Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wild Weekend of Music

Eleven concerts are on the agenda this weekend.  Two last night, two tonight, and seven or so at The Irish Music Festival in Deer Valley tomorrow.  This marathon kicks off my musical month of August.  It's going to be non-stop melodious fun. 

To those of my readers who are touring the world or on vacation at the beach, yes, I'm envious, but I'm trying to make the best and the most of staying home.  Park City is about as close to a vacation as it's going to get for a while.  But worry not, the job/cash flow situation is unfolding nicely, and as soon as I get paid, I'll be buying tickets to Phoenix to visit the home girls and boys, and tickets to New York to visit my son and the city itself.  And then there's that trip to Peru ... we just need to decide when we're going.

A completely unrelated side note ... I learned late last night that I'm about to become a puppy grandmother.  So excited! {yippee}

Tim McGraw: Point My Rockin' Chair Toward The West

Tim McGraw's "Where the Green Grass Grows" captures the essence of country living, with references to faith and family.  This city girl has lived in Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, and LA, but I've oft yearned for the simplicity and idyllic side of life in the country.  The closest I've come was when I lived in Durham, North Carolina.  And it was there that I fell in love with country music.  There was this little radio station, WTKK, with a giant velvet Elvis hanging in the nondescript lobby.  I actually used to do promos on WTKK's live radio, speaking from a giant microphone. It was surreal.  Anyway ... no apologies from me about loving country music or Tim McGraw.


McGraw and his band of what looked liked 11 played to a massive crowd at the USANA Amphitheater in West Valley City on Friday. His genuine, "every day guy" singing songs about every day life charisma is part of the appeal.  His music sung from the heart is an easy listen or sing along.   Rather than stay on stage, he performed on a walkway in the midst of the audience, jumping down with the crowd, shaking hands, and connecting with his fans.  During the Elton John hit "Tiny Dancer," he brought a little girl up to dance with him on his walkway. Every song resonated, communicated, and touched.

As I listened, I wondered, what would it be like to be in a different town every night, wear jeans and a t-shirt to work, and pull in a multi-million doing it. It may look easy, but evidences of flawless execution were everywhere. The stage set up, the band, McGraw's spontaneity, his interactions with the audience. And of course, the lyrics and music itself.

With nearly a dozen number one albums, McGraw is one of the most decorated of country music stars (or music stars of any stripe, for that matter), and he had a lot of material to choose from.  The hits just kept on coming and coming.  At one point, he mentioned he was not going to waste people's time talking when they came to hear him sing. And he didn't.  All in all, an amazing evening.

Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Lady Antebellum: It's a Quarter After One, I'm (Not) a Little Drunk, and I Need You Now

Drunk dialing, drunk texting. Always done in the wee hours. I've never done it in part because I don't drink much.  But the temptation to reconnect with a former amore is a powerful force to be reckoned with (and reckon, you should, with or without alcohol).  Lady Antebellum's "I Need You Now" aptly and poetically captures this all-too-common situation.

The "warm up" band for Tim McGraw's Southern Voice tour, Lady Antebellum, played their growing litany of hits with the sun still blaring and in the summer heat of about 98 degrees at Utah's USANA Amphitheater on Friday.  Warm enough indeed.  Together since 2006, this trio of Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, and Hillary Scott has already racked up hits like "I Run to You," "Looking for a Good Time," and "American Honey," among others.  The audience knew all the lyrics.  It's no surprise that Lady Antebellum won Country Music Association's New Artist of the Year Award in 2008.  Their acoustical energy and non-twangy harmonic sound has wide appeal.  They'll be around awhile, at least let's hope.
Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Met On a Monday, We Were in Love by Tuesday Night

