Friday, March 29, 2013

More Thoughts on Biking

So just go ahead and skip this if you find my ramblings about biking annoying.  Seriously. 

I finished my first 1,000 miles on my birthday weekend.  I want to find ways to incorporate my bike into my daily life.  I try to substitute it for my car when I can.  I try not to think of my bike in terms of exercise.  I try to take it on short trips and incoporate it into my life instead of seeing it as an exercise machine.

But it's good for exercise, too.

I bought a backpack that folds up into a little pouch.  I clip it onto my bike.  That way I can stop and get stuff, but I don't have to remember to be prepared when I leave the house, and I don't have to wear my backpack unless I'm actually using it to carry stuff.

I try not to worry too much about the skinny hippies who climb hills faster than me on their fixed gear bikes.  They're a lot smaller than me, and they're not having to work as hard.  Also, I kill them on the downhill.
Just get up those slopes, man.  Up those slopes.

There are a lot of different kinds of bikers out there.  The weekend warriors in their racing gear.  They make sense out on open roads, but a lot less so in the city.  Also a lot of cool kids in jeans and street clothes on their fixed gear bikes.  They want to act like their bikes are mopeds or cars.  That's pretty cool, but it really works the best over short distances and flat terrain.  If you're travelling a ways you're going to end up sweaty and worn out on a fixie in jeans.  I don't think most of them are going too far because whenever they hit a hill they have to stand up on their pedals in order to climb.  You can't get up and down too many hills that way before your legs are gonna be worn out.  Maybe they're just in awesome shape.  But most of them don't look like it. 
It's funny- I think they ride fixies because they want to make it look like they've casually incoporated bikes into their everyday lifestyle, but to me it always looks a little the opposite.  If they were really looking to have a practical bike in Austin, TX, (which isn't San Francisco, but does have some hills) they'd be riding with gears.

What else?
I might get fenders.  I don't find myself having tons of problems with water and mud, but I've had an incident here and there.  Plus, I think they look pretty cool.  On the other hand, I'm not sure hwo they'd work on my matte black mountain bike.  Maybe I just need a second bike.  I might start looking for a second one at some point.  Just for fun.  I now know that I'm pretty much just an  urban cyclist, so I'm not sure I need to be riding a mountain bike.  But it works.  And it's been good to me.

I'm still hoping they fix the bike lanes on South Lamar to make it a little safer for bikes.  That would be nice.

I passed around a petition at work to try to see if they would include showers in the remodel of our office building.  Lots of people signed it.  Some want showers for biking to work and others for exercise at lunch.  We'll see if it works out, but I've been trying.  They've been discussing the employee support for showers in commissioner's court, apparently (they appropriate our money).  We'll see.  I'd like to ride to work.

That's it.  Not a lot, but I just wanted to jot down some thoughts since I finished that first thousand miles.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Weekend

It was a good weekend, but it went by fast. 
Amy's mother, Jean, and her grandfather, Jerry, are in town for a visit.  They got here late on Friday night, so we've been enjoying some time with them.
Friday night Amy and I just sort of hung out, mostly.  We got a few odds and ends, grocery-wise, and dropped them off at the VRBO apartment where Jean and Jerry are staying.  We watched an episode of Homeland.  That was about it for Friday night, I think.
On Saturday Amy went for a walk/jog/hike with her mom down at the hike and bike trail.  I met them for breakfast at Torchy's, and then I went to the grocery store.  In the afternoon I went for a longish bike ride while Amy took Jean and Jerry to one of the local parks.  The weather was really nice.
Saturday night Amy and I picked up Jean and Jerry and took them to Habanero, where we met my parents for dinner.  The food is pretty good over there, and Habanero is definitely the real deal when it comes to longstanding South Austin neighborhood restaurants.  After dinner we went over to the Saxon Pub to see W.C. Clark.  W.C. Clark has been playing blues in Austin and the surrounding area for a long, long time.  When I was in college in San Antonio I used to work at a place called Billy Blues (they might still have a restaurant in Houston), and I first heard Mr. Clark way back then. 
(this is what I want my retirement plan to look like)
 
