Monday, October 31, 2011

It's THAT Time Of Year

It's THAT time of year again. No, not fall transitioning to winter. Not dark mornings and increasingly dark late afternoons. Not Halloween and costume parties.

No, it's that hallowed time of year in which pride, ambition and anticipation mix with hate, jealousy and a little bit of fear.

Just what warped season am I talking about?

Of course it's that green, yellow, purple and gold week that comes around every 12 months for the big University of Oregon vs. University of Washington football game. That's right, it's interstate football rivalry week in the northwest - and I ain't talking about Oregon State or WSU.

It's a week more about the fans and alumni of UW and UO than the players and coaches. On a purely football level, those actually involved on the filed get less worked up about the rivalry. Sure, a rivalry, but nothing compared to how the fans feel about it.

No...indeed, this week is about fans and their expectations, their projections and their desires. You can read about some of my memories of this rivalry in my post from last year HERE.

All too often it is a time when one school's fans are sick and tired of hearing about the dominance of the other school over theirs on the football field - and each school has had the advantage in stretches over the last 20 years. It's a week of "this year it's going to be different," or if you're on the currently prevailing side of things it's the year of "we're going to wipe you out again just like last year." Both sentiments usually peppered with a little bit of profanity.

Lets face it. Neither school's fans can stomach losing to the other.

UW fans usually take the perspective that theirs is the more historically dominate squad given their nice run of success in the 1980s and early 1990s, the half national championship for the 1991 season and an overall historical advantage head-to-head against Oregon. From this perspective, Husky fans are still able - despite fielding horrible teams over the past decade - to take a position of superiority over Oregon fans. (Left: a picture from days gone by when Washington held the clear upper hand in the rivalry.) 

Oregon fans typically take the perspective of the here an now - or at least the here and since 1994. Since that year, Oregon has fielded teams that have posted a 12-4 winning record against UW - starting with that famous pick six in Eugene in 1994 to seal a victory and all the way up to a string of seven consecutive eviscerations of the Huskies leading up to this year's game. Any Duck fan under the age of about 30 has only seen majority Oregon wins against Washington. This recent dominance, combined with some really, really bad UW teams gives Oregon fans the ability to take a position of superiority. (Right: a picture from the more recent era in which Oregon has dominated.)

And so it goes. And so it will be this week and into Saturday for the game. After all, it is THAT time of year again.

I'll be going to that game by the way. I'll make some mental notes and perhaps take a few pictures and report back next week.

But regardless, fans of both schools this week will indulge in this crazy ritual, this predictable but also unusual time of year. As they make their plans, lay in supplies for tailgating, work up some new insults for their rivals and generally prepare for the game, fans from both schools will be pondering...will this be the year that UW gets back on track against Oregon with a big win or will Oregon once again step on the collective Husky throat in a multiple touchdown win?

We shall see.

(NOTE: Pictures in this post were not taken by me. They are not mine.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

If Land Were Divided Like Wealth

Here is an interesting visual analogy for the inequities of wealth in the United States today....

Background on this is in a post HERE, but the facts are that wealth inequity is a reality and a problem any way you try and represent it. 

And it did not spring up overnight. Rather it is a predictable and inevitable outcome of the prevailing political-economic practice of our country over the past 30 years of lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations, deregulation in key sectors of the economy, "free trade" agreements, incentives for outsourcing and off-shoring jobs and a lack of investment in education. These moves over a sustained period of time have lined the pockets of the already wealthy and corporations while simultaneously eliminating jobs and opportunity for most Americans. 

Sure, these things were most aggressively championed by the Republicans (Reagan, Bush, W and Republican controlled Congresses), but the Democrats are not blameless either. Clinton and Congressional Ds did roll over on these issues many times. If the Rs made it happen, the Ds let it happen.

In any case, it's real. My feeling is that if your someone in the middle or lower class and you're defending tax cuts for the rich and corporations, free trade agreements and feel that "the 1%" should get all they can...well, I humbly suggest your head is in the sand and you are advocating things that are directly hurting you. 

Food for thought.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pac-12 Week 9 Quick Picks

Oregon vs. WSU in Eugene. Did you see the Oregon game against Colorado last week? Did you see the WSU game against OSU last week? If you did, you know how this one is going to come out, but just in case I'll say it...Ducks win 52-21.

