The Lumineers and The Bartlebys

This weekend, my boyfriend* and I got out of town to Atlanta for a night, where we saw The Lumineers, had a lovely dinner out, and generally treated ourselves well. It’s that time in the semester when a break, even just an overnighter, is so intensely appreciated.

*He really needs an alias for blogging purposes. I will have to think of one.

Two Urban Licks

We ate at Two Urban Licks, which has an awkward name but some very good food. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t have a vegan/vegetarian entree on the menu, but they have enough things to combine into a good meal. My omnivorous date also really enjoyed his pork shoulder and greens. I’d definitely recommended this place, but maybe moreso for non-vegetarians. One odd element: they have three or four one-person bathrooms, none of which is labeled “men” or “women.” Customers can use any of them, but it’s a little confusing, especially since you have to try all four doors to check and see if any of them is free. Awkward design and planning, there.

The concert was fantastic. It was in an outdoor venue (part of The Masquerade), which I had been a little worried about, but the crisp fall evening air wasn’t too cold and the band sounded great.

[293/366] The Lumineers

I elbowed my way to the front for a quick photo op, but we spent most of the night about halfway back from the stage, smack in the middle of the sold-out crowd. There were loads of young whippersnappers there, which I take to mean that the band is in fact quite hip and trendy and not that, say, they are a teenybopper band (they are not, in my opinion). If they come to a venue near you, they’re definitely worth checking out.

Now it’s back home and back to business, though. I am currently facing a case of The Late-Semester Bartlebys, where, like the famous literary scrivener, I would prefer not to. Not to what, you ask? Anything, I’m afraid. Work is piling up around me — not in an unmanageable sense, but just in the same way it always does in October and November. When I come home, all I really want to do is lounge on the couch, eat candy, snorgle the dog, and so on. The lure of the late-afternoon nap and/or early-evening beer is hard to resist.

[295/366] Magic Hat Hex

(Current favorite: Magic Hat Hex, a really nice fall seasonal. I like almost everything they make.)

In order to combat The Bartlebys, I am trying to refocus my energy a little more positively. I’m cleaning up my diet a bit and trying to do a better job at my hip-strengthening PT exercises (which should in turn allow me to run more, which should in turn make me happier and peppier). If I can come home and do 30 minutes of PT every day instead of napping, I will call that a success. If I then am inspired to do work-related writing or planning? Or even blogging? Awesome bonus. I plan to post a little more about my efforts in these areas soon. In the meanwhile, do any of you have any tips for overcoming that terrible energy lull at the end of the workday and not letting yourself slip into a couch/cupcake/Octoberfest coma? I try to reserve that sort of thing for the weekend, you know.

Fall is Looking Up

[282/366] Flowers, Evening Light

Things are good here. Fall is on its way, and I took advantage of the crisp, five-o’clock air yesterday evening to go on a little photo walk through my neighborhood — with my real camera, even! I have been seeing these lovely wildflowers for the past couple of weeks, but when I notice them I’m usually on a run with no camera or phone to capture a picture. This time, I set out with just that intention:

Wildflowers

And Halloween is approaching! I love Halloween. As an adult, I’ve also started to enjoy horror movies — I was never allowed to watch them growing up because my parents had some strict ideas about television, so I missed a lot of the classics along the way. Now it’s time to catch up! My boyfriend was simply shocked at how many of his favorites I’ve never seen, so we have made it a plan to watch some classic horror films this month, in keeping with the season. If you’re a horror movie fan, which are your personal favorites? Leave a comment and maybe we will put them on our list.

In other pop-culture news, I’ve got a new TV show obsession. You know how much I love Gilmore Girls, so you might be wondering how it took me this long to check out Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new show, Bunheads. Well, the reason is that no one told me about it! Heh. I just saw it suggested on Hulu recently and checked it out. Sutton Foster, the star, is no Lauren Graham, but she’s good and continuing to grow on me. Kelly Bishop is fantastic as the mother-in-law — but really, when is Kelly Bishop not fantastic? Never. Bunheads has the same fast-paced, witty dialogue I know and love from Gilmore Girls and the story is quiky and charming. If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you might like to check it out.

