Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   live music on my birthday
Friday, February 16 2024
Today was my 56th birthday (I know, right?) and Gretchen and I treated it like another day of the weekend. We had coffee, made a fire in the woodstove, and played collaboratively played the New York Times Spelling Bee until we queen beed. Then Gretchen had the idea that we should walk the dogs in the abandoned bluestone quarry (about 3890 feet nearly due west). If I came along and we drove there, then Neville would go on the walk too and get some exercise. There was thin dusting of snow on the ground, but we took the Chevy Bolt and parked at the fork in Lorenz Road and walked from there. It was a sunny but cold, blustery day, though the winds moderated a bit near the mine face, which takes the form of a long cliff running north and south, blocking the westerly winds. Neville was unusually good at keeping up with us, suggesting that he recent hikes (and healing claws, a couple of which had been broken off and painful) is putting him in better shape to hike.
Near the southern end of the quarry, at the place where an ancient stone wall marks the boundary between Hurley and Marbletown, Charlotte came out of the forest with the remnants of a deer skull with both a cranium and a lower jaw. I went into the forest, walking over a jumbled (but tree-covered) landscape of what appeared to be mining rubble to look for the rest of the skeleton, but couldn't find it. Meanwhile, the skull's lower jaw had separated from the cranium, giving both dogs something to chew on. Neville settled down upon a hump of forested mine rubble to work on the jawbones whole Charlotte frolicked about with the cranium. I couldn't convince Neville to head back with us to the car, so we just left him there. I then drove back into the mine to retrieve him and found that by then he'd walked nearly out of it. So I pushed open the passenger door and he climbed aboard, delighted he no longer had to walk.
Back at the house, Gretchen assembled my traditional homemade birthday pizza featuring vegan pepperoni, portobello mushrooms, and a cashew ricotta cheese with pesto. When it was done, I managed to eat three slices of it before I could eat no more. (This was on top of a slice of cheery pie and a cream-cheese croissant I'd had earlier.)


This evening, Gretchen and I left the dogs behind and went to the Bear Cantina in Bearsville for my birthday dinner. (Our tradition is for me to get Mexican food on my birthday, and the Bear Cantina is the perfect mix of gourmet and nostalgia when it comes to that cuisine.) With my Impossible enchiladas, I got a spicy mango margarita, which came with a spicy salt on the rim and a straw dipped in some sort of dehydrated spicy mango paste. When Gretchen would get up to go to the bathroom or get reusable to-go containers from the car, I would check in on the news sites to look for reactions to the days's best birthday present ever: a judgment against Donald Trump and his mafia-style real estate organization in excess of $400,000,000. It looks as if Trump's decades of impunity may indeed be coming to an end.
After dinner, we went to the Colony Café in nearby Woodstock (where we'd got tickets on the way) to attend the evening's show. Gretchen had played me some of the music we'd be hearing tonight, and I'd liked the music from an act called Squirrel Flower, though I was dubious about the music of someone called Greg Menendez. When we arrived, Babehoven, the first of two opening acts, was on stage, and they had a great summery alt-country sound that we very much liked. Meanwhile we were up in the balcony area of the Colony trying to find a place where we could sit down with a view of the stage. This wasn't easy, and I thought Gretchen was putting too much effort into it. Eventually we were in a pair of high chairs along the back wall, which was okay. I went downstairs and got myself a Jack Daniels on the rocks while the next act, Greg Menendez, was setting up. His music was a grim series of mumbles, and his spaced-out stage presence seemed like it might be an affectation. So Gretchen and I spent his performance in the upstairs pool room, where a couple were shooting pool while a bartender stood at a small bar I hadn't known about, ready to sell a small range of beverages. Since she had no line and not much to do except occasionally do tequila shots with the people playing pool, that looked like the best place to be buying drinks.
Then Squirrel Flower took the stage, starting with a very slow song which was mostly the vocalist (that's Squirrel Flower herself) singing over a pre-recorded track of her own voice while the the rest of the four-piece band did very little. Squirrel Flower's real name is Ella Williams, and her sharp face sticks out from an unruly mass of curly hair she has done little to tame. It's an unexpected look for a white female musician, so I expected (as I told Gretchen, alluding to the viability of musical acts where beauty isn't an important attribute) her vocals to be amazing. And I wasn't disappointed. Next came the heartbreakingly beautiful two-minute anthem to young adult malaise, "Full Time Job." It was such a loud wall of sound (and the work of the drummer so cavemanlike) that I decided Squirrel Flower must actually be a shoegaze band. Other songs were extremely slow in a way that reminded me of the band Low, while there was at least one song ("Alley Light") that sounded like alt-country on an acid trip. If I had any criticism, it was that some of the songs could've used a little syncopation. Overall, it was exactly the kind of music I want to see when I go to a show, so it was a great experience. Gretchen seemed to love it as well. We hadn't been to a show together in a very long time.

Neville in the bluestone quarry. Click to enlarge.

Gretchen with Charlotte in the bluestone quarry. Click to enlarge.

Charlotte with the cranium in the bluestone quarry. Click to enlarge.

Me drinking my margarita tonight at the Bear Cantina in Bearsville. Click to enlarge.

Squirrel Flower and her band tonight at the Colony Café. Click to enlarge.

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