Southeast Alaska State Fair

Southeast Alaska State Fair Poster

For as long as I have been apart of Fire On Mcginnis, they have talked about one day playing the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. This year the band was invited over to play and everyone has been pretty excited about it. It has taken some hard work to get this all lined up and ready to go by some of the more active members of the band. They had to figure out how to transport not only our music equipment, but also our PA system on the Alaska state ferry as well as where and when we would be playing.

So, what I know of Haines is not much. It has a population of around 1,800 people and is home to the surviving set pieces from Walt Disney‘s White Fang picture, which was filmed there in 1990. From Haines you can drive up to Anchorage, but you do have to go through Canada to get there.

Packing up our gear

Armed with that little knowledge, I packed my bags, drum gear, some food because of my Slow Carb Diet, and waited for my bass player, Matt to show up with his wife to take me to the ferry Dock. At just before 7AM we arrived at the ferry dock and got our tickets and boarded the ship we would be on for the next four and half hours to Haines.

The ferry itself is filled with all kinds of nooks, crannies and corners that people can tuck themselves away in. My band and I found one such place with windows so we could see the scenery float by. During the trip we were able to review some of the songs. An acoustic guitar fiddle will pulled out at one point as music was rehearsed. The rest of the trip was filled with reading and napping.

Fogcutter Bar
The Fogcutter Bar

When we docked in Haines and exited the vessel we drove straight to the Fogcutter Bar to unload and set up our gear.The Southeast Alaska State Fair was in full swing, so we would not start performing till after the fairgrounds closed for the night around 11PM. We took a couple of hours and staged all of our musical equipment and then decided to get some food.

After eating we all headed back up to the Fogcutter and finished our setup. A quick two song sound check later, the five of us piled into three vehicles and headed to our respective lodgings for this trip to take a nap. Around this time I realised that Haines only had the Edge network available to smartphone users. So updating Google+ was impossible and getting so much as a text message out most of the time was either hit or miss.

When 10:30 rolled around Mat (bass player), Mark (guitar player) and myself (drummer) packed ourselves into Mark’s car and headed back to the Fogcutter bar. It was still light out and it would have been sunny if not for the clouds in the sky. At least it was warm(ish).

In the bar, I asked the barkeeper (I have been wanting to say that this whole post) to fill up my aluminium canteen with ice water which I carried back to behind my drum set. A few minutes of checking cables and our sound and we were off playing music moving through our song list one by one.

The Haines crowd loved the music and was very enthusiastic for us to play our brand of Celtic rock music. Dancing and cheers went on all night long. The people of Haines could not have been more welcoming and wonderful to us.

For this bar gig I switched to using baseball gloves over my normal golfing gloves. This is mostly because I could not find a store in Juneau that sold left and right handed golfing gloves and I just should bite-the-bullet and order them online already. The thing I did not like about using the baseball gloves is that they were to padded. So my hands could not articulate themselves as well. I opted to keep them on my hands over having my hands all bloody and blistered by the end of the night.

I think it was close to 4AM when we wrapped up at the fogcutter. To celebrate we all went outside to smoke a cigar and talk about how the show went. The sun was coming back up already. While we talked people from the bar came out to compliment us and eventually Mike (guitar and bagpipes) and Marth (Guitar, Fiddle and Vocals) grabbed their bagpipes and fiddle and played a couple of songs outside for those of us enjoying the cool night air. It was a wonderful night.

The next morning I was sore and slow to move. My back just felt like one bit knotted up mess. I stretched out a little bit and drank a lot of water and started to feel better. I think it was close to 2pm before we left for the fair grounds. There we found food and entertainment with several food booths and two musical stages.

With food quickly filling the void in our guts we started to work out the plan of getting our musical gear onto the main stage for our 6PM performance. A lot of which was a blur for me. Maybe because I have slight stage fright and maybe because there was just so much to get done between getting on stage, playing music, and getting all our gear back off again. There was a lot to do in a short amount of time.

When it was time for us to get everything setup we all worked together and worked quickly to setup ourselves on the stage. We were introduced as “Fire On McGinnis from Juneau Alaska”. With that we started playing. Two songs in I broke a drum stuck and flung it out into the crowd.

Four songs into our set at the fair and I broke my throne. How does that even happen? But I did it. I was able to stay balanced through to the end of the song we were on. Luckily there was a spare throne at the back of the stage.

