Thursday, October 1, 2015

Never mind gravy

Yesterday we headed out to meet Todd for lunch. We walked down to the Financial District and met up with him in the lobby of his building, then walked over to the Rincon Building, a beautiful Art Deco building that was originally a post office. It now holds shops and restaurants, and our lunch adventure was Yank Sing, a dim sum place.

It was my first time for dim sum and I loved it! I asked Ken if I was right in thinking that it’s kind of like Chinese tapas, he said yes, that was pretty accurate. We had all kinds of yummy things, including these wonderful pork and broth-filled dumplings. (Ken informs me that they are called Shanghai Dumplings and are a Yank Sing signature dish.) Everything was delicious and we had a great time talking over lunch.

The Rincon Building has a nice little display of the various artifacts that we discovered when the renovation and excavation took place. Wonderful bits of history that tell the story of its marina history and its Chinese residents.

Todd had to go back to his office for a bit, so we agreed to meet at his place around 5. Ken and I strolled down Embarcadero and saw the Bay Bridge, then walked by some of the piers before cutting up near Coit Tower and making our way over to Todd’s neighborhood. I’m a fairly active person and exercise six days a week, but that trek about kicked my ass! I’d forgotten how brutal some of these hills can be. That was definitely my workout for the day, and Ken’s FitBit informed him that we walked about six miles yesterday! I found some fun things along the way, including the odd bit of graffiti that inspired the title of this entry.

It wasn’t quite time for us to meet Todd, so we found a little dive bar called Black Magic Voodoo Lounge near the corner of Lombard and Van Ness. It was one of those fun finds that we occasionally stumble across (if not stumble out of) and we had a couple of beers and a total blast! We chatted with the bartender, Sarah-Alice, and she was a total sweetheart, originally from Georgia. She turned out to be a Walking Dead fan, so we had a lot of fun talking to her about that. A regular came in, obviously friends with Sarah-Alice, and he’d been binge-watching TWD, too, so we chatted with him. We all talked about our favorite characters, and this guy mentioned that he likes Beth a lot. He wasn’t quite to THAT episode, so I wish I could hear his reaction when he sees it. It was just a really pleasant interlude to sit in this little place and chat some people up. We seem to do that a lot, and it’s almost always a very fun experience! (Except for that big ol’ racist lady from Memphis that we encountered at a place in Chicago when we went to see the Stones. That really took an ugly turn!)

Then it was time to head over to Todd’s. He’s got a really great apartment with these high ceilings and wood floors. It’s cozy and comfortable and quite inviting! We had a couple of beers and chatted and he played a little guitar. He’s incredibly talented and it was a joy to hear him play again. We headed out to the place where he’d made reservations, the Wayfare Tavern, which I just learned is a Tyler Florence place. My burger was yummy, the fried chicken was delicious, and the halibut was also very tasty. The place was packed and it was a little too noisy for my tastes (which made it hard to carry on a conversation) but it was still a fun place with good food.

After dinner, we made plans with him for dinner tonight. He dropped us off at the hotel and Ken and I kicked back with a couple of drinks. Today we’re heading over to the Wharf so Ken can get his chowdah fix, then we’ll have dinner with Todd at a seafood place and THEN...the TIKI BAR! I’m wearing a vaguely tiki-ish shirt, so I am ready!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Squash blossom

We got into San Francisco late yesterday afternoon after a rather long day of travel. After we got settled into the hotel and got unpacked, we headed over to a plaza in the Financial District to the Open Squash Championship.

Whaaaat? Why?

Well, Friend Todd (a former coworker of Ken’s and a lovely human being) has been into squash for many years, both as a player and as a spectator, and we were going to meet up with him there.

We bought our tickets and found our seats at the side of the glassed-in court. Great seats with great views of the action! We got there just in time for the championship game and it was amazingly fun. Somehow I knew more about the game of squash than I realized. How did that happen? I have no idea. Maybe we learned a little about it in Phys Ed in high school? Squash isn’t an Olympic sport (yet), so I wouldn’t have watched it there. Did I just read about it somewhere? I certainly didn’t know all the rules, but I wasn’t completely clueless about it, either. Kind of a mystery of where I absorbed that knowledge along the way!

It was so fast-paced, and with sitting so close, I had to physically turn my head to watch the action. I’m sure I looked like this.

