More Upcoming Fair Fun

The Washington State Fair is known for being a large event. Part of this is the main stage and the musical acts that perform there. Earlier it was announced Nickelback would kick off the main stage with Jason Aldean closing things out.

Now more acts are announced.

And some rodeo.

With more announcements to come.

Perhaps the biggest name in this round of announcements is Steven Tyler. The Aerosmith frontman is touring behind his debut solo album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. Then there is the country group Lady Antebellum who have a new album coming out later this year. Other country performers announced as appearing at the Washington State Fair this year are Easton Corbin and Granger Smith.

Then there is the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association rodeo – the 84th held during the Washington State Fair. This multi-day event is one of the top rodeos in the country and an important step on the way to the PRCA finals which are taking place in Las Vegas in December.

By all means this is not the end of the announcements for mainstage entertainment during the 2017 Washington State Fair.

So far the schedule looks like this:

DATE PERFORMANCE TIME PRICES (incl. Fair gate admission)
Sept. 1 (F) Nickelback w/special guest Daughtry                                                       7:30 p.m. $100, $90, $80
Sept. 2 (Sa) Lady Antebellum w/special guests Kelsea Ballerini & Brett Young 7:30 p.m. $100, $90, $80
Sept. 3 (Su) Steven Tyler 7:30 p.m. $90, $80, $60
Sept. 7 (Th) Rodeo Playoffs – Evening Performance 6:30 p.m. $30, $20, $15 or $66 for family of 4 thru 9/4
Sept. 8 (F) Rodeo Playoffs w/Granger Smith Concert 6:30 p.m. $40, $30, or $40 for concert only (dirt GA)
Sept. 9 (Sa) Rodeo Playoffs – Matinee Performance 1 p.m. $35, $25, $15 or $66 for family of 4 thru 9/4
Sept. 9 (Sa) Rodeo Playoffs w/Easton Corbin Concert 6:30 p.m. $40, $30, or $40 for concert only (dirt GA)
Sept. 10 (Su) Puyallup Rodeo Finals 1 p.m. $40, $30
Sept. 24 (Su) Jason Aldean w/special guest Kane Brown                          7:30 p.m. $150, $140, $100

Season passes for the rodeo will be available for $95 or $185 depending on location.


Head over to to get ticket information, such as when certain events go on sale as well as to sign up for their newsletter and get notifications of other upcoming events around the Washington State Fair.

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Music Monday: Lou Reed (Self Titled) Artist Of The Year Lou Reed Part 2

It took a few songs to figure it out. Something was off. The problem wasn’t consistent, but it kept popping up.

Not having heard the self-titled debut album by Lou Reed in, like, well, ever, I was certainly eager to put this one in my player and give it a listen. I had heard several of the songs before from a couple of compilations, so the album did sound familiar.

Coming a couple of years after he left The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed (the album) features songs Lou Reed (the performer) had written for his previous band. While still navigating a more traditional rock and roll path there is still plenty of poetry, literally, in Lou Reed’s songwriting and delivery.

And that ultimately is what makes Lou Reed a great musician.

“Walk And Talk It”

This first solo album was recorded in London with session musicians, two of whom were members of the band Yes. I haven’t read to many things about Lou Reed in the early 70s so I am not sure if he was fully expecting to get back into recording and performing, which might account for the fact that it was even recorded in London.

Of the 10 songs on this album, two were newly written. Reed had left the music behind so he did not have a ready catalog of songs when he signed his record contract. “Berlin” would be rerecorded a couple of albums later as the title track for that album. Most of the other songs had been recorded with the Velvet Underground, but not released (though most are now available in box sets or as bonus tracks on reissues).

“Berlin” (original version)

As an album it is a bit uneven, the storytelling is not his strongest, but it really does lay out the groundwork for the rest of his career.

But back to the problem I mentioned earlier.

The first half of the song “Lisa Says” sounds as if Lou Reed is channeling Bob Dylan with his vocal. The second half, which is almost a completely separate song, sounds like Lou Reed. This is an album where he is finding his voice. Yes, he sang with Velvet Underground, but here he is finding his own voice, which is different.

“Ride Into The Sun”

It’s a good album, but definitely not the one to use as a starting point to learn about the man’s career and music.

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On Break

No, I’m not taking a break from blogging.

Instead I am referring to the inconsistencies with breaks in the school calendar.

Let’s take this weekend for example.

President’s Day, or Presidents Day, or perhaps Presidents’ Day – choose your preference because I can’t find an official grammatical presentation for the holiday.

On the school calendar this holiday coincides with mid-winter break, the vacation time of no school that occurs between winter/Christmas vacation at the end of December and beginning of January and spring break, usually in April.

