Thursday, May 21, 2009

The God of Wine...

While Dave was working as a bartender at Alpine Country Club, he became friends with his boss, Michael. Though neither of them work there any longer, they have managed to keep in touch and remain friends. Michael recently wrote a book on wine (see it here), and asked Dave to help him by taking instructional pictures to be included in it. When the book was released, he had a book signing at this cute little cafe in Nyack, and presented Dave with a copy of the book. It even has Dave's name mentioned in the Acknowledgments!

Michael also announced the news that night that he has been contacted by the Culinary Institute of America's California Campus to possibly use his book for their wine course next semester!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Home, Home On The...

Matt, Jenna, & I took an interesting road trip (Jenna's first) to Columbus, OH for Rock on the Range. I first heard about this show while looking up dates for Avenged Sevenfold. Even after seeing them eight times, I'm always ready for another show of theirs. It turned out that they were playing at a weekend-long rock festival in the Columbus Crew soccer stadium, along with Atreyu, Slipknot, Korn, Chevelle, All That Remains, and about thirty other bands that we wanted to see.

We left around 8pm on Friday night, and didn't arrive at our hotel until around 4am Saturday morning. It was a relatively uneventful trip, except for a wrong turn onto the Ohio Turnpike, and when a sleeping Jenna was attacked by a humongous beetle. (We named him Ringo, and he stayed with us in a water bottle for the entire trip.)

The first band that we were interested in seeing didn't take the stage until after 1pm, so we had plenty of time to sleep and get ourselves together. We sat in miles of traffic to get into the stadium, but made it there in time for Jenna's first pick: Halestorm. They were decent, but I grew tired of the Joan Jett-modeled performance pretty quickly.

I caught a bit of a bunch of different sets that day, but the main ones that interested me were All That Remains, Atreyu, Chevelle, and Slipknot. Chevelle was on the main stage, and they were pretty good, but I left halfway through their set to wa
it around for All That Remains. Their set was short, but they were awesome, and I couldn't wait to see them again.

Matt did a meet & greet with Atreyu in the afternoon, and they all signed his ticket stub from last ye
ar's Taste of Chaos - Asbury Park, which is where he met Jenna. It was a cute idea, but somehow the two of them got into an argument over it, and were pissed off at each other for a few hours. They were over it by the time we were waiting for Atreyu to start, and the three of us got a great spot all the way up front. Atreyu was excellent, as always.

We wandered around for a bit and grabbed some munchies, waiting for Slipknot to
start. It was getting really cold and windy as it got dark, and we agreed that we probably wouldn't stay for the entire set. When they finally got started, we were way back in the crowd, and I really couldn't see anything. Even the video screens were difficult to see, there were so many people. The band was tight and crazy, and the crowd was totally invested in it. That's when we found out that moshing in Ohio is more like country line-dancing combined with football practice. The kids would start standing still on opposite ends of the circle, and run at each other full force, slamming their shoulders into one-another. It reminded us of what it must look like to go cow-tipping. Anyway, though I didn't know much of their music after the first album, I'd always wanted to see Slipknot live, and they did not disappoint. Our only complaint was that whenever Corey Taylor would talk between songs, he was just too damn nice! I've always loved his voice; it's probably my favorite in rock. By the time we were shivering so much that we left, I already had a mental list of the songs I would be downloading when we got home. We headed back to the hotel to collapse, and do it all again tomorrow.

Sunday was an easy-going day, with very few bands on my must-see list. I watched a bit of Clutch, some of Hoobastank, and a couple of songs from Saving Abel. Matt & Jenna got their lips pierced during the afternoon, too. Finally, I moved all the way up front on the main stage for Shinedown, then waited through Buckcherry, and pushe
d my way to the rail for Avenged Sevenfold. It took hours of being crushed by the crowd, but I finally got to see my favorite band. Unfortunately, some huge guy behind me decided he needed to be where I was standing. During the second song of the set, he started crushing me against the girl in front of me, and then wrapped his fat arm completely around my face and tried to suffocate me. For the first time in my life, I tapped a security guard and asked to be pulled out of the crowd. Hours of waiting, sweating, unable to breathe, for two songs. I was pretty pissed off, practically crying, as I walked through the crowd and all the way to the back, where I met up with Matt & Jenna. I cheered up as I watched my favorite band perform, and when they were finished, we beat a hasty retreat to avoid hearing any of Motley Crue.

Back at the hotel, we gorged ourselves on Domino's pizza and breadsticks, and crashed early. We were up pretty early in the morning to eat free Holiday Inn Express breakfast, and get on the road. The ride home was equally uneventful, with Matt sleeping most of the way. At one point, Matt woke up, looked at me driving and Jenna in the back seat, and said, "How long was I out? Did you guys stay up the whole time?" No, Matt, I decided to catch a quick nap while I drove...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Like a Band of Gypsies...

Ah, on the road again...this time to Grand Rapids, MI.

Dave was supposed to be making this trek with me, but at the last minute, our nephew was being baptized the same weekend. Missing Alex's baptism didn't make me very happy, and neither did a twelve-hour drive by myself, but I was already committed to working this gluten-free event.I left New Jersey bright and early, hoping to make it to the Kil's place by dark. The ride out was mostly uneventful, though I do remember texting Jenna to comment that everywhere I stopped for gas, the locals were staring at me. She replied, "They probably haven't seen a new face in a long time!" It's funny how self-awareness always comes in a flash... "Actually, it may be because I'm a tattooed, pierced, skull t-shirt wearing freak with Jersey plates..."I knocked at the back door and was received by an extremely excited Ike. He presented me with all of the nearest toys, including his ride-on giraffe, before I could even put down my bags. It was already dinner time, so we packed him up and headed out for some grub.We did a couple of laps around the block while waiting for our table, and I figured Ike would sleep pretty well that night. As usual, I had a blast chatting it up with Dave and Sarah, and it was great to see the little guy that Ike had turned into. We stopped at a liquor store on the way home for a couple of six packs, then headed back to the house for some relaxation. Ike was asleep pretty quickly, and we just lounged on the couch for a few hours.
On Saturday, I had to get up relatively early and drive to the college where the event was being held. They were nice enough to provide a volunteer to help me make samples through the day, and everything went very well. I was out of there by three o'clock, and headed back to the homestead.
We spent Sunday morning relaxing and playing outside with Ike, then loaded into the station wagon and drove to Aunt Mary's house for a barbecue. I met her boyfriend Cyrus, played some badminton with Johnny, and followed Ike around the yard, taking every rock he presented me with. At one point, he started to fall onto the deck, and I quickly grabbed him to keep him up (successfully), spilling beer all down the baby's back. Way to go!
Johnny, Sarah, and Aunt Mary made some yummy food, and we all chowed down. Then we headed back up to Freeport to get some rest before my long drive home the next day.
I'm getting awfully tired of this bridge.