Washington vs. Arizona in Seattle. Night game. "Black out." Huskies rebound to beat UA, but it isn't a thrashing as the Wildcats are improving. I'm saying UW wins 27- 24.

Oregon State vs. Utah in Salt Lake City. OSU continues to improve and wins 21-10 on the road against a hapless Utah team.

Stanford vs. USC in L.A. Now this could be interesting. If this was at Palo Alto, I'd for sure pick Stanford. Being in L.A. against a talented USC team...hmmm. Well, I can't pick against Stanford yet. I think they eek out the win 24-17.

ASU vs. Colorado in Tempe. Another beat down for the Buffalos. ASU wins 49-3.

UCLA vs. Cal in L.A. UCLA on the downswing, Cal on the upswing. Cal wins big 31-10.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Public Nudity Legal in San Francisco? Yes

File this one under "you learn something new every day"...

Turns out, public nudity is legal in San Francisco. Yep, you can walk around and do whatever completely nude inside the boundaries of the city of San Francsico as long as you are not "in a state of arousal."

This is just not something I was aware of. Strikes me as pretty out there. It also strikes me that despite this freedom, 99.99999999% of people in SF must not be nudists becuase I've been their MANY times over the decades and never seen anyone in the buff out on the streets.

I learned this bit of info in a story that reports how SF nudists will be required to cover up when entering or dining at restaurants if a new ordance is passed.

Equally entertaining are the reader comments below the story.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Glasvegas Update

An update on one of my favorite bands of recent years, Glasvegas, is HERE.

Looks like a new album may be on the way in 2012.

It also looks like main man James Allan (second in from left) is back to wearing black...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pac1-12 Week 8 Re-Cap destroyed Colorado as expected - even without your starting QB or RB. The outcome was equal parts how good you are and how bad Colorado is. Get ready for stiffer tests coming up.

Colorado...sorry, this is not your season. Get through the rest of this one, reload and try again next year.

UW...rumors of you "being back" are greatly exaggerated to say the least. So-so offense and atrocious defense might work against Eastern Washington, Utah, Colorado or Hawaii, but it ain't gonna cut it against a good team like Stanford.

Stanford...well, UW was supposed to be your first real "test" this season. So, on one hand you rose to the occasion by clobbering the Huskies. But on the other hand, seeing what we all observed Saturday, perhaps UW is just another weak opponent. Your season gets real next week vs. USC in L.A.

WSU...poor performance in "the Seattle game" meant you lost to a pretty dang band Oregon State team. Like the Huskies, your resurgence has been over hyped.

OSU...well, well, well. The script remains the same year after year - poor start, middle of the season improvement (where you're at now) and then playing your best at the end of the season. We'll see if that last part comes true or not. Either way, you now have 2 wins for the season.

USC...your game is improving and you showed it on the road at Notre Dame. That win was worth it just to see ND coach Kelly squirm in front of the media afterwards. Big test for you next week vs. Stanford. decimated UCLA to pick up your first win in quite some times - ironically just after your coach was fired. Nice job rebounding. Make a run in the second half of the season to build up to next season.

UCLA...heavy, heavy sigh. Just ain't work and hasn't for quite some time. I don't expect it will this season either.

Cal...a win against a school not named Presbyterian! Oh, that's right. You were playing league newcomer Utah. But hey, take it.

Utah...lets all say it again together, "The Pac-12 is not the Mountain West." Reality is really setting for you and you have not won a league game yet. Will you this season? did not play so nothing to say to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pac-12: James Coming Back Soon

What UW and Stanford fans do NOT want to see:

I am not saying UO will beat the Huskies and the "Trees" this season, but deep down I think fans of those two schools thought they were going to catch a break and gain an advantage when James was injured.

Not so much it looks like.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Italy: La Dolce Vita - Tuscany

After four days in urban Italian environments, we were ready to head for the hills and soak up some relaxed country life. But to get there and do things at our own pace, we needed a car. While it's possible to see rural Tuscany by train or bus, it's a lot smoother with more options by driving. For example, trains and buses don't go to all the little towns you might want to visit, and of course there is a lot of waiting around at the station or stop for those vehicles to depart. No, for us driving in this part of our trip was the only way to go.

Photos for this portion of our trip now added to my Flickr Photostream HERE.

