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Mar 31, 2006

Golden Retrospective

Dsc01061 Fifty years ago:

Dwight Eisenhower re-elected president
Elvis recorded "Hound Dog"
Cuban Revolution began
My Dad left Indonesia, arriving in the US on April 1.

Happy Golden Anniversaries, all!


note 1:  On average, Dad has gained 9 lbs. per year since he arrived

note 2:  Don't forget Mexican Buffet brunch this Sunday 11:30!  (See earlier post from this week for details).

10:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (10)

Mar 30, 2006

Carla Gray -- February 2006

CarlaWhat a time to die.

In the last eighteen months, Carla had managed to get clean at Urban Ministries of Durham, and had come to find peace, happiness and reward from staying clean and helping others get clean.  She and her partner had moved out of the shelter and into a beautiful new apartment which she paid for in part with eldercare help for her landlord who quickly came to love her. She had found a new data entry job and was just getting started.

What a time for a heart attack.

But would it have been worse if she'd died eighteen months sooner?  I think so.  Carla lived to happy days, and her story will help inspire even more addicts and alcoholics to find the hope it takes to keep working toward recovery.

I was grateful for Carla's friendship and hugs in the six months that I knew her just before she died.  And I'm grateful for the continued ripples she's leaving on our waters, even after she's gone.

03:07 PM in Urban Ministries of Durham | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 29, 2006

Pancho Lopez Mexican/Latin Buffet


News Note:
  Lunch here at Pancho Lopez this Sunday, 2 April, 11:30 a.m. followed by a one block walk to LocoPops.  Let me know if you're coming or just show up!


Latino food.  More and more of it.  Right here in Durham. 

I'm loving it, and don't be surprised if you see more and more blog reports of Latino restaurants/trailers from around town.

Last Sunday I ate pata de puerco, sopes, potatoes with chorizo, alambre (pork, chicken, sausage, veggies and cheese), tamales, beef tongue stew, and lamb barbecue.  All pretty yummy, and all in one meal at the first and one and only Mexican/Latin buffet in town.

Introducing: Pancho Lopez!!!

Like most buffets, food quality seems to range from "pretty darned good" to "just OK" depending on the dish and how soon it's come from the kitchen.  They offer more on the weekends ($9.99 for the buffet) than during weekday lunch ($5.99).  I haven't tried the weekday (M-Th) dinner yet ($8.89).

Pancho Lopez opened in late February in the old China Inn edifice in Old West Durham, at the corner of Trent St. and Hillsborough Rd, just one block from the esteemed (and still somewhat new) LocoPops.

As best as anyone knows, Pancho Lopez is the only Latin American buffet* in the area, and they're working to get established quickly. They've painted the insides in sweet potato orange and covered the walls with odds and ends of Mexican art and added a credit card machine.  The carpet is new and I'm hoping that they'll start selling beer which would make the lingering Chinese woodwork and furniture not look so strange draped with Mexican flags.**

I do hope this restaurant will take off.  The owners seem to be approaching things professionally, so there's reason for hope.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.


*FYI: you don't have to speak Spanish to eat here.  (Nor Chinese.)

**Anyone remember the old Marco Polo restaurant on 15-501?  The one that served Italian and Chinese food?  Sure you do.  Anyway -- what Spanish/Chinese travelers do you know of -- or was Pancho Lopez just such a person?

11:51 AM in Destination Durham, Reviews | Permalink | Comments (6)

Mar 28, 2006

Mom Madness

Latta_mistieI don't know about your mom, but mine lived her first 60 years not thinking very much about basketball.  Then we went to the bonfire after the first Duke men's championship*

Fifteen years later, she's yelling at the TV, stealing the sports page, scouring our Mexican resort for a bar that had ESPN2, and yelling "shot clock!" whenever our favored team is anywhere close to 15 seconds.

If UNC and Duke make it to the championship, I'm not sure how our family is going to pull.  Mom will pull for Duke because she's just that way.  But Dad and I are undecided.  I generally pull for Carolina unless they're the heavy favorite.  But I'd like to see the Duke women get a national title, too.  Dad usually doesn't decide until the tipoff.

