Monday, February 26, 2007

"Your Famous Blue Raincoat"

So the week since our trip to New York City has been a busy one. Getting the students back on track after 6 1/2 days off was tricky, but I pulled it off...just in time to go on a school ski trip Thursday and Friday. The ski trip itself was quite fun; I haven't been skiing since I was a freshman in high school (way back in the Spring of 1995), but I was surprised at how quickly it all came back to me.

Granted, going down that black diamond run at the end was still a stupid decision, but I like to think that the five years it shaved off my life expectancy were probably gonna be boring years anyway.

We also went tubing during the trip, and honestly I think we all enjoyed that more than the actual skiing. There's something about linking up a half dozen tubes and sliding down a hill at 30 or so miles per hour that's just a hell of a lot of fun.

Saturday and Sunday were days spent hanging out with friends. Lauren, her brother Evan, and Chad came over Saturday evening for food and general merriment. Lauren ended up crashing on the couch, only to discover upon waking Sunday morning that it'd snowed four or five inches and she was stuck with us for awhile (she eventually got out around mid-afternoon). I ended up spending a good part of the early afternoon shoveling snow so we could all get to our cars. So between the skiing and the shoveling, I definitely got my exercise in for the past few days.

The snow also caused a two-hour delayed opening this morning for school, so I don't have to be at work for another couple of hours. This works out well, since we have to get new parking passes for our cars here at the apartment complex. I'm going to go do that before I head to work.

Tomorrow's the last day of another damn education course. I'll be glad to see the back of this one. Haven't really learned much of use from it, to be honest. Of course, that's not a huge deviation from all the rest of these courses so far.


Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan and the Band, "This Wheel's On Fire"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"The Best Thing About New York City Is You And Me"

So our trip to New York City was a success. I got to meet Michelle's grandparents, a couple of aunts and uncles, and some cousins. We did a quick, down-n-dirty trip through downtown NYC to see the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, both of which were nifty. Here's a rundown of the weekend:

Saturday morning: the four-hour drive up to The City isn't too bad. New Jersey isn't as disgusting as I thought it would be, though honestly I only saw whatever's along the Jersey Turnpike and was really just making an effort to get through the state as fast as possible.

Saturday afternoon: we arrive at Michelle's grandparents' place near Yonkers (possibly in Yonkers? I have no idea. I know that we got lost in Yonkers on the way there). They proceed to feed us. All those stereotypes about Italian women trying to feed you until you burst? They're true.

Saturday evening: various family members arrive to partake of a traditional take-out meal of pizza (called simply "pie"), calzones, and submarine sandwiches (called "wedges"). Many instances of "the poor Midwesterner doesn't know what the hell we're talking about" occur, most notably with my confusion about what the hell a wedge is. Turns out Michelle's grandfather is a storyteller like my grandfathers. This promises to be entertaining.

Sunday morning: a trip out to Uncle Jim's dental office, and Michelle gets some dental work done that she needed. I do a crossword puzzle and fiddle with Michelle's iPod, succeeding in compiling an entire playlist of stuff her uncle doesn't like.

Sunday afternoon: we head to Westchester, go to a dinner for a late lunch, then do a whirlwind tour of downtown NYC. I get to see the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. Sadly, it has been cleaned up. I didn't see a single hooker or wino. I feel somehow...cheated of an experience.

Sunday evening: we return to Michelle's grandparents' house to pick up said grandparents and head into the Bronx. We eat at a restaurant called Rigoletto's, which apparently is owned by the Mob (the guy who owns the place is currently in jail, apparently). While there, we are treated to an entertaining diversion by the guy at the table next to us who apparently watched The Sopranos too much. Phrases such as "I shot 'im, but I didn't mean to kill 'im" and "she shot him dead when he showed back up with the food" kept us amused for the duration of our meal. Michelle also happened to catch his enthusiastic reenactment of a stabbing with his fork and napkin. The food at this place is among the best food I have ever eaten. Period. Say what you want about the Mafia, they know how good food's supposed to taste, and they make damn sure you get it at their restaurants. Michelle's grandfather keeps talking about how the parking was better when the Mob guy ran things.

