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Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at The Public Theater

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I am about to be pretty harsh in my review of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson which we saw last night at The Public Theater.

If you’re a fan of the show, you might want to turn away now. If you don’t like reading anything critical of anything or anybody, turn away now. I will only have one spoiler, and that has been covered in other public reviews as well.

In fact, if you want a balanced review by a trained professional that I largely agree with (in a purely artistic sense), please read The New York Times Review of the show instead of this one.

Final disclaimer before I dive in. I know that to many who read this I will come across as prudish and close-minded. For sure, I will come across as humorless. In fact, I have a completely puerile sense of humor. I laugh at the crudest jokes. Andrew Dice Clay used to kill me (as disgusting and misogynistic as he was/is).

Cursing doesn’t bother me. Bathroom humor cracks me up. In fact, I am the easiest target of most comedians, because I give full credit to whatever I perceive as the concept of the joke, even when the delivery/implementation flops.

So, what makes Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the worst thing I’ve ever seen performed? Laziness and a general lack of creativity (though there are sparks of it hiding here and there).

The play/musical starts off with a bang. The first words out of the mouth of Andrew Jackson are a sexual vulgarity aimed at the specific audience watching that performance. Since it has no connection to the story, it serves two purposes (I will stop adding In My Opinion after this one, as I hope it is obvious that everything I say is my own, uneducated opinion):

  1. Shock the audience (possibly getting some titillating laughs in the process)
  2. Set the mood to allow an anything goes mindset for the rest of the show

It was downhill from there! Basically, the author has no idea what he wants to convey. That was poorly phrased. The author has no idea how to convey what was in his mind. The entire show is a disjointed collection of every known trick/technique for getting a rise out of an audience.

Every few seconds there is a vulgarity (not just garden variety ones, but some choice phrases that would perhaps even have Andrew Dice Clay blushing a bit).

Every few seconds there is some anachronistic device. Most are repeated until they have been beaten to death, even the ones that might otherwise have been clever. In almost every case, they add nothing to your understanding of the scene, they are merely gags.

Here is my one spoiler alert. It is fully covered in The New York Times review above, so if you read that, I’m not giving away anything. Even so, it has nothing to do with the story (though it is a setup for another joke at the end of the play).

There is a narrator for a part of the story. The narrator is in an electric wheelchair (one of the anachronistic devices). At some point Andrew Jackson tires of the narrator telling his tale, so he shoots her in the neck and she dies. Ha ha, we shot a cripple, aren’t we cool? No wait, I’m sure it was meant to show us just how Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson really was…

The anti-Indian humor is excessive and vulgar. Every person in the play is an overdrawn caricature. The majority of the men are portrayed as gay, or more effeminate than 95% of the gay male population is today, with our substantially more open attitudes.

Not to leave the women out of it, there is a very long kiss between two women on stage, just in case you weren’t titillated enough by the language and all of the pelvic thrusting throughout the rest of the show.

So, the playwright takes on disabled people, Indians, homosexuals, politicians, Spaniards, British, etc., all irreverently. If only it came across as irreverence, it might actually have been funny. Instead, it seems to be more of a stream of consciousness rant about Political Correctness.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what the rant is meant to convey. Is it supposed to show us that PC is so deeply entrenched that we can’t help laugh (nervously?) when we abandon it completely? Or, are we meant to see how hurtful it is when we don’t practice PC?

Personally, I think that Political Correctness does more harm than good. It’s not used to educate narrow minded people about some of the hurtful things that they say (that would be great), it’s used to control and punish those who behave differently than what the people in charge determine to be acceptable.

If you spit on a Christian, burn the flag and ban Christmas, you’re exercising your right to free speech (you might even get a parade in your honor). Say one word about someone from Bora Bora and you’ll be sued, vilified, have your children suspended from school, etc.

Presumably, the ultimate point of this work is to make some strong political points about some very trying times during the early years of our Nation. That one may draw some strong parallels to some of the more difficult issues of our day (including the last decade or two) could also be interesting.

If you strung together those historical lessons and stripped them of the vulgarity, anachronisms and PC gags, the play might have lasted 10-15 minutes (no, I’m not kidding!). It would seem that a more effective writer could have taught some more lasting lessons by swapping the gags and history, still keeping a light-hearted sense of humor along the way.

To me, the story of Andrew Jackson’s rise was a plot device meant to loosely string together the most sophomoric, disconnected one-liners and sight gags ever collected in one place. Animal House is high art in comparison (yes, I think Animal House is a classically hysterical movie, so that wasn’t a put-down of Animal House!).

I have no idea how a play like this gets produced and put on for public consumption. I imagine that it didn’t start off this bad. In fact, in my speculative universe, I suspect that the first time it was seen in public, it received a rather dry reception (you know, history bores most people, since it happened so long ago…).

I bet that a few of the zingers got laughs. The next time the play was shown, they added a vulgarity or two. Enough people howled (shock value can’t be underestimated), and people around them were embarrassed not to be laughing, or laughed contagiously, so that the next time the play was put on, more of that had to be added.

At some point, the original intent of the play was completely lost, and it regressed to a crass commercial attempt to sucker an audience into laughing at things they would be crucified for participating in if they were on the street.

