Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Rob!
I'm celebrating with homemade pork fried rice, ODD NOTION summer 09, and a Judas Priest soundtrack. Life is good.
Rebby is home for the time being...well, she's not HOME right now, she's working a late shift, but she is not out of town. In fact, we actually got to spend the ENTIRE DAY TOGETHER yesterday! We celebrated that fact by driving out Rt 51 and buying a new mattress. Yes indeedy. I would like to send a special shout out to Dan at Mattress World for being so delightfully nonplussed about it. He was a little bit nervous, like brand new sales guy nervous, but the fact that we were two ladies buying a mattress didn't seem to phase him at all. In fact, he really seemed to like us and got a little excited to show us features of a lot of different mattresses. He invited us to lie on all of them if we wanted to. Hee hee! We settled on a Sealy Courtland Square Firm mattress. We did lay on a bunch of them...including a Tempur-pedic which freaked me out completely. Those things feel like they are ALIVE. I felt a little bit like I was being swallowed. Not cool. Our Sealy is nice and firm but with a pillow top. I am hoping they'll deliver it tomorrow, but I might have to leave work early some day this week. I also need to do some important rearranging of some items in the bedroom before I invite strangers in. :)
Besides the mattress shopping, we stopped at the Goodwill where I got 5 alcohol themed teeshirts for work. I actually found a Magic Hat shirt, a Guinness shirt, a shirt for Barefoot Wines, and one that simply says KEG KILLER. That I find Hi-la-rious. Oh, the fifth one isn't actually alcohol just says Hawaii. Also got a really large stoneware bowl for bread dough, a pile of butterknives for the restaurant, and some presents for rebby: a coffee thermos and a little ipod carrying case with built in speakers. All in all a very good trip to the goodwill.
Oh yeah, we also stopped at Best Buy for Mighty Boosh. Unfortunately they didn't have season #2 but I got season one and three. Oh yeah, and we stopped at the Dormont Record Exchange where I found season 3 of Aqua Teens. I've got a lot of comedy to watch.
We were out Dormont way to have breakfast with Dad and the siblings and nephews and Aunt Sandy who was in town for Shannon's baby shower. The breakfast was a little out of control: biscuits with eggs, sausage, sausage gravy, chocolate gravy (yes, you read that right---tasted like pudding) blackberry gravy (delicious!) wild honey, apple butter, blueberry jam, and lots and lots of coffee. Unfortunately the biscuits came out of a can---if I had known that was happening I definitely would have offered to bake them. But there was such an array of stuff to put on top that it didn't really matter. We hung out with them for a while and then headed out on our adventures.
Tomorrow I have the day off, besides having to go to the strip and maybe meeting Alan for coffee. I'll try to get a little review of our dinner at the casino together....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wow, I totally dropped the ball there. Can't believe I didn't manage to throw up an Alice review. Oh this point it seems a little ridiculous, but I also feel like I should do it for my own sense of completion and so I can look back on it later. Maybe tomorrow.
What I am DEFINITELY doing tomorrow, though, is going to an introductory lecture on Zazen and THEN going to see How to Cook Your Life and afterwards to a reception where the subject of that film will be present. This is one of those "most thrilling/most terrifying" moments of your life kind of things. Edward Espe Brown made me into the cook I am today, which if you know me or have been following this blog at all, you know is pretty much how I define myself. I'm really not much of a rock star anymore. I'm certainly not much of a writer. But I am a fierce cook and a fierce gardener and I am extremely PASSIONATE about food, and the first spark of this passion was ignited by Tassajara Cooking. This edition came out in 1986 and I am pretty sure I got it then, at the hippie co-op grocery store under my hippie co-op dorm. Here is my favorite passage from the book:
"Whatever is done will not make a cucumber more of a cucumber or a radish more of a radish. Cucumber is cucumber, radish is radish. What is done may make a vegetable more suitable to some particular taste--that's the usual way, to see what taste we want. But why not ask the cucumber, why not ask the radish? What is the taste it would like to express?"
Seriously hippie talk, but I have tried to keep it in the back of my mind in all my cooking. I think the simplest recipes are usually the best. I think molecular gastronomy and all that ilk is interesting, but I don't really think it is about nourishing. What I want to do is definitely nourish, and I first learned about the difference in reading through Edward's cookbooks.
So tomorrow I will go to a reception where he will be, and I will have the chance to meet him, and what will that be like? Is there something to say? Is it weird to ask a Zen priest to autograph your mildewy, broken spined, tomato splashed cookbook?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Blue Oyster Cult/Alice Cooper August 1st 2009
Ohio State Fair Celeste Center

