Sunday, April 08, 2018

Vermont and Quebec City

10 Things to Do in Quebec City

I wouldn't mind walking around the narrow streets/shop part of town and also along the boardwalk in front of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (Terrase Dufferin). Also, the Quartier Petit Champlain looks like it could be fun to walk through and get an ice cream or a meal.

It's a 5 and a half hour drive from Quebec City to Vermont.  So we may just want to opt to stay in Vermont.


Burlington, VT looks cool.  Right on the coast of Lake Champlain. There's also Hildene, which was the Lincoln family home.  Abe's son, Robert, who became chairman of Pullman, lived here. It has a neat looking garden.

There are also a lot of mountains in Vermont, so it might be cool to find a mountain village to stay in.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In Defense of Cargo Shorts

I am a fashion maven by no means. While I am not a complete slob, and I do have some fashion values, I'm really getting angry at the amount of people who are against Cargo Shorts. I understand that not everyone is supposed to like or even respect everything out there.  Differences of opinion are good (as long as they are truly differences of opinion; you can have your own opinion, you cannot, however, have your own facts). But the problem I have is that the opinions I see are not even valid.  Case in point, I give you Business Insider's "Why No Man Should Wear Cargo Shorts" by Dennis Green.

First of all, I realize articles like this are purely clickbait.  They are likely written to inflame.  But I also realize that there are truly people out here that agree with this opinion.  Maybe you think Cargo Shorts are ugly.  Okay.  You got me there.  But here's where this article fails:

"The first issue: A gentleman does not wear shorts that cover the knees."  Take a look at this photo:

First of all, I can see that guy's knees, so I don't know why someone would say that.  Second, who wears this combo?  NO ONE.  This guy doesn't even look comfortable.  Perhaps he's so buff that his arms always hang out like that, but if you ask me, that jacket seems too small for him.  This whole jacket/Cargo Shorts combo goes against my limited fashion sense as well.  Don't leave the house wearing this.

The second point in this article I want to address is this: "If you think you need those pockets, let me ask you this: Why is a four-pocket pant fine most of the time, but a four-pocket short isn't?"

This assumes that I actually use the two pockets on the back of any pair of pants/shorts that I own.  This topic probably deserves it's own post/article.  There have been many studies done on why keeping a wallet in your back pocket is terrible for your back, especially if you sit on it.  Not to mention security reasons.  I started going to concerts when I was 12, living in Germany.  These were mostly general admission shows with a lot of people.  I was told that I needed to take care of my U.S. Government issued ID at all times, and someone suggested that keeping your wallet in your front pocket was a good way to secure it.  A couple years back, we had a conference in San Francisco and were walking in what I thought was a relatively safe area.  I noticed a co-worker of mine was walking with his hand behind his back, thumb touching his wallet. He is from Houston. Why not just put your wallet in your front pocket?  To me, pockets on the back of any kind of pant are useless, unless it's for a limited amount of carry time.

One final point on pockets - most of the shirts I own have pockets in the front.  These shirts are normally worn during cooler months.  This assists with carrying cell phones and allows my two front pockets to carry my wallet and keys.

Also, Cargo Shorts likely would not exist without the existance of cell phones.  Do you want me to keep my cell phone in my back pocket?  I suppose I could, but every time I go to sit down when I'm out of the house, it will likely be on the table or counter where ever I am sitting.  I had a friend get his phone stolen this way.

And finally, "If you're still looking for places to keep extra items, there's always the possibility of carrying a bag with you. You know, like everyone else does."

I'm glad Dennis mentioned this.  So now I have to worry about carrying a bag instead of having all my stuff in front, where I can reach it? Sometimes when my wife and I go somewhere, even she doesn't want to carry a bag, and let's not get into the whole issue of why women's pants do not have pockets. I have carried her ID, her sunglasses, even a water bottle using my Cargo Shorts. Not often, but they have come in handy. Also?  I don't see any of my male friends carrying a bag.

Really, though, I think it all boils down to form over function.  Cargo Shorts are a great tool, period.  They are a homebrewer's best friend.  I can carry my lighter, a pencil, and many other things so I don't have to make multiple trips to the basement and out to the garage/patio while brewing.  I can carry a small notebook to write down beers I'm tasting instead of checking them in to Untappd when I'm out with friends.  This keeps things more social and less distracting.

I was going to say that anyone who worries about how Cargo Shorts look is dead inside.  But I'm not going to say that. I guess if I saw more articles on why people shouldn't wear pajama pants, slippers or other sleepwear in public pop up in my Facebook feed, I could get over it.  But it's overwhelming the number of people who are ignorant to the function of probably the single most greatest article of clothing ever invented.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hold Steady

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the Hold Steady. And when I say “lately”, I mean maybe the past year. I was first introduced to this band by Tom, who had a writing class with the mother of (I think) the bass player. He sent a link to their video for “The Swish”.

