Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Record Store Day!

 Saturday April 20th was Record Store Day.  Record Store Day occurs one Saturday every year and is used to encourage people to get out and support local independent music stores.

We decided to hang out at main st. music in Manayunk because our friends know the owner and the other cool music loving people who work there. 
Though I’ve lived in this area my entire life, this was my first trip to Manayunk.  I love places where you can leisurely wander about looking in store windows and eating tasty food…speaking of food, we started off our afternoon by having lunch.  We took a walk up and down an entire stretch of restaurants and shops, examining each eating establishment before settling on Cactus. 
After being seated our server brought us complimentary chips and salsa.  I must say and my eating companions agreed that it was some of the best restaurant salsa we have ever eaten.  It tasted smoky with just a touch of sweet.  They had to refill our chips and salsa before our meals arrived because we couldn’t stop stuffing our faces. 
The entire week leading up to record store day I suffered a hankering for enchiladas so I barely had to look at the menu before finalizing my decision.  The chicken enchiladas were amazing.  Like the salsa, the enchilada sauce was smoky with just a hint of sweet and there was such a thick gooey layer of cheese it was difficult to identify the enchiladas underneath.  The black beans and rice weren’t half bad either.

  Even the iced tea seemed perfect.  We really wanted to get dessert (specifically the strawberry funnel cake sundae) but after scarfing down enchiladas and burritos there was only a tiny bit of space left in our bellies so we paid our bill and set out to find a place to get a good cup of coffee.


Once caffeinated beverages were obtained we stopped in a cool science store called Spectrum Science.  There were a lot of fun things in the store from giant telescopes to gel ant farms. My cousin and I reminisced about our childhoods spent going to the Edmund Scientific store.  I most vividly remember my mom buying me a spy kit from Edmund.
When our scientific curiosities were satisfied, we finally made our way back to main st. music.  It was packed with a vast array of music loving individuals.  The people running the event said that it was the best turn out for a record store day thus far which I found impressive, especially in this day of instant digital music.
There were bands that were there either to play, sign things or both. 
  The store had plenty of new and used music to browse though and purchase.  The conversations that people had as they rifled through the cds and records were interesting.  People have such diverse tastes and strong loves and hates when it comes to their listening choices.
I bought this. 

Don’t make fun.  Sometimes you need to listen to fun happy bouncy music on those sunny blue sky fluffy cloud days.
Jamie and Mark (we know them and they are awesome!) were working the register.  They must have been exhausted by the end of the day as the stream of purchasing customers seemed never ending.
If you were hungry the store had free tomato pies and pepperoni bread to munch and if you were of age there was also free beer supplied by Heineken.  Free munchies, beer and good tunes, what more could you ask for during a sunny April Saturday afternoon?
If you missed Record Store Day this year make sure you catch it next year, and until then take some time to seek out an independent music store near you and show them a little love by stopping in and purchasing some music.  The nice thing about a physical store is that there are physical people working there who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all kinds of music and can help turn you on to the next band/musician that will make your ears happy.

*If you enjoy similar events, this coming Saturday, May 4th,  is Free Comic Book Day.  Check out this link to find a participating comic book store near you!

Free Comic Book Day

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Team Vicktory

When I was having all of my severe digestive/stomach issues I was tested for Crohn’s disease. The doctors thought that Crohn’s was a likely culprit, especially since I appear prone to autoimmune disorders but all of my tests came back negative for Crohn’s disease, to my relief, because it is a horrible disease. 

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation in your digestive track. It causes numerous stomach issues, intense pain and disrupts normal life.  I know two wonderful fellow geeky ladies who have Crohn’s disease and have heard from them about how much the disease disrupts their lives.  There are medications that can help and surgeries that can give bouts of remission/relief but not all of the medications and treatments work for everyone and many have terrible side effects. More research needs to be done to find a cure and end Crohn’s once and for all.