And something fun to look forward to: next weekend we are going to see The Lumineers in Atlanta. I am very much looking forward to it! Have you heard their album? I like it a lot. Really looking forward not only to the good music but also a night out of town with my guy.

Hands up if you love fall as much as I do!

Furthur

Tuesday night I was just outside Atlanta seeing Furthur. Yes, I am a big old hippie. Because my dad is a big fan, I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead and I always intended to see them myself someday, but Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995 (the summer before my senior year in high school) put a crimp in my plans. In college, I saw a lot of Widespread Panic and the Allman Brothers, but never got to see any incarnation of The Dead, such as they were, anyway, sans Jerry.

Well, now I had my chance and you had better bet I jumped at it. Being there brought back so many memories of my old concert-going days: the crowd forming in the parking lot with people selling their wares and chatting amid the aisles of cars, people tailgating and grilling and drinking beers and chasing dogs around, the nice sense of anticipation and collective excitement. I didn’t even really mind when a giant storm blew through and chased us back into the car for a while. In the southeast, I thought, these things just whip through and are gone in 15 minutes, right? Er, wrong.

Rained-on but happy.

It rained the entire night. Luckily, we had seats under the roof and so had the option to stay fairly dry once we got inside the arena –unlike the hoi polloi with general admission lawn seats. (Back in the day I was always one of the kids on the lawn, and I used to feel a mixture of jealousy and resentment toward the rich grown-ups who could afford assigned seating under the roof; oh, how time makes fools.)

The Lawn

Eventually, though, we saw a couple of friends and left our assigned spots to go join them at the back of the pavilion, just under the roof but with room to dance a bit more. This was pretty much the perfect spot to really enjoy the show — we could stay mostly dry but we weren’t stuck in an aisle of fixed seats.

Sunset

People at Dead shows and the like are unfailingly friendly, and we made a friend in the parking lot and helped him sneak into the covered area and then met another couple of new friends at the back of the pavilion, one of whom was this woman with long, braided grey hair who had obviously seen her share of shows over the years of touring. She had a tour name — something about Flower, maybe? I forget because I am terrible and also had consumed some number of tiny champagne bottles in the parking lot. She was wearing a tie-dyed shirt and had some sweet dance moves. She decided to call me “Princess,” spent a good amount of time dancing with my date, and at the end of the evening told me, pointing to him, “He’s a good one. You hold onto him.” I told her I’m working on it.

Musically, the show was awesome. I didn’t get to hear all of my favorites (but then again one never does), but I was happy to hear most of these:

Furthur Setlist

(Setlist courtesy of the Furthur facebook page.)

The band sounded great, and it was wonderful to see guys like Bob Weir and Phil Lesh still rocking out almost 50 years after they first started. They’ve held up, as have the songs, as does the community and the energy that forms when people are connected by music that is so well loved, familiar, and meaningful across generations.

Encore

At the end of the show, after an amazing encore, “Quinn the Eskimo,” which I absolutely LOVE, the rain started coming down even harder. It was blowing in under the edge of the pavilion roof and we were absolutely soaked. We were having the best time ever — pretty much just grinning and happy as clams all night long — so not even the torrential downpour could really dampen our moods. The long walk back to the car was a bit ridiculous, however. I had a borrowed raincoat (courtesy of a man who is far too kind to wear it himself in such a situation) but the skirt of my ankle-length dress was soaked and heavy and dragging, so I had to carry it in one hand and my flip-flops in the other. Flip-flops are just too slippery to walk in when the ground is four inches deep with water, you know?

We made it back to the car and then eventually to our hotel in spite of the flooded roads and near-zero visibility in the dark and stormy night. It’s funny, the way the weather affects things like this: on one hand, we missed some opportunities to browse and shop the booths in the lot and to chat with others who were hanging around outside. When the rain storm first started, people kind of kept to themselves in their cars. I think that once people realized it wasn’t going to be a 15-minute quickie storm and rather an all-night flood-fest, we all just kind of decided to grin and bear it. We were all going to get drenched, so we may as well still have fun. The kids on the lawn were still partying it up and the lines for food/beer/merchandise inside the arena, no awnings and open to the clouds, were still as long as ever. Everyone was still happy and friendly and clearly enjoying themselves.