Sunday night: we stayed up until the wee hours listening to Michelle's grandfather tell stories of the old days. The man loves having an audience. Michelle and I finally give in around 1.30, but Michelle's grandparents apparently stayed up significantly later.

Monday morning: we planned on leaving at 10.00, but Michelle's grandfather kept making us take more food. Final count: four sandwiches, 1 gallon of olive oil, two olive jars of orange juice, four sodas, a bottle of wine, some glass servingware, some champagne glasses, and our leftovers from the previous night. I think he'd have given us more if we'd stayed longer.

Monday afternoon: the drive back from NYC took longer than the drive up there. More traffic. Headwind. Jersey is still a strange place. You're not allowed to pump your own gas there. S'truth. It's a state law. All the service stations are full-service, but gas prices were about thirty cents cheaper in Jersey than in New York. Cheaper than Virginia, too. But we made it back eventually and just sorta collapsed all evening.

Overall, it was a great trip. Michelle's grandfather told me at the end of the trip that I'd "passed the test." He didn't say what the test was, though he did mention that I'd "cheated" (presumably by marrying his granddaughter before I came up to visit). But they all seemed to like me pretty well, and I managed to avoid saying anything terribly stupid.

Also, they gave us a hell of a lot of money for the wedding. We're also gonna get the Bose iPod sound dock. To say that I'm excited is to grossly undersell the sentiment.


Song of the Moment: My Morning Jacket, "It Makes No Difference"

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Turn Up Your Stereo"

So we're heading up to New York tomorrow. I'll admit that I'm a little nervous about meeting her family. Should be an interesting visit, though, and I've never had the opportunity to visit New York before.

Granted, we're gonna have to go through Jersey to get there, and I'm not sure I'm up for that.

I mean, c'mon, Jersey. It's where the big hair and acid-wash jeans of the '80s went to die.

Now to prepare a playlist for the iPod of songs relating to New York, 'cause I'm a huge geek.


Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Hard Times In New York Town"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"School's Out Forever"

So there won't be any school tomorrow, either, meaning we had a grand total of a day and a half of school this week. Something about icy sidewalks and side streets making it tough for kids to get to school or unsafe or whatever. Bah. I say let 'em walk to school through the nasty ice and crap. Builds character. The kids around here are too damn spoiled, if you ask me.

Granted, you didn't ask me, but that's what they pay me for (or don't pay me for, as the case may be) around here: unsolicited thoughts on whatever.

Anyway, gotta go pick up the wife from work. My car is technically stuck in ice right now, but that's more the asshole who parked next to me's fault than the weather or mine.


Song of the Moment: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Here Comes My Girl"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Fingertips Have Memories"

It's been a nasty day, weather-wise. We had early dismissal at school due to snow/sleet/freezing rain/random precipitation, so I got to go home at 12.30 and my evening class was canceled. Michelle ended up leaving at 3.30 from her place of business, so we got to spend the afternoon and evening just hanging around. I made an effort to get the router working again, but failed. I'll try again later, I guess.

I've been staying up, hoping that we'd get a notification from Fairfax County that school is closed tomorrow as well, but nothing's come down the pipe yet. It's 1.00 am, so it's time to crash and hope that there's an email from FCPS in the morning telling me I don't have to drag my sorry carcass out of bed.

In other news, we're probably going to New York this weekend, weather permitting (which it should by Saturday). I'm excited and nervous all at once.


Song of the Moment: Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"'Cause I've Stopped Listening"

So this article fills me with rage.

I waited several days to talk about it. I hoped my anger, my righteous indignation, would lessen with the passage of time. But no, there it is, still boiling the blood and turning my thoughts to crimes against humanity.

