Thursday, September 19, 2013


When I was younger, I used to wonder why middle aged guys never had cool hairstyles. Now I know it is because we can't. What hair we do have, we can't do shit with. And if you do manage a cool hairstyle, you wind up looking like an ass rather than looking cool. It's a no win.

I had my hair short since I was in my early 20s, about 25 years. As I've gotten older and fatter, my head has gotten larger and my hairline has receded a little bit. That's called Morehead Syndrome by the way, more head less hair. Billo Reilly gets credit for that, from way back when we were in 20 years old.

Anyway, after 25 years of short hair, it started looking crappy on me. Not as bad a Pete Rose, but not good either. So I grew it out. Why the hell not. And I was hoping for crazy old guy hair like the first Doctor Who or a US Civil War officer.

For my first 20 years, my hair was always straight. A bit poofy at times, but always straight. Then it was very short for about 25 years. Now that I've grown it out, it's curly, which really was quite a surprise. And... it still looks like shit, but in a different way.

I don't have cool crazy old guy hair; I've got Moammar Gadhafi hair. That's not a win.

Maybe when my hair gets grayer, it won't look as bad. If my Dad is a guide, I'm still about 12 years from that. Bald guys don't have these problems. So they have that going for them.

Getting old, it ain't for sissies.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lucky Cat End Table

After 6 years of living at the Ranch, it is time to redo some of our rooms. First up was our TV Room. The TV Room always bothered me. We spend a bit of waking of time in that room, and to me it looked junky and out of balance.

After a long time of thinking about what to do, I finally got a chance to do something about it. I got rid of most old stuff and replaced it with sleek, white wall-mounted cabinets.

I bought a wrong size cabinet and by the time I got to assembling and installing them it was too late to return it, so I used it as end table with storage on Maureen's side of the sofa. That let me double up the black end table on my side, which solved the problem of crap falling behind the single end table.

The doubled up end table also let me find a place for a cool Buddha lamp I bought at a flea market a few years ago, which had been taking up space in my office ever since. We needed another light in the TV Room, so the Buddha lamp not only got a place but a purpose. 

The black end tables no longer went with the rest of the room, so I was going to paint them to match the walls, to make them blend in. Then I thought, why not tile them? That's what I do.

For the lower end table, I placed whole black tiles around three sides of the table for a frame effect. I placed an 11 by 17" piece of paper under frame tiles and sketched out a lucky cat on it. I used that as a guide to cut tiles with my wet saw. It took about two hours to make the sketch, plan the cuts, and cut the tiles.

I had some blue tiles in my inventory that come pretty close to matching the wall color, so that I used them for the background.

For the upper end table, the Buddha lamp and a surround sound speaker on it would just cover over a fancy design. So I tiled it simply to fit in with the lower end table. That one took no time at all.

The unified end tables don't blend in, but they do look cool. And since they look cool, standing out is good.

None of this was taught to me, I just intuitively know how to do it. I wouldn't of had the skills or thought processes to have done this when I was younger. This is an instance where being middle aged is pretty nifty.

Sketch with first cuts fitted in.

All tiles cut for lucky cat. 

Tiles laid, waiting for grout.

It was a nice day, so I grouted it outside. This is the bottom half finished.

Finished project. Two end tables with a unified appearance.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sun, 14 Apr 2013

This was a fairly normal week while means it was a good one. I did my usual level of work, which at this point is at a level for a normal person.

On Wednesday, I met Maureen at Taluah's Garden before going to a play together. I was running a little early, so I left early and got off at 30th Street Station. Which gave me 90 minutes for a leisurely hike from 30th and Market to Eighth and Walnut. It was unseasonably warm, in the 80s, but it wasn't too humid, so I wasn't that sweaty by the time I got the restaurant.
Schuylkill River Trail

Rittenhouse Square in bloom.

The "Time Machine" at the Kimmel Center. Interesting but not earth shattering.

Saturday night I built a fire in our fire pit. This time I had all the materials you need to start a fire, ignition sources (paper), kindling (old branches that I have been saving since last summer), and wood. Finally having all the materials at the ready made starting the fire a snap.

Fire... sit with me (and drink beer).

