Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Nights at RayLen, w/ Rosetta Stone Star

A little over a week ago I went to the second concert by my multi-talented friend Leah at RayLen vineyards. The first concert was a classical concert (which meant that I can't name any of the songs), which was held around April -- here's a picture that was snapped by alert concert-goer Brad:

The first concert was great and widely attended. But the second to me was even better. By June you could look around the RayLen grounds and see fields of ripe vines in every direction. We were just a day or two shy of the solstice, and so the days were long enough that the final songs of the concert were played against the setting sun. There were probably close to two hundred people listening to the concert over glasses of wine on the lawn in front of the winery.

The second concert also featured a much more eclectic set of music... only a smattering of classical songs that I couldn't remember the name of. This concert featured a set list ranging from Leah crooning Elton John's "Your Song" on the piano, followed by a cover of Vince Guiardi's "Christmas Time is Here" from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special (a Top 10 Christmas song ever, btw). Over the course of the concert Leah played not just the piano, but also the bassoon and guitar, all while singing most of the songs. There were also some other unusual song selections which escape my mind at the moment. But I remember the last song sung at the finale was a sort of sensual version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On," which Leah said she hadn't originally been planning to do but maybe the ambient wine got the best of her. I dunno.

In any case, it has been about a week since the concert, and I had sort of forgotten to do this post, until I was working through my Spanish using the Rosetta Stone software and stumbled onto none other than Leah again, who was providing important clues into the proper use of the past tense:

I am trying to get at the heart of the mystery on this one and have contacted Leah for clues. No answers yet, but she did perhaps unwittingly confirm that this is in fact her. So guitar, piano... bassoon... Rosetta Stone superstar... what doesn't she do?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hip to be Square

About a month ago while sitting at Krankies one day, innocently drinking a Boddington's Pub Ale, I suddenly found a little square piece of wood shoved in my face... Doodles had enlisted me to create a piece of artwork for the Electric Moustache's "Square" exhibit.

After making a trip to Michael's to get art supplies, I went about making my first piece of artwork in several years, and to the best of my knowledge my first painting ever. Here it is, and my sister's are below:

I titled this one "European Rooftops" after taking photos of various
buildings I liked from Google images and smooshing them together.

Doodle's first picture, which she titled "Ganesh"

Doodle's second picture, "Simon Bolivar," modeled after a famous portrait.

The exhibit happened last week, and was accompanied by a silent auction. I was around for most of the auction, watching my picture from afar. I was amazed when someone actually placed a bid down (the first piece of art I've ever sold!). I resisted the temptation to walk up and talk to the bidder, as I imagined he would ask "what can you tell me about this painting?" and then I would say something stupid like "This is the first painting I've ever made... I was figuring out how to use acrylic paints as I was going along," and then the man would be filled with regret and try to scratch his name off the bid list.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Talkin' Cajun Yard Dog

I've been to Charlotte many times now, and had this conversation many times with my friend Jess -- a distressed Charlotte native:
Jess: "You know that there are other places to eat in Charlotte than Cajun Yard Dog, right?"

DW (channeling Homer Simpson): "Whatever Jess. Cajun Yard Dog is like steak. And why would you eat hamburger when you can have steak all the time?"
Mmm.... Cajun Yard Dog. Step through the door in an unassuming strip mall, and suddenly you are back in New Orleans. Some personal favorites: The seafood platters, the Po Boy sandwiches, the crawfish etouffe, the "okrachokie" appetizer (fried okra, artichoke, and calamari), and some of the best shrimp and grits I've had in the south, all washed down with a pint of New Orleans' Abita beers. Then there is the "smothered cabbage" side dish which absolutely cannot be missed: cabbage cooked in heavy cream, white wine, three cheeses, hot sauce, and a bunch of other probably heart-destroying things until it basically tastes like decadent mashed potatoes...

Well, last weekend, Jess and I got a group of seven folks together to go to head to Charlotte for the day. After watching a movie, the seven of us tried to figure out where to go for dinner. The two choices? A Mediterranean restaurant, and Cajun Yard Dog. Where should we go? I abstained, saying "I'm impartial; either is fine with me". One by one, everyone else abstained, until getting to DJ Dan, who said "I'm partial... let's go to Cajun Yard Dog." And of course, I was perfectly happy with the outcome. This of course led to a familiar conversation:
Jess: "You know that there are other places to eat in Charlotte than Cajun Yard Dog."

DW: "Whatever, Jess."
After being at Cajun Yard Dog so often that I know
the waitress's name, I figured I should buy a shirt.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Good Folks @ Alexander's in Clemmons

This kindly security guard helped me get the car towed after it got all broken up around Chestnut & First St.
One of the fun things about blogging is the sense that you can hold people accountable after they shit on you (yeah, don't think I've forgotten, Northwest Airlines... I still hate your guts), by bringing their sins to light and airing your grievances and contempt with the world and generally smearing their reputation. The last two weeks I've been without a car, and was gearing up to write scurrilous comments about Alexander's Auto Shop in Clemmons, where I was getting mycar fixed. A month ago, I had the ignition switch fixed by them. Then, about 10 days later, (after they had told me I would "probably never have to fix that part again"), the ignition switch broke again. Since then, I've been without my poor Rav4 for two weeks as they've been working on it. I mean, really, two weeks to get an ignition switch fixed??

But my irritation was misplaced and undeserved. It was clear that they were working on the car almost every day, and a major part of the delay was the fact that my particular Rav4 model has some unusual/rare parts and some ambiguities with their model (there are two different 1997 Rav4 models). When Alexander's kept getting the wrong parts delivered to them by their parts supplier, the mechanic working my car started driving to auto yards himself to find the right part. It was soon discovered that the problem wasn't actually the ignition switch, but a bigger problem with the steering column.

Despite the fact that they had put hours upon hours of work into this thing (the main mechanic said "I felt horrible every day I got back to the shop and saw your car still sitting there"), and despite the fact that the problem ultimately was different than the one that was supposed to be covered by the warranty, I got the car back without paying a cent for their work, without even suggesting this myself at any point. The mechanic gave me some tips on detailing with future auto body shops so that ambiguities about my car's particular model wouldn't get in the way.

So basically, I want to thank you guys -- I appreciate the help greatly, and will definitely recommend you to anyone.