Anyway, he's still doing his thing many years later (I think he's in his 70's now), he still sounds really good, and he seems to be having a great time performing.  He's got a really good voice and a solid band.  The crowd at the Saxon were up and dancing by the latter half of his set.  When you live in a town like Austin, with talented musicians playing all over town on most nights of the week, it's easy to take longstanding fixtures like W.C. Clark for granted.  I would urge you not to make that mistake.  Go see this man.  He's one of the musicians who has helped to make Austin what it is.
So we all had a really fun time Saturday night.
On Sunday we got up and Amy made us some tasty eggs for breakfast.  Then she went running with her mom while I went for another bike ride.  I was trying to get a bit of a different workout on my bike, so I intentionally sought out some small but fairly steep hills.  My legs are still a little sore today.
Sunday afternoon I went out to Wimberly with Jean and Jerry and Amy.  I'm not sure I had ever been out there before to just wander around and look in the shops.  The weather was really nice, and it was a fun afternoon.  There are some interesting shops in Wimberly.
Sunday night I had band practice.  Reed, Frank, Jim, and I got together and banged out some songs.  I think we sounded pretty good.  Reed hung out for a little while after practice.
After that Amy came home, I ate dinner (she ate with her family earlier), and that was pretty much it.  I watched an episode of Walking Dead and crawled into bed. 
It was a nice weekend.  Went by too fast.
Have a good week!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SXSW, 40th Birthday


Well, last week was an incredibly busy and fun week.
I love springtime in Austin.  The weather is great, and I actually really had a lot of fun at SXSW.

(Amy with Ryan Bingham)
(Amy with Gaby Moreno)
On Wednesday night Amy and I volunteered at our church, Central Presbyterian, which serves as a really cool downtown venue during SXSW.  On Friday night we saw Sean Rowe, Milk Carton Kids, Gaby Moreno, Kelly Hogan, and Ryan Bingham.  They were all really good.  Gaby Moreno apparently plays to like 20,000 person crowds in Mexico.  She sounded really good.  Ryan Bingham put on a one man show with his acoustic guitar that was rousing enough to get a church full of people up on their feet and dancing after 1:00 in the morning.  Great show.  Since we were volunteering, Amy and I also got to briefly meet him.  He was very friendly.
On Wednesday afternoon I rode my bike downtown and checked out a little bit of music on South Congress.  Things weren't totally in full swing yet, but there were a few bands playing here and there.  I saw a local band at Opal Divine's.  I didn't catch their name, but they were singing songs about getting arrested and thrown in the Georgetown jail (for carrying pistols without permits), and I thought that was pretty funny.
Around dinner time on Wednesday we went to see The Flyin' A's (our friend Hilary and Stuart) at Baker Street Pub.  As usual, they had a nice sound.  Later Wednesday night we went back to church and saw Bernhoft (who put on a really great live show), BOY (I thought they were okay, but Amy didn't particularly care for), and Paloma Faith. 
Paloma Faith is a singer who's really big in England (she plays to really big sellout crowds there and judges on Pop Idol- the English version of American Idol- and got to carry the Olympic Torch and so on and so forth).  She's not as well known in the states.  The church was only about half or maybe two thirds full when she played, but I think the people who were there that late were excited to see her.  When she first came out to sing she made a couple of kind of snarky comments about how she plays to house parties with larger crowds in England.  So at first I was wary.  I thought we were about to witness a major diva meltdown. 
I think, in the end, though, she might have been a little disappointed with the size of the crowd, but she also just has sort of a wicked sense of humor.  Her first three songs were nice, but the performance was pretty scripted. She stood on stage and did sort of a choreographed routine with her background singers.  A few songs into the show, though, she figured out what to do with the venue, setting, and circumstances.  The show become a lot less formal all of a sudden, and she wandered out into the crowd.  For the next half of the set she walked across pews, trusting the audience to hold her up when she would slip, and strode up and down the aisle, all while belting out some pretty amazing songs with a voice that seems utterly mismatched to her small size.  She managed to turn the performance into something really special and cool as she interacted with her audience (I saw several fans crying by the end of it.  For realz.  These were some serious Paloma Faith fans in there).  I shot some video from the balcony.  The sound isn't perfect (that church has great acoustics in person), but it's better than average for a phone recording...