My kids, who go to Catholic school had a half-day on Thursday, were off Friday, and have Monday (the actual holiday) and Tuesday off, then back to school on Wednesday.

Laura, who teaches in public school, has Monday (the actual holiday) through Friday off.

This means there are only two school days where everybody will be off school.

We are asked, and most people are, when a long weekend like this approaches, “Are you doing anything for ___?”

The answer is most invariably “No.”

And not just because the different school calendars have different break times. Spring break for the kids is the full week after the same vacation for public schools the full week before. One week Laura will be home while the kids are still in school and the following week I will be home with the kids while Laura has gone back to work.

So this time? Why aren’t we doing anything special or going anywhere?

Mostly it has to do with teeth.

There is a dental appointment on Monday and two orthodontist appointments on Tuesday. Combine that with the inconvenience of a 6 month old’s nap schedule and any “quick” getaway is pretty much pointless.

Even summer vacation has different start times.

Some day we will be able to have a mid-year break other than Christmas together.

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Music Monday: Lou Reed RCA & Arista Album Collection Box Set (Lou Reed Part 1 – Artist Of The Year Intro)

I saw Lou Reed perform in 2002 at the Bumbershoot festival. He was getting ready to release The Raven, an album consisting of material inspired by or with lyrics taken from the works of Edgar Alan Poe. There were some of the classic songs of course, but he was certainly eager to showcase the poetry he was setting to music.

This is what I imagine to be the driving force behind Lou Reed’s career. The man offered up your typical rock and roll music, but he also used rock and roll and an art medium. Where Bob Dylan raised the stakes with rock and roll as poetry, Lou Reed saw rock and roll as art, all the way starting with his original band The Velvet Underground.

I had known about Lou Reed for a while before I picked up my first album at some point in the mid-80s, his first “greatest hits” compilation Walk On The Wild Side: The Best Of Lou Reed. It was a cassette, and I played the heck out of it so much it began to wear out. Then in 1989 his album New York came out and I picked that up. It remains one of my favorites of his to this day, but that’s another story.

It wasn’t until the 90s I started getting more into Lou Reed, but not in the same way I have with may other bands and musicians. I would pick up an album every now and then, picked up another compilation of his earlier stuff, and eventually got to see him perform.

Over the years I have grown to appreciate more and more Lou Reed’s artistry and his use of rock and roll as an art medium.

Last year my “artist of the year” was Queen. I had wanted to finish collecting all the band’s albums in a project I should have chronicled, or even acknowledged better in some way on the blog. When it came time to figure out who my “artist of the year” would be for 2017 I took some time to figure it out. Dropkick Murphys had just released a damn good album and I still had a couple to pick up and complete my collection. I’m working on finishing my collection of Blue Oyster Cult as well.

While contemplating the artist I would focus on this year I saw the Lou Reed RCA & Arista Album Collection box set had been released, and there was Lou Reed The Sire Years collection as well. I thought to myself I wonder if it would be cost effective to pick either of them up as I already had a few Lou Reed albums.

Looking into The Sire Years box I found out that I already had half the albums in that box making it not very cost effective. Looking into the RCA & Arista Album Collection I noticed that I did not have any of these albums, save one or two on cassette. How did that happen?

I had a few gift cards to Best Buy and the price of the box set would just be covered, so I decided that Lou Reed would be my artist of 2017 and this purchase would take me most of the way there.

So I got it.

I really like this set. The focus is clearly on what matters, the music. There are some drawbacks, such as having a recreation of the albums as originally issued means we are missing the bonus tracks released on whichever deluxe reissue came out (such as Cony Island Baby). As a whole, however, this box set is much better than my previous big money box set purchase. The Pink Floyd box sets have a lot of extraneous material that is cool, but ultimately drove the price higher than necessary.

When I don’t know what else to write for Music Monday I’ll be going through Lou Reed’s catalog, starting off with his solo debut album. I am looking forward to my “artist of the year” project, partly because I will have all of Lou Reed’s albums in my collection but also because this will hopefully be an interesting series of posts.

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Being Vegetarian

“Oh, the beefless Tips are back in stock. I love those!”

The cashier at Fred Meyer seemed inordinately chatty, but I had sufficient coffee so I didn’t mind. I replied,

“Yeah, I’m fortunate because I’m making stew tonight and really needed them.”

“I’m vegetarian, so I really like these. Are you a vegetarian as well?”

“Yes, I’ve been a vegetarian for… a few decades now.”

I am pretty sure I have been a vegetarian longer than the cashier has been on this earth. It started back in 1988 when I was in the Army. during field training exercises the way pork was prepared was absolutely disgusting. As a result I gave up pork. That included ham, which I will get to in a moment.

