sea lions in Astoria

music, Oregon, pictures, recording, Washington No Comments »

On my way home from a three-day trip to my dad’s house at the coast this weekend, I drove back through Astoria because the other beach highway, across the river in Washington, is normally much faster, but this time was beleaguered by a series of construction projects, which added about an hour to the trip over.  I love Astoria anyway, so it doesn’t take much for me to want to drive through it.

I drove over the bridge this time, which I rarely do, because A) it goes to a part of Washington that I rarely visit, so driving over it is unnecessary, and B) it’s frickin’ HUGE, and kinda makes me nervous if the weather is anything less than perfect.  Next time I go over it, I want to mount my little camera onto my car’s dashboard or windshield somehow, in order to make a video of the river crossing.  It takes about five or six minutes (at freeway speed!) to drive across the bridge, and when you go up the span and start pulling into Astoria, you are rewarded with a beautiful and unusual view of the town as you go around the curves.  It’s really stunning, but you can’t really drive a stick-shift car around a bunch of curves, pay attention to traffic, and operate a camera all at the same time.

This time, the Astoria Column was finally open, after being closed for renovation for the last two years.  Climbing the steps to the top can really make you dizzy if you’re not careful.  I got up there, took a quick picture for Facebook. . .


. . .and enjoyed the beautiful scenery (but the pictures weren’t very exciting this time), then climbed back down to find something to eat.  Spent a while at a grocery store, but the deli was ridiculously expensive for what you got, so I headed down the road to a pizza place.  On the way, I heard barking coming from the river, so after I got my pizza, I turned back and headed for the marina.  I drove my car onto the pier (which is allowed, by the way; there were many others out there too) and found a group of sea lions sunning themselves on one of the smaller piers.  Most seemed to be asleep, but some were fighting and knocking each other off the pier, and others were awake and enjoying the warmth of the beautiful sunshine.

sealions2 sunning sealions

The weather was perfect, and it was so nice to just walk or drive to the different ends of the huge cement pier and enjoy the views of the town and the river from out there.


Got home and spent the next two or three hours working on Iron Horse songs.  I had to go through our old tapes to find things I can use as part of a retrospective we’re going to make, and I also was looking for our old studio tapes, which are divided up into individual tracks (guitar, drums, vocals, etc.) to use as sound effects for one of the songs we’re recording.  It’ll be hilarious and cool if it all works out, which I have every reason to believe that it will.

In other news, I have two rehearsals (three, if you count the one that happened yesterday morning) and three gigs this week, as well as meeting up with three or four friends (on different days), AND another day trip to the beach on Friday to see some friends from California.  So I’ll try to keep up on BFS&T, but don’t be too surprised if it’s another few-day stretch before I’m back here again.


beautiful, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland No Comments »

After being mildly bummed out all week, I went on an excellent day trip with a couple of friends yesterday.  We saw the house from the movie The Goonies, went to the top of the hill overlooking the town, and then just walked around the town, by way of a couple of local brew pubs. The pictures came out. . .okay.  It was overcast and misty all day, which makes photography a bit challenging.

This morning I got up early to meet a Seattle friend, her son, and two of her friends for breakfast at my favorite breakfast place in town, which was also a really good time.  Now I’m home listening to Kathleen Edwards and getting ready for an IrishBand gig, which is at a house in Northeast Portland.  The owners brew their own beer, and each year they have a big blowout of a party to celebrate the release of this year’s batch of beers, which they distribute at local restaurants afterward.  A friend and I went once before, and we were the only two quasi-hipsters in attendance.  The attendees were basically thirty-year-old frat boys (and girls).  Well, here’s an example of what the conversations were like.

When you walk in the door, you are encouraged to make a name tag.  I wrote my nickname, “Mr. T,” on mine and slapped it onto my T-shirt.  When I stepped up to the bar to order a beer, a guy saw my name tag and said, ” ‘Mr. T’, huh?  With a name like that, I’d expect you to be black and have a bunch of gold chains and a mohawk.”  He laughed, and I said, “Right, that’s the jo–. . .yup.”  I’ll probably go by my nickname again this time.   What am I saying?  Of course I will.

So what does the title “Contagious” have to do with anything?  Well, I saw this drawing on Artemis Wilde’s web site, and loved it, and felt that it’s apropos to how I’ve been feeling the last couple of days.


Sure, I could have stayed home and been a crankypants all weekend, but instead I choose to encourage better behavior than that, both from myself and from others, and a smile is the best way to do that.   So the title of this entry is shamelessly copied from her, as is the picture.  You can find out more about Artemis Wilde here.  I just love her simple, direct, touching style.

And now I have to pack up my bass and everything and get to the gig.  I just have to remember to bring my smile with me, and turn that frown upside down or whatever.

best pics of 2008, BFST style

beautiful, blogging, funny, pictures, sad, true No Comments »

As I promised, here are my favorite pictures from this past year, in no particular order.

