drums, with or without Ty playing the djembe, but having a good drummer supporting them (and freeing Ty to play more guitar, something I’ve mentioned in some other posts), was a very nice touch. I’ll be fine with that becoming the norm, or reverting to no drums, if/when they stop touring with this opening act.

Finally, Nate was in rare form last night. His tuning songs were great and plentiful. All of their banter was hysterical. The audience ate up every drop of the music and laughter. They were on for just about 100 minutes.

Opening for Girlyman was Po’ Girl, the same group that they toured with in Canada, except that there, the roles were reversed, and Girlyman was the opening act.

Po’ Girl is made up of two exceptionally talented women, Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira, both singer/songwriters with fantastic voices and gorgeous harmonies between them. Accompanying them (and I guess now technically part of Po’ Girl) are Ben Sidelinger and the aforementioned JJ Jones. Between the four of them, they play a wide range of instruments, all expertly!

Allison Russell appears to be the front-person for the group. She has a wonderful voice and personality, and plays the clarinet, guitar, glockenspiel (and perhaps I missed one or two others!). Her clarinet play is outstanding, and unexpected in this type of group.

Allison Russell

Allison Russell

Awna Teixeira sings beautifully and plays guitar, electric bass, a small accordion, electric keyboards, glockenspiel and a bicycle bell (probably more). She has an energy on stage that draws you in.

Awna Teixeira

Awna Teixeira

Ben Sidelinger played the banjo, dobro, guitar (acoustic with Po’ Girl, and electric during the joint encore with Girlyman), electric bass and bicycle bell. He’s superb on all of them. As you will see from his site (linked above), he built the guitars that Po’ Girl was using! He also comes across as one of the nicest people around!

Ben Sidelinger

Ben Sidelinger

JJ Jones played the drums and a bicycle bell. She also played the tambourine on one number during the Girlyman set. She was as wonderful playing with/for Po’ Girl as she was for Girlyman. Given that she played both sets, and was highly active throughout, she’s a kinetic wonder! She also delivered on a number of rim shots and other appropriately effective sounds during many of Nate’s comedic forays.

JJ Jones

JJ Jones

Po’ Girl played a 30 minute set, and as mentioned above, joined Girlyman on stage for an energetic rendition of their always wonderful Son of a Preacher Man encore.

Girlyman Po Girl All

Girlyman Po Girl All

Girlyman Po Girl Most

Girlyman Po Girl Most

Infinity Hall is nearly a two hour drive from our house. Given that this was opening night for the tour, and that we will be missing them a week from tonight when they play at Joe’s Pub (our favorite place in general, and the place where we first discovered them), we were happy to make the drive.

We drove up early, intending to eat dinner in Norfolk. We knew they had a Bistro, but we actually didn’t realize it was a full-time restaurant that operated separately from the theater (they are in the same physical building). In addition to us not fully researching the Bistro in advance, we also were hoping to surprise Girlyman so we decided not to eat at the Bistro, just in case they might spot us. 😉

Just a few doors down from Infinity Hall is an Italian Restaurant / Pizza place called Mizza’s Pizza. We ate there and both thoroughly enjoyed our meals (good value too!). They were reasonably empty while we were there, so we ended up spending much of the time chatting with a young man who was one of our servers (he’s engaged to our other server). A delightful conversation getting to know a very interesting person. We’ll look him up again in the future.

Afterward, we found out that the Bistro is awesome (from a number of folks, including the Girlypeople themselves, and they are definitely foodies!). Next time, we’ll eat there, even though we really enjoyed our meals and the people at the Italian place.

Our surprise was only partial. Doris came out before their set and Lois got to tap her on the shoulder. So, we surprised one of them. We caught up briefly after the show, but all of us were dog tired, and had long drives ahead, so we skedaddled and got home at 12:40am.

We had a great time. Thanks Po’ Girl and Girlyman, as well as all of the folks at Infinity Hall (and the Italian Restaurant for that matter) for making last night a great night out!

To Fifty Years More

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Note: this post is guest-blogged by my lovely (and incredible) wife, Lois. 🙂

We received this invitation in early August (from the wife of the man in whose honor the event would be held):

50YearInvitation

……….and attended yesterday.

What an incredible celebration to honor the life of our extraordinary friend and his accomplishments.

But no less, we honored the journey this couple has taken as so kind and generous friends, parents, siblings, children to their parents, and hard-working, contributing people. Near the start of the festivities, the wife introduced every person in the room, extolling their accomplishments and how the connections came to be. So she made certain there were no strangers in that room. We are able to reach out easily to this great extended clan.

Wonderful tributes were presented to the honoree: by his wife; by his mentor/boss and finally by his professor….all of whom are steadfast friends traveling through life with them.

Speech1 Speech2 Speech3 Speech4

The wife was my resident advisor freshman year of college. That I’m still part of her journey with her husband, children, grandchildren, my husband – is part of the magic of Life and fills me with gratitude and joy!

