Thursday, August 22, 2013

But What a View from the Fifty Ninth Street Bridge

An alternative title is "Of Sandcastles, Roadmaps and" there's a third thing, but I couldn't think of it when I sat down to post. Add whatever you want there.

So I didn't write last week, and that was because I was on a 400ish mile adventure on our (my family and I's) way to vacation in Delaware. Roadtrips are interesting things: the basic premise is that you have a long road that you need to get over in order to go someplace that you're not.

Due to my knack for remembering things like addresses and memorizing routes, I end up playing navigator to get there. And it can get stressful, very stressful when I was put in the back of the car and barking directions to circumnavigate around Baltimore, but we get there nevertheless.

When I was little, I used to think my life was just one ridiculously long reality television series (this is what television did to me, which is part of the reason I don't watch it much anymore. The other reason? Because, internet.). Part of that crazy idea was that when we got in the car, the stuff that ran by wasn't really there. I would sit in a car for an hour or whatever and when I got out, the sets would have changed to the point where I was 'someplace else'.

The reality hit me around age 6 or so that such a thought was ridiculous. Though at times I wish that I was still in that. Take for example last year when I first crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge spanning from Annapolis to the nonexistent peninsula that is DelMarVa. The reality that cruise ships (gigantic things from what I've seen) can pass under this thing without problem is sort of unnerving. It also helps this time when we had to go in the opposite direction (something having to do with rush hour and EZ-Pass) as everyone else on the particular part of the bridge that we were on. I'm just glad I wasn't driving for that part.

Once we got over onto DelMarVa, I can say that I've officially driven (that's proper use, right?) in two states: Pennsylvania and Delaware.

So part of the adventure of vacations is checking out the local television networks and comparing them with back home. Last year I was introduced to Captain Willie Dykes and the crew of DelMarVa ' s (a made up word combining Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) news leader WBOC-16.

Oh My. So yeah, though we may grumble back in the burgh about little quirks at TAE, Channel 11 and the Special K, nobody has the weekly adventure that is OUTDOORS DELMARVA. It's really something else. Check it out sometime.

But I wasn't in nonexistent DelMarVa to critique local news, I was there to build sandcastles and take pictures of stuff. Though I haven't finished looking through everything yet, I will post everything eventually to my flickr ( and will share this gem from Ocean City, Maryland:
It's the pleasantville effect... Click for larger
The thing about vacations is that, as Wikipedia puts it: A vacation or holiday is a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism. In essence, it's an adventure for no great reason but to live.

And I think in a larger sense people take vacations in order to appreciate their hometown more. I know that the beach is great (and so is the ocean and the rest that comes along with it) but nothing compares to being home, which when googling to find some deep and profound definition, I realized that I was seriously about to google what home is.

Alright, new posts eventually. Summer ends for me sometime next week, so I may be spotty when it comes to posting for the first week or so.

And then I realize it's a Thursday, not a Friday. Oy vey.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Don't Use the Stars to Find Me, Don't Expect Them to Align

So those are lyrics from the song 'Only Skin' on the album yellow // gold by the amazing band The Spring Standards.

Why the introduction? Yesterday (8/7/13) I attended a house concert at my aunt and uncle's house in Dormont. And yes, this is the same aunt and uncle who let me go see JayScribble and KDKA and introduced me to WYEP.

The term 'house concert' sounds like some sort of stuffy thing for like crazy rich people who want to enslave classical music artists in their basements for personal concerts at each whim. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. The Spring Standards came because of some sort of deal they struck with my aunt and uncle through kickstarter or something... I don't know the details, but bottom line I was invited and I went.

Granted, unlike the Tally Hall excursion, I had about a week and a half's notice and actually did my homework and knew some of their songs (yay forward thinking!).

Half of the documentary film Crew
We walked in and were some of the first people there, and were immediately introduced to the fantastically nice James Cleare, Heather Robb, and James Smith, as well as Noah (the guy that plays drums but due to space limitations couldn't) and two documentary filmmakers.

I spent a long period of time talking to the documentary filmmakers about what they do, how it works, and what it's like being on tour with a band.