It has to be brutal on the players’ knees and ankles and they were obviously lean and fit. I told Todd at dinner that I was also amazed by how they have to be spatially aware. Not only does the player have to watch what is happening with the ball, they have to pay attention to where their opponent is and get out of the way in order to let them make the play. It was really kind of fascinating and I enjoyed it. I told Ken, “To quote Mitt Romney, I love sport!” While it is not an Olympic sport yet, I agree with Todd that it should be. It’s fast-paced and fun to watch, the athletes are obviously in great shape, and Todd said that it has a huge international following. I don’t plan on picking up a racket myself, but I would definitely watch it in the Olympics!

After the match, we went to dinner with Todd and I had some delicious seared tuna. I don’t normally do desserts, but they had Key Lime Pie! I had to have a piece. Although my favorite dessert is native to Florida, this San Francisco restaurant did a very delicious and authentic version of it. The filling was nice and custardy, and most importantly, NOT GREEN! Don’t put green food coloring in Key Lime Pie, people. It is an abomination! The only difference I noticed from the traditional KLP was that the graham cracker crust had a hint of cinnamon in it and seemed to have a little coconut in it, as well. It was quite tasty.

It was a fun first night and today we will be meeting Todd in the afternoon for a little walking around and just some general camaraderie and sightseeing. I have already scoped out a genuine tiki bar in Nob Hill, one that opened in 1945, so that is on my list!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Beth’s Music Moment: Duran Duran’s “The Universe Alone”

Since the past couple of days consisted partly of packing for our upcoming trip to San Francisco to see Duran Duran play live (as well as visiting a good friend) and watching my niece Jen’s videos of when she saw them last night in San Diego, this is a good time to write a little more about one of the songs on their new album, Paper Gods.

“The Universe Alone” is the last track on the regular version, and what a way to close out the album! Every so often, a song really hits me and just tears me up inside. This is one of those songs. I honestly can’t say that it is my favorite song on the album; I haven’t been able to choose a definitive favorite and I like them all for different reasons. But the more I listen to this song, the more it hits me right in the feels.

As some of you know, when it comes to reading, I’ve been on a bit of an apocalypse and post-apocalypse kick. Not exactly happy stuff, but I find it compelling and fascinating. As with my love for The Walking Dead, I wonder how various people would deal with the end of the world. Does it bring out the best or the worst in a person (or in me)? Who will accept their fate with grace and dignity and who will feel hopelessness and despair? Who will check out early and who will face it head on? I find it a fascinating thing to ponder, and I don’t necessarily find it depressing. Just interesting. This song reminds me so much of the book and movie On the Beach, which just devastated me. A definite sense of despair and a winding down, but still joy in living and loving.

Anyway, that’s what this song is about, at least to me. It’s possible that Simon and the rest of the band meant something entirely different with their lyrics. It could conceivably be about an individual facing imminent death, and that also makes sense to me. But I hear the “dying sun” and it’s all about the end of the world to me.

As I listen to the song (I’m not obsessively listening to it...just as I play the entire album), it occurs to me that although plenty of people pretend to know what happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil, no one knows for sure. Even if our loved ones are by our side, holding our hand, we go off into the great beyond all on our own. We “face the universe alone.” This doesn’t make me sad; it’s just the way it is and it is every bit a part of life as the actual living part of it is.

Simon sings, “It’s beautiful, the dying sun...the end of everything and everyone.” His vocals are poignant and heart-wrenching to me, and the words indicate an acceptance of our fate and still being able to see the beauty, even in a sun that is dying, or of a life lived. He also sings, “In plain view the mistakes we’ve made, but is there anything you’d really want to change?” I’m sure we’d all like to change some things in our past, but would we really? It’s all part of our life experience, isn’t it? Both good and bad. It’s our journey and it is up to us to make the most of it, knowing that we will make mistakes along the way. And maybe, just maybe, we can exit knowing that we lived our life, enjoyed ourselves, and perhaps even made things a little brighter for a few people along the way.

When you look at it that way, I find the concept of facing the universe alone not as scary. It’s going to happen to all of us eventually, right?

The song ends with a gradual descent into feedback and distortion, this lovely song devolving into chaos. Some sort of explosion? A gradual loss of consciousness? “On the other side of what we’ll never know.” We end the song with a lovely choir, perhaps indicating a sense of grace found.

