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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Currently On Tap...


A few months back one of my catering gigs had me slinging food in the VIP tent at the World Beer Festival in Raleigh. As part of the VIP ticket, customers where treated to "exclusive" beers which weren't being tasted by the public in the two makeshift beer halls.

I had the smart sense to pull a double that day, working both the afternoon and evening sessions. This allowed for a one hour break in between to rest - and well - sample a few beers. I chatted up one of the volunteers who man'ed one of the beer stations asking him about the beer he was serving. This in turn led to a conversation with one of the master brewers who insisted I stop by his tent at some point.

"They can't fire you for drinking beer at a beer festival can they?" he said.

I told them that they could.

"Well that's not right man!" he said.

On the other hand, it's not unusual when working in fine dining that one has to sample or taste what you are serving. A lot of times tending bar, obscure wines will be served and you at least need to take a swallow just to be able to aptly describe said beverage to your guests.

So with an hour to kill and an empty VIP tent, I sampled a beer or two. I noticed Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing's 420 Ale which I've had in the past and had half a glass. They don't distribute it around here but I did score a six pack in western NC when we rented a cabin in the mountains last spring.

The other beer I tried was from Bell's Brewery and it was called Two Hearted Ale.

It was yummy. Very yummy.

So the following week at band practice I told my fellow beer geek bandmates about the beer and how I met the publisher of All About Beer magazine at the beer fest and he told me about some other noteworthy brews to try which of course I couldn't remember nor did I have the chance. Practice was a good one and we felt we'd accomplished a great deal in a short period of time so we called practice and went to the local bar... which turned out to have Two Hearted Ale on tap!

Which was not only awesome news but also meant the beer was being distributed locally.

I've since found a few places that carrying it but it's not cheap. It $8.99 a six pack but well worth every penny. I don't get to drink it as often as I'd like because of that but then again if you drank good beer all the time it wouldn't be that special when you did have it right?

But I do plan on taking at least a 12 pack to the beach when we go next week.
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Lord Of The Flies


We had one of those amazing summer thunderstorms the other night. You know the kind where you hear the thunder rumbling off in the distance but yet it seems like the storm is never going to come.

Well this one came with a vengence - chasing us inside from our vantage point of the roofed-side of the deck - after dime-sized hail started pelting the house.

Before you knew it, the storm was gone, the sun was up and the boys ran around barefoot in the backyard and rubbed mud all over their bodies Lord Of The Flies style.

I used to be incredibly anal when it came to things like this and my wife was quite shocked that I gave them the thumbs up.

Sometimes you just have to allow kids to be kids and sometimes I forget that as a parent.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Walls Are Closing In On Me

I haven't left the house in a week.

Well there was that 2 hour chunk last Sunday where we went to a neighbor's house for a cookout but, for the most part, I've been on recovery lockdown.

It's kind of weird.

There's a truck out front but getting in and out of it would hurt not to mention its a five-speed and pushing in a clutch could be painful as well.

I've watched about all the movies I could possibly watch but I just can't find the focus to read or write which is something I should be doing during these past few days of solitary confinement.

It's awfully quiet without the bous around - they'd been shipped off to either friends' of the family or put in camp at the last minute to free me up for recovery purposes.

The bottom line is this: I am bored.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No One Told Me It Would Be Like This


Notice the bruising, which goes from my balls all the way up my side clear on over the the bottom of my torso.

Think you move any of those muscles on a daily basis?

It's Tuesday and I'm starting to feel human again.

That is, I can actually poo without the help of Milk of Magnesia, I can walk from one end of the house to the other without feeling like my balls are going to explode, and I only say "ouch" every five minutes or so instead of saying it at every movement.

I guess if they told you what really was going to happen, most men would never have hernia surgery.
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Our Overgrown Garden


The corn was sweet but the cobs were small and stunted.

The strawberries were a no-show.

The zuccini has taken over most of the plot.

The mixed greens salad already came and went.

We're still waiting on the tomatoes to really come to fruition.

The peppers never amounted to anything.

But the garden was a nice little experiment of sustainabilty for the family.

You live, you learn.
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Sweet, Sweet Sunflower


We planted four sunflower seeds on the request of our youngest son.

Three fell victim to rodents, rabbits or the drought.

One survived.

