Sunday, December 30, 2012

In the Garden of Beasts

Erik Larson on In the Garden of Beasts

During the Christmas break I was able to finish reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Larson also wrote a very popular book I read a couple years back called The Devil in the White City about the World's Fair in Chicago in the 1890's (and the story of a serial killer who lived in that time) which I highly recommend.

In the Garden of Beasts is a true story about the ambassador to Germany during Hitler's rise to power in the 30's. To be honest, I would typically avoid reading books that touch this particular topic, but my wife had recommended this one so strongly that I gave it a shot. No regrets here.

The story of Ambassador Dodd and his family in Germany is fascinating, told from a perspective that does not go out of its way to present Dodd as a hero, does so, and then does the exact opposite. One of the best parts of this story was the unique point of view that Larson provides on the thoughts and perspective of various individuals and family members who lived through this pivotal time period. This book made its way under the tree of at least three people on our list this year. Great read.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Maple Smoked Grilled Sea Bass with Mango Salsa

Awesome dinner to tonight. Bought a pound of fresh sea bass, threw it on a plank of maple wood and smoked it for about 30 minutes. Then threw some mango salsa (mango, red bell pepper, jalapeño, green onion cilantro and line juice) on top if it. That plus some fresh broccoli from our community garden with toasted almonds and some great wine. Either the fish was just super fresh or we just had a moment of genius or possibly was awesome. Will try to recreate for sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Molecular Gastronomy

My wife bought me a molecular gastronomy kit for my birthday this past November. What is that? Well, it's a cooking set that helps you to change the properties of liquids, solids, etc. So for example, you can create pearls of balsamic vinegar if you were so inclined...

A photo of my first foray into this realm is above, taken last night. Fun stuff. Next up may be some lemon foam, whipped asparagus or yogurt ravioli. Who knows where this takes us?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You Shall Not Pass

Trees block the passageway at the end of the road here. Jozy longs for freedom while my wife finds a path. Obligatory victory pose in the last shot.

Winter Wonderland

Jozy began her budding career as a sled dog today by being incredibly brave and successfully figuring out that snow will not hurt her and is actually fun. It took her a little while to warm up to the idea, but after we got her running for a bit she had a blast. It's beautiful here this morning, power is still up (knock on wood) and we are enjoying a winter wonderland. Merry Christmas to everyone - hope you all are having a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wake Owl - Gold

This song hit my iPod on shuffle tonight. Not sure where it has been hiding but when it came on I hit repeat at least twice. I think it is the voice. My ears sink their teeth into the chorus. Go to Wake Owl's website here.

I don't feel like I'm falling, I'm up against the sky,
I said I'd taken it all in to make the good life,
I don't feel like I'm falling, I'm up against the sky,
Let's grab the heart of the world and turn into the light

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I've been remiss in posting recent books the last few months...and I've read through a few good ones. Recently, I've been digging into the work of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a writer from Barcelona/Los Angeles who created three books in a series known as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books - each of which can be read independently and in any order. I stumbled on Zafón's work simply because of the fact that I had noticed Stephen King had reviewed and recommended his work. I might follow this approach a bit more often in the future because I've found the first two books I have read by Zafón to be very well written - great escapism novels that plunge you into the 40's and 50's in Barcelona. I don't know if I can really pinpoint the quality in his writing that I enjoy but it is a combination of a gothic tone, mystery, strong character development and a style that just seems very fluid to me. Overall, just an enjoyable voice to get lost in.

I started with The Shadow of the Wind and just finished The Prisoner of Heaven. Just bought the third entitled The Angel's Game today. If you are tempted to explore further, check out his website here and I would start with The Shadow of the Wind.

For those of you who are readers of The Economist, here is a quote from their review of The Shadow of the Wind. Read the full review here.
'The book is written by someone witty and knowing enough to spoof himself while still being able to raise the hairs on the back of your neck... Carlos Ruiz Zafón's zest is infectious... He swathes his story with atmospherics... Barcelona becomes a place of doors opening into dark interiors of the mind... Behind all this is a fierce satirical energy against the tyrants and philistines of history... A game it may be, but somewhere in the shadows are the Caprichos of Goya.' 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Spirit of the Season

The tree is decorated and Jozy is ready for Christmas! She is running around the house trying to eat every Santa or snowman figure that she can find. She is not the only one feeling the spirit of the season though. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Last night my wife and I went to view a screening of a movie called Beasts of the Southern Wild,  Caméra d'Or winner from the  2012 Cannes Film Festival. The film is based on the Louisiana community found on the Isle de Jean Charles, an island of 25 families that lies south of the 72 mile levee designed to protect the coast from erosion.  The movie is not a documentary but rather a poetic almost magical story of a father and daughter and their fight for survival against the elements, the father's struggle with a fatal illness, as well as the fight for the survival of a unique culture and way of life.

I found this movie inspiring, sad, and comical all at the same time. Any film that makes you laugh, cry, and wonder what is real and what is not in about 90 minutes is highly recommended in my book.

