Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Other People's Houses 

Skinny dipping late this afternoon in someone else's pool, an illicit pleasure even when the house is ours for two weeks while wifeDarcie's brother goes off with the house's owners: his longtime girlfriend, her father, her brother.

And what a homestead it is: studios, barns and wide spaces, and two houses to explore, technically speaking: the house and the sugarhouse. We spend most of our days in the always-in-flux main house, a much-built-upon clapboard-white farmstead up against the dirtroad, visiting the sugarhouse, a modern-cabinesque wood-and-beam two-room which Darcie and I covet like there's no tomorrow, mostly to make sure it's ready for my parents' arrival on Saturday, and to share a jacuzzi, just the three of us.

They tell me we used to summer here when I was a kid, and swim in the West River just down the road, just a treeline away from the still-nude beach. Now we sit naked with our own. Funny, how the universe does that sometimes.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:08 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 09, 2004

Happy Birthday, Baby 

The love of my life and blessed salvation of my universe turns 29 (again) today; we're dog-and-housesitting up in dirtroad Newfane for a while, so the plan involves a cookout with her parents and a dip in the pool. A nice mellow day, finally off the road again. Happy happy, honey!

For the curious, Willow and I got her a Janel Russell Mother and Child pendant, whitegold with a ruby set in it (Willow's birthstone, not Darcie's). Far out of our price range, but worth it. All other wellwishers are invited to send her an ecard or something.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:58 AM | 0 comments


Just Don't Call Her Cindy 

Lucinda "Changed the Lock on My Front Door" Williams at the Calvin Theater last night -- 6th row and a great set, though the fifth and fourth rows seemed, as is too often the case, to be specially reserved for folks over six feet. (Why is that?) Lu was straight from a high-profile gig at the Newport Folk Festival the day before, and seriously rocked, tattoos and all, so hard that her drummer's sticks kept chipping apart. Lead guitarist sang a surprisingly powerful soprano backup.

Lu, who performs standing with an oft-checked songbook on a low podium before her, nonetheless forgot the changes to one song midway through, started again for a bit, then gave up, but the crowd was on her side. Heck, Irma Thomas and J. Garafalo bring their books on stage, and I've seen Ani ask for one, too.

Opener and David Byrne protege Jim White was a wonderful oddfellow surprise -- wry wit and an in-concert sound full of strange instrumentation and tootles galore. If you like Timbuk 3, but always wondered what they could do with a singer-songwriter authorial mentality and a clarinetist, snag his new album via the website (Mojo calls it "a big wet dream of loss and isolation, sex and the search for grace"), and keep an eye out for a show near you.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 AM | 1 comments

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Sometimes it takes a rubber puppet, I guess.  

The Onion AV Club's interview with Robert Smigel, aka Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Illuminating and deep, which isn't bad coming from the guy who brought us The Ambiguously Gay Duo and a spinal cord sniffing duck.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:41 AM | 19 comments

Friday, August 06, 2004

Belated Highlights, Notes, and Observations: Nova Scotia, July 28 - Aug 4 

It's not so much a triumphant return, I guess; most of today's blogworthy news only casts a pall on subjects long-since treated on these hallowed pages. Dhaka's still endagered under just-receding sewage. Rick James' death today only adds another layer of sickness to my sedentary latenight Dave Chappelle rerunwatching(, bitch!). And, for the first time in eighteen years, I really need a haircut.

And it's late, too -- a blogger's prodigal slinkback at best. I've been in since Wednesday midnight, on the tail end of a long traffic-heavy drive from a Portland sushi supper, both us and our food fresh off the boat and a bit wobbly; since then I've been fulltiming it as daddy to the wonderful/terrible two-year, two straight days of tempura paints, library story hours, and Playdoh fish-and-peas suppers while mommy ties delphinium corsages as a flowershop's special-events stand-in. It's been absolutely worth it; Willow's never been as affectionate, bright, and comfortable as she is right now, fresh out of the bath behind me, tugging on my sleeve with a book in her hand.

Anyway, I'm back.

Got some neat stuff to share, too -- an entire Canadian province's worth of kitsch and considerations, from cheesy chips to canadian cultural curiousities. Folks who eat dessert first are invited to scroll down, skimming for links along the way, right about now. For the eat-and-run types, the trips "highly recommended" shortlist includes oddflavored Humpty Dumpty chips, Glenora Cape Breton singlemalt whiskey, Cape Breton stepdance and jig combo Beolach, punk Stomp-esque drum corps Squid, and the saga of cow/Elmo genesplice Elmoo at icecreamery-and-t-shirtery Cows. Also Lunenburg, incidentally -- we'll get to that shortly.