The weather was beautiful, so I was able to have the top off my car almost all week. Which meant I got to make 4 trips to get more blocks for my art wall. 12 blocks at time seems like a reasonable haul for both the puppy truck and me.

Art wall extension, currently blank.
I planted asparagus last year. I'm still a season away from being able to harvest it. One lone but very large stark has appeared. Hopefully more will follow. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: My Year in Review

I try to look at life as a piñata; if you take enough whacks at it, eventually cool stuff will start falling out. 2012 wound up being a sizable piñata. 


I wrote a post for the 3x5 (my post). The 3x5 project which ran abut 3 years, retired on the last day of 2012. Glad I got to be a part of it.

I had the Duck Salad at Monks for the first time ever and vowed to make it a more regular occurrence. Still haven't had it a second time. Maybe I can shoot for once a year.

I got on the bus for the 1st ever David Goodis Memorial Bus Tour (slideshow). It was a wonderful day with nice people. Not at all like one of his novels. It's rare a new bar impresses me, but the Trestle Inn is super cool. Very glad that was one of the stops.

After 2 years, 5 months, I finished my Agatha Christie Project, reading all 79 of her novel length works in order.

Survived the first of three Friday the Firkinteenths (official page) for 2013.

Maureen and I saw Jerry Seinfeld at the Academy of Music. Not sure if he saw us. I was expecting a musical act but it turned out to be comedy.


Think I put in my longest Groundhog Day (Steve Lyford pix) shift ever. Just as I about to leave at 2:30pm, Chuck Greenstreet walks in and it's another 2 pleasant hours. I was the Grey Lodge by 5:45am that morning.

Billy Ross and I put in an epic street hike from Wayne Junction, through East Falls, to 30th Street Station. I continued onto 11th and Locust where I met Maureen, Liz, and Marty for an amazing meal at M Restaurant.

It was a dream come true. I found myself in Belgium and Holland for the brewing of the Philly Beer Week collaboration beer.
- We had only a few waking hours there but Amsterdam did not disappoint. What a gorgeous and cool city. No go for Van Gogh this time. I'll be back.
- Cantillon (official site) with Tom Peters, William Reed, and Craig Laban was epic. Six hours never went by so fast.
- Brugges was just like the movie but without the violence.
Craig's articles about the trip.

Maureen took us to NYC for Shatner's World. Bill was amazing funny and very spry for an 80 year old.

Caught a ride with the Troegs guys and finally made it to Andy's Corner in Bogota NJ for a fun night.


We had our first ever Pi(e) Day at the Grey Lodge. We saw a woman recite pi out to like 314 places (honest). It was crazy.

Dave Champagne joined us as the new chef at the Grey Lodge. Our kitchen has never functioned better and the food is incredible.

Maureen and I saw Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester (video) again. Very enjoyable but twice in one lifetime is enough.

I was still trying to get William Shatner to have a beer with me. At some point I had to much to do to remember to do that anymore. Not trying has had equal (non)success as trying so far.


The Fishtown Beer Runners' (official) run to the Grey Lodge fell on April's Fool Day. David wanted us to do something to fool them. I greeted the exhausted runners with protest signs, "Fishtown stay out of Mayfair" and "Hipsters go home". Working on the signs gave me the idea for the Grey Lodge's contribution to the Hammer of Glory relay.

While shopping for Sabotage stuff, Jersey Dan became co-owners of Pirate Monkey Nut Cracker, a true abomination, but one that had to be bought. It now dwells at The Grey Lodge. Quiver all ye who look upon it.

Jersey Dan, Jim Wiggins and I frickin recreated the Beastie Boys Sabotage video for a Sixpoint Event at the Grey Lodge. Probably the craziest shit we have ever pulled and that's saying something.

We got through our second Friday the Firkinteenth (Steve Lyford Pix) of 2012.

I finally made to John's Roast Pork in South Philly, where I ran into and got to have pleasant lunch with Kirk Fagan, who I hadn't seen in years.

I stood next to a giant chicken. Last year I stood next to a giant goose. Don't know if a chicken is a step up or down from a goose.

Lew Bryson and I did a road trip of New Jersey breweries for a Philly Beer Week event. Road music was hours of Hank Williams Sr (video), including some really esoteric stuff.


