Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Farmhouse

About two weeks ago, Holly and I went to a concert in Killingworth, CT. It was unlike any other show I have ever seen.

There weren't pyrotechnics. There wasn't a lightshow. There were only three solo performances and about 12 people in the audience.

And the show was in a living room.

The "venue" is called The Farmhouse and it's about the furthest thing you can get from Madison Square Garden. That's the point.

Nat Lyon performs at The Farmhouse (aka: his living room).
The show was definitely more that just three guys singing in front of a bunch of people. The performers, Stephen Steinbrink, Emperor X and Nat Lyon, had mics, amps and set lists. Steinbrink and Emperor X came with copies of their music to sell. Many of the audience members didn't know each other before the show. Nat and his wife Stefanie, who hosted the event, didn't know some of the audience members either. 

On their website, Nat and Stefanie describe The Farmhouse as an "intimate setting." That might sound like a small club with a stage and groups of people congregating around tables or the bar. And no one speaking to each other.

This wasn't the case at the Farmhouse. People mingled; performers and audience members alike. Even "co-host" Emma mingled with the guests and made an appearance on-stage. Overall, the night had the feel of a party, not a show. Talking with Emperor X before his set gave his songs a very personal feel.

Emperor X and "co-host" Emma.
There's going to be another show at The Farmhouse this Friday, August 4. It's supposed to be much bigger than the first one. They're expecting tens of people!

It'll be in their backyard.

Find out more:
The Farmhouse
Nat Lyon
Stephen Steinbrink
Emperor X

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Grill Master

Is grilling a man's job?

When Holly decided to have a 20/40 party a few weeks ago (20 years in America, 40 years old), she wanted to have it at Sherwood Island Beach. Besides being at the beach, she wanted it there because of the grills that are available to the public. When the day arrived and the party got going, we didn't start grilling right away. We didn't have charcoal right away due to a mix-up. But when it arrived, it was time to start grilling.

That's when it got a little quieter and people started looking around. A few of us guys started looking at each other. It was clear that grilling was a man's job. It's not that a woman couldn't grill. It's because everyone silently agreed that a man would do it.

As the looks abounded and "Do you want to do it?" was uttered a few times, it became clear we weren't just deciding who would have the task of grilling. We were deciding the responsibility of cooking the food for the event. There was also some honor involved in who would be chosen as Master Of The Grill.

So, would another Grill Master be an insult to me? No. There didn't need to be a power struggle over the tongs. I had no problem transferring the title to someone else for the day. (As husband of the host, I guess it was mine to transfer.) I'm not an expert around a barbecue. A gas grill is easy, of course. But I haven't seen a charcoal grill in decades. Seriously. And there was this contraption called a barbecue chimney, that gets the charcoal heated quickly. I had never used it before. I could've managed the grill if I had to, but I didn't want to be the guy who got sideways glances because doggies were overcooked or burgers weren't cooked fast enough.

So, which man stepped up to be Grill Master?

I hadn't met Dave before he volunteered to work the grill, but he immediately knew what he was doing. In no time, the grill was going, food was cooking, and all the guests seemed to be satisfied. Thanks for stepping up Dave.

But back to my original question: Is grilling a man's job? Why? Leave a comment below.

Friday, July 13, 2012

England Trip 2012: Queen's Diamond Jubilee

We didn't know about the major celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee before we booked our trip. But being there that weekend was one of the highlights of our visit.

As soon as we arrived, we could see everyone getting in the spirit. There were tons of signs in shop windows, local events were planned (we went to one at a local library in London) and bunting was everywhere. Seriously. I never thought I would see so much Union Jack bunting. I couldn't escape it. If Elizabeth is around in 10 years for another Jubilee (which is very possible), get into the bunting business. You'll make a ton of money.

The first celebration we went to was in Brockham, about 20 miles south of London. There was a festival on the town green that had carnival rides and stands set up by local business.

The Brockham Jubilee Celebration.

A house along Brockham Green. (Notice the bunting hanging off the roof!)

It was a relaxing afternoon. It looked like it might rain a few times, but it turned out to be a beautiful day (a rarity on the trip). We were traveling during the wettest June since 1910. So, we were lucky to have some sunshine in Brockham.

We could've used some of that sunshine the next day when we were in London. Holly's brother Stuart was able to get us passes for the Jubilee festival in Battersea Park. The park sits along the Thames and the plan was to catch a glimpse of the Queen leading the flotilla of 1000 boats going up the river. The seven of us (Holly, Spencer, me, Stuart, his wife Denise and their two kids) packed a picnic, drove as close as we could to the park and walked to the festival.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

England Trip 2012: Driving And Roundabouts

A big reason we planned a two-week trip was so Holly could visit family and friends she hadn't seen in a long time. We took a lot of day trips to visit them, which meant a lot of driving. Sharing driving duties usually wouldn't be a big deal, but one of the things the UK and US don't share is driving on the same side of the road.

I briefly got behind the wheel a car on our last trip to England in 2008. Notice the word "briefly." Between being a manual transmission and a right-side drive car (wrong side in my mind), it didn't go well. There was lots of lurching and Holly yelling, "Left side! Left side of the road!" My confidence was low after that trip.

I did much better this time. I had my share of stalls and lurches. Holly calmly said, "Left side" only once. Bottom line: We're all still in one piece.

The one thing that tripped me up are those roundabouts. (We call them circles here the US.) I hate them. The lanes are confusing, the signs are confusing and they can move pretty quickly. One roundabout tripped me up so much that we had a European Vacation moment. We circled it at least three times. Between the size of the roundabout and waiting at the traffic lights, it must've taken us three or four minutes to get through it.

At least we got out of it before the sun went down.