Monday, May 25, 2009

Bonnie "Prince" Billy at the Trocadero Theater, May 22

Last Friday, my brother, Kenny, came up to Philly for a short visit and also to come with me and Kim to see Bonnie "Prince" Billy. BPB is the stage name for Will Oldham, an alternative-country, neo-folk, indie musician. I met Kenny after work and we went to Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House for dinner. We greatly enjoyed our respective dinners: I had the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup and Kenny had Beef Noodle Soup. We took a short walk around Center City before going to the venue, where Kim met up with us.

Unfortunately, the concert was the most disappointing I have ever attended, but not because the music was terrible. There were several great performances of songs from recent records but also a lot of weird jams where everyone in the band was just playing layer upon layer of indiscernible noise. The worst example of this was when the band played the leading song from the new album Beware, "I Want to be Your Only Friend," but added a several minute interlude in the middle of the song, before it finally unwound to the end. To add insult to injury, they changed the tune of solos in many of their more melodic offerings. It was unexpected and confusing in a horrible way.

The bright spot of the concert aside from BPB's haunting vocals, was the playing and singing of the violinist that tours with him, Cheyenne Mize. I was honestly more impressed with how well the tone and timber of her voice matched and in many cases surpassed BPB. I had to google her later to find out more about her, but it appears that she has a new recording with BPB that was recently released, Among the Gold, and she is part of a Louisville group Arnett Hollow. And she is much cuter than BPB if I may say so:

(Photo from Flickr user:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New York for the Weekend

We headed up to New York City this weekend to celebrate our good friend Mike Hartwyk's 30th birthday. The weather forecast did not look promising but we ended up dry after a weekend of great fun. We arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon and met up with Nina in Manhattan before trekking to Brooklyn for dinner at Song, a great Thai place, with Mike H, David and Beth. After filling up on noodles and fried bananas (I had a whole fried Striped Bass!) we made our way back to Manhattan to meet some more folks for drinks at St. Jerome's Bar in the Lower East Side. The loud music made conversation a little challenging, but everyone enjoyed the $2 Bud for Happy Hour that lasted until Midnight! Our friends, Hannah and Ali, who are expecting a little boy any day now, come out to the bar for a while and Ali had a beer. We crashed at Nina's last night and this morning, we met Ali and Hannah for brunch at the Sunflower Diner. After a successful shopping trip to Uniqlo, quickly becoming a tradition of ours, we caught the Bolt Bus home. Rumor on facebook is there was some kind of trouble with the trains this afternoon and Ihab and Geoff were stuck in Trenton for hours so I'm really glad we chose the bus!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Woohoo Fondue

Last night, I hosted a fondue party for our monthly dinner club. We usually meet on Sunday but since May is such a busy month, it worked out to have it on a Friday night. This made food prep a little more rushed than usual but I think everything turned out great. I've been wanting to make fondue since my Mom got me a triple crock-pot (yes, 3 crock-pots attached to each other!) for hosting our family Thanksgiving dinner. I made classic gruyere fondue, feta fondue and, of course, chocolate fondue for dessert.

For the cheese fondues, we had cubed olive, sourdough and rustic white bread, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, apples and pears to dip. Preparing so many items for dipping took much more time than I anticipated, but it was worth it.

Although everyone enjoyed the cheese, the hit of the party was the chocolate fondue. Everyone just stood and hovered over it, not willing to take their eyes off the molten chocolate! We dipped: strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, Vanilla wafers, mandarin oranges, and homemade sponge cake.

It's a great that Ihab had fondue forks, otherwise I don't know how we would've made it work, but everything fell into place (triple crock pot, great cheese and chocolate, and fondue forks) to make this dinner club a success.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Phillies Game, May 12, 2009

On Tuesday Night, I was presented the opportunity to combine three of my loves: the Phillies, friends, and Dollar Hot Dogs! Needless to say, I had a great time. The Phillies beat the Los Angelos Dodgers, 5-3, in a great game. The Phils starter, compatriot of many of our Korean friends, Chan Ho Park, had a rocky start giving up several hits in the first inning, but settled down and pitched very well. He gave up just two runs over six innings and just two earned runs to win his first game of the season and the first as a Phillie. Also, exciting was Jayson Werth, stealing second base, then third and finally home all in the same inning. I had never seen a steal of home before let alone one on the catcher.

