Monday, March 19, 2012

Burfday Weekend

Howdy.  Hope everyone is doing okay!
So the St. Patrick's Day/SXSW/birthday weekend was pretty good!  After work on Wednesday I joined a couple of friends and went to see a little bit of SXSW music downtown.  We ended up going to the KEXP showcase at Mellow Johnny's bike shop.  A bicycle shop sounds like a pretty weird place to hear live music, but it was actually pretty cool.  They have a big ol' warehouse style space, and when you clear out some of the bikes, add a small stage, a set up a decent PA system, the whole thing sort of works.
Wednesday we saw a guy named Alan Stone.  He's an awkward, skinny, white kid who sings soul and R&B.  That sort of description might raise an eyebrow or two among the cynics out there, but he actually has a really good voice, and he performed with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.  If you like the R&B/soul singer type thing, he's definitely worth a listen..

He might not be what you expect, but Alan Stone makes
the ladies wanna cry
You rarely think of a Wedding Present being found
in a bicycle shop


On Friday I got up an worked out and went to go see a little more music while Amy worked on school stuff.  I saw The Wedding Present, once again at Mellow Johnny's.  They're an indie rock group out of England, and they've been around a long time.  I enjoyed them.  Just a good, solid rock band with decent lyrics and some catchy tunes.



After The Wedding Present I just sort of floated down West Sixth Street a little bit listening for music.  Ran into a friend at Dogwood (McCrimmon), and hung out to watch Mike and the Moonpies.  They were good, and for some reason the people at the the bar gave me two free beers. Funny how the little things end up really making you happy.

The really weird thing is that this is not the first band that
I've known about that was named after moonpies and had a guy named Mike in the band (see
Operation Moonpie Face Destroy)
After listening to a little more music on 6th I wandered home in time for Amy to be finishing up on her homework so we could go to the movie.
We went to see John Carter.  I know that the movie has gotten some pretty mixed reviews, but I rather enjoyed it.  Of course, the movie is based on a book from 1912, so it's heavy on fantasy and fairly short on the science part of science fiction, but it's a really fun ride.  I'm not sure why people were so quick to bash on it in their reviews (well, the studio ended up spending a ridiculous amount in making this movie, so people had high expectations, but that's really more of a fanboy criticism, and I couldn't care less).
Anyway, Amy and I both enjoyed the movie.  Seemed like a nice fit for Spring Break.
Thursday night we went out to dinner at Curra's with Ryan and Jamie.  It was really nice to do some birthday celebrating with them.  We had some margaritas, ate some Mexican food, and talked about life, work, family, and the chaos of SXSW.  Seems like all of our schedules have been a bit busier lately, so it was nice to get a chance to hang out!

On Friday we drove over to Houston to hang out and see some friends.
We got to town and went to the Museum of Natural History to see an exhibit that was filled with recovered artifacts from The Titanic.  It turned out to be a really impressive experience.  The items that were recevored were curated and presented in a way that really sort of drove home the story and the tragedy of the Titanic disaster.  The exhibit did a good job of conveying both some of the most impressive features and grandeur of the ship (the luxury in first lcass was ridiculous, and it's crazy to hear about how much fuel the ship consumed) as well as personalizing the stories of the less affluent passengers who had scraped together enough money to book a third class ticket.
I guess that a lot of us have seen Cameron's film by this point, but the exhibit made the whole experience just seem much more real (the roance and adventure of the movie, in a way, sort of detracts from the fact that the real story of the Titanic was one about peope just livign out their everyday lives).
Also, the exhibit contained some background on the challenges presented by recovering artifacts from a ship that's resting under two miles of ocean, and that was extremely interesting to hear about as well.

(don't really wanna guess how many times we've
repeated this scene in various bars over the years)
(Amy and I with Richard and Joy.  Cops apparently don't take
the best pictures, but you don't really want to
criticize their efforts too much...)
On Saturday night we met up with my friends Lee and Richard, and their respective wives, Sarah and Joy.  I've known Lee since sixth grade, and Richard and Sarah since my college, and they're some of my oldest, bestest friends (I met Joy more recently when she started dating Richard after college, but she's pretty great, too).
Anyway, we had dinner at a Vietnames place called Mai's and drinks afterward and did a lot of catching up.  Amy got to meet everyone, and everyone got to meet Amy, and that was really nice for me (and for everyone else, too, I think!).
It was just a really nice birthday moment for me.  All of these people have been and continue to be important people in my life, so I couldn't really think of a better way to lead my way into my 40th year (gulp!!).







On Sunday we went to the Fine Arts Museum.  We walked through a good part of the museum and visited the King Tut exhibit.  The King Tut exhibit was also very cool.  They did a good job of explaining and describing the statues, jewelry, etc., etc..  It's always amazing to me to look at these things, many of them over 3,000 years old, and imagine people using them.  What amazes me is the intersection between strangeness and familiarity in the different cultures over huge stretches of time.  On the one hand, the Egyptians were firmly committed to belief in an afterlife that allowed for a large number of dieties, potential godhood for the ruling class (achieved through the establishment of funerary cults), continued possession of material goods, and living bribes that would allow a person to avoid forced labor after death.  Egyptians built temples and founded longstanding, self-serving worship societies to satisfy these beliefs.  These sorts of things seem pretty alien.
On the other hand, sitting their looking at their necklaces, sandals, earrings, jewelry boxes, beds, and toilet seats, it's also easy to feel like many aspects of the fundamental human experience haven't changed much over thousands of years.  We pride ourselves on our computers and our knowledge of quantum mechanics and our allegedly evolved sense of justice and human rights, but people are still people.  We still want to find a way to live forever (be it in the Egyptian afterlife or Christian heaven or the binary world of the singularity) and we still put on our sandals one foot at a time.
Anway, the King Tut exhibit was good.
When we were done with the museum we drove around the Rice University area a bit so Amy could see a touch of Houston, and then we came home.
Sunday we shopped and exercised and relaxed.
Really, really good birthday weekend!!!
Hope that all of you have also been doing well.




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