To repeat, if anyone said the things that were acted on the stage anywhere in the real world, the thought police would ostracize them and shut them down. Those same people have no trouble laughing out loud when hearing/seeing the same thing portrayed as art. It’s wildly hypocritical to me.

We have court battles over the names of football teams (Redskins, The Tribe, Seminoles, etc.). If the people who bring those suits see this play, I have to wonder whether they too wouldn’t be hypocritical and laugh their heads off, putting it all down to clever writing

After all, it’s the PC crowd that brings those kinds of suits, and those are also the people who feel that in art, anything goes.

So, is there nothing redeemable in this production? No!

There are a few very talented actors. I don’t blame them for taking the job, it’s not like even great actors (especially up-and-coming ones) can pick or choose jobs at will (even non-paying ones!).

I was most impressed by Lucas Near-Verbrugghe who played Martin Van Buren. While he played Van Buren in the most overtly gay manner of all of the performances, he had some brilliant flashes that showed tremendous range.

Kate Cullen Roberts had the best of the voices (a good portion of the show is delivered through emo rock songs).

Michael Dunn played a variety of roles (most of the actors played multiple roles, with the exception of Benjamin Walker who played Andrew Jackson). I was impressed with Michael and his range as well.

Jeff Hiller was another standout. His comedic flair in undeniable.

No one was bad as an actor, though a small number of those that sang would be better served never trying that again in the future.

Finally, and for some this will be the only important point, clearly, the play is provocative. Here I am spending a good deal of time writing about it. We went with a group of six people, and we certainly discussed it a bunch afterward.

That would be perfect, if we were discussing the concepts conveyed, even if we wildly disagreed. Unfortunately, we were mostly discussing how far off the mark it was. Still, better than being instantly forgettable…

Lost and Found Karma

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In 2000, my most trusted device was my Blackberry. This was before Blackberrys were also cell phones. This was only an email device. It was perfect for my needs, and I loved it.

I went on a trip to San Francisco and I knew before I left that my belt clip was very loose. I ignored the danger and paid the price. After crossing a very large street I got into a cab and when I arrived at my hotel, I realized that the Blackberry was gone. I had dropped it on that street and didn’t notice.

I prayed that it was crushed by a car rather than picked up by a malicious stranger. This was a primitive device that couldn’t be remotely wiped, etc.

I fired up my laptop in the hotel and emailed my device, on the off chance that a good Samaritan picked it up. Unfortunately for me, we were leaving at the crack of dawn and couldn’t change that.

A few (tense) hours later, I received an email from a young man who said he had my Blackberry, that he was out for the evening and that he would drop it at the front desk on his way home. He did, at 2:30am, and I had it back in my loving hands when we checked out of the hotel at 6am.

I called him and asked him what I could get him, and after being unsuccessful at getting Giants tickets (they were sold out on the dates he could go), I got him a gift certificate to Amazon. We were both delighted with the result.

Last night we had dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Peking Duck House. Two of our friends from Richmond, VA were in town for the weekend with their friends. We met their friends for the first time in front of the restaurant.

After saying hello, the first words out of my new friend’s mouth (we already love our friends’ friends, they are amazing people) was “I hear you’re technical” to which I answered “Correct”. He handed me an iPhone and told me that his wife discovered it on the back seat of the cab that they came in. He wanted to know if I could figure out who it belonged to.

I’m a Motorola Droid person now (a fanatic in fact) and prior to that had a variety of Palm Treo devices for eight years, so I know zero about the iPhone. I have to admit that as lovely as the interface is, it wasn’t obvious what I should look for to determine its owner.

I immediately found the person’s phone number, but that was useless, as it would have rung the phone that was in our hands. The phone was not in service and I didn’t try to figure out how to turn that back on, largely because it was nearly out of battery.

We did what seemed like a clever idea and called a number that the phone had called a few hours earlier. Unfortunately, the person on the other end had no idea who called them at 4:12pm, and asked us to call back from the actual iPhone, in the hopes that the contact name/photo would pop up for them and they’d know. See above for why we didn’t do that.

I then opened the email program and looked at the To: field (I figured out I had to press the little details link on the top right) to see who the emails were addressed to. Bingo!

I then used my Droid to email the person from our table. Less than five minutes later I got a reply with a request to call. I did, and we arranged for him to pick up his phone with my doorman later that night.

He asked if he could bring me a bottle of wine and I told him the above story (a shorter version) and said that he should bring me nothing, as I finally felt that I paid off my Karmic debt to the universe’s Lost and Found box.

This afternoon I returned from a long walk in the city to see that he didn’t heed my request. There was a lovely bottle of wine waiting for me. I appreciate it as much as my young friend appreciated the Amazon gift certificate!

Of course, I feel a little guilty. While I did figure out whose phone it was, and did make the connection and the handoff, I’m not the one who actually found the phone. If my new friend wants the wine, I will gladly give it to him as he was the actual good Samaritan in this tale. Perhaps we’ll find the time to drink it together before they all head back to Richmond. 🙂

Wonderful Weekend Wedding

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Heretofore, whenever I saw the letters WWW, I inevitably thought World Wide Web. From now on, when I see WWW, I’ll think Wonderful Weekend Wedding!