The screening was part of the Southern Screen film festival here in Lafayette. Read more about the festival here

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)       
      Canadian Army

Friday, November 09, 2012

end in trouble and start with a grin

If I was going to recommend one single song off of this playlist/mix, it would be two of them:

And let me tell you something. There are some really other good songs on here so those links above are money. I turn 37 this weekend. "So I wish I was a slave to an age-old trade,  Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways." Enjoy.

1. Down In the Valley  §  The Head and the Heart
2. Call Off Your Horses  §  Hallelujah the Hills
3. Top Yourself  §  The Raconteurs
4. Late July  §  Shakey Graves
5. Hey Love  §  Miner
6. Heartbroken, In Disrepair  §  Dan Auerbach
7. Over Jordan  §  Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons
8. Some Like It Dread  §  Big Youth
9. Thinkin Bout You  §  Frank Ocean
10. Zero G  §  The Kingsbury Manx
11. Fade Away  §  Rob Baird
12. Cigarette Thin (The Age of Asparagus)  §  Jim Bryson & Jeremy Fisher
13. When I'm Asleep  §  Jesca Hoop
14. Psychotic Girl  §  The Black Keys
15. Speed of Sound (EP Remix)  §  Communist Daughter
16. Old Mythologies  §  The Barr Brothers
17. Good Fight  §  American Aquarium
18. Jasper  §  Aidan Knight
19. My Girl  §  Yukon Blonde
20. Lost In the Light  §  Bahamas
21. Tacatà (Radio Edit)  §  Tacabro

And you know what, just because it is a special weekend, I'll post this video to the Miner song above. And if you are not singing along by 2:40, stamping your foot and wanting to go to a concert for these guys, check your pulse.

Friday, October 26, 2012

3 Brothers and Puppy

This past week me and my two brothers met up in Kansas City, hopped in a van with a 12 week old puppy (named Anejo) and drove more than 1200+ miles all the way to Maplewood, NJ. With my middle brother about to be a father of two twins, this might have been one of the few chances the three of us might have in the future to break away and hang out as a group. In was the first time ever the three of us had spent time together for more than an hour without any other family members around. We did 4 days. The trip was a blast and you can read the twitter feed from Wayne and myself by clicking this link.

Primary stops along the way: Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Maplewood. I took some time to scan through the photos I took from the trip and picked a few of the ones that I liked of the group.

Gates BBQ in KC! This is where my oldest brother picked up the nickname Mr. Patron after he stole the remote from the waitress. 

The brothers at LuBar & Bistro in Carlyle, IL. 

Primanti Bothers in Pittsburgh! Breakfast sandwich with fries and cole slaw was excellent. Loving the panorama mode on the new iOS 6.

Yes, my coat glows in Pittsburgh at the Pennsylvania Brewery. Great beer and stories told here by one of my oldest brothers old friends with the nickname of Pooch.

And then to top it all off, we found my mom (who lives in Massachusetts) in NJ! What an awesome surprise and great way to end the trip. I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat.

And of course, the star of the show, Anejo!

mind on the moor

1. Love Don't Let Me Down  §  Liam Titcomb
2. All Eyes On You  §  St. Lucia
3. Among the Leaves  §  Sun Kil Moon
4. Nashville  §  Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
5. I'm Just Me  §  Diamond Rings
6. Holocene (iTunes Session)  §  Bon Iver
7. Buy Me Honey  §  Yellow Red Sparks
8. The Way We Move  §  Langhorne Slim & The Law
9. Sittin' in a Hotel Room  §  Eric Bibb
10. Hard Times  §  Baby Huey
11. 1904  §  The Tallest Man On Earth
12. Bad Luck  §  Langhorne Slim & The Law
13. History's Door  §  Husky
14. Give Love  §  MC Yogi
15. Mistaken For Strangers  §  The National
16. Let's Go  §  Matt & Kim
17. Safe and Sound  §  Rebelution
18. Wolves  §  Josh Ritter
19. Leading Me Now  §  The Tallest Man On Earth
20. Porch Light  §  Simpleton & CityFolk
21. Make the Money  §  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Island President

I pretty much stopped watching movies a couple years ago. Not through any deliberate choice but simply as a result of a lack of time after factoring in work, soccer, reading, playing with Jozy, spending time with Carlee and sleep. This past month, I decided to take a crack at renting movies via my iPad, with a focus on documentaries. Tonight I just finished my first and I post it here as a strong recommendation to all of my friends and family: The Island President. I'm kind of thinking I might be adding the Maldives to our list of places to visit in the next few years before it is too late. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Things you'd prefer to not hear...

Played a scrimmage game this past Thursday - our coed team vs. a local church/school team. They had about 29 players, most seemed to be under 20 and they had about 30 fans, singing, chanting and cheering. It was a blast. We won the game but I don't think anyone cared. It was the type of game I love; people just out to have fun, enjoy the sport and play as a team.

