Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This Sunday we went to Aida playing at the Lyric. This is the first of four performances in the opera's 50th season. Being the nerd that I am I went to the library a week ago and checked out a recording of Aida so I would have a better understanding of the performance. I listened to the CD all through the week as I traveled between schools. I have found that the more familiar I am with an opera, the more I ultimately enjoy it.

Like many of Verdi's operas, the plot of Aida is very dramatic. The story is about star-crossed lovers (one from Egypt and one from Ethopia), and one woman scorned. Of course the story is full of misunderstanding and ends in the two lovers being buried alive together (sorry to give away the ending). Although I knew the music well, I only vaguely knew the plot before seeing this performance. Cali and I were a little shocked when their was a virgin sacrifice as the Egyptian troops prepared for battle. Especially when she revealed her bare chest! I kept thinking "I wonder if there are kids here". All nakedness aside it was a really enjoyable concert. The story was tense and the music was beautiful. Also, I noticed that the opera crowd is different from the symphony crowd. There was a buzz in the air before the concert and it was great to be able to clap when the soloists finished their arias. Anyway, if you get a chance to see this opera do so, but be aware that it probably deserves a PG-13 rating.

Monday, September 17, 2007


So Boston is a cool city. Went there this weekend for Tony's wedding. While there we had a fabulous time. On Saturday we flew up there in the morning. We had some time to explore before the wedding and spent most of our time near Boston Common. It is a bit nippy and Cali was wearing sandals so we stopped by the Mecca of all shoes, DSW and got Cali some new tennies.

Saturday night we went to the wedding which took place outdoors (it was pretty cold). The ceremony was simple, and pretty romanticy. They both read their own vows. Jen and Tony are both very generous and I was impressed with the way they made their wedding not just about them. They really just seemed excited to have all their family and friends there. During the nine months prior to the wedding they scoured used record stores for songs they thought the guests would like. At the wedding we each received a record of a song they picked out for us and on the cover they marked where we would sit for the reception. At the reception we got to spend time with some other friends from Indy, Andy and Jess. We had a good time with them and got to have lots of beer, wine, lobster (Tony's from Maine) and barbecue. We also got to see Cali's favorite dog, Daisy who greeted us affectionately. Cali was relieved the dog hadn't forgotten us. I convinced Cali to do a bit of dancing, but she says she is more shy dancing in front of adults then 1st graders. I don't blame her. 1st graders are pretty fun to dance with.

Sunday was our day to explore. We took a duck tour through the city and surveyed the main sights of Boston. The city is beautiful and we had a pretty entertaining tour guide. He pointed out the main points of interest and I should have know this, but Boston has a pretty rich history. It seems that every American should take a trip to find out a little more about their heritage. I was disappointed when we drove past the Steinway and Sons piano shop and he didn't even mention it! I was excited, but it didn't warrant comment on the tour. In the afternoon we packed in some more fun time at and outdoor market/shopping area. There were street performers, many shops, and an amazing food court. Cali was able to get a pretzel (made boston style with salt and sesame seeds) and I got a Boston cream pie! Unfortunately, I was not feeling well before the pie so after the pie I felt a little pukey. It was an amazing weekend, but didn't offer much rest. We started back bright an early this morning as if nothing had occurred over the weekend. I think Boston deserves a second visit, so we plan on going back when we have some more time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Blues, Barbecue, and Haughty Behavior

Cali and I wondered out of our safe suburban Kansas world this weekend and ventured into Missouri. We went to the 1st annual Blues and Barbecue festival in Columbia, MO which turned out to be a great event. Everyone was surprised at the huge turnout. On Saturday night it was packed, especially in front of the main stage where Taj Majal was performing. Paul said he heard someone say that it reminded them of Mardi Gras in New Orleans (at least for a couple of blocks). There were some other great there acts like the Blind Boys of Alabama, Big Smith, Jerry Douglas, and Tab Benoit. Friday night we saw the Blind Boys and then crashed at the Burke's along with Cali's parents. In the night we were visited by the always scary, hand-biting Nora who loved the company, but gave constant reminders that she was not one to be trifled with. Unfortunately, Cali felt ill for most of the weekend and so she didn't join us for most of Saturday. She missed out mostly on bluegrass events, some of which we really enjoyed. We also tried some barbecue which was only okay (we didn't know any better and went to a place that didn't smoke their meat). However, it was still fun to wonder through the streets and look at and smell all the meat that was being cooked for the barbecue competition. One contestant was kind enough to share some of their scraps to all the drooling onlookers.

On the way down, we talked to Holly on the phone and found out that she was going to Columbia this weekend also. She went to visit a friend and to go the festival. We totally could have carpooled. Anyway, she also went to plug her store's coffee beans at a coffee shop in Columbia. The word is the store had nice equipment and good atmosphere, but kind of haughty employees. What is the deal with barista's. How come they gotta cop the attitude. Did I do that? I don't know. Somehow working in a coffee shop does make people feel pretty cool, especially if you are in a college town. I did enjoy being in Columbia and it made me kind of miss Urbana. For now we will just have to get our college town kicks by visiting Holly in Lawrence.

Where the buffalo roam

So I was listening to this book, Thirteen Moons, with Calista several months ago. The narrator was adopted by an Indian tribe and was mentored by the chief of that tribe. He held many strong opinions about whites and how they changed the land. One of his main complaints was with white farming techniques. They brought with them farm animals instead of hunting for their meat. Buffalo were replaced with boring, slow moving, non-huntable cows and wild birds were replaced with stupid, dirty chickens. I think this fictional chief's points are valid and I started thinking maybe farm animals aren't as healthy as game meat. Animals that actually move around are bound to be more healthy than those that don't, right? And they probably are less of a drain on the land. All this lead me to believe that maybe we should continue eating beef, chicken, pork, etc. (Go Uncle Mark!), but also eat more game meat. I started looking into it and found some butchers that sell venison, buffalo, ostrich, and elk. I also discovered that this meat is indeed healthier than pork, beef, and chicken. For instance buffalo meat has 1/4 the fat that beef and pork have and about 1/3 the fat of chicken (turkey is also very healthy and compares with game meat). Pretty amazing, eh? Today I went straight out and bought about 6lbs of ground buffalo meat. Cali thinks I am crazy because I tend to get on kicks that seem to come from nowhere, but I am excited. Perhaps we should return to eating the meat that came from this land.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


College football has started today as some of you may know. I of course have come to the realization that in KC I will not be able to watch any Illinois games. Apparently those games aren't a huge draw for this area. So I feel a little pathetic because here I am sitting in front of the computer watching as every 20 seconds a new play is posted. It is not quite the same as watching real time, but it is allowing me to catch up on some reading.

Cali and I went out and had a fantastic day today. We haven't gotten to spend much time with each other since school started, but today we planned out a nice little Saturday. First we went to US toy which is an awesome place. They sell all kinds of interesting costumes, games, and teacher supplies. It was a great place to explore, but I found out that my kids are too old for all the cool stuff they had there. Cali wouldn't let me buy the ribbon that said "Congrats on Being Potty Trained" or the chalk slates or even any of the sports equipment like the wiffle ball/bat set. Maybe that also has to do with us not really having the space to store any of that stuff. Cali did get some things for her kids like hula hoops (those younger kids are more fun to buy toys for). After lunching at the cheesecake factory we made it back in time for a nap before heading out to Lawrence tonight. We are going to visit Holly and finally see her new place. I love three day weekends and it is amazing how after two weeks of school you already need one.