Yes, I really do pay attention to lyrics and I really do ponder things like this. I am often very moved by lyrics and songs, and this one really gets to me. Lyrics and video below.

See you in the universe, fellow travelers. But hopefully not for a while yet!

It's beautiful, the dying sun
The end of everything and everyone
So shall we make a clan my friend
As if we have the chance to live it all again

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

In plain view, the mistakes we've made
But is there anything you'd really want to change?
To win and lose then win again
To have it all then throw it all away

I'll see you in some other lifetime
On the other side of what we'll never know
Together we have walked a fine line
Now we go to face the universe alone

How beautiful the closing down
The fading out, it spins and goes around
With darkness and the heart of man
And here we are back where it all began

I'll see you in some other lifetime
The universe alone
The universe alone
The universe alone

Friday, September 25, 2015

I didn’t see that coming

I’m sure most of you were as shocked as I was when I read this morning that John Boehner is resigning not just as Speaker of the House, but is also resigning his seat in Congress. At the end of October, D.C. will be in his taillights. (At least until he gets his lobbyist job.)

I’ve never been a big fan and I never appreciated how he always seemed willing to stymie President Obama’s agenda, even at the expense of the country. But I do realize that things are never just black and white, and he was certainly beleaguered by his teabagger faction in Congress. I always got the impression that had he had a more reasonable—and sane—Congress, he might have worked with the White House to pass meaningful legislation. I could be wrong about that, but I did sense a glimmer of pragmatism in him.

There is much speculation about his abrupt departure, although it seems that he’s been thinking about this for a while now. I can’t help but think that the address that Pope Francis gave to Congress had something to do with it. Boehner was visibly emotional (I’m not going to bash him for that, either. I cry at the drop of a hat. Songs, commercials, Andy Griffith reruns, you name it.) and I have to wonder if Boehner heard what the pope was saying and finally thought, “You know what? I’m done with this bullshit,” and decided to call it a day and leave all the fractiousness and scheming behind him.

I read this story about Boehner's encounter with the pope and it does make me think that the pope’s visit (it was Boehner’s invitation, if I recall correctly) had a little something to do with it. I seem to remember a prayer I heard when I was growing up...something about “We pray that you place a conviction upon his heart, Lord.” I wonder if the Speaker felt a conviction upon his heart?

I don’t know how this will all play out. There is much delusion among the supercon teabaggers in Congress, who seem to think that if they dig in their heels, President Obama will cave and give in to all their demands. It hasn’t worked before, so I’m not sure why they think it will now with a different Speaker. They remind me of bratty little kids crossing their arms and clamping their mouths closed so they don’t have to take the medicine. News flash, folks: President Obama has figured out that all he has to do is pinch your nose shut until you open your mouth to breath, and then he dumps that medicine right down your gullet.

The supercons are celebrating tonight, but I think they don’t really have any idea of what they’ve done or what they’re in for.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beth’s Music Moment: Duran Duran’s “Paper Gods”

Photo via Paper magazine
I’ve been super excited to write this review, and I’m even more excited that I can write such a positive one!

DD’s fourteenth studio album came out on September 11th, and I’ve listened to it pretty much nonstop since then. “Rio” may end up being their legacy album and the one that they are most known for, but this album is surely on the verge of being one of their best. At least in this humble fan’s opinion!

Before I get to a song-by-song review (yes, I am doing that, including bonus tracks), just a few words about Duran Duran. Although much maligned as a throwaway boy band, those of us in the know understand that there was always (and still is) much more to them than that. They managed to meld a punk rock sensibility with an infectious, bass-heavy dance groove. Add in some genuinely great lyrics on many of the songs, and you’ve got a band that inspired countless others and who still makes me dance. They were also fashion icons (still are) and quite good-looking (still are). That latter may be the understatement of the year. But beyond being ridiculously photogenic, they are talented musicians and songwriters who aren’t content to be an ‘80s nostalgia band. Thus a fourteenth studio album that is some of the best work they’ve ever done. If you haven’t listened to anything beyond their radio hits, you’re really missing out. Missing the (night) boat, one might say. (I made a DD pun!) The hits are great, too, but dig a little deeper to find some amazing stuff.