This was my third Hatfield Dollar Hot Dog game, and the novelty is starting to wear down on me. The park instituted a one beer per customer limit, which for us was fine. But not for the frat boys and sorority girls sitting in our section that were late for the game and were constantly walking in front of us during the middle of innings. Altogether, I had 5 dollar dogs and was more than happy with my effort, although in the three games, the number of hotdogs I've consumed has been decreasing from 9 to 6 to now 5. Kim though did get the chance to try out the dollar vegan dogs, which were also a dollar. I didn't get to try it out for a comparison, but she seemed to really enjoy her two.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kelly's 25th Birthday at Sazon

Yesterday was Kelly's 25th Birthday, so she came down to spend the day in Philly. Alex was attending a friend's Bat Mitzvah so Kelly and I were free to roam the city and shop (and stop for some falafel at Maoz). Later that evening we met up with family and friends for a great dinner at Sazon Restaurant in Philly. It is a wonderful Venezuelan BYOB at 10th and Spring Garden. I chose this place because it serves one of Kelly's favorite dishes from Costa Rica, arroz con pollo (chicken and rice for you non-Spanish speakers). They also have a special menu with several varieties of hot chocolate, which we didn't get to try because we were too full from all of the delicious food.

We weren't too full for cake, though! After dinner, everyone came back to my place for some Brooklyn Blackout cake, which is a chocolate cake layered with a chocolate custard/pudding then covered in chocolate cake crumbs. As you can see, it was hard to resist! :)It's hard to believe that Kelly is 25 (especially because it means that I will be turning 30 later this year) but I'm glad that we got to celebrate her special day together. Happy Birthday sister!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mike's New Blog

Kim and I have been noticing that this blog can something be difficult to read because of the number of pictures and the way photos are formatted, so I decided to start a new blog focusing on topics in photography that are interesting to me and my own work. Check it out, I hope you like it.

Mike's Photo Blog

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Independence Seaport Museum

On Sunday, Kim and I went to the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing. We went to the museum primarily to see the new exhibit, "Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor," that I had read about online. The exhibit was interesting, but not what I had expected. I thought there would be more photographs or even tanned pieces of human skins like that have at the Mutter Museum. Our favorite part of the exhibit was interactive tattooing station, where the image of a tattoo was projected on your arm.

Most of the other displays at the museum were only marginally interesting, with many of the interactive stations out-of-order. The first thing Kim and I noticed when we entered the ship-building workshop was how good it smelled inside. It smelled like newly mowed grass and fresh sawdust. Even better, This American Life was being played as we walked in. By far the best part of the museum was touring the two ships that they had opened for public: the USS Becuna and the USS Olympia. We visited the Becuna first, which is a submarine that operated during WWII. The most amazing thing about the Becuna was how narrow all the rooms, halls and accommodations were. I just could not imagine spending months at sea and being hundreds of feet underwater. This is the one bathroom shared by the entire crew of 67 non-officer crewmembers:

Next, we went onboard the USS Olympia is the last floating ship remaining from the Spanish-American War. She was the flagship for the Asiatic fleet while in service and is the third oldest floating ship, following the USS Constitution and Constellation and is the oldest Steel ship still afloat. In contrast, to cramped and stark Becuna, the Olympia was expansive, with very generous officer rooms. This should be expected since it was the lead ship in the Pacific fleet and hosted many of the highest officers of the US Navy. This was the Captain's quarters:

Although the Olympia is in need of repairs, $30 Millions worth according to a preservation society, the ship still has a lot of charm and best of all many of it's cannons still in place.

Friday, May 1, 2009

PAS Talent Show

Last night, Alex took the stage in Penn Alexander School's annual Talent Show. It's always a fun event with a wide range of acts and talent. I think that all of the kids that get up there on stage deserve a lot of's not easy! One of the best things about Penn Alexander is that it is a really supportive and nurturing school community. Students from kindergarten through 8th grade and their families came out to cheer on their classmates and support the school even if they were not participating in the show.

Of course, Alex's performance of "New Shoes" by Paolo Nutini was a highlight. Check out the video, courtesy of Kelly!