Mini Tooleing 2019 Pt. 1

Dec 2018 – Feb 2019.
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Miss me?
For you whinging millennials, get out now. This posting has more than 280 characters.
Because we just took a long drive, New York to Wellington Florida, and to keep my hand in this bloggy thing, here’s a random Tooleing update.
The drive , all 19 hours of it, was dull as a
marathon paint drying event but we got in a couple of very good podcasts and lots of Karl’s Mega Music Mix (heavy on techno trash). And lots and lots of I95 South.
 If you’ve not listened to Dirty John, it’s a captivating , entertaining , infuriating and satisfyingly brilliant 4 hours. The generosity of women never ceases to amaze me.

Additionally, The Last Days Of August, works best as a companion piece to the labyrinthine podcast The Butterfly Effect. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s about PornHub and that industry. It’s many things, including a study of a hugely successful business model. But don’t despair, lots of weird Porn stories too. Who would have thought stamp collecting and Adult Entertainment could be so intertwined?

Anyway, I’m in Wellington. It’s got all the soul of a John Cougar Mellencamp ballad for most, but Nirvana for horse people. Unfortunately Horses give me the mange, an itchy combination of allergies and sticker shock.
On the very positive side, we’ve traveled from -7 degrees in Ancramdale to 76 and sunny in Horseville.
 We’ve a beautiful condo rented with friends for “The Season in The Wellie”. It’s how the horsie set refer to their annual swarming. My advice, If you are single and male, buy a pair of riding boots, breeches, a pink lacrosse shirt (color optional, but bright a must), a small, yappy, irritating dog and game on ladies!
I went to the Mall, because that’s what you do in Wellington if you don’t ride them donkeys. For my good friend in Ireland, always curious about my meals, breakfast was an Asiago Bagel in Panera with a passable coffee.
I found a beautiful local bookstore called Barnes & Nobles with some soothing Muzak overhead . ABBAs Waterloo massacred by a local duo. Christ, now Fernando. ITunes time.
I did see my first concert of the year at Bowery Ballroom. My first time seeing or hearing Kongos, a four brother Alt Rock band, resident  in Phoenix but born in Pretoria, South Africa. I’m a fan . Will definitely be looking out for their next event.
As a 2018 recap, I got in 30 Concerts last year. My highlights were Depeche Mode (obviously); ELO (bucket list fulfillment) ; The  Killers ( did a cover of Romeo and Juliet, that slayed me/The Man my song of the year); a surprise entry for hair band legends Def Leppard; Brian Setzer Orchestra (a rockabilly Christmas show I will endeavor to see every year) and lastly my night at The Grand Olde Oprey was an event to remember.
And by chance I happened on a Wellington Beatles cover band. Everything you’d expect from a Wellington Beatles Cover Band. John, Paul, Ringo, George, Hank and Margo.
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Note my cap, from a far more interesting destination. I remember back in 2018 as I navigated this great country of ours in search of my self and a decent Cappucino …… Jesus – that’s  A Hard Days Night they are desecrating? Pods back in – it’s the Happy Monday’s!
 Wellington, considered a village,  like much of Florida, is a flatland of gated communities, expensive homes on reclaimed swamp with names like Polo Club and The Gilded Donkey, accessed from quick turns off eight lane freeways.  And The Wellington Mall, or whatever it’s called, and horses, lots of horses.
 But West Palm Beach is close , with some excellent restaurants and we met up with our good friends for dinner there . The RH Rooftop restaurant, the fourth floor of Restoration  Hardware has an excellent Americana menu, a spectacular high glassed ceiling/roof and great service. It’s a really fun spot. Not sure where the furnishings come from, but the space has a real elegance.
On a completely separate note, I’m very proud to report that Stacey (wifey) received the William T. Lifland Award in January from the New York Bar Foundation. I’m guessing at her tender age, Stacey is their youngest lifetime achievement recipient. Stacey spoke very impressively to a room of about 500 anti trust lawyers in the historic University Club on Fifth Avenue. Now that I’ve seen her in action, I will never start another argument in my life. Ever.
Most importantly, I looked magnificent at the event, in a form fitting Boss suit and narrow , silver Armani tie.
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On the binge front, Murder Mountain on Netflix , is a modern day tale of Mountain justice, murder , missing persons and the weed buisiness, legal and criminal. Now I understand why I got such cagey recommendations when I stayed in Eureka.
For lots of WTF moments, watch Abduction in Plain Sight, an argument that licenses should be required to have children.
For doobie heads and non smokers alike, Mandy, the latest with Nicolas Cage is a best of 2018. When bananas old Nic is the sanest character in the film, you know you are in for a bizarre ride.
We did get back to Ireland for the Christmas. Galway was in full festive form, lit to the nines for the holidays. City Center was hopping between shoppers and the Christmas fair in Eyre Square, replete with a giant Ferris wheel that affords a unique 360 view of Galway and surroundings from its heights.
Every visit home I like to take the walkway embanking the River Corrib, that crosses the towns three bridges, taking in the Salmon Weir to the swan occupied Claddagh Basin and opening to the Bay. You some times forget how beautiful your own home town is.
We had great dining experience  in Cookes Restaurant and Martines on Quay Street, both housed in centuries old, city centre,  stone buildings. Quay Street ranks with the best party streets on the planet.
With ten nieces and nephews at home, it made for the most Christmasy of Christmases and we also got to hang with good friends and revisit the walk around the town pubs tradition on Christmas Eve. We visited The Skeff in Eyre Square, an event since my college days and The Bunch Of Grapes On Quay Street, as always, was sardined. Still a few faces there I recognized after 32 years gone.

