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Pat And Beth’s Prog Rock Adventure

I never set out to see three aging progressive rock acts in the space of 5 days, but sometimes you have to drop everything to go see these guys while they’re still on top of their game and still have a pulse.

Anyways this was our itinerary a couple of weeks ago:

  • Thursday 09/19/2019 – King Crimson – Wang Theater – Boston
  • Sunday 09/22/2019 – Rick Wakeman – Tupelo Music Hall – Londonderry, NH
  • Tuesday 09/24/2019 – Steve Hackett – Wilbur Theater – Boston

King Crimson (50th anniversary tour): A bunch (seven! – 3 of them drummers!) of brilliant musicians playing complicated, chaotic music for their die-hard but extremely nerdy fans. They never once spoke to the audience, but made up for it by playing for 3 hours. Their leader, Robert Fripp looks like a bald gnome in business attire and headphones, but his guitar still scrapes, crunches, screams and sings like it was 1973. I had a near-religious experience when they played Discipline, and actually pumped my aging, wrinkly fist during the opening bars of Red.

Better than I dared hope for.

Rick Wakeman (Grumpy Old Rock Star Tour): This was almost the exact opposite of the King Crimson show. It was just Rick Wakeman playing solo piano and telling stories and jokes between musical numbers. It’s kind of like having your favorite old British uncle tell stories about how he barely survived the 70’s and 80’s – that is if your uncle is also a musical genius who plays jaw-dropping, transcendent piano in between potty jokes.

Wonderful.

Steve Hackett (Genesis Revisited):

Okay.

This night at the Wilbur theatre (a run-down but funky theatre next door to the Wang) meant a lot to me. I’m a huge Genesis fan, and always preferred some of their older stuff when Steve Hackett was their lead guitar player. When I found out that Hackett and his band would be playing Genesis’ album “Selling England By the Pound” start to finish I knew I couldn’t miss this show. I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much when I begged Beth if we could do the THIRD show in 5 days. I didn’t get down on my knees – but I would have.

Anyways – I will fast forward the more maudlin bits, like how I may have wept just a little bit during the solo in “Firth of Fifth”, and sang every word to “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight”. In summary this was great music very well done by a bunch of very talented musicians. Steve Hackett is absolutely in top form and seems to really be enjoying himself. The crowd loved it.

Very special night. I had the time of my life.

My advice – If you see some of your old heroes out there on tour, a BUY THE TICKETS! MAKE THE TIME!

Nuff Said.

Sailing With Captain Dan

I’m spending a few Days aboard the good ship Columbia with Captain Dan. We’re in New Bedford, MA today. We’ll be heading through the cape cod Canal tomorrow morning.

When In Buffalo…

The last couple of dispatches from Buffalo have been about bizarrely named eateries and obscure seasonal pastries. This time I offer you a quick study in anthropology.

Observe the Western New York native in her natural habitat (i.e. the Anchor Bar at the Buffalo Airport) – a Labatt’s Blue in one hand, and an honest-to-God Buffalo chicken wing in the other. Note the expression of deep satisfaction and the twinkle in her eye. She is traveling back to New England, so she is not wearing her colorful native costume (i.e. a Sabres jersey and a Bills hat).

Isn’t she a beauty?

She is traveling with this guy from Franklin County who is wondering why he can’t find a Michigan stand anywhere.

Charlie The Butcher

Maybe I’ve seen one too many slasher movies, but this seems a rather alarming name. Especially if you don’t know what Beef on Weck is.

Somehow I picture a chain of themed restaurants spread out along the New York State Thruway: Charlie the Butcher(Buffalo)– Mickey the Meat Cleaver(Rochester) — Annie’s Abbatoir (two locations – Syracuse and Albany).

The food was really good once we got past the name. And yes, we had Beef on Weck.

Life in the Fasnacht Lane

Not long ago, we were planning a trip to western New York State to visit Beth’s mom. Beth turned to me and said “It’s Lent so we can get Fasnas”.

“Get what?”, I asked, tentatively probing my ear canal for excess wax. Either she was mumbling that last word or (more likely) my hearing was failing me.

“Fasnas,” she repeated, as if she expected me to know what that meant.

It turns out that “Fasna” is how the natives of Williamsville, NY pronounce “Fasnacht”. According to Wikipedia, a Fasnacht is “a fried doughnut of German origin served traditionally in the days of Carnival and Fastnacht or on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent starts.”

So we went to New York and got Fasnachts at Paula’s Donuts where they are made fresh daily between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

They’re pretty wonderful. Sort of like a cross between a homemade donut and the fried dough you get at county fairs. They’re quite addictive, and of course you have to eat them all at one go because they’re only good when they’re absolutely fresh – which is true but seems to be primarily an excuse to make multiple trips to Paula’s in the same 24 hour period.

