Saturday, February 25, 2006

Buffalo Spree Fun

Many readers here know I am a contributing writer for Buffalo Spree Magazine and that Val has contributed photographs to several (mostly my) stories, but the new edition, which we got in the mail Friday, is pretty cool for reasons other than our usual participation.
As far as I am concerned, the best part is the "Artist Spotlight" article on Val by Chris Stuccio. I may seem like a biased observer/spouse, but I feel the article, featuring two of Val's recent photographs plus a photo of Val herself, is very deserved. Val works long and hard on her art and has worked in many styles and formats, and indeed, I enjoyed her photography for years before we even started dating. So make sure if you haven't that you pick up a copy of Buffalo Spree and read that article, and you can check out Val's photography on exhibit at the College Street Gallery during March; the reception will be held from 8-10 p.m. Friday, March 3, and more will be written about it here soon.
But wait, there's more; the photos that were taken during Buffalo BloggerCon II and shown on the Buffalo Spree blog are also published in this issue in the back section, and finally, our gal Jennifer Smith from All Things Jen(nifer) appears in yet another photo as the winner of the worst date contest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Olympic Tears

Val and I are much bigger fans of the CBC coverage of the Winter Olympics over that of NBC (starting with but not limited to the much better hockey coverage), but man, the piece I just watched on NBC of Vonetta Flowers and her family, particularly that of her deaf son who just had surgery and has started to respond to sounds, had me in tears. But we will still be watching CBC by about an 80-20 percent edge.

Monday, February 20, 2006

More on Mike....

The CD party for Mike Meldrum was great. As predicted, Mike had a Who's Who of the Buffalo music scene on stage with him to assist on making his songs sound as great as possible. Most had already helped out on the album...
Whoever was not onstage was in the audience. Buffaloroots will have a review of the show as well as the album. Coming soon....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mike Meldrum!

Mike has served the WNY music community for many years. Finally, we have a time to celebrate just for him.
His "Open Ended Question" CD release party will be at Nietzsche's, 248 Allen Street, Saturday night 2/18 (tomorrow, that is) starting at 8pm. The CD is being released by Righteous Babe Records and has been 3 years in the making. Contributing on vocals is Ani DiFranco, and adding with instruments and vocals are Alison Pipitone, Michael Sheffield, Chris Panfil, Rob Lynch, Michael Morrissey, Jim Whitford, Four Shillings Short, Glenn Wallace, John Brady, Inga Yanoski, Sasha Spilleriff, John Allen, Barbara Way Wydysh, Joelle Labert, Geno McManus, Matt Pszonak and Ed Zielinski. It will be a star studded event- Mike has got a lot of friends in the music scene here....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Wedding Story