Simon Le Bon once said that they are the “band to dance to when the bomb drops.” There are a lot of bands and a lot of music that I love, but if death by nuke is to be my ultimate fate, I can’t think of any band I’d rather blow up to.

[clapping hands] All right! Here we go! For your listening pleasure and enhanced reading experience, you can stream “Paper Gods”. I highly recommend it!

  1. “Paper Gods” - The opening track is a long-ish one featuring a collaboration with British songwriter and producer Mr Hudson. A scathing commentary on our consumerist culture, the song makes a good point that we “bow to the paper gods,” and that it’s all “paper walls falling down, paper house, paper town.” But it’s still got a great dance groove to it! I’ve been reading that they are opening their most recent concerts with this song, and even before I’d read that, I thought that this song would be a perfect opener. A sort of Gregorian chant starts it, then Simon sings, then the rhythm section joins in...that’s what I’m talking about! Nice build-up to start the album or a concert.
  2. “Last Night in the City” - This song includes Canadian musician Kiesza. (Amazing how many new performers I learned about from this album!) It’s a great rave-up of a song, and Kiesza’s vocals are a lovely and soaring counterpoint to those of Simon. I could dance the hell out of this song.
  3. “You Kill Me With Silence” - A little bit of a slower beat on this one after we all shook our booties to the previous one. Simon hits some pretty awesome high notes in the chorus, and there is a super cool guitar solo towards the end. Well done, Dom Brown!
  4. “Pressure Off” - Holy shit. This is the first single and it came out a couple of months before the album release. The first time I heard it, I thought I was going to DIE. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit there, but I think I did clutch my heart! Nile Rodgers is all over this one, and he’s listed as one of the producers, along with Mark Ronson, Mr Hudson, and of course, Duran Duran. The chorus is infectious and makes me want to wave my hands in the air like I just don’t care! Janelle Monäe is featured and she just knocks it out of the park on her verse. If this song doesn’t get you moving, call the coroner, because you’re a dead mofo!
  5. “Face For Today” - Another up-tempo one, although it seems almost sedate after “Pressure Off.” Some nice keyboard from Monsieur Rhodes here.
  6. “Danceophobia” - And the dance hits just keep on coming! This is one of the funnest songs on the album, with a spoken word cameo by Lindsay Lohan—I’m not kidding! She does a great job as the doctor with the sexy voice who tells her patient that he’s got danceophobia, and “I may have to work on you throughout the night.” Great fun!
  7. “What Are The Chances?” - This one features John Frusciante, formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with some killer guitar. It starts off as though it’s going to be a complete ballad, but the beat is still there. Just a little slower. This is one of my favorites on the album because Simon’s vocals send chills down my spine. Around the 3:15 mark, he just soars, and then amazingly goes even higher. Blows me away every time! I’ve read that he worked with a vocal coach to “rebuild” his voice, and he learned how to relax and just let ‘er rip (I’m paraphrasing). Even before reading that, I was struck by how strong his voice sounds on this album, so it was cool to learn that he was working to improve his voice even more. He’s always had a distinctive voice, and this track showcases it perfectly.
  8. “Sunset Garage” - This is a happy little song (“Sooo...halfway drunk”) that makes me think of cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in a little convertible roadster. I love how Simon sings, “Whatever happens, we’re okay, hey, we’re still alive!” Yes. Yes, you are. And you can sing that to me in a convertible roadster on the PCH anytime you want to, Simon!
  9. “Change the Skyline” - Man, is that one tasty synth riff opening this up, or what?! This one starts off fast, but the chorus slows down a bit with more great vocals from Simon. The track features Jonas Bjerre, who is the lead singer of Mew, a Danish rock band. (I’ve heard of Mew but didn’t know Jonas Bjerre’s name until this album.) Another nice vocal collaboration between Bjerre and Simon.
  10. “Butterfly Girl” - Another strong cut that is just a great pop song. It is a little reminiscent to me of ‘70s pop (in the good way). This is another of my favorites on the album because of its positive message. “You can make it through tomorrow, set free your Butterfly Girl, and when you rise above the sorrow, you’ll be a Butterfly Girl.” More great wailin’ vocals from Simon and more guitar from John Frusciante.
  11. “Only In Dreams” - A slow-starting one that you think is going to be a ballad (and can I say enough about Simon’s vocals??), but then the rhythm section kicks in, with some great bass grooves from JT. Play that fuckin’ bass, John! “There’s a vampire in the limousine!” I don’t know what that means, but I love it!
  12. “The Universe Alone” - I’m not going to say much about this one at the moment because it’s going to get its own blog entry. I’ll just say for now that this song moves me as much as anything DD has ever done—even as much as “The Man Who Stole A Leopard.” (Ask Ken about my reaction to that song!) It’s also a great closer to the regular version of the album. More on this one soon.