LoisHostess

She and I sat in a room some many years ago when her first child was about to be born. She asked me to play the guitar, and a few hours later, her son entered this world. You may draw your own conclusions about the impact of those songs. 🙂

Her husband – as she – is the kindest, smartest, funniest, most spiritual and joyful of people. They embrace others far and wide and make a positive difference in all the lives they touch. They care about ‘their own’. But ‘their own’ extends to the widest of communities.

ProudGrandpa

They travel the world, have amazing adventures, and yet most important of all to them are family and friends. They brought me along from age 17 when we first met, through to now, helping me with some of the difficult times I endured, and celebrating the joyful ones.

They each had milestone birthdays…..he last year, she last week. It would not surprise anyone to think they’d celebrated 35 (him) and 30 (her). With their boundless energy and excitement in life, it is our hope we will be celebrating with them long into the next fifty years. We love you!

Back to me! 🙂

We apologize in advance for the graininess of some of the pictures, and for the impromptu poses some of the guests were caught in. Lois avoided the flash most of the night, and tried to get candid shots throughout, so treat these more to get a feel of a wonderful evening, rather than portraits. Each photo can be clicked on to see a larger image.

Normally, I make clicked images open in a new window/tab. I didn’t do that here, so if you click on any image to see a larger one, you’ll need to use the back button to return to the post:

Andy FatherSon FlowersMenu Friends1 Friends2 Friends3 Friends4 Friends5 Friends6 Friends7 Friends8 HonoreeHadar HonoreeLoisHadar Jay JustinHadar Twins

Wicked Again

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Yes, last night, we were Wicked again (oh, I mean we saw Wicked again). 😉

It was our eighth time (yes, we love it that much). We were taken by our wonderful goddaughter and her wonderful husband, dinner included (more on that after a quick review of the show). Thanks!

There was a brief time when Wicked was the live performance that we had seen more than any other. That’s long past, as we’re in double digits for Girlyman and the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe’s Pub, so, I think that Laura and Chris felt that they needed to help us jumpstart the official catch-up race.

The last time we saw Wicked, here’s what I wrote. As you can see, I can be pretty picky about the leads (Glinda and Elphaba). Even when I’m disappointed in one or the other, I still love the show overall, but I definitely go each time with a little nervousness.

A friend of ours went a few months ago alone, and raved about the two leads. She’s a huge Wicked fan, but only from the CD, having never seen the show. So, I was very encouraged, but I was also afraid that she didn’t have a frame of reference. After hearing her rave, I looked up the leads on YouTube, and I too was impressed (most of the YouTube videos for the people I was disappointed in clearly pointed out their inability to perform the role as intended!).

The same women were in the show last night, so my expectations were high.

Playing the part of Glinda was Erin Mackey. Dee Roscioli played Elphaba. OK, you can stop holding your breath now, both of these ladies are spectacular, in every respect. Amazing voices, terrific acting, perfect comedic timing, etc.

Lois felt that Dee was the best Elphaba we’ve seen live (we never saw Idina). I wouldn’t argue hard, but if she wasn’t the best, she was a coin flip away from Eden Espinosa.

I was completely blown away by Erin Mackey. Her range was unbelievable, hitting the highest highs effortlessly (at least it appeared effortless), holding those notes as long as she liked. Her comedic timing and acting was flawless.

With all that, I declare her tied as the best Glinda we’ve seen, since I can’t find a single flaw in any of the four performances we saw Kate Reinders in, nor the two times we saw Annaleigh Ashford. That means we’ve had better luck with the Glinda role, as seven of eight performances were flawless. Either the Elphaba role is much harder, or they don’t cast as carefully for Elphaba…

Anyway, last night was another magical performance, and as long as these two are in the starring roles, we’ll be delighted to go back again with any of our friends who are curious as to what drives us mad about this show!

Oh, I should mentioned that our tickets were fourth row, dead center orchestra. Holy cow, you could see beads of sweat on their foreheads if you cared to look that carefully. 😉

Wicked Cast

Wicked Cast

Before the show, we met Laura and Chris at a restaurant that they chose, that none of us had been to before. It’s a chain called Ted’s Montana Grill that just recently opened it’s first location in NYC.

I hadn’t done any research (other than checking out the menu online) before showing up there. We got there a minute before Laura, and were seated at a table for four. Seated opposite Lois, with his back to her, was a distinguished looking gentleman.

A minute later, he stood up, and Lois, involuntarily, said “You’re Ted Turner!” (yes, out loud). He said “Yes, thanks for stopping by Ted’s!”. Ah, so that’s the Ted in Ted’s Montana Grill! 🙂

Here’s what he looked like to us when we first sat down:

Ted Turner

Ted Turner

We had an excellent meal there (I had the New Mexico Burger, highly recommended!). The only complaint in our group was that some of the dishes were salted a little too heavily.