I'd never really listened to Paloma Faith before, but I think I would count myself as a fan now.

On Thursday I had the whole day off.  I hopped on my bike and rode down to South Congress.  I spent all day wandering up and down it, listening to music, and enjoying the sunshine.  It was a beautiful day.

I saw Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers at South by San Jose, and I really liked them.  Never heard of them before.  I liked their whole set, and they played a song called A Little Too Late to Die Young that just seemed sort of serendipitous as I stood there in the sunshine bobbing to tunes on my way into my 40th birthday weekend.  
(Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis)
I also saw a bit of Big Sugar at Continental Club, Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys along with The Howlin' Brothers at the Freebirds showcase, Psychic Friends at Homeslice, and Diego Garcia  followed by Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis at the San Jose.  All of them were good.  Well, I'm not quite as sure about Big Sugar, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood.

Thursday night we chilled out at home.  I think we watched Homeland.  That Sergeant Brody is a sneaky cat.

Friday I rode my bike downtown again.  Riding the bike is definitely one of the better ways to beat the traffic during SX.  I rode to Waterloo and met up with mi amigos Libby and Jordan.  We listened to Frightened Rabbit, a Scottish band that I feel like I should have known more about prior to this.  They were really good.  Amy showed up on her lunch work break with her friend Megan to listen to Alt-J just as the Waterloo audience reached capacity and the gates got closed.  Lots of folks in that audience.  Alt-J started a little late, but they sounded muy bueno once they got going.  It was really nice to hang out with Amy for a while before she had to head back to work!

(Slow Magic)
In the afternoon on Friday I mostly hung out on West 6th listening to whatever band sounded interesting as I walked by.  I saw a band called Wild Cub at Brew Exchange and then walked across the street and saw a band called Easter Island at Dogwood.  I liked Easter Island.  Alternately spacey and rockin'.  Also saw this guy called Slow Magic at Strange Brew.  He mostly had a bunch of programmed computer stuff, but he also played percussion, wore a crazy tribal mask, and danced around a lot, freakin' people out.  I talked to the guy a bit, and I think he said he was from Iceland.  Maybe I misheard him in the loud bar.  I can't verify where he comes from anywhere on the internet.  Anyway, I think Reed's gonna have to start wearing a mask when Mono Ensemble plays...
(international music behind
Mark's office)
Saw another band or two (Pree?), and wandered around to the happy hour party at my friend Mark's law office.  Mark is friends with some guys from Dart Music International, so he had bands from Japan, Iran, Israel, and probably some other places playing at his office for a bunch of lawyers and confused international music fans (uh, is this really a law office?).  Amy made it to the party, and it was nice and chill.
Saturday I went shopping, and we took care of chores and stuff.  I took a longish bike ride in the afternoon.  I stopped off at Auditorium Shores and saw a bit of Spirit of Freedom Family Reunion.  They were playing at the Levon Helm tribute, and and they sounded pretty good.

(1000 miles and I wound up where I started!)
My bike ride on Saturday brought me up to 1,000 miles according to my bike computer.  It was kind of cool- I hit the magic number right as I came rolling back up to the house.
Maybe I'll post later about some new bike anecdotes now that I hit 1000.  If you're lucky. 
;-)

Saturday night we volunteered again at the church.  For some reason Milk Carton Kids were on the schedule.  They were pretty good.  People seem to really dig them.  Devendra Banhart played.  He wasn't very good.  Just singing some weak lyrics with gimmicky, weak vocals and mediocre electric guitar.  We had a friend there who listens to him a bit, and she said he usually plays much better stuff.  I don't know what was up with that.