We have incredible godchildren who’ve brought many blessings into our lives. Among these is the wide circle of wonderful people attracted to them, who’ve become life-long friends of theirs. We’ve had the privilege and pleasure of meeting many of their friends, and in a number of cases, becoming their life-long friends independent of our godchildren.

One of the very special people who came into our lives this way is our godson’s college roommate. When he graduated, he moved to NYC and has been here for more than five years now. Let’s call him Neal.

On January 18th, 2009, we had a lovely lunch with him at our favorite Mexican restaurant, for the express purpose of meeting someone very special to him. We’ll call her Maggie. We loved her immediately, as everyone who ever meets her has and will.

(All photos in this blog can be clicked on to see a larger version.)

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In the summer, they told us that we should leave 10/17/2009 open for a possible wedding date. We were thrilled, and would have made any date they picked, but I turned to Lois and I said, “Man, if only they had picked 10/10/2009, it would be a tad more convenient for our crazy travel schedule up and down I95.” Of course, we never said anything to them.

A few weeks later, they wrote to say that the date was going to be 10/10/2009, and they hoped that the change wouldn’t be a problem for us. Sweet! 🙂

Aside from the scheduling convenience, 10/10 is such an auspicious day in our lives for weddings. Lois’ parents were married on 10/10. Both of her mom’s siblings (a brother and sister) were married on 10/10 (different years for all three). The CEO of our first portfolio company, who we are still close friends with all these years later, was also married on 10/10. All of those marriages were strong and long, as this one is sure to be!

We were also invited to the rehearsal on Friday afternoon, the rehearsal dinner Friday evening, and a breakfast send-off on Sunday morning, hence the appropriate WWW moniker for this wedding!

One last pre-wedding story. In June, we brought 17 people to join us at a Girlyman concert at the Highline Ballroom. I blogged about that night here, and ended with the following two paragraphs:

I have to conclude with an incredible small world story. One of the couples that attended last night was married last year on 08/08/08 (I blogged about that wedding too). Another couple that attended last night is getting married this year, on 10/10. They had never met before last night.

In introducing themselves, and getting to know each other a bit, they discovered that the pastor that married the 08/08/08 couple will be marrying the 10/10/09 couple as well. That this tidbit is true is strange and cool enough. That they would separately be invited by us, chat to each other, and figure that out so quickly is a little other-worldly to me. 🙂

The wedding was held in Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ (where Maggie’s parents live). The rehearsal was wonderful, lighthearted and informative. Their minister is a very special man, and while he kept everyone focused on the task at hand, it was done lovingly, with good humor.

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The flower girl practiced her glide down the aisle in a red wagon, pulled by the maid of honor:

FlowerGirlRehearsal

Before settling on that, other configurations were tried. Here’s one that was scrubbed after a test run down the aisle:

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Afterward, we attended the rehearsal dinner with roughly 40 people, in a private room at a local Chinese restaurant, Sunny Garden. We sat at four round tables for 10, with a large Lazy Susan in the center of each, making it easy and fun to share a wonderful meal, with excellent company all around.

RD2

We met a number of Neal and Maggie’s friends and family at the rehearsal and got to meet more at the dinner. It was as warm and inviting an atmosphere as one could hope for, and the circle of friends got wider, quickly. Inevitable given how we all love Neal and Maggie!

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The wedding was at 2pm on Saturday. We got there early, so we could sit close up to the action. The ceremony was beautiful. Maggie underscored her exquisite taste by having elegant bridesmaid’s dresses, something I understand is unusual. 😉

Bridesmaids

While we knew the minister would be inspiring from the wedding we attended the previous year, he still managed to surprise us in a major way. The one question I never asked Neal or Maggie is how they knew the minister. Since Maggie grew up in NJ, and he’s based in NJ, I just assumed the connection was through her.

Well, I was wrong! The minister told how he met Neal when he was in high school, and how they became friends because of what an extraordinary person Neal is. No, the surprise for me wasn’t that Neal is an extraordinary person, of that, we were already sure. The surprise was how far back their relationship went, and how it began.

I’m sure (partially from experience) that the minister gives great advice to all couples who are about to be married. Still, I have a feeling that knowing Neal as well as he does, for so long, the moving speech he gave them wasn’t just a boilerplate one. It was great advice, that all married couples should heed.

Minister

No, I won’t repeat it here, because I don’t want to cut into the minister’s royalties or be sued for divulging trade secrets. 😉

We had a one in five chance of getting David as our usher. That’s exactly what happened. Here he is, about to seat us:

DavidHadar

More photos from the gorgeous ceremony:

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After the ceremony we headed back to the hotel to relax before the 5pm reception. A little while later, David called to ask if I could return to the church and shuttle some people back to the hotel. I was happy to do it, and ended up bringing back Neal’s sister (a bridesmaid herself), the maid of honor and David.