So I at my first Fastnachts ever in my 56 years on the planet and they were delicious and I only regret the massive fat and sugar intake a little bit. But…

32 Years.

Thirty…..TwoYears.

I have spent thirty two years with this woman. We have laughed, cried, bought two houses, and made two human beings together.

And never in all that time was I made aware that Fastnachts existed, indeed were available at a donut shop no more than 5 minutes from Beth’s childhood home.

Western New York has lots of great local foods. I’ve been introduced to Buffalo Wings, Teds Hot Dogs, Mighty Tacos, Roast Beef on Weck, and Sponge Candy, all of which I love.

But not Fasnachts.

Not until now.

What else is she keeping from me?

I’m troubled.

Bradshaw Christmas In January 2019 Edition

Well… better late than never. We did our usual 2018 Christmas get-together in Chateaugay in the middle of January, 2019. We played with the Grand-nephews. We bonded over baking bread and sampling all sorts of whiskey. We had a yankee swap.

The nephews and nieces are, thoroughly grown up by now, and we relished the time we got to spend with them. We loved them as kids, and now it’s such a treat to discover that we really like them as adults, too.

The best part for me as always was time spent with these three people. I can always be completely myself around them. It’s not like I have a choice – they were all there for my formative years, so they know what a nerd I am. And what a rotten kid I was – sorry about the electric fence thing in the late 60’s, Angie.

New Years Eve 2018

It’s 1 AM on January 1st, 2019. Beth is asleep. I am blogging. We finished a teeny-tiny bottle of Prosecco, while watching a movie with the cats (Wonder Woman if you must know – really liked it). We did not break out any funny hats or noisemakers. We texted greetings to the kids in Brooklyn, NY and Weare, NH, and Facebook messaged my siblings. That’s as crazy as it gets at our place these days.

We wish all the best to our friends and family, and hope that 2019 is good to you.

Pat & Beth

Windows

Old pictures of my family or of my home town are like small, clouded windows into the past.  I want to wipe away the fog that has turned the picture black and white.  I want to peer at them from a sharp angle in the hopes of seeing something that’s just out of the frame.  I want to squeeze through and walk past my stiffly posed ancestors and into the house that I was born in as it was a hundred years ago or more.  There is a picture of my hometown, Chateaugay New York, looking North out of the center of town.  It is the 1870s.  My family’s farm is straight down the road that leads North out of town, or up to the top of the picture.  I know they’re there, frozen in their tracks, caught in one moment of their day, three miles away.  But it’s so close.  I know that intersection. I know that road.  Why can’t I just break the glass and crawl through the window into that sepia tinted world, and walk North on that muddy road to meet my great-great grandparents?

 

Sliding Towards the Solstice.

This time of year has always seemed to me like the beginning of a three month trip through a long dark tunnel. The light is strange, and the shadows are long.  For a while in October, we could hope for an Indian Summer, and pretend that we didn’t need to find the boots and hats and shovels and scrapers.  Not any more.  There is no snow on the ground yet, but the air is sharp, and when the wind blows, you know that its over.  Fall is gone and we’re heading into the long cold dark.  The days are over as soon as they begin.  If you sleep in, you’ll get six hours of meager, under-water daylight.

Nothing is certain.  We rely on the furnace to keep us warm, and if it fails we’re in trouble.  We hope that the weather will hold and that our sons can come home from college for Thanksgiving.  I hope that the snowblower will start.  At 56 I can still shovel the driveway but I REALLY don’t want to.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and after that the Christmas season will here.  We’ll celebrate the annual effort to hold out against the deepest part of Winter. We’ll all be together, and we’ll enjoy our cocoon of warmth and light. But right now I’m sitting at my kitchen table, listening to the wind and to the leaves rustling against the window.

And I’m thinking about the thin envelop of comfort and safety between us and the dark.

The Bloggess Has Spoken

Jenny Lawson must be spying on me.

A week or two ago, I found a backup of my defunct Typepad blog, and put it back up on the internet on a whim.

And TODAY Jenny Lawson (she of TheBloggess.com) posted an EXORTATION to all bloggers to celebrate  and renew their commitment to blogging:

Holy crap – how did she know? That after blogging about the joys and minor irritations of parenthood I had become distracted by social media? And that I lost a bit of my narrative voice when the kids got older and went off to college?  When did she figure out that I am itching to say something but don’t know where to begin again? How did she know that I was sitting here staring at the “Add New Post” screen on my new WordPress Blog trying to figure out what to say?

Well, godammit I’m back.

Thanks, Jenny.

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