We met on a Monday
We were in love by Tuesday night
--Guy Benson

Exquisite.  Unbelievable.  Magical.  Perfect.  How could I have lived here for 20 years and not known about Guy Benson or Carolyn and her summer concerts?
I used to live a block from Carolyn's house, but her concert series began eight years ago, after I had  left the neighborhood.  Last Saturday night, I attended a concert in her Sugarhouse garden.  It was like going home, only better.  When we walked up the driveway to the backyard, we were welcomed warmly by Carolyn.  Carolyn is a woman who, in spite of her small stature, really knows how to meet and greet.  She invited us to help ourselves to the beer in the cooler, the water, and the food.  We'd brought chairs but the yard was always set up with dozens of green plastic chairs.
Carolyn's yard is typical for Sugarhouse.  Smallish.  I remember looking at the closing documents when I sold my house.  On a corner lot, I believe the lot size was 0.11 acres.  But what Carolyn's yard lacked in size was compensated for in charm.  Beautiful garden ornaments, foliage, and decorative lights everywhere.  Hummingbirds flitted in the next yard.
Before the concert, Carolyn gave a welcome, encouraged everyone to make a donation to the musicians, and informed the crowd of her green emphasis, with no paper plates to throw in the landfill.  So we all ate appetizers and finger foods off of plastic dishes that we later scraped, "just like at camp."

We sat right in the front row ... within spitting distance of the redwood platform "stage" undoubtedly built to showcase Utah's local musicians.  And no, I didn't spit either.

Fortunately the sun had started its descent when Keith Taylor, the 2004 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, took to the stage.  His mellow sounds put me into a trance, until he played "Pink Panther" with all the sound effects.  And that ... was unbelievably cool.
Keith Taylor
Strange though it is, Guy Benson had sent me an email earlier in the week about Celtic music jams.  That would be Intermountain Acoustic Music Association's Guy Benson, the newsletter editor.  Only I hadn't met him yet.  It was his turn on stage ... his guitar, his voice, his lyrics ... I fell in love.  There were many more words that touched me than I was able to scribble on my paper napkin and elsewhere.

I am here
You are there
Love is our cross to bear
I know I'll think of us upon that hill
With the golden moon rising
And stars around us still
How is it that we've buried
All the feelings that we've carried
On each end of the rifle
We're the same
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I
If all your dreams come true 
Do your memories end up haunting you?
Give yourself to love
Love is what you're after
Open yourself 
To joy and laughter

Guy told the story of singing at the Utah Arts Festival.  In the midst of his performance, the police were arresting someone in the crowd, and the fella was getting dragged off by the police, all during a love song.  He mentioned that his lineup included quite a few songs of unrequited love.  I made a comment to Guy about this theme during the break, and it just happened that four other gents were standing there listening.  One of them said to me "Do you want us to show our scars now?"  No comment. I just smiled. What can you say when there's so much you could say? And besides why ruin the ambiance over minutiae about love?
Someone noticed I was hurriedly photographing Carolyn's backyard and he said, "Take as many pictures as you want.  That's what I did last year when I thought I was moving to Manhattan."  His wife had a chance to run a company in New York, but it worked out they could stay here instead.  "Yes, going to Manhattan is something I think about often," I mentioned.
Guy Benson

After the break, the air was considerably cooler.  Guy sang a love song he'd written at age 16, "Wish I Had a Girl."  To introduce it he casually noted, "Teen angst does not look good when you're close to 60," and yet, he had reconnected with the girl just three weeks ago.
Guy Benson
Since it was the evening of the 24th of July, the sound system was competing with the fireworks in the street nearby.  "I've got competition," Guy said.  "Turn up the bass in the mains."  The concert wrapped up later than expected, but no one was complaining, least of all me.

Carolyn is hosting another concert this weekend, and the next, and next, through mid September, when she closes out the summer season with Smokin' Blues Band.  Her website, Carolyn's Summer Garden Concerts, gives all the details.  If you haven't gone yet, promise me you will.

Disclosure: admission was donation of $20.  I received NO compensation for this review.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pioneer Day Peek-A-Boo

Utah celebrated its favorite state holiday, Pioneer Day, yesterday, July 24th. For my readers who live in Cochabamba and Kuala Lumpur and Texas, Pioneer Day is when the Utah locals celebrate the fact that Mormon pioneers, who may or may not be ancestors of said locals, made their way across America's plains to avail themselves of religious freedom. Parades, pioneer handcart re-enactments, and fireworks are part of the standard fare.

By way of disclosure, I am a first generation Utahn. My last name, Cannon, would suggest that I am a blue blood along with the many Utah Cannon clans, but it ain't so. After my great grandpa passed away, my great grandmother remarried (no doubt after joining a local singles group in New Jersey) and married a Mr. Cannon.  Even though his brother didn't, my grandfather took the Cannon name. If not for that, you'd all think me Polish.  But really I'm half Irish.  I'm not part of the handcart celebratory set, although I was during my married days.  Anyway ... I digress.  Again.