We then met David out front and headed off to the reception. The hors d’oeuvres were amazing (though I’m told I missed the best of them, which is hard to believe). I was also (virtually) forced to drink some lovely champagne, only because I noticed that they were serving them in my all-time favorite champagne glasses. 😉

FavoriteChampagneGlass

We watched a slide show of pictures of Neal and Maggie side-by-side in similar poses and outfits, from birth through high school. It was a hoot and incredibly creative. Following that were professional photos of them that were stunning. In a nice surprise, we saw that two photos that Lois took of them, one from the first time we met Maggie, and another from the concert I mentioned above, were included in the mix!

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More opportunities to meet new friends and catch up with old ones:

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Then we were off to the main dining hall. Great toasts by the maid of honor and the best man. A wonderful DJ, who played an eclectic mix of music while we dined, all at an appropriate volume to permit people to converse. The mix even included Acoustic Alchemy, one of my all-time favorite groups, that we are likely going to see for the third time this coming Sunday!

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The food was incredible. The service was impeccable, yet delivered with a zesty personality. Everyone at our table bonded with our primary server. If she could have joined us as a guest at the table, we would have welcomed it!

OurServer

There were a number of babies at the reception, including two at our table, and they were the focus of some wonderful memories that will be with us forever.

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Once the meal was over, the dancing commenced, and the DJ kicked it into another gear. The youngsters danced their hearts out. I’m never surprised when women dance well, but I admit to always being surprised when I see a man dance well. Color me purple, because at least a half a dozen guys there impressed the heck out of me!

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Neal’s sister took pity on me and tried to get me to dance. I’m proud that I stood my ground, and resisted. Lois wasn’t as strong-willed as me, and she ended up dancing one dance with David. 🙂

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The traditional cake cutting:

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After dessert and coffee, and plenty more non-stop dancing, we all bid the happy couple good night, and left for the hotel ourselves.

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Their Just Married car, with balloons streaming in the night air from behind, passed us on the highway! We drove Neal’s brother and his girlfriend back to the hotel. The girlfriend said “I think Maggie just waved to us!”. Sure enough, she was right. The next morning Neal asked us if we saw Maggie wave. 🙂

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Simply a perfect day/evening. The next morning we joined the bride and groom for a farewell buffet breakfast that was also outstanding. Eight of us then took a nice stroll around the Princeton campus. Afterward we met the newlyweds at the train station, where they came to say goodbye to the California contingent that was boarding the train back to Newark Airport.

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David and his friend took off in one car, and we left in ours, with the four of us heading straight to Alexandria, VA to see a Girlyman concert that night. As exhausted as we were, it was a fitting way to top off an already perfect weekend.

Neal and Maggie, have a extraordinary life (we know you will), but make sure to share as much of it as you can with the rest of us. You are both a joy to be around individually, and even more so when you’re together.

Thanks for including us in this most wonderful of celebrations!

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. 🙁

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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.

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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:

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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!

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:

Wes and Hadar’s Excellent Adventure

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Many more people participated in one or more of the activities I’m about to list. Only Wes and I enjoyed every single one of them, hence the accurate title. 🙂

Wes flew up on Thursday morning and I picked him up at Newark Airport. We headed straight to the city and met Lois and two friends for lunch at Westville. We met there at 11:30am because the place is tiny and fills up fast. Only one of the five of us had ever eaten there, so it was a new experience for the three four of us. The food was fantastic! I had the Caesar Salad with grilled chicken. Here are pics of three of the dishes, starting with mine:

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs

After lunch, Lois, Wes and I relaxed and caught up with work/email, etc. Then we headed for our night at the Highline Ballroom to see our favorite group, Girlyman. That evening was covered extensively in this post.

The next morning, after breakfast, we headed up to the house. Wes had never seen it. We logged on there and all did our own thing until lunch. After lunch, Wes and I headed to see the new Star Trek movie. Lois was intending to come as well, but we had a problem with the dampers again, and she called the HVAC people and waited for an emergency technician to arrive. Sorry Lois!

Wes Hadar Living Room

Wes Hadar Living Room

Wes and I both enjoyed the movie. I would be lying if I said it was great in any way (other than the special effects, which were stunning), but it’s action-packed, moves at a very quick pace, is an inventive story, etc. I agree with the comments I had heard about the movie before I saw it, that you don’t need to be a trekkie to appreciate the movie, but that it pays homage to the original in so many ways that it’s extra satisfying to a real trekkie. Kudos to JJ Abrams and the entire creative staff of the movie for pulling off that difficult balancing act!

When we got home, we both logged on again, and  I finally got the blog post about Girlyman published. We then headed for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Tarrytown (that we had never eaten at before). It wasn’t our original destination for dinner, but the two places we wanted to eat at were 30+ minute waits (you know, in this economy, where supposedly no one can afford to eat out any longer…). We were quite disappointed in our meals, so this place won’t be visited again by us. Oh well…

After dinner, we walked 200 feet to our real destination for the evening, Tarrytown Music Hall. We had 10th row seats to see Steven Wright, one of my all-time favorite standup comics. This was my first time seeing him live, but I’ve been a fan ever since he burst on the scene (probably longer ago than many of you are alive). 😉

Steven Wright

Steven Wright

As is typical of most shows at Tarrytown Music Hall, he didn’t come on the stage until 8:25pm (scheduled time, 8pm). It’s annoying, but otherwise, we really love Tarrytown Music Hall. He was fantastic. He did his routine non-stop for 85 minutes.