(Sam has the better beard)
Iron and Wine played last.  I'm usually pretty hard pressed to describe acts with male performers as beautiful, but Sam Beam's music fits the description.  His songs were, as usual, on the slower and softer side (which made me zone out a bit, given the late hour), but the set was really good.  Sam Beam can be intense even when he's sorta quiet.  I enjoyed it tremendously.  Amy and I also got to meet Sam Beam as he wandered around the church before the show.  Seemed like a nice guy.  He sounds so normal when he talks that you would never guess that he has such a cool singing voice.












(Party on the balcony!)
On Sunday my parents hosted a 40th birthday party for me at their house.  It was really, really fun.  I had a lot of friends there, and many of them brought along their wives, kids, and/or significant others.  My family was there as well.  It was really cool to be surrounded by so many friendly faces and people that I care about on a milestone birthday.  Mom and Dad did an amazing job of preparing the whole thing, and I'm extremely grateful to them for hosting.  Amy got to know some of my friends better, and I got to spend some time talking with friends of hers as well.  John Bridenstine, an almost-a-cousin friend who I've had since we were born, showed up with his wife, Julie, and their kids from Houston.  Just a very pleasant afternoon.  Good food, good drinks, and good folks.  My mom has a chocolate fountain, and it's fun to watch the kids get excited over it (and the adults).   
(Party in the house!)
Incidentally, there was a horrible traffic accident on 2222, the only major road that reaches my parents' house directly from Central Austin, so for a while I didn't know if anyone would make it to the party at all (the road was shut down for a long time).  In the end, lots of folks made it, but many of them had to fight some major headaches to get there.  I really appreciate everyone showing up!!
So turning 40 actually turned out to be fun.  Who knew?






(thanks for the great week, y'all!!)
It was a great week and a great weekend.  Thanks to everyone for helping make my birthday week so cool!









 



Monday, March 11, 2013

Update; Searching for Sugarman

(Hank and Me)
It was a good weekend.  On Friday afternoon at my office one of my coworker brought her dog by.  Dog office visits on rainy Friday afternoons after a long week are a welcome diversion.









(Adam and Joe sort out one of life's important
questions- does Chicago or New York have
better pizza?)
Amy's office had a legislative filing deadline on Friday (all the initial drafting was completed for their bills), so we went out to a happy hour at the Dog and Duck with her coworkers on Friday.  It was good to see them and have a chance to relax.  They're a nice group of folks.  They've been working pretty hard to get bills written.  They seemed a little tired, but happy.  It's kind of fun to see another group of people who work together (as opposed to my own bunch of coworkers) and get a sense for their group dynamic. 

On Saturday we got up and took Cassidy to the dog park.  It was overcast, but it was still nice to get her out.  She seemed to enjoy running around Red Bud with the other dogs.  After the park we went shopping and ran errands.  In the afternoon while Amy was at the gym I tried to go for a bike ride, but the light mist outside turned into actual rain, and I ultimately turned around and went back.  I don't mind a little bit of water, but when the rain is light the streets get pretty slick, and I get sort of paranoid about falling (especially on wet hills).  So I worked out on the elliptical at the house. 
Saturday night Amy made some tasty tortilla soup.  Saturday night we watched Searching for Sugarman.  It's a really great documentary, and I would recommend it.  It's the crazy, real life story of a guy named Sixto who was basically a failed musician in Detroit.  Rodriguez recorded several albums with some well known producers, all of whom thought he might be the next big thing, but his records never sold any copies.  He was ultimately dropped by his recording label.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, his records really caught on.  They were passed around as bootlegs and reissued, and ultimately became sort of theme songs for the South African youth counterculture and protest movement during the latter apartheid years.
Anyway, Rodriguez got really big (selling millions of copies) in South Africa while pretty much dropping off the cultural map in the U.S..  The documentary is about what happens when some South African music writers try to figure out whatever happened to him.
It's a great story.  Got me thinking about how music and songs can become something so much larger than itself.  Here's a guy from Detroit, writing about his life experiences, and his messages about oppression, hope, and the difficulties of life somehow end up strongly resonating with people he's never met in a part of the world that he's never even really even given much thought.
It's a great story, demonstrating that we can be validated in doing things without ever being aware of the results.  Our actions can have an impact even if we don't feel or see that impact directly.
And, of course, it's one of those stories that helps you understand the strange, connecting nature of music.
I liked the movie.  See it if you haven't yet.  Amy and I can't stop talking about it.