The landscape between Utah and Idaho is vast, and seems quintessentially American somehow.

This picture was taken outside the studio when we were mixing Andrea’s CD.  There had been a freak snowstorm overnight, and we all woke up to this beautiful scene. Amazingly, the snow was all gone by the afternoon.  We finished mixing the songs, and then I drove back to Portland and went on a great first date.  That was a good day.

Andrea had just read and been inspired by the book Blue Like Jazz, and she wanted to take a little hike around the campus of the college here in town in which the book is set. Though it has changed in the decades since the book was written, this was and still is a beautiful place to hike and explore.

This is one of my favorite locations to take pictures.  It’s an abandoned cannery town along the Columbia river. Sorry about the small size.

When Breanna and Justin and I were on tour in Reno, Justin was getting his CD mixed in Portland, and the guy would send Justin mixes via e-mail, for him either to approve or to request some small changes. After our show, he and Bre were listening to the final mixes, so I left and walked around for an hour, and took about a million pictures of the city at night.  Came back and listened for a while, and when they went to bed, our host and I stayed up talking for another hour and a half afterwards. That was my favorite day (and night) of the tour.

ViolinistKarlee, me, Breanna and Justin on our tour, after our show in Redding.  This picture just puts a smile on my face every time I see it.  Karlee is such a lil thug.

This is my car, all loaded up with instruments to go to the studio and record my parts for Andrea’s CD.  I’m always amazed at just how much stuff this car can carry, despite its diminutive size.

ChefDave, in an instantly classic pose.  I love the way the light is gleaming off the knife.  Incidentally, you owe to it yourself to eat at the Sego Lily Cafe in Bountiful, Utah, by the way, next time you’re there.  Dave’s food is phenomenal.

There are lots of abandoned military bunkers outside Port Townsend, Washington, and I could easily spend a weekend just taking pictures of them. I love the way the light interacts and contrasts from room to room.

Ah, beautiful Astoria, Oregon, seen from the highest point in town.  That’s another place that provides an almost endless supply of photographic opportunities.

This picture I didn’t take, but it’s such a classic that it warranted inclusion on the best pictures of the year.  It’s the Cinemagic theater here in Portland, when they were in transition from the movie Hancock to the Dark Knight, and this was the sign change, in progress.

I love looking back over the year in this way. Even though this was a particularly difficult, painful, and challenging year, there were certainly plenty of good times too.

Here’s to a better 2009, though.

all-around great day

beautiful, Oregon, pictures 5 Comments »

Every once in a while, there are days that are really great, and yesterday was certainly one of them.

I woke up at ten and met GuitaristDavid and FlutistSusan, so they could take me out to breakfast in exchange for the impromptu photo shoot I did for them yesterday afternoon (which was also fun, by the way) to promote the holiday-music group they’re forming.  And boy, did they choose an amazing place.  I think yesterday was quite possibly the best breakfast of my entire life.  If I had known what was in store for me, I would’ve brought my camera, for sure.

They took me to Roux, which is a French-by-way-of-New-Orleans style restaurant.  I had a sort of scramble, which consisted of smoked trout, potatoes, onions, creme fraiche, with poached eggs and dill leaves on top.  It was unbelievably good.  Susan had oyster and bacon benedict, and David had a chicken-and-biscuits with gravy.  We all exchanged samples, and each dish was amazing.  After we got home, I think we all collapsed in food coma for a while.

After coming out of said food coma, I was ready to go on a little day trip, so I called J to see if she was up for a trip.  She was, so I picked her up and we drove to Astoria for a few hours.  We went to the top of the hill that overlooks the entire peninsula, to check out the views and to see the Astoria Column.  Here are some pics:

We walked around for a long time, admiring the views and trying to pick some of the blackberries that were growing along the edge of the hill.  The good berries within reach had already been taken, so we stumbled down to try and pick some others, but it was to no avail; not to mention that the ones we found were bitter and unripened.  So we gave that up pretty quickly.  We left the Column behind and drove around in the hills, exploring the pretty little town.  Every turn brought a new exclamation of ‘oh my god. . .look at that!’ from at least one of us.  The views are breathtaking, and some of the houses are too.

By that time, we were ready for dinner, so we drove downtown to the waterfront to find something to eat.  One of the businesses had some murals painted on the back.  I love the way they’ve incorporated the actual windows and hinges into the murals.  It adds a nice touch of realism.

The first few places we tried to go were either closed for business or were too expensive, so we ended up at the Wet Dog brewery.  Not the greatest place in town, but it was decent enough, and the grilled albacore salad was really good.

We got in the car and went back to the hills to explore more of the town.  We came to a road that had a perfect view of the bridge, just in time to see a barge motoring underneath, presumably on its way out to sea.