After a while we all sat down (we including the daughter of my former GATE teacher and Suzanne from WYEP) and the trio indulged us with a 16 to 18 song acoustic set. It was fabulous. They have a great sense of humor and were playing with a large cutout of Joe Biden (the story of which I learned later) for a bit:
Joe Biden!

The story behind the Joe Biden head involved a guy who's now in Boston but used to work at KDKA, Jim Lokay (follow him on twitter, he's hilarious!). He sent my aunt this for her birthday and the band got a hold of it, so that was fun.

After they were done with their set, they let us know that they could send us the entire recording of the night directly to our emails (I totally did that!) so we could remember it, and have the musics.
L-R: James Smith, Heather Robb, James Cleare
(I think I have that right...)

This is again the thing that I love about music. It brings awesome people together, and those of us who are musically challenged can really appreciate what these people can achieve with two guitars, and some harmonica-accordion thing (it looks like a kid's piano that had a kid with like a kazoo... it's bizarre, but sounds awesome.

Anyway, afterwards we got to talk to the band and I bought their latest album yellow // gold and they signed it, and obviously noticed how long I spent talking to the documentary filmmakers:

And like I said, they have a sense of humor. the one James (Leftmost James) told me that the photographers should be paying me to A) talk to the underlings and B) hold their lenses. Obviously Heather (the one who wrote the message) didn't mind too much. You should look them up, or better yet, buy their music, it's like the Lumineers meets the Band Perry meets Mumford & Sons, with less country and more folk...


Meh, so goes the life of me. I was no doubt the youngest one there, but I loved it. Thanks to Aunt Marie and Uncle George for letting me come, and the Spring Standards for being great people.

Really Post-Post: My Aunt Marie also wrote about the evening from the hostess point of view. You should check that, and the rest of her blog out:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Looking Back At Sunsets On The East Side / We Lost Track Of The Time

So I apologize for not posting last night, but the reasoning will come later.

So this week was about accomplishing things and catching up. I wrapped reading "Fences" by August Wilson, and earlier wrapped reading "Manhunt: the 12 day search for Lincoln's killer", and I plan on writing reviews a bit later. I also was granted access and am now the head designer/web developer for the Carlynton Marching Band. So that's sort of exciting.

I also got to catch up with an old friend of mine, as well as Dave (of Dave 'n Clay show concept fame on here I guess). We took on the world through wooded trails, and Dave screaming "YOLO" for no particular reason.

It was nice to catch up. And anyone that's read Paper Towns by Jayscribble can appreciate this when I say she pulled a Margo and called me about an hour ahead of time, and appeared at my doorstep for an adventure the nature of which neither of us exactly knew.

And I like that. Spontaneity. Nevertheless, we adventured around and talked about where we're going and what we're doing. And it was then that I realized how far I've come, and actually how 'old' we are.

In my mind at least, I was back in eight grade. It was when we got to talking that I realized that I'm now a Junior. It's crazy.

So this Friday (the day I SHOULD have posted, yeah, yesterday) I got another one of those Margo-esque calls but this time it was from Clay. Today when I post this is his birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), and last night we went on a bowling adventure in an underground lane in Crafton. But first we went to the dollar store in the same plaza.

Dollar stores are curious places, full of deals and the strong smell of plastic. You know the plastic I'm talking about - not the lovelyness of new car, but the stuff that makes you wonder how the nice people working the registers don't get asphyxiated on their shift.

We had no purpose there except to kill time, and it's sort of dangerous to let four teenagers loose in a dollar store. And they had everything there from "LOOKS REAL!" gag ketchup to "Jihad Joe: the novel" to Pokemon tattoos... and 'Hater Shades'.

At least I think that's what they're called. That or shutter shades or something. They were given the dollar store generic name of "party shades" and 3/4 of us got them and I bowled about 1/6 of the time with them on. Now I may have been hallucinating, but I think they helped me line up the shot better. Nevertheless, I still lost.

But ultimately that didn't matter. We were in a half-decent yet deserted bowling alley underneath a grocery store in a shopping plaza I've been to once, having the time of our lives. And yeah, the pizza wasn't that great, but these are definitely the things I will remember about my summers: getting calls randomly from friends and the adventures that follow.