A few self-reflections later and I wound up giving up pretty much all meats over the course of the next year so that by the time I was discharged in the summer of 1989 the only thing I at was fish, and only then it was the occasional fish & chips, but that ended by 1990.

While I wasn’t raised vegetarian, apparently my mother was for most of my life. I don’t really remember separate dinners, but I guess there were. When I decided to become vegetarian there were a few meatless products, such as Morningstar Farms brand Grillers burger patty. Then there was TVP (textured vegetable protein) which could be molded into various other items, such as “meat”balls – though the effectiveness was lackluster (at best).

When veggie crumbles were introduced I was thrilled. Morningstar Farms found out that many of their customers (like me) would take the Grillers and crumble them up to use in other recipes. The company would go on to introduce a number of products in the mid- to late-90s which would expand my options for cooking, along with other brands which started to come to market. What I distinctly remember was in 1991 there were Grillers, tofu (and it is surprising the breadth and variety of tofu available now), TVP and posibbly tempeh.

And I didn’t really know how to cook with those ingredients, teaching myself to cook and learning to be a vegetarian at the same time.

I remember when I got out of the Army in 1989, I was living with my best friend from high school and his girlfriend.She made dinner one night, knowing that I was a vegetarian. It was stir-fried rice with vegetables and ham. I started picking out the small pieces of ham and she got so mad. I told her that I stopped eating pork first over (at that time) a year ago and was becoming vegetarian. I reminded her that she knew this and her response was the pieces of ham were  small so it didn’t matter. Or if it did, why should she bother to make separate meals. I continued to pick the ham out and she got angrier and angrier eventually leaving the table. I appreciated her cooking dinner, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted me to eat what she cooked, a meal she knew I was not going to eat as intended. I wasn’t mad, I just didn’t want to eat the ham. She was so offended I wasn’t going to eat  the meal she prepared, despite knowing I was a vegetarian. Her justification was the pieces of ham were small and therefore inconsequential so I should just eat it. I remember this evening because it was when I fully resolved to be a vegetarian despite whatever opposition and obstacles I would inevitably encounter.

Once when Laura and I were travelling (just the two of us, before kids) and we were spending the night somewhere in Wyoming. Cody, I think. The trick to travelling when you are a vegetarian, at least it used to be this way much more than it is today, is ethnic food was the choice. Chinese food is good, but the middle of Wyoming can be a bit suspect. A Mexican restaurant is also usually a good choice. We went to a Mexican restaurant and on the menu there were sections for beef, chicken or pork with a variety of dishes under each variety of meat. Then there were sections for the types of food. Tacos, burritos, etc. Under the burrito heading, there was beef, chicken, pork, or bean & cheese. I ordered the bean and cheese burrito. The waitress asked me “Do you want that with beef, chicken or pork?” I replied that I wanted the bean and cheese burrito, as it was on the menu. She looked at me confused, completely unsure of what I was ordering. As if the concept of vegetarianism was so completely alien to her.

Why didn’t my mother raise me vegetarian? I don’t know and I’m not going to worry about it. What I find interesting is when people find out I am a vegetarian they ask me if I am raising my kids vegetarian as well.

Yes, of course I am. Why wouldn’t I?

I mean, when you find  out when somebody is Jewish do you ask them if they are raising their kids Jewish?

Alright, so that might not be the best analogy or parallel, but it is a similar reasoning.

The fact is, it is so much easier to be a vegetarian today than when I started. Not only is there a wider variety of product, there are multiple brands offering choices. If you want (mock) chicken nuggets there are a few different brands to choose from. The fact is there is almost everything you could want or use in a substitute these days. While they all may not have the exact same taste as their real meat counterparts, they are good.

Part of the menu for this week looks like this: beef stew, casserole, spaghetti & meatballs, and then fish & chips.

What am I denying my kids by raising them vegetarian?

It isn’t nutrition, because they are certainly growing well and getting good grades in school. They aren’t being deprived of flavor because they have plenty food and a variety of it to eat.

This past summer when we spent a couple of weeks at Yellowstone National Park we stayed outside of a small town. It is now so easy to be a vegetarian the two small grocery stores had several vegetarian substitutes. No, not nearly as many as there are in the grocery store here in Seattle, but still, enough that we didn’t want for options.

When people tell me their child wants to be a vegetarian they often ask me for advice or how I feed my kids. It’s easy, really, living here in a major city. There are plenty of options, you just have to look. There is still the misconception that you just eat vegetables and pasta, which simply isn’t the case.

The only thing I miss is pastrami. There simply hasn’t been a good substitute for that yet.

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Music Monday: Grace Vanderwaal (Perfectly Imperfect E.P.)

Like many I first heard about Grace Vanderwaal through Facebook. It was a video of her first appearance on “America’s Got Talent” that got a lot of attention.