On Sunday we got up and went to a volunteer meeting at our church.  Amy and I are going to work as volunteers at CPC this week as they host some SXSW events.  Should be fun.
After church we ran an errand or two and then we came home.  I went for a bike ride.
The bike ride was good.  The weather was sunny and nice, and there was the first hint of a buzz for SXSW as bands and artists played in front of restaurants and bars for early, unofficial SXSW stuff.  South Congress was hopping with people who were probably in town for the interactive and/or film portion of the SXSW festival.  Of course, the locals were down there just enjoying the weather and trying to entertain their kids as well.


 
I've heard that they're going to force the relocation of the food trailers that are gathered by the church on South Congress in order to put in a hotel.  I can't help but think that's a shame.  I know that the area by the food trailers gets a little bit chaotic, but it's a happy, fun chaos, and I think it's part of what draws people to the the area and keeps it so lively.  (people have complained that the area doesn't get cleaned up enough, but the obvious answer to that is better enforcement of clean up rules for the trailer owners- not the relocation of the entire site).  The small trailers have a "mom and pop", grassroots, local appeal that I'm afraid will be lost when they pull them out to just put in another big ol' motel.
I'm afraid that South Congress will just lose some it's sense of community when the street vendors and performers are replaced by more glass windows or fenced in seating areas that are meant to cater to an upscale, affluent crowd.




I like South Congress the way it is- even if ti does get a little bustling and kooky from time to time.

Sunday afternoon Amy and I did a few things in the yard and enjoyed the sunshine.
In the early evening we had a Mono Ensemble practice.  We're gonna play another gig at the Carousel on Friday, May 10th, so we have something to work toward.  I thought practice sounded pretty good, and Amy said she agreed.
Sunday night Amy made some pasta with really good sauce. 
We watched Homeland in the evening.

And that was the weekend.  It was really nice, and it went by really fast.
Hope you guys have a nice week!  Even if you're busy, take a walk.  The spring weather here is awesome.  :-) 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