I can see why people decide to pick up and follow the bands they love, meeting the tour at every stop along the way. For me, though, it was great while it lasted but now it’s back to reality!

Recent Summer Mischief

Summer break: I love it. At the moment I am blissfully in the fun, carefree stages of doing whatever I want whenever I want for any reason I please. It is fucking delightful.

[188/366] Sushi

A few nights ago I made sushi for dinner, which is one of my favorite things to do — it combines fresh, delicious food with art in a compelling way, I think. I made a variety of rolls with different combinations of avocado, cucumber, carrot, baked sesame tofu, and (vegan) cream cheese. This was my first time trying to layer the avocado on the outside of the roll, and I certainly do not have the paper-thin slicing technique down, but I think it turned out nicely anyway. My decidedly non-vegan dinner guest had no complaints.

Sake.This sake is called "Crazy Milk."

Sake! Sake! Do you know anything about sake, friends? I don’t. We tried two different kinds: a clear, crisp, “brewed sake,” and a cloudy, unflitered sake called “Crazy Milk,” which featured a tie-clad tiger on the label. Both tasted good to me, but, like I said, I know zero about sake.

Crocodile Plant
[190/366] Jam Jar Succulents

I have also got the herb garden up and running again with more basil and mint, and I brought home some new succulents as well. This larger one is called a crocodile plant and is a variety of aloe. The funny little one is called “baby toes” (not even joking) and I don’t know what the other, leafier looking little one is because I threw away the tag like an idiot. My friend also helped me pick out a big philodendron and hang it up in my living room, but I need to get a picture of that when the light is better, so you’ll just have to wait to see it.

In other news, the Further show in Atlanta is Tuesday night, and I am pretty excited, let me tell you. I am currently listening to a live stream of their show there last summer and getting in the zone. I don’t have a clear-cut favorite song I hope to hear, but I will be pretty damned happy to hear “Tennessee Jed,” “Big River,” “Brown Eyed Women,” “Saint Stephen,” “Ripple,” or “Cumberland Blues.” So I am easy to please.

I’m currently trying to decide whether or not to bring my DSLR to the concert. Back in the day I never would have bothered, but I’m thinking now I could get some great photos both on the lot and inside the venue. On the other hand, I don’t want to have to worry about keeping track of it, lugging it around, or it getting wet from a spill or rain. So I don’t know. Advice?

Entertainment Roundup, Recommendations, and a Recipe

It’s been a while since I posted about the television and music I’ve been enjoying, so here’s a little bit of that plus a drink recipe — enjoy!

I have never before really considered myself to be a fan of Fleetwood Mac. I know and have enjoyed many of their songs, but it’s never been a band I really sought out. For some strange reason, though, I am all about the Fleetwood Mac lately. I heard a live version of “The Chain” on the radio a few days ago and couldn’t get it out of my head, so I wound up downloading Rumours. It turns out I know and love every song on the album and I’ve been listening to it obsessively for the past several days. “Second Hand News” has already made it to my running playlist.

While you all know I am a Bourbon devotee, I also really love gin. For some reason, though, I tend only to drink it in the spring and summer. Something about it says warm weather to me. Well, guess what season it is now? So I’ve been experimenting with gin lately. The best gin is Hendrick’s, and about this I will brook no disagreement. My current favorite way to mix this is with mint and cucumber:

ExperimentMuddle a few mint leaves and cucumber slices and put these + ice in the bottom of a glass; mix a shot of Hendrick’s and a tablespoon (or less) of simple syrup in a shaker; pour gin mixture over the ice and salad; fill up the glass the rest of the way with seltzer. Tastes like summer and deliciousness. My next project will be a Hendrick’s martini with a cucumber garnish. Mmm hmm.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m in the middle of The Great Buffy Re-Watch of 2012. I love this show and this must be the 4th or 5th time I’ve re-watched it in its entirety. I am just starting season 6 tonight. Season 6, due to my extreme Team Spike partiality, is my favorite. I don’t just love it for Spike, though: there’s so much fascinating stuff that goes on with each of the characters. I’m getting close to the end, though, which means I’m aready thinking about what’s next. Possibilities include: Angel, Dollhouse, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Alias, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who. I have already seen each of these shows before, so none would be new. I’m in the mood for a marathon of the beloved and the familiar. I’ll probably do Angel next (to stay in Joss Whedon territory), but I might do Veronica Mars, to appease my need for badass female leads. I know you’re all on the edges of your seats, so I’ll keep you posted.

