This photo made my week

Have you guys seen this? Sure, I was a little under the weather this week, but Chewie made me feel all better.

An actor playing Chewbacca throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday Sept. 28, 2005. Chewbacca and an actress playing Princess Leia were promoting the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)


Rockin' the Free World

First, let me tell you a story. Last year I started to think I was allergic to Josh. I went to visit him in April, and the day after I came back home I had a sore throat. Then my nose started running and a nasty cough ensued. With my itchy eyes it felt more like an allergy than a cold. It lasted about five days.

I went back to New York in August. Sure enough, the day after I returned I had the same symptoms. On this trip, however, I spent much more time with Nancy than Josh. I decided to let him off the hook and blame the city instead.

I was satisfied with my diagnosis until I felt a familiar pain in my throat on Sunday. Things have progressed and now I am home on a sick day (the third day is always the worst). Now, I believe my allergy is not to a person or a city but to a state of being. I am allergic to partying. My four day musical extravaganza has come back and kicked my ass.

As far as I can tell, I'm good for up to three days of partying. When I go back to New York in November I'll have to be careful to not pass that 72 hour threshold. That, or I'll just take another sick day. Honestly, it's a small price to pay.


So what about MidPoint you ask? Yes, it was awesome as always. There are many stories to tell like the massive street marketing campaign by an Australian Band called Dream Catcha (say it with an Australian accent and it's even funnier) or how my merchandise guy got trashed and had t-shirts strewn everywhere. But I'll just stick to Saturday.

Carrie, Jeff and I met at Jeff's place in Liberty Hill and walked down through scary Over The Rhine to get to The Exchange. Along the way we met a couple who was also looking for The Exchange. They'd given some guy on the street $1 for directions and he'd pointed them in the completely wrong way. I let them follow us for free. That's just the kind of person I am.

At The Exchange we saw Sohio. They were very good and had a little of an early R.E.M. sound. It was a nice way to kick off the night. We'd snagged a nice sofa at The Exchange and were reluctant to leave but it was on to Cooper's to see Dick Prall.

Our beloved sofa at The Exchange

We'd met up with Sarah at The Exchange and she left Cooper's with a crush on Dick Prall. The guy was very good, but I'm not sure what kind of name Dick is for a singer songwriter. He needs something a little more sensitive. He had a band with him and they had an Old 97's vibe. Very cool.

I'd armed everyone with their very own set of ear plugs and we needed them at our next stop. We went to Neons to see a band called NYCSmoke. I had high hopes for them after hearing one of their songs but they were a little disappointing. Like an old episode of Law and Order, I just always knew what the next line was going to be. I didn't come away empty handed, though. The lead singer was wiping his sweat with a t-shirt all night. At the end of the set he showed off the shirt and said they had ones like it for sale at the back then tossed the sweaty one to me. Free sweaty merchandise! I've probably already caught herpes from it.

Sarah sporting her ear plugs at Neons

NYCSmoke played a short set so we busted over to Harry's for some quick pizza. If we'd stuck around at Neons, we'd probably have seen Greg Dulli. John Curley (the former Afghan Whigs bassist) was playing inside with his new band Staggering Statistics and word was that Dulli joined them for a couple songs. Neons was packed and I really wanted pizza so Greg had to be sacrificed.

After pizza we went to Jekyll and Hydes for the strangest set of the night. The Lab Rats were actually pretty cool for white guys rapping. The crowd was just weird. There was the crazy dancing ho, the bongo swiping drunk guy and the old guy in the baseball cap that wanted to buy Sarah a beer. Best crowd of the night.

The Lab Rats

After Jekyll and Hydes we had a change of plans. There a huge buzz about this band from Japan called Gitogito Hustler. They're a bunch of Japanese girls that dress up cute and play punk rock. Apparently the buzz was pretty widespread because there was a line around the block to get into Alchemize to see them.

We finally got in and the place was absolutely packed, so packed I made a note of fire exits. After 10 minutes, though, I think we all realized that there was nothing special here. I mean there was the novelty of listening to Japanese girls say, "Rock and roll!" but if you've heard Shonen Knife you've heard about all the Japanese rock you need. We left.

After that things kind of wound down. We went to Club Dream to see Gordon Bennett but if that was them on stage, I was led astray. They sucked. We finally wound up at Jefferson Hall with local standbys Oval Opus and a Jack and Coke. Not a bad way to end it.

The night blew by and we had a blast. Now I just have to recover in time for next year.

P.S. Here's a cute picture of Tippy...


Recovery room

Man, it's hard to rock and roll all night and party every day. My musical extravaganza is over but today I am beat. I promise to post a MidPoint update soon (complete with pictures) but not tonight, honey.


Is that a bandwagon I see?

O.k. I'm in.

I was totally impressed by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah last night. They sounded like a mix between The Shins and The Talking Heads. The lead singer sounds a lot like David Byrne at times.