KUTX and Radio as I Now Hear It

A few months ago KUT (one of Austin's premier public radio stations and the home of NPR) started a second station named KUTX.  KUT continues to deliver news, various topical shows, and informational programming while KUTX, the sister station, primarily plays music.  KUTX has a number of different shows that feature assorted genres and styles of tunes, and it also has occasional, brief news updates, but on the whole they just playing tunes that they think will appeal to an Austin audience.
I've been listening to KUTX a lot lately.  Really, I've been listening to it more than I've listened to any other radio station in a long time.
In an era when it's exteremely easy to load hundreds and hundreds of songs onto an MP3 player or smartphone and only listen to songs that you've personally selected for inclusion in your own digital library, I found myself asking the question of why I was feeling drawn once again to radio.  After all, even if I didn't want to listen to the same album over and over, technology now allows me to create randomly generated playlists of my own music or to stream music from internet sites which create customized playlists tailored to my tastes (using algorithms to analyze my past choices and send things my way that I'm mathematically predicted to enjoy; this model is used by sites like Pandora).
Riding the bus home after work, listening to KUTX stream through my iPhone, I came to the conclusion that there are probably at least two important things that happen when I'm listening to radio that aren't easy to recreate in other mediums.
First, radio helps me find unexpected things to enjoy which might not be easily predicted by previous listening habits.  I still think that there's a benefit in being exposed to things which I might not have immediately chosen or which I don't find immediately accessible, and I still believe that, with a little patience, you can acquire tastes for some unexpected types of music.  Just because I've indicated that I like to listen to 90's alternative rock or 80's punk or current techno doesn't mean that I'm not willing to give other things a chance.
Of course, it helps to believe that you can put some amount of faith in the taste of the person doing the programming.  And a certain amount of humility on the part of the listener also helps.  In order to listen to radio, you have to be willing to be willing to buy into the following propositions: "Just because I don't like something doesn't mean that it sucks.  Just because I don't immediately love something when I first hear it doesn't mean that I will never learn to like it."
It probably helps that KUTX is a public radio station as opposed to being a corporate, profit-driven enterprise. Commercial radio isn't all bad, but I think the programming is at least slightly more suspect because it's all carried out in the pursuit of making money. In the most direct sense, this means that listeners have to wonder whether record companies are somehow offering cash incentives to radio stations in order to push mediocre songs into their broadcast rotation. A less direct but probably more commonplace problem is that commercial radio stations just aren't willing to take many risks or challenge listeners with a lot of new or different stuff. Commercial stations like to stick to relatively narrow genres of music and play accessible, catchy songs that listeners will immediately like. Songs on commercial radio are usually very simple and are intentionally written with musical "hooks" (i.e., musical phrases meant to quickly stick in your head in order to catch the ears of listeners). This doesn't make the music on commercial radio bad, necessarily, but it does limit the variety quite a bit.
When radio is at its best, listeners trust the programming enough to give new songs a chance, even if they don't immediately click with a particular tune as it hits their ears.  Some songs may have nuances and qualities that aren't immediately apparent upon a first listen.  Other songs will probably never be a listener's favorite, but maybe hearing them a time or two will engender some understanding of why other people enjoy them (so even if you don't like a song, you still might be able to appreciate it).

The second thing that I've come to appreciate about radio in more recent years is the relationship that it can develop with the community in which it broadcasts.  KUTX has taken the same approach as some other successful non-commercial, listen supported radio stations across the country (WWOZ in New Orleans comes to mind as well as KEXP in Seattle), trying to offer somewhat representative sampling of the type of music that people in their towns are engaged with and listening to.  In trying to represent "the sound of Austin", KUTX has taken on the task of trying to not only broadcast music that people will like, but also to represent Austin as a city.  Toward this end, KUTX broadcasts music from across the country and around the world that appeals to Austinites, but it also highlights the local work of a large number of Austin and Texas artists.  Representing the sound of a city is, of course, probably an almost impossible task for a station to perfectly accomplish, but it's still an interesting and worthwhile effort.  KUTX invites local musicians into the station to talk about their music, and they regularly feature live performances that are broadcast from within their studio.  Upcoming shows are highlighted, album releases are celebrated, and local music events are promoted.  These sorts of things help to build community and can help establish a radio station as a crucial display place for a city's culture.

Anyway, I don't want to go overboard, but I've been enjoying KUTX a lot lately.  I hope they keep getting better and better.  Just thought I'd give a shout out to one of those rare examples of a modern media source that seems to be headed in the right direction.  

**  If you want to give KUTX a listen, you can hear a little bit of what Austin sounds like here.  Just click on the button for 98.9, and it'll stream right at you!



Monday, March 04, 2013

Update

Well, the weekend was pretty busy, and somehow my time stayed filled, as well.  Amy worked both Saturday and Sunday. 
Even though Amy worked this weekend, we still found time for some fun stuff.
On Friday night we went over to our friend Reid's house to play Artemis with Reid, Jim, and Seth.  I think we've gotten better at that game, but we were playing at a pretty high difficulty setting and using a light cruiser, which isn't an especially powerful ship.  We got beaten up on pretty good.  I think we only successfully fended off an enemy invasion once, and that was when we accidentally started the game playing a dreadnought (a much heavier class of ship) and didn't really realize it until we were halfway through.  We had a fun evening, for sure.
On Saturday Amy went to work, and I spent the morning grocery shopping and doing a few chores.  Saturday afternoon I went for a pretty long bike ride.  It was nice.