For those of you don’t know, he’s the king of dead-pan one liners. For the most part, they are based on word play. He never (OK, rarely) smiles, except for specific effect. In other words, his own jokes don’t appear to make him laugh (and that works really well for his type of material). He only told one vulgar joke, and I’d bet that none of the kids that were in the audience had a clue that it was vulgar!

He used the F-word perhaps 10 times, so in general, his act is pretty clean. He speaks softly, so the audience trained themselves (incredibly quickly) to come to a dead silence seconds after laughing hysterically, for fear of missing the next joke!

Here are but two (of hundreds of) examples of the style of humor that no one masters quite like Steven Wright:

I have a friend who has a stained glass eye.

24-Hour Banking. I don’t have that kind of time.

No two jokes are connected. Topics fly all over the place. It’s really funny to hear delayed laughter around you, when you realize that people are trying hard to process a joke, and finally get it, a few seconds too late. 😉

We had a great time there. Afterward, we drove back to the city and watched a bit of Conan O’Brien in his new gig as host of the Tonight Show. I also watched the first two nights on Hulu, and I think Conan is doing a marvelous job in his new time slot. Congrats Conan!

On Saturday, after breakfast and the obligatory emailing, Wes and I met Laura in the lobby and went on one of my patented long walks up the East River. It was the nicest day of 2009 in NYC (so far), and our walk was spectacular in every regard. It took us two hours and 10 minutes, and we loved every second of it (or at least I did!).

After a shower, Wes, Laura, Lois and I grabbed a cab and headed to Five Napkin Burger for lunch. None of us had ever been there before. So, what made me pick it for lunch? I subscribe to Fred Wilson’s blog (one of the top VC’s in NYC) and read every one of his posts religiously. He often writes about his wife, who blogs under the moniker The Gotham Gal. For whatever reason, I had never clicked through to her site.

The other day, Fred blogged that The Gothan Gal had updated the design of her site, and he was very pleased with the result. That’s the first time I clicked through. I liked her writing style and started reading a bunch of her posts. Then I came to this one about Five Napkin Burger! I decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did, as all four of us really enjoyed our burgers (all different kinds). Mine was an Italian Turkey Burger. Yum!

From there, the four of us walked back to Times Square, and went to see Angels and Demons. Thoroughly enjoyable. Substantially better movie than The DaVinci Code. We walked back to the apartment after that.

While I caught up on some email, Laura and Wes walked the few blocks to Red Mango and picked up frozen yogurt for a light dinner for the four of us. It was my first taste of it, and I liked it a lot. Chris (Laura’s husband), who was at the dentist while we were lunching and enjoying Angels and Demons, joined us for dinner, which he picked up for himself from the brand new Just Salad a block away from the apartment.

After dinner, the five of us grabbed two cabs and went to see the show Altar Boys at New World Stages. New World Stages is a fantastic space/building, a block off Broadway, that houses seven smaller theaters (Altar Boyz can seat 363 people). All of the shows are quirky (or at least have very quirky and provocative titles and posters). Wes picked this one.

Altar Boyz

Altar Boyz

Wes, Lois and I really loved the show. I caught Laura and Chris chuckling a few times, but I suspect (strongly) that they didn’t like it as much as the rest of us did. It’s very borderline whether any audience member will consider the show one of the following:

  1. Irreverent, but still uplifting and respectful of Christianity
  2. Blasphemous
  3. Some mixture of the two

Personally, I choose #1, with no hesitation, though I have no trouble accepting and understanding that many people could legitimately believe #2 is more accurate. Without a doubt, it’s blasphemous in it’s caricature of Boy Bands. But, in getting you to laugh at that, I believe it still very effectively gets across a message of the best of Christianity’s teachings. It turns out that Laura and her family made the show a birthday present for Lois, and Lois loved and appreciated every second of it!

Thanks M&M’s. 😉

We walked home from the show. When we reached the apartment building, I made the scandalous suggestion that Wes and I go across the street to my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Rio Grande, for a nightcap. Laura and Chris decided to join us as well. Technically, the outside was closed already, but we’re regulars there, and they were kind enough to sneak us in. The inside was still officially open, but it was the most beautiful night, so we were glad to sit outside.

Three of us enjoyed frozen margaritas, and the fourth wisely picked a Banana Pinata for dessert, that the rest of us got to taste (and swoon over!). We then sat on our deck for another 40 minutes, soaking in the remainder of a perfect day.

This morning, we dropped Wes off at Newark Airport and headed down for our usual road trip down I95. Memories of a perfect weekend (uh, I mean, excellent adventure) still linger!

Wes, thanks so much for making the trek up from NC to spend such quality time with us! 🙂

Girlyman at Highline Ballroom

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For those keeping score, and I know that there are scores of you doing so, 😉 last night was the 11th time we’ve seen Girlyman perform live (the second time at the Highline Ballroom).

In addition to owning their four CDs, we also purchase the recordings of each show we see live (and yes, I listen to them all!). If you don’t know Girlyman, you might think that after all of the listening on my iPod, and seeing them live, that we’re merely groupies (stalkers?), because what could be new and fresh for us in a Girlyman show?