This is the Right Place, Drive On.  Yesterday as I was passing the floats for the Cottonwood Heights Pioneer Day parade in my car on my way to yoga, I had a chance to ponder deeply the consequences of Mormon leader Brigham Young's "This is the Place" declaration.  Brigham was sick, reportedly, and barely well enough to get up for a flash to see the expansive Salt Lake Valley, which he recognized from a vision.  Shortly thereafter, he used a giant sheet of graph paper to map out the city.  No loops, circles, or parkways for us. In Utah, we have a grid system, where all of the streets are measured by how far away they are from the Salt Lake Mormon temple. Ok, I just made that second part up about the graphing paper, but we do have what many call the "grid system."
Brigham spotted the Salt Lake Valley even before Utah's golf courses were established.
While I am disheartened Brigham didn't instruct his men to keep going til they got to San Francisco ...
... it could've been a catastrophy if he'd declared "This is the Place" in Winnemucca.

Pie and Beer Day.  Now that I have completely killed any hope of getting readers from Winnemucca and with no disrespect intended to Brigham Young and his followers, some of the locals here engage in a much different celebration.  I was invited to Pie and Beer Day on Friday at the Newman Center, but I declined in order to get my mani / pedi and involuntarily watch "Marley and Me," which resulted in me have some rather emotional moments requiring Kleenex or at least a hand to wipe away tears while being held captive to drying nail polish in a massage chair for 45 minutes, waiting for my friend to get a fill.  Anyway ... Pie and Beer Day is how people here give thanks for their love of beer, and as fate would have it, it's celebrated on July 24th, although for some reason, the Newman Center was a day early.

A feast begging for a Tums chaser

The Pie and Beer celebration I didn't attend was serving beer and pizza from The Pie, an underground restaurant here in town known for its legendary pizza. And yes, it's that good.

Pioneer Peek-A-Boo.  So yesterday, Pioneer Day, I went to visit my friend Connie, Skating Mom Connie, not to be confused with Jewelry Connie.  Her grandchildren have been visiting from Florida and I wanted to see them.  I brought a bonnet made by my grandmother so Connie's little granddaughter could try it on and I could take the photos below.  As you can see,she is a doll and a silly girl all in one package. Like most almost two-year-olds, she plays a mean game of peek-a-boo.  And about those beautiful blue eyes, the pictures don't do them justice. She has every man from Daddy to Grandpa to Aunty's boyfriend wrapped 'round her finger. 
The Day Goes On.  After visiting Connie and family, I went to yoga, then to an exquisite concert (to be more fully described later), and finally to Habits, a dancing club.  I went to Habits to see the peeps, mainly.  I'd gone out to dance for a brief moment and a guy asked me to dance on behalf of his brother, who didn't speak English.  The guy was cuter than his brother and so I offered to dance with both of them at once, and the cute one promised to be there in "just a minute" and promised we'd all have drinks together.  Of course like so many promises, that never happened, and the brother wanted to check me for ticks.  I was pushing his hands away and trying to dance my way to my peeps but it seemed like there was an undertow on the dance floor so I never quite made it.  After about three rounds of disco mania type music and a few puffs of cold steam from the ceiling, I said my thanks and farewell to him and made way (yes, ran) back to the Habits VIP section where some members of our group were chatting quietly amidst the blaring music (not as loud as Club Allure).

