AndyO Blog

Friday, June 30, 2006

Sunny and hot in the Tri-Cities

Tri-Cities, WA

The weather was normal today--90 degrees F. and not a cloud in the sky. Cameron and I went to see Superman Returns at Carmike cinemas in Kennewick. I ended up being a little disappointed with it, but it was still fun to see it. When I went out to buy some candy about halfway through the movie, only one person was working behind the snack bar, and about 10 people were either talking, wiping the counter, or standing around. When I leave my movie to buy overpriced candy, I want to buy it quickly so I can get back to the film.

When we got home, I took Cameron and Drew for a swim in my parents' pool. Drew didn't like it too much, but Cameron had a great time. My parents bought Drew and Cameron their own blow-up rafts, so Cameron spent a lot of time floating around. Drew would scream every time I tried to put him in the raft. Every time I stood up on the diving board, my parents' Gordon Setter Rocko wouldn't stop barking. My parents told me once he starts, it's almost impossible to get him to stop.

Later, the Grandparents watched the kids, and Brenda and I went shopping at Target and then at Columbia Center Mall. I swear that Target (pronounced "tar-jay" in my family) has the best prices on DVDs. They regularly have DVDs for $5.99 and $7.99--and they're usually good films. But I didn't buy any on this visit. I bought Game Boy Advanced games for Cameron.
posted by AndyO @ 12:59 PM   0 comments

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A drive to the Tri-Cities

Tri-Cities, WA

Today we drove from Lake Chelan to the Tri-Cities. It took about 3 hours. The skies turned from blue to purple, and as we got closer to Richland, it actually started raining! This is almost unheard of in the summer, as the weather is usually hot and sunny.

It was nice to be at my parents' house, and even nicer to have two more adults to help watch the kids.

I went down to the Mall to get a prescription for my mom at Rite Aide. I walked around the store while they prepared the prescription. I must have been down every aisle, and I didn't see anything I wanted to buy (it's a very different story I visit Walgreens). Finally, after 25 minutes, the prescription was ready, and I was ready to leave.


posted by AndyO @ 12:58 PM   0 comments

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 3 at Lake Chelan: The vending machine gods are angry

After 3:00 today, my reserves were gone. Drew woke up from his nap mad at the world. Cameron was testing boundaries and whining. It was over 100-degrees F. outside. So when Brenda got back from her meetings, I was spent. I immediately went out to get a pop from the vending machine.

I went to the vending machine on the first floor, just a few feet from my room. Since the bottles of Pepsi cost $1.25, I fed in a dollar bill. The machine made change, and four quarters fell into the change box. So I put the quarters back in. They dropped back into the change box. I fed the machine another dollar bill, and this time it spit out 10 dimes. I tried different combinations. No dice.

So, I remembered there was another vending machine on the second floor. I walked down the hall, up a flight of stairs, walked outside, and finally found the vending machine room. I dropped in some quarters, and I got more dimes back. I thought, "This is ridiculous!" But I couldn't give up. I walked around the hotel, searching for another vending machine. I found one on the second floor, by the lobby.

The second floor machine accepted my change. It even counted it for me, so I knew how much to put in. I pressed E 13 for a bottle of Squirt. The bottle popped out of its section and got stuck. I tried to get it out, but my hand was too big. By this point, I knew the Gods must really be angry at me or something.

I put in another quarter, and the machine flashed, "Remove bottle from machine." I stuck my hand into the door to grab the Squirt again, and I thought I was going to get it stuck. But I was finally able to push the plastic bottle so it fell down to door number 3.

My next purchase went much better. No stuck bottles. No problems with money. I was happy.


Later I went to the annual BBQ that Brenda's work hosts outside next to the lake. It was a little cooler than 100 degrees by 8:00 p.m., but because I got there late the ribs were cold. I didn't care. It tasted great.

Brenda handed off Drew to me after I was done eating, and I put him in his new "Jeep" stroller and let a 10-year-old girl, Catherine, push him around. He seemed happy. During the morning, I had talked with Catherine's father, Drew (yes, the same name), about all kinds of stuff. He told me about his career in the Navy as a nuclear reactor engineer on fast-attack subs. At one point I asked, "How deep were you running?" and he said, "I can't tell you." I thought he was kidding, but he wouldn't answer the question.

He also told me about saving the parent of one his daughter's friends in Hawaii. He said they were out in heavy surf snorkeling, and suddenly this guy says to him, "I need some help, Drew." So Drew pulls him in.

