Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stephen Kellogg and the art of joy

Long-time readers and friends know that I am a huge fan of the music and shows of Stephen Kellogg, both alone and with his former band, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.  Earlier tonight, a group of us went to see him and a small band of friends in concert. 

It was wonderful, a show full of joy. 

Kellogg and the three guys in the band--whose names I'm sorry to say I did not get, but the guitarist's nickname was Jet Pack and the bass player was Chip from the Sixers--delivered a night of lovely songs, some slow, some soft, some fast, some loud.  They played many of Kellogg's hits, some less well known tunes, and even a song that was totally new to me. 

What stuck with me throughout this show is the same impression I've gotten from every one of his performances:  he loves what he does, takes real joy in it, and he gives it back to the audience. 

I watched this show from right at the stage, because the Cat's Cradle was, to my sorrow, far from full.  I was maybe two feet from him and the band as they sang and played a couple of songs.  Here they are, talking right before a song.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

If you've ever wanted to know what I look like from behind while I'm watching a show, today, thanks to Gina, is your lucky day.

If you can't spot me easily, I'm the one with a neck the size of his rather sizable noggin. 

Kellogg's shows always serve to remind me that you cannot control your audience size, how many people buy your work, your reviews, anything--except the work you produce.  To my thinking, if there was any justice, Stephen Kellogg would be huge, a household name.  He's not, and I'm sorry for that, but I'm glad he keeps producing wonderful music.  

Stephen Kellogg is a performer whose work I and many others love, and he is a man who can fill me with joy.  I thank him for that.

Friday, February 28, 2014

On the road again: Portland, day 5

I'm home, and I'm very glad to be here.  I've been traveling a great deal of late, so I'm quite looking forward to having two weeks at home.

Today started somewhat ominously, with a thick fog covering the world for most of the drive to the airport.  Despite that beginning, however, the rest of the day proceeded as well as one could hope.  The first flight left on time, and I had an exit-row, aisle seat.  The second flight was also on time, and I was lucky enough to get a first-class upgrade.  I grabbed some eggs in PDX for protein for the day, and I had plenty of water on all the flights.  I was able to work almost the whole time and so landed at RDU caught up (for a brief moment, but still). 

All in all, despite the 5:20 a.m. wake-up call, a good travel day.

I am still happy that I won't have any more of them for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On the road again: Portland, day 4

Today featured the kind of weather that makes you want to huddle all day under the covers or near a fire:  cold, rainy, gray.  I could easily have slept all day, though of course I did not.

Dinner was my now-traditional last night in Portland meal:  a fine experience at Le Pigeon.  Something about just walking into that place makes me feel good.  I had the Iberico ham carpaccio appetizer and the venison main, and both were delicious and full of surprising flavor combinations. 

As always, I can't recommend Le Pigeon too highly.

Tomorrow morning, in the wee dark hours, I begin the trek home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

On the road again: Portland, day 3

Another day of interesting meetings I cannot discuss.  Sorry about that.

Dinner tonight was a first:  a truly excellent sushi meal in Portland.  I've had a few good sushi dinners here, but never before have I eaten one in which everything I tasted ranged from good to far better than merely good.  Tonight, Bamboo Sushi became my personal Best Sushi in Portland award winner.  We ate the omakase menu, which basically means the chef sends what she/he wants you to eat.  I highly recommend this approach in general and definitely at Bamboo Sushi.

I should note, by the way, that I first ate at Bamboo Sushi in 2009, and that meal did not impress me.  The improvement in tonight's food over that earlier offering was amazing. 

As fate would have it, the restaurant is right next door to Salt & Straw, so we popped in there for a small ice cream dessert.  The ice cream was, as always here, amazingly good.

If you're in this area and in the mood for sushi and dessert, I highly recommend this two-restaurant combo. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On the road again: Portland, day 2

Good meetings today, but as always, I can't talk about them. 

I can say that one of the things I love most about the tech industry is its rapid rate of change and innovation.  As cool as today's tech products are, newer and cooler products are always just around the corner.  I can't wait to see all the great stuff coming this year.

Dinner was a lovely time at Gabriel Rucker's second restaurant, Little Bird.  I made a great meal of appetizers.  If you live here and haven't visited this one, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Monday, February 24, 2014

On the road again: Portland, day 1

After a rather unsatisfying two and three quarters hours of sleep, I awoke at the terrifying (to me) hour of 6:40 a.m. and began the long travel day.  The shower pummeled me into something resembling sentience, and off to the airport I went. 

No upgrades today, but at least exit row seats, one of them, sadly, a window.  Still, I worked as I could and landed more or less caught up.

Dinner was my first experience at Ava Genes, a Portland Italian place.  It was fantastic.  The olives were amazing, the citrus salad outstanding, better than I would have believed.  My main course, their variation on spaghetti and meat balls (the meat balls made of sirloin), was simply the best version of that classic that I have ever tasted, here or in Italy or anywhere else.  The sauce was a stunning blend of great tomato flavor with a bit--just a tiny bit--of a chili kick, enough to give it a little heat but not enough to linger in your mouth.  I would eat that dish on every cold, rainy night if I could.  I hadn't planned to have dessert, but the rest of the meal was so good that I had to sample their housemade gelato.  Of the three choices, I opted for the honey mascarpone, and I am amazed to have to report that it was among the best gelatos I have ever tasted, here or in Italy or anywhere else.  It was outstanding.

I will definitely be going back to Ava Genes, and I recommend it highly.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Three uncomfortable truths

People make unspoken deals all the time, and then they're upset when the other party doesn't hold up their end of the deal.

People pretend they don't make deals for the things that matter most to them, typically because those things are supposed to arrive without any strings attached. 

Explicitly stating the very most important deals renders them less valuable, even valueless. 

Examples are exercises for the reader.


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