Bonus tracks (from the deluxe CD version)*

  1. “Planet Roaring” - Fun keyboard intro that makes me think of Devo and a great chorus that makes for another tasty dance song. Guitar on this is attributed to Steve Jones. That would be THE Steve Jones, formerly of the Sex Pistols. He and John Taylor have been pals for a long time and played in a band in the ‘90s called the Neurotic Outsiders.
  2. “Valentine Stones” - “I don’t wanna be like the boys that you keep in tow, like your Valentine Stones.” How do they manage to make a song simultaneously menacing but danceable? I don’t know. But that’s Duran Duran.
  3. “Northern Lights” - Another slow starter and then the rhythm section and keyboards kick in. Man, this opening makes me think of Devo, too. More great keyboards from Nick and more guitar from John Frusciante. This song strikes me as kind of sexy and romantic. “If you want to stay tonight, write your name across the sky, nothing that I would rather like than see you in the northern lights.” Kind of a slow-jam sort of vibe here.

Bonus tracks (from the Target version)*

  1. “On Evil Beach” - Man, I love this one. It has a distinct reggae vibe to me, with nice tinkly keyboards, some funky distorted bass, and I’m not sure how to describe the drums—almost a steel drum sound?—but they add to the reggae feel for me. There is even an interjected “Hey!” in there every so often. Dare I say it? This makes me think of how the Clash melded punk and reggae. Yep, I said it!
  2. “Cinderella Ride” - I love this one, too! Once again, Simon’s vocals send me. So smooth, and yes, I’ll ride with you, Simon! “Rise up on sparrow wings, you shall be the queen of shrouds, the queen of helpless things.” Again, I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s lovely.

So there you have it. It strikes me that their bonus tracks are as solid as anything on the main album, but if they had to pare it down to twelve songs, they made good choices. I had been anticipating this album for months and what a wonderful thing to listen and realize that not only did it meet my expectations, it skyrocketed past them. I think I like this even more than 2011’s “All You Need Is Now,” and I’ve been listening to that in my car nonstop for months. “Paper Gods” debuted at #10 in Billboard’s top 10 album chart, the strongest chart position they’ve had in 22 years, so it seems that I’m not the only one who is diggin’ it!

To make this even more special, we are flying out to Berkeley, CA to see them perform at the Greek Theater on Oct. 2nd! It will be my first time seeing them live, and I am thrilled. You know this fangirl is going to be wiggin’ out!

Congratulations to Duran Duran for making a fantastic album and for having great success with it. I couldn’t be happier for them and I applaud them for pushing the envelope and taking chances with new music and new collaborations. They are stronger for it and my fandom continues unabated. Duran Duran 4-evah!

*The bonus tracks are not included in the stream I provided, but if you want to hear the songs, they are all available on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I been searchin’ low and high

I looked under chairs
I looked under tables
I’m trying to find the key
To fifty million fables

~~ The Who, “The Seeker”

I don’t pretend to be a journalist (and I don’t play one on TV). I’m just a person who likes to write a bit here and there and throw some thoughts and ideas out. Blogging and social media have been great for that, but a recent trend really bothers me.

There are a lot of satire sites and fake news sites out there now. I often see people sharing these stories as if they are real. This bothers me. A lot. First of all, it puts me in a position of having to defend people I really can’t stand, like Palin (multiple Palins, actually), Bachmann, and others of that ilk. There have been many times that I’ve written something to the effect of “I can’t stand her either, but she didn’t really say that.”

A response I often get is “But it sounds like something she would say.”

Maybe. But she (or he) didn’t say it. That is important to me.

Second, I might be weird for not wanting to put words in people’s mouths, no matter what their political or religious affiliation happens to be, but I do feel that way. Probably because I hate—HATE, I tell you!—when people put words in my mouth. So I suppose I’m overly sensitive to see that happen and I have a pretty good bullshit detector.