I remember the show going really well and getting lots of applause after each song we played. We ended out set with cheers from the crowd. Together as a group we got all of our gear off the stage so the next band could setup quickly. We got all our gear packed up in our vehicles and then spent the rest of the night enjoying all that the fair had to offer.

The part of the fair I enjoyed the most was that it was right next to the White Fang set. I spent a lot of time walking up and down the boarded sidewalks and smoking a cigar in the cool night air.

We got back to Juneau early Sunday afternoon, unloaded all our gear. What a weekend!

 

Wet Shaving

Safety Razor
Safety Razor

Shaving is something that has historically never been an enjoyable experience for me. Shaving cream always dried out my face and shavers like The Gillette MACH series of shavers dull to quickly and cost way to much to keep replacing the blades. But then I learned about  “Traditional” wet shaving.

Basically, a friend of mine turned me onto this guy on youtube who taught me how to shave like a man. In fact, my friend likes to say “he’s probably single-handedly taught half the internet to shave”. That’s how good we all think he is.

Earlier this year, I logged onto Amazon and picked up a traditional shaving brush and soap. I also picked up the Merkur Double Edge Razor. Also known as a safety razor. Your grandfather probably had one. The blades cost a fraction to replace compared to Gillette’s cartridges. The resulting shaving of using a safety razor while wet shaving is amazing. Closest shave of my life. Shaving is no longer a chore either. I actually look forward to doing it in the mornings.

My new found joy and enthusiasm in wet shaving has resulted in writing a post for the website, Sharpologist. Which is run by the same guy who made the youtube videos that have taught the internet how to shave. I hope you will all check out my post there and maybe learn about wet shaving while you’re at it.

Sherlock Homes

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock HomesWhen I was still in high school I read all of the Sherlock Homes Adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Something about the way Sherlock Homes could solve problems and see things others couldn’t always interested me. I say this about my brothers a lot but, I love how Sherlock’s thinks, how his mind works. I wish my mind fired as fast as theirs.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. He is the creation of Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based detective, Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of “deductive reasoning” while using abductive reasoning and astute observation to solve difficult cases.

Sherlock Home: The Complete Granada Television SeriesNot long after I finished reading all the Homes books I found The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes tv series on the A&E Network. My mom and brother would sit with me and watch it. I don’t know why, but not long after I moved to Juneau I started poking around the internet looking for the DVD’s of this great show. I was able to find a few disks on Amazon.com, but never the complete series. Then a couple of years ago I found myself walking through the DVD section of Costco when I spotted Sherlock Home: The Complete Granada Television Series. I picked it up, No questions asked.

The actor who plays the master detective in this series is Jeremy Brett, who many consider to be the definitive screen version of Sherlock Homes. His story is quite sad actually if you read up on him. His acting though, is masterful.

I would love to hear what you think of Sherlock Holmes and how you feel Jeremy Brett’s version stacks up with Robert Downey, Jr’s version.

 

 

A Good Cigar

I enjoy a good cigar. There is nothing like it. I thought I would share with you a couple of my favorite cigars that I always have in my humidor.

Arturo Fuente creates a cigar known as the Hemingway Classic. It’s a mild to medium strength cigar in a medium brown colored wrapper. My brother, Abe turned me on to this guy and I have always had one close by ever since. It is probably my favorite cigar that I smoke. The box these cigars comes in too is really quite nice as well and I think could be repurposed into a great many things.

Romeo y Juliet is another brand I really enjoy and discovered early on when I first picked up cigar smoking. I was actually attracted to the logo first. It just worked out that I liked the cigar too. The 1875, or the Reserve are both great options under the Remeo y Juliet brand. The 1875 is the more mild of the two and I tend to smoke them more than because of that. Just depends on my mood.

Because I smoke cigars I get asked how I like to cut my cigars and what do I use to light them with. I don’t think this matters. I don’t think the cigars you choose to smoke matters either. Just smoke what you enjoy and cut and light them the way you want. But, to answer the question I use a punch to cut my cigars and a Zippo lighter to light them.

Wearable Art

Juneau Arts and HumanitiesMy wife is quite the creative soul. I find myself impressed and amazed almost daily by the ways she expresses herself creativity. One of the ways I have seen her harness her creativity is with a program called ‘Wearable Art’. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council puts on an annual event called, ‘Wearable Art‘ where people create artistic clothing and for one weekend a year they show it off on a runway in down town Juneau.

