Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Update - Friends Rock

This was one of the better, more funner weekends I've had in quite some while. I mentioned in a earlier post that some time during the middle of last week's brutality I got an invitation from my dear friend Kristen to join her and some others for the movies on the lawn at the art museum on Friday evening. She also invited me to tag along for Downtown Live (the free concert series at Moore Square Park) on Saturday evening. Since my social life has been relatively non-existent in recent months, both of these suggestions sounded like splendid ideas to me.

One thing that wasn't fun about Downtown Live was the restriction on cameras. So I have no fun photos from the show itself. I did manage to snap a couple of interesting shots after the show.
The window across the street
Raleigh, NC - June 2008

Moore Square - Downtown Live
Raleigh, NC - June 2008

Raleigh, NC - June 2008

In the first shot there's a woman in the window on the second floor that I didn't notice until I saw the pictures later. In the original (which is a significantly larger image) you can tell she's not a "haint", just a woman standing and (I assume) talking to someone. But at first glance, it might raise the hair on your neck.

The second shot has an interesting feature of its own. If you look at the trunk of the large tree in the center you'll see near the top of the frame where the light from the crossed light sticks (lightsabers?) wielded by the couple near the lower left corner is duplicated. At first I thought this was a reflection (which technically I suppose it is) but the pattern is almost exactly repeated from the scene below. I had no idea light sticks were so directional.

The last shot is (I believe) the Exploris Museum on Hargett Street. The light through the window reminded me a lot of the "Glass" theme from the Thematic Photographic from week before last. Too bad I didn't have this shot then. It would have worked nicely in that theme.

Friday, Movies on the Lawn
Friday night's Plan A was to meet somewhere and pick up some takeout then go on to the museum and picnic there before the movie. Since most of the crew was from otherwhere, and I the resident Raleigh native, they asked my advice on where a suitable rendezvous point might be. My best suggestion was the Whole Foods at Ridgewood Shopping Center for a couple of reasons. First, one of the crowd is vegetarian, and I knew the cafe at Whole Foods is popular with that demogrpahic. Second it's near the museum, and third if you're coming into Raleigh from I-40 and points west like they were, it's almost impossible to miss it.

All very good arguments for the Whole Foods. The thing I forgot however is that there is a bookstore and an art gallery in that shopping center as well. Both of which frequently have events like show openings or book signings that draw far more people than the parking lot is equipped to handle. So if one or both of these establishments is doing something special, this is not a friendly place to be. And as fate would have it, there was, in fact, something out of the ordinary going on Friday evening.

It's at times such as those that I marvel at how we functioned as a society before cell phones. Twenty-five years ago what I did next would have been essentially impossible. Even ten or fifteen years ago it would have been unusual. But last Friday night it was just the natural order of things that I made a call to the inbound participants and changed the rendezvous point from Ridgewood to Lake Boone Shopping Center.

And Lake Boone is actually (a) closer to the museum and (b) more restaurant dense so it probably would have been the better choice in the first place except for the ease with which the directionally challenged could find it. Our out of town guests arrived safely though, and I was about to suggest one of the two deli/sandwich establishments for our takeout plans. But it was just about that time that the "ringleader" of the group spotted the Sushi/Thai place. My motion for Bear Rock Cafe never even made it to the floor for debate.

I had never tried the Sushi/Thai (it's actual name) despite the fact that it's only about a half mile from my house. I vaguely remember when it took over the space formerly occupied by the hardware store (though I believe there was something else there in between), but I had never really paid much attention to it. So I couldn't recommend either for or against, even assuming it would have mattered. Fortunately, it's not a bad place to eat and judging by the crowd on hand, we weren't the only ones to think so.

The down side of this was -- of course -- that we were likely to be very tight on time before we were done eating. Two weeks ago when this same crowd tried to make the same trip, they missed the start of the movie for a very similar reason, so those who were on that excursion were getting an eerie sense of deja vu. About halfway through the California rolls, though, the deja vu became moot when the skies opened up and sent us a baby monsoon. Since the movies are an outdoor affair, this pretty much put paid to our Plan A.

Plan B, however, was still viable. And we'd still get to see the same film. The movie on the schedule at the museum was an Indian film called The Namesake which by happy coincidence is one I own on DVD. So a quick change of venue put us at R's apartment in Morrisville for a small-screen showing followed by what the invitation called "card-gamey goodness". (No, I'm not kidding, I couldn't make up anything this good.)

The card game in question was one of those novelty games that's really closer to a board game than a card game, except that there is no board. Instead it's played with (wait for it) cards, just not a standard deck. Anyway I'd never heard of this game called "Bang!", but they assured me that with only 5 players a round wouldn't take more than 20 minutes -- half an hour tops.

Two hours later, a winner was finally decided and I bid my friends bon soir.

Saturday, Downtown Live with Blind Melon
Saturday morning I ventured out to discover that a very tall, very dead pine tree in my backyard had given up trying to pretend during the storm Friday night and had snapped off almost exactly at its base. Only the brave efforts of a nearby oak tree had kept it from crashing through the neighbor's privacy fence. This, I predict, would not have ended well because the neighbor in question is one of those that lends credence to the old adage about "good fences" and "good neighbors".