Also, I knew that once we got out of the city of Florence, driving would be pretty easy. Italian freeways are good. But, I was a bit nervous about how we would navigate the labyrinth of streets to find our way out of Florence. Luckily the kind people at the centrally located Hertz office in Florence gave us great directions, and after securing our vehicle we made our way out of the city just fine. Also helping the matter was that we had not just rented a car. No, ours was – basically – an SUV. Or what passes for one in Europe. So, with a size advantage we were more visible and more apt to have other drivers move out of our way. I was pleasantly surprised because I assumed we would be riding low in some super small Euro econo-hatch of one variety or another. (Left: Skyline of San Gimignano as seen from the restaurant we ate lunch at.)

Our end point for the day was south and east of Sienna, but instead of going directly there we decided to cut over to the beautiful town of San Gimignano for a visit and lunch. You may have seen this town on travel TV programs because not only is it a quintessential Italian medieval town, it also features tall, square towers that from afar look like skyscrapers. These structures are indeed 8-10 stories tall, but they were built by the town’s nobility as defense and safety structures. As in…if the bad guys came, they could retreat up into their towers and wait them out. And of course, over time how high one’s safety tower was became a measuring stick for how rich you were. So, the local rich big wigs built ever higher and higher towers to try and out do each other. In any case – makes for a good story and an odd visual.

The downside of visiting this town is that it is very well known – and there are loads of tourists there. It’s not so bad walking the streets, but parking is quite the ordeal, particularly if you don’t know where to look. My advice: save yourself a lot of time and frustration and park at the easier to find and more open lower lots and walk up the hill to the town. Note that it will cost you a few Euros no matter where you park, so make sure to have some on you when you’re done for the day so you can pay the machine to exit. (Right: Door knocker in San Gimignano.)

Once situated, we strolled through the streets – looking into the shops and happening upon an open air market in one of the ancient squares. But by now we were getting pretty hungry and we settled on a restaurant with an impressive view of the town and surrounding areas upstairs at the Hotel La Cisterna. Good food, nice local wine, spectacular view. Great!

More pictures, shopping and strolling after lunch.

Satisfied that we had seen the best of this burg, we hit the road with a mind to get to our villa hotel and sit at the pool on this sultry day.

Skipping Sienna
Now, at this point you might be wondering, “Didn’t you go to Sienna?” And your question makes sense because it's a beautiful town right near where we were. But, the answer is, no we did not. We had planned to, there were a few things that changed our minds:
  • Our already aggressive schedule – we knew we would be going, going, going for more than a week at this point in our trip and so we decided instead of taking in another city, we’d take a little “vacation from our vacation” and stay out in the country side at someplace really nice and relaxing.
  • Driving, parking, and tickets – we had heard and read that driving in, out and around Sienna is tricky; that you are likely to get a parking ticket; and that if you drove in certain zones (not well marked by signs) you get a expensive ticket.
  • Festival – we learned that there was a big horse festival going on in Sienna when we would have visited. Fun and all I am sure, but hotels were hard to find and, frankly, we didn’t want the hassle of trying to see the city with zillions of other people at the same time.
So, no – we didn’t go to Sienna.

Finding Tuscan Paradise
Where we did go was a hotel out in the country called Locanda d’Ammarosa. Stretching back in history, this place had been a fort, a monastery, a tiny little town and probably all those things at once – more than once. Today, it is a beautiful walled villa that has been renovated into an extremely nice hotel property. Featuring rustic facades, stony walkways, iron gates, arched corridors and pretty much all the Tuscan charm you could want, the hotel also has very modern rooms with excellent amenities. (Left: Courtyard view of the Locanda d'Ammarosa villa/hotel.)

Upon our mid-afternoon arrival and check in, we left our luggage in the room, grabbed a couple of the complimentary beers in our room’s refrigerator and made a beeline to the oasis of the pool. Overlooking a valley and a nearby village, this pool was the ticket – just the right place to be on this sunny afternoon.

After some swimming and basking, a fellow guest bearing a bucket of chilled white wine walked by and introduced himself…inviting us to join he and his wife for some of the wine. We thought, “what the Hell” and went over to talk with them. Turns out they are a couple from the Toronto area who come to this place almost annually. Very nice people and full of recommendations for what to do in the area and where to eat.