Pie and Beer Peek-A-Boo.  There wasn't really pie, but someone had nachos. And several had beer.  After the foreign brother incident, I really didn't feel much like dancing.  I was content to sit at the table with a cup of water (having already had my beer allotment at the concert) and chat up whoever was taking a break from dancing. But I got chided for dancing abstention by the two individuals below, Bon Sai and Chuck-A-Rama, who claimed that unless they saw me dance, it didn't happen.  They were sort of begging to be featured in my blog so I obliged, contingent on them giving me their best peek-a-boo pose.  They were hoping I'd write a story about them and gave me free license to make up complete fiction.   We agreed on aliases to keep them from any reputational damage (but there's only so much I can do, guys). 
Bon Sai and Chuck-A-Rama
Bon Sai
Fiction coming soon to a blog near you? No, but I will write poems about Bon Sai and Chuck-A-Rama.  Titles being contemplated ...
  • "Ode to Air Bags," for Bon Sai who sells airbags in some elevated capacity given his recent promotion, and 
  •  "Ballad of the Big Bad Buyers Housing Market" to Chuck-A-Rama the high flying real estate broker.  
But those poems are at least a month off because I want to do a really great job, and what with readjusting to working full time, I don't foresee a break in my schedule for a while.  Especially considering this morning's phone call.  (No, Susanna, it doesn't involve the 23 year old I jumped with at USANA.)  In any case, my delicate foray into published poetry began this year (see Ode To My Departed Fake Fingernails). I've done a limerick a roamantic partner and some prose about yoga and detachment.

In the meanwhile, I hope everyone had a very happy 24th, whether Pioneer or Pie and Beer or wild raucous housekeeping. Keep in mind it was also on July 24th in 1148 that Louis VII of France laid siege to Damascus during the Second Crusade. In 1487, the citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands staged a strike against foreign beer.  And Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate the thrown in 1567.  I'll leave the blogging about those festivities to others more qualified. {July full moon madness is almost behind us}

Friday, July 23, 2010

Everything You Wanted to Know About Recycling, 311, Beer Cans, Jumping, Offspring, and Making New Friends ... Give It To Me Baby

Press PLAY to hear the Offspring. Guaranteed to make you feel like the Energizer Bunny.

Wednesday night, I made a new friend "Anastasie" while volunteering on the Green Team at USANA Amphitheater in West Valley City, Utah. The occasion was the Pepper - Offspring - 311 Unity Tour.  Ana and I met in the heat of the summer afternoon at the front gates, and we got better acquainted while Offspring was on stage.  The joint was jumpin' when the band played "Pretty Fly For a White Guy".  The electricity was indescribable.  We were in the aisle rocking out with the young concert crowd.

Around 9 pm, the band 311 came onstage, charming the crowd with  "Beautiful Disaster," "Hey You," "Down," and an amazing drumming marathon that lasted at least ten minutes.  The band transitioned from reggae to rap to rock with seamless finesse, and they kept the crowd in the air the entire night.

I kept working during the concert ... quite a few cups were in the aisles.  We try to educate recycling, but the happy concert goers are focused on the concert, not on recycling or trash management.  Hundreds of beer cups and cans later, Ana and I ran into each other at the top of the amphitheater.  I had been walking more or less since about 6:30 pm and I was exhausted.

"Do you need to sit down?" Ana asked.  Nice of her to ask.

"My son's in Washington DC," she mentioned in between one of 311's songs.

"Really, what's he doing there?" I inquired.

"He's visiting Obama," she beamed proudly.  Apparently her son's scout troop was selected out of a nation of troops to visit the President.  No doubt this meeting was a highlight on their tour of the east coast which included Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington DC.

"My son's in Geneva, Switzerland, working as an intern at the International Labour Organization," I noted.  "He spends his weekends touring the Alps or in France."  He's also going to Portugal, Marakkech, and Istanbul on random upcoming weekends.

"Our sons are doing all these amazing things and here we are wallowing in trash!" she laughed.  Sigh.

It's not like we don't both have respectable day jobs, too -- she's an artist and I'm a banker -- but, when you volunteer on the Green Team, your assignment definitely involves trash, both recyclable and otherwise.  We sat for a minute and listened for 311's big hit "Amber," then headed back through the crowds. Such a pretty song with a metaphysical message.

Whoa, amber is the color of your energy
Whoa, shades of gold displayed naturally

You ought to know what brings me here

You glide through my head blind to fear
And I know why

During the second encore, I was walking through the aisle putting plastic cups in the recycle bins, I made yet another new friend.  A young man, perhaps about 23 years old, tapped me on the shoulder.

"Jump with me," he said in a friendly voice as he jumped excitedly to the music.

So I stopped recycling -- dropped my bag and grabbers -- just for a moment to jump with him.  He was cute and having so much fun, I couldn't resist.  So here I was, jumping up and down to the music with this kid who was young enough to be my kids' younger sibling.

"Are you having fun?" he asked.