We continued along the high road, and came to a wooded area with no houses, and saw a deer feasting on the leaves that were growing the side of the road.  We drove as slowly and quietly as we could, considering that we were in my noisy Honda, and he didn’t seem particularly fazed by our presence, so we were able to get a few pictures.

My right foot slipped just then, and I accidentally pushed the accelerator and revved the engine a little bit, which startled the deer and made him decide to slowly disappear into the bushes.  I apologized to him for startling him (I’m pretty sure he understood English) and we drove away.  We wanted to get back to Portland at a decent hour, so we wound our way back down the steep, curvy roads of Astoria and made our way back to the highway for the rest of the uneventful trip home.  We made really good time, too, and were home by 8:30.

It was just a great day.  Days like that are so fun and relaxing.  Susan and David are so great and so inspiring.  Roux is so amazing and delicious.  Astoria is so fun and so picturesque.  J is so fun and hilarious, in her low-key way.  And me?  I’m so looking forward to having many more days like that in the future.


blogging, music, Oregon No Comments »

The trip to Cannon Beach was nice, and relaxing.

Drove JBJ over there with me, since his wife and kids were in Astoria already.  We had a blast, talking and listening to the CD compilation he had just finished making.  We got almost to Seaside, and he called his wife to let her know where he was.  She said, “Turn around; we’re going to Cannon Beach.”  So we did.  We all met at Cranky Sue’s Furiously Good Food To Improve Your Mood. With a name like that, how could it not be good?  Turned out to be VERY good, in fact.

Afterwards, we went our separate ways, and I met Stepdad at the beach house that we had rented.  I unloaded my car and the two of us walked down to the beach to meet up with Mom, Brother, SisterInLaw, Niece and Nephew.   Brother and Niece and I attempted to fly Brother’s kite, but it’s one of those little stunt kites that tends to nose-dive often, and on one of its nose-dives, the nylon ripped at the tip from the force of the crash.  He put it on sabbatical for a while, until he can figure out how to fix it.  I’m not gonna lie; those kites make me nervous.

I didn’t get any really good pictures this trip.  The weather was cold and foggy, and there were even thunderstorms on Sunday.  It was a good trip, it’s just that for some reason I’m having a hard time thinking of what to share about it.  We made a bonfire, walked the beach, walked to town, drank a lot of coffee, made some really good food, lost my keys and spent an hour tearing apart the house looking for them, walked the beach some more, took lots of pictures of Haystack Rock in the fog. . .I even took a page from Andrea’s book and shot a couple of quick videos, but they’re too big to upload, so I need to figure out how to compress them a bit.  Again, I apologize; I don’t know why I’m having a tough time writing about the trip, but I am.  It was nice, and relaxing, and that’s what’s important.

I had to get back to Portland at a reasonable hour on Sunday to meet a couple of friends and see the play Mimesophobia.  It was a dense and brilliant mystery, both in the way the story was told, and in the way that the play was staged.  The theater was very long and narrow, with seating for about twenty people.  There were video screens on either wall, and every few feet there was a small speaker.  It was as if we were watching a film.  The actors could whisper into their little wireless microphones and we could hear them perfectly.  There were a couple of characters who would shut off their microphones and speak to each other normally.  It was a murder mystery, only it was told via film clips (which were described to us by two ‘film-maker’ characters, who were writing a film based on the murder, Charlie Rose interviews with a person who was closely intertwined in the story, messages that were left on answering machines, people portraying the actual participants in the various events. . .it was a lot of information to take in, but it was absolutely brilliant.

Last night, J and I watched the movie Private Eyes, which I had seen many times before, but not since I was a little kid.  I was hesitant to rent it, because I had a feeling that it wouldn’t stand up very well over time, but my brother had seen it recently, and he enjoyed it, so we decided to take our chances.  I like my comedy a good bit darker these days, but it was still fun and entertaining.

This week is about to get crazy.  I found out yesterday that IrishBand has a late gig tonight, tomorrow night is the play-reading group, in which we’re reading the script for My Dinner With Andre.  Thursday night is a small Breanna gig, Friday night is a big Breanna gig, Saturday is IrishBandSinger’s birthday party at a 3 Leg Torso show, Sunday is a daytime ‘play’ consisting of a lot of personal narratives that we listen to in headphones.  It sounds a bit like This American Life, only the audience is involved somehow, by adding their own stories, and interacting at various times.  Can’t wait.

Today I drove a work friend to the hospital for some asthma-related breathing problems she’s been having.   She went in yesterday, apparently, and she felt the same thing coming on today, so she asked me to take her in.  Back at work, I’ve been involved in some very heavy, emotional, interesting and surprising conversations, that I think should remain private, other than to say that a small part of one of them involved pedophiles and what happens to them when they find themselves in prison.  Definitely not the type of conversations you expect to have when you wake up in the morning.  I have a feeling that’s what’s making me feel so pensive and odd today.

Speaking of which, I need to get back, actually.  I’m home writing this on my lunch break, and now it’s time to leave you.