Well, you’d be wrong, but if you’ve ready any of my previous (lengthy) posts about Girlyman, you would have chosen your response more wisely. 😉

First, there were the usual surprises. By that I mean that Girlyman introduced three new songs last night (at least, perhaps it was four, but I’m pretty sure it was three). One, a new song by Ty, was sung solo by her, with Doris and Nate leaving the stage completely. That’s a first for any of the shows we’ve seen.

Ty

Ty

Most of the shows we’ve seen in the past year have had at least one song we’ve never heard before. That alone makes it worth it for us to show up, and order our live CD, so that we can capture that song before the new CD hits the stands (more on that in a minute). Of course, some of those new songs may not even make the new CD, so we still want the live version.

In addition, Girlyman has a pretty big catalog by now, so each show has some mystery to it in terms of what they’re in the mood to play, or what people will call for in the request section. Lately (as I’ve written from the past few shows), they’ve surprised with some oldies but goodies. Last night they picked another one that we’ve never heard them play live: Even If.

The Highline Ballroom is a gorgeous, large club. It can seat 400. The sound system is excellent, and a majority of the seats (dinner table style seating) have good views of the stage. The shows at Joe’s Pub are more intimate, but the vibe of a larger audience at Highline, coupled with the excellent sound system, makes this a wonderful venue for Girlyman.

Girlyman really had their vocals humming last night. All three were in good voice, and as the songs built momentum (a trademark of many Girlyman numbers), their power really came through, and their voices remained crystal clear even at full volume.

Doris

Doris

Nate

Nate

On stage, they announced that they just finished recording their new CD. They also just finished mixing it. Their relief was palpable. My guess is that we’ll all have our sweaty little hands on the CD in late July, or early August, but what do I know…

In what I ascribe as at least partially caused by that milestone, there were some more muffs last night than usual in a Girlyman show. In what is completely typical of all Girlyman shows, those muffs (e.g., starting a song while a guitar was still out of tune) were handled with humor and class. In all cases, they restarted the song, and (of course) nailed it the second time. That too is one of the joys of live music, being part of the experience.

Newcomers most likely thought they were funny throughout, and they were, but the humor was a little choppier than usual, not as crisp and incisive. Still, I laughed a bunch, and since the music is the top billing, any laughs are a wonderful bonus.

Another result of the exhaling process is that they were willing to entertain more requests than they typically do (though they were very generous at the Barns at Wolf Trap as well). In addition to satisfying many people in the audience, it also caused the show to be a little longer than usual, which was very welcome (yes, I could listen to them all night!). The encore ended up being two more requests, making it something like five songs requested by the audience during this show.

Girlyman

Girlyman

In total, they were on stage for roughly 105 minutes of wonderful music and good (but not their best) banter.

Opening for them was Katie Sawicki, accompanied by Adam Sweeney. This was the fourth time that Adam has accompanied Katie, and both Lois and Wes commented to me afterward that Katie should continue touring with him.

Katie Sawicki

Katie Sawicki

Adam Sweeney

Adam Sweeney

For the most part, we’ve been very impressed with the groups that open for Girlyman (that is, when it’s their choice as to who opens). The one serious exception (and it may not have been their choice) was the only other time we’ve been to the Highline Ballroom, when the opening act was too much of a mismatch (style-wise) to Girlyman.

Katie Sawicki was an exceptionally good match to Girlyman. She finger-picks the guitar beautifully, both electric and acoustic. Adam plays banjo, guitar and accordion, and sings harmony very nicely with Katie. She did one song solo.

Katie has a lovely voice, thoughtful lyrics, and a very gentle style on stage. If I had a single complaint, it might be that she could have sung a tad louder, or they could have cranked the sound board just a tad. If she had to err, she erred on the correct side, as too loud would not have been welcome.

The only freaky thing to me was that Katie is the doppelganger of a very good friend of ours (who happens to live in Atlanta, where Girlyman reside) even down to the facial expressions. So, I kept thinking that our very dear friend was on stage singing to us. I got over it, and enjoyed her music, but it still was a very strange sensation.

Katie played for about 45 minutes, and a number of people told me after the show that they were extremely surprised and pleased with how much they enjoyed her performance. I guess most people have very low expectations from an opening act…

There’s always a back story to any of our nights out, and usually a Girlyman back story is longer. Last night was no exception. We’ve seen them in NY a few more times than in VA (seven in NY, four in VA), but we tend to bring a larger crowd with us in VA, partially because of the venues, and partially because scheduling a bunch of NY friends on the same night is often an insurmountable challenge.

If you’ve been reading this space for two years, then you know that ever since I accidentally discovered Girlyman in August 2007, I’ve been on a mission to introduce them to as many people as I can. One of the most effective ways of doing that is by bringing people to see them live. Most enjoy the music and become fans. A few have become fanatics for the band (very gratifying). It’s the rarest person that doesn’t really care for their music after the show, but that’s happened too, and I survived. Whew.

Given that last night was in a large venue with excellent table seating, and that we knew about it well in advance, we decided to try and break the record of the number of people we had brought to a Girlyman show in the past. Our record was 15 people at the Birchmere, this past October.