I realized that Drew is one of those guys who doesn't get rattled under pressure, who doesn't let the stress and anxiety get to him the way it does to most people. He told me that the Navy taught him this skill. When you're dealing with nuclear reactors at top-secret depths, I guess you learn how to stay calm.

I actually think a lot of this has to do someone's makeup. Some people are just better under pressure, whether by nature or nurture. Some people like to jump out of airplanes or swim with the sharks or go into battle. While some of us like to sit back and read about stuff like that.


posted by AndyO @ 11:07 PM   0 comments

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 2 at Lake Chelan

This morning Brenda ran into our next door neighbor in the hallway, "Oh, that was your baby screaming next door." Fortunately Brenda works with this woman.

Anyway, it was another challenging day with Drew. Since we have a room right on the water, Drew wants to run out to the water all the time. I chased him around for most of the morning. When he started screaming, I noticed I got the look from other people. I interpreted the look as "why don't you take that screaming baby inside so I can sunbathe in peace!" So I threw Drew in the backpack and we went shopping at Safeway across the street from Campbell's.

As I was shopping, an older woman came up to me and said, "Enjoy this time, because they'll be in college before you know it." In a lot of ways, I needed to hear that from someone. It was as if the woman hit me with a magical spell or something, because I had more energy.

Drew finally took a nap around 2:00 p.m. It was at this point that I realized the hotel room was a complete mess. It was so bad that I didn't want to let the maid in. Instead, I took some towels off their cart, and left the used ones outside the door. Before I could start on any cleaning, Drew woke up (after about 35 minutes).


In the evening, Brenda took Drew to the "Ice Cream Social," and Cam and I went to eat in the Pub. I ordered a shrimp salad and Cameron had the Chicken Dinos. Part of the Pub sits on an open skybridge, so you can look down on cars driving and people walking. Two staggering people looked up from the sidewalk and screamed to the two women sitting next to us, "Hey, how's it going!?" Next thing we knew, they were sitting in the restaurant, speaking in that special way that only people who have had too much to drink and wanted everyone else to know.

Almost as soon as they had sat down, the guy was told to put on a shirt; so he took one of his girlfriend's shirts (yes, she was wearing two for some reason). The woman, who was the drunker of the two, kept yelling at other people she knew in the restaurant.

Next, an employee was standing in front of them telling them they needed to leave. She said it had to do with their liquor license, and then said something like, "It's better that you're dealing with me than the bartender, because he wants to come out here and throw you out."

The woman stated arguing with her "friend," but the boyfriend convinced her that they needed to leave. I watched from the skybridge as the woman ran up the middle of the road yelling about something. I wondered if she'd make it to age 30.


After that entertaining dinner, I went to the atrium to see the band Brenda's work hired for the Ice Cream Social. They were actually quite good, playing songs all the way back to the 1950s. It's always interesting to see a drummer who sings lead vocals. I danced around with Drew; he didn't know what to think of the loud music and my dancing and started falling asleep.

What was really funny was a drunk guy who was standing almost toe-to-toe with the band. He had a cup in his hand and kept turning around and motioning for someone to join him on the dance floor. He finally walked off the dance floor and started bugging people to come out and dance. By the way people looked at him, I knew he was one of those party crashers.

A few of the older folks did finally step out on the floor, and one woman was shaking her stuff to "Brick House." The band was watching everything. She was dancing so hard, I guess she finally fell down or something, because people were helping her back to her seat. That's not a bad way to hurt yourself, if you think about it. "I was dancing so hard, I sprained my ankle!"

I took a sleeping Drew back to the room, but Brenda wasn't there--and I didn't have a room key. So I just sat out on a lounge chair and let him sleep against me. Brenda finally returned and took him inside. About 15 minutes later, Drew came running outside, his arms flailing around, as if to say, "I'm awake again and I'm ready to play!" Then he fell down in the grass.

I ended up staying up with Drew as everyone else slept. I had a conversation with him that went something like this: "Wow! A, E, O, UUUUUUUU. What sound does a dog make? Woof! Etc."


posted by AndyO @ 3:53 PM   0 comments

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Vacation begins in Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan, WA

We drove to Lake Chelan today with Cameron and Drew. Lake Chelan is about 3-1/2 hours from Seattle, so we were a little worried about how Drew would handle that kind of drive. He slept for about 1-1/2 hours, which was better than we thought he'd do.

