Happy New Year!

Tippy hopes you've had holidays as happy as he has. Also, if you haven't had a chance to just hang out under your Christmas tree, he reminds you that it's not too late.


Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line

I just wanted to post a quick update and let everyone know I made it safely into Tucson this afternoon. In total, it was just a few miles over 2,000. I saw someone in New Mexico with North Dakota plates and thought, "Now they've come a REALLY long way," but google maps tells me that chances are they didn't drive any longer than I did. So there North Dakota!
I hit my first bad weather just south of town when it started to rain. Otherwise the weather was clear but windy. Sir Ranulph even had a run in with a giant tumbleweed. This is what was left of it when I stopped for gas.

So here's a view of my final destination. I'll post some updates later. In the meantime I hope everyone has a happy holidays.


I saw miles and miles of Texas

If the Cincinnati band, 500 Miles to Memphis wanted to change their name, I might suggest 1500 Miles to Albuquerque. It's harder to spell, but also true. Today was all about getting some miles done. Tippy and I did 700 of them. I drove and he slept as is our agreement. How's Tippy today? Let's check:

See, he looks much better. He's getting to be an old hand at this.

As I was leaving Oklahoma I saw my first signs of T. Boone Pickens in the form of a bunch of giant windmills. They were oddly beautiful. Now we just need about five billion more of those things to make us energy independent.

My first stop of the day came after four hours of driving. All across I-40 the interstate is littered with signs advertising a free 72 ounce steak. The tiny writing you can't see as you blow by at 80 miles an hour is that it's only free if you eat it all (along with the sides) and you only have an hour. That's the rule that took Tippy out of the running.

Where does this beefy miracle exist? It's at Amarillo's own Big Texan Steak Ranch. I made sure to stop there for lunch for my own (much smaller) steak and to soak up the pure cheesiness of the place. Let's look at some photos:

It's just as crazy on the inside, too, with the obligatory animal heads mounted around the dining room. Alas, no one was going for the 72 ounce challenge so I had to content myself with just my meal and my very friendly server. It wasn't the best steak ever, but you don't really come here for the food. It's all about the big Texas spectacle. Look how they decorated for the holidays:

The rest of the day was just a bunch of driving through some very brown and very flat land. I suddenly remebered why I named the brown hamster I had as a kid, Texas. My only impression of the state as a child was of a vast expanse of browness, just as it looked today.

So after hours and hours of driving we made it south of Albuquerque to the wonderfully named Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (if you want to know how they got the name, read this). That leaves just a few more hours of driving tomorrow to get to Tucson. It's been a fun trip, but I'm ready to put my feet up for a couple days.


Just because I'm losing doesn't mean I'm lost

Whew! After more than 950 miles of driving, I made it to Oklahoma City. I spent last night in St. Louis with my aunt and uncle and headed west again this morning. By late afternoon I had made it to Tulsa and made a short stop to visit with my friend Brandi and her husband Mike (and their cute daughters).  As the evening wore on Tippy made it clear that he was tired and it was time to stop (though he never once offered to drive) so I found a hotel in Oklahoma City.
I do have a few shot from the trip so far to share with you. In case you were wondering how Tippy was doing, this is his usual look while in the car:

He'll survive, though. He acts like he doesn't enjoy an adventure, but he does. 

On my way to St. Louis, I swung by Collinsville, Illinois to see the World's Largest Catsup Bottle! I don't agree with calling it catsup, but it has always been my favorite condiment and therefore deserving of a special side trip. When I stopped to take a photo I even got a visit from Collinville's finest. I guess the police aren't used to tourists actually visiting their tourism sites. Bask in its glory!

As I crossed into Oklahoma, I was greeted with a welcome sight. You don't see these signs just anywhere:

Why yes, that is a 75 mph speed limit. It almost makes driving through Oklahoma worth it.

I'll be up and early tomorrow so I can make it to Amarillo in time for lunch at a very special place. Can you eat a 72 ounce steak? I know I can't, but I hope someone tomorrow thinks they can.


I got a first in physics so I ought to know if your fries are for here or to go

Loving journalism is a little like having a pet tiger. Sure it's different and exciting, but in the back of your head you know it's only a matter of time until that sucker bites your arm off. Often it's when you least expect it.
Well, last week I finally got my arm bitten off.

A little more than a month ago, the paper that I've worked at for more than five years announced it was having layoffs. As the weeks passed, names started to come out. I didn't feel entirely safe, but as the deadline got closer I was heartened by the fact that I hadn't heard my name bandied about. Then Tuesday it happened. A call into an office, a few minutes of discussion, a few hugs and a zombie-like drive home. The worst part is I didn't see it coming.

I've spent the last few days taking tons of calls from friends and meeting others for drinks and dinner. It's been nice having such support from my friends and family, but I don't think it's truly sunk in yet. It still feels like I'm just on vacation.

I know I'm not alone in getting laid off. Hundreds of thousands were unemplyed last month and more than 34,000 were laid off along with me last week. Newspapers have been hit particularly hard. There aren't many jobs out there for newspaper photo editors anymore. So it looks like I'm faced with not just finding a new job, but a new career.

I will admit that I find all of this a little exciting (just a little). I've always known that I'd probably have to leave journalism someday. I just didn't think it would be so soon or so sudden. Now I have a little time to figure out what else I can do. Who knows what the future holds?

In the short term, the future holds a road trip. I'm leaving late next week to drive down to see my parents in Tucson for the holidays. It'll be me and Tippy and the open road. I think it's just what I need to clear my head and start figuring out my future. I plan to post updates from the road so check back here to see how the trip is going. In the meantime, drop me a note if you have a job for me!