Marty and I headed down to Rehoboth Beach to assist Ben Potts in brewing Dogfish Head White Lodge. Thanks to Mike and Lori who lets us crash at their place.

Maureen and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. The best five years of my life so far with more to come!

I was honored to be one of the judges for Craig Laban's Third Annual Brew-vitational. Always great fun to hang with George & Nancy, and Tom Peters.

We in Mayfair pulled off the 4th annual Fallen Heroes Run & Walk and the 5th annual Mayfair May Fair, including the first ever Mayfair May Fair After Dark. It was another great day in the neighborhood.

Thanks to my brother Dave's help, the Backyard Electrification Project brought light to the garden path.

Ray Swerdlow of the Sixpack Store and I were presenters at the 1st annual Philly Beer Scene Awards Show. Mat and crew did an really, amazing job, filling what was probably the only void in our Philly beer Scene.

Billy and Richard and I did the first of what would be two big South Philly street hikes this summer. After a wonderful lunch at American Sardine Bar, we wound up hanging with John Longacre upstairs. This was quite fortunate because we wound up avoiding a surprise downpour and kept drinking beer until the sun came back out.

May ended with me making protest signs in my garden so we could occupy the HOG at the Grey Lodge as part of Philly Beer Week's now legendary Hammer of Glory Relay.


June 1st was an epic day. Started at 8am with a crew Occupying the HOG at the Grey Lodge. Protest signs, yelling to motorists, it was a hoot. Maybe we raised awareness for Philly Beer Week, but we probably just confused the heck out of a lot of people. Either way mission accomplished. Wound up following the HOG via bus and by foot with Willam Reed, Pat McGinley, and Chez for most of the day before reconnecting with it at the Visitors Center to hand it to Mayor Nutter to tap the first keg of Philly Beer Week. Then it was a few more beers before some wonderful person drove me home.

We had loads of events at both Grey Lodge and Hop Angel for Philly Beer Week. My favorite was Dogfish Head Grey Lodge (article, at bottom), where we got to tap Dogfish Head Grey Lodge, a blend of two one off beers, Dogfish Head Black Lodge and Dogfish Head White Lodge.

Maureen and I went to Toronto to watch the Phillies lose in a foreign land. We had a lovely time in Toronto, but I'd never go back. All the expense of New York with all the charm of Denver circa 1999. Denver 2012 is pretty awesome, but that's rushing things.

I discovered amazing mangoes at the Asian supermarket. Sadly that type of mango is seasonal. The meh mangoes have a much longer growing season. Can't wait til this June; I'll buy the heck out of the amazing ones.

Ended up June by chilling with my brother Dave at the Countryman Music Festival in their backyard. That as a lovely afternoon with lovely people.

A day long street hike though the east side of  South Philly found Billy, Richard and myself at Mr. Joe's Restaurant for the first time. If you don't have two hours for lunch, this place ain't for you.


Caught Fourth of July fireworks at Lemon Hill (site). I'm definitely getting too old for that. Not too old for fireworks at Penn's Landing though.

Caught rock and roll legend Charlie Gracie at Disston Rec on Thursday the 12.

The next day was our third and final Friday the Firkinteenth of 2012. Started off the day with breakfast at Tate's Good Eats with Maureen, surprisingly my first visit ever there. It was not my last.

Three day marathon of music again at the XPN Festival in Camden. I'm not sure how many more three day music festivals this body or brain can stand. Lumineers and War on Drugs were especially memorable.

Maureen got us Marshall Crenshaw tickets at World Cafe Live. It wasn't until we got there that I realized we hit the jackpot and that The Bottle Rockets were the openers and also Crenshaw's backing band. A great night with a great woman.

Treated the Grey Lodge kitchen crew to BBQ at Henri's Hotts in Folsom on our way to the AC Food Festival where we were a featured cheese steak restaurant. After breaking down our equipment, we wound up hanging out late in the Showboat surface parking lot drinking Pikeland Pils cans with Flying Fish's Andy Newell, who I hadn't seen in years.

While working the show, I got a pleasant surprise via a tweet by Rich Pawlak. The Grey Lodge made best of Philly again. This time for beer events.