I had promised a few people that I would detail Val and my wedding in Las Vegas June 23, 2002, and it seems that Valentine's Day is as good a time as any
While Val and I met in 1985 (another story of its own), we did not go on our first date until 2000; in fact, our first date/get together was the annual Americanarama roots music festival here in Buffalo, which I was there to cover and she was there to shoot for our respective publications. By the end of the night, as possibly the only two sober people there, we necked like high school kids while The Irving Klaws played the closing set. We went on our first "official" date the next weekend; I knew right then that Val was the woman for me.
I asked Val to marry me exactly one year after our first date, June 23, 2001, also during Americanarama (a two-day event at this point). When she said yes, Val also told me an interesting little story: her mother, Janice, had recently paid for the wedding of Val's sister, Tricia, to Brad Dossinger (what a great pair of people, now a trio with their one-year-old son, Jack). When her mother talked to her about her sister's wedding, she said to Val, "you're not going to want all of this, are you?" Val replied no, so as it worked out, her mother gave her the same amount of money, before we started dating, for a down payment on the house we live in on Buffalo's West Side.
"So, as you can see, we're living in our wedding present," Val said. "I told my mother, 'the man who is going to marry me will be one who will want to get married by Elvis in Las Vegas.'" You want to?" I replied, and she did, so we started planning.
We decided to get married June 23, 2002, to continue our tradition, and approached a travel agent a friend had recommended, and he put together a great package.
Val and I got to Las Vegas a few days before our wedding, and yes, it was amazingly hot; the daily high temperature for the 5 days we were there never got below 100 degrees. We stayed at the Riviera Hotel, which, while not among the elite hotels, was more than good enough and was much more affordable than the Luxor, Caesar's Palace, Bellagio and others. It had a pretty good pool, several restaurants, rental cars and was near just about everything we wanted to visit, It also had a safe in the room, which we were happy to have to store money, valuables and most importantly, Val's camera equipment and our wedding rings in while we did other things. Brad and Tricia were going to join us for a few days in Las Vegas; they had planned to visit Brad's brother and family in northern Arizona, so they timed it to coincide with our visit and to serve as best man, matron of honor and witnesses for our wedding.
We had arranged before we left to have our wedding ceremony at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, just a few miles down the Strip from the Riviera, and were given the choice of a young (rocker) Elvis or older (plump/Vegas) Elvis; we chose to have a younger Elvis officiate. When we got to Las Vegas, we called Viva Las Vegas and solidified the arrangements so they would know when to send the limousine to our hotel to pick us up for the wedding. The four of us then did some touristy things, visiting several hotels, eating LOTS of great, affordable buffets, swam at the pool, gambled a little (Val and I vowed to spend $20 and basically stuck to the slots, and we stopped after losing $20 each) and just had a great time.
So, the day of the wedding came, and while we continued to do the above-mentioned things, Val and I were a bit nervous in the happy nervous manner, with the upcoming wedding in our minds at all times. After a short swim it was time to get ready for our early-afternoon trip to Viva Las Vegas, so we showered and were getting changed, Val into a white shirt, jeans and Western boots, me in jeans, an Ireland rugby sweater and steel-toed boots.
We were all but ready to go, so after we called Viva Las Vegas to confirm the limousine, Val went the safe to get her camera, necklace and, most importantly, our wedding rings (which were crafted in Ireland) so we could go downstairs to meet Tricia and Brad and the car. So, Val turned the dial left, right, left, etc., for the combination to open the safe ... and it did nothing. It would not open, not even partly, and after trying it oh, 50-100 times, Val let me try it for about the same amount of attempts, again with no success. We were getting frantic, and called the main desk; they called their locksmith, who was on the road, and they said he could get to the hotel for a few hours. Yes, hours. When Tricia and Brad came to our room, wondering where we were, we were way past nervous and Val was crying as she called Viva Las Vegas to tell them to not send the limo. They said they would see if they could fit us in that night or the next day, if we got to the rings.
Seeing Val crying over this as she told me and feeling as pissed off as I can remember, I yelled the expletive that rhymes with "truck," went to the safe, reared my right leg back as far as possible and kicked the safe with all my might with my just-remembered steel-toed boots. The safe made a loud, whirring sound, vibrated and popped open. We grabbed our rings and other items, called Viva Las Vegas and told them to send the driver back. We were downstairs in an instant and as soon as the limo got there, we climbed in and were on our way, wondering just how secure things in the safe had been.
Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel has several rooms for various sizes and themes of weddings; we chose the basic package with the above-mentioned young Elvis, and our package included three songs. We got the run-through from a few staffers, including one woman with a thick German accent whose brusque, often rude manner screamed cliche. As Tricia stood on one side of the, um, altar I guess, Elvis came out; his hair was a pretty good copy of the young, rocking Elvis and he had a decent resemblance facially, but I was initially thrown by his really deep, fake tan. I didn't remember either young or old Elvis resembling a chocolate dessert. He introduced himself (redundant?), explained a few things and then the "Wedding March" began and Brad led Val out. I can't remember a time before or since that I had smiled so much, and Val looked like she was feeling the same. During the ceremony, Elvis found it necessary to shake and thrust his pelvis at certain times and words, and not only was it funny the first time, it continued to be funny; of course, it could have been my giddiness.
One other thing that surprised Val and I was that our Elvis was a bit more tenor than either we expected or than Elvis Presley ever sang, but he was a lot of fun and after the ceremony had ended and they could pry Val and I apart, he led us in an extended version of "Viva Las Vegas" that actually got Brad and I dancing along with Tricia and Val and then posed for some photos with us. Yes, a video of that dancing and the wedding exists, and no, none of it will be posted here.
We went out to dinner at a lobster buffet at the Flamingo Hotel, and the food, from lobster and chicken to what seemed like hundreds of desserts, was incredibly good. The next day was the last full day Tricia and Brad would be with us in Las Vegas, and we started it at the pool. While I was swimming in the shallow end, just after I got in, I pushed off the bottom, and as I did that, I felt my ring come off. My gosh, what a crappy feeling I had, but I immediately told Val, Tricia and Brad, and after they got over their shock, they joined me in searching the pool, from inside and out, About 10-15 other people joined us, but about 30-45 minutes of this turned up nothing. I was now wearing a mask the hotel lent us, and as I was searching one area, Tricia, who was on the outside of the pool looking for items in the deep end, yelled that she saw something in about 12 feet of water in the middle of the pool. I swam to the bottom and then along the bottom to the area Tricia mentioned. I saw something right away, and as I closed in ... YES, it was my ring. I grabbed it and shot to the surface, yelling "I got it" as I broke the surface. I put the ring away then and wore a bandage under it for the rest of the trip, and I now have a plastic piece to tighten the ring on it that I wear all the time. I know I could get it fixed, but I simply do not want to take my wedding ring off for a week to do it.
The rest of the trip remained an awful lot of fun but, except for a stunning visit to Red Rock Canyon, supplied no more unexpected excitement, and while some people know, let me say this: I love Val at least as much, and I think more, today than I ever have. Happy Valentine's Day, dear.