Wow, I started this blog years ago as a concert review blog! And here I am reviewing a concert again. It's been a long time Pittsburgh.
So anyway, as soon as this show was announced like four months ago I ordered tickets. Still managed to get somewhat crappy seats over to the extreme right side of the stage. When ordering I kept trying to maybe get second tier seats in the middle but the bot wouldn't allow it. :( In any case, it was nice to have a great view of the SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER. Oh yes---she comes with every show at the Celeste Center.
Rebby and I hit the road at about noon and made it into Columbus at about 3:30pm (after a few construction delays.) It was a nice road trip, and we got to yell "Hare Krishna" into the canyon as we passed Moundsville WVA. Our Holiday Inn Express was just off the highway and we arrived without incident. Got to the room, unpacked the snack bag into the mini fridge, and immediately jumped in the jacuzzi. Ah.
Unfortunately this hotel did not carry VH1 Classic so we had to settle for some dance off show featuring troupes dancing to the works of Michael Jackson. Ho hum.
The jacuzzi was nice and we wilted ourselves for over an hour. Then got dressed and headed out for the fair.
The fair was right around the corner on the other side of the highway. By the time we actually got to our parking spot, though, we were practically back at the hotel. (I don't think it would have been possible to walk there, though, as it is a divided highway.) We parked and hiked across the muddy parking area to the fair entrance.
By this time we were both starving. Oh, and I realized I had forgotten my fair program back at the hotel. I had a map, but it proved useless. The upshot being the only agricultural displays we found were the sheep. We also didn't read the map carefully and ended up settling for some half decent cheesesteaks when we could have gone a few more feet and gotten some fantastic barbecue, or amish food, or something from the Taste of Ohio Cafe. Sigh. It's not that the cheesesteaks were BAD by any means. They just were not as good as something else might have been had we understood what all the fair had to offer. Sometimes being TOO HUNGRY clouds your judgement.
So after finishing our passable fair food we continued on to the MUTTON BUSTIN arena. I am not going to go into great detail about the MUTTON BUSTIN because the more I think about it the more it creeps me the hell out. Go and watch a youtube video about it. The youngest participant we saw was THREE YEARS OLD. I just think it's wrong.
From the Mutton Bustin we walked around the sheep show a bit, then checked out more of the food vendors, looking in vain for a bona fide apple fritter. No luck. Maybe it's just a northern Ohio thing. In the end I settled for an elephant ear but there was so much cinnamon sugar on it I could only manage half. So much for going buck wild on the fair food! rebby had a chocolate covered frozen banana and seemed to really enjoy it. We walked past the venue and saw lots of people already queued up, and the very cool LED marquee they had scrolling Alice's spider face and ALICE COOPER in big red letters. I started to get really excited--too excited to eat my elephant ear.
We finished up our treats and headed into the venue. Surprisingly, the venue itself was DRY as well as the fair. I think many people in the audience were surprised at that. I was more thrilled than anything at the thought of not having people getting up out of their seats every 20 minutes for beer, and no stupid drunk person behaviors. It was a nice change.
We walked all the way around the perimeter of the theater looking for the merch, and finally had to ask a security guard. Again surprisingly, they had the merch table set up INSIDE the concert hall! Never seen that before. We got in the very long line in front of a little girl in a top hat and big spider necklace with her parents. Saw several other folks with Alice eyes, but only one dude in ill fitting vinyl pants. A new record :) We finally got to the front of the line and the possibilities were endless. There were at least 5 different Alice t shirt designs, a couple of BOC shirts, stickers, bandanas, keychains, buttons, CDs....rebby and I each picked one of the Theatre of Death T Shirt designs, she got a bandana, I got a keychain, and we got a sticker set to share. There were a couple of other tshirt designs I really liked and if I end up getting to the Erie show I am definitely getting another one. Probably the trashes the world version.
So we gathered our merch and went back to our seats (luckily at the end of a row) to get ready for BOC. The stage was set with Alice's backdrop already, so we got a good look at the eyes. It looked a lot like the Eyes from the "Eyes" tour, only they didn't flash any lights. That's alright, there was plenty else to make up for it.
People watching at an Alice Cooper show is a lot of fun. I spotted a t shirt from the Elyria Harley Davidson store, several vintage Alice shirts, some BOC shirts, and the usual inexplicable ones like Paul McCartney and Heart. Huh? I saw one fellow wearing the Will Ferrel "more cowbell" t-shirt. Ha. One guy a couple rows up had a shirt proclaiming him to be a member of some hardcore BOC fan club. I wonder what he thought of the show....
Finally the lights went down and the BOC opening music montage started. It included, I kid you not, a clip from the "more cowbell" sketch. I found this very troublesome and immediately drifted into a consideration of the possibility that there could be folks in the audience who ONLY KNEW BOC FROM THIS SKETCH. Shudder. That can't be possible, right? Even if you didn't KNOW BOC, you at least have heard "Don't Fear the Reaper" on the radio before seeing this comedy sketch, right? Luckily, they came out on stage and launched into "The Red and the Black" and took my mind off of the philosophical problem.
Only, they played a sort of funk/blues version of the song, and Eric Bloom was being a real dorkwad. He wore a t shirt with a demonic poodle on it, and a leather vest over that. He was really, really trying too hard. Thankfully, Buck Dharma is awesome in direct proportion to Eric Bloom's doucheyness. Buck wore a white button down shirt, a black vest, his shades, and a guitar that appeared to be made out of swiss cheese. The other guys in the band are all hired guns (as I suppose most of BOC has been over the past 20 years judging from their website) including Rudy Sarzo on bass who seems to have played at least once in every band in existance since 1976. They played Before The Kiss (A Redcap)another weirdly bluesy version, and then Buck sang
Burnin' for You and I relaxed. Buck is just so cool. And his guitar is one of those standout guitar sounds no one else can do. Love it.
Next up was Cities on Flame, which was spectacularly sign language interpreted. If I see you in person, please ask me to demonstrate the sign language interpretation of this song. It got the crowd all pumped up and even I let my cynicism drop and danced around. Next up was a mind blower: Shooting Shark. Buck introduced it as "a patti smith song" which made it even more awesome. I had not thought of that song since the late 80s and wow, it's beautiful. Definitely my favorite moment of the BOC show.
Godzilla was next, and I was SO BORED that I left to get a sprite. Seriously, I have to say that BOC suffers for lack of beer. When I got back everyone was doing tedious instrumental solos. I started to get a headache, but I sucked down my sprite and got through it. Really? solos in a 45 minute set? Waste of my time. They finished with
(Don't Fear) The Reaper, of course, complete with some joker stationed behind the speaker stack wailing on the cowbell. It made me pretty sad to think that BOC is not just a nostalgia act, but a self consciously jokey nostalgia act. It was way better seeing them at the Mansfield rib fest.
(back with Alice in a moment...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