To get to the title of this post: At half time the other team's fans were heard over saying:

"Man, even that old guy can spread the ball around the field."

Me = old guy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

my gravity centered

I'm bad at sending these out these days...if you used to get them in the mail, I probably owe you a box set. This cover really appeals to me. The mix after this one is just about done as well. I have two months of backlogged playlists on the mac that I haven't published to this forum. Busy days. Been starting to dig into Johnny Cash these days so he makes an appearance on here. And of course, with the Sigur Rós show under our belt, they get to wrap up the show. 

1. Sweater Weather    ∫    The Neighbourhood
2. Follow the Sun    ∫    Xavier Rudd
3. Evermore    ∫    Barcelona
4. Don't Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)    ∫    Regina Spektor
5. Get Me In A Room    ∫    Hallelujah The Hills
6. Oye Mi Cumbia    ∫    The Iguanas
7. Every Girl    ∫    Turnpike Troubadours
8. The Well    ∫    The Silent Comedy
9. Delia's Gone    ∫    Ben Nichols
10. Walk With You    ∫    Sin Fang
11. Bartholomew    ∫    The Silent Comedy
12. Beach    ∫    Peter Wolf Crier
13. One of Many    ∫    Joe Pug
14. 7 & 7    ∫    Turnpike Troubadours
15. History's Door    ∫    Husky
16. Guest of the Government    ∫    Admiral Fallow
17. Memories from a Shore    ∫    Right Away, Great Captain!
18. Women & Work    ∫    Lucero
19. That's What's Up    ∫    Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
20. Get Rhythm    ∫    Johnny Cash
21. Home Again    ∫    Michael Kiwanuka
22. Varúð    ∫    Sigur Rós   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

"What we can't speak, we say in silence." - Jamie McAllan

Told from the perspective of 8 different characters, Mudbound presents a portrait of two families torn by prejudice, post-WWII trauma and the hardships of farming in the deep south in the sharecropping system. This is the type of book where you know tragedy is coming, the characters don't let you go, and when the climax hits it is even more emotional than you expected. Another recommended read.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Warn the neighbors...

Jozy has an unnatural amount of nervous energy tonight after being trapped inside due to rain all day. This face is nothing but trouble.

Post-Isaac Update: Back to Normal

When large storms with names approach your home, the waiting, the arrival and the immediate day(s) after all have very unique feelings to them. It is tough to describe but if you have ever met a named weather pattern I think you know the sense of anticipation, the powerlessness, the arrival and the post storm quiet that the last week was. Lafayette was very lucky. Our neighborhood never lost power, had very little rain, and overall, Isaac took it very easy on us. 

So it is back to normal at his point. Friday night grilling, Saturday morning yoga (yes, that is part of my new normal), farmer's market, Saturday spent watching EPL, and the inevitable afternoon rain. Looking forward to the extra day this weekend. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac Update: Hatches Battened

jozy_hunkered by wilabar14
Been a long day so far. Lots of wind gusts, some of which were in the 60s apparently. Some rain but nothing obnoxious just yet. I'm watching the pecan trees in our back yard with every gust to see if they show any hint of being interested in coming down. I'm no expert. Power is still on - was able to work all day. Jozy was hard at work as well, hunkered down and contemplating life most of the day. I think it will get a little bit worse in a bit but they are saying that we should expect more of what we have seen in the day, just throughout the entire night. The news tells me that Lafayette airport is open. Not sure how that is even remotely possible. Maybe it is open but no flights.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac Update: Priorities

It was a bit tough to focus on work today but I managed to do so. In the meantime, the porch was cleared, all random loose things that might fly around in tropical storm or hurricane force winds were packed up, and we are stocking up on water. It's not clear how bad it will get here. Looks like tropical storm and tons of rain. We're hoping our trees hold up. Jozy insists on going outside every 30 minutes to inspect the backyard. She is ready.

In the meantime, my wife is engaged in drafting her fantasy football team and asking me to call Starbucks to see if they will be open tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Northwest Scenes: 14,411

We took a small detour to Mt. Rainier on the drive to Seattle from Portland today. With a 14,411 foot elevation, waterfalls, meadows of wild flowers and awe inspiring landscapes, the extra 2-3 hours in the car was well worth the drive.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Nowthwest Scenes: The 101

I was ready for the drive down the Oregon coast...or at least I thought I was. Little did I know it would exceed all expectations. Here are a few of the highlights.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Northwest Scenes: Rendezvous

Spending tonight in Astoria, OR on the banks of the Columbia River where it meets the ocean. Pretty spectacular.

Northwest Scenes: Sky

Northwest Scenes: Industry

Pike Place Market Doppelgänger

My wife respectfully submitted this Pike Place Market Doppelgänger for your consideration. Pretty sure I can tell the difference. Can you? Both apparently like pets...but don't be confused.

Northwest Scenes: Fans

Northwest Scenes: Emerald Sea

This is the scene at Pioneer Square prior to the Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy last night.