Thursday, February 28, 2008

king of blues

See the King of Blues live in concert

This officially has been crossed off my list of things to do before I die.

Tonight at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, I had the honor and privilege of seeing the legendary B.B. King live in concert. The man might be 82 years old, he might be unable to stand and walk for long periods of time, he might have diabetes, but he can still belt out the blues. His guitar sounds so sweet and pure, the notes drip off the strings like honey. His voice is so strong and powerful that it gives you chills when he really gets into the song. It's even more unbelievable when you realize that, by his own admission, he doesn't know how to play chords and he just improvises his way through everything.

He's quite a storyteller and half the concert is him rambling through long winded stories, making jokes and laughing at himself. His band backs him up beautifully and he often lets them take the lead. It doesn't matter. It's worth the price of admission to hear him talk, sing and play even for the few songs he actually fits in.

To see him play in the 1300 seat Keswick was even more incredible. There isn't a bad seat in the house and the acoustics and sound were tuned perfectly. It was a great show and I still can't believe that I was there.

Monday, February 25, 2008

virginia wine country and stephen colbert's portrait

As soon as Stephen Colbert's portrait was hung in the National Portrait Gallery it was a goal to go see it before they took it down. It was originally scheduled to be up for 6 weeks, which would make this past weekend the final weekend, but the National Portrait Gallery extended the "exhibition" through April 1. I suspect the NPG realized that they were drawing in more young people than they had in a while and those young people were staying to see the other exhibits and to spend their money in the gift shop. At any rate, go see it if you're a fan of Stephen Colbert. It's quite humorous to see his portrait hanging over the water fountains between the men's and women's restrooms on the second floor. People crowd around the portrait taking photos and we were no exception.

While we were at the NPG, we explored the exhibit Obata's Yosemite. Japanese artist Chiura Obata visited Yosemite National Park in 1927 and sketched and painted the landscape and weather there. He produced watercolors and woodcut prints from his sketches. The colors were striking, even today 80 years after.

Also on exhibit right now at the NPG is Recognize! which is an installation highlighting portraits and photographs of hip hop. The exhibit provided a different perspective of the hip hop community.

We also went on a short wine tour while we were in Virginia. We visited four wineries on Saturday. The first was Piedmont Cellars which, frankly, I found mostly forgettable. We picked up a bottle of their 2006 Hunt Country Red and a sweet desert wine which I will pass along to my father.

The second winery we visited was Naked Mountain Winery. At Naked Mountain, you can go for a tasting and stay for their lasagna lunch. The lasagna was delicious and their wine was quite good also. We purchased a bottle of the 2005 Chardonnay. I picked up a bumper sticker that proclaims "DRINK NAKED" for the very reason that you suspect. Their tasting room was a lot of fun, their lunch was delicious and they have three great dogs running around, including one black lab that has a sign on his collar that says "Please don't feed me." So in spite of his best sad puppy eyes, he isn't getting any shnibbles to eat.

Third was Linden Vineyards, which turned out to have the best wine and also a nice Case Club members only deck where you could drink wine by the glass or bottle and choose from a selection of nice cheeses to pair with the wine. Again we bought another Chardonnay, the 2005 Avenius Chardonnay, and we also chose the 2006 Vidal Riesling. They had barrels on the porch for $50 each, one of which nearly came home with us, but it was decided to wait until another trip.

The fourth and final winery of the day was Gadino Cellars. We had a bit of palette fatigue by the time we arrived here and as the day was getting a bit long, we settled on one bottle of the 2005 Viognier. We ended up drinking this when we got home on Sunday and we found it to be quite enjoyable and it paired well with the shrimp and chicken lo meins.