More relaxation followed at the pool, and then we rested up before our dinner at the highly regarded restaurant on site at the hotel. Sitting in a covered-but-outdoors patio, our meal was very good, but the service this night was for some reason very, very slow. This was annoying. But, whatever. In hindsight it was nice to sit out and take in the view. (Right: The pool at Locanda d'Ammarosa.)

The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast set out in luxurious style in the hotel's bar/cafe. What a spread. With fresh eggs, cheese, bread, jam, honey and more, it reminded us of some of those wonderful Romanian breakfasts we'd had earlier in the trip.
Pienza and Montepulciano
The sunny skies and magnificent fields of sunflowers greeted us as we took to the road for the short drive to the nearby town of Pienza. Pienza is another spectacularly preserved old town, but it's far smaller that San Gimignano and nearly as touristy. This made for a nice strolling visit as we walked through the walled city gate and up the narrow main road lined with shops up to the primary piazza of the town. You can really see the main sites in Pienza just a few minutes. What's extra nice is to spend some time walking through the narrow little side streets and also making your way to the edge of the town where you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside. We did both and in between we stopped at a teeny tiny little cafe and had a glass of cool and refreshing Proseco. (Above left: Pienza street. Above right: Tuscan sunflowers.)
Our next stop was the town of Montepulciano. This is a bigger town than Pienza, but we'd heard that it was chock full of great restaurants and shopping. How could we say no?
Arriving at mid-day, we parked and walked up into the old city center, marveling at the walls, streets, passageways, etc. No matter how many of these medieval towns you go to, it never gets least to us. Anyway, we arrived at the top at moment I would guess was the hottest of the day. We found some shade and got our bearings before exploring the church and surrounding streets. (Left: Main square in Montepulciano.)
Now it was lunchtime, and we found a place noted in the Lonely Planet guidebook called Enoteca a Gambe di Gatto. Situated on one of those narrow little streets, this is a small restaurant run by a husband and wife team. She's the chef and he's the service. Their "thing" is to travel the region annually to find suppliers of the freshest, best tasting and organic food for their menu. And wow, that effort pays off.
To start things off, we were presented with a fresh loaf of locally baked bread and a selection of olive oils from different areas around Italy. We were given a chance to taste each and then settle on the one we liked best for the table. Next, wine needed to be attended to. Similarly, several options of red were set up on our table - each local to Tuscany and one in particular from right nearby. We sampled and decided on the most local - a very nice 2007 red from Montepulciano.
Our entrees were to die for. Having loved this meal and service so much, we decided to buy some of the olive oil and perhaps a bottle of that wine. As were paying for our meal and those other items, out came the locally made Limoncello for a taste at the bar. We could not refuse. We tasted this lemony liqueur, loved it and decided to get a bottle of it as well. Sure, we were up sold, but it was worth it. For the entire package of food, service and setting, our visit to this restaurant has jumped onto our personal list of best meals ever.
Happy as could be, we decided to walk lunch off a bit by going back to the main piazza and doing a little shopping too. By now, heavy clouds had moved in and you got the feeling that it was going to rain. Before that could happen, we went to the tippy top of the town hall for a good view and then hit some shops where we bought some really cool shoes and bags. (Left: Local wine on our table as we celebrate one last evening in Tuscany.)
By the time we got back to our vehicle, it was starting to rain and it increased as we made our way back toward our hotel. The original plan was to sit at the pool in the late afternoon again, but it was looking like this was a no-go based on what was happening outside. Sure enough, when we got back it was still gray, cloudy and drizzly. Warm, but not pool weather. We opted to rest up in our sumptuous room instead.
To finish off this perfect day in Tuscany, we headed out to a small nearby town for dinner at a restaurant our new friends from by the poolside had told us about. By now, the weather had cleared and again we were looking at clear skies and a beautiful sunset - all the more delightful as we sat on an outdoor patio and enjoyed a meal of Tuscan specialties and wine as the sun slowly set before us.

Tomorrow we would make our way to Rome, but for this day we could not have envisioned such a wonderful experience.

NOTE: All pictures in this post taken by Marc Osborn. No use of any kind is authorized without prior written permission from Marc Osborn.