I also recently saw Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon’s newest project (and The Avengers is coming out soon!), and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A great cast, a clever story, funny and scary and disgusting moments, smart writing, and thought-provoking ethical ambiguity. And a really great poster, don’t you think? I just love his stuff, and the thrill of seeing “A Mutant Enemy Production” on the big screen really can’t be overstated. Have you seen it? Highly recommended.

Catching Up

I feel quite certain I had a thousand things to catch you all up on, readers, but — having been gone so long — I can now barely remember what they all were. Let’s settle for talking about the highlights, if that’s okay with you.

The Decemberists, one of my all-time favorite bands, had the bad timing to come play in Atlanta during our finals week and on the day of my friend Clarabella’s prespectus defense. Did we let this timing issue stop us from seeing them live and in concert? Of course not. Don’t be silly. Although we both would have preferred a leisurely few days in Atlanta to hang sound, shop, eat, and celebrate our good news (my work thing — more soon — and her having passed the defense), we had to make it the quickest trip ever. The show was wonderful, though, and well worth making the effort to be there.

The Decemberists

We were in a huge concert hall in the city with seats up in the nosebleed section — quite different from the smaller, more dive-like venue where we saw them on their amazing Hazards of Love tour (that album is still my favorite of theirs, hands down). It was odd seeing them in such a formal venue and to spend the whole time on our butts in our balcony seats, but they sounded amazing and I was able to get some decent photographs with a 55-200mm lens I borrowed from Brunbec. Love this band.

The Decemberists

After the end of final exams and grading at school, I skipped town for a few days of fun visiting Clarabella & Family in Mississippi. We needed some time to actually hang out, after all! We had big plans that included watching her four-year-old son play T-ball, lounging around, sipping adult beverages, and — oh yeah! — finally getting the literary tattoos of our dreams. You’ll have to wait to hear more about that because it deserves its own post.

At any rate, here are some of the best photographs of the weekend:

[132/365] Running Bases

Pale Ale, Moose Glass

Red & Gray

Great Glassware

More Wheel Fun

Tomatoes

Lemongrass Soda

More to come soon on the tattoo, and more probably later this summer on the work developments. For now, I am going to sit back in this coffee shop with this latte and enjoy one of the last free afternoons I’ll have for a while. School starts for summer term on Thursday (can you believe it?!) and it will be back to work for me once more.

Back to Business

What a strange week that was! Between the (disappointing) National Championship game and the two snow days, I only had a three-day week on campus, but I swear to dog it felt like ten days. I’ve got a million bits and pieces today, so here we go in list form:

[12/365] Ready

School: Teaching is going to be busy and different this semester, with four honors classes. I think I like my young whippersnappers so far. The Big New Thing, though, is that I am working with two groups of grad students who are in the midst of writing their dissertations, helping them form productive writing groups and mentoring them. (Not to be confused with advising them academically, as an academic adviser would, which is a whole different can of worms, and not part of my job.) Anyway, this is a very exciting thing for me to do — let’s hope it goes well and I can really help them with their writing projects!

Music: Are you psyched about The Decemberists’ new album? You had better believe that I am. The Decemberists track I included on the Winter 2010 mix, “Down by the Water,” is from the new album, which (I happen to know already) rocks. Lots of harmonica and steel guitar and whatnot. You can stream the entire thing here. At the moment, however, I happen to be listening to the new(ish) Kanye album. Say what you will about the man and his behaviors and attitude, but try to deny how great this album is and you will fail.

[10/365] Divided Loyalties WAR DAMN CANDLE

Football: So, as it turned out, watching the Oregon-Auburn game was significantly less fun than I predicted. At least I was well dressed! Heh. I thought I would be delightfully bemused the entire time, happy with whatever the outcome was (while quietly rooting for the Ducks). As it happened, I was stressed beyond belief, and totally sad about the outcome. Only on an intellectual level am I able to muster any happiness for Auburn’s win. Sorry, Auburn people. I tried.

