Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Album

I finally got the old record player up and ready and so as we get closer to Christmas it is time to dust off my favorite holiday album, Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg's "Yust Go Nuts At Christmas." Released in 1970, this album brings back so many memories of Christmas in Wisconsin and Minnesota and enjoying a piece pickled herring and some lefse covered in butter and sugar. 

Boreson's singing style also honors the great and strong Scandinavian accents that you hear less and less each year as people have more and more distance from their European ancestral roots. Living down in Georgia now I miss the opportunity to hear some interchange a "V" and a"W." 

Here's the title track:

And my favorite song overall from the album, "Christmas Goose (Snowbird)":

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Has Finally Arrived

In case you wondered, fall does eventually come to Atlanta if you wait long enough. Although there are so many evergreen trees around our neighborhood there are now patches of very brilliant color. These five trees are along the parking lot of a Jehovah's Witness church near us.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Waterproof Camera Shots From Our Trip To South Padre Island

When Laura and I visited South Padre Island in September it gave us the opportunity to finally use a waterproof camera we were gifted at our wedding for our eventual honeymoon to Greece. Well, the camera was sitting in America during our wonderful weeks in Greece so we were happy to get the chance to finally use the camera.

The beaches of South Padre Island give you a sand bars that go on for miles. You can have water up to your chest and then a few feet further out it will be back down to your waist. This let me get some photos that look like I'm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico but in reality I'm not that far out at all.

I'm sure a few people wondered what I was doing taking photographs of waves.

The sun came out for a few of my photos.

A pelican flying by. 

I did some snorkeling while we were there but the beach was entirely sand so there weren't too many interesting rocks to find. I'm not proud to say over the course of the weekend I ended up losing two snorkels and a set of goggles into the Gulf having the waves knocking them off my head. The water was very sandy and not too clear so once they were out of your grasp they were gone even though they could be floating just a few feet from you. 

This shot catches Laura in a shadow and is my favorite photo from the group.  

These last two demonstrate what happens when the lighting changes and you are shooting on film. These photos were taken about 15 seconds apart with the only difference being the sun came out for a few moments in the second shot.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meeting Jason Carter

Last Friday Democratic candidate for Georgia Governor Jason Carter came and spoke at Laura's American Politics class. Carter is President Jimmy Carter's grandson and currently a Georgia State Senator for District 42 which is in East Atlanta. The event was open to the public so I tagged along and as I was the husband of "Dr. Dean" I got to have a pretty good seat. He reminds me of John Edwards [I say that in the most positive way possible] and has certainly earned my vote on Tuesday.

And here's a view of a photo taken by the campaign:

I was hoping to get a chance to score an autograph from him and so I brought along a card of his Grandfather to sign. When I asked him if he would sign it he told me he hadn't seen one of these cards before so maybe I'll track down another copy and mail one to him.

I like the card and maybe one day when I run into President Carter down at the Piggly Wiggly maybe he can sign it too. It reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons which shows on of the treasures at the comic shop The Android's Dungeon was a photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Favorite Episode Of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has so many perfect and classic episodes it must be hard for some people to pick their favorite. You have the Joel vs. Mike debate, the TV's Frank era, the Pearl Forrester era and each period seems to have its own perfect episode. And when tasked with picking your overall favorite there are many episodes to serious consider. You have the episode which nearly single handedly put Manos: The Hand Of Fate on every bad movie list, the Canadian equivalent of Plan 9, and the many, many railings of Space Mutiny.

My personal favorite is The Giant Spider Invasion which is Episode 10 of Season 8. Directed by Bill Rebane [who also directed the outstanding Monster A-Go Go], the film is set in northern Wisconsin and so this episode is chock full of Green Bay Packers references and Badger State jokes. I've edited it down to just the good Wisconsin related parts and it is helpful to remember that this particular episode came out in May of 1997 just five months after Brett Favre led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UPDATE: Replacing One Icon With Another

UPDATE 10-21-2014 : The mural of Taras is progressing nicely!

A few days ago citizens of Kharkiv, Ukraine made the news by tearing down their famous Vladimir Lenin statue in the city's Freedom Square. The statue was located two blocks from where we lived in Kharkiv and I wrote about the statue a couple times, here and here. It was one of Kharkiv's main tourist attractions and served as an historical oddity that reminded you Russia was about 50 kilometers away and that the Soviet past wasn't that long ago.

But with one icon gone, Kharkiv may have a new and better one to replace it. It turns out that on the side of one of the high rises a portrait of poet Taras Shevchenko. I've written about Shevchenko many, many times..;too many to highlight individually. The building's portrait would be undoubtedly the largest Shevchenko painting and I can't wait to see what it looks like completed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Feeding Twiggs the Giraffe

This past weekend Laura and I took in the Georgia State Fair held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It couldn't really compete with the Minnesota State Fair [what can?] but it was certainly a step above regional fairs or county fair's that I've been too. My personal highlight was getting up close and personal with Twiggs the Giraffe.