The P.A. wasn't that good in the balcony but I've never liked a band so much whose lyrics I couldn't decipher at all. I picked up their album at the show so hopefully I'll be able to actually hear part of the lyrics.

The National was great, too. There was definitely a homecoming feel to the whole thing. The lead singers brother was front and center in the crowd and dedications were made to various family members. Right before the encore, an older guy came up to the stage to yell a request. Then, he turned to me and said, "If these guys aren't doing a good job, let me know and I'll kick their asses. Two of them are my sons." Yeah, it was that kind of night.

The lead singer for the National was great to watch. He had all the drama and ego that a good frontman should have. I thought he might have a seizure during "Mr. November" and he capped off the set by climbing on top of the speakers then jumping up to the balcony. That might have been influenced by the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels he had onstage with him, though.


The MidPoint Music Festival kicks off tonight. Technically I'm an "on call" volunteer, so if somebody flakes I'll fill in. If I don't get called, I'm going down to main street anyway. I'll catch a show at 9 then head over to Cooper's at 10 to meet some friends. We'll probably go catch Coltrane Motion at midnight, too. Nothing, too crazy tonight. I'm just dipping my toes in.


My four day musical extravaganza

I am not working today, or tomorrow, or the day after that (I'm actually always off on Fridays) so I can listen to as much live music as my little eardrums can handle.

Yes, that's right, it's MidPoint Music Festival time! Tonight, however, I'm kicking things off early with a show by The National at the Southgate House. I'm very excited to see The National, but at other shows their opening act, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, have been garnering all the attention. Some people even leave the show after they play. That's just wrong.

Sure, CYHSY has enough buzz to make them this year's Arcade Fire and their music is pretty good, but I feel like people are just getting caught up in the buzz. They like them because it's cool to like them. Sort of like The White Stripes. It can happen to the best of us.

So I'll give CYHSY a good listen tonight. I'm prepared to love or hate them either way. I just want to make sure I'm standing outside the buzz when I make up my mind.


Only a couple hours left

I almost forgot that today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. For real! You can read all about it here. On Saturday I saw a guy with an eye patch talking to himself and my friends suggested he was practicing for today. We can only hope.

It must have been cold in Hell

I can't remember the last time we won a flag football game. It might have been a year ago. We've played three more seasons since then without a victory to our name (it's "We Like to Score" if you care). Sure, we've had some close calls and quite a few frustrations but we continued to show up week after week for the beer afterwards if nothing else.

Well that all changed Saturday. We had a noon game and it was cloudy and slightly cool. Perfect football weather. I'm not sure what sort of stars had aligned, but we found ourselves up 14-0 at halftime. There were some interceptions and some miraculous catches. For once, everything was going our way.

We had to hang on in the second half. The team wore down and our opponents had a lot of subs. Our defense got a little lax, but we managed to get a big play or two when we needed it. When the whistle finally blew, Kelly asked, "Does this mean we won?" None of us could actually believe it.

So now we revel in the fact that we on top of the league. We are 1 and 0, undefeated in the fall season. We are #1!

We are enjoying it.

Favorite song of the Week:
"Catch the Wind" by Donovan - Continuing my belief that all great songs will one day end up in commercials, this tune was playing during a Volvo ad the other day. It's a pity that some people will now only think of cars when they hear this song... a pity.

Carrie and I were at Kaldi's Saturday and a Donovan tune came on. The bartender mentioned to his friend that Ione Skye (the actress who played John Cusack's girlfriend in Say Anything...) is Donovan's daughter. The friend (admittedly a younger guy) said he'd never seen Say Anything... Then Carrie said she'd never seen it either. It turns out a large number of my friends have never seen this movie. I'm not all up to date with my 80's movies but Say Anything... is a necessity. I'm not sure I can talk to these people any more. They don't know that kickboxing is the sport of the future!


Sit 'n Spin

I've been going to spinning classes for a few months now. If you don't know what spinning is, let me explain. Usually occurring at a gym,, a group of people on stationary bikes follow the lead of an instructor who leads them through a "ride" for an hour or so. It's a good workout and not altogether boring so I try to go as often as I can.

There is one thing that I have learned about myself through these months of classes, however. Neither the instructor nor the structure of the class itself affects my performance as much as the music played during class. You see music is played fairly loudly as everyone rides and if it's crap, I really just can't keep going.

If I cared only about the instructor, I would avoid classes taught by Jamie. She has spiky blonde hair (and I've also learned that how much an instructor kicks your ass is inversely proportional to hair length) and tends to teach classes that involve 30 minute hill climbs. Big fun!

But Jamie has excellent taste in music. This week she played a CD that included The Sundays, Morphine and The Cure. Definitely cutting edge stuff for a spinning class and I loved every minute of it. Half the reason I show up is just to hear what she's going to play.