At the end of our meal, Ted came by and asked what we thought of it, and he got four thumbs up. 🙂

They are trying to be very green as well, which is laudable, and they don’t sacrifice any of the experience you might otherwise expect in order to achieve that. Again, kudos to Ted and the entire organization there.

After the show, the four of us strolled back to the apartment, amongst the chaos that is NYC during the UN General Assembly week. It was a perfect evening, from the minute we sat down in the restaurant, until the minute we set foot back in the apartment.

Thanks again to Laura and Chris for conceiving and executing (and treating) a night that we will never forget! 🙂

Forty Years or One Day?

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This was a very big year for two of our dearest friends. In fact, the past 40 days alone have seen a number of milestones and celebrations.

The wife just had a big birthday (had a zero at the end), their first grandchild turned one, the husband had a birthday, and to cap it off, they just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!

For her birthday, the husband and their kids pulled off a fantastic surprise party in Richmond. More than 100 people were there to share in the festivities, including Lois and me. You would think that this would be enough, and for most husbands, it would be.

But, this is no ordinary couple. Everyone who knows them, loves them, no exceptions. That’s true of them as individuals, and as a couple. That would be extraordinary (and it is), except that it’s topped by their love for each other. That’s why I titled this post Forty Years or One Day?

If you met them today, you might think that they met recently and fell madly in love and you are getting to witness that wonderful (typically all-too-short) period when a couple’s love is so obvious, and explodes all around, because it can’t be contained.

So, while they make sure to show their love each and every day, they also enjoy making a big deal out of milestones (not just big ones). 40 years of marriage certainly qualifies as a milestone, and as a big one at that.

The husband decided to to craft a surprise trip to NY for his bride. Our first hint (which I missed, completely, even after the fact) was a Direct Message (DM) via Twitter, from their son, asking me for the address of The Peking Duck House (our favorite restaurant in NYC).  I replied immediately, and didn’t think about it.

Minutes later, Lois got an email from the husband, asking the same thing, but also explaining why, and inviting us to join them for dinner (this past Sunday). We were scheduled to be at Zope this week, but we cut our trip short and returned to be a part of this incredible experience.

The Duck House was just one part of the surprise trip. I’ll cover the rest in a sec. But first, it occurred to us that while the husband was doing all of the surprising, we might help pull off a bit of a surprise for him as well. Lois reached out to both of his kids and invited them to come up and be at the Duck House to surprise both of them as well.

Both couples had commitments for that night, but the son was able to shift his. Unfortunately, the daughter’s commitment involved five other couples, and was impossible to move.

The adventure began this past Sunday (their actual anniversary day). When they awoke, he told her that she needed to pack a bag, but he wouldn’t tell her where they were going. When they got to the airport in Richmond, he still didn’t tell her, so it wasn’t until they were at the gate that she new it was NYC.

When they landed, they went straight to the hotel. From there, he took her shopping for a new engagement ring. After ring shopping, he took her to see Wicked on Broadway. After the show, he suggested they eat at their favorite NY restaurant, the Duck House. Obviously, she didn’t resist.

Now we need to catch up a bit with the parallel story. Roughly the same time that the happy couple was heading to the airport in Richmond, their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild were doing the same thing. Luckily (and semi-accidentally!), they were on a different airline, flying in to a different airport in NYC.

We picked up the kids at LaGuardia and headed to our apartment. We had a wonderful lunch with Laura and Chris as well (who had also been invited on that first day to join for dinner).

When the folks were at Wicked, the kids went to their hotel and arranged to have a hand-written, wonderful gift, from both of their children, placed into their room. They also arranged for Champagne and Strawberries to be delivered later that night to the room. Awesome!

While they were out, we got to play proxy grandparents. Lois fed the baby, and I put her down for a nap. Hadar, what did you put a one-year-old on/in to sleep safely? I’m glad you asked! A week earlier, Lois and I borrowed a crib from a friend of ours, and dropped it off at the apartment on our way to Zope. I set it up the night before our friends came to town, so we were all prepared, Mickey Mouse bedding included! 🙂

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

The Crib

The Crib

Shortly before 6pm, we all headed up to the Duck House. The happy couple arrived via bicycle rickshaw about 10 minutes later. What an incredible surprise. Of course, the mom started crying (but that wasn’t a surprise to us, which is why I said of course). 😉 The dad was surprised too, which was the whole point! Don’t believe me that the mom cried? Here you go:

Mama Crying

Mama Crying

One other person there was surprised. The baby was so happy to see grandma, as you can plainly see:

Surprised Both Ways

Surprised Both Ways

Earlier, Lois and daughter-in-law bought a fantastic cake and had the appropriate Happy Anniversary decorated on top. Yummy.

Aside from (understandably) missing their daughter, one other couple was missing from the festivities. Laura’s folks, who introduced us to this wonderful family, and introduced us to the Duck House as well! They were in South Africa finishing up a long and well earned vacation.