About halfway here, the clutch on the Outback started sticking a little bit. It didn't cause any real problems, but I did start worrying about it. It's funny how cars wait to do weird things until you're on a long trip.

We're here for a conference for Brenda's work. We're staying at Campbell's, right on the lake. This is the sixth time we've been here as a famly, so it's become a bit of a tradition. The first time I visited was when Cameron was only 4 weeks old.

Last year Cameron and I rented a jet ski, and we had a great time out on the lake for an hour or so. The year before we rented a boat. This time, we're thinking about a jet ski again, but an airplane ride sounds like even more fun.

Anyway, after we arrived and settled in, Brenda left for a meeting at 5:00. I tried to take Drew and Cameron to dinner at the Campbell's Pub. Drew lasted about 15 minutes, so we left our food half-eaten on the table. I know this kind of behavior from a toddler doesn't surprise any parents who have lived through it, but man is it frustrating!

I took the boys back to the room, and Drew's screaming got worse. Even when Brenda got back, he didn't settle down. A fun start to vacation...


posted by AndyO @ 10:10 PM   0 comments

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A weird night at The Central - 6/13/06

I arrived at 8:00 p.m. at The Central Saloon, as the booker had requested. I'd actually never been to The Central, so I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get my drums loaded in, find parking, etc. Unfortunately, the parking gods were against me, as I didn't get a spot in the front of the bar. Many of the "regulars" on the street commented on every piece of equipment I carried past them. With each trip to the car, I kept hoping that someone would ask me for "spare change" so I could hire them to help.

One thing I've started to notice in my limited exposure to playing live is every venue has its own energy; I usually catch it the minute I walk through the door. On this night, the vibe was mostly positive. But I kept asking myself why I felt a little uneasy, and then I remembered what had happened on Monday.

Sam, our bass player, had suddenly left Chris Mess on Monday to deal with some personal issues. As anyone in showbiz knows, "the show must go on." So Chris and I decided to play this gig as a two piece, a la "White Stripes." While I knew Chris and I could do it, I also knew there would be a gaping hole in the Chris Mess sound that made me feel, well, a little uncomfortable. I knew I'd miss Sam.

I took a look at the Central's red brick walls and high ceilings. Patrons sat at the long bar, eating dinner and drinking beer. The stage is in the back, beneath a rectangular window that looks like stained glass. This gives the bar a kind of church-like feel, like you're on holy ground. In some ways you are, as you know you're standing in a historic building, but also the building's history with the Grunge movement in the 90s. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden--just to name a few--graced the Central stage back in the 90s.

Chris arrived around 8:30, and we figured out when we would go on (around 10:15). So we sat outside in the humid evening air and talked and people watched. The drummer from the first band who was too young to be in the bar except when playing, also joined in our conversation.

Chris went to do his vocal warm-up, and I decided to walk to Elliot Bay Books, one of the best bookstores in Seattle. I perused the bookstore, but couldn't keep my attention on any book I opened. I knew this was just the pre-show nerves that any performer experiences. It wasn't until I went into the kids' section that the nerves seemed to settle. I found three books for my 1-year-old son, Drew.

Back at the Central, I watched the first band play (I never got their name, as I believe they were a last-minute fill-in). I felt sorry for the drummer, as one of his bass drum spurs had broken off and the drums kept moving away from him. At one point, the bass drum (and attached tom-toms) literally fell over. In between songs, the band rallied and pushed one of their speakers into the bass drum to try and hold it in place.

I had a little time to talk to my brother Erik, who was nice enough to come down and watch us play. As I was talking to him, an attractive woman with a cell phone stuck to her ear sauntered up and started rubbing his stomach like a Buddha.

"Do you know each other?" I asked.

"No," Erik said, laughing. They introduced themselves. Erik said, "This is my brother, Andy."

She flipped her hand up in that "talk-to-the-hand" kind of way, "Yeah, whatever," she said.

"Look at you," she said to Erik, looking him up and down (Erik is one of the taller people in a room).

"You like big men?" Erik asked.

"I like real men, not those anorexic types."

"Well, I used to be anorexic," Erik said. She didn't laugh. I did.

I tried to butt in a few times, but she kept giving me the "yeah, whatever," and I walked away.

Erik finally got away from this mysterious woman, who then joined another group of people (I don't know if she knew them either). When she got a phone call, she left. I wondered if she was a call girl or something.