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It was my best Christmas in years.
I went to the Wellington Mall again today . I found some giant hearts.
Which leads nicely to Stacey’s 50th Birthday. She’s a veritable Valentines baby. We hosted 70 people at the apartment on the night and was delighted so many of our close friends could make it. Wifey claimed to have a fabulous time, so that critical goal was accomplished.
But most importantly, I looked magnificent again in a black tuxedo shirt with red studs, lobster cufflinks and matching valentine red trousers.
My phone was on Sonos duty so I didn’t get lots of big head selfies at the party unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll get some photos of the night sent on.
I’m not sure I enjoy blogging as much when it’s not just all about me.
I got another concert in, Kool and the Gang, if now more Kool and the Grandkids. The line up was a mix of the original band members with a couple of new young members. Love that big brass sound and disco funk fun. Jungle Boogie my song of the night.
Will catch up again soon.
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Tooleing Around: Back on the Chain Gang Week 2

 

This was the best thing I did all week.

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I had a dull one. This post will be more rambling and pointless than usual.

Tried for Elton John tickets at MSG, but the King Of Queens was looking for mortgage level prices online. Like ya – don’t love ya.
Upstate as usual this weekend and did my usual wandering to my usual lunch spots and usual coffee spots and usual stores. Pine Plains Platter in nearby Pine Plains serves excellent food. If you order breakfast it will usually get to you by lunch time. Today, I didn’t have the patience to wait.
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I was in town, lunch time, for the Millerhurst fund raiser, to replace the  cattle and barn lost in the fire, hosted by Stissing House. That would all have been great if it was not on at 6 this evening and I was in Stissing at noon. The BBQ lunch is at a community center somewhere.
Stissing House, situated right on the crossroads in town, is another Historic Inn, built in 1782. It retains all its rustic charm , and has a number of smaller rooms with a private feel and a wood burning fire. Damn fine coffee and eggs Benedict. Go hungry if you’re getting brunch.

 

One of my fondest memories of Stissing, is my wife’s chair leg slipping through a crack in the wooden floor slats, at the back room dinner table. She toppled over on top of the large Ficus in the corner. Wifey was not nearly as amused as I was. I was very amused.
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Speaking of which, very proud to report that Weekend Warrior Wifey, qualified for the AON/USHJA National finals in Las Vegas this week. Being the excellent lawyer she is, she convinced the airline to let her horse fly with her as an Emotional Support Animal. I would guess coach.
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Stissing Mountain, right off town, is a medium difficulty  one mile up hill hike, to the 85 foot fire tower, built as part of a work program in 1933. From the tower top you can see across 5 states. Amazing views every season and definitely worth the trip. Even with a couple of whining British kids.  I did manage to lose myself and the 3 English guests on my way down in August. I can get lost in a carpark.
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I tracked down the chicken BBQ fundraiser, right by the mountain at the town community center. It was genuinely heartwarming to see the hundreds of people from the community come together like this. I talked to the family were so obviously delighted with it all.
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They were out of chicken but I bought a sweatshirt and bid on a weird wooden pinball machine in the silent auction I’ve no place for. Generously, most all local businesses had contributed to the silent auction.
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Dutchess Distillery was within a mile of the BBQ. The location is unique in that it’s built on top of the site Dutch Schulz did his prohibition booze making, in rooms layered  underneath. Despite multiple raids by the law, his illegal distillery was never discovered.

The car in front of me had a deer run in to the side of it as I drove home in the dark. Flashlight in hand, I got out to check on them. The audi passenger, in an impressive fur, was very grateful for my help. I checked for the deer in the ditch as they wanted to bring it to the vet if injured. I’d have called a neighbor for the seasonal twenty-two in the head solution. It had run off unscathe, the car was undamaged, all nerves were settled. Deer are the dumbest creatures in creation.  Upstate living.