But first, the travelogue.

See, in the last eight days I've driven over 1400 miles, from Nova Scota's tip to tail and back again -- something approaching 2500 kilometers by local reckoning. And boy, are my wheels tired.

Seriously, NS was wonderful. Many miles were tedious: it's a long desolate way through much of the province; our bonus backseat two-year old is an on-the-spot wandering like her dad, prone to crankiness after more than a few miles without jellybeans or milkbottles. And most parts of Nova Scotia only get one radio station.

But we did get to sleep away a large portion of the otherwise-journey on cheesy, gambling-heavy cruise ship Scotia Prince, saving us more in driving, though the halfpint cruiser left us seasick both ways.

And some of the miles were beautiful and scenic. Between Yarmouth and Halifax alone, on our way to meet up with my parents at the ritzy Prince George Hotel high above a city waterfront district that would draw me like a willowisp in the foggy night later, after everyone had gone to sleep, for a gourmet supper, swim, and sleep on our first day as foreigners -- in those 400 kilometers alone, we had found serene 17th century smalltown charm in seaside Shelburne, come upon the only lighthouse post office in Canada quite by accident, and laughed at dozens of town names and signposts (could Port Mouton's official motto really be "Sheep Overboard"? Is Liverpool's pride in being the first British loyalist town a bit too sad for commentary, given the subsequent American Revolution? Is it really worth mentioning that your county is the midpoint between the equator and the North Pole -- wasn't there anything more worthy?)

My brain is a calliope of picture postcard touristbooks: rocky Irish-esque heather-coated hills and stunted pine, tiny boatbuilder towns with more board than boardwalk, long pristine stretches of rocky shoreline cliffs and boated beaches.

And sometimes the radio was good, too. Nova Scotia's heavily Acadian, so the fiddle-and-folk ran to our tastes. I'll take CBC over shockjock talk radio anyday, left, right, or center. And oooh, the way Canadians gag over their ous is sexy -- aboot rocks my world.

For the record, we were on the parental time-and-dime for the bulk of the trip -- fancy-hoteled at Halifax Wednesday night coming in, and, after a separate-car drive for much of Thursday afternoon, cabin-stayed at a gorgeous rural country inn called the Normaway in Margaree Valley (up Cape Breton way, past the lake and causeway and halfway to Cheticamp) for the next four nights, as follows:

Thursday night:

Arrival, after a four hour drive up half the province. Supper at a local nothing-special: mashed potatoes and a lobster burger (aptly described by the harried waitress as, "just lobster salad in a burger bun"), though the real rhubarb pie was sweet and crusty. Jacuzzi (in cabin!), followed by second-row live performance of awesome proportions given by pipe-and-fiddle combo Beolach in the apparently world-famous Normaway barn.

Friday:

Breakfast at the inn, where I discovered both oatcakes and a wonderful local custom of pouring heavy cream on a sweet boiled rhubarb mash. A trip to Glenora Distillery, the only single-malt whiskeymaker in North America (take that, USA!), for a tour and tasting; the gorgeous trout-heavy shaded streamlet running through the grounds turns out to be the pure source for the product. After, a pub lunch in Ingonish and a hot sunny hour in the surprisingly warm gulfstream-fed waters of a widemouth and impossible-to-find beach called Chimney Corners. Supper in the inn, though I had to leave my Highland t-bone unfinished to take Willow back to the cabin at one point because she wouldn't stop pulling greasily on the drapes.

Saturday:

A quiet day at the Normaway, just the three of us, watching the horses stampede past the pasture-sheep, a lone donkey lagging behind, while Mom&Dad drove the Cape Breton coastline. Lunch over a dirt road and a single-car-width riverspan bridge at a local gas-and-grub, the only business in nearby Margaree Flats (save a church with a full parking lot). It was here that I discovered the highly recommended popcult wonder that is Humpty Dumpty flavored potato chips, which deserve their own linebreak:



HD makes standard stuff as well, of course, which in Canada seems to include Ketchup chipflavors, and I'm all for it. The one-pump Irving had small bags of Dill Pickle and Grilled Cheese and Ketchup -- I got a bag of each to save, and ate a bag of the Grilled Cheese and Ketchup, which weren't half bad, latenight in the cabin with some white grape juice. Later, I picked up some Fries and Gravy, and a bag of Roasted Chicken as well. The gold Spiderman cover designs on some bags were a nice bonus for the kitschcult enthusiast; I'll be reviewing -- and eating -- the chips inside in the weeks ahead. My only complaint so far is that I couldn't find the chicken and gravy or buffalo wing flavors in smaller bags.