Does that distance stop our crowd? Nope! Even though it was 1:30am in South Africa, the husband (correctly) insisted that we get them to join the celebration in real-time. So, he pulled out his blackberry, and called South Africa. He put the blackberry on speaker phone, and we all had a long and wonderful conversation with our missing friends. Hopefully, they fell back asleep. 😉

We had our typically amazing meal. Here are all of us (minus Lois, the photographer) outside:

All of Us

All of Us

We all walked back to our apartment and relaxed and laughed and caught up on our deck. We encouraged the couple to leave a little earlier than they otherwise might have, because we all knew that there were more surprises awaiting them in the room. 🙂

The rest of us stayed up way too late, but had a great time, so the only complaint is how tired we still feel, days later…

The next morning we had a great breakfast on the deck with the kids.

Deck Breakfast

Deck Breakfast

Later that morning, they went to meet their folks to help finalize the ring selection. They then had lunch together and then headed over to FAO Schwartz for story time for the baby. From there, the folks headed to the airport, and back to Richmond.

The kids had a later flight, so they returned to the apartment. After relaxing a bit, we took over the proxy grandparent duties again, and guarded over the baby while she took a long nap (NYC is very tiring, at all ages!), and the parents got to explore the city a bit. At 6pm they got in a car and headed for the airport.

A whirlwind, but an absolutely wonderful one. We are blessed to be a part of their extended family and were thrilled to be able to arrange our schedule to fully participate.

The baby captured how we all felt about the occasion:

Smiling Baby

Smiling Baby

Want to know what we think of the bride? Lois and I wrote the lyrics to this song (music and vocals by Jack Kapanka) and her daughter and son-in-law put together this amazing slide show to go with the song:

Earl Klugh and Bob James at Blue Note

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Earl Klugh is my favorite solo jazz guitarist, and has been for 30 years! Bob James is my favorite solo jazz pianist, and has been, for nearly as long! I’ve seen each of them perform (separately) at the Blue Note, but last night, finally got to see them play together, for the 30th anniversary of the release of their album One on One (I own three of their collaborative CDs).

When we saw Earl at the Blue Note, I covered it extensively, including a very long and detailed back-story (how I discovered Earl, how I tried to get Lois to see Earl for our first date, etc.). If you haven’t read it, I personally recommend it. 😉

Since this was a collaboration last night, there were fewer supporting players on stage with them. Earl brought along his normal bass player, Al Turner, and his drummer, Ron Otis, both of whom were with him the last time we saw them. Both keyboard players were absent, naturally, since Bob James is such a master at the keyboards. The horn player (the great Lenny Price) wasn’t there either.

Sitting left-to-right on the stage:

Bob James played the piano (a grand), but it had to have electronic components, because he had cool sounding organ sounds on some numbers. He was beyond brilliant last night. Practically every time he took a solo he received a rousing ovation. Half way through most solos, you could feel people dying to clap to let him know how much they were enjoying his play.

Bob James

Bob James

Earl Klugh was superb, but for the most part, took shorter leads than Bob did, which made people miss opportunities for applause, because they didn’t expect him to pass off the lead so quickly. Don’t misunderstand, he got plenty of applause, and most of the songs were his compositions (fabulous set selection last night!), but he wasn’t as highlighted as Bob James was.

Earl Klugh

Earl Klugh

Al Turner was fabulous all night (mostly on the electric bass, but on two songs, on an upright bass as well). Toward the end of the song Angela (the theme from the TV show Taxi, written by Bob James), Al took a smokin’ bass solo that rocked the house. People were applauding wildly long before he was done, which is cool, and he appreciated it, but it also means you’re missing part of the solo.

Al Turner

Al Turner

Ron Otis was incredible all night. A soft but inspirational touch all night. Even though it was soft (appropriately), his hands were flying, keeping an extremely up-tempo beat for Bob and Earl to dance around.

Ron Otis

Ron Otis

During the encore, Ron took a long solo, or rather, a long duel, with Bob on the piano. Ron would take a solo, then Bob would do something dazzling on the piano, and when he stopped, Ron would counter with a drum solo to match what Bob did on the piano. They kept it up for a few minutes, and it was awesome (both of them). Great way to close a great show!

In total, they were on stage for 80 minutes (they never left the stage to play the one song encore, which would take too long at the Blue Note).

Last night I had the Grilled Salmon (I usually have the steak there), and it was perfection. I haven’t been highlighting the food aspect of many of these clubs lately, but I feel compelled to do so now. I believe that Lois enjoyed her chopped salad nearly as much as I enjoyed my meal. 😉

Another theSetNYC Show

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Three weeks ago, we attended our first theSet NYC show, documented here. While the show was a little choppy, we really liked the place, Le Poisson Rouge (specifically, the Gallery Bar). We think the people behind theSet are wonderful, and we believe in their vision for showcasing upcoming talent.

So, when I saw that they had another show scheduled in the same place last night, and I knew that it was our only free night in an 11-day run of social commitments (all fun, so don’t feel badly for us), instead of using the one night off to collapse (a very tempting choice), I really wanted to support their efforts.