My Christmas present to you is free

There's a reason it's free, too, which I'll get to another day. For the meantime, I wanted to spread some holiday cheer. In the past couple weeks I've stumbled upon some fun Christmas music that you can download for free. Did I mention, free?
Anyway, head over to the awesome Swedesplease blog for their Swedish Christmas Mix. There's a link to download the songs in the comments section. If nothing else, get it for the great song "A Christmas Duel" with The Hives and Cyndi Lauper. The mix as a whole is full of melancholy Swedes wishing they were at the beach, but it's a nice change of pace from the regular Christmas tunes.

Speaking of changes of pace, I found this set of holiday songs while trying to find out what song was playing during the new Palm Centro commercials. It turns out Palm is just giving it to everyone, plus a few other tunes. It, too, is free.

So dig that funky Christmas jam and if you feel chatty, let me know what your favorite holiday tune is. 


And if a cat can't be a Wiccan, who can?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm heading over to Jeff's in a couple hours to enjoy some turkey and all the other awesome food. I will provide the cranberry salad and apple pie. I did not bake the pie. I'm not good at baking, and I'm lazy.

I can, however, provide some entertainment for all of you. Well, if by "provide" you mean to add a link to something entertaining. One of my favorite writers, Dave Eggers, has an odd but funny little piece in the New York Times today. It's a sort of play presented as a graphic. So click over here and take a few minutes to read. I suggest paying special attention to the cat, Robert Smith. He's probably the wisest character in the play.

By the way, did anyone see Rick Astley in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning? Blew my mind! It also reminded me of this YouTube video that you've all probably seen, but just in case:


Thank you Father Christmas. You got me just what I wanted most - the gift of not being digested by a bear.

Elvis Costello has been doing a ton of press lately to promote his new show on Sundance all to varying degrees of success. The best moment of all this television exposure, by far, came tonight when he was on "A Colbert Christmas" and got attacked by a bear. It was surreal and hilarious and made up for that terrible interview on "The Today Show." Merry Christmas, Elvis!



I was watching CNN this morning and saw a commercial for the Obama commemorative "victory plate." The ad was just so cheesetastic that I couldn't believe it. Look how happy those kids are to have their very own plate!

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Note: Edited at 5 pm to add the original, more awesome version of the ad.


If I had a million dollars...

Or even just an extra $1500 lying around, I would love to have spent it on dinner at Per Se last night. As The New York Times tells us, chefs Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz presented a 20 course tasting menu at Keller's New York restaurant for $1500. (Wine included!) It was part of a book release celebration, but mostly it was a chance for two great chefs to show off their skills. Want to see what you missed? Here's the menu:


I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush

My college roommate used to tell me a story about her best friend who never had a regular hot dog until she was 13 years old. Her mom had always given her turkey dogs and one day she was at my roommate's house and had a beef hot dog. She suddenly realized what an inferior dog she had been eating her whole life. It rocked her world.

The same sort of thing happened to me last weekend in New York. Sure, Jeff ran the marathon and we got to hang out with a bunch of friends, but what really rocked my world was discovering orange beer.

Our lovely Midwest-bred hosts, Josh and Kelly, introduced me to this magical exilir. Fill a glass about one third full with orange juice and top it off the rest of the way with (preferably cheap) beer. Something like Miller Lite or Budweiser works well - Heineken not so much. I tried it yesterday with some Grain Belt beer I had hanging out in the fridge and that was great, too. I'm a big fan of Blue Moon and orange beer is a pretty good substitute and a great way to use up any cheap beer you have around.

So call it a poor man's mimosa or just an excuse to drink before noon and not feel like an alcoholic. Either way I suggest you give it a try. It might be just the kick of vitamin c you need to keep that cold away this winter.


The benefits of leaving in (or near) a swing state

Cincinnati's own (by way of Brooklyn) The National played a free concert on Fountain Square last Thursday. I snuck away from the office on my dinner break just in time to catch their set. It was a beautiful night and we were surrounded by all the tall buildings downtown. It felt very cosmopolitan. I just wish I could have stuck around and hung out with the band at Rock Bottom afterwards.


I got a bookish look and you're all hot for teacher

I made a point of watching SNL this week for the first time in years so I could see Sarah Palin's appearance. I thought it was mildly entertaining, but I was really hoping to see Tina Fey and her standing next to each other. They look so freakishly similar, I some time to actually compare them. I had changed the channel by the time Weekend Update came on so I missed Amy Poehler's rap. So here it is, in case you missed it, too.


You were just some silly girl taking in the sights of your empire's colony

Just in time for election season The Decemberists bring us what we've always wanted - a love song to an exposed spy. The band has a series of singles coming out over the next few months and the first one was released Tuesday featuring the song "Valerie Plame." Yes, the song is about that Valerie Plame. The press release calls it a song from, "the point-of-view of one of Plame's inside contacts upon discovering her true identity, the song is an amorous tribute to the onetime CIA operative." Check it out:


Fear the hearts of men are failing

Have you heard that the economy's in trouble? I know it's hardly on the news so you might have missed it. What the news tends to say all the time is things are bad. Even the analysis stories don't do a good job of explaining what the hell just happened or what it means. For that, I give you This American Life.

Back in may the NPR radio show did an episode called "The Giant Pool of Money" that did an amazing job explaining the mortgage crisis in terms I could really understand. I've been referring to it constantly as my starting base for everything that's happened in the economy since then. And last week This American Life did an episode called "Another Frightening Show About the Economy" that explains things like the bailout and credit default swaps.