It's almost as tall as the house.
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Saturday, July 14, 2007



Left inguinal hernia with a three-inch incision.
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Open Letter To Bon Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

In 1976 you wrote that you've got big balls.

"My balls are always bouncing, my ballrooms are always full," you said.

You also pointed out that some balls are held for charity and some for fancy dress but you confessed that the "one's held for pleasure" were the ones you liked the best.

You went on to proclaim, Mr. Scott, that you've got "the biggest balls of all."

But right now, dead or alive, I have got you beat Bon: I've got the biggest balls of all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prepping For Surgery

I have been trying to do all I can to distract myself from my impending hernia surgery tomorrow. And I have been getting plenty of help from my wife, as her return flight from a business trip which ended last night was cancelled due to the weather and she almost found herself stuck at JFK airport in NYC.

The weather is still bad on the East Coast and as of this moment fingers are still crossed that her flight won't be cancelled again. If that happens, she's going to have to rent a car and make a bee line to North Carolina in time for my noon procedure.

We like to keep things interesting around here.

Last night I made filet mignon with mash potatoes for dinner. Today I woke up and had banana pancakes and then for lunch tossed some cubed filet into a salad with just a dash of blue cheese dressing.

I feel like I need to stuff myself since I can't eat or drink anything after midnight tonight.

Childcare has been set up for the boys tomorrow and we just went to the video store and grocery store to make sure some of their needs are covered. We also made a list of things they can do because the teenage boy who is doing us a favor by watching the kids for several hours was concerned about what to do with them.

For his sake, I hope it doesn't rain all day tomorrow because if it does and he is force to spend five to six hours inside with the boys that could - and for most of the uninitiated - break him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Christmas In July

I was talking to my brother about family vacations the other day and I got to thinking about how, for many years, my family would go to the Jersey Shore from the DC metro area for fun in the sun.

My parents both grew up in Philly so it was a logical destination - that's where their friends and family would congregate. It was either in Sea Isle City or Avalon. I believe there was the odd Stone Harbor rental thrown in there once or twice.

But besides the aunts, uncles and cousins; besides the sunburn, salt water taffy, swedish fish, and skee ball; besides the boardwalk, bodyboarding, and the buff lifeguards all the cute girls would gravitate to, there was the trip to the Christmas shop which would inevitably be having its "Xmas in July!" sale.

My mother loved Christmas. I say that like she still doesn't. There's an unwritten code in the family and that is that you go to mom's house for Christmas. She has taken to collecting Santas over the years. She has to take pictures of them displayed because otherwise she might forget she possesses them.

Anyway, my youngest son decided to rent some Nickelodeon compilation DVD of Nick Xmas shows.

"Christmas in July," I thought. Then I thought about how one of the reasons I hated living in Los Angeles was that, as I once proudly proclaimed in a poem, that in LA it is the same in July as it is in December. In other words, outside of the piped music and displays in drug stores, you may never know Christmas was upon you because you'd still be wearing a t-shirt, shorts and ride with your windows down. This was a huge mindfucked for a boy who grew up on the East Coast with a mom who made the most out of Christmas. Hell, I don't like scraping the ice off my windshield but at least I feel like time has passed, not like I'm stuck in some age-less Twilight Zone episode.

So today we had to return the Christmas DVD and my boys were talking in the back about to each other about what they wanted to ask Santa for Christmas this year and would alternately then ask me how long it would be until Christmas. And, as it is common with the post-modern world, I got blindsided by "questions I cannot answer."

The first was, "If people don't have chimneys, how does Santa get into there house?"

That was followed by, "Those people have two chimneys, which one does Santa use?"

And then, brace yourself, there was this: "What's Santa's email address?"

Ah, modern technology.

So Santa may have an email address but he rarely checks it because it gets so much spam and he's too busy getting his elves to make all those toys that he doesn't have time to go through all that junk email. Sorry kids.

Cell phone? Well when you live at the North Pole your signal tends to drop out a lot. I mean that aurora borealis can really throw off a signal.

They're gonna catch me in the lie soon. It almost happened last fall when we saw road killed deer on the side of the road with blood on its snout.

"Dad look!" said my son Spencer. "Something's dead on the side of the road."

His younger brother chimed in, "Is that Rudolph?"