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As you may have gathered, there’s not much to see in Pine Plains.

I did win my wooden pinball machine in the silent auction. Psyched.

 

David Bowie – Putting out the fire with gasoline today. A song I definitely relate to – judgements made, can never bend….

Binge Watching Stuff:
Julia Roberts has always been overrated. She has that clown slash of a mouth and her nostrils move distractingly when she talks or weeps and she’s a drop of the hat weeper.
Venting out of the way, Homecoming on Amazon, is smart, captivating viewing with a very unique look. It’s directed by the creator of Mr. Robot (robot season 1 required viewing). The show centers around an experimental treatment center for troops with PTSD. Homecoming is a perfectly paced 5 hours/10 episodes.
Flaring snot holes and all, Roberts turns in an awards worthy performance in a worthwhile show.
Book Stuff:
Obviously, my being an Irish National I have an enormous interest in British Royalty. It’s hard to describe the excitement I felt, just this year, as some other royal ginger douche approached his wedding day to some D List actress. Did you see his dress, simple yet magnificent. Oh the drama . Will her Daddy come for the wedding, does his Daddy still dream of being a tampon when sexting  Camilla. Poor little rich kids.
With that healthy douse of cynicism I approached Ninety Nine Glimpses Of Princess Margaret , life excerpts of an actual royal bitch and deceased thorn in the side of the British monarchy. The Countess Of Snowden turned up in raging form for the third Patrick Melrose Book and I’d heard a glowing NYT podcast review of Ninety Nine. The obnoxious Princess, the next Disney franchise? My interest was peaked.
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The book has a gossipy, insiders sensibility. Hilarious to read of this extreme snob draw in her loyal subjects in pretend closeness only to shit all over them. Excellent use of the crown . And I learned of Horoscopes bullshit beginnings, how they basically run on the stopped clock methodology of predictions. No one remembers the wrong prophecies.
Old Margaret capatalized on her position of inherited power to make all the cloying snobs around her miserable. Respect that. It’s a fast, well written, critically lauded read.
I did think of one really good band named after a city, Rio Speedwagon.

Tooleing Around: Back on the Chain Gang Week 1

 

First day back to work, my office was Grand Central Station. I’d forgotten my desktop password and had to get the Help Desk to reset. Sweet. It was great to see everyone. I redecorated and then found out I was moving offices.