It was clear, however, that I could not simply rev up the chainsaw and take care of the problem myself. There were just too many variables, and too much "oh shit" potential. Fortunately I've found myself in similar situations before which led me to Young's Tree Service. I'd used them after the ice storm in 2002 left several trees damaged and another time since then for ones that simply died of natural causes. They've been reliable, done good work and charge a very reasonable rate and this time was no exception. He gave me an estimate of $250 for removing the pine and another equally tall, equally dead oak tree which is a deal in any case, but given the location and the terrain he has to deal with to get to these two it's a real break. And it's worth mentioning that instead of bringing a crew out on Saturday when he could charge overtime, he determined that the broken tree posed no threat that couldn't wait until Monday to be dealt with at the customary rate. Anyway, any time I find a business like this I try to give them their props so other people will use them too and keep them in business. so if you need some tree stuff done, call these guys.

So with the tree crisis effectively dealt with I could in good conscience join the posse again for Saturday night's festivities at Downtown Live. It's a little embarrassing to admit it, but this is another of Raleigh's cultural events I've never participated in. During the summer, on (more or less) every other Saturday we have a mini music festival at Moore Square Park downtown adjacent to City Market. The bands begin at about 2:00 pm and continue through the afternoon and evening until about 11:00 pm. Some fairly well-known acts have played this gig too. This week the headliners were Blind Melon and another band I'm not familiar with called Carbon Leaf.

The attraction for our group (there were only four of us this time) was Blind Melon, so plans were laid to meet for a nosh somewhere in City Market at about 5:00 then proceed over to the park for Blind Melon's set at 7:30. Don't ask how (it's not that interesting) but I managed to be late enough to miss dinner, but got to the restaurant just in time to accompany the other three back to their car to collect the folding chairs. We arrived at the park just before a band from Gainesville, FL called Colourslide took the stage.

They were good -- no question about it. Every song they played, though, sounded like one band or another that had come before them. Kate and I speculated that they probably got their start as a cover band, and spent as much time trying to identify the influences as we did listening to the songs. They're obviously a talented bunch and their songs (all original material) are actually quite good. If they stay together, perhaps Colourslide will develop an identity of their own. I hope so at least.

By the time their set was finished things were beginning to cool off from the triple-digit heat of the afternoon. Moore Square is on the eastern side of the city skyline, so even at 6:00 pm the buildings west of the park had begun to provide some shade. Further aid came in the form of a single cloud that passed by and dropped the briefest of showers on us -- perhaps 10 minutes worth of rain that normally would have done little but drive the humidity up. Several of the patrons scrambled for shelter, but I figured I was going to be wet one way or another so why not make it water that didn't start out at 98.6 degrees?

Blind Melon came on between 7:30 and 8:00 and played more or less non-stop until just after 9:00. They would have stayed on longer -- at least one song longer -- but the organizers virtually dragged them off for the changeover for Carbon Leaf. I can't say I was ever a big fan of theirs -- even when they were on top of their game. Like most people I was familiar with the song "No Rain" (All I can say is that my life is pretty plain / I like watchin the puddles gather rain / And all I can do is just pour some tea for two / And speak my point of view but it's not sane, its not sane) but not much else. After hearing them live though, I wish I'd paid closer attention.

At the end of the day, I really wasn't there because I had to see the movie Friday, or the band on Saturday. The movie I can watch any time and the band wasn't a hard core favorite. But today it occurred to me that this weekend is the first time in my recent memory that I've just gone out to run the town with a group of my peeps. These are things that I would have done routinely in my youth, so what happened? Did I get that old? Did I simply run out of gas? Or did the passing of time, the pressures of life and the dawn of the internet make me forget what a great time there is to be had in the company of good friends in the three-dimensional world, no matter what you're doing?

To use a pop culture reference:
Dinner at Sushi/Thai: $25
Gas and parking for the various trips: $23
Admission to Moore Square: $0
A weekend with my buds: Priceless
So Kristen, Rob, Kate, Joe... thanks for remembering me.
And the rest of you that didn't make it... see you next time.

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Charlene said...

i'm glad that you had a great weekend. we all need those every now and then. it is funny to me that whem we were younger, every weekend we have things going on. it seems the older i get the further my plans are spread out.
those are some awesome pics

Cravey said...

Nice weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can eat a metric ass load of Sushi or Thai, and would have rejoiced in the rainshower just so I could continue to shovel one of those combos into my yap.


Mojo said...

@Charlene: beats spending the weekend with a goat, na?
@Cravey: A "metric assload"? Someday you're gonna have to explain that one to me. Oh, and by the way, you remember that band "Goat Whore" you wrote about (long time ago)? I think Charlene can tell you where the name came from.

smarmoofus said...

You clearly live in a much larger city than I live in. *envy* Events such as you speak of do not exist in my humble little village. Trade ya'!

You don't get metric assload? I've never heard the term before, and I understand it. It's actually rather amusing. Cravey, FYI: Imperial assloads are larger.

Mojo, come back and see me when you get a chance. I responded to your comment.


Mojo said...

@Smarm: I guess everything's a matter of perspective. You'd have a hard time finding people around here that would call Raleigh's cultural scene "enviable". But come on up sometime and I'll show you around.

And you know I'm gonna stop by to see you. You don't have to ask. ;)

tiff said...

Count me in for next time, cuz THAT sounds like fun.

Mojo said...

@Tiff: If I remember right, the next Downtown Live is on July 12th with Tantric and Alter Bridge. I know those two are coming -- together -- but I may have the date wrong. There was another one on August 23rd (I think) that I thought would be a good one, and I may have that one confused with the one on the 12th. I'll check it out and get back to ya.