A nasty storm rolled in and the outdoors Hooligans show at Disston Rec quickly became an indoor autistic show in the gym. It was amazing. As I was giving Norm a hand securing his equipment, the sky was like out of a movie.


In early August, 3 trains and 1 boat found me in Red Hook, Brooklyn visiting Shane the founder of Sixpoint Brewing. The free (on weekends) water taxi from Wall Street to IKEA in Red Hook is an adventure. It was a lovely day filled with beer, German food, the sights of Red Hook, and more beer.

Mid August found us celebrating the Grey Lodge's Sweet and Sour 16. I was going to ignore this one like we did for 14 and 15, but the idea came to me in time.

Now when I have to go to IKEA, I try to go around lunch time, so I can hit John's Roast Pork. Met Jersey Dan there and go to do a 1/2 and 1/2, 1/2 cheese steak, 1/2 roast pork. You need a buddy to be able to pull that one off. Or a large appetite.

Attended the 1st Annual Dogfish Head Olde School Retreat with Chris Dominiski. Hung out with some old friends and made some new ones. It was a great balance of doing and not doing at the seashore. The beer dinner was the stuff of legends. I had beginners luck at devils dice, making about $20.

Heading up to Reading to catch the Reading Phillies, thus checking off a bucket list item just before their season ended. Great time at their wonderful stadium. I got to introduce Maureen to some old friends, Kit and Linda. It was a lovely weekend.

Ended the month with another mega middle aged guy street hike. Billy and I met Andre and Richard at The Porch, a newish park at 30th Street Station. We wandered around Drexel with Andre, then Billy and I checked out West Philly, ending up in Upper Darby. Among the highlights were seeing the MOVE block and Pakistani food at 70th Street. It was a hot day, so we refreshed ourselves with one each at both Local 44 and Dock Street.


Frank Mifflin taught me to weld. Watch out world.

The weather was great for all three outdoor fall festivals at Hop Angel. Keg Bowling a big hit. Watching people in lederhosen play Kan Jam was a lot fun too.

Attended the local premiere of Beeradelphia. It was a who who's of the Philly beer world. Great job Mike Lawrence and crew!

It might not have seen it from this long blog post, but I tried to carve out some time each day when the weather was nice to just sit quietly in the garden.

Butters and I worked the first ever Mayfair Farmers Market for the Grey Lodge. The market will be a regular occurrence next spring. The weather was lovely.


It turned out that the silly goose was me.

For Father Judge's 10th annual Taste of Northeast Philly, the Grey Lodge did a beer garden in the cafeteria with our buddies at Love Brewing. It was a fun night.

Went out to the Great American Beer Fest with Marty. Met up with loads of Philly people and had a great time. Friday was epic with one of those best ever nights at El Chapultepec followed by much laughter in Fergie's hotel room.  I think Marty or was it Mike who had the beginners luck with devils dice? It wasn't me; I gave some of winnings from August back.

An article I wrote about us Philadelphians in Belgium was published in Philly Beer Scene. The Web version doesn't do justice to the beautifully laid out print version.

Hardy-Har-Harvest, a Grey Lodge event that I thought was sure to be a big one, was a small to medium one. We'll try again next year.


I started on a Bear Woods tile mosaic in our garden. I think I jumped up another level as an artist.

Tacony CDC, one of the non-profits that I am board member for, has been working to revitalize Torresdale Ave. Our our projects, the Tacony Hoagie Trail, got some notice from the Daily News.

The weather was great for the Mayfair Holmesburg Thanksgiving Parade. Thanks to Grey Lodge Parade Brigade who helped pimp my ride.

Oskar Blues the Grouch (video), probably the world's first garbage themed beer event, featured the biggest and most expensive prop/stage setting for any Grey Lodge event.

We lit up the Grey Lodge with several hundred candles for Great Lakes Black Out Night. We didn't burn the place down.


I worked tree lightings for three neighborhoods, Fox Chase (giving out free Hop Angel cream of potato soup), Mayfair (manned the Grey Lodge table for the Holiday Market), and Tacony (helped set up the Winterfest).

The Grey Lodge held its first ever Festivus (official page). Fetes of Strength (pix) were a hoot.

Not To Mention

100s of smaller but no less important times with families and friends, including quiet nights at home with Maureen.