Supper Saturday at the biggest table in the inn dining room, right in the center, just the two of us and the tyke in the highchair -- my parents didn't make it back after all, but at least we saw them afterwards.

Sunday:

Horseback riding in the a.m., through the mountains with Darcie and a guide while Mom and Dad watched the kid torture the hotel kittens and throw crocquet balls back at the hotel. Baddeck in the afternoon, a bit of a summer-home tourist trap on the shores of Cape Breton's wide inner lake with the whole crew: lobster club sandwiches and an early departure with kid and seasickness-prone spouse while Mom and Dad stayed to boat around the waters. Local marinated and smoked salmon plate at a seaside restaurant and then a joyous moment down by the waves as dusk fell and the surf crashed before heading, wearily, back to the cabin.

And Monday and beyond? Well, bright and early the 'rents went off towards Prince Edward Island, giving us two days to get back towards the ferry. On our own, funds were more limited; we managed a couple of motelstops back from there. Let's just say the vacation's peak had come and gone. Pretty much, it just felt like three driving days of getting home from thereon in, with two major exceptions: a nice pierwalk with Darcie and Willow in the early evening, and Lunenberg the next morning.

Halifax had been a nice but foreign place in the fog of six nights before, solo and late enough for the pubs to be where most people were -- I'm not really a go-to-the-pub-alone kind of guy late at night. But here in the earlier evening, still light and lighthearted, the street vendors still out from the Natal Day celebrations and Tall Ship passage just that afternoon (yes, they are really tall, okay?), the place was aglow with a job well done, a storm weathered.

Willow was totally in here element, flitting down the boardwalk towards other people's legs cute as can be, her arms outstretched, her legs still diaper-wobbly; we bought her a blinking butterfly to capture her wonder, passed beertents on each block, each with their own wonderful and dancable music pouring forth into the open air, and smiled a lot at strangers.

Near the end of the Halifax pier we had a twofer -- first, a just smashing bonk-on-stools punk streetband called Squid, an awardwinning and apparently slumming bunch of young folks stolen from pipe and drum corps to make a tight hot touristshow better than most; Willow danced with some other tinygirl on the cobblestones and probably brought another fifty bucks to the band with her spastic rhythm and untamed glee.

Second...well, what can you say about an ice cream place where your waffle cone is still warm and fresh from the iron, the strawberries are fresh, there's a full-sized plastic cow outside for the kid to sit on in glee, and the giftstand sells cow-modified shirts like these:



(Unfortunately, the Elmoo shirt I most loved -- brought to you, of course, by the letters COWS -- is neither avaiable on the Cows website, as promised by the apologetic store manager while we were there, nor available in adult sizes at all. Think I'll call the company and complain, as nicely as possible -- the least they could do was iron an Elmoo print on an adult-sized tee for me, eh?)

Our last realday lunchstop in Lunenburg turned into an afternoon, as the Tall Ships had followed us from their Natal-day visit to Halifax, and we found the town charming, even with crowds a wonderful gem, with gorgeous multicolored architecture seen from the back of a horse-driven carriage ride (Darcie's hidden pleasure when traveling, and who am I to begrudge what makes my darling grin?). Lunenburg has the most beautiful old public school building ever, too; you MUST check out the Lunenburg Academy website to truly appreciate its splendor.

If you're ever in Nova Scotia, have a good night out in Halifax, but spend your days in steep-hilled Lunenburg. I recommend the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic highly, too; plan on an hour and a half for the museum itself, from doryboat-building to rumsmuggling, and an extra half hour for the two ships tours included in your admission ticket.

And the rest of the trip? That night in a motel late and up early; the Scotia Prince again all day while Darcie slept groggily and unmoving in the daycabin; a day or two I've mentioned. Home. It's good to be here. Now let's get on with it, shall we?

Oh, and thanks OODLES to my parents, without which this wouldn't have been great, or even possible. Love you guys.

p.s. Pix possible anon. Camera troubles in our final days, unfortunately; surely, more later on THAT topic, eh?

p.p.s. Big fat darkchocolate bonus points for YOU if you read this far.

p.p.p.s I even wrote a poem again, late at night after a long long drought. Will post anon on this, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:52 PM | 1 comments

Monday, July 26, 2004

There I Go Again, eh? 

