Saturday, November 29, 2008
Couldn't resist a few shots across the street of Durham's new "Old Bull" sign (which is moving neon--you can see the full movement here at Bull City Rising):
Both the new Durham Performing Arts Center and the Old Bull sign (click for a larger picture) :
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"US and Canadian readers, enter your zip code ... hit Go!, and you will find out what is going to fly over your area in the nights ahead. There are hundreds of satellites in Earth orbit; we cut through the confusion by narrowing the list to a half-dozen or so of the most interesting. At the moment we are monitoring spy satellite Lacrosse 3, the International Space Station, the Early Ammonia Servicer, and the Hubble Space Telescope."Heck if you are looking up there in the night sky, you might even spot the lost NASA tool bag, estimated value $100K. It was lost in the current Shuttle mission and it's now streaking across the sky.
As uploaded to youtube (just a few seconds long) of the streaking tool bag:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm certainly not a wine snob, nor a complete rube either. I'm merely reporting that the the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau arrived (as always) the third Thursday of November, which was yesterday. We picked up a bottle and drank some this evening and it was pleasant.
According to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from 100 percent Gamay grapes, is released at one minute past midnight on the third Thursday in November. This longtime tradition is celebrated worldwide with creative "Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!" events, from this year's midnight pajama party in San Diego to a weekend of events at Paris Las Vegas, commencing with a lighting of the hotel's famous "Eiffel Tower" Beaujolais red and delivery of the wine by helicopter at 12:01 a.m. More than 250 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau events taking place around the country can be found at www.chilledred.com. Georges Duboeuf is the most popular producer of Beaujolais in the world and the number one French wine brand in the U.S. (link)
Each year, Beaujolais Nouveau is the first taste of the grapes just harvested, and it wasn't such a great year for grapes in France as noted here:
Vintners hope the festive atmosphere surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau's release will bring some joy after a soggy summer that saw some of them lose their entire harvest. It was the smallest crop since 1975.
"Despite low yields due to bad weather this year, we didn't change the Beaujolais Nouveau's price much because we know it's hard for our customers in times of crisis," said Nicolas Pasqua, manager of Ma Bourgogne, a Paris restaurant specializing in Beaujolais and Bourgogne wine, near the Champs-Elysees.
His customers, sipping at lunch, were divided over the quality of this year's brew. Some say it tasted like pear. Others have noted raspberry tones.
The annual arrival of the young, fruity and heavily marketed wine is generally a cause for parties from Beijing to Las Vegas. Connoisseurs, though, say it is too light to be considered a serious wine.
In 2008, at least for Georges Duboef, the bottles arrived mostly by ship, not jet:
This year, in an unprecedented break from tradition, 75% of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was delivered by ship from France to the U.S. instead of by air freight. According to Bill Deutsch, this measure was intended to help offset the wine's carbon footprint. The boat shipment also helped offset an otherwise significant price increase due to rising fuel costs. Due to shipment by boat the wines remains at a retail price of US$10-12 per bottle.
The fact that there's usually lots of hype surrounding the release of this wine each year causes much consternation from a few. That's fine. As for me, I don't much like stamping out fun, even vapid fun, just for sport so I usually buy a few bottles and give the new crop a try, marveling that the grapes were basking on a sunny slope in France just a few short weeks ago.
If you want to try the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau, it is available most anyplace you buy wine around Durham.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Powerade, for instance:
Maybe I'm just being a Nervous Nellie about it, but it sadly looks like an accident-in-waiting.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Here's a slideshow of all 47 covers of 2007 from The New Yorker site.
Here's a slideshow of all 16 cartoons from this week's issue.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
You can even meet the herd before they come over to help you out.
Word was that the owner of the yard in the pictures above was very pleased after the job was complete, and that the little ones in the household were thrilled with the goats coming over for the day.