For months my wife has been working on her second entry into the Wearable Art event. Inspired by her nursing career, she started sketching out designs for a dress made entirely from materials found in a hospital operating room. I watch as she slowly brought the dress to life. It really is amazing how her mind works and how she is able to put things like this together.

This past weekend was the annual Wearable Art show and My wife, along with her model showed off all the hard work that had gone into her dress. Below I would like to share with you some photos from the event.

The Current State Of Childhood

The current state of children’s toys and cartoons really bothers me. Maybe its because of my age and the fact that, I myself have started thinking about having kids. But whatever the reason is that has brought on this train of though, the idea of exposing my own offspring or any children to the current state of toys and cartoons that are at the store and on TV right now makes me sick to my stomach. I have talked about this in the past.

Being a child of the eighties, I grew up and felt privileged to be exposed to what I think are some pretty awesome toys and cartoons. Some of them just off the top of my head are…

I have some really good childhood memories of watching these cartoons and playing with these toys. Toys and cartoons that, to this day, I still enjoy and collect. I am really looking forward to the day that my children and I can enjoy them together.

When I turn on the TV nowadays, I am embarrassed by the cartoons (which all seem to be computer animated now and not hand drawn) that networks broadcast to children. What the hell is Sponge Bob Square Pants anyway? I don’t even recognize the Transformers anymore and their toys just look scary to me.

I am going to go on a Transformers side rant here. So bare with me.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I am a die hard, old school, Transformers fan. (TILL ALL ARE ONE!) Something about that cartoon and the toys just clicked with me on an emotional level when I was growing up and I think that is why I am such a fan of them to this day. It might be because it was one of the first toys my older brother ever got me. It might be because when you see an old school Transformer cartoon or toy transforming it makes sense. Just by looking at the thing you can get an idea of which pieces need to move where and when to transform it. I never needed an instruction booklet to transform a Transformer. Because of that the toys made me feel smart. Like I was teaching myself and learning something at the same time. But nowadays you open up one of these “newer” Transformers toys or watch one of the movies or cartoons your head just hurts. Nothing about it makes sense.

Whenever I go to the store, I always check out the toy sections (because I am a kid at heart) and I am applied by what I see. Isles of action figures that don’t look fun or easy to play with. I have also noticed that they have not moved from their shelf from one week to the next. No one is buying this crap. I find myself spending the most time looking at Hot Wheels toys because they are about the only thing in the toy section of stores that I used to play with when I was a kid.

One of the few stores that still carries old school Transformers products is Hot Topic. Whenever I travel down south from Alaska, I make time to go into a Hot Topic and I ask the clerk every time “Do you sell more old school Transformers Products or the newer Transformers Products. Each time for years the answer has been the same “Oh we sell way more old school Transformers. It’s hard for us to keep them in stock.”

Now if that is not telling about the current state of Cartoons and Toys I don’t know what is. I have also noticed this with Transformer cartoon DVDs. The local stores can’t keep the old school stuff on the shelves, but every week, I still see the same new school DVDs on the self right where they where last time. I said it before and I will say it again. No one is buying this crap.

Even Legos have changed over the years. How the hell do you screw up interlocking plastic bricks? Well somehow they did to the point where they are not recognizable anymore. It used to be that kids had buckets of legos from which they could build anything they could imagine.

  • Cities
  • Planes
  • Spaceships
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Boats
Now you buy sets to build Hogwarts, or some Star Wars space ship and that is it. You want to build anything else? Well, you’ll have to buy a different Lego kit. WTF?
My mom is currently visiting my wife and I and I was talking to her about the current state of cartoons. She had a brilliant insight which was that cartoons these days are one of the reasons why kids are failing in school (besides the fact that the current educational system sucks). She said it is because cartoons are killing children’s attention span. Eight minutes into a show and BAM, commercial. Kids can’t focus in class because there attention span only lasts eight minutes. I can’t help but think there must be some truth in that statement.
One of the reasons why I collect TV shows and Cartoons on DVDs is so I don’t have to watch commercials. The idea that my doing this might be improving my future child’s attention span made me happy.
What do you think of cartoons now a days? For that matter; What do you think of toys now a days? What is or was your favorite cartoon and toy growing up?