We'll be in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, via Halifax, for the next ten days. Expect this message to be here for a while, eh?

I hope to have a shot at roadblogging from a cafe, but, as always, those who don't wish to twiddle their thumbs while they wait for my triumphant return are invited to check out archives and links to the side before you go.

Hate to do this to y'all after a week gone, but it's that vacation-desperate time of year for those in the teaching profession. Eh?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:45 PM | 5 comments


On The Ridge 

There's a moment every year on the ridge that stretches out eternally into the heathaze and field living, one which cannot be captured in words. You become one with the crowds and the sun, sitting there under a shade canopy with a beer in one hand. There is perfection in your campmates and the music just over the next tent. Your shoes are lost somewhere in the camper after three days of barefootedness.

It is a moment interrupted only in its own time, not the realization of time passing relentlessly forward, as in every other moment. No, you could stay forever, and never be so happy again, and you don't even worry yet about going home.

I suppose most people have such a moment in their own lives, somewhere. I hope so, at least. For us, Falcon Ridge is that moment. Better still, it comes -- predictably, like Christmas -- every year without losing its magic.

The notes follow, and pictures will surely come in a week or so, but remember: this is but a compendium. The real deal is utopian. Utopias crumble when described by even the best of us.

So: On to the notes.

Camped with our best festival buddy Dave this year, as we have since we and he arrived simultaneous and looking for a campsite six years ago, all of us new and unsure of where to go. Dave brought Ryan, a great guy and wonderful addition to the group -- gentle, happy to be there, and already signed on to return next year.

When we arrived, Darcie set up everything again, as is her wont. The compound was across from our usual creek-side spot, a small tent-and-tarp having been saved long before our arrival by some other unknowns; we circled the wagons -- well, the tents and the popup -- around a huge hexagonal shade canopy across the way instead, and it worked quite nicely, to be honest.

Through the festival itself she pretty much stayed in the tent area with Willow, as she is a shade person and falcon Ridge has none, but she did work most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday, hunched over a table in the main site crew tent, painting informational signage and pathway indicators in bold summer hues for later installation across the grounds. On Tuesday, at least, this meant much Willow-watching, a tricky set of shifts given the tendency towards momma's girl-ism in a strange and impermanent setting. I finished the first day quite exhausted, as did the baby.

Happily, Ginny joined us Tuesday night after a last workshift. We pay for Ginny's ticket each year, nominally as a birthday present, though we all understand she's expected to help childwatch the day she arrives so Darcie and I can do our volunteer duties -- Darcie as Sign Painter, myself at the festival VIP Check-In tent, way out in the parking lot. Truthfully, though, she's also a good friend, and a great fest partner.

Willow acclimatized to the heat acceptably, and the wading pool we set up for her remained cool throughout the week, but it was pretty tough to keep her entertained in the campsite for long when there were so many interesting other kids walking past every moment. She tanned, though, and was the belle of the ball more often than not. And she perked up (as did we all) swimming offsite at the cold, deep quarry in the nearby state park Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

And it's hard not to love a child who, on her last day, toddles naked to the base of the stage proudly bearing a huge "Happy" sign (left over from last year's "Baby Zone" sign, and a need to toggle public awareness of baby's needs from sleep to play in order to preserve all our sanity) in plain and startled view of several thousand folk fans, their tarps spread across the lawn like a crazy ragtag quilt.

Later, having Mom and Dad show up willing to take Willow to the kids tent would, in turn, preserve Darcie's sanity while Ginny and I spent hours drowsing on those very hills. Thanks for that, Mom and Dad. While we're on the subject, thanks to my parents for taking us out to supper and for hot hotel showers Friday night, without which my hat hair would have been even worse than it is now.

Throughout this pre-fest period the ridge -- both lower camp, a monstrous many-acre flat slab dissected by a dried up creek, and upper camp, where the vast majority of festgoers could spread across the entire horizon from the edge of the hillslope back to the treeline -- grew like a mold. Day by day, first with a tent here and there, then little colonies, then a city of light and sound on and off the hill. All told, by Friday we expected 8 thousand people to be camped on this one farm, with a city to serve them, from the vendors to the shuttle busses running up and down the hill until the Dance stage closes down at 2 every night.

We would have had it, too, if it weren't for the rain from noon to just before 5 on Friday -- torrential downpour, hour after hour, turning impromptu roads into mudpits. Work out at the tent was fun in the rain, but other than a nifty Johnny and June tribute with folknames galore on the mainstage and, much later, the Friday Night song swap (Lucy Kaplansky, Eliza Gilykson, Greg Brown and Richard Shindell), we didn't see much music -- the festival's usual time for 20 shortset showcase artists, each hoping to be voted back the next year as a mainstage performer, had their one big shot hopes dashed by the floods, which was a major shame.