So if you have any interest at all in what's going on in Wall Street or you just want to sound smart in front of your friends, there is no two hours of your life better spent than listening to these podcasts. The first show is archived so you'll have to pay 95 cents for it, but the second show is still free. You can find them in iTunes or here and here. Just think of the 95 cents as your way of helping the economy.


From a young age my two greatest loves were always Jews and Cuban food

If you were one of the five people out there who missed the Vice Presidential Debate on Thursday, here's Saturday Night Live's take on it. This is pretty much how it went down. Sad, but true.


Writing in the glow of the TV's static

Things are cooling down here in The 'Nati and fall is definitely in the air tonight, so I figured it was time to write about my next album the depressing and autumnal Figure 8 by Elliot Smith.

Figure 8 is a sad, sad album so I'll love it, right? Well, not exactly. I spent most of my time while I was listening to it trying to figure out why I love sad and British artists but not the sad and American ones. The only theory I could come up with is that the British singers are a little more self deprecating. They may sing sorrowful tunes, but I always get the feeling that it's just a phase. I know that they'll wake up one morning and their world will be better. I like that silver lining of hope.

I can't really find that hope in Elliot Smith's songs. Smith killed himself in 2003 (or his girlfriend killed him depending on which theory you believe) and had battled depression his whole life. He really was a pretty sad guy and the songs reflect that. They are sweet tunes but I'm rarely mellow and/or sad enough to truly appreciate them. I'll stick to the Brits, thank you very much.


And since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know

Last week I got back from Montreal, the most recent stop in the Sad & British 2008 world tour. I even busted out the panorama function on my new camera to actually take a picture. Most of the other shots were taken by Carrie who was always running around with her camera at the ready.

Carrie got a shot of Jeff, me and Melissa wandering around Old Montreal. Everything was in French but it didn't stop us from successfully ordering wine.

We did a few tourist things to pass the time between bottles of wine. The Notre Dame Basilica was particularly lovely.

Mostly, though, we were on the lookout for picturesque places to drink like this lovely courtyard where we had lunch.

One afternoon we went to Atwater Market which was also picturesque. In fact pretty much everything in Montreal can be described as picturesque.

We picked up a bunch of treats at the market (including more wine) and had a picnic lunch along the canal. That pate that Melissa is digging into is caribou. It had blueberries in it, too.

We also took a little boat trip and as you can see I'm always at work. Carrie got a shot of Jeff and I doing a little photo editing. The excitement never stops with us!

On our last night in town, we got to see James in concert. Carrie, being the multimedia journalist that she is even got some video of that. If you look closely at the beginning, you can see Jeff and me bouncing around.

So that's the nickel tour of Montreal. The next stop on the world tour is New York at the end of October for Jeff's New York Marathon run. I'm proud to announce that he has successfully raised the $2,500 he needed for charity, so we'll all be out there to cheer for him.


MidPoint Countdown

The MidPoint Music Festival kicks off tomorrow night and I think I have my bands picked out for the weekend. If you're looking for some suggestions I can help you out.
  • Thursday night check out Coltrane Motion and The Turnbull AC's at the Inner Peace Holistic Center (708 Walnut) at 10 and 11 pm. Coltrane Motion is one of my favorite things about MidPoint every year and even though The Turnbull AC's are a local band, I've never seen them. I've heard nothing but good things, though, so I'm really looking forward to it.
  • At midnight on Thursday there's a dance set at the Lodge Bar (35 E. 7th) with Ruckus Roboticus. It's gonna be fun.
  • I'll be working at MidPoint Friday so I won't get to see much, but I can recommend Otter Petter (9:30 at Below Zero, 1122 Walnut) and Pomegranates (midnight at Blue Wisp, 318 E. 8th). They're both pop influenced indie bands.
  • If you have a three day wristband go see The Mocks at the Aronoff on Saturday (9 pm, 650 Walnut). They're from Mexico and have kind of a shoegaze sound but it would be a chill way to slip into the evening.
  • What I'm really looking forward to on Saturday are the bands at the Lodge Bar. Ha Ha Tonka plays at 10 with Backyard Tire Fire at 11. They both have an alt-country sound, but they're not afraid to rock. Ha Ha Tonka has great live harmonies, too.
So that's what I have so far. You can go here for a full schedule and links to bands' web sites so you can check out their music. Even if you have just one night, try to get out this weekend for some live music. Trust me, it'll be fun.


We all knew it was coming

Finally! Everyone I know has been waiting for Tina Fey to play Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Is it strange that she seems more like Palin than the real Palin does? I wonder if she's been working on that accent since McCain first introduced her.


Heard they'd do anything for a Klondike

So I threw some stuff together from my trip to Vegas and made a video. It's not as great as puppies playing in the grass, but it can waste one and a half minutes of your life - if that's what you're into.

Gotta whole lot of money that's ready to burn so get those stakes up higher

So I'm back from Vegas and have a week before heading north to Montreal. Yes folks, Sad & British takes you around the world! (That last part should be said with the enthusiasm of a '50s TV announcer.)

I'm hoping to get all multimedia on you tomorrow and post some stuff from Vegas before I leave again. So watch this space!


Life springs eternal on a gaudy neon street

Just a quick post here. I'm heading out to Las Vegas for a few days in early September and I need some suggestions on stuff to do or places to eat. I haven't been to Vegas since I was six and all I remember from that trip is touring Hoover Dam.

Since I'm going to be at a conference I don't know how much time I'll have to get out and do stuff, but it never hurts to have suggestions. Hit me!


