Friday, May 2, 2014

Last May, Janet and I took a Canadian road trip. We started in Niagara Falls, then on to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Acrylic on canvass, 20 x 80
View of the city from Toronto Island.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Elf at the Kennedy Center, Sarah Vaughn at Blues Alley

DC in December is normally a chilly affair and true to form it provided a chilly backdrop to our trip last year as well. Janet and I had purchased tickets to two events this past December, one was for Elf at the Kennedy Center and the other was dinner for two at a Sarah Vaughn Tribute performance at the legendary Georgetown Jazz club, Blues Alley. The later was an intense experience for a small towner from North Carolina like me. Janet, although proudly Appalachian, has lived on Staten Island and roamed the streets of many a big city like Chicago and New York long before we met.
        It was around seven P.M. which was very dark in the winter months of Washington. The bright M street NW is bordered by Wisconsin and 31st st NW. Being that this was our first visit to the club we walked around the 31st path to Blues Alley. Wisconsin would have been more convenient but much less like being in a Humphrey Bogart movie.  Walking down a dark alley that teeming with small dumpsters and overflowing trash cans was interesting to say the least. There was steam floating up from the road and young men smoking cigarettes and refusing eye contact dressed in aprons from what I can only imagine is the backdoor of a restaurant. We arrived at a small door to our left and of course there was a dimly lit sign hanging up to direct us. All of the clubs exterior appearance felt downplayed.

      Once inside we were packed like sardines in a corner. There was a small table made of heavy wrought iron with a tiny battery operated candle on it. the room appeared to hold somewhere around one hundred people comfortably. This was a sold out show and the crowd numbered closer to two hundred. In addition to the twenty five dollar per person ticket patrons were expected to order dinner as well. Janet had an appetizer of some sort and I had, shrimp and grits? I think? it was delicious whatever it was. I had a Stella Artois  and Janet had a Diet Coke with  Makers Mark on the side, as she calls it. I know you would think that being a dinner club I could remember the meal we had and no I only had a couple beers. It is just that the performer, Indigo Love, kept the room captivated with her wonderful rendition of Sarah Vaughn treasures. We swayed and closed eyed absorbed the music to our fullest. The tribute showed made us  laugh at times and we felt entirely like we were in a much smaller more intimate performance. Simply wonderful.
When we returned to our room later that night, and this could be a little bit of the Makers Mark talking, Janet exclaimed "This is the best night of my entire life"

The next night we saw Elf. The Opera House was a treat to see. This is the red velvet theater you see on TV when there is a major event such as the presidential visit to the Kennedy Center Honors and such. The ceiling is a fantastic collage of snowflake like lights and the seating was very comfortable. The show was good at best, I think the performance would merit a higher rank except I have seen the movie Elf many times and the musical followed it very closely until the end. During our visit we sat outside on the Potomac River and this cold night in December was the inspiration for my latest painting from our travels. I call it December Night at the Kennedy Center. Clever huh?  It is large, about five feet wide by three and a half high, wrapped canvass and the painting is acrylic.

Every trip is a series of memories, even the bad ones are good in hind sight. I love having a visual trigger hanging around to make me think of the wonderful journeys Janet and I share.

Monday, February 24, 2014

NO PANORAMIC VISTAS HERE- Dear Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad

Dear Karl,
               I have never written a fan letter before. I tend to hold celebrities to such low regards that writing a fan letter had never occurred to me. That is never occurred to me before I saw your show, Idiot Abroad. I will be brief as to who I am and what I am about. I freaking love to travel. I love to see trees that I have never seen before, taste food I have never tasted and meet people who are interesting and interested.

As much as I love to travel, I love to plan on traveling. I like to read books about my destination. I like to search websites and travel guides. I like to watch travel shows and videos. I almost enjoy the preparation as much as the trip.

On with it. My lovely spouse, Janet, and I decided, after some “House of Cards” fatigue on Netflix, to
watch your show from SKY TV.

                  After five minutes I knew this was truly the most important, perfect, greatest, travel show to ever air. I watched with awe at the brutal honesty with which you dissected China. Toilets or lack there of, the bug food people ate and everything in between. This made me think, I never want to travel anywhere that I am not able to see your take on it first. I bet the tourism sites all present the Great Pyramids without the trash blowing by and no hotel that I know of has ever bragged about guests pooping in a hole in the closet as a benefit to staying there. These are not the only reason this is such a monumental, epic travel show, no, no, no, that was revealed when you made it to the Great Wall of China only to find they needed bears to entertain people because the wall was so dull. Oh my God! Let me count the dollars we have spent on this type of nonsense. The Titanic in the Mountains of Tennessee, really?  Whale barfing in Maine, Sea Lion Cave in Oregon when they are visible for free, just to name a few.

                  I hope what is coming through my feeble attempt at my first fan letter is that you have keen senses, impeccable ability to state the obvious and the wherewithal to cut through the crap and see what the reality  is but most importantly the ability to share it with us.

Dan McCoig AKA DanTraveling
North Carolina, USA

*Your show is so perfect that I can not stop watching it.  You are always welcome in the southeastern USA should you come we would be happy to show you around. 

An Idiot Abroad is a British travel documentary television series broadcast on Sky1, as well as spin-off books published by Canongate Books,[1]created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and starring Karl Pilkington.[2] The ongoing theme of both the television series and the books is that Pilkington has no interest in global travel, so Merchant and Gervais make him travel while they stay in the United Kingdom and monitor his progress
Credits - An Idiot Abroad
Executiveproducer(s)Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Richard Yee
Krishnendu Majumdar
Dan Goldsack
Producer(s)Richard Yee
Krishnendu Majumdar
Luke Campbell

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens

Hitch-22: A MemoirHitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I will miss "the Hitch"
This is a great, although somewhat rambling, reminiscing memoir.
I learned a great deal about the man and his story. I loved feeling like I was with him during his incredible journey to places like Cuba, Walla Walla, Turkey, Iraq and on and on. If you love Christopher you will love this book. I read it faithfully until about the last fifty pages and it seemed to fade. So I admit I skimmed the last chapter and then read ,intently, the last four or five pages.

From the book

When the axe came into the woods, many of the trees said: "At least the handle is one of us." Turkish Proverb


View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

BEAR DOWN, BEAR DOWN - Suspicious Bear Death in Walkertown, North Carolina

Imagine my shock when Janet and I were shopping at the local Roses and we rounded the corner to this!

In a total 2013 move I chose to take a photo before helping the victim.



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