Chris and I finally took to the stage after the first band finished up. Chris had brought along a life-size cardboard figure of Sarah Michelle Gellar to stand in at stage right. I had my kit fully miked, which is the first time at any of the Chris Mess gigs. It was great to hear the thunder of my DW's in that open space.

Chris and I tore through the set, having as much fun as we could with our new two-piece setup. And, as always, it was over much too quickly, I was off the stage, packing up my drums into their cases, and listening to Eight Hour Disease play through their set.

On to the next gig and a new bass player...


posted by AndyO @ 10:26 PM   0 comments

Interesting article about "digital" royalties for music artists

Chris Mess sent this article over to me. It looks like, according to Weird Al Yankovic that he makes more on a CD purchase than a digital purchase. I think this will change over time.
posted by AndyO @ 12:13 PM   0 comments

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tim Russert stops by my work

Tim Russert stopped by on Thursday. He's probably the most down-to-earth media people I've seen. He was a great speaker, funny, and self-deprecating. If you don't know Tim Russert, he is the host of NBC's "Meet the Press," the longest running show on TV.

Mr. Russert was there to promote his new book, "Wisdom of Our Fathers." I wasn't going to buy it, but after listening to him talk about why he wrote it, it sounded too good to pass up. It's basically a collection of letters that readers sent to him about their fathers, mostly in response to reading "Big Russ and Me," Russert's book about his own father.

Russert also commented on a few things, political and not:
  • He thought that George Bush was much more cautious (less "Mission Accomplished) in his press conference about al-Zarqawi's death. He doesn't believe this will end the violence in Iraq.
  • Iran is our biggest threat right now, in terms of the danger that it poses. It has troops that could attack our troops in Iraq. It is trying to manufacturer nuclear weapons.
  • He thinks that Blogs are interesting but that they aren't scrutinized the way print journalism is. People can say whatever they want, basically.
  • He reads 7 or 8 newspapers a day.
  • His favorite "Meet the Press" moment was when Ross Perot stopped in. Russert said, "You've identified the deficit as a big problem. Now what's your plan?" Perot looked at him as if he didn't understand, and tried to duck the question. Russert persisted, "You're running for President of the United States, what is your plan for the deficit?" Perot said, "If I'd known you were going to ask me trick questions, I wouldn't have come on your show."
  • He hired Katie Couric.


posted by AndyO @ 10:27 PM   0 comments

Friday, June 09, 2006

Chris Mess playing The Central - 6/13/06 @ 10:00

If you're in Seattle and want to get out and see Chris Mess, here's the info:

Chris Mess (on @ 10:15 p.m.)

The Central Saloon 207 First Ave S Pioneer Square Seattle, WA (206) 622-0209


posted by AndyO @ 9:15 AM   0 comments

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A night away from the kids

Brenda and I decided it was time to do an overnight without the kids this weekend. So we booked a room at the "W Hotel" downtown, hired our great babysitter, and got out of the house by 6:15 on Friday night.

I'd never been to the W in Seattle--but Brenda had heard good things. The W is certainly a different style than other hotels. I felt like I'd walked into the hotel IKEA. There are interesting design touches everywhere. For example, the hallways are dark, illuminated only by blue lights.

As we entered our "spectacular" 16th floor room (this is the adjective reservations used to describe any room above the 14th floor), the furniture once again reminded me of IKEA. Most of the furniture was dark wood, and I didn't see any traditional table legs. An LCD TV on the wall blasted the "W channel." The bathroom sinks were steel, with a smoked glass countertop. Unfortunately, the bathtub stopper was broken.

The view? Well, it wasn't very spectacular. But there was a comfortable couch set against the window that Brenda really liked.

By 8:00 p.m., we headed out to dinner at Palomino. I'd only been there once before, over ten years ago. The restaurant was packed, as was the bar, with people from all walks of life. We ordered an excellent crab and artichoke dip for our appetizer, which came with the most wonderful flatbread. I then ordered the spaghetti with "Kobe" meatball for my main course. I'd heard how good Kobe beef was, and it lived up to its reputation--so much so that I ate too much.

After some great service by the waitstaff, our server seemed to forget about us near the end. If this hadn't happened, it probably would have been one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.

I would definitely recommend the W Hotel for those who want to experience a different take on hotels.
posted by AndyO @ 10:46 PM   0 comments