Because of the mud, no one was allowed on site in a car until midday Saturday. Folks camped in the parking field overnight, but they weren't happy. We had to leave our car and walk in after the aforementioned trip offsite with the 'rents, which was less horrible than I thought but still certainly less convenient, given that we were carrying a baby and freshly showered, walking through the mud in the dark. The strewn hay helped eventually, but it took noonday heat to solidify the grounds again.

I think the numbers were back up by Saturday, though. And why not? There was some major talent at Falcon Ridge this year, and I think they probably did as well as they hoped financially despite the rain. I tend to fall in love with relative unknowns -- Jeffery Foucault, Jake Amerding, and a newgrass cello-wielding group called Crooked Still were the big had-to-buy for '04 by the time I'd heard them -- but we spent time at stages in spades, Ginny and I.

Cribbed from the schedule, then, here's my time spent merely from Thursday to Sunday (with commentary, and the assumption that when not at a stage or at work, I was either back at the tentsite checking in on Darcie and mellowing with an ever-floating crowd):

Thursday:
  • Work at check-in from 1-4. Mostly volunteer check-in at this point, though I did bracelet and chat-up a few performers, including a very congenial Steve Forbert.

  • Steve Forbert, w/ guest Mark Stuart. On main stage. Steve rocked.

  • Mark Erelli, w/ a country band from Boston called the Spurs. On main stage. Mark rocked, too.

  • Aoife O'Donovan & Crooked Still. On main stage, and worth every second of it. Cello is a great bluegrass instrument. New favorite song: Angelina the Baker.

  • Watched Contra dancing until 2 a.m. Also heard from campsite: David Bromberg Band, w/ Jay Ungar and Molly Mason sitting in.

Friday
  • Aoife O'D and CS, Jake Amerding, and the FRFF House Band at the workshop stage, trading family songs. New favorite line from a song ever: Jake Amerding singing "daddy was a highway, mama was a view."

  • Work, and much much rain. Braceleted Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky (and her new adopted duaghter, who was very cute), and the Nields, among others.

  • Johnny and June Tribute, moved to the mainstage after the rain made opening both stages too difficult. Cast included Erelli, Crooked Still, Kaplansky, Shindell, Forbert, and Lowen and Navarro, among others. Great loving set. I love cover songs.

  • Veal chops and tomato mozerella salad at a 4-star and a shower at my parent's hotel. Willow, Ginny, and Darcie showered and ate, too.

  • Half of the Nields' set, which was actually better than I expected, mostly because of Dave Chalfant on guitar.

  • Friday night song swap. Mellow and moonlit, and no rain. Niceinterplay between Kaplansky and Shindell as always. New favorite song: Shindell's "There Goes Mavis."

Saturday
  • Work 9 to noon. Most fun: chatting up the parents of flamboyant Nate of Girlyman. Braceletted Foucault. Heard Brave Combo on radio broadcast live from mainstage.

  • Mainstage for an incredible series of acts lasting pretty much the entire afternoon:
    - Erin McKeown
    - Jeffery Foucault (w/ the other winners of last year's showcase, who were acceptable, I suppose, if a bit less refined).
    - Lucy Kaplansky
    - John Gorka
    - Girlyman
    - Richard Shindell
    - Eddie from Ohio (had to get up and dance in the aisles to this one)

  • Heard Debbie Davies band and the first half of Lowen and Navarro from the tent before heading out to see the rest. Left to dance instead of Richie Havens, and actually danced a little.

  • More dancing, after a back-and-forth from tent to tent with Ryan and David.

Sunday:
  • The annual Sunday morning Gospel Wake-up Call with Eddie from Ohio, Girlyman, Vance Gilbert, and Mark Erelli, which was quite possibly the best set all weekend, hands down.

  • Minor packing.

  • Mark Erelli, Aoife O and CS, Tracy Grammer and Lucy Kaplansky covering the songs that are their "roots" on the workshop stage. New favorite cover song: Mark Erelli doing Roy Orbison's "Cryin'".

  • Ginny and I moved to the THIRD ROW to see a workshop stage set called "Groovin' on Sunday Afternoon" with Gorka, Girlyman, and Eddie from Ohio. Quite possibly the best set all weekend, hands down (yes, both times).