FINALLY got confirmation that rebby can go to see Alice Cooper and BOC with me on August 1st at the Ohio State Fair. Before she could say another word I booked a king sized deluxe jacuzzi suite. I have my priorities.
This summer has been all about the out of town gigs for her...she's gone at least Mon-Fri, and occasionally over the weekend as well. This past weekend she was home but I had to work all day Saturday and Sunday, and it's gonna be like that next weekend too. So by the time August 1st rolls around, we will have gone three solid weeks without spending any time together at all (aside from the Dormont steak party, a few hours yesterday morning, and sleeping.)
I am determined that we will do NO CHORES that weekend and instead will hop in the truck super early Saturday morning, have a nice road trip to Columbus, poke around the city a little bit, check into our hotel, enjoy all it has to offer, spend a few hours wandering the Ohio State Fair eating fair food and looking at giant prizewinning zucchini and pigs, then settle in for a restorative rock show.
Back to the jacuzzi, sleepin, and then a leisurely breakfast somewhere and back on the road. I might even turn my cellphone off for the whole weekend. That is how serious I am about this.
So the next hurdle we are still trying to jump is the September vacation hurdle. She still has not gotten a confirmation that she can come for the whole vacation, and I am running out of patience with her superiors. If I don't hear anything in the next day I am just going to book my plane ticket and hope I can get her on the same flight later if it turns out she can go. Can't wait around forever when I have GREEN CHILE in my future!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Law and Order, Toddler Division