Yes, it was fun.  I didn't get his name, and he didn't ask for my phone number.  I'm not a cougar but it's always fun to play with youngsters.

After the concert, I filled two huge bags with plastic cups, cleaned the grabbers, packed away the green vest, said farewell to my Green Team colleagues, and headed home in the night.  Music and making new friends isn't a bad way to spend an evening, even if some random stranger threw beer on my leg.  No, I didn't lick it off when I got home. {tired smile}

Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

As They Say at Pat's BBQ, It's Howling Good!

Pat's BBQ
155 West Commonwealth Avenue
South Salt Lake City, UT 84115
(closed Sundays, FYI)
Last Friday night, I found myself at Pat's (Howling Good) BBQ for dinner and a concert. Don't be fooled by the lack of external ambiance. Located on a dead end street in an unassuming part of South Salt Lake City, Pat's is a gem among BBQ establishments. I've lived in North Carolina and been to more than a few pig pickin's in my day, so I know what authentic tastes like.
Pat's proudly displays its awards at the front of the building.
Pat's fare of mouth-watering ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, and chicken are served piping hot to your table. This is the place in Salt Lake City to go for meat. At least, it's one of the best. Vegetarians may be taken aback by the shortage of vegetarian dishes, although we enjoyed the Mustard Greens on our last visit and on this visit, we tried the latest menu addition, the Black Eyed Pea Salad. Popular sides are Meaty Gravy and Rice, Creole Beans and Rice, and Jambalaya. The real delicacy, Burnt Ends, are served Friday nights and they go quickly. They'd run out of Burnt Ends by the time we asked, but the waiter found some in the back just for us. Because “they were dried,” he wouldn't even charge us for them. We were not disappointed at the price or the flavor. A typical entree with sides and a beverage won't set you back more than $20.

The atmosphere is quite down home, with plastic utensils and paper towels on the tables. The abundant paper towels came in handy for wiping my hands after eating chicken and also for taking notes for my blogging activities (I never bring paper). I had no idea how easy it is to write on a paper towel!  Much better than Costco receipts.
Pat's outdoor patio fills up rather quickly on the weekends.
As if the excellent food isn't enough, Pat's has live entertainment, usually blues or bluegrass, on Fridays and Saturdays. The featured band Friday night and the last time I visited was “The Lab Dogs.” My friend Cindy always invites me to the show when the Lab Dogs are playing at Pat's.  When there's not entertainment, you may hear a ZZ Top music video or something similar playing in the background.

I caught up with Cindy and learned she bought a banjo. And coordinating with the meat theme, she'd worn her “bones” bracelet. She related how she wore the bracelet once at a client meeting, and the client's dog kept nipping at her wrist. Apparently, even with all the typical jewelry coating, the dog could still sniff the bone.

What to wear? Pat's is extremely casual and there's no air conditioning, but it was pleasant enough with fans circulating air throughout the inside and patio areas. One little suggestion ... you ladies may want to avoid wearing above the knee skirts to Pat's. It's not that the other patrons would mind seeing your legs; however, the seating is picnic tables with long benches. You will be pulling your knees toward your chin to get into your seat. I changed into a Gap knee-length straight skirt after work because it was so hot outside. And in spite of half a dozen times in and out of my seat, I never really mastered the benches with skirt drill.  {yikes}

Disclosure: cover price FREE 

Utah's Lab Dogs Bluegrass Band ... Because Salad Is Never Enough


The Lab Dogs understand that you don't win friends with salad.  “Let's go to Pat's BBQ, … you don't need teeth to eat their tasty meat.” Thus began the Lab Dogs Friday performance last Friday at Pat's BBQ, with an unabashed pitch for the restaurant's pulled pork, roasted chicken, and ribs, among other meat entrees.

I learned about the Lab Dogs from Cindy, my former coworker and friend from our Zions Bank days. Before the concert, I chatted up Bill and Eric, two of the Lab Dogs, and learned they regularly play at rest homes and care centers. The group considers these volunteer concerts among their most rewarding performances. But of course, such gigs are not without incident.

One time a patient kept on standing up while the Lab Dogs were playing, which set off an alarm to alert the staff that a patient was possibly in trouble. “The sound of that alarm wasn't anything close to the key we were playing in,” said Eric, the bass guitarist.