Dear Alan and Jen(nifer)

Yeah, I got your asked-for snowfall, right here ... I expect to see some serious frolicking and a couple of lawn angels from you two.
It's amazing what a 5 a.m. snow shoveling session can do to one's disposition.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cheese as Hidden Benefit

Val and I had a great time at the grand opening of Chateau Buffalo, the New York State wine store, NY foods emporium and wine tasting business on Hertel Avenue last Friday. Carl Schmitter and Suzi Maciejewski have done a wonderful job with the business and deserve a lot of success, and Val's photos on exhibit there not only received a lot of compliments, she sold two works. If the large, happy crowd there for the grand opening was any indicator, Chateau Buffalo will do well.
But because I left a small notebook there and Val forgot to bring red dots to mark the pieces she had sold, we returned to Chateau Buffalo later that weekend. A customer was just leaving and Carl and Suzi were cleaning up some things and packing away cheese, cookies and other items. Suzi was relentless in asking us to take some food with us, so we took some of the cookies we had brought for the grand opening (but noticed that some of the cookies and other items we brought had been enjoyed by the crowd) as well as a bag with a bit more than a pound of cheese.
As we joked about what we could do with all of that cheese, Carl remarked, "How about a homemade four-cheese pizza?" Well, we actually have five cheeses in the bag (Swiss, Colby, pepper jack, a white cheese and a slightly smokey cheddar) and they made a great homemade pizza, along with some cut up deli chicken.

In Mourning

Readers may recall my writing here about a week ago about Kim Wilson, a friend of Val and me and a particularly good friend of Val, who was having some difficulty in her fight with cancer. Sadly, Kim died Wednesday morning, surrounded by relatives and close friends. Val wrote a very nice piece, accompanied by a photo of Kim, at her other blog, Creative Buffalo, of which a link appears to the right (sorry, my HTML skills suck).
Kim was a wonderful wife (to Mike), friend, artist, colleague (she and her great friend, Mar Penner Griswold, operate State of the Art, a custom framing business on Hertel Avenue) and mother of sorts to her two Jack Russell terriers, Jester and Pixel. She had a sometimes sharp sense of humor that never crossed over into malice. Kim and Mar gave Val and I an absolutely beautiful wedding gift, a very nicely framed version of our wedding party invitation with some engraving and a claddagh underneath (both Val and I are of Irish descent). It is hung on the wall of our sun room, a room of escape, refuge and contemplation for us that if we could, we would spend our entire summer inside, and will be a constant reminder of Kim's spirit.
Kim has fortunately ended her suffering and gone on to another level, while we miss her with heavy hearts, knowing her spirit will always be with us.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rolling Stones

OK, maybe I'm unAmerican, but the only reason I watched any of the SuperBowl is for what I saw a few moments ago. The Stones did a pretty good three song set. Now, I'm not familiar (yet) with the new album, but the second song, Rough Justice (thanks Cathy), was pretty damn good. Ron Wood had a really raw, cool sounding guitar part. If anyone knows what kind of guitar he was playing, please let me know in the comments.
And anyone who likes to makes jokes about how old they are now, show me you have as nice an ass as Mick Jagger and I might think about listening to you. Then there was that tight little tummy he was showing off. Janet Jackson coulden't hold a candle to that....
Pardon me now, I'm going to watch Family Guy reruns.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sabres, Val, Kevin Return to HSBC

Following a successful (4-2) road trip, the Buffalo Sabres return home to host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 2, at the HSBC Arena. Val and I will be attending our third game of the season, thanks to a Christmas gift of 50 Sabre Bucks from Val's sister Tricia and her husband Brad; for some reason, the Sabres/Flyers game was a Bronze game, and we got two very good Level 300 tickets for 48 Sabre Bucks.
Sadly for Val and I, after several years of having Mini Packs, we could not afford to renew them this season (serious financial considerations), so of course, we will miss out on the chance for buying playoff tickets early. Neither of us have attended a Sabres' playoff game (I did attend a Braves' playoff game), but someday ...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

We love you, Kelly

"Kenny G's musical legacy is roughly analogous to the rice cake's culinary legacy." Check this Byzantium Shores link to see why we love him (if the above quote is not enough)....