Two months before the show, I sent out a large blind distribution inviting people to be our guests for the show. Sparing you the many twists and turns along the way, we ended up purchasing 20 tickets, and due to some last-minute personal issues, ended up bringing 19 (including us) to the show. Most of the tables at the Highline Ballroom seat six people, so we took three of them and squeezed a seventh at the head of one of the tables, right up against the stage.

We had lots of food, drink and merriment for the two hours leading up to Katie, and it was a blast catching up with some people that we don’t get to see as often as we’d like. I think I can honestly say that everyone in our party had a delightful evening, in terms of company, food, drink, and of course, the show itself!

We broke our record (and have set a new bar, which we hope to leap over on October 11th, back at the Birchmere again) and created at least a handful of new fans (hopefully more).

A fabulous evening all around. Thanks to everyone who attended, and to Girlyman for putting on such a great show! 🙂

I have to conclude with an incredible small world story. One of the couples that attended last night was married last year on 08/08/08 (I blogged about that wedding too). Another couple that attended last night is getting married this year, on 10/10. They had never met before last night.

In introducing themselves, and getting to know each other a bit, they discovered that the pastor that married the 08/08/08 couple will be marrying the 10/10/09 couple as well. That this tidbit is true is strange and cool enough. That they would separately be invited by us, chat to each other, and figure that out so quickly is a little other-worldly to me. 🙂

Happy Birthday Lois

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Lois and I rarely exchange gifts or cards on any occasion, including birthdays. The main exception is that Lois has gone out of her way to make some of my milestone birthdays very special affairs. That included my 30th, 35th and 50th.

This was not a milestone birthday for Lois, but I decided to give her a small surprise nonetheless. Surprising Lois is no easy feat. She’s curious about lots of things, and not shy to ask questions, so some outright lying is required, something I am normally loathe to do. C’est la vie! 😉

We spend a lot of time working in Fredericksburg, VA, and often spend the intervening weekend in Richmond, VA, where we have more good friends than you can shake a stick at (always a fun thing to do). I noticed that there was a Bluegrass Festival (specifically, the City Slickers Bluegrass Festival) on Lois’ actual birthday. I knew that this would be a cool thing to do, with as many of our friends as could make it.

I already covered the event itself in a post yesterday. This post will cover the details leading up to it, and a bit of the rest of the weekend after as well.

Once I decided on this event, I wrote to a bunch of people and invited them to join us. One after another, I got back regrets that people would be out of town. Of course, it turned out that this was Mothers Day Weekend, and our closest friends were coupling that by attending a Law School Graduation for the son of another friend.

For a couple of days, it looked like it might just be Lois and me. Not that it wouldn’t be fun, but it wouldn’t be a party. 😉

Then I got one yes, followed by one maybe. That’s where the count stood for a few weeks. I bought four tickets, and figured at least we were set for a good time, and put it out of my mind.

A week out, I got another two tentative attendees, and they asked me not to purchase tickets in advance, in case they couldn’t make it. Thankfully, they were able to make it. In a wonderful surprise, someone else who was planning on being out of town ended up staying in Richmond, partially to help celebrate Lois’ birthday, so seven of us all enjoyed the show together!

Along the way, there were some twists and turns. Lois reached out to a number of friends independently, knowing that we would have more time to run around than usual, given that we would be house sitting (and dog sitting) for our friends. Behind her back, I was telling people that they should respond however they want (make plans, don’t make plans, etc., but not to reveal the surprise!).

In fact, I asked one of the confirmed people to suggest coming to see Lois at 2pm on Saturday (the gates for the Festival opened at 2:30pm) so that I could be sure Lois would want to be at the house at the correct hour. That worked out perfectly (or so I thought it would).

One of the women that Lois reached out to invited us for dinner on Friday evening to spend some time with them and their now-crawling baby girl. We were delighted and accepted right away. An hour later, she emailed again (to Lois) asking if we could move it to Saturday night. Lois instantly accepted and (thankfully!) informed me after the fact.

I wrote to our friend and said that I didn’t intend to officially cancel, which would make Lois suspicious, but that we would not be able to make dinner on Saturday because of the concert. At this point I was pretty sure that the surprise would be revealed sooner rather than later, purely for logistics reasons, or from being caught in a silly lie.

On Friday, we had lunch with our attorney in Richmond. We bumped into our hostess for Saturday night waiting for the elevator (she works for a consulting firm which is part of the same law firm). Later that afternoon, I emailed her and asked her to write to Lois and move our meal up to lunch. She did.

Lois became suspicious immediately. This was now the second time that the meal had been rescheduled. I did my best to downplay the changes. Lois was now nervous that we wouldn’t get back in time for the 2pm meeting at the house. I assured her we would.

Then Lois wrote to another person who was coming to the concert, and asked to get together for breakfast on Saturday. That person wrote to me and asked what she should do. 😉 I told her that breakfast would be fine, as long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to join us for the concert. She said it wouldn’t, and she showed up at 9:30am at the house on Saturday.

