April 12th, 2010
The Week That Was 4.11.10
Weeks following long weekends tend to feel more excruciating than the rest. Where did my four day work week go? When you’re like me and have a vacation lurking just around the corner, you tend to get even more antsy. Trying to hold on to your sanity while looking forward to days you don’t have to clock in is a tough thing to do. That’s when you know it’s time to overload the social calendar.
Guys’ Night is Resurrected, Bocce Ensues
With one of the founding members of my “Guys’ Night” crew getting married, there was a question of whether or not Guys’ Night would survive once he returned from his honeymoon. Who were we kidding? Everyone knows that as long as there are basement sports caves, strong stouts, Scotch and cigars, male-bonding time will always prevail. Instead of giving up on the dream, we added two more to the team of chest-thumping, crotch-grabbing, bloviating men. The crew met at Hans’ Bierhaus in the Village on Quenby. Bocce was the target for the night. Being of the most Italian of names (and growing up playing the game in my grandfather’s backyard,) you would figure that I would be a shoe-in to be voted to the Hans’ League Bocce All-Star Team. Alas, there is no such mastery of the Italian lawn game in my bowling arm. I conveniently blame it on the beer. The Kona Pipeline Porter that I started the night with was absolutely horrid. I’ll have Brian make a note of that in the next First Sip.
Tuesday Teas at the Marquis
There isn’t a bar in Houston that brings me back to my college days like the Marquis II. Perhaps if Blink were still around and it would be socially acceptable as a late 20’s non-creeper (ostensibly) to be a patron of, then there might be a contender for the title of Most Nostalgic. Only the rarest of occasions call for a trip down Bissonnet to the windowless cave of the Marquis. When an original member of the long since dissolved Story-Time at the Marquis’ birthday happened to fall on a Tuesday, there was no doubt where we would celebrate and that we would be drinking Long Island Teas. I made it to the bar a little too early, beating the rest of the rabblerousers and had to weather the “long time, no see” conversation. Comforting as it is to know it’s been a long time since you walked in the dungeon, it’s equally discomforting to hear that you’ve made a name for yourself at a place like this. That being said, to obtain Gold Member level Loopster status, you have to subject yourself to college dive bars like Marquis, taco truck tours, and Midnight Movies at River Oaks Theater. Luckily, I managed to escape after a couple Miller Lites and without any ridiculous LIT imbibing. If you haven’t ever been to the Marquis, you seriously have to check these things out. Sixteen ounces of ice and liquor with a splash of coke for color makes for some interesting nights.
It’s a Party, a Bloc Party
CoLab and Primer Grey opened the doors to their new digs on Wednesday and the technoratti came out in force. They invited anyone and everyone out to their party just Northeast of downtown approaching the warehouse district. Not that I’m “anyone” or “everyone.” I got the third party, tag-along invite, which is good enough for me. After a couple of hours mulling around, taking in the sights, and being referred to as “The Loop Scoop guy,” the line for the kegs of Saint Arnold’s became a little much to bear. We headed around the northeast dogleg of downtown for Lucky’s Pub for a late dinner and another drink. If you didn’t know, Lucky’s has some pretty decent food for a pub. I had only eaten there once before Wednesday night and the meal was immemorable (more to do with the alcohol consumption than the food itself). On this night, we filled our table with orders of Edamame, Stingers (shrimp and pepper jack stuffed jalapenos), a slice of pizza, and a Cubano sandwich. If you haven’t made time to support the Cubano revolution, you definitely need to make a move. Pork, ham, Swiss, and pickle on a roll, pressed, panini-style. They became a favorite of mine while living out in St. Croix and I haven’t looked back since. Sounds like a new Tour de Houston in the making.
Creatures of Habit
So what if I’d never been to Ruthie’s until last week. I was back again on this passed Thursday to celebrate a birthday. Promises of Devil’s Food Cake served in a bar setting are alluring enough, let alone the need to go back and photograph further. I hadn’t even made it out onto the back patio on my first visit. What I found behind the door leading to the patio was a veritable elephant graveyard of old, cracking, warped plastic lawn furniture. All of it mismatched. All of it looking as if it had lived a full life under the guardianship of a happy home at one point. All of it finally fulfilling my expectation of Ruthie’s being a dirty, creaking, shell of a bar. On my first visit, I hadn’t even noticed the slot machines sitting in the back corner of the bar. Perhaps I had blocked it from my memory or, maybe, I’ve been to thirteen too many shady gas stations making the site of blinking, ticket dispensing, money-wasters all too common.
Tartuffe. Bless You.
The seven o’clock hour comes much too early when you can’t leave work before the five o’clock bell on Friday afternoons. As is my wont to do, I showed up at the Barnevelder Arts Complex near Minute Maid just minutes before showtime for the Classical Theatre Company’s production of Tartuffe. Once again, I convinced my sister and fiance to come to the performance as they were impressed by last Fall’s one-man Hamlet. This time around, the CTC took their first stab at a comedy, choosing one of Moleire’s well known plays. The laughs from the audience came fast and furious as the young theatre company proved it knows it’s way around the light-hearted as well as the dramatic. With only five performances remaining you should make some time for the show. I will guarantee you this, the laughter won’t be hard to come by. I’ll have a more in depth review later today or tomorrow.
Upper-Kirby/Montrose Photo Safari
With my car limping on three good wheels, I had to drop it off on Saturday morning to be mended. Being the smart soul I am, I turned down the loaner vehicle deciding to take the time to walk and photograph the area as far as I could dare. Being the absent minded soul I am, I didn’t check the forecast. The morning was rainy and cold. Sitting, miserable and damp, under the awning of a random apartment complex less than 5 blocks into my journey, I decided to take my gear to Avalon Diner for breakfast once the rain subsided. Standing in line like a kindergartner, I waited for my table and a friend – whom I haven’t seen since before New Year’s Eve (I’m a bad friend) – to join me at the restaurant. Finally seated, I vascillated between the Pigs in a Blanket and Eggs Benedict, finally choosing the latter. The turncoat eggs are always a good choice and on this day in particular. With a thick hollandaise sauce and perfectly poached eggs, they provided me just the right amount of fuel for the rest of my safari. Along that (very long) walk I became obsessed with these concrete street signs. I’m thinking that I may have to include an entire series in my portfolio. It’s the simple things in life that become my obsession.
I’ll Give You Musical Theater, But I Refuse to Like Glee
With an offer of ten dollars off the ticket price to Masquerade Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company I decided to make it my plans for Saturday night. Two plays in two days? Why of course. I’m a cultured sot (yes, “sot” not “sort”). Because it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t pushing the limits, I valeted my car with mere moments to spare before the lights went down. We made it to our seats a minute before the theatre’s board executive began to recognize all of those in the “founder’s club” by having them stand and given an ovation. With this kind of pomp before the show, will there be any applause left for the actors? Of course. As it is with these sorts of matters, applause is never at a premium and offered at the slightest hint of a deserving act. The production itself was fantastic, funny, and catchy. I had a “yell laugher” to the left of me and a “snort laugher” behind me. Given those two in my immediate vicinity, even if the writing had been rubbish, I would have still been chuckling the whole time. But it’s Sondheim, so you know the writing is A+ material. Forget the fact that the play is about a man whose friends have all gone and gotten married as he tries to figure out what he’s going to do with his life… let’s just say that the subject struck a nerve with me. Not that I’m in a rush to get married or anything. I’m not. Seriously. Are you listening to me? Expect an indepth review of Company on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.