The other class I go to regularly is taught by Marcella. She's great and full of energy but her music leaves a little to be desired. She often plays those made-for-aerobics remixes of jock rock songs with extra annoying beats added. Yes, I love "Sweet Home Alabama." No, I don't want to hear it at twice its normal speed.

Plus, Marcella likes to sing along. I have my limits.

The whole spinning music thing reached its nadir today, though. Marcella had a woman fill-in for her who I'd never seen before. Her music selection? Soft rock hits of the 70s and 80s. I mean, seriously, who can work out to soft rock? This chick ended the class with a six minute hill climb powered by "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. I was ready to kill myself when it was over. If biking faster would have gotten me to the top of the "hill" faster, I would have been up there in a flash. Anything to get away from Bonnie and her angst ridden heart.

On Fridays I usually run on the treadmill. I bring my iPod so I can provide my own soundtrack. It's much nicer.


It's a British thing

In England post offices are very important. People can cash checks, pick up their pensions and get passports there. That's why you should check out this video from a guy who is trying to keep his post office open. Plus, it's super funny (stay until the very end).


Big Johnsons

You may not have heard about the Mercury Prize, but I follow it every year. It's an award given every year to the best album by a British or Irish act. The acts are usually sort of unknown at the time but make it big soon after. Past winners have included Gomez (1998), Badly Drawn Boy (2000), Dizzee Rascal (2003) and Franz Ferdinand (2004). See, you've heard of these guys.

So that's why it was such a surprise when the 2005 Mercury Prize was awarded yesterday to Antony and the Johnsons. I've heard of them because Josh has been telling me I need to listen to them for some time now. I got their new album, I am a Bird Now, from the library a few months ago but I can't say it's been burning up my iPod.

Antony was eligible for the prize because he was born in England but the album itself is very New York. A story yesterday called it, "possibly the gayest thing ever recorded" but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine a six foot four inch man who sings like Nina Simone and there you have it. It's not unpleasant, it's just a shock to the system.

Once I got over the whole imagine thing, I found Antony's songs to be very sweet. They're well written and comforting. I can see myself really liking this album when winter rolls around. That's when I like to sit in a cozy room and listen to soft, warm music. This may be just the thing.

So congratulations to Antony and the Johnsons! I have to give a shout out to the critics and musicians who voted on the Mercury Prize this year, too. The Kaiser Chiefs were the favorite but I think we're all a little done with British '80s throwbacks. Way to shake things up.


Back on track

I know, I know, I've been pretty bad about posting lately. Let's just say that work has been a zoo lately and when I get home I don't feel like doing much of anything. Plus, there was all that good football on TV this weekend.

I've got some exciting posts planned but you'll just have to wait. They're going to take a little more time than I'm willing to invest tonight. I'll give you a hint, though. Three words: old guy crushes.

But on to other things for now. Are you guys reading the Vows column in the New York Times? You really should be. It's like watching a train wreck or a foreign film. Either a life you hope to avoid or a life you know you'll never live. These people are bizarre. My favorite thing, though, is no matter what the brides look like they all wear size 2 Vera Wang dresses. I guess if you pay that much for a dress Vera will make you whatever size you want to be.

I bring this all up because last week's Vows column was perhaps the best ever. What happens when a pretentious Harvard cinema studies major gets a job at Comedy Central? She gets even more annoying, then meets the man of her dreams. The whole thing seems unreal but evidently these people actually live in New York. When you're done reading that, check out what Veiled Conceit has to say about it. It's a great read this week!

Seriously, I demand you check this column out. I know most of you personally and I can practically guarantee that each of you will find this woman unbelievable.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon & Garfunkel - This tune is on the Garden State soundtrack and every time I hear it I think there is nothing sweeter sounding in this world than Paul Simon's voice.


I root for the game

I love sports.

I mean I really love sports. I'll watch anything if it involves competition. I really got into the Little League World Series a couple weeks ago, and I hate Little League (actually I hate Little League parents and the best thing about the LLWS is the parents aren't even allowed to stay in the same hotel as their kids).

Anyway, I'm in heaven this weekend. College football has started up and I'm pretty much going to spend day after day watching whatever inconsequential game comes on the t.v. After spending the week going through photos of hurricane Katrina damage, I'm ready for a break.

This all reminds me of my friend, Shawn, though. When we worked together in California, he was a sports editor and I a photographer. People would constantly ask him his opinion about different teams, but this is a guy who picks who's going to win a football game by who has the prettiest cheerleaders. His other favorite sports are gymnastics, figure skating and women's tennis. Pretty much anything that involves chicks jumping around in short skirts.

But I'm just a girl. You shouldn't listen to me when I tell you that Texas is overrated and Louisville is going to win the Big East. I'm just saying.

I've got nothing better to do.

I gotta go. Pitt vs. Notre Dame is starting up and I don't want to miss that.