Pac-12 Week 8 Quick Picks

Oregon vs. Colorado in Boulder. Ducks may be without their starting QB and RB, but it won't matter. Too big a talent and experience miss-match. They win big: 41-17.

UW vs. Stanford at Palo Alto. UW is reminded that their 5 wins to date have come against poor and injury depleated teams. Stanford is neither. Trees win 34-21.

WSU vs. OSU in Seattle. Neither school's campus is anywhere near Seattle, but yet they're playing there this weekend. For the Beavers, it won't matter where they play this one. Cougs win 24-10.

Cal vs. Utah in SF. Neither team is having a good season so far. I'm going to say that Cal gets off the losing streak at home with a win - 17-10.

UCLA vs. Arizona in Tucson. Pillow fight! Two bad teams slap it out in the desert. Arizona could be re-motivated with the loss of their coach and playing at home against a team similar in talent. So, I'm going to pick them to win a close one 24-21.

USC vs. Notre Dame in South Bend. Hmmm. Could be a close one. Neither team really setting the world on fire, but both have talent. Toss up, but I'll take USC 27-21.

ASU has the week off.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pac-12 Week 7 Re-Caps achieved your best win of the season to date by beating a talented ASU team by two TDs. You are still on track for major collisions with UW and Stanford coming up soon. QB and RB hurt, but probably back before those big games.

ASU...well, you tried. The truth is that this loss does not impact your standing in the Pac-12 South - at least for now - as you beat your next best competitor, USC, already this season. But, if you have to match up again with Oregon in that championship game, you have things to be concerned about. KILLED Colorado. So, that's good as you were expected to do that. But on the other hand, killing the Buffs is not hard to do this season. Your second opportunity to show you are a legit football power this season (the first one was big loss vs. Nebraska) comes next weekend vs. Stanford.

Colorado...long season keeps getting longer. Thanks for joining the league. Hopefully you'll get better in coming seasons.

Oregon State...the struggling BYU Cougars beat you by 10 points in your own house. The misery continues. man handled WSU in Pullman. This was expected. Chalk up another win vs. not-that-great  of an opponent...aka your entire season to date.

WSU...nice effort against Stanford. But, you still lost. At 3-3 you still have a bowl game in your sights, and with the Beavers as your next opponent, you probably will pick up win 4 next weekend. killed Cal, which is becoming increasingly the norm.

Cal...your season is starting to look like OSU's. redeemed yourselves some by winning on the road at Pitt. didn't play. didn't play either, but given your record this season you could say that every weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mona - Lean Into the Fall

Mona just released their song "Lean Into the Fall" in the U.S.

A very good song in my opinion.

Check it out on iTunes or Amazon.

Pac-12 Week 7 Quick Picks

Oregon vs. ASU in Eugene - Ducks are likely without their best player, but they are at home and have plenty of talent to pick up the slack. ASU better this year, but did I mention this game is in Eugene? Ducks win 38-28.

UW vs. Colorado in Seattle. Dawgs are better than Buffs. They win 27-13.

WSU vs. Stanford in Pullman. Road game for the "Trees" against an improving Coug squad. BUT, Stanford is better and will win 41-20.

OSU vs. BYU in Corvallis. Beavs coming off a win. BYU has a winning record against weak teams and lost to Pac-12 whipping boy Utah earlier. Beavs make it two in a row and win 21-17.

USC vs. Cal at Berkley. Cal has lost two straight, but return home. USC isn't what they used to be, but they're better than Cal this year and will win 24-13.

UCLA vs. Arizona in Tucson. UA has fired its head coach after losing 10 games in a row going back into last season. Ironically, they finally get a win by beating a weak UCLA team.

Utah vs. Pitt in Pittsburgh. Utah's woes continue as they lose 17-10.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yeah, What the Dalai Lama Says...

I saw the below quote attributed to the Dalai Lama floating around on Facebook today.

I am not 100% sure if he actually said this, but I am sure that the sentiment is something I believe...

We all gotta make our way in this world, and making some money to do so is part of the equation for most of us.

But the bottom line for me is:

Life is short. Sure, be responsible, but do not sacrifice your mental or physical health, and do not delay experiences for "sometime in the future," when you assume you'll be healthy and wealthy in the name of money or the maniacal pursuit of it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mona Plays Live in Ballard

An up-and-coming band I've kept my ear on recently, Mona, played a gig last night at the small Tractor Tavern venue in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. A buddy and I went to check them out and were glad we did.