 Two Saturdays ago (I’m going to do my best to catch up eventually but life has been a bit crazy) our friends had a bowling event to raise money for Team Vicktory who will be taking part in Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis.  Their teenage daughter Victoria suffers from Crohn’s and if you think that Crohn’s is terrible for an adult just think how wretched it must be for a kid or teen.  As I’ve mentioned before it often has a significant effect on your day to day life.
Victoria's Dad sporting his Team Vicktory t-shirt
It has been at least eight or more years since I have been bowling (Wii bowling doesn't count). I was in a bowling league once. I was pretty good and have a winning trophy to prove it. During this event I learned that bowling is not like riding a bike (incidentally neither is riding a bike or so I learned in Costa Rica).  I could barely keep my ball straight and out of the gutter, but that didn’t matter because it still ended up being an enjoyable time.
My husband and I were paired in a lane with Jess and Walter.  They were great and a lot of fun, especially Walter because as soon as I saw him I wanted to bowl in the same lane with him.
Jess getting ready to show off some bowling moves
Walter was super cool

Everyone had fun bowling
Of course I had to wear this shirt

And don't forget the snazzy bowling shoes
There was also a raffle.  We bought some tickets and I won prizes!  I think I might be on a winning streak.  I may have to try my luck at winning a car or a yacht or something like that next.
Victoria and her mom handing out raffle tickets
Bowling was a great idea for a fund raising event and it was a fun day that sparked my desire to get more bowling in when I can or more like when I can find people who want to go bowling with me.
To find out more information about Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis check out their website
For information on how you can help or donate to Team Vicktory check out the Team Vicktory facebook page
This seemed like the kind of bowling club worth joining

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The night of Llamas and Rabbits-the music part

As I mentioned in my previous post, Union Transfer is a great venue to see concerts. I am told, the building was the old Spaghetti Warehouse (I always think it is funny that people place old in front of Spaghetti Warehouse when they describe what the building used to be as though there might be a new Spaghetti Warehouse lurking around the streets somewhere).

I find the inside of Union Transfer impressive.  It has the feel of an English country estate.  The kind of place where you would go to bed and then wake up to a breakfast of bubble and squeak before heading out on your fox hunt.  I love the huge old chandeliers, the diamond shaped patterns on the windows, the beautiful deep woods and the dark moody lighting. 

One of the other wonderful things about Union Transfer is that the bathrooms are clean and provide many stalls (you would appreciate this if you have ever had the unfortunate experience of having to use the bathroom at The Trocadero). The concerts we have seen at this venue so far have been general admission-standing room only so if you aren’t fond of spending an evening on your feet this may not be the place for you.

In my concert going groups’ defense, we are by no means concert hipsters but our preference does lean toward seeing bands/musicians who are not hugely popular, or who are not hugely popular yet in smaller concert venues.  This helps to...

-Weed out people who are there just to be there and to say they were there even if they aren’t fans of the band/musician and their music.  We like to be around people who love those performing and their music as much as we do.   Two summers ago we went to The Mann to see Frightened Rabbit who opened for Death Cab for Cutie.  We stayed for the whole night and while Death Cab performed there were two girls sitting in front of us who talked incessantly throughout the concert-over the music.  They discussed everything from their favorite episodes of The Office to why Taylor isn’t talking to Brittany because Taylor heard that Brittany told Ashley that she thought Taylor had an eating disorder even though Taylor just has a high metabolism….Every five minutes or so the girls would take selfies (see I’m hip with the kids’ lingo) with the band behind them and then instantly post it up on facebook with comments like “Look at me I’m so cool because I’m at the Death Cab for Cutie concert even though I haven’t actually listened to a single song they have played and you should be so jealous because maybe if you had tickets you could be hear actually listening to the band but we snagged your tickets instead,” or that’s what I imagine the comments would say if they were telling the truth.
Smaller venues with bands/musicians that aren’t crazy popular also helps to weed out people who are just looking for a place to congregate to drink beer and go whooooooo! (concerts in the basement of The Unitarian Church not included) Of course you can’t weed such things out entirely.
At one point Scott Hutchinson( the lead singer) of Frightened Rabbit pointed to this group.
He asked if they made a wrong turn going to their rave.  He then told them that unfortunately Skrillex was not performing next.  The point was that a concert with a Scottish indie rock band was not a glow necklace wearing event(for the record I enjoy a good glow accessory when appropriate).  Frightened Rabbit commanded a bit more class.  The couple wearing kilts; absolutely acceptable. 