Saturday night we had a wonderful Italian dinner at Luciano's, where we were treated to a free bottle of Antonini Ceresa Prosecco champagne with dessert. The champagne put a nice little finish to a beautiful day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I took my cameras out to document the beautiful total lunar eclipse tonight. This will be the last one until December of 2010, so I didn't want to miss it. Unfortunately my digital camera doesn't have manual settings for aperture or shutter speed and it only has 3x optical zoom. With those limitations in mind, I also grabbed my film SLR and the only roll of film I had. The film will get developed shortly and I'll post those as soon as I can scan them in. In the meantime, here are a few decent shots from my digital point and shoot. The eclipse was incredible. I'm really glad the clouds cleared (and just in time) so it could be seen. Saturn is to the lower left of the moon and Regulus is above it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

the weather is a-changin'

I left work early today to visit the doctor so I could finally kill whatever has been attacking my immune system for the last 2 1/2 weeks (successful trip, I walked away with no less than three prescriptions). When I walked outside, I commented out loud to no one in particular that it was a really nice day out. It was warm and my car's thermometer agreed. It read 70 when I got in it at the office. By the time I was on 76, it read 67, which was probably slightly more accurate. When I got to Route 1, the clouds were darkening dramatically, almost like a movie. The thermometer still read 67. The clouds were unreal, though. They were incredibly dark with light gray and white wisps highlighting them. As I turned onto Broad Street, it was noticeably cooler and my car's thermometer read 64. I started snapping photos on Broad because the dark clouds were striking against the blue background. By the time I pulled into my driveway, the car was telling me it was 59 degrees out. Unbelievable. In 45 minutes it went from 70 to 59. It never rained, though. It's sunny out at the house.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

to blatantly steal a line from a song

I am the luckiest.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

there are still kind people in the world

The proof, in the lobby of the Jenkintown train station.

You have to document things like this because you don't see them enough.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Restaurant Week - Gigi's

Jared, Heather, Tommy and his wife Jamie and I went to Gigi's at 3rd and Market to take advantage of the final night of Restaurant Week.

The weather was awful. It rained all day, it was windy, which made the wet cold. Jared and I were talking about how when we were kids, a day like this would have been all snow and we would have been sledding the next day. Global warming, I guess...

Jared had wanted to try Zot, which is a Belgian place in Old City, but by the time he got around to making the reservations they were all booked. He settled on Gigi's. He didn't know anything about it, but the menu was interesting so we gave it a shot. All in all, it was a rather good meal, but it didn't blow any of us away. In fact the best part of the night was the parking spot we got. When you get a spot right in front of the restaurant, you just have to take a photo to prove it.

Gigi's presented a four course menu, which was a little bit of a change from the three course menus that most restaurants offer. The started us out with a salad, then appetizer, entree and dessert. I picked the Belgian Endive Salad, which came with bartlett pears and walnuts. Generally, I find that pears really compliment a salad well and this was no exception. The appetizer that I selected was the cornmeal dusted calamari. The cornmeal gave a different texture and flavor to the calamari, but what really stood out about the dish were the dips. A scallion aioli and a creamy chipotle sauce were excellent. The main entree was a coffee rubbed rib eye. This was an interesting slab of meat. Coffee is not the first thing I would think to pair with a steak, but it was certainly not a bad combination. A nearly flavorless flourless chocolate cake was a disappointing finish to the meal. Jared and Tommy's lemon and vanilla flan was a much better choice.

After dinner, we went around the corner to visit one of Max and David's mashgiachs whose apartment is on top of a gallery. Since it was First Friday in the city, the gallery was had an open house with wine and sushi and these tasty little rice krispie brownie thingies. I've never been to a gallery where they performed Kiddush for Shabbas. I felt horribly under-Jewish there. Faygie gave us the tour of her apartment, which is really nice. Jared sat in an odd little chair that didn't quite fit.

The hardwood floors were beautiful, old worn wood. I suppose it is a little odd that the floors are what I remember, aside from the extremely steep and narrow stairs that would be difficult to navigate up or down while intoxicated.

It was good to get out of the house on Friday night, but sadly in our old age, we were back home by 9 pm and wondering what to do next.