Philly Fringe Festival!

sock puppet
Actually, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival is now under a larger umbrella called the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Trust me, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For two weeks, beginning this Friday, September 3 (daily schedule), the city will be overrun with characters galore.

During the Festival, the boundaries between artists, performers, students, eccentrics, gloom chicks, and run-of-the-mill crazies dissolves, creating a bizarre and fun atmosphere. Favorite moments from past Festivals:

  • Playing a game show on the El.
  • King Lear on a miniature golf course and The Tempest in a kiddie pool–both were one-man shows.
  • Sock puppet guy. He hangs around Old City on First Friday and wears a doggie sock puppet on his right hand. If he sees you staring, he’ll march over, shove the puppet in your face, growl “WOOF,” and walk away.
  • The love story of a woman and the ever-growing lint creature who lives in her laundromat’s trash can.

Jukebox the Ghost: Perfect Pop

As the years go by, I see less and less live music.  I wasn’t always such a curmudgeon, but  lately I get more out of listening to music at home than I do from braving the cold, cramming into a club, and listening to a few hours of opening bands only to be shoved aside by latecomers who didn’t want to listen to a few hours of opening bands.

This attitude is disappointing to Type E, who thinks I’m remiss in my wifely duty to attend shows with him.  He’s been nagging me to see Jukebox the Ghost since they released their first record in 2008, and when he learned that the band was making a Fishtown appearance at Johnny Brenda’s, subtle hints arrived in the form of catchy JTG mp3s mysteriously appearing in our shared Dropbox.

One of these catchy mp3s convinced me to make the oh-so-long walk to Johnny Brenda’s for the show.  Hold It In just might be the perfect pop song.

So much fun.  Jukebox the Ghost is a trio: guitar player, drummer, and keyboard player–the incredibly talented Ben Thornewill.  Luckily, we were in the balcony and could watch as he played the bass lines, played the leads, and sang, all while having fun with the audience.

Highlights of the show:  Hold It In (of course) and Temptation, a New Order cover performed with a joy that infected the entire audience.

Jukebox the Ghost is everything that’s good about Ben Folds, synthesizers, Europop, and The Beatles.  And, I’m sure, many other things I lack the musical background to identify.  But most importantly, they’re entertaining.  And isn’t that why you go out on a Saturday night?

Cow Pi?

cow pi

Just last night, an astute friend was looking at some of my Montana pictures and noticed that this cow, found wandering around the Chief Mountain International Highway, has the marking of Pi.

Which is pretty strange. But then, it turns out that today, 3/14, is Pi Day.  Spooky.

Happy Father’s Day, Moon Pappy!

plaid family

plaid family

The Schumin Web

Schumin Web
It’s time to introduce one of my online heroes, Mr. Ben Schumin (though in many circles he needs no introduction). Words can’t really describe his little corner of the internet. A typical reaction of first-time Schumin Web visitors is something like this:

  • Seriously? Why would someone send me such a stupid link?
  • This guy is a real piece of work
  • Interesting, but strictly in the ironic sense
  • Well, give the guy credit for putting himself out there

And so on…until, despite yourself, you develop a kind of affection for the guy. So check out the little nooks and crannies that give Schumin Web its character, and don’t forget to visit the fire alarm collection.
Full disclosure: Ben attends my alma mater, James Madison University, so it’s just a tiny bit possible that I’m biased. But I know for a fact that many non-JMU grads have gotten hooked on this site.

New England Trip Part 2: Gorham, ME

Continued from New England trip Part 1.

We tore down our Northampton campsite in the rain and crossed the state of Massachusetts on the lovely Route 2, not stopping until Portsmouth, NH (actually, we stopped once for a horrible, horrible cup of coffee that I’d prefer not to remember).

The stretch of road leading from the highway to downtown Portsmouth is ugly, but the downtown itself is compact and appealing, even on a grey, rainy day.  Somehow Type E managed to steer us into the Portsmouth Brewery for lunch, which was clearly his agenda all along.

Portsmouth Brewery

Portsmouth Brewery

Portsmouth is just over the Maine line, so it didn’t take long to make our way to Gorham, Maine, home of the PineCrest Inn, the Sebago Brewing Company, a Thai restaurant, and not much else.  We stayed at the PineCrest for two nights (a great bed and breakfast—highly recommended), hoping to get a feel for living somewhere remote.

So it turns out that remote places are dark and scary at night, Type E gets a rash from Thai food with MSG, and the Sebago Brewing Company’s Bass Ackwards Blueberry Ale is a lot better than you’d think.

Sebago Brewing Company

Sebago Brewing Company

During our first full day in Maine, we drove to the coast, visiting Kennebunkport, York, and Ogunquit, where we got caught in the pouring rain while walking along the Marginal Way.  Not a great day to see the Maine coast, on an off-season, wet, Monday.

Southern Maine coast

Southern Maine coast

Then the obligatory stop at the LL Bean complex in Freeport.  A helpful drunk man carrying a pizza box offered to take this photo of us in front of a big boot:

LL Bean store

LL Bean store

We also spent a few hours in the lovely Gorham laundromat while washing our muddy tent.

Eric amuses himself in the Gorham Laundromat

Eric amuses himself in the Gorham Laundromat

Satan’s Laundromat comes to Philly

Satan’s Laundromat, a terrific photolog, recently posted a series entitled Philly, but not the pretty parts. A slightly different take than my amateur cherry blossom shots.

More therapy

Em, the expletive-spewing neighborhood art teacher and amateur cognitive therapist, is in Italy for two weeks.

In her absence, I decided to seek therapy from J the Obscure, soulless office park receptionist extraordinaire. Her advice comes straight from the mouth of her 96-year-old, chain-smoking, South Philly Italian grandmother:

Fuck ’em all except for six–you’ll need pallbearers.

Saturday night somewhere in the Catskills

the mechanical bull will be closed tonight

Curses, foiled again.

No Walking on the Rug

It’s important and healthy to try out new things you probably won’t be good at. Here’s a rug I’m making:

Rug - November 2013

Rug – November 2013

Rug braiding class is fun, frustrating, and full of people who know how to do practical things, like sewing, getting a garden ready for the winter, and taking care of horses. We admire each other’s rugs, and when it’s my turn for show and tell, they say “oh, isn’t that cute?”

Here’s what the rug looked like seven months ago.

Rug - April 2013

Rug – April 2013

Depending on its final size, I’m thinking the rug should be done around 2020 or so. So, you know, stay tuned.