(Photos were provided courtesy of Wendy Evans.)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Matthew Sweet at Cat's Cradle:
Couple of observations. First of all, he and his band were LOUD. Too loud. Now I know that "if it's too loud, then you're too old" so I felt decrepit thinking they were far, far too loud for the space. Then I saw some people much younger than I am flinching and trying to get away from the speakers, so after that I didn't feel too bad for thinking so. The loudness actually interfered with Sweet's superb voice and outstanding lyrics, in my opinion. I didn't time him, but he didn't play for long, either. At any rate, he has a new CD out called Sunshine Lies and they played some tunes from it of course, opening with Time Machine from that CD. He also played some of his older ones that I enjoy such as I've Been Waiting, Girlfriend, Sick of Myself, You Don't Love Me, and Divine Intervention. You can hear a few of his songs in their entirety at his MySpace page here.
The opening act The Bridges are a group of siblings originally from Tarboro NC. I know--Tarboro! Young, with a highly melodic energetic poppy sound. Matthew Sweet produced their first CD, Limits of the Sky, and I liked their sound enough to spring for their CD. They currently have a video playing on MTV (they still show music videos?) that you can see here, and some of their songs can be heard here. The brief Boston Globe's review of the video said they "might win points for their pouting, comely looks in this video, but when was the last time you heard a group of kids making like Fleetwood Mac and actually pulling it off with a soulful, harmony-rich ballad?"
One online review at snob's music review said:
Limits of the Sky is the debut album from the family quintet. Produced by Matthew Sweet, it's a tremendous collection of bright medolic pop songs.
The group's songwriting demonstrates a pop sensilibility far outstripping their young age (all in their early 20s). Not since Ben Lee's debut have we seen a band show us this level of song craftsmanship right out of the shoot.
Vocals are definitely the focal point of the music . . . The Bridges clearly benefit from Sweet's guidance. The songs are chock full of catchy melodic choruses and vocal hooks.
The show ended around midnight so we hit TimeOut on Franklin Street for a quick bite then headed back to Durham.
So much music to see, so little time. Troika Music Festival is going on in Durham this weekend too.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Blue Coffee was chock full of people, the marching bands were playing, the ABC/WTVD satellite truck was there, and people were milling about, smiling and laughing and watching the giant TV in the rain.
Around 10:30pm I was cold, wet, and tired of standing around, so I headed home. They called it for Obama on MSNBC at 11:00pm and so I got to see the reactions from Grant Park and Times Square. Glad Durham had their own celebration too, even if in the rain.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Incidentally, Durham County NC was bluer (percentage-wise) than Cook County IL for this Election.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
4 blocks blocked off, music, and a 2 story tall projection screen to watch the returns . . .
Barack N Roll
A celebration for Obama volunteers and citizens of Durham
Tuesday, Nov 4th, 8:30pm until
Historic Black Wall Street - Corner of Corcoran and Parrish Streets
Hosted by Durham for Obama, Blue Coffee Cafe - and the blue citizens and businesses of Downtown
Join us in Downtown for the biggest street party of the Century! Historic Black Wall Street (Parrish Street) and Corcoran Street will be closed off to create a four block celebration zone, including music, drum lines, marching bands and souvenirs. Watch live returns on a giant two-story tall projection screen. Stand shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors from across the City when the election is officially called on CNN via live satellite feed.
Cruise to different downtown restaurants and bars, each hosting their own election return parties. Eat, drink, roam and experience downtown as the true civic center of our community.
For more information, visit: Durham for Barack (scroll down a bit at that link)
Spread the word!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I'd never seen Billy Bragg perform live before and it was just as great as I thought it'd be. He had some inspirational words about the election--'the whole world is watching,' essentially. He's performing here in Durham tonight, and was kind enough to devote some time and some songs to this GOTV effort today.
I'd never seen the band Megafaun before and I liked them a lot! What energy and enthusiasm these guys have. Looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. You can hear some of their music on their MySpace page here.
Finishing things up were the dB's with Mitch Easter. Always enjoy hearing the dB's and Ask for Jill and Amplifier never fails to thrill the crowd. They sprinkled in a couple of new songs too. And even one especially about the election.
I didn't get a chance to see everyone perform today, but I thank them for doing the big show today and for caring that people get out and VOTE.
By 3:30pm we were tired and hungry and decided to head over to the Carolina Coffee Shop, which we hadn't been to in forever, maybe even since I was in undergrad, and had a nice relaxing meal. A superb day in Chapel Hill.
UPDATE: Peter Holsapple of the dB's has a detailed account of the music today at his fine blog here.