We didn't used to be this way.  We are just simple orientals who do not think about the world outside our tiny village, and are far too short to dunk.  Someone please help us.


*  Imagine: five minutes after the buzzer, we grabbed a six-pack of Heinekins (in bottles) and drove to Duke where we parked in the Law School lot.  Then we walked up to the megafire by Cameron and drank beers with everybody. How times have changed.)

12:13 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 27, 2006

Back from Mexico Where I Ate...

Steak ...steak and pasta.

This was a pretty good dinner at our resort's Italian restaurant.  Aged Angus filet mignon with bearnaise sauce.  Sadly, I didn't have much good Mexican food while I was down there, but more on the trip's good stuff shortly.

Meanwhile and much more importantly -- who's looking for a UNC-Duke championship game in the NCAA women's basketball tourney.  Huhn? Huhn?

My folks and I have watched eight straight hours of basketball today.  My head hurts almost as much as my right shoulder which I strained while attempting a 50 lb. clean and jerk with my parents' suitcase when we got back home.

If we get a Duke-UNC final, I look forward to the riots on the border between Durham and Chapel Hill -- which is to say, New Hope Commons shopping center. 

See you at the Barnes and Noble.

12:43 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mar 18, 2006

Vacation Destination


Howdy folks.  I'm here (see above) through next weekend.  Have a fun one and join hands in the hope that our resort is far enough from Cancun that we're not run over by Spring breakers.

01:36 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (7)

Mar 17, 2006



So, just call me the latest in a long line of good people like Christa, "Wendy", and Georg, who have fallen in love with LocoPops on Hillsborough Rd. at the edge of Old West Durham.

After six months of occasional visits, now it seems like I'm dropping by every day they're open.  Recent fave flaves include: MangoCoconutBasil, GuavaMint, SomethingThyme, PeppercornCream, Pistachio, and OliveOilCream (aka the best little taste surprise I've had in any venue for quite a while).

The weird thing: now I'm measuring everything in units of LocoPops.  Yesterday I spent 1,900 LocoPops on various repairs to the Alfa.  But that was slightly offset when I sold an accordion for 175 LocoPops.  (Today I looked at a 1000-LocoPop accordion but it wasn't for me -- thank God.)  Kaudie and I had dinner at Provence Tuesday night; the tapenade-crusted grouper was 24 LocoPops.  (My glass of soda water was 2-1/2 LocoPops, but it was "bottomless".)  I also discovered this week that I can save ~50 LocoPops per month on storage if I move out of the Kangaroo Dr. facility to a place way out on Hillsborough Rd.

1/100th of a LocoPop for your thoughts?


Image hacked from TwoPagans.com -- an interesting site.

12:36 AM in Destination Durham | Permalink | Comments (7)

Mar 16, 2006

Things Your Ass Can Do

Assbackwardsdonkey My best friend Dave has a sister, Julie.  Last year she had the strangest dream about him:

"I dreamed you were in some kind of store.  And there were art supplies there and you were trying to return some but the guy didn't want them for some reason.  It's like you didn't have a receipt or something.  But you kept insisting and insisting..."

The freaky thing was that Dave had -- in real life -- gone to an art supply store some weeks earlier, and had run into great resistance from a cashier who couldn't understand anything beyond, "no receipt, no refund."

I don't know if you believe in clairvoyance, but it was freaky. 

Two months later, Julie told him that while he was talking with the cashier, he had accidentally dialed her from the cell phone in his pocket.

All of which is meant to say, I was alarmed this morning to have received FIVE voice mails before I got up.  But it was just my Dad who had called me once and apparently ass-dialed me four more times.  I've got to teach the man how to set the autolock on his new phone.  Which, coincidentally, was a hand-me-up from Dave.  World is a vampire, yo.


Image from SmartAssGlass

12:32 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Mar 15, 2006


Decoupage600_1 Three decoupage boxes (each ~7" x 4") by Kaudie ->.

I recently ran into a friend at the library, just after she'd checked out books on Matisse and quilting.

