Monday, July 26, 2004

Weekend Balancing Act

Friday Night
I didn’t have a lot planned for this past weekend. I went into it pretty much open and unplanned, mostly because my wife Michelle was already occupied with her friend Mrs. Franklin, visiting here with her thirteen year-old daughter from Memphis to go shopping in Nashville and do what they do best, an activity Mr. Franklin and I several years ago dubbed swatching. This involves discussing all things related to home decorating, including antiques, decorator seamstressing (window treatments and such — which always seems to involve poring over a half dozen fabric swatches – hence the name), and studying the latest articles in Southern Living Magazine or that cute room treatment they'd just seen on Trading Spaces. These women can lose themselves in this stuff so completely that they make two guys engrossed in a ballgame on TV look like a couple of restless five year-olds.

So while I’m always happy to socialize when Michelle’s friend comes to visit, I never feel the need to hang out with them, since they always do their own thing. On those occasions that Mr. Franklin comes as well, I’m happy to hang out with him. He’s a cool guy and we get along well. At any rate, I knew that nobody would necessarily miss me this weekend if I was off doing my own thing. So my tentative plan was to spend as much time as possible catching up on my reading of some of the other blogger’s sites that I like to follow, but which I’ve been unable to because of time crunches over the past week and a half. However an unexpected opportunity to do something else I enjoy presented itself before I left work Friday afternoon.

About 4:30 PM my office phone rang. It was my friend McGriff, who was calling to say that he and his girlfriend and a couple other of his friends were going down to an outdoor concert in downtown Nashville. He asked if I was interested in joining them. I’ve been seeing much less of him over the past couple years, mostly because he now has a girlfriend, Linda, and she understandably occupies most of his free time. It’s cool. I certainly realize that this is usually the natural progression of friendships when someone goes from “always available single-guy with no girlfriend” to “rarely available single guy with a live-in girlfriend.” I’ve experienced it before, and because of that have guarded myself against any frustration that might arise because of it.

So now, whenever we do get together, and there’s always a “we really oughtta do this more often” kind of statement at some point in the evening from McGriff, I just have to smile. I enjoy hanging out with him, regardless of however seldom it ends up being. So of course I said yes.

Family Fun
Now I had known about this concert several weeks earlier, but really hadn’t planned on dealing with Friday night traffic downtown to go by myself. But since I hadn’t seen McGriff in a few months, and the headliner was “They Might Be Giants” a fun, popular early 90s band that I’d really wanted to see for some time, it was a no-brainer.

We had planned meet at a bar across the street from the parking lot in which the concert stage was set up for this six-week series of shows. The bar was one of the primary sponsors of the series, which will be featuring the likes of Isaac Hayes, Better Than Ezra, Cowboy Mouth and Cracker as headliners. I met McGriff and his friends, who I also knew from previous activities. It was 2-for-1 draft night, and the first band was already onstage, so as we all stood and talked, I made as short work as I could of a couple Amber Bocks (it was easily the fastest I’ve ever drunk two beers in my life). After amazing everyone with my chugging skillz, we headed over to the concert.

We missed the opening act (a guy named Charlie Mars — I hope he wasn’t really good…) and were quite pleased to miss the second, but I’m so very glad we didn’t!

Boys and girls, if you ever get the chance, you simply must NOT MISS The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players! Because the proper words escaped me when trying to describe them, I found their web site and they give this description:

“The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are a truly unique experience. A real family band, they feature 10-year old Rachel on drums, dad Jason on guitar and vocals, and mom Tina manning the slide projector. Their strange songs about discarded family vacation slides (which they picked up at yard sales and thrift stores) are unlike anything heard in music before. Outsider art? A knowing in-joke? You decide.”

These guys were HILARIOUS! They truly are a family. The Dad, who plays keyboard and guitar, is a nerdy Rick Moranis (The McKenzie Brothers/Honey I Shrunk the Kids) type, and his daughter plays the drums, while the Mom runs the slide projector that provides the visual backdrop of their songs. The slides are unbelievably ordinary which somehow makes them unbelievably funny. The lyrics are fast and chatty, the singing is off-key and uneven. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but from the moment they begin to the end of the last song, you’re laughing so hard you don’t care.

The Trachtenburg’s act is witty and campy — just loads of fun.

They are playing on John McEnroe's new TV show on MSNBC next Wednesday, July 28th at 10 PM EDT if you want to check ‘em out. I know I will. Apparently they also were quite the buzz this at the famous music showcase festival “South by Southwest” in Austin, Texas this past spring. This band was a lot of fun.

A Huge Performance
Following the Trachtenburgs, the main act came on, They Might Be Giants. They were great as well. A web bio for the band describes them thusly:

“Oft-called the best-educated band in the world, they have hewn a career out of wordplay, paranoia, wide-ranging sampling and a musical style that's embraced just about everything worth embracing.”

If their name doesn’t ring a bell, the Giants enjoyed their greatest success in the early 90s with hits, “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” and “The Guitar.” Unfortunately they didn’t do another one of my faves, the theme song for the Fox comedy, Malcolm in the Middle, “Boss of Me.” They’re witty, intelligent and are a very tight band musically.

For those of you in the NYC area, the Giants are playing a hometown gig in Brooklyn at Prospect Park next Friday. I’d highly recommend them. They were awesome.

All in all, it was a great night. McGriff and I planned to get together soon, and hopefully we will. But it was great to get out among the living again for a change.

However I’d soon be back behind my keyboard, tending to my other planned activity for the weekend, taking a tour of my neighborhood in blogland.

Making up for realtime
Over the past ten days or so, between work and writing my own blog, I’d fallen behind on my reading of just about everyone I like to read. But I now I’d get a chance to make up for lost time. It was great. I had a chance to casually read up on every blog I’d fallen behind on as well as several I had never read but always wanted to. And with all that I had time to fit in a few chores like mowing the lawn and scrubbing the deck and deck furniture. I also did a little shopping on eBay (gawd how I love to win!), as well as scanning and retouching some photos that I’ll be using in my next blog post. I even made a few appearances downstairs so as to keep me from totally looking like I was ignoring everyone else in my house. It’s just so seldom that I make plans to do something on a weekend, and then actually have the opportunity to follow through, uninterrupted. In my opinion It was a perfect balancing act between my real life and my virtual life.

And to top it off, Michelle made an absolutely awesome pot roast dinner Sunday night. Mmmmmm!

I had a good weekend. I hope you did too.
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