Food: This coming week is the last week of the current CSA season, which is also a sad thing. It’ll be back to grocery-store produce for me after that. I’m also kind of wondering if I’ll be able to join up again for spring, since I am trying very hard to save all my pennies for moving into a new apartment in the summer. I will have to look at my food budget and see if it’ll be feasible. In better food news, I am currently caramelizing onions on the stove top while roasting garlic underneath. If I could bottle the way my kitchen smells right now, I would.

Sports: I’ve been attending a lot of yoga lately, which has been wonderful. I’ve also been fitting in some body pump (weight lifting) and RPM (spinning) classes, which are also challenging and great. But my running just has not been happening as much. At first, after the marathon, I had to rest until my knee felt better. Then, I was hitting the treadmill for very short (2-3) mile runs, which occasionally brought back the knee tightness, so I eased off. THEN I got sick and couldn’t do anything at all. Not running is not fun.

Today, though, today! I was on my way around town, getting groceries and running a couple of other errands, and it was the most gorgeous day we’ve had in forever. I do not exaggerate. It was about 50 degrees, sunny, and beautiful. So many folks were out hitting the roads — I saw runners everywhere! “MEEE TOOOOO,” screamed my brain. I had to get out there. I wasn’t sure if it was wise, with the lingering knee tightness and the fact that I’d only been on the treadmill lately (for more stablity and less impact following my injury). But I was sick of holding back.

[15/365] A Mile in These Shoes

I strapped on my Vibrams and hit the road for one easy mile, just to test them out. It was surprisingly easy and almost effortless to run in them for the first time. I felt great. But I didn’t want to overdo it in the new, weird shoes, so I stopped back at home and switched into some “real” shoes and went back out for another 2.5 miles. Amazing. Glorious, perfect, perfect run.

Seems like a good note to end on. How about you guys: what’s the haps in your week?

Gemuetlichkeit, Hygge, Mukluk, and Other Fun Words

It has been a lovely, cozy, relaxing week here.  Now that school and the race are both done (for now), I have been finding the time to relax, listen to music, watch movies, read, cook, bake, and just generally let my stress mostly melt away.

[349/365] Big Tomato

I had a great time coming up with the song list for my mix and putting all of that together.  For some reason, an evening spent at my desk with a glass of wine, listening to music and picking out my favorite tracks reminds me quite happily of college (or high school, without the wine). Truth is, I’ve always been an avid mix maker, from back in the days of my dual cassette player boombox (clear plastic outside so I could see all the nifty colored wires inside) that I used to mix up some Dinosaur Jr., Black Sheep, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Pavement, Blake Babies, and The Smiths. Those were the days!

[350/365] Mixtape Making Station

Part of my holiday plans involve baking batches of different decadent vegan cookies to bring home to my family — partly because it is an easy and inexpensive holiday gift (that’s just part of what they’re getting, though; don’t worry) but also because I enjoy showing them how delicious vegan, organic, un-pre-packaged food can be. Particularly food that was not served at an all-you-can-eat buffet such as the Golden Corral. Oh, but now I have said too much.

Cookie Dropper

[352/365] Chocolate Chip

Tonight I tested out the chocolate chip recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and they came out really well, but I’m glad I did a test run because I can work out the kinks (and eat several of them) before bringing them to my family. Plus I just love baking. I worked in restaurants part time in high school and college and one of my jobs was baker. We didn’t do anything fancy at the restaurant — mainly loaves, sandwich buns, brownies, and cookies — but I loved the chance to go into work early, before most other employees were there and long before any customers arrived. I could blast my music and roll out that dough and just kind of do my thing all morning long. This week I’ve been reliving that a little bit, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed puttering around the kitchen while listening to my tunes. No uniform required here, though! I’ve been living in my favorite oversized Ducks sweatshirt, leggings, and sweater-knit mukluk slippers.

I also must admit that I thoroughly enjoy every chance to say the word mukluk. Go on now, say it. SAY IT. Fun, right?

In other news, my sore knee is still occasionally barking, so I have made it a point to rest this week and avoid making it any worse. No running again until I’m tip-top. I’ve gone to two easy yoga classes just to get moving and stretching, and on the whole it has added to my general feeling of coziness and relaxation.