For a hefty fee I'm on your record like Bob Costas

Oh Olympics, what will I ever do without you? Soon I will be back to watching "What Not To Wear" on my Tivo late at night instead of something awesome like the men's open water swim. (How do they eat and swim at the same time?) Besides, I was just starting to figure out the rules for field hockey.

So in tribute to my two weeks of sitting on the couch and not working out as I watched other people work out really hard, I give you my take on the Olympics:
  • I don't get the point of the showers the divers use when they're done. They're just going to jump right back into the water, right? The hot tubs I can get behind, though. If I were a diver, I would spend all my time there, preferably with a piña colada. That might make it easier to jump off the platform anyway.
  • Speaking of diving, thank god there's still one sport left where the men still wear those little speedos. Too bad all the divers were gay or 15 years old.
  • My award for best uniforms goes to men's field hockey. They're a little retro but I love the sleeveless shirts. Tight shirts and pulled up socks? Classy!

  • My award for the worst uniforms goes to the Australian women's basketball team. Running around for an hour wearing a skin tight leotard type basketball uniform does not sound like fun. It actually sounds like a good way to get a rash.

  • Did you know there was a boxer from Ghana named Prince Octopus Dzanie? The first time I saw him on my TV, I thought I was losing my mind. Who would name their kid that? Still, I have to give the best athlete name award to Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband. It's just so much fun to say!
  • I loved watching water polo, handball and (regular) volleyball. It's too bad we won't be seeing those on the TV for another four years.
  • BMX was awesome, too. I'm just bummed that NBC devoted about 15 minutes to covering it. I think it will garner more attention in the next Olympics.
  • Let's take a moment to think about the next Olympics. I can't wait for 2012. Sad & British covers the London Olympics? The possibilities are endless. The chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympics is Sebastian Coe, who also won the gold in the 1500 meters race in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. Why do I mention this? Because I once bought a globe for his daughter. It's a long story that I'm sure I'll share with you in 2012, but I swear I did.
  • Any sport that requires judges to constantly watch you to make sure you're doing it right is NOT a sport. Yes, I'm looking at you, race walking.
  • Did you see this Cuban taekwondo guy kick the ref? It was terrible sportsmanship, but I can't stop watching it.
  • I don't care what people say, I love Bob Costas. Always have, always will.


Don't touch me 'cause I'm on the dancefloor

It's quickly approaching that time of year again, people - MidPoint Music Festival is next month. It's also known around these parts as Eileen's high holy days (and I take off work accordingly).

Citybeat is running MidPoint this year and it will feature some bigger bands and venues outside Over-The-Rhine. Robert Pollard and the Mates of State will be at The Southgate House and other bands will be at venues downtown. I don't know if they're planning on it, but I think it would be awesome to have a stage on Fountain Square.

Oh and Jeff, Coltrane Motion will be back again this year.

Anyway, I'm telling you all of these things because MidPoint runs on volunteers. It's really a fun time and you'll get free admission to the festival. If you're lucky, you might even get to work at the same venue as me! So go here and sign up to volunteer. I guarantee it will be worth it.


Found it!

Here's the commercial I was talking about a few days ago. You know, the one featuring "The Crane Wife 3" by The Decemberists.


Oops, I did it again

In an effort to not try to copy everything they do over there at the wine me, dine me blog, I've changed my template yet again. Maybe, like Goldilocks, this one will be just right.

Happy Birthday, Sir Ranulph!

I'm a couple of days late, but August 9th marked one year since I brought home my beloved Mini Cooper. It's been 12,600 miles of fun and, aside from the odd scratch, nary a problem. Mini even sent me a cute little birthday email.

What they don't know is we've already made it to Graceland. I guess we'll have to come up with another road trip destination.


All under the boughs unbowed

I've watched a TON of Olympics coverage this weekend. Seriously, I've seen swimming, water polo, boxing, fencing, beach volleyball, diving, weightlifting, rowing and gymnastics. It's been a nice way to spend the weekend actually, and I finally got around to cleaning my apartment some, too.

I've also liked some of the new commercials that have debuted during the coverage. I will admit to being a huge sucker for the new Nike commercial featuring The Killers' song "All These Things That I've Done." In case you missed it, here it is:

There's an AT&T commercial that's been bugging me all weekend. I can't find it on YouTube, but it showed different fans watching the Olympics on TV and reacting. It had been driving me crazy all weekend because the song on it sounded so familiar. Finally, with a lot of Googling and a guess that it was The Decemberists, I was able to figure out that the song on the commercial is "The Crane Wife 3" by the aforementioned band. I can't tell you how relieved I am to get to the bottom of this. Not being able to place a song is almost as annoying to me as having a song stuck in my head. I'll finally be able to sleep tonight! OK, it's not that bad, but I do feel better.



So how about this template instead? I felt like the other one was maybe too boring, plus I love orange. What do you think?


I have acted the idiot more than once

Man, I LOVE the Olympics. I'll usually watch about any sporting event on TV, so the Olympics are three weeks of sports goodness. It's also a chance to watch all those strange sports you usually never see on ESPN - handball, badminton, field hockey, water polo, etc. Did I mention I love it?

It's also a nice way to pass the time until football season starts. I'm just saying...


As the countries march into the stadium during the opening ceremonies, I thought I'd update everyone on some of the new music I've been listening to lately.