We ended up at our appointed lunch at exactly noon, perfect. We had a wonderful time catching up with our friends, and playing with the baby (a complete delight!). When it got close to 2pm, Lois was getting nervous about the person who was coming to the house. Of course, I had already redirected her to where we were (she’s the sister of the husband of the couple we were visiting). I pretended to email her, and pretended that she said she would come there instead. 🙂

Baby

Baby

Baby and Hadar

Baby and Hadar

We had a fantastic meal (home cooked) outside in the garden behind their house. It’s now three days later, and Lois and I are still talking about it.

Amazing Outdoor Meal

Amazing Outdoor Meal

At 2:30, I excused myself to go back to the house to walk the dog and feed the fish. Half an hour later, Lois showed up, and the other couple was already there. Now she finally knew something was up, but she still thought it was just going to be a get-together at the house, to say Happy Birthday.

I told her not to sit down, that we were heading to the Science Museum. She didn’t believe me. It was the truth, as the Festival was held on the grounds of the Science Museum of VA, in the Garner Pavilion. I joked that there were 6,000 strangers waiting there to sing Happy Birthday to her (and she was a little more than nervous that perhaps I was telling the truth!).

Science Museum of VA

Science Museum of VA

Until we were in the parking lot, she had no idea what we were about to do. Thankfully, she loved the idea, and the actual show, beyond my hopeful expectations. So, I done good! 🙂

After the show, we went to one of the couples’ house for home made birthday cake (chocolate-chocolate, which was beyond awesome!), and ice cream. The next day we joined most of the people who joined us for the show for an incredible Mothers Day celebration at the local country club. It was magical, with three generations of mothers in attendance, all mothers-in-law to each other.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

A fantastic weekend that will not be forgotten soon. Happy Birthday Lois! 🙂

P.S. We have a ton of good looking friends. Here is one tiny bit of proof of that fact!

Good Looking Friends

Good Looking Friends

Make the Time

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Lois and I have been, and continue to be blessed, in many ways. At or near the top of that list is the amazing group of friends that we have. Individually and collectively, they bring us immeasurable joy, and expand our horizons with each interaction.

I know that many people lead busy, complicated lives. We do too. Ours are a tad more complicated than most, because of our hectic travel schedule. Even that is subject to last-minute changes. That makes pinning social dates down somewhat tricky. When you factor in the jam-packed schedules of most of our friends, finding dates we can all agree to, and then sticking to them, is often a major hassle.

There’s one couple in particular where the scheduling conflict rears its ugly head more often than not.  Because of that, we don’t end up even trying as freqently as we should, so we end up seeing them every 18 months or so on average. That’s a major shame, as we always have a fantastic time, whenever we pull off a drive-by get-together.

Last night was one of those lucky evenings. As busy as they are (and folks, they qualify on a number of levels for leading pretty hectic, but productive lives), more often than not, they do the classy thing and come to our side of the river (to the apartment or the house), which we appreciate to no end (though we promised last night that next time, we’ll come to their house!).

They also came early (6pm), which us old folk appreciate beyond measure as well. It permits a long and relaxed evening, without having to be falling asleep at the height of the festivities. We had a simply amazing sushi meal.

Among the many topics we discussed all night was blogging, and Twitter. Both of them (claim they) are too busy to blog (though both have been encouraged to, for a numer of reasons), and neither sees the point of Twitter (something you hear a lot from non-Twitterers nowadays). I doubt I made a dent in either direction, but we’ll see.

One of the things we had some fun with was coming up with blog titles that were provocative (often already iconic cultural phrases) that might stand alone (content would be interesting, but unnecessary). 😉 In fact, I explained that this could be one reason to be Tweeting instead of blogging!

There were some obvious ones:

  • Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
  • Do the Right Thing
  • I’m Not Judging, but…
  • To Get Through Work, Only Two Decisions are Required: What to Wear and What to Eat
  • If I’m the Typical User, then it Should Be Designed for Me!

There were many more. Some were inspired by specific stories that had long philosophical discussions. For example, “Do the Right Thing” was about a situation where an older male colleague, fumbled over whether and how to handle the situation of walking a younger female colleague back to her hotel after a business function. There are lots of nuances in that situation, and in our opinion, our friend ended up on the wrong end of an overthought dilemma.

That spurred me to title this post in a similar vein, though it didn’t come up in our long list last night: Make the Time.

Every time that we make the time to get together with this particular couple, but in general with any of our friends, we feel enriched by the experience. So, we (and they) need to continue to pursue each other, even when scheduling appears to be impossible, and just Do the Right Thing. 😉

I’m including a photo of our friends without naming them. As you can plainly see, I don’t dress up for company. 😉 Also, as you might be able to tell by my glassy eyes, we enjoyed some nice wine as well.

Friends

Friends

I met the husband when I hired him in 1986 (give or take a year). I knew in the interview that he was a very special person. I was wrong, he was and is an exceptionally special person. He was as good an employee as I could have hoped for, and went on to a very long and successful Wall Street career in a number of top firms.

A number of years ago he started his own software company, and has made a wonderful success of that as well, and will continue to, I’m sure.

His wife is equally extraordinary in too many ways to list in this small space. To call either of them smart would be to insult them. They are also interesting, conversational, good listeners, etc. In other words, everything you could hope for in a friend.

Here’s to not letting as much time go by before the next visit (which will be at their place!). 🙂