It is seriously gemütlich and hyggelig up in here; I tell you what. Those are two more fun words to say, if you know how!  No, the English word cozy just doesn’t do it justice (even if that is one of my favorite words). Well, I hope that all of you are getting a chance to relax a bit and enjoy some winter Gemütlichkeit. Are you?

Birthday Celebrations

I managed to have two great birthday celebrations this year — first, the night after the race, I spent in Huntsville, and then the next night (my actual birthday), I went out with my Auburn people. In our Huntsville hotel room we had chocolate truffles and we drank a bottle of champagne I had brought for post-race enjoyment. Here are my two most important hydration bottles I brought with me:

[344/365] Hydration

One for the race, one for after. Then we went out to this wonderful little restaurant for dinner. They had a good vegetarian menu and things that could easily be veganized. It was delicious.

The big fun was to come, though: Golightly and P. took us to a karaoke bar they know just outside of town. It. Was. Amazing. The crowd was full of middle-aged somewhat rednecky types who all seemed incredibly, surprisingly capable of getting up on the stage and really singing. They were all talented! I’ve seen plenty of karaoke in my day and never have I been to a place where everyone was so consistently good. It was a little intimidating.

At first I wasn’t sure I could get up and sing in front of these folks, but a couple of things helped me decide to get up there in spite of my general off-key ways: 1) whiskey drinks and 2) a very, very drunk and obnoxious girl and her drunk and obnoxious boyfriend who could neither sing nor read the lyrics off the prompter. There was no way that I could be any worse than them, right?

Our group sang a lot. I managed to get through “Only the Good Die Young” and a duet of “Jolene” (with Clarabella) without embarrassing myself; Clarabella and Golightly both sang a couple of tunes, and P. completely wowed the crowd and made many fans with his rendition of “Luck be a Lady.” I harassed G. & P. enough that they finally agreed to do “Baby it’s Cold Outside” at the end of the night. Yes, it’s a tad creepy, that song, but I love it and they rocked it.

I am sad to report that I have no pictures of this karaoke extravaganza, but I think it is probably all for the best. I was, after all, wearing leggings as pants (tell me YOU would manage to put on real pants after running a marathon and I will shake your hand), so I am merely thankful that my friends weren’t too embarrassed to go out with me.

Back home, I dragged a bunch of friends out for drinks at our local fancy-ish cocktail bar. I did have my camera that night and I managed to capture a bunch of pictures of my charming and witty friends.

Emily & Kelly
Kelly, Mark, Heather Rupa, Chase, & Emily
Erich, Chad, Kelly

There were many, many Manhattans (as if you would be surprised about this):

The Notorious M.A.N.H.A.T.T.A.N.

And at one point I felt the need to eat the remainder of my hummus out of the bowl with my finger after running out of crackers. You know, like the classy lady that I am.

Too Much Hummus, Not Enough Crackers Hee.

Later in the night, a few friends passed the camera around and took a few more pictures. Some of them were a bit out of focus, but I love this one because it is so genuine and exactly what I like to remember: laughter and twinkling.

Blurry Laughter

I was happy to be in some of the pictures as I am normally always behind the camera. Plus I had on a pretty dress, which should be documented.

Half Blurry, Half In-Focus

All in all it was a birthday weekend I’ll never forget. Thirty-two was a great year for me and now I’m just excited to see what thirty-three will bring my way.

Good Things

Friends visiting from out of town for a wedding:

Girls Outtake Three

Cocktails

[233/365] Cocktails

And people happily gathered ’round a table (or two):

Chatty

Campus views (and a less-humid, clear-blue sky):

[236/365] Back to School

Guilty pleasure reading in bed:

[238/365] iBooks

Puppydog eyes:

Snugglebuddy

More friends gathered to celebrate two friends’ soon-to-arrive baby, beautiful gifts:

[239/365] Hammock

A glass of wine at the end of a long week:

Pinot Noir

Fun gifts in the mail – a happy mixtape:

[240/365] Mixtape!

As usual, click on the photo to go through to flickr.com for more information.

What good things have you got going on?