There's more to say, I suppose -- how I made it up to the hilltop this year after the busses stopped on Saturday, saw We're About 9 do a full unplugged set in some tent, and stayed until 4; how old college best friend (and wedding contract witness) Dan and even older elementary school best friend Eric turned up; how the heat came and went, and melted us into sunburned puddles; the awful free vegetarian volunteer food and the yummy midway coffee; contra dancing with strangers; renewing old loves and friendships from the past few as if 51 weeks had passed in an eyeflicker. The way home, with Dan as a hitchiker, and the leavetaking itself, though I daren't dwell on the loss of my own personal utopia too much, or I'll cry just writing this.

Reducing it to the music seems as good a place to give up as any. Because Falcon Ridge wasn't and isn't about what happens so much as it is the seamless and comprehensiveness of the experience itself.

For a moment there, you see, I fell in love with the universe again, music and people and dancing.

And now I'm back. Summer's apex has passed.

Time returns.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:01 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Between Festivals 

Green River Fest yesterday with the family, including my brother and his girlfriend. Gillian Welch, Jeffrey Foucalt, Hot Tuna, Donna the Buffalo, the Mosquitoes, Lori McKenna. Sushi on the lawn, and a rainbow and sunset. Sunburnt neck. Pix taken but so far unposted. Brother and girlfriend stayed over, precluding blogging.

Rynfest today with brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Big Fuzz, Soulive, Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, Levon Helms. Much on-and-off rain, and lots of ex-students. Danced for hours. Left early and exhausted for packing.

Tomorrow through next Monday: Falcon Ridge Folk off in Hinsdale, NY. A good time guranteed, but good thing the music doesn't start 'til Thursday. I need a couple danceless days before my back and knees recover.

Have a great week, folks! I'll be back on the 26th or so.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:06 PM | 0 comments

Friday, July 16, 2004

Quickblog 

Just got back from the first night of the Green River Festival -- Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem in the waning sun, and Rosie Ledet and her rockin' zydeco band in the darkness afterwards. I danced once it got dark, and was happy. Every once in a while I could see my parents off to the side, dancing the right way. My father never smiles when he's dancing.

So much has happened (isn't that a blogcliche) I hardly know how to begin. Willow's party was decent, with two kinds of cake and a beach-themed living room, and good microbeer for the adults (Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada). Supper afterwards in high-falutin' Montague hotspot The Night Kitchen, lamb chops and chevre tarts by the banks of a lush waterfall, run by the son of an old neighbor. Shelburne Falls today, the Bridge of Flowers and a mess of local artisan galleries, bagels and lox and cream of broccoli soup in a small but touristy noveau-American cafe. The People's Pint for supper pre-festival, local-made sausages and slightly watery blonde ale made in-house.

A hectic day-and-a, and more tomorrow, though late -- it's gearing up towards the whirlwind around here, a fevered pitch in prep for a long month's activity. Here's the futurescoop:

Tomorrow: More Green Riverfest. Gillian Welch, Lori McKenna, Donna the Buffalo, Hot Tuna, and much more. My brother and his girlfriend are coming up, and my parents will be there still. Willow and darcie, who stayed home tonight,

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Rynfest: blues greats and jambands, Derek Trucks, Soulive, and a Deep Banana Blackout reunion. Possibly with Darcie's brother.

7/19 through 7/25: Falcon Ridge. Summer's crown jewel.

The next week and a half following: Halifax and Cape Breton.

The next two weeks following: Housesitting at Clay's family home, a serious rural estate complete with swimming pool and refurbished honeymoon-suite-slash-sugarhouse.

Eventually: Work. Hoorah for the life of a teacher.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:23 PM | 23 comments

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Terrible Twos Now Official 

Happy Birthday to my bright and beautiful daughter, who two years ago this morning emerged via C-section, slightly blue, to change all our lives. (As an example, three years ago this morning I was definitiely still sleeping.) As a special birthday wake-up treat I let her eat some Pop Rocks; now she's stalking around the house singing "Happy Birthday to me" at the top of her lungs. I'm off to pick up the cake (and get the damn laundry out of the damn house) momentarily.

Party guests will be arriving by 2, so expect a follow-up birthday blog chock full of sharing (or not), presents, friends and family. Until then, feel free to leave birthday wishes appropriate to a two year old in the comments, and I'll read 'em to her.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

What's On Is Off 

Otto's closing down the "What's on....right now?" meme, leaving us with one last poke at the popcult:

So: What's On your favorite tv show list Right Now?

Not much. Even in summer, I prefer to read.

I'm liking Futurama reruns on the cartoon Network late at night, though, and will often stay for Hunger Force. VH1 rocks my wicked world with the kitsch of my childhood, especially now that they Love the 80s and the 90s. CSI still holds my attention -- something about the dark lighting. Still trying to watch my first episode of Sex and the City, but haven't made it yet. And we're off to tape Monk in a few.

As for the meme -- a hearty thanks to Otto for helping us fill the page with oddities once in a while when the brain otherwise froze. Though over a dozen still played weekly, other sporadics like myself will miss the mindprompt, too. Seems the meme-as-concept plays better as a one-shot in this crazy 15-second world.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:16 PM | 0 comments


Missing Links 

A compendium of recently blogged-about stuff-and-services which, due to their continued strong presence in my daily existence, deserve a hit or two.


1. Gourmet coffee roaster Raven's Brew Coffee, first discovered (subjectively) last summer in their home base of Ketchikan, recently rediscovered at the Newton, MA Whole Foods Market. The label designs alone would be worth it if the coffee wasn't so clearly cared for. Best options for the caffeine fanatic: Wicked Wolf or the herein-depicted Deadman's Reach.


2. The wonderfully restored and dizzying Holyoke Merry Go Round, at a dollar a ride, and two-fer on Tuesdays (more pix and video here, but mind the Angelfire popups). First attended with wee-one back in March, according to a selfgoogle, though it seems like much longer ago. Willow's behavior in its presence is unchanged as of this week: the flashing lights, loudlound music and three-dimensional motion clearly make her nervous, but once she gets her nerve up she keeps it up with unmasked self-encouragement. Nearby Children's Museum, itself adjacent to the small-as-you'd-expect Vollyball Hall of Fame, is decent, too, if you're ever in the area.


3. Daily reads: Fark, CNN, the del.icio.us social bookmark manager's recently updated community page. My Kinja blogdigest, and my Kinja-based library blog digest. Also my Orkut communities (from Bluegrass to Explaining Things Really Badly), my email, my reinvigorate blog-hit stat-tracker, and my own blog.

4. Weekly reads: Newsweek, The New Yorker, Utne, The Onion, Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

5. Music now constantly stuck in my head: various cuts from Toots and the Maytals recent guest-star compendium True Love. Toots Hibberts' exceptional duet partners this time out include Bonnie Raitt, Trey Anastasio, The Skatelites, Eric Clapton, Ryan Adams, and Willie Nelson. It works, and you should get it now.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:24 PM | 0 comments


Textwrap Troubles: Writing Blind 

My writing style has changed, and I know why: the "new" blogger doesn't do textwrapping, and that means as I write this I've already lost sight of this sentence's first words.

I haven't been this distant from my writespeech since that first pre-college Brother-brand wordprocessor, which showed only three lines of text at a time and was therefore utterly useless for drafting if one wanted to write full, deep, rich linearity, the stuff that Neil Postman (bless his soul) dreamt of as the epitome, the pinnacle of thought.

If the medium is the message, then a change in medium, however slight, changes not just the potential for meaning, but meaning itself. And so it is: the inability to track one's own thoughts oralizes language, bringing a soapbubble esoteric impermanence to each phrase.

Writing in blogger now is like writing in 72 point font: the words seem important in part because there are so few of them, and because they are isolated, but this false sense of worth hides a sinister lack of interconnectedness for those who use the page to hold thoughts as they emerge, and who expect to construct meaning in the exterior.

I miss my screen-as-mindtool, the externalized thought organizer. Without it, I feel rushed and stream-of-selfconscious about the ideas as they run fleetingly by.

Stupid Blogger. I want my goddamn interface back, and -- being of a McLuhanesque sensibility -- that means I want my mind back, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:17 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Not For The Easily Nauseated 

A nifty optical illusion courtesy of Another Sarah. (Tums available here for those who need it afterwards. And what are those, almonds?)

posted by boyhowdy | 3:40 PM | 0 comments


Up And Down 

Darcie wanted to clean the house, and who am I to say no? So Willow and I got out of her hair with a nice long morning down Holyoke way: an hour at the Children's Museum, three rides on the restored merry-go-round on the way out, Happy Meals two blocks over, a stop for cake and hugs at the Northampton sandwich shop where Ginny works the closing shift. Lots of kisses and gleeful smiles. The wee towheaded one even threw her head back on the merry go round and screamed "this is fun!" a couple of times.

Three miles from home, Willow recognized the scenery, and asked about Mommy.

Me: Mommy's been cleaning the house for us all day, honey.

Willow: That's okay, Daddy. I'll make a big mess soon.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:04 PM | 0 comments


Shared Wealth 

Four(!) Audioblog goodies from Anne, given in honor of her 500th post. Technically they were a gift to me, but I'm feeling generous, and that's the great thing about the internet, right? Infinite copies, ubiquitous: we can all share without reducing the pieslice. Also potlatch. Thanks oodles, Anne -- you rock.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:18 AM | 0 comments

Monday, July 12, 2004

Hillsdale Calling 

This year's Falcon Ridge Folk Festival stage-by-stage performance schedules are now available. Check out Saturday's main stage sets! Decisions, decisions...have to work 4 hours a day at volunteer and performer check-in; as always, it looks like it's going to be tough to find a shift that won't cause me to rue what I'm missing.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:28 PM | 0 comments


Weekend Wedding Wandering 

Seems like everyone had a wedding to go to this weekend. My parents were in California, watching an old friend's daughter tie the knot, by the time we left for their Newton home by midday Friday. We arrived by 4 (the unlockably broken front door that much more convenient now that I've stopped keeping a key), dropped our stuff, checked the road atlas against the invitation, and bumped into my dressed-up-for-another-wedding sis in the driveway on our way out to Bob and Tom's rehearsal dinner.

It was a straight line through Newton's ritzy Oak Hill neighborhood to the Roxbury home of awful-nice hosts Kay and Mike for the wedding rehearsal. Here, the wedding of Bob and Tom would take place among lush flowers and newly-dropped sod in the first yard landscaper, old roommate, long-beloved friend and now nervous groom Bob ever terraformed. The flute bit I'd been practicing came out acceptably, the groom and groom nervous but easy with each other and clearly in love, the groomsmen (and groomsgirls) playful, the minister horse-faced and grinning. Many "blahs" were said, and giggles given; Willow chased butterflies in the well-kept garden, and the chicken wings were sticky and sweet. I wore the shirt my brother gave me for my birthday, plain athletic grey blockprinted I Deserve A Beer, and got offered several.

A shop stop at the suburban-riche Whole Foods Market on the way home for basics, and kept the costs down pretty low (though counting raspberries and dollar-apiece cookies as basics) since Mom had left a note saying she'd pay for it. Found that great microbrew coffee we loved so much in Alaska last summer for the first time in the lower 48. Bed for Willow and Darcie.

It was weird to be in the house I grew up in, to have it all to myself late at night, twelve years after moving out, and almost six after giving up a key. Feeling nostalgic, I went out for a latenight trip down memory lane: Golden Star, the same cheap chinese restaurant similarly-nocturnal friend PJ and I used to haunt, the only thing open past 10 unless you wanted to drive into the city. Was glad to find the egg drop soup with mushroom was still awful -- it seemed comforting, somehow. The menus and booths haven't changed since I left.

Slept late on Saturday, showered and ironed our best summer casualwear, and headed out to the wedding by 1:30 or so in one of my father's ties. The wedding ceremony was brief and elegant. The flute playing seemed pure and easy, everything coming together in performance as it always does. The minister managed to keep the activism inevitable in a gay marriage ceremony subtle but present, though there was great applause whenever anyone mentioned the GREAT state of Massachusetts, and Bob and Tom's vows were funny and sweet.

The reception lasted for hours. I switched over to beer after a too-strong margarita and a little too much sun, and swung Willow around and around at the end of my outstretched arms in the garden while everyone mingled. The food was cream-sauce-and-mushroom-heavy, the desserts deep chocolate and rum-laced, and all was divine. Willow was the belle of the ball, bringing tiny bottles of water to everyone just to be praised and regain the center.

Much later, strange again in the dark familiar house past midnight, I thought about blogging, but didn't. Instead, I sat for a while in my father's upstairs office and browsed the world's best CD collection, coveting everything from the new Toots and the Maytals duet album True Love to Dave Carter and Tracey Grammar's Tanglewood Tree to Donna the Buffalo's studio albums, and thought about my father, and how much of his life he's spent alone and by preference in this little room, and missed him terribly.

Don't get me wrong. It was potent and weirdly wonderful to have the house I've always loved for my own all weekend. And I understand innately the beauty of a room of one's own like my father's room, for I am a lot like him -- I need and love the things my father needs, both room and contents. It's nice to play house, to wander, to commit to one another.

But it's better to go home again.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:26 AM | 0 comments
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