"Art catharsis," she said. "I'm going to make quiltlike torn-paper collages."

Is art cathartic for you?  And if so, and if you're not a professional, would you agree with my friend Steven who once told me, "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly"?

And if not art, what things do you do that always seem to make you feel better and back to yourself? 

And what do you think Csikszentmihaly would say about the relationship of Flow to all of this?  Hmm?

12:07 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mar 14, 2006

Irish Music by Harp and Tenor -- This Friday at Horace Williams House

"Yes, you've died and gone to heaven."

Beautiful sounds had suddenly emerged from thin air, and I had gone slackjawed in pleasant confusion.  My friend Steve was trying to explain what was going on.

Turns out it was his next door neighbor, Emily Laurance, practicing her harp.

Well that was maybe ten years ago and much has happened since then.  Among them, Emily got (a) a PhD and (b) a better place to live.  And this Friday she's in concert!  You should go.  Horace Williams House in Chapel Hill is an excellent place to hear Emily's music.  If I'm sufficiently packed for my next-morning trip to Mexico, I'll be there.

Here's the listing:

Doubleaction On Friday March 17th, at 7:30 pm the ensemble DoubleAction will present a concert of Irish music for St. Patrick's Day, the second in their series of three concerts at the Horace Williams House, 610 E. Rosemary, Chapel Hill. DoubleAction is this year's ensemble-in-residence at the Horace Williams House and their concert is sponsored by the Chapel Hill Preservation Society. The requested donation is $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. For more information, contact the Society at 919.942.7818.

Founded in 1999, DoubleAction consists of the tenor Thomas Gregg and harpist Emily Laurance. Together they have crafted programs that often explore the intersections between folk, national and art song from the 18th through the 20th centuries. They have a special affinity for the ballads of the British Isles, where the harp was for years traditionally associated with vocal accompaniment, and with the reinterpretation of this material by the folklorist/composers active in the 19th and 20th centuries. DoubleAction's St. Patrick's Day concert will feature songs from both ends of this spectrum, with settings by Irish harpers Nancy Calthorpe and Mary O'Hara, as well as settings of Irish songs by Berlioz and Benjamin Britten. The songs themselves span the emotional gamut from the patriotic to the sentimental to the humorous.

12:07 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 13, 2006

Home Is Where I Sit Your Cat

Ami300 Have I mentioned lately that I'm homeless?  More or less, anyway.  Ever since I left Hal's back in October I've been monkeying around the Triangle trying to figure out where I want to settle down.  Pictured here is Amadou, my latest cat-sitting ward whose owner will return late this week.  After that it's a week's vacation in Mexico and then back to living with my parents.  Unless I can find something new starting ~April 1.

Got any ideas?  My general wishlist:  a medium or long-term (i.e., longer than 1 month) housesitting and/or catsitting gig in Durham or Orange counties that provides housing for free; or a medium-term (i.e., 1 to 3 month) co-housing situation that doesn't cost much and will give me a sense of whether I'd like to live with people again.

Drop a line with any suggestions!

12:57 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mar 10, 2006

Encore of Encore

5_s_orHey, just where the heck have I been for the last five working days plus a weekend?  I'm not really sure.  But I will tell you this, I've been playing Encore all by myself and here is today's challenge.  Search your brainbank for song lyrics that include the word "five".  As usual, you need to sing at least seven words (in a row) that include the word "five."  Feel free to not include the title or group of the song, because certain people in the audience just love to guess and holler out the answer.  (Or type it out in the comments.)

To start you off: 

"One, two, three, four, five - senses working overtime, trying to taste the difference 'tween the lemons and the limes, pain and pleasure, and the church bells softly chime."

"Take my license, all that jive.  I can't drive Fifty-five!"

Back to you, Jim.

01:42 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (22)

Mar 06, 2006

HRM Rex Goliath 2004 Chardonnay

Rex Here's something fun to do -- sample a wine at Whole Foods, come to like it muchly, then find it for 23% cheaper at Harris Teeter.

