Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dairyland initiation

It was a wonderful weekend in Madison with Haydn here. There was lots of basketball, time spent on the couch watching basketball, homecooking, take-out buffalo wings, and a bit of snow and ice. Haydn had his official Wisconsin initiation on Friday night and embraced the culture wholeheartedly. Friday was dinner at Madison scenester/hipster (yes we have such things!) restaurant Nattspiel, with "eclectic" global cuisine accompanied with rap music -- mom loved that, heh. Yes, Laura, I did have the Three Cup Chicken upon your recommendation, totally yummy combo of asian spices and loads of chicken and rice and a little cucumber salad for contrast. Interesting.

Then, Haydn and I met up with Kathie and Uz for an old-fashion Madison kind of night. A stop at Genna's -- where they still ID us, god bless 'em -- and then on to the Paradise, aka the 'Dise, to get taken to school and back by Kat and Uz in a game of foosball. We had my favorite favorite beer, New Glarus Spotted Cow (altho it must be a kissin' cousin of Cooper's Pale Ale), and then we ordered a basket of fried cheese curds. What is a cheese curd? -- basically a cheddar cheese nugget, and then it was deep fried and we used Ranch dressing as a dipping sauce. I never claimed it was healthy living here, just good living.

The best part, despite Haydn's hesitancy, he loved the cheese balls. Now he understands.

We did some wandering of my favorite spots and at the Memorial Union, the lake was still frozen and the sunburst chairs still stacked away for winter. But with temps in the mid-40s, it won't be long til they're out there eating ice cream, drinking beer and skipping class.

My next adventure takes to me the birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston, also known as where Ann lives, learns, and keeps it real.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Scenes from Laura's neighborhood

It's a photogenic city, our dear Chicago...or at least Laura's hood is fun to take pictures in, as I didn't venture too far from her area. And we had markedly warmer weather on Wednesday and were able to stroll around in the late afternoon...

I always try to figure out the House of Boo Radley in every American city...this sort of burned out place on a really nice street, with seeminly in-use mailboxes caught my attention:

I like that in a 4 block radius, you can find Old Style signs with "Cold Beer" in Spanish and Polish.

The lovely Laura in her natural environs...

Tara and Laura enjoying Gorditas Pastor for $2.25 each at Las Valoz (I think that is the right name...near Wood and Chicago Streets!). Delicious!!!

And lastly, hanging out with friends old and new at Schubas...my flash was a bit bright at the dark venue...

Have a nice weekend, we're in Madison and already snow has fallen three different times!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chicago, in fashion

The word on the street is: Freezing! If you can say that thru the 5 layers of scarf wrapped around your head. Yep, here I am in Chicago and March, and have found the warm, cozy hipster-populated Filter coffee place. Where the Macs outnumber the PCs by about 3 to 1. It feels like an Onion article I read a couple of weeks ago...hmm, who can I bill for this post? I did meet up my friend Adam today for a totally greasy spoon Chicago lunch -- these days are made for chili and a grilled cheese. My only regret was not taking a pic!

So, yes, in the Midwest. Made a stop in St. Louis, Haydn and I even sang selections from my favorite musical, "Meet Me in St Louis" in honor of our rendezvous there. A meeting of favorite bands occurred when the Mess Hall opened for Wilco at the Pageant. My inability to take digital photos in dark places, ie concent venues, is going to really make me dig into the instruction manual or find some handy tips on the web, tho...

And, in old friends news, it seems beards to be in for Winter 2006, which is rather practical right now.

A lovely listening experience of note yesterday. I took an Amtrak train from St. Louis and Chicago -- which seems like a pretty old-timey route doesn't it? -- and the travel experience was heightened with a listening through of Sufjan Steven's "Illinois" whilst crossing the state. Bare trees, unkempt backyards, old signs, open fields and then into Chicago.

And here I am, with Lucy's handmade scarf on, it's keeping me alive! I do love Chicago, but am missing Bondi right now.


Saturday, March 18, 2006


Thank you, Austin. For giving me the gift of Mexican food! Enchiladas Verde at Las Manitas for lunch , as breakfast really never happened.

Then there was a whole lot of Aussie BBQ today and Aussie bands and Aussie Chardonnay and the accent I haven't heard in the last couple weeks. There were meat pies, too, but I just wasn't feeling it. Always fun and strange to see people in another country that you really don't expect to see...in another country. Those Aussies get around tho.

Then it was on to a sprawling Mexican restaurant of sorts where we met up with Haydn's old pals from Gomez, in addition of course to the heros of the evening, Jed and Cec who are collectively the Mess Hall.

I met up with a wonderful plate of food -- queso, a taco, and quac. I love how it is one staple and then two accompaniments, so good. Here's a before and after:

And, that's it. Adios.


Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm with the band

Writing from the capital of the Lone Star State, Austin, Texas and indie/alt/unsigned band capital of the world, SXSW. I noted to Haydn at the convention hall today that SXSW must have the highest percentage of conference attendees wearing Converse All Stars, unless there is of course an actual Converse All Star convention, which is highly likely.

So a little back track first, to my chilly Madison afternoon on State Street with my mom. I went to old time favorite from grad school days, Amy's Cafe, where they aren't messing around by putting the "cheese" first in their Cheezy Broccoli soup. Delish and kept us warm as the wind whipped. My mom kindly paused in the cold for a pic. And for those of you who have never made it to Madison, here is our state capitol building -- behold the majesty!