More info on Mona HERE.

In addition to their ripping set of melodic, edgy rock and roll we also were fortunate enough to meet each member of the band at some point in the evening and we can report that members of Mona are approachable, good guys who appreciate people who come out to their shows.

Unfortunately, my point-and-shoot digital camera was on the fritz, so the few pictures I attempted to take did not turn out very good. Here is one that kinda (but not really) turned out at least somewhat visible...

More pictures of Mona that I took when they played the Showbox SoDo earlier this year are HERE. Mona are the last few pictures in the set.

Opening bands Sunday evening, Funeral Party and Locksley, were both quality and if you're interested in new bands to check out, I'd add them to the list.

Pac-12 Week 6 Re-Caps took you until the third quarter to do it, but you destroyed Cal as expected. Star RB James may be out due to injury for the next game, however. Luckily for you, it's at home against an ASU team that has issues when playing on the road against good teams.

Cal...on the up side, this year you didn't fake injuries against Oregon (that we can tell), but on the down side you got your butt whipped and are now 0-2 in the conference.

Washington...nice job taking the week off. performed your "bye" duties equally well.

WSU...oh so close. You didn't exactly "Coug it," but you also didn't finish it off against a feeble UCLA. took WSU coming to your home field and a full four quarters worth of effort, but you did win a Pac-12 game.

OSU...a win! Your very first of the season no less. Things are looking up after beating Arizona, at least until next weekend., if there was a game for the taking this was it and you blew it. To Oregon State. Not a good season.

Stanford...a win against Colorado. How did you build your schedule to be so soft for so much of the first half of the season? Makes for a nice 5-0 record, but one wonders if that's just because of who you have been playing. shame in losing to Stanford, but would be nice to see you try and get a few wins here at some point.

ASU...a good win. Winning on the road is always a good sign, especially for you. But, beating Utah is not exactly a statement that you're ready to win the league. Next week will be that test in Eugene.

Utah...your education on the quality of football in the Pac-12 compared to the Mountain West continues with your home loss to ASU.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pac-12 Week Six Quick Picks

Quick picks for week six of the Pac-12 season...

Oregon vs. Cal in Eugene (Thursday) - Cal played Ducks close last year in Berkley. Not the case this year. Ducks win at home 41-24.

UW had the weekend off. So does USC.

WSU vs. UCLA in L.A. Hmmm. Both teams have question marks, but pretty even. I want to pick the Cougs here, so I will. WSU wins 22-14.

OSU vs. Arizona in Corvallis. Both hurtin' units looking for a win. Arizona has more overall talent and a better QB, so they win...28-17.

Stanford vs. Colorado in Palo Alto. Stanford continues win streak. Beats Buffs 33-10.

ASU vs. Utah in Salt Lake City. ASU takes another step toward a Pac-12 South title with a road win here 35-14.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rainy Weather Music Recommendations

For the first time in a while, I drove to work today in the rain. Yes, summer here in Seattle seemed short and the previous winter and spring were wet. But, in any case, it's been a while since I did my commute in the rain.

That got me thinking, what are some good bands or albums to listen to when it's gray and rainy? For some people, foul weather may bring on a desire for bright and sunny music that reminds them of a more pleasant season - reggae, Beach Boys, pop and the like.

For me, however, I go the other way - embrace the gloom, marinate around in it and find music that goes with the feel. That's not to say...depressing...but just that fits the environment.
Anyway, here are a few ideas for music that goes with gray rainy weather:
  • Radiohead - pretty much anything by them, but more particularly OK Computer, Kid A and Amnesiac.
  • The Good, the Bad & the Queen - an album by Damon Albarn of Blur, Paul Simonon of the Clash and others.
  • Rubber Soul by the Beatles - Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Michelle, Girl and other songs really fit the rainy mood.
  • Suedehead by Morrissey - it's a "best of" compliation from the Mozzer, but it's genius and fits a melancholy mood.
  • Ten by Pearl Jam - Once, Evenflow, Alive, Porch, Jeremy...all great foul weather rock.
  • Lifeblood by Manic Street Preachers - icy, detached, sythy-rock with some guitar...this entire album connotes bad weather.
  • Metal Box by Public Image Ltd. - grindy, scratchy, warbly avaunt guard music. Gray, dark and challenging - just like a winter day.
  • The Joy Division - pretty much anything by this band.
  • Kill to Get Crimson by Mark Knofler - mellow, soulful, beautiful. Check it out next time there's a light rain falling. 
  • Bleach by Nirvana - you sick of the rain? You pissed off that it's dark, cold and damp for like nine months out of the year? Crank this up and get that angst out!
  • Zooropa by U2 - Lemon, Numb, Stay, Zooropa and pretty much everything else here fits rain.
There are just a few suggestions, and I'm sure you have your own favorites for those not-so-great weather days. Feel free to let me know. It's October now, so I'll be looking for some new tunes for the upcoming season.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Restaurant and Bar Recommendations - NYC