  • Black Kids - I just got the new album from this group and I'm loving their song "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You." They're from Jacksonville, Florida but they definitely have a British sound to them. You can hear The Cure, Jarvis Cocker and The Go! Team in their music.
  • Conor Oberst - You may know him as Bright Eyes, but Conor released a new album under his own name just this week. It's kind of loose and jammy and it feels like Conor has relaxed just a little. May he'll cheer up some, too. I hope not too much, though. There's a short little tune on the album called "NYC-Gone, Gone" that I really like.
  • Girl Talk - Their (or really his, it's just one guy) new album, Feed The Animals, is track after relentless track of crazy mash-up tunes. It's big summer fun, and if you go to the Girl Talk website you can pay what you want for it. So go ahead and get it now.
  • Frightened Rabbit - If you've gotten one of my mix CDs lately, you might recognize that this isn't a new band for me. Their new album, The Midnight Organ Fight, is pretty great, though. It might at the most depressing thing you can handle in the summer. Just a warning. They're sad, Scottish and oddly funny.
  • Heart-Sick Groans - I found out about this group from the wonderful Swedesplease blog that you can find over there on your right. They're another of the recent batch of great Swedish bands like my favorite, The Shout Out Louds. You can't buy their album in the U.S. but you can download a few tunes from their MySpace page for free.
  • Tobias Froberg - Another great Swede who you should check out if you like Peter Bjorn and John. "Slipping Under The Radar" is quickly becoming my song of the summer. You can get his album on eMusic if you're so inclined.
So that's what I'm listening to this summer. Is there anything else I should be checking out? Let me know!


This is what you get when you mess with us

I'm back from my Indianapolis concertacular weekend and I have many thoughts. The chief among them is why is Radiohead so popular?

I mean Radiohead has been at the top of my list of bands to see in concert for a couple years now, and I was excited to see them in Indy on Sunday. It was just strange to see about 10,000 other people just as (if not more) excited. They would play a couple discordant notes that barely sounded like anything and the crowd would go nuts like they'd played the opening slide guitar part to "Freebird." I love Radiohead, but they don't seem very rock an roll, you know? Someboday didn't tell this crowd.

About halfway through the show, I realized that Radiohead play the sort of music that the teenagers of the future listened to in '80s apocolypse movies. It's exactly the sort of stuff gutter punks would have blaring in the headphones (or ear implants or whatever) as they assaulted the fine citizens of a big city in the year 2030. It made me want to buy some parachute pants and get a barcode tattoo.


This is all in contrast to Monday's Wilco concert. Wilco is a band that by all accounts should be mch more popular than Radiohead. They have a core of very approachable pop melodies surrounded in several layers of feedback and noise to give it that indie cred that the kids seem to like. However, there were nowhere near 10,000 fans at the Wilco show.

Wilco played at White River State Park just outside downtown Indianapolis. Jeff and I been through there earlier in the day on a Segway tour (yes, I just said Segway tour) and it was a lovely venue. Everyone in the city seems really proud of it, too.

The Wilco crowd was as devoted and knowledgeable as Radiohead's but they seemed less inclined to rock. Lead singer, Jeff Tweedy, even had to give everyone permission to dance like the way you might tell a dying relative it's okay to go to the light. I really think Radiohead wouldn't have minded if everyone had just swayed back and forth, while Wilco would have really liked a mosh pit. They should have swapped crowds.

I've seen Wilco a ton of times and at this point it's like catching up with an old friend. We laugh, we have fun and we know we'll see each other again soon.

So now I need a new band that I've always wanted to see in concert. That list is thinning in my old age, so I think my new number one is The Weakerthans. Yes, they did just play in backyard in March, but I, alas, was thousands of miles away.


I would wait for you to arrive with kibble and a box full of beer

I got a new sofa at the beginning of the month, but I'm just now getting time to really enjoy it. It's awesome for naps, even when you didn't really plan on one. Tippy enjoys demonstrating his napping technique on it, too.


My mum says I look like Yul Brynner - too old for Hamlet, too young for Lear

I finished my summer mix CD last month and most of the five of you who read this blog have copies. I have a few extras, though, so if you'd like your very own copy, just send your address to sadandbritish at gmail dot com and one will be on its way. For free! I haven't heard many reviews yet, but its full of tunes you might enjoy.

The photo above is the lovely cover image. It was taken by Meggan's husband Jeff (not to be confused with Cincinnati Jeff) when we down in Mobile. It was actually at the Flora-Bama Lounge - the home of many beers in a can. The Orjag story is kind of long on not as funny as it maybe should be so I won't explain. You should, however, check out Meggan and Jeff's website. They take lovely photos. At least that's my professional opinion.


I couldn't drink enough to make this make sense

Hey guys! Do you like the new template? I think now that I'm over 30, I require a more refined blog template. None of those childish colors for me. Ha! Actually, I finally upgraded to the new Blogger template and for some reason the colors didn't drop all the way down on the new version of my old template. I'm taking an online HTML class, but I haven't gotten far enough to fix something like that yet so I just picked a new one.

I though in honor of the new template, I might actually review an album like I used to on the old one. I know, it's crazy!

Today's album is a great one, though. Fight Songs by the Old 97s is one of my all-time favorites. It's got great country pop, wistful lyrics and it reminds me of a specific time and place. Amazon says the album was released in 1999, but I'm pretty sure I didn't buy it until 2000 after hearing "Murder (Or A Heart Attack)" on the music station I used to listen to on my TV.

Soon after, though, the CD was a near permanent fixture in my car. When I listen to it now, it sounds like the soundtrack to my life in California. There are songs about friends, love, loneliness, drinking, road trips and even one that I'm pretty sure is about a cat. I guess it could be a soundtrack for any single girl in her 20s then, huh?

What matters is that I still like it these days. I'm sure nostalgia has something to do with it, but it's also just a good album. You can get it for 8 bucks from Amazon so if you're a fan of alt country or power pop, pick it up. It's an amazing mixture of both.


Marriage is when we admit are parents were right

So another birthday has come and gone, this one not being nearly as big as the blast I had in San Francisco last year. Alas, it's hard to get people excited about 31.

I did buy a new camera for my birthday and it is already very good at taking pictures of Tippy. See?

Hmm, let's see... What else happened? Oh yeah, Josh got married! Here's a photo from the next morning when they graciously supplied us with coffee and pastries as we took our hung over butts home. What to see more pix from the actual festivities? They can be found here (along with photos of a really big fish). Seriously, though, it was an awesome wedding and a rockin' reception. We barely even noticed the storm that blew through. You guys should get married every year!


Another travelin' photo

Here's a shot from my recent travels to the south. I just remembered I had it in my camera. After our night out in New Orleans, we went out for beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. It was like having funnel cakes for breakfast, which was perfect.

What do you think? Does Jeff have a future as a hand model?

Running down a dream

I have excellent news and a plea. First, the excellent news: Jeff (yes, the Jeff of so many adventures from this blog) is going to run the New York City Marathon! We went to New York last year just to watch it and I've been bugging him ever since to run it himself. I'm super excited to be able to go out there and cheer him on. My friend Nancy will be running, too, so I'm not sure I'll have any energy left to cheer for Lance Armstrong. Sorry, Lance.

And now my plea. In order to get a spot in the marathon, Jeff has to raise money for charity. He'll be running for the Tourette Syndrome Association and he needs to raise $2,500. Jeff and I both know people affected by Tourettes and it's not just a punchline for jokes. So if you can spare a few dollars, go here and make a donation. It will go to a worthwhile charity while giving Jeff a chance to run a world-class marathon. Those Kenyans better watch out!


I'm all photo'd up

I've been out of the office for almost two weeks, but it's time to head back tomorrow. There was the trip to 'Bama and then I was at a photo editing workshop in Indiana. I know, sounds awesome, right?

Our trip to Mobile and New Orleans was professionally photographed by Jeff Haller but I don't have the photos yet. I promise they're great and I'll share some when I actually get them. I know Jeff has a real job and all so I'm willing to wait.

To keep you entertained in the meantime, I've provided a link to a story that I've been telling everyone to look at for the past few months. It's much easier to have them watch it if there's just a link, though, so here it is:

Now you must watch it. It may change your life.


I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don't need him around anyhow

So, it's a three day weekend you say? Surely Eileen and Jeff aren't going to be hanging around at home, right? Well you are correct! In just a few hours Jeff and I are heading south, south, south to the great state of Alabama.

You may remember Meggan from such episodes as "St. Patrick's Day, 2007" amd "50 Things to do with you iPod." Well, she's married now and she and Jeff (her husband, not Jeff my traveling companion. It gets confusing.) live in Mobile. So we're heading down to take in all the Dirty South has to offer. If I'm on my game, there will be photos and stories. Regardless, it is sure to awesome.


That looks familiar

So Jeff and I were watching "Lost" Thursday night (as we do) and I was flipping through the commercials on my Tivo (as I do) when something caught my eye. It was a giant wooden ice cream cone. It looked oddly familiar so I rewound and watched the whole thing. Turns out the commercial (for Sony) was shot in my old stomping grounds of Nevada City!

Now commercials aren't anything new around there, they filmed several when I lived in the area, but often it was made to look like some place else. You usually had to really look for stuff to recognize places. This commercial is more obvious. Also, there are a whole series of them filmed in Nevada City and Grass Valley and I saw a different one tonight. I guess I'll have to be more careful with my fast forwarding in the future. If you want to see one without all the tv watching, though, here you go.


"What is your destiny?" the policewoman said

In exactly one week, Jeff and I will be in Louisville enjoying the dulcet tones of Elvis Costello in concert. Even better is that I have the entire day off so it's a vacation AND a concert!

So much has been going on besides waiting for Mr. Costello to appear. Jeff and I spent Sunday in Sir Ranulph driving in a road rally on the west side. It's sort of like a scavenger hunt while you drive a set route. Did I mention we won? Because we did!

Then this Sunday is the Flying Pig Marathon which Jeff is running (again). I'll do my part by helping him carb load and Saturday night then waking up early on Sunday to cheer him on. Mostly I'm in it for the pasta.


I never knew the charm of spring

I can't tell you how happy I am that the sun is out and the flowers are blooming. I get to open the sunroof on Sir Ranulph again, too. Ahh, spring...


Have you ever wondered what my desk at work looks like?

Well, now you'll get to see! I have to learn iMovie for a conference I'm going to so I made a little project tonight using video I shot at my desk and a bunch of photos that were still on my camera. It's far from polished, but at least it didn't take me very long. I also think you'll enjoy the creepy Billy Bragg soundtrack.


Oh, I miss you, Flatiron Lounge!

There was a cool story in the New York Times this week about great bars for great martinis. They, too, bemoan the "tini" tag that has been slapped on everything these days. I love the Flatiron Lounge and Pegu Club so it looks like Death & Company might be on my list next time I make it to the big city.


Now I'm not one to sit and spin because living well's the best revenge

I apologize for the long absence. There was work to be done and cats that just had to sit on my lap. I know, I know, I'm just spread too thin. Also, my laptop crapped out and for some reason I now find it impossible to actually sit at a desktop computer and work (unless I'm actually at work).