Oh, and the fact that the Kobe Sliders (Sloppy Joe’s) and Spicy Tuna Roll (and the Edamame for Lois) were beckoning to me, didn’t hurt either. 😉

While there was a nice crowd the first time we attended (July 6th), it was a holiday weekend (duh) so I shouldn’t have been surprised (pleasantly!) that there were probably nearly twice as many people last night. It will still comfortable in the space, but it was much closer to a practical limit than the first time.

There were also more performers last night (nine in total), but again, the host Kai Raziq (the only repeat from the last show) kept things moving along very nicely.

Since I’ll cover each artist separately, in at least one paragraph, this will be another long post. For those who are more interested in my overall impression of the night, and theSet NYC in general, I’ll get that out of the way now, so you can skip the individual comments, and my summary.

To repeat from my intro above, I really like what theSet NYC is doing. We thoroughly enjoyed last night’s show (more than the first one), even though there were definitely some lulls in the action (low points).

It’s not fair to judge or criticize any of the performers by the same standard you’d use if you went to see a full set by a professional comedian or singer, especially one you’d pay top-dollar for. The point of these shows is to see up-and-coming talent, hear something fresh (hopefully), and watch people try to hone their craft.

So, bottom line, a very entertaining evening that we’ll be sure to repeat again!

Last general note about theSet. They go out of their way to create a safe atmosphere for the performers. We love that! It’s OK not to like a performer or their material. It’s not OK to heckle them, be rude in other ways, disrupt their performance, or ruin other people’s opportunity to enjoy a routine you might not be enjoying. Bravo for that!

Normally, we put up at least one photo of each performer. For whatever reason, every picture Lois took last night came out so dark, that I decided not to post any, since each performer is  linked and you can see a ton of information about them (including photos). Sorry.

Last night there were seven comedians and two singers. I’ll cover the comedians first, in a block, in the order that we liked them (like last time), then the singers (so don’t assume that all seven comedians were better than either singer).

Harrison Greenbaum closed the show, but we both considered him the most consistently funny and polished. Tons of self-deprecating humor. Very comfortable delivery. Interacts with the audience well. He clearly already performs at a professional level.

He finished the show with a magic trick that was clever, engaging, funny, and left the crowd laughing hard (and a little amazed) as they walked out. theSet was correct to put him up last!

Dan Nainan bills himself as a 100% clean comedian. Lois prefers that greatly. I don’t mind stooping to a lower level, if the muck ads comedic value. Most often it doesn’t, so I admire Dan (and the likes of Jerry Seinfeld) who have to work a little harder to make us laugh, without having the shock value to work with.

For the most part, Dan was terrific. Like Harrison, he’s already a pro, no doubt. The difference in the ease in delivering the lines between a pro and an amateur is painfully obvious.

He took one trip off the rails (in our opinion only, as the audience was going crazy for it, so keep that in mind!). He did a George Bush imitation. He had it down pretty well, and the few lines were funny enough. But, because he’s an easy (and in our opinion a tired) target, Dan continued too long. Making fun of different words that Bush flubbed isn’t a new joke, so after a few, that’s enough.

He had an opportunity to be let off the hook. One of the security walkie talkies interrupted him in mid-routine, and he stopped to comment on it. Then he said “Where was I?”, and after a pause, jumped right back into the Bush routine.

As opposed to Harrison, to us, that meant Dan peaked earlier, and ended on a weaker note, which isn’t the way to leave your audience. Still, we’d happily go see him again. He’s funny, and has an excellent delivery!

Sam Morril has a completely self-deprecating style. For the most part, his material is fresh and funny. On occasion, his delivery is a bit inconsistent. Sometimes, total comfort to great effect, at other times, reasonably awkward. Even in the awkward moments, you can see the content peek through, but if Sam raises his game just a bit, he has what it takes material-wise.

Sean Donnelly was very different than Sam, but essentially as good overall. Lois’ instinct was to list him above Sam, barely, and mine was to list Sam first, barely. Sean opened the show, which can be brutal or great. You don’t have to be better than anyone else, yet, but you also don’t have a warmed-up crowd, and you have no clues as to what they like and don’t like.

From that perspective, Sean did an excellent job. He too is very comfortable on the stage, and has a quality delivery for the most part. Like Sam, a few times, he lost focus and had a little trouble getting back on track. He’s not afraid to engage the audience, and was reasonably adept at it.

For the most part, his routine was quite clean. So, when he launched into one vulgar joke, he got a little more mileage out of the f-word, since he hadn’t used it yet. The joke itself was reasonably funny. Ironically, while his use of the f-word was in context, and not gratuitous, it was also totally unnecessary.

There were many other words that would have substituted well (I think better), and added euphemistic color to the joke. Oh well, I don’t write ‘em, I just judge ‘em. 😉

Nore Davis is an inventive, comfortable comedian, who loses his way a little too easily. I’ll give two specific examples in a minute, but first I’ll make the generic point. Nore’s delivery is terrific. He has command of the crowd, and has a smooth delivery that was consistent. His content is pretty funny. So, what’s the problem?