When they played at a hospital, the staff had turned off the television during the concert, and one of the fellows was not happy to be missing Wheel of Fortune. He apparently yelled “Bull sh*t!” throughout the performance. Eventually “the captain” was wheeled out, yelling on the way.  
The chuckling good harmony continued the entire evening with such favorites as “I'm a Lockdown for Your Love,” “If Loving You is Killing Me, What a Way to Go,” “We're Pitiful Losers, Just Like You,” and “I'm Walking the Dog, Not Thinkin' 'Bout You.”  The Lab Dogs have a couple of Utah-themed songs. “No Meat For Minersville,” is a tale of the time someone robbed the Minersville grocery store and cut the power to the refrigerator holding an entire town's supply of meat. And “We Love Utah” contrasts Utah's abundant and beautiful natural resources such as the mountains and lakes with the state's persistent acceptance of hazardous waste for storage. The chorus goes something like this:

And if you've got pollution
We've got the solution
Just ship it to Utah,
We'll keep it for you
We'll take plutonium
Depleted uranium
It's a no-brainium
We'll keep it for you

The Lab Dogs have been playing bluegrass music since 1999 at festivals, parties, wedding receptions, and other events. The Dogs were originally a group of archeologists, one of whom is still in the group. One of the other original members was in the audience for the group's performance last Friday. The group's repertoire includes traditional and original music, all of which is lively and entertaining. Their goal is to have a great time playing to (and with) their audience. And they do.
The Lab Dogs are Kevin Jones (mandolin), Erik Brunvand (bass), Peter Netka (resophonic guitar), Bill Thomas (guitar), and DJ Frederick (banjo). Kevin, the State Archeologist, was in the original group, and Bill is on the Mount Making Team at the University of Utah Natural History Museum. And the other Lab Dogs are not scientists. Pete is a retired business man, Eric is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah, and DJ is a retired judge.

During the break, I chatted with Eric's wife and learned of a couple possibilities for Celtic jamming here in town. Good to know there are avenues out there for just such.

If you like lively bluegrass music and you like to laugh, you will love the Lab Dogs. The group's website will give you a sampling of their songs, includes information about the band and their upcoming performances, including the Torrey Music Festival on July 31st.  You may also connect with the Lab Dogs via their Facebook page.

At one point during the evening, I commented to my friend Cindy that it seemed like about half the Lab Dog's songs were about meat. “Yes,” she smiled. One song has the line “Pig meat is what I crave.” {vegetarians beware}

Disclosure: cover charge is FREE at Pat's. I received NO compensation for this review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cochabamba, Do You Read Me?

Recently, I went to a party and was talking with a guy who admitted to me that he was a self-professed geek.  "Yeah, I'm sort of a geek, don't always do the party thing very well," he confessed.  Amazing there could be two of us in this world.

I love numbers.  I love data.  I love analysis.  I love to quantify things, even if when should not be quantified.  I love rank ordering, percentages, averages, minimizing, maximizing, standard deviations, and charts. Truth be told, my quant-passion emanates from my days in Mr. DiGrande's junior high school algebra class.  He used to say things like "hold the phone" when someone wasn't understanding how to do a story problem.  Then and there my love affair with math and Italian men began.   As an aside, in Italy, even the taxi drivers are breathtaking.

My favorite taxi driver in Chioggio (port at Venice), FYI.

Sorry to get sidetracked. About four or so months ago, I started tracking my blog hits to try to get an idea how many might be tuning in for an update and where they were located.  One of the biggest surprises is the number of foreign readers. Cochabamba ... Kuala Lumpur ... Hoofddorp ...  Really?  Incredible.

The list is below. The * means multiple readers from that place.  And worry not, I just have basic data like city, state, referring website (such as Facebook, Twitter, and the many blogs I cross post to), not anyone's name, street address, IP address, email addresses, or a list of the other sites visited. 

