Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yap Yap

Was out in the back yard raking today and heard a little yip-yip. Realized eventually that it was coming from inside the neighbor’s house, where an Easter gathering was going on. At that point I remembered the dog … yeah, the same thing happened last year at Easter or some other family occasion. That time the dog was leashed-up out in the back yard with the neighbor’s dog Chip, an adult and mellow dog who knows a thing or two. Not saying that he really knows what’s going on because that’s not really his agenda, but he knows about things he should. He was out in the back yard too last year, watching me while I was raking or cutting down the dead stalks from last Winter or something, getting ready for Spring (or maybe adapting to the fact that it was here already). That other dog was there too and Chip and I both realized that he was yapping and yapping about something. Then we realized it was me he was yapping at and Chip gave him a look like, “Dude. That’s Jon and that’s his back yard. He’s entitled to be there and is out cutting down stuff and making things right. Like … he’s not yapping at us even though he could. Can you chill?” The little dog could not chill, maybe because he was visiting relatives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dan F. Hicks at the Bull Run

Picked up Sarah at the train after work on Wednesday and drove out to the Bull Run, where we had six seats at the table right in front of the mike with Michelle, Scott, Phil, and Ann.  They had some rookie waiters and everything was chaos, but we got beers finally and then they brought our dinner order before the people who were there first.  Whatever, we were there to see 70 year-old Dan Hicks.

Dan came on late ... probably the management tried to slow him down even more (not everyone had been served) and he finally decided that he was going on or else he'd fall asleep.  He had The Lickettes he's been performing with for years (Roberta Donnay and Daria), a jazzy, experienced, incredibly tonal bass player we hadn't seen before (Paul Smith) who played most of the evening with his eyes closed (try that!), and a newbie but incredibly talented violin player (Benito Cortez) whom Dan kept encouraging to stretch out another measure or four.

They played Along Comes a Viper, He Don't Care (which had the people not used to Dan Hicks scratching their heads), I Scare Myself, Subterranean H.B., Tom Waits' 'The Piano Has Been Drinking', and lots of other stuff from all time.  Kate and Mager were a few tables behind us and Kate moved up front for a song after the people in those seats were scared off by a bit of Hicks gruffness (I almost got him to laugh once).  While Kate was up front they played Sweetheart from the Last Train to Hicksville record, with Daria soloing magnificently, and we were all in seventh heaven.

They finished their set with Payday Blues with people singing along as best they could, then the band came out for an encore and the crowd insisted they play How Can I Miss You? (when the set list/cheat sheet Dan had on the floor right between me and him listed "Breeze!!" as their scripted encore).  After it was all done Kate grabbed the set list, we all stood around and gawked about how incredible music can be, and then we went home to prepare for work the next day (and then payday on Friday ... perhaps a little place I can sit and think!).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Short Kayak

Short kayak after work at the 117 put-in on a suddenly low-70s day.  Toodled around Fairhaven Bay and saw a surprised but unmoving deer who had a peculiar, pinched face that made him look almost like a fox.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amy Black at Possum

Last Sunday, April 3rd, went to Club Passim for a late-afternoon CD release party with Amy Black. Sat at a table with a writer for the Herald named Nate and had a nice talk with Kate and husband afterwards, gushing about the Secret Sisters' appearance on her show that morning.

Amy had an all-star band with her including so many people that they were falling off the tiny stage. She played a small show of all the tracks on her new CD ... lots of fun.

Yesterday drove out to the Ipswich River on a gorgeous, sunny, very early Spring day and went for a long paddle all the way up to the route 97 bridge from the put-in just above the Willowdale Dam. Up and back was 5 hours.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Quick Kayak and Then NERAX

Last Wednesday was going to be the most Spring-like weather anytime soon, so took the kayak to work with me and went to the 225 put-in afterwards for a quick paddle up the river and back down. Saw an angry beaver who gave me a big tail-slap, lots and lots of trees beginning to put out some red buds, fields of brush with a very subtle rosy tinge, and beautiful streaks of clouds against a darkening sky.

On Friday we woke to an April Fool's Day blizzard and then went to NERAX in Somerville after work.

They had 4 beers from Fullers but we were very disappointed that none were on Friday, and neither was the Marian Ale from Marshall's Wharf (our favorite place in Belfast ME). We struggled through though. In approximate order of tasting:
  1. Dark Star (Sussex) Hophead Citra (Golden, single hop) - hoppy nose and good bitter taste; nice and light; subtle malt; very good
  2. Brecon (Wales) One For the Road (Special Bitter w/apple juice) - refreshing but thick, crystal mouthfeel; apple flavor not too strong; bitter, round aftertaste
  3. Bray's (ME) Old Church Pale Ale - honey-sweet and musty; bitter but no hop flavor; odd, tastes like an old church
  4. Calvary (CT) Marauder IPA - good mouthfeel; nice aftertaste; not a lot of flavor; good carbonation
  5. Cheddar (Somerset) Potholder (Best Bitter) - citrusy fore-taste; some hop tingle; good taste of malt on the back of the tongue; soapy nose
  6. Lowell Beerworks (MA) London Special (Special Bitter) - bit of a smoky nose and taste; nice slightly bitter mouthfeel; some malt flavor, great balance
  7. RCH (Somerset) Old Slug Porter - not too crisp; nutty, horehound overtones; wonderful, flavorful dark malt; uses hops like they should be used
  8. Magic Hat (VT) Blind Faith IPA - totally hoppy overkill
  9. Kernel (London) Export India Porter - acidic nose and taste but not aggressive, doesn't ruin your palate like an American beer; nice roasted mouthfeel
  10. Meantime (London) London Porter - a chocolate bar!; great English balance; beautiful taste
  11. Butternuts (NY) Dilly Dally (Mild) - refreshing, cutting taste
  12. Gritty's (ME) 21 IPA - good balance; hoppy but doesn't try to knock you over
  13. Willimantic (CT) In Your Rye (Amber Ale) - pleasant grassy taste with just enough hops; clean tasting; great session candidate
  14. Shipyard (ME) Chamberlain Pale Ale - nice hop overtones; good carbonation; classic balance
  15. Brains (Wales) SA (Best Bitter) - soft and gentle; high, bitter feel on the palate; well blanded
  16. Kelburn (Scotland) Dark Moor (Old Ale) - multidimensional, deep flavor; how many malts were used??; slight taste of peat; hard water; slightly sweet approach and then hop tingle and then bitter malt taste flows in; excellent and alive
  17. Brecon (Wales) Cribyn (Best Bitter) - [Sarah liked it but had lost her ability to take notes by this point.]
  18. Sambrooks (London) Junction Ale (Brown Ale) - not good; flat with no blend of flavors; like a sloppy snowstorm
  19. Skye (Scotland) Hebridean Gold - likably musty nose and flavor; light hint of citrus; very nice and drinkable
  20. Run of the Mill (ME) Alewife Ale (Pale Ale) - thoroughly bitter in scent, flavor, and aftertaste; smells like a starched collar
One amusing encounter was when the guy in line in front of me returned his quarter-pint, saying that it was "off." The guy behind the bar asked him what he meant and he said, "It's spoiled." The guy gave him a great look of polite astonishment like, "You mean that a panel of experts has determined that this beer is at its peak and you're telling me that you disagree? What are you doing at NERAX anyway?" He closed his mouth, dumped the quarter pint, and asked what the gentleman would like instead. He asked for a rye beer. The guy behind the bar and I probably had the same thought: "If this Philistine didn't like the other beer, he's *really* going to disagree with a rye."