Of course I had to stop, show them the corpse, explain it wasn't Rudolph.

Because showing them a dead deer was better than trying to explain the lore of a Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I've Been Tagged (Eight Is Enough)

On account of my buddy Dan, I'm going down this road...

First, the rules, always with the rules:
1.We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them each a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

HABIT: I don’t like hair in my ears so I pluck the random few that occasionally grow.

FACT: I fancy myself quite the amateur chef and often replicate meals I’ve eaten at restaurants or served catering like pad thai or seared tuna on a crispy wonton with chipotle mayo and avocado.

HABIT: I am addicted to Chapstick and have carried it on my person everyday since probably the fourth grade.

HABIT: I often wait for the gas gauge to get to E before refilling up. This drives my wife insane yet I always reiterate that I don’t recall ever running out of gas.

FACT: My close friends often debate as to whether I survived 12 years of Catholic school.

FACT: If I were in the middle of the ocean on a chartered fishing boat I would not jump into the water and go for a swim.

HABIT: I keep my hair cut short because I’m lazy.

FACT: Some of my fondest memories growing up are of my family vacations to the Jersey shore.

now these people may play or may not but let's give 'em some traffic!

Mick O'Grady
Mile Hi

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Soldier For Rock & Roll

So despite having been diagnosed early Friday with a hernia that would require surgery, I soldiered on and played a show with my band Chest Pains at the three-day festival in Winston-Salem, NC, known as Heavy Rebel Weekend.

It would have been a crime to have to cancel it and I'm glad doc gave me the thumbs up saying that it was okay (although doc didn't have any idea what kind of music my band plays or how hernia-inducing my singing, er, hollering can be).

One thing I had on my side was the prescence of a honest-to-God real soundman with a topnotch PA. Had the show been at some house with a shitty PA (or worse yet none) or one of the seedier local clubs we've been known to play, I myself would have pulled the plug.

But I felt it was my duty.

And it went smoother than I could have possibly imagined, not just the fact that it was easier to play through a real PA, but the fact that we managed to turn some heads in a sea of psychobilly, twang stomp and Cramps-meets-Bow Wow Wow garage pop.

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's True


I was officially diagnosed with a having a hernia today.

One that requires surgery.

Oh joy!

I could elaborate on how bad this blows but why bother.

Just stare at the picture for a little bit, don't blink, and think about how uncomfortable that must feel.

Or spending a day in the hospital drugged up, a few days laid up and a couple of weeks out of working commission.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Don't...


...have a thousand words to go with this picture so feel free to make up your own.
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A Bird's Life


Turns out that the Carolina wrens that are living in our backyard are some horny birds.

The wife finally took the intiative to finish cleaning the shed which I tore apart during Round One of bird birthing and during the process we came to discover a new clutch of eggs. A lil internet research later and I found out that it is not that uncommon for wrens to have several broods during a season. I also found out that wrens are monogamous and pair up for life, foraging their territory year round.

So it looks like we're going to have our own bird Brady Bunch tweetin' around the yard in the next few months.

I'm sort of surprised to see that they came back to the shed after my attempted good to to rescue the hatchlings turned into total disaster. I had noticed them shift to the crepe myrtle on our side yard, then migrated to the a bush on the front so I was aware that they were still in the neighborhood so to speak.

What is surprising is that I haven't seen any activity going in or out of the shed so my hope is that they haven't abandoned the eggs. Now it has been oppressively hot so the backyard chillin' hasn't been on par as it usually is around this time of year.

At least they didn't make their nest in the oil pan under the paint pan again...
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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mr. Ed


The first party, the one that kicked off a week long string of parties (because that's what happens when the 4th falls in the middle of the week) found the family at the edge of a horse pasture. It's amazing sometimes to think how rural the area is and how things like farms and lakes are just a stone's throw away from me.

We're finding ourselves at the age where more and more of the indie rock contingency are now parents themselves so a house party with some bands playing is much more kid-friendly than say a few years ago. Now, they start earlier and kids are in attendance but almost always there seems to be some music.

But before the music got going the kids got to feed some horses on the adjoining field. The were some real pretty horses. And their lips tickled your palm when you fed them. And the way their lips moved totally reminded me of Mr. Ed.

The famous Mr. Ed.
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