A while later there was another video of her on “America’s Got Talent” and showing it to my kids we were interested in what might happen, so we did something we never had before – watched “America’s Got Talent” (and more than once).

We were happy for Grace as she won that season’s competition and wondered might happen next for her. Then I heard she had her first CD out. Perfectly Imperfect is an E.P. containing five songs, all originals written or co-written by Grace.

Don’t think if you saw her performances on “America’s Got Talent” that you have heard these songs. Well, you have, but they are slightly different. There are some different arrangements, a few extra lines, added production, etc.

Each of the songs presented are originals. Four of them she performed on “America’s Got Talent” and a fifth is new to the CD (though I swear I heard it before). My favorite song here is probably “Light The Sky” because of the lyrics – “If they don’t like it they can close their eyes, because we’re not the same, and we don’t have to try.”

If you saw her competition performances and liked them at all I highly recommend picking up this CD. This is an artist at the beginning of her career, and a very promising one at that. I am incredibly interested in seeing what her career will be like in 20 or 30 years.


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Phamily Foto Phriday 2-3-17

Hey look, it’s almost a regularly scheduled update.

Here we are a week or so ago in front of Fred Meyer when the weather was nice.

Walking to school one day I saw this ahead of me.

Tevye disappeared one morning. I finally found him in his room dressing himself.

And both of his legs are in the one leg of the shorts.

Ciaran got his braces off this week. Don’t worry, he will be getting them again in a couple of years.

Tevye loves his little sister and she loves him.


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State Fair Concerts Announcements Kicking Off

The annual Washington State Fair, or “The Fair”, or even “The Puyallup” is one of the largest in the nation, and part of that is due to its concert lineup. This year The Fair will run from September 1 through September 24 (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) with concerts most, if not all of those days.

Kicking off the concert series on September 1 will be rock group Nickelback with the final concert being country musician Jason Aldean. Prices for Nickelback will run $100, $90, $80 (admission to the fair included) and prices for Jason Aldean running $150, $140, $100 (admission to the fair included).

Tickets for Jason Aldean open to the general public February 4 and Nickelback February 11. More information can be found at

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Elmo Comes to Southcenter

Sesame Street characters Elmo and Abby Cadabby are going to be at Southcenter Mall this Saturday, February 4 as part of the Sesame Street: K Is for Kindness Pop-Up Tour event from 11 – 4. A 15-minute live show will be performed at 11:30am, 1pm and 2:45pm.

This is a free event and partly timed and inspired by the new season of “Sesame Street” with more information available here

WHEN: Saturday, February 4, 11am – 4pm

WHERE: Macy’s Court in Westfield Southcenter
(2800 Southcenter Mall, Seattle, WA 98188)


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Music Monday: 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory (Dropkick Murphys)

So I picked up Dropkick Murphys new album. And I decided to spring for the deluxe edition. This comes with a 26 page book featuring lyrics, photos and more. I was looking forward to this item. Ultimately I was disappointed when it came because the booklet is alright, but the disc itself is housed on the inside of the back cover. This makes it highly inconvenient to  take and listen to in my car, or loan to my friend who in interested in hearing it.

The deluxe edition comes with a picture disc, a little bigger than a 45 with “Blood” on one side and and acoustic version of “Sandlot” on the other. Preordering the album gave you a digital download of “Blood”, the album’s first single, but not the flip-side, the acoustic version of “Sandlot” which I really want to hear. Unfortunately, due to a couple of different circumstances I am unable to get my turntable out of storage and set up to hear this one song. Why aren’t we given a download code for this song?

With the deluxe edition running $34.99, the album itself at $19.99 for the vinyl and $10 for the CD, I am left to wonder why I spent so much on the deluxe edition. I do not think I got a good value for my money.

Which is sad because the album itself is great, probably their best yet.

The album opens up with an instrumental that reminds listeners that the band does have some amazing musicians. Then the chanting comes in and you feel as if this could easily be an anthem. And this sets the tone for the whole album.

“The Lonesome Boatman”

It isn’t until the 3rd song the bagpipes show up, but they kick in it is for the rousing first single off the album “Blood” which is a call to arms. The attitude of the band has always been to never back down and this in many ways could easily be the band’s theme song.

The line “wicked unemployed” makes me chuckle every time.

“First Class Loser”

11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory has a number of anthemic songs, with “Paying My Way” acting as another song that could easily be a theme song for the band.  The songs here are almost all about being resolute and steadfast in the face of adversity. Some of this is addressed directly in the song “4-15-2013” which is about the Boston Marathon bombing  and the unity of the city, and really all of us, had after that incident.

I recommend 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory, just think long and hard about springing for the deluxe edition.

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