Later, Tom’s twin brother, and my best friend from college, Paul, sent me a mixCD he titled The Best of 2005. It took me a year to get into that CD, but when I did, I really got into “Cattle and the Creeping Things.” I remembered that I also liked “The Swish” and so, like 2 years later, I did some research on the band and discovered that they had several albums out and began to procure them.

Those of you who have been into this band in the beginning may ask why it took so long to delve deeper. I think mostly it was how singer Craig Finn more or less barked out the lyrics versus singing them. The lyrics are great, don’t get me wrong:

You in the corner with a good looking drifter
Two cups of coffee and ten packs of sugar
I heard Gideon saw you in
He said you were contagious

But I was wondering if those clever lyrics were maybe going to be too clever, because you can get sick of clever lyrics really quick. However, Hold Steady lyrics have just enough seediness in them that prevents them from ever getting clean enough to be annoying.

If you get into this band, you can start anywhere, but I think that getting into their albums in chronological order is best, since there are underlying themes. I just discovered the Hold Steady Wikia page, and while there might be another site with more information about the songs and the bands, this one looks like it could be a good start.

There are characters in the songs that recur, the two prominent ones being Charlemagne and Hallelujah (“Holly” for short). There are great references comparing rock music to religion, or religious services. It’s definitely not Christian rock, but I gotta give it to these guys for taking the “good” parts of Christianity and twisting them for their own rock and roll efforts. It’s about the only way Christianity is palatable to me.

They’re due to release their 5th album on May 4, titled Heaven is Whenever.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elysian Fields - Minneapolis

When I lived in Decorah, Iowa in the mid-90s, there was a bar there, probably from 1993 to early 1995 called Orrsey's. I won't go into the details on where the name came from, but it was Dave Orr's bar. The bar opened up soonafter I moved to Decorah, and actually had live bands just about every weekend. Most of the bands were of the cover variety, but there were a few bands that played their own music.

One of the bands that I enjoyed was called Elysian Fields. I realize there was some other band that burst onto the scene around 1996 with the same name, but I assure you, the band I'm talking about was not that band. The one I'm referring to was from Minneapolis. They self-released a CD, and then I moved away in April 1996, so I never knew what happened to them.

This is the unfortunate problem with the internet. These days, any kid with the software can record songs and get a Myspace page. Myspace is very helpful in providing bands a quick start to allowing people to access information about the band AND their music. I would have killed for Myspace in the late 80s/early 90s.

What I have often found as I've travelled and moved around the country in my post-college years is that just because you think Band X is the shit in say, Ames, Iowa, or Decorah, Iowa, someone who lives in Florida may or may not feel the same way, since they didn't see the band in the bar in your condition. It's almost like a "I Guess You Had to Be There" situation. What you get in a live show, you don't necessarily get on the CD.

Elysian Fields used to play a lot of their originals, and in fact, I'm pretty sure they stuck to the ones that would later be on their CD. They also did some covers that I liked. They did "Sister Luck" by the Black Crowes, they did "Sucker" by Mott the Hoople, and while I was never a big fan of "End of the World As We Know It" by REM, they did that, and it was a crowd favorite.

I enjoyed their originals which ranged from an almost MC-5-like "DC-X", the straightforward rock of "Ether", the plodding "A Couple Weeks" and the Zeppelinesque "Sometimes Why".

These guys came back into my consciousness a few weeks ago when I was taking the garbage and compost out. Or maybe I was shovelling the driveway. I just remembered that on the live version of "A Couple of Weeks" they would get to the middle part and sing, "Forty years ago, drifting through the snow, I lost my way, could not go" and we would chant it back at them. Because, you know, it was fun. And we were drinking brown liquor. Whenever I'm out in blowing snow, I am reminded of those lyrics.

So, anyway, I went looking for them on the internet the other day (as I have several times over the past few years) and came up with nothing. So I was hoping that someone out there, maybe up in Minneapolis way, would know about them or some of the members and what they're up to these days if I put a footprint on the internet out there about them.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Them Smokestacks Reachin' Like the Arms of God

Well my daddy worked the furnaces
Kept 'em hotter than hell
I come home from 'Nam worked my way to scarfer
A job that'd suit the devil as well
Taconite, coke and limestone
Fed my children and made my pay
Them smokestacks reachin' like the arms of god
Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay

Here in Youngstown
Here in Youngstown
My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

- "Youngstown" by Bruce Springsteen

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