I've never been this close to a giraffe before and they are absolutely huge with the longest tongue imaginable, Take a look as I feed him some carrots.

This is certainly going to become my new avatar.

They also had a small feeding zoo with goats, sheep, and llamas, I got a kick out of the sign they had on the fence. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Battle of Atlanta Sesquicentennial

Today marks the two week anniversary of our attending the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta. We're all very sentimental about the past here in the South.

I made a little video of our experience at the reenactment and I hope you enjoy it. Keep an eye out too for a second post on the reenactment with photos we took from the event.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

UPDATE: A Restaurant For The Grammar Sticklers

UPDATE: This may not be the update you want, but it's the update you deserve. The local restaurant "This Is Wings!" is no more I am sad to say. It's currently under construction and the red roof has been removed. Who knows what it will become? I'm hoping for a new shop "I Are Donuts!"

There is one local restaurant whose name makes me do a double take nearly every time I drive by. The name in question is This Is Wings! and other than being a potential title for a Paul McCartney and Wings album this restaurant must drive the grammar sticklers crazy each time they drive by. 

I wonder, are they saying that the restaurant is just call Wings! and the meaning of the sign is to let everyone know the restaurant known simply as Wings! is over here and come have lunch.

Or is it simply that they just didn't realize it should probably say "These Are Wings!" as the word "wings" is plural.  Either way, I may have spent more time thinking about their name in the week I've been in Georgia than anyone else in the Atlanta area.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Revisiting Olde Towne Morrow

A few weeks ago I wrote about visiting the abandoned Olde Towne Morrow area near our local mall and mentioned that in a few weeks the city was going to have an End of Summer get-together there. I was very interested to see how the area would be transformed and so we headed over see what was what.

I'll start first with the carnival that was set up at the Olde Towne's entrance.

They had a little Ferris Wheel, some other rides, and, of course, fair food.

Here are two "before and after" helped that the two days were very different in enhancing how different the two experiences were. 

Here an empty row of shops and offices gets transformed with some tents from local organizations and some food trucks.

As we were leaving they announced the start of the hot dog eating contest. It was standing room only and a nice way to end a fun afternoon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marvel With A Mango: The Mr. Taco Experience

While we were in Texas we wanted to get some authentic Mexican food and Brownsville offered many options. Nearly all of the reviews we read recommended you bring your translation dictionary if you don't speak Spanish but Laura prides herself on knowing "some" Spanish off we went.

We ended up at Mr. Taco and had a very helpful older lady helping us and with her limited English and our limited Spanish we successfully navigated ordering.

We started with a bean reminded me a little bit of ordering in Eastern Europe when the waitress offers you soup you just say "yes" and just go with it.  It was excellent with bits of pork floating around in there too. 

How about a side plate of fried onions as a garnish? Why not!

Mr. Taco's tacos are a little like White Castle in that ordering four, or five, or six, is completely reasonable. They are a perfect little handful with nearly as much cheese as meat. It was great food and at a dirt cheap price. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The View From My Window #20: South Padre Island

The view of the Gulf of Mexico from our hotel on South Padre Island. Looks like there was a storm coming in the distance. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

From Atlanta To Houston

Here are a few photos I took only my flight from Atlanta to Houston a few weeks ago. 

This one has a feel of a Mark Rothko painting.  
Some cumulonimbus clouds from above.
A winding river...somewhere over Louisiana or East Texas.
I didn't know fields came in this many colors. 
 I had flown into Houston before but never during the day and the city turned out to be a lot more green than I had imagined it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marvel With A Mango: Visiting The Famous King's Inn

On our way to the southern tip of Texas last weekend we passed through the section of Texas Highway 77 that connect Kingsville to Raymondville. This area of the state is famous for cutting through the King Ranch which means you have signs stating "Next Service Station 60 Miles." There are no gas stations along that route so be sure to fill up beforehand!

However, there is a road that leads to a restaurant along this path and it happens to be one of the most famous restaurants in Texas, The King's Inn.

The restaurant is located on Baffin Bay of the Gulf of Mexico and in the distance there you can see Padre Island, the more northern of its famous sister island South Padre Island.  

We stopped by based on the recommendations of my friend Craig P. If Craig P. says it's good, it's good.

Being on the ocean you can rightfully assume that seafood is their main focus. The King's Inn doesn't have a menu, I imagine because their stock of fish changes daily as well as the prices. While this is handy for them it puts the customer at a disadvantage of having to ask the price of things before ordering. 

We decided on shrimp and scallops. I can without a doubt say they were the most delicious fried shrimp I've ever had. They were fried perfectly and just look at their size. 

The scallops were also huge and tasty...but what could compare to the fried shrimp?

We also go some onion rings which were actually a pile of fried cut onion strands that had a distinct state fair feel. Also excellent. 

The visit to the King's Inn gave us a nice break from the road and if you ever have to make the same drive in South Texas I would recommend you stop by...just don't be afraid to ask the waiter how much things cost before ordering.