Last night rebby and I went to Dormont for steaks after I worked all day at the Pittsburgh Small Press Festival. It turned out that dad was having a giant steak party, with not only my bro and sisters and the nephews, but also bro-in-law (who happened to be having a birthday) and his parents, sister and her kid, and their grandmother. Whew! Oh and plus Kirby the dog. It was quite a party, and the combined racket of a 2.5, 3 and 6 year old is deafening. The moms managed to get the boys to eat a few bites of dinner before running off into the house in search of mischeif.
The adults were able to eat most of our dinner in peace with only the occasional shriek until Brady (the 2.5 year old) came out on the porch with a cheeseball in his mouth. How did he get a cheesball, when the cheesballs were located on the mantel?
Bro-in-law Ron went inside to investigate. After surveying the scene he determined that someone must have climed up onto the arm of the overstuffed leather chair, stood on tippytoes, knocked over the stuffed willie nelson, reached past the pretzel rods, and grabbed the giant jar of cheeseballs. The boys were not talking. No one fessed up to the crime, and they were all enjoying the spoils. Hardened criminals, all looking out for each other's back.
UNTIL......about twenty minutes later tyler(the three year old) come out of the house shrieking that Brady (the 2.5 year old) took his popsicle right out of his hand. Tyler's mom got him calmed down just as it was starting to rain and the adults decided to go inside. As we are moving inside, Brady's mom asks Brady if he did indeed steal Tyler's popsicle. Brady shook his head no. Brady's mom then asked him where the popsicle was, and he pointed to the chair. So the adults start lifting the cusions on the chair, looking for melted popsicle. No evidence. Then, Kyle (my bro) finds a popsicle stick on the floor, next to the chair. Was this Tyler's popsicle? Did Tyler actually eat the popsicle, and then try to get another one by libeling Brady? Did Brady actually steal the popsicle and eat it? Again Brady was questioned, and again he claimed his innocence and pointed to the chair. At this point both the accuser and the accused ran out of the room, so we turned to the witness--Tristan, 6.
Tristan immediately claims "I didn't see it!" and tries to run out of the room as well. He is detained by Aunt Stacy, who asks again what happened. Breaking under the pressure, Tristan exclaims "Tyler tripped and fell and the popsicle went under the chair!!!!" and runs out of the room. So the adults once again set about locating the missing popsicle. Kyle looks and doesn't see it. Stacy looks and doesn't see it. The chair is moved slightly, but there isn't much room to pull it out from the wall. So the flashlight is called in, and I go to retrieve it from its secret location (the flashlights have to be hidden or else they are turned into light sabers. This is how we roll at the Johnston house) Stacy shines the flashlight under the chair and there, all the way at the back, is the missing purple popsicle, half melted and completely covered in dog hair.
Mystery solved, all parties are acquitted, everyone gets a new popsicle, and the night goes on.
And in just a few short months, two new babies are going to be added to the equation. Wow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sorry to end my blogging silence on a sad note, but I am feeling weirdly affected by the death of Michael Jackson and I just want to talk about it a little bit. Share some of my Michael Jackson memories. I'm in the middle of downloading a bunch of MJ and J5 songs to put together a mix for the Quiet Storm tomorrow. I wasn't even paying attention to how many or how much they are going to cost. (yes, I pay for my downloaded music. Amazon mostly) Oh well, I have hardly spent any money in the past two weeks.