I actually think the biggest reason for not writing is that I'm starting to believe it's actually 1994 and no one had heard of blogs in 1994. Why 1994? Well, in the last couple of weeks I've purchased new albums by R.E.M. and Counting Crows. Meanwhile, Jeff has ordered the new James album and can't wait for the new release from Portishead. It's like high school (or for Jeff, college) all over again!

Want some short reviews on my new purchases? I knew you did!

R.E.M. - Really good but I'm sure it's great. I think people are just happy that they no longer suck. I'll give it a few more listens before a final verdict, though.

Counting Crows - I miss old drugged up and crazy Adam Duritz. He's doing all these interviews about how calm he is these days and that never makes good music. I want more emotion and less adult alternative easy listening.

Billy Bragg - Oh yes, he has a new album, too. The first word that comes to mind is overproduced. But I am also missing young and crazy Billy. He's sounding awful middle aged these days.

O.K., so I'm back on the bus. Photos, music and all those things that you can get on the interweb in 2008 are soon to follow.


It amazes me how easy it is to not understand anything

Have you seen this new NBC show called "quarterlife"? First of all, you know it's hip because they don't capitalize it. Capitalization is so Gen X. It's mostly a bunch of kids just out of college blogging about their oh so complicated personal lives and smacking up against the real world after years of having their false self-esteem coddled by schools and parents. Life is so hard, people!

I watched the pilot tonight and I just kept thinking that I would have loved this show about eight years ago, but now I think all the characters should just shut up and get a job. I'm probably getting old.


It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out

I meant to get around to seeing Across The Universe when it was in the theaters, but that never happened. I got a copy of the DVD from the library, though, and finally watched it tonight. I liked it more than I thought I might. Like Hair, the second half is pretty trippy but there's a sweet story at its heart that kept me interested. The visuals were great, too. I especially enjoyed Bono's turn as the Ken Keseyeque Dr. Roberts, even if his accent changed every five seconds.

About halfway through the movie I had an epiphany. I have lost touch with The Beatles. Well, I guess it's hard to ever completely lose touch with The Beatles. Even 45 years (yes mom, 45) after their first album, their music is everywhere. What I mean is that I personally have stopped listening to them with regularity. When I was 13 and 14, I lived and breathed the band. Now I just stop by for a brief check in once or twice a year.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm temporarily suspending my erratic alphabetical album listening to go back and meet The Beatles. I'm going to work my way through their 13 British studio albums chronologically and remember why I love them so and how they affected my taste in music. Mostly I just want to go back and enjoy all the great tunes they've left us.


Getting closer...

I was checking out the menu for Jean-Robert's remake of Pho Paris called Chalk Food + Wine and was pleased that (1) they actually had drinks listed on the menu and (2) the drinks looked pretty good. Check it out:

1792 bourbon, sweet vermouth, blood orange bitters
hendricks gin or tito’s vodka, dry vermouth
espresso martini………………………………………………6.5
tito’s vodka, espresso, navan, godiva, half & half
mexican mojito……………………………………………..7
pueblo viejo tequila, mint, simple syrup, soda water
mai tai…………………………………………………….6.5
light rum, dark rum, amaretto, orange, pineapple
bourbon presbyterian………………………………………7
makers mark, soda water, ginger ale
mimosa royale……………………………………………….6.5
champagne, orange juice, chambord
first down……………………………………………………6.5
makers mark, amaretto, cranberry juice
pueblo viejo tequila, grand marnier, lime juice
vanilla martini…………………………………………………7
tito’s vodka, navan, half & half, blood orange bitters
cucumber basil martini………………………………………..7
cucumber, basil, hendricks gin, simple syrup
pomegranate fizz…………………………………………….7
tito’s vodka, crème de cassis, lemon juice, grenadine

I still frown upon the espresso martini, but I love that they're resurrecting the Manhattan and the Mai Tai. I'm also happy to see them use Hendricks Gin, my very favorite gin in the world. The prices aren't bad either.

Now, Twist Lounge may serve interesting drinks like this, but I wouldn't know because they don't have a drink menu!


Work is the curse of the drinking class

Ah, the difficult cocktail post. I've been thinking about bars in general and cocktails specifically for a while now. I have theories. I have prejudices, but most importantly I believe that I am right.

So here's how it works. If I'm at just a normal neighborhood bar, I'll almost always have a beer. If I'm really in the mood for a harder drink I'll order what I like to call a "something and something." You know, a gin and tonic, a vodka and orange juice or a rum and Coke (if I'm a sorority girl). I just don't trust a regular bar to know more than that.

And I'm o.k. with that. There's nothing wrong with a something and something drink as long as they're reasonably priced and well made and that's almost always the case at a neighborhood bar (although, I will warn you that I've run across my share of flat tonic water at these places).

Now, of course, there's a whole other class of bar out there. They're sometimes called "lounges," and you can almost always spot them by their proliferation of comfortable seating that isn't covered in vinyl. I'm a fan of comfortable seating so I like to check these places out. Unfortunately, they almost always disappoint me. At lounges, they like to serve drinks that end in "tini" and anything that ends in "tini" but doesn't begin with "mar" has no basis in reality. They are Disney World drinks.

The problem? Drinks that end in "tini" almost always cost $12 to $15 in these places, and if they're going to charge that much, I expect a transcendent cocktail. A transcendent cocktail doesn't involve chocolate syrup. It doesn't taste like a bowl of Apple Jacks, and it usually isn't pink.

Maybe I've been spoiled by my experiences at some great New York places like the Flatiron Lounge (there's that word again) or the Pegu Club. These are bars that specialize in unique drinks that are heavily grounded in the classic cocktails that have been all but forgotten in the "tini" world.

