Thursday, March 22, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Eric and I just spent the past five days in Dublin. I had fond memories from last time I was there, and this time was just as fun.
This was Eric's first time in Dublin, so we basically did all the same stuff I did last time I was there, which was fine with me. I was happy to get reacquainted with the city, including the gorgeous St. Stephen's Green.
And the Guinness Storehouse.
Did you know Guinness has water in it? Insane!
And Eric poured his first Guinness, but he's more of a Jameson guy, so I got to drink it. He did a good job.
As you might know, I'm a big fan of The Hold Steady, and since they've been on hiatus since last year, vocalist Craig Finn has been touring behind a solo album ("Clear Heart Full Eyes"). Coincidentally, he was playing Dublin Thursday night, so I dragged Eric to the show. He plays great bar rock in the same vein as THS, but with more of a country twinge to it. He's very animated when he sings, so Eric and I stood there, swaying with the crowd. I really enjoyed the show, and was glad to hear Eric appreciated it, too.
On Friday, we went to the old Jameson Distillery, which is something I missed last time I was in town. We took a guided tour, which was really fascinating. Of course, the free samples didn't hurt, either.
On Friday evening, we were joined by Tony, Kristin, and Ally.
It was great to have even more people to drink with, not that there was a shortage or anything.
On St. Patrick's Day, Ally and Kristin went on a trip to Cork and Blarney (which Eric and I were supposed to attend, but kinda overslept), so he, Tony, and I watched the parade, then headed to a pub to watch the Ireland vs. England rugby match. The ladies caught up with us later that evening.
It never fails to amaze me how genuine and kind the Dubliners are. They always went out of their way to help us, and we never felt like we were getting swindled just because we were tourists. It's definitely one of my favourite cities in Europe.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
I thought President's Day weekend would be my last chance to go snowboarding this season, but since we put so many hours in last week, we all got Friday off. It was a great opportunity to get a small group together and head up to Nassfeld for the weekend.
Concepcion, Mike, Nate, and I headed up to The Cube Thursday after work. We woke up early Friday morning and headed straight for the slopes. It's been a rather short winter, and at the base of the mountain, the snow was manmade and slushy. However, at the top, it was near perfect.
There were some really nice bars in the area, too. And it always seemed like we could never order just beers. It was always "a beer and a shot!" It made for some rough mornings, but nothing that couldn't be relieved by strapping on our boards.
One night, the bar had dancing girls.
And I met this Italian guy who was former Alpini. Also, I find my Italian gets a little better after I have a few beers in me, for some reason.
We all agreed it was a productive weekend, evidenced by how sore our legs are. We left this morning and headed back to Italy, sad that this would probably be our last time on the slopes this season.
Monday, March 05, 2012
The venue was a place called Tunnel, a tiny bar beneath the train tracks near the central station. There were maybe 150 people in attendance. The opener was a very experimental band, whose name I didn't catch, which is fine because it wasn't music I'd prefer to listen to anytime soon.
When Merrill came out (with a small band consisting of a bassist and two saxophone players), I wasn't really sure what to expect. Her voice on the album is very strong and rather deep for a female. (I almost want to compare it to Phil Collins.) But she was very slight and feminine in person.
All of her shows are unique because she records drum and vocal loops on the spot, then plays them back while singing and playing her ukelele. It's very novel and fun, and as soon as the audience caught on to what was happening, it was inevitable that someone would let out a shout while she was recording, thereby making us part of the song.
The dark lyrics are masked by lively music, which kept us all dancing to the groove. One wouldn't think ukelele, bass, and saxophones would go together as well as they do, but it somehow creates a conglomerate of delicious songs that had me ginning all night.
If you'd like to see how she builds her songs live, check out this impressive performance:
Friday, March 02, 2012
The other day, we had some pipes burst beneath one of the dorms. The area is only used for storage now, but apparently it used to be a children's play area. This was painted on the wall, and it struck us as rather funny. Yes, that blue thing next to SpongeBob is the letter N, but everyone's first impression was "F.U.!"