When he came on stage, he had that quality that immediately grabs your attention. When he started his routine, he (and we) realized that there was a ton of reverb left on the mic, since he followed a singer. The person handling the sound (Pim, filling in for Leo) had stepped away, so Nore was on his own.

While waiting for Pim to return, he made a very funny, and very vulgar ad-lib (about feeling like he was trapped in a cavernous vagina). It was funny, so I’m fine with that. But, he couldn’t help himself (in my opinion), and he pushed the joke too far, and ended up saying and doing some over-the-top crude things to keep that one clever (and quick!) line alive…

One more example. He told an excellent joke about getting a portable CD player for his birthday (the very last one every sold, and he told that part really well too!). He said that everyone made fun of him because he could only carry around 12 songs at a time, all from the same artist. Even grandma laughed at him, telling him that she had 15,000 songs on her new iHear hearing aid!

Funny, right? Indeed! And, his delivery was flawless. We were laughing our heads off, until he couldn’t stop himself from immediately saying “what a bitch!”. He then cursed grandma a bit more. Bottom line, that is for shock value only, hearing someone calling their grandma a bitch. It didn’t add a single thing to the already wildly successful joke!

Anyway, not to beat it to death, but he overuses that specific word, along with other (potentially) equally offensive ones. Yes, yes, it makes me sound like a prude, but like I said already, the vagina ad-lib was hilarious (until he pushed it too far).

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Nore Davis become a very big name in comedy in the years to come (even if he doesn’t change his act), but, if he finds a slightly cleaner style, I’ll bet his appeal will be that much broader.

Brandon Greenspan has some clever material, buried in a consistently poor delivery. His style is self-deprecating, so it’s possible that he tries intentionally for a specific delivery style (like Woody Allen does, or Steven Wright), but in my opinion, it isn’t working (or it isn’t deliberate). He simply comes across as not self confident, and easily distracted on the stage.

Both he and the next comic had to refer to their notes a few times. That’s really not a big deal, but we’re talking about 7-10 minute sets here, which isn’t all that much to memorize, so either he/they aren’t working hard enough to prepare, or they’re overly nervous (I’ll have a bit more to say about that in my summary).

To repeat, I think he’s a clever guy, with some interesting comedic insights, which felt fresh (so he’s writing interesting material at home), but he needs lots of practice delivering it. For that, shows like last night are perfect. I would see him again, willingly, so I don’t want you to read this and think it was hard to take.

Scout Durwood was not originally listed on the schedule for last night’s show. On the other hand, two other comics were listed that didn’t show, so getting Scout at the last minute was good for their lineup, timing-wise. Unfortunately, as you see her listed last on our list, she didn’t add too much to the comedy…

I would have listed her above Brandon, but Lois felt more strongly about the order than I did, so I swapped them (like I did in the last review when Lois felt strongly about one of the comics).

Like Sam above, her delivery is inconsistent. On some jokes, she’s a complete pro (delivery-wise). On some, she comes across as a rank amateur. She too needed to consult her cheat sheet. Again, no biggie, but she looked at her sheet before telling a single joke! Really? Couldn’t she have snuck a peek right before stepping on the stage?

She told a few funny jokes, and quite a number that just lay there. She has the style to be a lot funnier, if she works on her consistency, but I don’t know whether she has enough material to fill more than these 10-minute slots.

On to the singers, then a summary.

Sarah Nisch sang and accompanied herself on an acoustic guitar. She did two numbers, both originals. She has a really good voice. Both songs were good (though both of us vastly preferred the second one, which Sarah described as a bit more uplifting, rather than the first, which she described as wrist-slitting inducing). 😉

Sarah plays the guitar reasonably enough (mostly strumming, straightforwardly), but, oddly enough, it didn’t work for me at all in terms of accompanying her voice and lyrics. In other words, her guitar playing was more of a distraction.

Still, she’s a talented singer/songwriter, and I’m sure Lois and I would be happy to catch her again at one of these shows.

Jamie Alimorad sang, backed by a CD playing through the speakers. Before I cover the performance, I want to compliment Jamie’s stage presence. Since Leo wasn’t there to operate the laptop and the sound system, there was quite a bit of trouble getting the background CD to start, and when it did, it was a whisper in the background. Jamie never lost his cool, and even though he isn’t a comedian, he handled himself and the situation well, and kept the crowd relaxed and interested.

Unfortunately, I don’t have all that much else to say that is very complimentary. He has a pleasant enough voice, but he did two covers, starting with Bryan Adams Summer of 69. If his voice were spectacular, OK. But, everything about his performance was more Karaoke than professional singer. Good Karaoke, to be sure, but compared to all of the other original works (Sarah included), it felt completely out of place. Sorry Jamie…

I realize that many (most?) who get this far will simply label me/us as prudes, and say that we simply don’t get the humor in raunchy jokes. If you knew me, you’d know how ridiculous that is, but I totally get how I’m coming off.