(The Reivers of Steanso's youth)
Saturday night Amy and I went to see The Reivers.  The Reivers are a band that was considered sort of "up and coming" and "on the rise" way back when I was in high school.  Along with Poi Dog Pondering, The Reivers sort of helped to define a kind of proto-alternative Austin sound that I remember from way back in my high school years.
Well, a lot of years have obviously gone by, and I guess The Reivers broke up right as I was getting out of high school.  The members of the band went their separate ways.  According to Wikipedia, lead singer John Croslin worked as a producer for bands like Spoon and Guided by Voices while still playing in a band of his own.  The Reivers always had a pretty warm critical reception, and apparently at some point Hootie and the Blowfish even covered a couple of their songs after they split up.
(older, wiser (?) Reivers)
Anyway, after getting back together a few times for benefit shows and special occasions starting in 2008, the band released a new album in 2013.
On Saturday we went and saw them at the Cherrywood Coffeehouse.  They didn't play very long, and they were working up some new songs (seems like they were polishing them up for some bigger upcoming shows), but they sounded good, and it was fun to see them.  As I was telling Amy, their sound, for me, hearkens back a bit to the days of Paul Westerberg and The Replacements.  Their musical style is simple and straightforward, but they have good lyrics, interesting harmonies and melodies, and generally uptempo, catchy tunes.  The crowd, many of whom probably remember The Reivers from bygone days, were definitely a little older than at some other Austin shows, but the audience still had rock and roll in their souls, and everyone had a good time.  As an about-to-be-40 aspiring musician, I appreciated seeing the Reivers do their thing and watching people enjoy it.  You don't have to be The Rolling Stones to keep on rocking.

Sunday we got up and walked to Central Market for breakfast.  We had a nice meal, and then we went for a bike ride.  The weather was nice.  We pedaled around the Bouldin Creek neighborhood and talked and enjoyed the sunshine.
As it got closer to noon we rode home.  Amy went to work in the afternoon.
While Amy worked I attended a baby shower that my friend, Jennifer, threw for my friends Rosa and Nathan and their son, Dash.  They've got a daughter on the way.  It was a pleasant afternoon.  Tasty food, good drinks, and nice company.  It was a nice, sunny day for that sort of event. 
Amy made delicious chicken tinga for dinner Sunday night.  I really like that dish.  It was in the slow cooker, and it made our house smell good.
In the evening we watched Homeland.  I'm liking Homeland, but, as Amy has figured out, I've watched a lot of espionage shows and movies over the years.  I've been having a little bit of difficulty with it, not because there's really anything terrbily wrong with the show, but just because it's received so much hype and acclaim.  It's always so much harder to enjoy something when you go in with high expectations.  Also, I really enjoyed the show Rubicon, which ultimately failed because of low viewer ratings, and the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which had some critical success but a smaller audience than it probably deserved.
Both Rubicon and Tinker Tailor suffered from complaints that their pacing was too slow to keep the attention of an audience.  Personally, I thought that both did a good job of gradually and steadily developing their characters and plot lines.  In both Rubicon and Tinker I felt like climactic moments were made much more satisfying by the slow build to a crescendo out of early moments of subtlety and nuance.
Homeland isn't a bad show, but has a lot of sort of in-your-face drama right from the start (in case the spy stuff doesn't grab you, you also get the dramatic home life of a returning POW and a wild card, maverick protagonist who struggles to control her "mood disorder"). 
I guess it's not that I dislike Homeland- it's more about the fact that I'm seeing the pacing and style that are required in order to really engage audiences for a modern espionage program, and I'm realizing that some of my favorite stories probably never stood a chance.
Still intrigued by Homeland, though.  Now that I've written this, I realize I'm mostly bemoaning the failure of other things.  Gonna stick with it!
Anyway, that's it for now.
Hope you guys are off to the beginning of a good week!

Happy birthday to Mom!

(Dad, Mom, and Amy at work in the kitchen while
I mess around snapping pictures)
 
Happy birthday to my mom, Karen "The Karebear" Steans!  Mom, I hope you have a really good birthday!  You definitely deserve it. 

Love you!!