So I was very excited when I heard about a new place opening downtown. Twist Lounge is owned by Jean-Robert de Cavel, who runs about a billion restaurants in Cincinnati all of which I love. Surely he could do a lounge like it is meant to be. Jeff and I went to check it out right before Christmas with our hopes high. We had been to Flatiron Lounge just a few weeks before so they would have a lot to live up to.

Things didn't look good from the get go. The bartender came over to greet us at our table (which I love) but when I asked for a drink menu, she said they didn't have one. Drink menus are important people! Check out the one at The Alembic in San Francisco. You love it already, don't you?

Instead our bartender began to talk about all the great "tinis" they have. There was a vanilla one, a raspberry one and a chai one. It was like being at Starbucks, except without a menu. Jeff and I ordered the chai one still with hopes of transcendence, but it was not to be. We were presented with giant goblets of martini glasses, their bottoms covered with a swirl of chocolate syrup. There were no fresh fruit juices and I'm pretty sure that if I'd ordered a Negroni, I'd have been met with a blank stare and a turned back as the bartender referenced a dusty cocktail book hidden in the corner. When the bill came later, sure enough we were paying $12 for our frappuccinos with alcohol.

Maybe Cincinnati just isn't ready for house made tonic water, a reinvented Sidecar or a drink that doesn't end in "tini." But I thought if anyone could do it, it was Jean-Robert. Sometimes people just need to be shown that their $12 can buy something tastier than a Yoo-hoo and vodka. I guess I'm sticking with the something and something drinks in The 'Nati.


I'm one of the Oceanic Six!

I can't tell you how happy I am about the season premiere of Lost! Of course it raised a ton of all new questions:

Who are the Oceanic Six?
Is Hurley really crazy?
Who are the people on the freighter?
What was Jack's dad doing in Jacob's cabin?
Who the heck is Jacob anyway?

But what I've realized is the questions are way more fun than the answers anyway. It's all about the journey. Combine that with the fact that there are rumors today that the writer's strike might be over soon and it's all starting to look like a Groundhog Day miracle!


Bonus picture!

I know this is a little late, but whatever. I hope you guys all stayed warm over Christmas, because I did:

This is all I have to hang onto now that I'm back in the cold lands of the north. Oh sunshine, I miss you!

I know these fast cars will do me no good

So last weekend's trip to the auto show in Detroit was awesome. It could have been a little warmer (anything above 10 degrees would have been welcome) but we were indoors most of the time anyway.

Inside those doors were many expensive cars. I was a big fan of the $458,000 Rolls Royce mostly because it it was just such a giant slab of conspicuously consumed metal. There's nothing subte about it. On the other end of the spectrum, there were a lot of fun little cars, too. I got to check out the new smartcar and see the Mini Clubman. Mini also had a twin of Sir Ranulph on display. This one had a white roof so I guess they're fraternal twins.

Most of all it was fun to see Michelle. She's been busy all all get out lately, but she and Mike spent the day looking at cars with us. Later, we went to sushi and Michelle used her tiny magic fingers to align our backs and such. It was awesome. Here's a picture of Michelle at the auto show. She's in a new BMW that's a relative bargain at $100,000. I'll take four!


The teachers tolds us, the Romans built this place

I'm getting ready to head up to Detroit for the auto show, but I thought I'd do a quick post before I left. I have some things I want to say about cocktails and how they're made, but I think that's going to have to wait for another day. Today I'll just tell you about my next album.

In a sad break with tradition, I listened to Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994 on my new iPod, Abbey, and not Declan. It all makes me a little nostalgic.

What doesn't make me nostalgic is the album. I find the older I get the more I like The Police and the less I like Sting's solo work. In high school, I didn't really like much of anything by The Police, but there were several Sting songs I liked. Now, everything by Sting sounds like a giant yawn to me. Even "Fields of Gold" which I've always loved despite it's massive overexposure sounds stale. I don't know why, though. Does something happen to your ears after you turn 30?

I can see it now. It's only a matter of time until all music "sounds like noise to me" and I'll complain endlessly about all the crap "kids are listening to these days." (I already do a little - emo, anyone?) I just didn't think it would start with Sting.

On the other hand, it could just be that Sting is boring. I'll stick with that.


I don't wanna work in a building downtown

My resolution for the new year? More blog posts! I promise. I know only four people read this blog, but I'm positive that they want to know what I'm up to. So in an effort to catch readers up on weeks and weeks of my life, I give you bullet points:
  • I got a new iPod for Christmas! I haven't decided how this will affect my effort to listen to all my music, but it will probably just make it longer. Abbey is a 160 gb silver iPod classic. Don't worry about Declan, though. He's still getting use in my car.
  • I saw Atonement last night and I recommend it to everyone. Read the book first if you get the chance, but if you don't, go see it anyway. It's worth it just for James McAvoy. Between this one and The Last King of Scotland he's quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. Maybe he's the new Ewan McGregor?
  • Speaking of movies, I really want to see Cloverfield. I feel like it might be a sci-fi Blair Witch Project, but would that be so bad? I think not.
  • Jeff and I are going to Detroit next weekend to see the North American International Auto Show. We'll get to hang out with my friend Michelle and check out all the fancy cars. Should be fun.
  • I'm a little bummed that the college football season is over. I'm glad Ohio State lost in the national championship game, though. They need to be taken down a notch. Only eight months until next season!
  • It's only two and a half weeks until Lost finally premieres. I'm not sure we'll get a whole season any time soon what with the writer's strike and all, but I'll take what I can get.
So that's all I got for now. Tune in soon for a list of some of my favorite new music and perhaps some photos from Detroit.