One of my all-time favorite comedians is Buddy Hackett (I can recite dozens of his jokes verbatim, including some very long routines). They are mostly filthy (dick jokes, etc.). Not only do the jokes kill me each time I hear them, I love telling them, so I have no trouble delivering those words. But, they are integral to the jokes, not gratuitous.

A number of the comedians we’ve seen at the two theSet shows used their words as crutches. What happens in that situation is that the audience is focused on the crutch, not the joke, or the person. If a person walks into the room on actual crutches, you’re less likely to remember other things about them, because it steals your focus. The same is true in comedy.

So, while I’m but one voice, I’ll continue to hammer away to these very talented up-and-coming comedians, that they need to hone their craft better by concentrating on the actual joke, not on using vulgarity for the pure shock value of it. Follow my advice or not, it’s your careers. 😉

As for theSet, one of the things that the host (Kai Raziq) has done at both shows (repeatedly) is attempt to get anyone from the audience to come on stage and tell a joke, a story, anything. His point is that it’s harder than it looks, even for 30 seconds, and of course, he’s right!

In the first show, no one took him up on the offer, even though he tried hard. Last night, no one took the bait either, for the first few times that he tried to get someone on the stage. Then finally, one woman got up for 30 seconds. She had no idea what to do, but turned it into an amusing physical bit. We all appreciated her courage and effort nonetheless.

I don’t really have a need, nor even an interest to try that out, but out of curiosity, one of these days, I might just have to find out how awful/hard it is to stand up there, and perhaps I’ll be a bit less harsh on the real comedians after I do that. 😉

Wonderful Weekend

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We’re in NYC for an unusually long stretch. We’re at the halfway point, and it will be hard to top last week, but we won’t stop trying. 🙂

We returned from VA on Tuesday to one night of solitude. Our extravaganza started on Wednesday. Since we had been away, I got back on the exercise track by taking a seven mile walk by myself.

At 4pm, friends of ours who were passing through arrived to spend the night. After catching up a bit on the deck (in perfect weather), we walked up to the Peking Duck House for a wonderful meal. We waddled back, taking a tour of Grand Central (including the amazing Food Market), and after schmoozing a bit more, collapsed.

The next morning, I took another long walk with our friends, this time roughly six miles. They (correctly) shamed me into getting a new pair of sneakers when they heard me tell Lois that I had not forgotten to stuff some tissues into my socks to stop my sneakers from cutting my heels. I am now the proud owner of a new pair of New Balance, purchased at Modell’s (Gotta Go to Mo’s!). 🙂

In the afternoon, we dropped our friends off uptown and headed straight to LaGuardia to pick up David. Since it had started raining reasonably hard, and his flight was delayed, we parked the car in the garage (highly unusual for us), and we relaxed at the food court, where we had excellent coffees from Coffee Beanery. I watched a bunch of The Onion video podcasts on my iPod (laughing my head off non-stop), while Lois browsed at Borders.

Rain At La Guardia

Rain At La Guardia

David was only an hour delayed, and even though it was still raining, we made great time back to the city. We ran across the street and had a terrific Mexican meal at El Rio Grande. Afterward, Laura and Chris came up to catch up with David.

On Friday, David had lunch out with his college roommate, and Laura (who took a half day off) planned to take another long walk with me. Just as we were about to leave, David texted me that he could be back in 10 minutes if we could wait. We did, happily, and the three of us did the full 8+ mile walk, on yet another glorious day.

Friends of David and Laura (and us as well, though we’re their parents’ ages) were flying up from Richmond, scheduled to arrive at 3:30pm. When a flight attendant was unable to make it on time, they were delayed awaiting a replacement who was flying in from Cincinnati! We had tickets to the Blue Note Jazz Club that evening, and they ended up having to meet us there straight from the airport (putting their luggage in the coat room).

It all worked out fine, and they got there in plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely meal with us. Chris joined us a bit later, due to work, work, work…

Group At BB King

Group At BB King

We saw Charlie Haden (a great bassist). He was playing six consecutive nights at the Blue Note in an Invitation Series with a different guest performer each night. On Friday night, Kenny Barron was the guest, an amazing piano player. The two of them played together, and each took a number of long solos for 70 minutes. It was a slightly short show for the Blue Note.

The air-conditioning seemed to be off only during the show (it came on seconds after the show ended) and they were working so hard on the stage, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat caused them to cut it short just a bit. A lovely evening of good food, great company and excellent music.

When we returned to the apartment, the old folks hit the sack, and the youth stayed up (who knows how long?). Before I said goodnight, Chris asked if I wanted to walk in the morning. That would have made four days in a row for me (something I hadn’t attempted as yet), and being the macho machine that I am, I said yes.

