Monday, March 31, 2008

Music Updates

A few notes on the music front - band is still spinning our wheels, a bit. I really like what we've done, and how it's all going, but we're itching for a gig. Our demo's nearly done, I'll get it onto our myspace immediately. But I've also been branching out with 'Cafe Inertia' - a sorta singer/songwriter folksy-acoustic set I can do solo or with the keyboardist. Here's an open mic I did at Blake's On Telegraph mid-March. Please peep it (if you can put up with the crazy noise levels) & give me feedback.

Also, I'm signed up for voice lessons at Blue Bear in San Francisco next month. Do-Re-Mi!

And, you may have noticed the Pandora billboard on my sidebar. For those unfamiliar - it's a music media player (the 'music genome' project) which compiles a random playlist based on dichotomizing from some of your favorites that you give it. I'm a big fan of this service - it's a great stream to have on at work or in a radio-like setting (don't get me wrong, I don't think this should replace radio, just another option if you get sick of radio streams...) If you're on Pandora, look me up & lets share stations (my user ID is pegasusgiraffe, of course).

In non-me music happenings, I'm not very excited about the slate of musical releases this upcoming year (2007 didn't have a lot of high anticipation, and ended up disappointing in total). But March kinda snuck up on me, several releases I got recently which have pleased me : Gnarls Barkley - "The Odd Couple" (which was my first Amazon MP3 purchase); The Raconteurs - "Consolers of the Lonely"; and J2 - Jarboe and Justin Broadrick; Cavalera Conspiracy- the reunion of Sepultura's Cavalera bros.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekend Getaway

So, last Friday was my birthday. I usually keep the observation lo-key, so no party this year, but Bonnie and I stole away for a weekend in nearby destinations...

Friday, March 14 - hit the gym in the morning, took care of some house things, then went to Safari West, an animal park near Santa Rosa. How cool - take a jeep (we were on the top bench) through a preserve where the animals roam free. Lolling giraffes, skittish antelope, milling zebras, aggressive goats - over 80 species. Then into the cage areas - aviary, foxes, lemurs, cheetahs. Awesome experience overall, pics soon! In the evening, stopped at Bad Ass Coffee Co for a delectible specialty mocha, then hit lively downtown Santa Rosa. Skipped on paying $17 bux to see a bar-rock band play, so we stopped over at an English-type pub next door. Turns out they had music, after all! Stayed for a few songs from Petracovich (not bad, typical edgy-folk-rock chick). She seemed to have a lot of friends in Santa Rosa. Which isn't all that weird, it's only 1.5 hours from San Francisco, but since we were on vacation, we tried to make the whole weekend seem more exotic than it was :>.

Saturday - Lazy start, hit the breakfast bar. On our way out, went to The Last Record Store. Quite cool - I always look for the belweather of the counter-culture of a town based on its record store, and local artists section... Stopped at Community Market , an organic grocery store next door. Grabbed some healthy snax...
Made our way out toward Konocti Harbor (stopping again at the Bad Ass Coffee Co - got me a cherry chocolate mocha). Lots of winding mountain roads, a bit of rain, but no problems. Checked in, and looked around. Konocti's long been a place of interest to us - it's a resort up in the mountains, right on the shores of Clear Lake, and they host a series of summer concerts. Usually pretty B-list, but fun I'm sure. We just wanted an opportunity to explore the place, find out how far away it was, see the accommodations. Glad we did - it's much further than we thought, and much more compact. We reckon that place fills up with knuckleheads right quick on a summer weekend... We made a trip into town to hit a wine tasting, then we got ready for our spa appointment.
That's where we hit a snag. We booked a mud bath, and expected a bathtub filled with mud, only to find the 'volcanic ash bath' is pretty much just a jacuzzi with some grit floating around. We asked for a refund, as it wasn't what was advertised, and the desk workers admitted as much (saying they're planning on changing their brochure). Anyway, it was pretty contentious, and they only offered half the money back, as that was their policy & the manager wasn't around. Bonnie went so far as to putting a customer service claim with her credit card, but the manager was very contrite and helpful come Monday afternoon, so it worked out OK in the end...
Saturday night - we went to, well, the only restaurant we didn't have to drive to ( the onsite). A Hard-Rock Cafe rip-off, but got a decent BBQ bacon cheeseburger. Afterward, went to the club section & shook our things (and discussed our individual opinions on dancing...) to a cheezy cover band.
Sunday - We decided to live large & hit the brunchffet. $17 - I usually can only eat a very small breakfast on the road, but I got my money's worth on the mimosas, and we got a nice seat on the lakeside... Our big plan was the Napa Mustard Festival at Copia, but since we got denied the spa experience the day before, we wanted to get a package in Calistoga (Take your pick on hot springs/mud bath/massage - there's about 2 dozen of em...). We booked a time, and made a bit of a drive (~20 miles) down to Copia, though we had to come back for our 6 PM appointment.
Mustard Fest - must've sampled about 40 mustards & hot sauces with little pretzel sticks (and 10 samplings of wine & local beer). We made a few purchases (seeing later that most of 'em were the award winners), and then went around the Copia building, which we'd never been to. Caught a band playing some RnB & pop standards, then headed back north for our appointment (had a few minutes to wander around quaint Calistoga town). Interesting experience w/ the mud bath - very thick, you had to wriggle down into it. Very hot, relaxing in some ways, but almost uncomfortable (the hot tub was way too hot, we ran the the cold water into it for a few minutes to regulate). Then the 'wrap' room, and off to a massage. Very smooth ride home (listened to the new 2 Foot Yard disc in its entirety), didn't mind getting back so late to finish off the weekend.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Oscars recap

A bit late, but : the Academy had their big awards ceremony, quite entertaining & 'rewarding' (the general reviews were pretty down on it, but I tend to like it, and be a bit more vested than the casual citizen). Many surprises : Marion Cotillard win (I am a bit of an Edith Piaf fan); Golden Compass VFX win (though friends at Tippett worked on it, so I hope that helps their biz). A few bright moments : Jon Stewart's joke about watching movies on the iPod; the chick from 'Once' getting invited back on the stage to finish her speech (WTF was up with "Enchanted" getting 3 noms for best song?? OK- maybe they were good songs, but to have 1 movie blobbed in there like that makes a mockery of the process. And no nom for Eddie Vedder?? Yeesh.).
In the past, we've hosted quite the festivities for the evening - this time, had a small invitee list, and a few of those bailed, so it came down to one other couple (my college chum Janice - just moved to the Bay Area from Orlando! welcome, Jan! - and her guy Troy) and my pal D-Flo. A nice & enjoyable afternoon, spending time with friends (plus, being on the West Coast, the event was wrapped up by 8:30 PM!)