And, now, on to the Austin scene. I got in last night and walked up the frontage road near our hotel to the Papasito's Cantina, where I had an almost alarming amount of food served to me. Ahh, America! The enchilada was wonderful as was the margarita on the rocks.

Then I ventured downtown and met up with the illustrious Matthew Libman, who held my job before I did at Nonesuch and now is head Mover and Shaker at a label in LA. We stopped in many a place to see many a band, perhaps the most memorable was the leather-clad duo from Columbus, Ohio who were a bit Village People, a bit Devo or something like that. It had a good beat and was easy to dance to, smile at. That recommendation came from Haydn's friend Wildcat, bc I think if you're at a rock conference it is important to hang out with someone named Wildcat.

More to come tomorrow...if you're in Austin and reading this by any chance, meet me at the Jackalope at 1am for the Mess Hall show.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ode to The Pit

Really this should be an ode to Uz and Kathie, dear friends who date back to the era of Gators soccer and Mrs. Becker's American Experience I class. These two got married in November and sadly I wasn't able to attend, but because they are some of my best friends they said "Go to Australia, don't delay your trip for the wedding." Or something as understanding as that.

So last night I headed out to quaint Mt. Horeb, the town of Norwegian Trolls and the world-famous Mustard Museum, to their exquisite house for dinner. We went old-school style and ordered Pizza Pit. Pizza Pit is slowly going extinct in Madison, but their thin crust pizza with the zesty sauce still remains a classic and reliable choice. And, I think anyone who grew up here in the 80s has a soft spot for the holiday commerical with "Let It Snow" and a little Chevette driving thru a Mr. Rogers-esque neighborhood while flour is dumped down, burying the car as it continues on it quest to deliver the Pit. Ahhh, the nostalgia.

But we had a great time, hanging by the fire with the dogs Chloe and Brutus and just chatting and catching up. And I told them they would be my subject for the blog! Holla!

Today is yet another stop on the Wifi tour of Madison and I'm hanging out at the Victor Allen's on Whitney and Odana. The vanilla latte is a bit heavy on the vanilla, but that's the risk with these types of things.

have a nice weekend,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Down the mountain

It was a brilliant comeback, my triumphant return to the slopes took place this weekend in Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevadas. I had not skiied since an 8th grade ski trip, so was hesitant but feeling a bit fearless when Sara asked if I wanted to include that on our list of activities for my trip to the greater Reno/Tahoe/Carson City.

I hung out a bit on the bunny hill and then Sara assured me I could do the "real" ski run right next to it, a "green" level run. We went down that green a couple of times, and then she assured me I could do the "blue" run. And I could, but not without a bit of shakiness and a couple of pre-emptive falls into the snow. Note: no official "wipe-outs" occured. And what a great feeling to just cruise down the hill, wind blowing, big green trees, snowboarders whizzing by. The view from that ski lift and the top of the mountain, breath-taking. You can see the blue of Lake Tahoe across the trees. And you can see me in action, I think maybe I need to bend my knees a bit more?

So, the skiing was a major highlight of my time with Sara and her fiancee, Pat. Another highlight was Nevada's oldest Thirst Parlor. Straight outta 1860, this bar was frozen in time, except thankfully no one got shot over a poker game or stealing a horse or anything. Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson played on the jukebox, dustry bric-a-brac cluttered the tall walls, and the whiskey was cheap. Sara and I pose outside the Thirst Parlor.

Another highlight: the Project Runway Marathon! I'm all caught up and revved for the season finale tomorrow night.

I think my food highlight was the Chicken Tenders and Cheese Quesadillas at the restaurant at the Fandango Casino in Carson City. And so it goes, Juan the blackjack dealer who robbed me very quickly of $18, has a son in Sydney. and his son has told him he needs to move there to start a Mexican restaurant. I think my destiny is to bring chipotle and habenero to the Aussies.

I arrived in Madison yesterday, there's a nice white blanket of snow on the ground, and I'm hanging out at the Extreme Pizza/Ancora Coffee near my old middle school, enjoying the wifi. With NPR being piped in here, I'm thinking I could become a regular...


Friday, March 03, 2006

I heart SFO

Back in the states, SFO to be exact. What a great city for my segue back into american culture and 24 hour Home Depots! But mostly it's just great to be with one of my dearest, oldest pals from back in the day at JMM, Rosa. Just hanging out at Chez Rosa and Lee where sleepiness and laziness has wooed me a bit more than all the sights. But never fear, I did get to Golden Gate Park and headed to Haight, the amazing Amoeba Records, and loads of second-hand/vintage/"recylced" clothing stores.

My biggest mistake was going to a Grateful Dead-themed pub and getting mercilessly chatted up by a guy who simply didn't have a clue that I wasn't too interested in being buddies. But then again, I did go to a Grateful Dead themed pub.

But then good times at Rickshaw Stop and seeing my friend Jen's band, Axton Kincaid. Wonderful, fun alt-country, including a cover of, yes, I Want to Be Adored! Here are some pics from that, Rosi joined up with me and it was the birthday of Axton Kincaid's Kate, complete with a Maker's Mark birthday cake. I'm actually pretty impressed that I figured out how to use the 'birthday candle" setting on my digital camera.

I did finally eat a bagel today, first in many months. Altho I know some East Coast peeps might scoff that I did get a jalapeno bagel. I am in California, afterall. And it's back to the brewed froofy flavored coffee that I do have a soft spot for, but it is a bit hard to do after all those flat whites.

Ok, hopefully the blizzard in Tahoe won't keep me from my next destination...