I was a bit late (sorry Chris), and met him downstairs at 8:19am. We did the full 8+ miles, at a faster pace than most of my group walks (in fact, we shaved 24 minutes off of the average group walk time, and only six minutes longer than my best time ever). Chris kept me on a crisp and steady pace. Thanks!

While I was off walking with Chris, our guests enjoyed breakfast on the deck.

Breakfast

Breakfast

After a shower, the boys (David, Chris, Clint and I) headed to the new Yankee Stadium to catch the game against the Oakland A’s. This was collectively our first time at the new stadium. In my opinion, it’s awesome. Nice job Yanks!

The Boys

The Boys

Too many food choices to articulate, so I’ll just say what we selected. Chris had the Pizza from Famiglia, which was not exceptional, but not bad either. The rest of us had Philly Cheesesteaks from Carl’s. Pretty good, but I’m not sure I would call it Best in Manhattan (as the web site claims). Not that I know of a better cheesesteak in Manhattan, just that it was good, not amazing. 🙂

Three of us had a $10 beer (which included a plastic commemorative cup, valued at $1).

We fried in the sun for an hour (and I have the sunburn to prove it, especially on my knees). Once the sun passed, the breeze made the rest of the day delightful. Unfortunately, I continue to be a curse on local sports teams. The Yankees had an eight-game winning streak snapped on Saturday. They made it exciting, almost pulling it out in the ninth inning.

Last year (at the old stadium), they lost when I showed up. The year before, the Mets lost when I attended a game. My new retirement plan will be to charge both the Yankees and the Mets to keep me away from the stadiums. I should be able to make a good living, since they play 162 home games between them. 😉

Laura and Sally Ann had a mini-spa afternoon followed by Vietnamese food, while Lois slaved away at her computer.

The Girls

The Girls

When we got back to the apartment, another round of showers was in order due to the aforementioned frying in the sun. Then we walked up to the Duck House, where David’s college roommate and his fiancée joined us for dinner (nine of us in total). We had an absolutely spectacular meal. With that many people, we get to order that many more dishes, and therefore more tastes, than with the four of us who attended on Wednesday night.

Duck House Dishes

Duck House Dishes

Group At Duck House

Group At Duck House

Again, the old folks headed home, and early to bed. The youth headed to see Harry Potter 6, and told us the next morning that they thoroughly enjoyed it!

On Sunday morning, the youth all attended Church Services at Redeemer. Lois and I headed to BB King and waited on line for them to join us. The same nine people who ate the night before at the Duck House now gathered to see the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir over a wonderful brunch at BB King. It was our second time, but the other seven were experiencing it for the first time.

It’s hard to describe the show, unless you’ve been to a revival service, in which case it wouldn’t be hard to describe it all! 😉 Awesome music (both the singing and the band), with wonderful spirituality, including forcing participation by the entire crowd.

Crowd Participation

Crowd Participation

Only the infirm didn’t stand (at least at some point during the show) and clap and dance along. As much as we enjoyed our first time, this one was substantially better, so we’re doubly glad we suggested this activity for the group.

At each show, a group of people is invited on the stage (I won’t tell you why, so you can be surprised if you ever see it), and one of the people in our group ended up on the stage. See if you can spot her (hint, hint). 🙂

One Of Us On Stage

One Of Us On Stage

After the show, Lois bought one of their CDs, and got it signed by all seven of the singers, plus the founder of the Harlem Gospel Choir. We also made a separate donation to their ministry.

We walked back to the apartment and relaxed while watching the Yankees win on TV. I’m awaiting my royalty check for not attending the game yesterday. At the same time, I finally caught up on the weekend’s email and Twitter stream, having not logged on at all on Saturday (a very rare occurrence for me!).

The youth headed across the street for a superb Sushi meal at Hane Sushi. Just as they finished up, the heavens opened up, and we all waited out the thunderstorm. The second it let up, all of us (except for Lois) walked nine blocks to Berry Wild (only Laura and Chris had been there before). Everyone loved theirs, including me. I had Banana and Coffee yogurt, with shredded coconut on top. Yummy!

When we got back, our Richmond friends headed out to JFK. Their flight ended up being delayed by the continuing storms, but they did arrive in Richmond safe and sound, shortly at 2am! 🙁

The rest of us watched a DVD of the 1989 movie The Dream Team. Wes sent it to us as a gift a few weeks back, so we were looking forward to watching it. It starts off a bit slowly (or perhaps awkwardly is more apt), but, it builds, cleverly, and while it’s kooky or corny, I have to admit that I laughed out loud quite a bit. Definitely an enjoyable evening.

David had a 6am flight back, so alarms were set for 4:25am, and Lois and I didn’t get much sleep. David has already landed safely, so the weekend extravaganza is now officially over, but we’re both wiped like the party is still going on. 😉

While we don’t have company staying with us any longer, we do have plans for the next six consecutive nights (alone for the first four, then with other people on Friday and Saturday), before we finally get to completely collapse!