I've mentioned this before, I'm sure, but I think John Mayer is a freakin' hack. He's played with Clapton, Buddy Guy, and B. B. King. So what? He's got decent technical chops, but anyone who wants to practice a bit can do what he's doing. The man thinks he's Stevie Ray Vaughn reincarnate; but sorry, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn had genius to go with the skill. The Guitar Gods were greats not because of their technical abilities--hell, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix are among the sloppiest guitar players in rock history--but because they took the basic elements of guitar solos and guitar leads and twisted them into something new and different. Page and Hendrix made guitars do things people hadn't ever dreamed of. Stevie Ray took Hendrix's style, planted it in Texas boogie, cleaned it up, and came up with a twist on it that revitalized blues guitar in the 1980s. John Mayer just apes Stevie Ray Vaughn's style, even down to the vocal affectation he does to try to sound like Stevie Ray. It's absurd.

Technical ability does not equal greatness. While I'll admit that Mayer's grasp of the mechanics of blues guitar are excellent--he's obviously studied this stuff and worked hard at it, and I don't want to take that away from him--he's not a "guitar god." There's nothing original about what he's doing, there's no twist of his own (except that his lyrics are still facile and trite sugar pop, and I don't know that I'd call that a "twist"). And that's really all I want to say about it. The other two guys on the cover are good. I could see giving the label of guitar god to them, but that's because they've put their own particular stamp on the genres of their choice. Plus, Derek Trucks is playing guitar with the Allman Bros. Band. You know that requires some damn fine chops.

Took Michelle shopping for clothes yesterday. It was like some sort of stereotypical marital rite of passage, sitting in Lane Bryant while she tried on lots of clothes for her new job (which she starts on Monday!). Then she took me shopping and made me buy some new shirts and a new pair of jeans (apparently she's sick of me wearing the same half dozen shirts to work all the time). We then proceeded to go grocery shopping for the first time in about three weeks. I think we spent close to $1000 yesterday, when it's all said and done.

Earlier this week, I bought Michelle a new wedding band. The ring she had before was...inadequate, I felt, because it was the 10K loaner ring we got from the jewelry store until her real ring arrived. Since the real ring never arrived, I got fed up and decided to get her a better ring. So she got a band with some channel-set diamonds (about a quarter karat in total weight). I'm much happier, and I think she is as well.

Well, gotta go get ready to go out with the in-laws. Woo.


Song of the Moment: The Beatles, "Chains"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Or Would I Smile And Watch It Slowly Fall?"

Snow days rock. 'Nuff said.

Didn't have to go to work today on account of the fact that people around here apparently don't know how to drive if there's more than an inch or two of snow on the ground. The fact that the roads were completely clear by the time I took Michelle to a job interview at 11 this morning (clear like totally dry, no sign that there was ever snow on them clear) really just makes me worry about these people. It's not like it was even ice or anything.

We spent most of the afternoon after her interview napping. God, I love a good afternoon nap. Then we worked on getting the apartment in order (well, she worked on that mostly. I spent a lot of time doing stuff for school tomorrow and finishing up the comic I should have done last night). The downstairs looks great now. The office is really coming together upstairs. The bedroom still needs a hell of a lot of work, but the plan is that we're going to clear out the closet, Michelle's going to sort through her clothes, and we're basically gonna make the place respectable.

I must now away to bed. School is gonna come awful early in the morning.


Song of the Moment: John Mellencamp, "Human Wheels (Acoustic)"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"The Earth Died Screaming"

We've been without internet at the apartment all week. I managed to get the cable modem working again this afternoon after I moved the desk and computer into the spare room (now known as "The Office") today. We were originally going to have my dad bring out my old bed to put in here so as to create a guest bedroom, but we're now thinking of just getting a futon to put in here (my bed wouldn't fit in here, especially not with a desk). So I might see about just having dad sell the old bed instead.

Michelle's got a couple of great job prospects lined up. Hopefully she'll hear from them within the next few days and have a new job by the end of the week. That would be groovy.

We did a David Thewlis Hall of Shame movie night last night at Chad's. The new version of The Omen (in which he plays a photographer who can apparently take pictures of individuals related to the plot and see in the pictures how those individuals will die) was painful, and Dragonheart wasn't nearly as cool as my 15 year old self remembered it.


Song of the Moment: The White Stripes, "Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine"