Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Rearview Mirror

Had fun with this last year and figured I'd once again compile some of the notable moments of the last 12 months in a single post. We actually included something of a written update in this year's holiday card, but Blogger offers much more generous space allocations than Apple printing, plus the ability to hyperlink, so here goes.

2008 was fun and active year during which we...

Enjoyed another January family vacation in Aruba, and became happily reacquainted with The Program

Celebrated Ava turning 5

And Madison turning 7

Made a fair amount of Sunday Sauce, and remembered our time at Rao's

Continued to search for the perfect pizza at home, and remembered Ed LaDou

Were extremely honored to have been chosen as one of Blogger's "blogs of note"

Expanded the family by one with the arrival of a beautiful hypo-allergenic kitten in March (Olive)

And hit the repeat button on that in July (Orly)

Found ourselves faced with a case of unexpectedly early heat

Got an eight-month jump on our Christmas List

Decided to share Ava's self portrait, and Madison's self description, with the world

Wound up in Washington, D.C. at the same time as the Cherry Blossoms

Found a new and ridiculously tasty way to enjoy tomatoes

Made another summer pilgrimage to Vermont

Rediscovered the best ice cream flavor in the world, and learned that the source of its key ingredient was in peril

Posted our favorite wild art photos

Had fun with all kinds of craft projects

Continued to watch Top Chef, and imagined a family function edition

Lost a few more teeth, and made sure the Tooth Fairy was fully informed

Contemplated the meaning of "Dad"

Worked with the girls, and a cool Web site, to compile a list of our favorite bedtime books

And, for the adults, our favorite picture shows

Were just as confused as everyone else by those Microsoft ads

Watched our second set of siblings get out their winter coats

Talked about the possibility of a girl president, which particularly intrigued Madison, but ultimately felt OK with the way things turned out

Got Mom to babysit so we could eat some Mexican food, drink some tequila, and see Oasis

Introduced the girls to Shea Stadium, moments before they started ripping the old place down

And, as I noted in last year's rearview mirror post, we did it all together, which is the most important thing. Thanks to everyone for stopping by this little corner of the World Wide Web in 2008, and here's wishing you and yours a great 2009...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Saw Oasis last night...

"Nothing to do with the kids, really, just thought I'd mention it."


That was the extent of the original post earlier today, sort of a recollection of this, but I heard from a few regular readers looking for something more than the photos, which were really all I could manage at the time, with the freshly-brewed Peet's fighting mightily to lift the fog and the echoes from the amplifiers (still) ringing in my head.

We booked my Mom into the babysitting gig probably two months ago, secured our tickets and waited. I'd never seen Oasis live and they are easily one of my all-time favorite bands, so I didn't want to miss their trip through the city this time around. Gwen was sort of going along for the ride, but she knows the music and when I said we could chalk this up as one of my Christmas presents she was fully on board. I may get dragged through HomeGoods some Saturday afternoon to make amends, but that would probably happen anyway.

We went to dinner at Zarela, one of the beloved old haunts from our city days and - I'm convinced - the perfect pre-concert meal. I think the best live show I've ever seen in my life was Radiohead at Radio City Music Hall on the OK Computer tour, and when I mentioned that assessment to my younger sister (who got the tickets) a while back her response was, "Yeah, that was incredible, but don't forget we went to Zarela for dinner before the show, and after a few of those margaritas you are basically tripping, so that may have had something to do with it." Touché.

Zarela remembered us (we logged a lot miles at those tables back in the day) and it was great to be there again. Wandered over to Rockefeller Center to check out the tree and the crowds and then jumped into a cab and headed down to MSG.

Maybe it's me, and I'm certainly biased, but there's something about getting into a taxi and relaying to the driver some form of the line, "The Garden," that's just unlike anything else. Unlike any other possible destination.

We found our seats and waited about 20 minutes for the band to walk out onstage, right around 9:30. They did not disappoint.

I wouldn't say it was a "great" show, but it was great to have seen them live, to have checked this one off the list. Liam's voice was noticeably shaky at first but he seemed to find it (to the extent it's still there at all) mid-way through. The days of those early recordings that established the band are definitely gone - no "maybe" about it - he's delivering lyrics in more guttural grunts than polished notes. But it still sounds like him, and there's still enough of that raspy and nasally sonic goodness left to make a difference. The band seemed to be a little more talkative and animated than they were recently in LA, based on a review of a Staples Center show I'd read, but can't you just see the Gallagher boys hating that town, and embracing New York, to the degree it's possible for these two to embrace anything?

Liam gulped orange Gatorade and Poland Spring water onstage, instead of beer or something more substantial, in between crude comments that were difficult to make out and the occasional obscene hand gesture. Even beyond the diminished voice he comes across as a bit of a sad and incoherently angry character, clinging to the edge and the entitlement that was probably justified (and leveraged beyond all reason or limits) when he was marauding through London in the late 90s as the biggest thing going over there. Those days are gone, but he still has the swagger and - to his credit - can still fill a venue.

Noel, as I'm suspecting is usually the case when he's interfacing with 15,000 people as opposed to, say, a lone journalist with a pad and a tape recorder, was far more appreciative and gracious. Contributed great vocals all night, whether singing lead or backing up his brother, and of course there's no escaping the fact that, with rare exceptions, everything that's played at an Oasis concert he thought of first. Or, as David St. Hubbins might say,"On the guitar. Noel Gallagher. He wrote this."

They played their hits and some of the new stuff, and it all flowed together well. Letting the crowd sing the chorus to "Don't Look Back In Anger" has become as much of a signature moment for Oasis at a live show as turning up the house lights during "Where The Streets Have No Name" is for U2. And it's just as incredible when you're standing there to experience it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Frosty The Snowmound

We got a little bit of snow Saturday night into Sunday, maybe an inch or so but enough to get the girls excited and prompt a little snowman-building session while Gwen and I enjoyed coffee and the paper inside.

One of the many advantages of 5 and 7, we've found, is that we can actually open the door and say, in effect, "go nuts," without having to actually participate in whatever rigorous outdoor activity happens to be on the agenda. This is particularly helpful on freezing Sunday mornings in December.

On one of the trips between the couch and the coffee pot I stopped off at the window to get a look at what they'd come up with and immediately grabbed the camera and ran outside in flip flops and shorts. It was worth the trip.

More of a mound than a man, but lovingly created and to say they made the most of the available snow would be an understatement. I was going to call him Snow Jabba the Hut, but the girls have never seen or heard of Star Wars so they would have missed the reference entirely.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Focal Point

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's Up

Our Advent calendar, that is.

Santa will be here before you know it.