Saturday, November 29, 2008

Durham Performing Arts Center Open House

If you are interested in checking out the new Durham Perfoming Arts Center, it will be open to the the public this Monday evening, December 1st, for an Open House starting at 5:30pm. The Plensa sculpture will be dedicated at 6pm, and there will be self-guided tours of the building available, live entertainment, and refreshments. I drove by there tonight on my way back to Durham from my Thanksgiving festivities, and it was beautiful, so I took a picture:

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

What's flying around up there anyway?

Neat site I just discovered at spaceweather to track what satellites you can see from your location (what time and where to look):

"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:

Happy sky-watching!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Berry Breakfast

Outside my kitchen window this morning, a cold, fluffed-up cardinal chows down on berries. The berry tree was in the shade still but I snapped a few pictures anyway. (You can click the pictures to make them larger. )

Friday, November 21, 2008

Whether it makes you scowl or smile, the Beaujolais Nouveau's here.

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 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

Not so Fabulous

Yikes, on the end cap of an aisle at Food Lion tonight, 16-oz. colorful (Powerade-like) power drinks? Nope. 16 oz. bottles of colorful cleaning fluids. They're Fabuloso! Seems like a products-liability case waiting to happen to Colgate. They'd sure look like bottles of something to drink, especially to a thirsty kid.

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

Best. New Yorker Cover. Ever.

I was thrilled when we got our New Yorker this past week because the cover is a real keeper. I'm almost always interested in the cover, and there's been some great ones and also some duds. This one is beautiful, with the "O" as a full moon over the Lincoln Memorial, with it all shining in the reflecting pool (another view of the reflecting pool, 1963, here).

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

Got weeds? Hire the Goats!

Instead of firing up the noisy weed-eater and possibly contracting poison ivy and a case of achy arms and shoulders, if you live 'round here, you can invite The Goat Patrol to your garden to handle your weeds and vines and unwanted vegetation. A friend mentioned she'd be witnessing The Goat Patrol taking down some weeds over the weekend and I was intrigued. Here they are in action a few days ago, doing their job and chowing down--not to mention providing entertainment.

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 and The Bridges at the Cradle

Matthew Sweet was at the Cradle last night and I've been a fan for quite a while now, so we went over for the show.

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

Rainy Election Night Party for Obama

By 7:30pm on Tuesday night, I was too antsy to sit at home and passively wait for the election returns. I knew that downtown a party would be starting for Obama volunteers and Durham residents so I suited up in my raincoat and hat, took my not-so-good camera due to the rain, and headed downtown.

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.

Southern HS Marching Band:


Celebration, complete with cut-out of President Elect Obama:

Cool recycling receptacle (hadn't noticed these before):

Major the bull, watching the returns:

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

Map to see NC voting percentages by county

If you click on this map and then click open a state, say North Carolina, you can run your mouse over the counties to see what percentage voted for Obama and what percentage for McCain. Pretty interesting to see how the counties break down in percentages. If McCain won, the county is depicted in red, if Obama won it, it's blue.

Incidentally, Durham County NC was bluer (percentage-wise) than Cook County IL for this Election.

Hundreds of newspaper front pages

If you want to peruse hundreds of front pages from today, just click here for the Newseum's site. It has 684 front pages from all over.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If Obama wins, here's information about the Durham celebration!

Just got a message about this, so I'm passing it along. (I don't have any information about McCain's event in Durham or I'd post it too.)

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

Really great Get Out the Vote (GOTV) music event

Today we ventured over to Chapel Hill to see some great music that was part of a big push to get out the vote on this last day of early voting in NC. It was held beside Morehead Planetarium on the UNC campus, near--but not too close!--to the early voting site itself. What a beautiful, sunny fall day too. I sometimes forget how beautiful the campus is there. Today it was positively picturesque. But we were there for the music. I guess we stayed from about 11:00 until 3:30pm, when it was over. Coffee and snacks were being served and people were friendly and quite enthusiastic about the Election.

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.

Billy Bragg

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.
dB's with Mitch Easter

Peter Holsapple

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.