Anyway, memory one is sitting in my kitchen in my Greenfield apartment. This is probably 1987 or 88. I've got the radion on...hard to say what station it might have been. I usually listened to WXXP but it most likely was a more pop oriented station. They played some Michael Jackson song---I think it was "Rock With You" but it might have been something (not Thriller) from Thriller. My apartment mate came in the kitchen and sat down at the table with me. There was an uncomfortable silence for about half the song, and finally one of us (I can't say for sure which) blurted out "I love this song!" and the other one immediately said "Oh me TOO!" this was a major bonding moment for us. We never mentioned it again.

Memory #2 is really a series of memories, for it seems like this happened at every dance party I either had or attended througout the end of the 90s until now. What this is, is, dirty dancing to something off of Thriller (PYT most of the time) with Jim Mueller. I remember one party in particular (at Julie Chill's Regent Square place) where the dancing got really dirty. In general, I don't think I've ever had or attended a dance party where some MJ jam didn't bring everyone to the dance floor.

Memory #3 goes all the way back to childhood. My sister and I had the J5 album above (Lookin Through the Windows) and we listened to it almost as much as the Donny and Marie album. I am listening to some of those songs right now and they are the ones that are really making me tear up. I'm pretty sure that record got cracked...but I replaced it at a yard sale recently.

I don't have a memory of watching the iconic "Billie Jean" performance (in 1983 I was begining my new wave odyssey and I probably wouldn't be caught dead watching Michael Jackson with anything but disdain.) I was definitely in the camp of being totally pissed off at Eddie Van Halen for performing with him on "Beat It." It took me quite a while to get over the hipster snobbishness to realize that dance music is IMPORTANT. Getting people to move their bodies and have a good time is important. No body did it like Michael.

I'm not going to say anything about the weirdness. Except the Lisa Marie Presley thing. That was weirdness that kind of affected me. The rest of it...I don't look forward to the merciless dissection of his personal life that is inevitable in our celebrity obsessed culture. I kind of want to hide under a rock till it blows over.

But mostly, I want to dance around my kitchen to "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."
That's what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh goodness. Just got a call from rebby that she is going to Atlanta on Sunday for TWO WEEKS. At which point she will return and DRIVE TO CHICAGO for another couple weeks. Cripes. I guess I need to get used to being a single girl. I guess I need to get a basket for my bicycle so I can haul some groceries around. I guess I should really get a cat so I don't talk to myself.
So, last night we went downtown to see Meshell Ndegeocello. It was a really wonderful show--I only really knew a couple of the songs she did, but her performance was so full of life and joy and yep, sex, that I couldn't stop moving the whole time. Her band is super tight and jazzy, and for the most part she didn't play the bass. Every once in a while though she would get really excited and pick it up and just wail. It was really awesome and I'm so glad we went.
It was also the premier event at the August Wilson Center, which is looking really good. They still have a lot of work to do on the building but the theater is amazing. There was a little reception before the concert and I discovered a new favorite thing that I never would have expected: Barefoot Wines Muscato. I'm not usually one to pick up a glass of white wine on purpose, but for some reason I reached for this (maybe because I was hot and it looked refreshing) and man, is it good! It is really sweet, so I wouldn't want it with a heavy meal, but with a nice crisp salad I think it would be perfect. I'm gonna go look for it at the Wine Store for sure.
Before the little wine reception, rebby and I stopped in to what now seems to be called the 941 Saloon(formerly Liberty Ave Saloon) for a beer. For some reason which I can't begin to explain, we NEVER go to gay bars in Pittsburgh, even though we like to check them out when travelling. The Saloon did not disappoint..they played MIA and JT and there were lots of flirty boys there. It made us both wish we could go to a dance party.
Even before the gay bar, we went down to check out the installation of our friend Colin which is part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. He made some amazing post apocalyptic mermaids out of barbies, and really gorgeous prints and mirror pieces and altar pieces. Apparently, a performance artist from San Fracisco wants to bring his work out there--awesome! I'll just be glad to have him back in Pittsburgh soon.
Today is still technically staycation, but I actually need to go in to work to do some stuff for the Mattress Factory tonight and brunch on Sunday. I am hoping I can get in there and do my stuff without having to deal with what is going on in the kitchen--wish me luck.