Just got back from a weeklong business trip to Dayton, Ohio (1 day) and New York City (4 days).

Here are a few food and drink tips for anyone going to either city...

  • Veritas - this used to be a high end, white table cloth, expensive place with a spectacular wine selection. Wall Streeters were the primary clientele, along with perhaps couples splurging on for that big anniversary or special occassion. We were one of those couples a few years ago and enjoyed it. However, that incarnation died at the very moment the economy and Wall Street went in the tank back in 2008. Today, the restaurant is still in the same location, still called Veritas and still has a wonderful wine list. However, the decor, service and food selections are dialed down to a more casual and affordable level. It's still a nice place to be sure and the dinner I had was great. But, the whole affair is more approachable.
  • Hi-Life - this is one of those joints that as an out-of-towner you would just walk right past and not really think much about. There are two Hi-Life's in NYC, and I was at the one on the Upper West Side. This little joint has a diverse menu (chicken pasta bowl over here, sushi plate over there, steak, salads, etc.), local beer on tap (I had the Blue Point Lager) and a nice setting. In warm weather you can sit outside and watch the NYC world go by. Casual, affordable and unpretentious.
  • Wong - a new place in the west village with an inventive menu. Small, popular and tastey, this hit the spot for us as we'd been craving some good Asian fare. I had the Cha Ca La Vong.
  • Dos Caminos - above average Mexican food at several locations around the city. We ate at the one in midtown. Just what we wanted after a morning of hoofing around the city.
  • DaNico - ironically, one thing New York's Little Italy is not known for is great Italian food. However, DaNico's is pretty dang good. It's more the rustic Tuscan and Sicilian fare rather than high end Northern Italian. But, relax...not everything has to be "hot, hip and trendy." Have a good time and enjoy some hearty Italian food and plenty of good wine selections in Little Italy.
  • Pravda Bar - an old favorite and still a happening joint in the later hours of the evening. It's literally underground and decked out in Russian decor, and all this makes sense as they specialize in vodka drinks. We tasted a few of the home made infused vodkas on offer.
  • Jane - for our last meal in NYC before heading home, we had brunch at a place called Jane on Houston Street. Brunch is a big deal in NYC, and picking your place can be a hit and miss affair. This place had good reviews online, was within striking distance of our hotel via subway can make reservations. This last thing was the clincher. Most places you cannot reserve, so you end up standing in line for an hour or two waiting. Not so here. And, turns out we made a good choice. A nice place, great food (several types of unique Bennedicts) and friendly service. Note: They don't serve any alcoholic beverages at brunch before 12 p.m.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

PAC-12 Week 5 Recap beat Utah on the road. Nice win and you are at the top of the PAC-12 North for now. Next week vs Colorado could be good for you too.

Utah...welcome to the PAC-12. This ain't the Mountain West.

WSU...hey, lookie here Cougs! A win! With your third victory this season you are half way to being bowl eligible. are the team WSU beat. Heavy sigh. played better, but still lost at home to ASU. Is 0-12 a possibility? At 0-4 you are a third of the way there. won on the road vs the lowly Beavers. Took care of business. killed UCLA. Your wins are piling up, but they are against poor teams. Bigger tests coming. are not good. Season looking bleak. beat Arizona. You were supposed to, so you are back on track., OSU and UCLA will battle it out for worst record in the leave. Which of you is the worst? Can't wait to find out. did not play and await Cal, the only league team who slowed your offense. Be ready and motivated and you should win at home. also did not play and go to Eugene this week.