On sale with your VIC card for $6.99, the 2004 HRM Rex Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Chardonnay.  Full-bodied* and "toasty" (the buttered kind), not too dry and not too acidic.  Pretty much everything I ask for in a Chardonnay unless I'm paying twice as much.  And you know what else?  It tastes even better when it's on sale.  Just don't try to buy it before noon on Sundays.  This is still North Carolina.

Modestly related story from ~10 years ago.  I was running late for a brunch party in Raleigh and trying to decide whether I should show up as soon as possible but empty-handed, or a little bit later but with wine.  For all the wrong reasons, I chose the latter and pulled into the Cameron Village Harris Teeter only to find a forty-foot empty drink section.  They had just gotten busted for selling alcohol to a minor and were on a "you can't sell alcohol for a week" penalty period.  Fortunately they killed off the power play and Katie King scored twice in the third period for the win.


*i.e., not for Melissa.

12:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mar 03, 2006

Mt. Fuji Sushi Thursdays - Brightleaf Square

Mtfuji_1It's hip, it's dark, it's half price sushi.  Thursday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Mt. Fuji in Brightleaf Square, downtown Durham.

Highly recommended by me: the New York roll, the tempura shrimp roll, and the spider roll, most of which I had last night in a shark-attack evening of sushi nirvana.  Twenty-three pieces of excellent sushi, a plate of edamame and a beer set me back $23.50 (which included tax and a $6 tip).  You tell me where you're going to get better.

The Thursday night DJs spin everything from Wyclef and Pink Martini to the Jackson Five and Astrud Gilberto.  Come prepared to hear it all while doing your best imitation of Jabberjaw at the sushi bar.  I'll see you there.

01:13 AM in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 02, 2006

Cute and Smart and That's Just a Start

Jenny P. to the left, on your left, and definitely pro ch*ice.  With her cute boyfriends, too.

Recipe for a party:

1.  Start with one Jenny
2.  Add any number of guests
3.  Stir

Optional ingredient: roomie Randall's party mix Mac.

You want Jenny in your revolution.  Her new blog Sin Noticias de Stew has a memebit or two why:

1. I am 5'3" tall.
10. I have a very Anglo name
11. Nonetheless many Latinos assume I am from Spain.
12. It's because I lived there.
13. Twice
14. It's like how we Americans think foreigners who learned British English sound.
31. No, really. I have epilepsy and the meds mess with my memory.
32. That means I have reasons for my beliefs but can't always remember why.
50. I believe that children are our future.
71. My mom joked to me once that not getting married yet only means I skipped my first divorce. Ha ha.
100. I don't like writing long lists like this about me, cause it seems a little 2001.

So check in and groove, eh?

12:13 PM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (4)

Mar 01, 2006

View from Below*

Irashoes400_2 Today: Part II of Ira Glass, in which I quote Pinky whose writing is so often better than mine, even when she's sick, as she was when she went to see Ira, viz.

"So I had hot tea with a little amaretto, some Ghirardelli 60%, and to be completely honest - I felt much better.  I still brought a packet of cough drops to suck on when we went to see Ira Glass, for fear of hacking endlessly during the show, but I didn’t. I was very pleasantly surprised. And Ira was adorably nerdy - he discussed effective storytelling, the “f” word, he played some clips (including one from David Sedaris, where he confronts a large foe in a friend's bathroom), he was very funny. We enjoyed the show - I saw about eight people we knew in the crowd, but it did skew a little older than I was expecting. I thought everyone in the auditorium would be more or less our age - but there were people who looked a fair bit older."

Speaking of Pinky, I just spent a half-hour skimming through Ice Cube's Friday After Next which features a very different sort of Pinky, this one played by Clifton Powell decked out in a Rick James wig, riding in a big pink limo and running over a thiefy Santa Claus.  You don't need to see this movie.  And you don't need to see its predecessors**, either.

Unrelated in entertainment tonight: I also went to an excellent jazz concert at the Durham School of the Arts.  A student quartet played, followed by a grown up quartet.  All were good, sometimes even excellent.  Unfortunately, I was exactly 1/17th of the audience.


*Those are Kaaren's feet on the left.

**Yes, there were two of them.

12:47 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4)