Geneva, Switzerland* 
Givatayim, Israel
London, England*
Moscow, Russia*
Seoul, Korea*
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Cologne, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
Gurgaon, India
Hamburg, Germany
Hong Kong
Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Kitchener, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kumamoto, Japan
Lille, France
Mont-Royal, Canada
Mumbai, India
New Westminster, Canada
Panama City, Panama
Paris, France
Richmond, Canada
Takeo, Japan
Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Toronto, Canada
Victoria, Canada
Walton-le-Dale, United Kingdom
Zagreb, Croatia
Zurich, Switzerland

I'm not naive to the fact that my friends and family abroad have been tuning in, which explains the hits in Switzerland, Israel, London, Korea, India, and Vietnam. I applied for a job in Panama and gave them my blog link as part of the application.  As to the rest, I'm completely stumped, but, of course, flattered.
Most popular among foreign readers are my German sock fetish post and my post on foreign facials.  Most popular among all readers are the posts on surviving unemployment, Spokeo, the Green Team, and my sister wife. And lately Heather's wedding has seen many hits.

In the end, I'm not sure it matters why people read, but moreso that they do.  Still, I'll be watching as the readership grows to try to figure out this mysterious foreign connection my blog seems to have cultivated.  Sadly, my goal to have at least one reader from Mona, Utah remains unfulfilled. {waiting, impatiently}

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where Were You On the Day of the First Moon Landing?

"No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."  
-- John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962 

July 20, 1969.  It was the middle of another hot Tempe, Arizona summer.  My brothers, cousins, and I were swimming in the pool.  My dad told us to get out and watch the moon landing on television.  We grabbed towels and huddled in the family room, still wearing damp swimsuits.

I'll never forget hearing the words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" and seeing the American flag placed on the lunar surface.  I was so nervous for the astronauts that they were going to get hurt or float away into outer space.

As President Kennedy said, going to the moon would be difficult.  And it was.  Yet, America did not shrink from the challenge, though, given the demands of the time, it would have been justifiable to retreat.  After all, we had half a million men in the divisive Vietnam War.  Massive protest marches and college campus riots were all too common.  Inflation was a growing economic concern.
 As a youngster, I saw the moon landing venture more like an episode of "Lost in Space," one of my favorite after school tv shows, than the feat it truly was. The moon landing merged the very best technology and engineering America could muster, combined with a passion for space exploration and progress.  This was a phenomenal journey of courage, hope, and achievement that advanced scientific adventure.   Americans came together with a sense of awe and national pride.

Seeing the moon landing on video brings back that day in July 1969, recapturing the electricity in the air and the lumps in our throats.  At a time when expressions of emotion in men were uncommon, we watched newscaster Walter Cronkite wipe away tears from his eyes.

What a stunning day it was indeed. {small steps count}

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vampires Beware, I've Been Garlic Burgered

Cotton Bottom Inn
2820 East 6200 South
Cottonwood Heights Utah 84121
The Cotton Bottom Inn is located in Cottonwood Heights, just outside the sleepy little town of Holladay.

This past Wednesday was the Cottonwood Heights ladies' garlic burgers and beer soiree at the Cotton Bottom Inn, a local motorcycle bar in Cottonwood Heights just off I-215. Well, it turned out we willingly did a little annexing to our fine city to accommodate our friends who came from afar. We gradually grew to a group of seven hot babes, based on our looks, hot flashes, or the warm summer air.
The Cotton Bottom's signage is modest and vintage.
I forgot my camera that night so the photos for this post are random Sunday afternoon shots of this unassuming place and the surrounding area.

We started inside, and one of us who may need remedial beer pouring training poured a couple beers from the pitcher.  Foam everywhere!  We moved outside when a table opened up. The discussions were lively and animated. Our giggles captured the attention and at times stares of others at nearby tables.
The patio provides the perfect venue for eating that garlic burger and sipping a cold one.
The legendary garlic burger, served on a bun with cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, and lettuce, and a side of chips, was very rich and filling ... it didn't taste as garlicky as I thought they would. The waiter wasn't going to charge me except I insisted on paying. Really bad karma to dine and dash for a $6.50 garlic burger. Really bad.

In case anyone in your group detests burgers, the Cotton Bottom also serves hot dogs and a few other simple menu items. And if you are not in the mood for beer, they also have soft drinks and water (but no wine).  But be aware that people come from miles around for the garlic burgers and nobody makes 'em like Cotton Bottom. If you go for lunch with plans to head back to the office, be sure you invite all your coworkers.  And be sure to bring lots of chewing gum or breath mints.
Yes, the view of the mountains on the way back from the Cotton Bottom is really this fantastic.
{good times}