I’m sure we all have that friend or relative who loves to circulate those bogus email stories. Obama refused to put his hand over his heart for the pledge of allegiance, Michelle racked up a $30K bill in a hotel, blah di fucking blah. You’ve probably seen a lot of those. It’s all bullshit, but there are people out there who still circulate that stuff. It pisses me off to see it coming from the righties, but it pisses me off just as much to see it coming from the lefties. Because it’s wrong. It’s not the truth, and it’s wrong to perpetuate these lies, no matter who they are about.

We should do better. We need to do better. Passing around false information is not helping us in trying to find common ground on which we can legislate and move our country forward. It is only inflaming and deepening what is already a huge (YUUUGE!) divide. Sharing stories without reading the full story is also a problem. There was a recent instance of someone sharing a completely false story on the basis of the headline, which was absolutely provocative. But when you click through and read the story, it said that it was an experiment to see how many people would share it without reading it and that the headline was an absolute lie. I’m sure the author was trying to prove a point, and the point was duly noted. In the meantime, people are sharing this story—without reading it!—which didn’t really solve the problem. It just added another false story to the other false stories that are making the rounds.

C’mon, folks. We can do better than this. The Internet and social media is a great tool, but as Uncle Ben Parker said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Read a story before you post it. If something seems like an outlandish or outrageous quote, check other sources to see if they are reporting it, too. Learn to recognize false news sites and satire sites. Finally, Snopes is your friend. Don’t blindly share articles because they fit your narrative. Take the time to read a little more and do more research.

Please stop making me defend people who I don’t agree with. It takes another little piece of my heart everytime it happens.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Catching my breath

Whew! After one big weekend with the house party, it took me a bit to get back to my usual tranquil self. Just as I was getting to that point, we were off for another weekend, this one in Chicago!

(It’s not that I don’t enjoy the heck out of these weekends and have a blast. I do! But I’m a classic introvert who needs time to recharge. That much social interaction is definitely fun for me, but it also exhausts me.)

After driving through a torrential downpour and apparently a couple of tornado warnings in the area, we were happy to get checked in at the hotel, the Majestic. It’s an elderly beauty in the Lakeview area, close to Wrigleyville. We’ve stayed there a few times and it’s a nice, reasonable place. Not as ritzy as some places we’ve stayed, but it’s got some great amenities, a gorgeous lobby, and it is in a lovely residential area. It’s fun to walk to Wrigley Field and check out all the apartment buildings and beautiful flowers that so many people in the area seem to put out in their small yards. It’s one of our go-to hotels!

We walked a few blocks in the rain to grab a bite to eat and had some great burgers and beers at Rocks. We realized that we’d been there there year before when we went up for a Cubs game with Tom and Diana. I don’t think I had a burger last time, but I sure enjoyed this one. It was quite good!

We weren’t out late, because the next day at noon was a Cubs game! It turned out to be a perfect late summer day and was made even better with a Cubs win. They almost let it slip away, but the Cubbies prevailed and they are still doing surprisingly well this late in the season. After the game, we went back to the hotel room to watch Notre Dame take on the Ramblin’ Wreck and we won THAT game, too. Again, Georgia Tech gave us a scare, but we hung on to beat them. It was a good sports day for us!

Then we hopped in the car and headed to a Chicago suburb to our friends Joe and Maria’s house. Other friends (George and Karen) were there, too, and it was so nice of Joe and Maria to have us over! (We all met through Bob, who did the house concert.) We had some amazing deep dish pizza—nobody does deep dish pizza like Chicago—and Joe shared some of his more interesting (and potent) beers. Really delicious stuff that is more like a wine than a beer. There may or may not have been an incident where it was determined if two people can fit into the trunk of a Corvette. (Yes.) Arcade games were played and it was a very fun evening!

The next morning it was back to the Bend and trying to get back to our usual routine. As always, we had a wonderful time in Chicago and look forward to our next visit! Now I have all week to recuperate and then it’s our first Notre Dame football game of the season on Saturday. The weather looks to be beautiful all week, including for the game, and I’m trying to soak up all the sunshine and warmth possible before the cool weather sets in. Tailgating will be happening this Saturday!

I’m sorry to see summer winding down, but it’s been a great one, and I’ll look forward to the next one. As always!