The concert was great and Frightened Rabbit put on a hell of a show. Their energy was captivating and contagious.  You can tell how much a band loves their fans by the amount of sweat dripping from their bodies by the end of the night (unless they have some sort of glandular issue then it doesn’t count) and the band members were drenched in sweat. Of course they played my favorite song (Swim until you Can’t See Land) which was the cherry on top of an already incredible evening.

I encourage you to check out Frightened Rabbit and if you have never been to Union Transfer check out some upcoming concerts.  One final hint, I also really like a venue called Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia which is part bar-part concert venue.  They seem to be able to attract some amazing new/up and coming musicians and the tickets are incredibly cheap making it a good place if you are just looking for a night out, just be prepared for a long late night out as the main act usually doesn’t arrive on stage until after an average middle age person’s bed time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The night of Llamas and Rabbits-the eating part

Last Saturday we went to UnionTransfer in Philadelphia to see a band called Frightened Rabbit.  If you haven’t been to Union Transfer it is a great venue for concerts, but more about that later.  First as with most of our activities we had to eat.  For this adventure we tried a restaurant called LlamaTooth. 

Llama Tooth is located directly across the street from Union Transfer making it convenient if you happen to be seeing a concert. 

Since the weather seemed warmish we opted to sit outside on their patio with a little help from one of those heaters that looks like a light.  Llama Tooth has an extensive beer list though I didn’t have any my companions gave their choices a thumbs up. 

The restaurant had several intriguing looking mac and cheese options and we were planning to start out with the pulled pork mac and cheese but were informed by our waitress that the restaurant had run out of cheese….yeah I know, apparently someone had to run out and get more… so we had to forgo the cheesy goodness.  As an entrée I ordered the pulled pork tacos.  They were delicious…the kind of delicious where I wish they were sitting in front me right now so I could house them. 

We were hoping to while away more time at Llama Tooth until our concert so we inquired about dessert but all they were offering was a choice of sorbets which we passed on since as the sun went down the chill went up and the heater was ceasing to keep us sufficiently toasty .  We needed something to warm us up not freeze us further.
Still craving a sweet ending and perhaps a little extra pep before the concert we strolled to a place we had passed earlier in the evening.  It drew our attention because there was a description on the window reading “Chocolate Alchemist” (I added this to my list of potential future careers right behind farmer/homesteader and cheese artisan).  The restaurant was called Sazon.  Sazon was a cord of cool.  The first cool thing was that we got to sit at a gorgeous  bar carved from a tree while sitting on tree carved stools.  Next the menu made us swoon. 

There was chocolate everywhere and not just any old chocolate.  It was real pure chocolate from Venezuela.   I ordered a café mocha.

My husband ordered this fancy drink.  He told me it was extra deep dark chocolatey and that I probably would not have liked it, but it did look yummy.  He loves dark chocolate.  I like dark chocolate sometimes when I'm in the mood for it.

All of our drinks were scrumptious.  When you have excellent quality chocolate you know and this was quality chocolate.  The other cool thing was that the Chocolate Alchemist himself was there and he chatted with us for a bit about chocolate and authentic Venezuelan food.  We vowed to go back and eat some of that authentic food on another night and of course if we return, we get to have more scrumptious chocolate alchemy.  One word of warning if you want to have some chocolate too, Sazon is a cash only restaurant. 

We were now ready to go hear Frightened Rabbit.
While we were sitting on the patio at Llama Tooth we were watching two girls who were sitting on their roof watching us.  I wondered if there was such a thing as a People Watching Vortex because I think we may have been endanger of triggering it