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Five work days , five lunches with six good friends. Great start.
Noble Tree still has the best Cappucino in thd country and I missed their PDQs, a small cheesy bread.
The obvious questions, most asked on my return, have been, were you always that full of shit and did your blog posts need to be so long?
Second most asked was my favorite places visited.
Because I had so much time, I didn’t always look for the prettiest, most tourist friendly locations. Those can be found anytime. There’s not a day of the trip I didn’t enjoy and learn a little something, even if that something was I never need to go there again (St. Louis/Charleston WV).
In no particular order , these are the places of natural beauty I most loved and want to revisit some day. Utah and Montana are two states I know whether there’s a lot more for me to see. Colorado, much as I had great experiences, I didn’t have the weather cooperate to see any of the great outdoors. To quote the Terminator, I’ll be back.
The Arches – Utah
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Canon Beach – Oregon 
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Avalanche Lake – Montana
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Devils Tower – Wyoming
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Badlands – South Dakota
Continuing my local travels, Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, NY is a favorite town of mind  in our upstate region, with a barrel load of history. In the not too distant past, Chelsea Clinton married here. The family presented a bottle of wine to every family in town as a thank you for their hospitality and apology for the presidential interruption.  The main streets, runnning off the cross roads , house a collection of eye pleasing small stores. It’s the picture perfect American town.
It’s a spectacular Autumn Sunday and the farmers market is in town so things are hopping. Lots of leaf blowers on the go.
Strategically placing someone else’s Sunday Times Styles Section by my plate, in an attempt to blend, I brunched at Bread Alone. They have very good bread and I sat alone. Also serving excellent breakfast sandwiches, coffee and pastries. Tried the feta herb scone – scrumptious. It’s one of my regulars for years now.
The Beekman Arms, at the crossroads in town, is the oldest inn in America, established in 1766. They have a street facing atrium, serves brunch, and original antique bar you can dine at in the back, a better dining atmosphere for dreary winter days.
The Culinary Institute Of America is close by Rhinebeck so there’s no shortage of Chefs. My favorite restaurant is Le Petit Bistro across from the Beckman, they do a really nice job at Christmas as does the whole town. It has that New England look and feel.
Terrapin , a converted church, is probably the most established and best know of the towns many restaurants. While I admire the space, I’ve never been a big fan of their pricey menu.
Rhinebeck has oodles of chocolatiers and candy stores (Ant Man himself Paul Rudd owns one) and quaint gift and clothing stores, lots of find restaurants and a couple of old school taverns.
Upstate Films, the towns three screen art house theatre, hosts an annual film festival. It’s a cute little venue that  thankfully will never show an Avengers movie.
Just a couple of doors down, I’ve had a lot of good luck gift shopping at Paper Trail. I’ve even bought a couple of things for other people there. They run the full range from cutlery to coloring books, fun store. I bought stuff !
What town would me complete without an excellent bookstore. Oblong is the sister store of my regular spending spot in Millerton. I bought a book.
For more gifting, Hamnerton next door is a favorite for bigger pieces. Christmas had started already. I bought more stuff.
When ever I need my knife sharpened I go to Warren’s. Not a metaphor. Brendan showed me the most expensive knife in the store , an $800 Kikuchi . I have a set of Globals, also Japanese and the knife of choice for Patrick Batemen in American Psycho. Warren’s is considered the premier knife store in the country . I never leave empty handed from their hardware section.
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I had a lovely long chat with Sara at the counter and bought a Straub red cast iron pot on sale and some whisk thing . Sara pointed me to No Need Bread recipes website. My dough days are about to begin.  Sara’s a native of Rhinebeck, currently residing across the bridge in close by Kingston.
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Drop in and talk Knives at Warren’s with the expert staff. It’s fascinating and the staff couldn’t be more knowledgeable of friendlier. This is one of my favorite stores on the planet!
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On the binging front:
Spoiler rant ahead. Binged Bodyguard, a six parter, from BBC, currently on Netflix. All fine until the ridiculous finale. So lets gather as many people around the suicide bomber as we can kiddies and really piss him off with criticisms and call him a liar as he struggles to hold it together with his thumb on the hair trigger and maybe bring his wife along for extra dumb. The ending devolved into silly, prolonged nonsense including some prize hammy dialogue and performances. One step shy of the butler with a candlestick in the library , everyone just rolls over and confesses everything at the drop of tapectecirding for a lovely clean resolution.
Better Call Saul, this years season , is my best show of the year with the closing scene of 2018. Emmys for the three principals please.
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On the book front:

For no good reason other than the fact he’s very popular, I had low expectations for Craig Johnson and his books. But having just traveled Wyoming and the West, and seeing his books everywhere and hearing what a great guy the writer is, I tried the first book. It’s everything I’d want in a mystery, firstly a great mystery and creduble yet surprising resolution, fully fleshed characters and a clear sense of place. The Cold Dish is my first Longmire book and I will be reading more. Highly recommended for mystery lovers in particular and fiction readers in general, the mans a beautiful writer.

 

One great band named after a town I remembered, Rio Speedwagon.

Until next week…

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Tooleing Around: Back and Keeping my Self Amused Week 1

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I’m baaaaaaaack.

I’m going to keep my blog going on a weekly basis. If for no other reason, it might make me look for some variety in life. Save me from boredom.

Stacey and yours truly had a Christmas type event, unraveling my travel gifts to myself. One for you, fifteen for me. I am a child.
Stacey favors the weird looking cross eyed donkey Christmas decoration from Vail. I’m leaning towards the REDRUM mug from the Stanley Hotel, or maybe the Hot Chicken Tee from the Johnny Cash Museum (no clue what it represents but it amuses me), possibly Big Foot bandaids from Wyoming; the original Close Encounters bubblegum cards with a stale stick of from 1978  or ………

 

Dozens of keychains for the pinboard.
Did all those exciting things this week that needed doing – called the plumber for a shower leak; the boiler is on the blink ; two months away from my big garden, that needs cleaning up and the garden furniture had to be stored. And there are warning lights on the Escalade; 10,000 miles, the poor thing is exhausted. And Martha Tooleing Stewart here, cultivated my herbs and strung them to dry. Cadillac did give me a 2019 XT5 loaner – sweet.
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I watched my first movie in eight weeks, and it had to be a Western in remembrance. Traveling the the West, as a general destination,  was what I was most enamored with on this trip. Tombstone, though far from a masterpiece, is rollicking , iconic fun. Doc Holliday is the best work Val Kilmer has ever done and Kurt Russell plays Wyatt Earp perfectly. Wifey enjoyed it and she’s no fan of cowboy pictures.
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I’m also binged six hours of The Sinner on Netflix. It kept me interested and guessing. Bill Pullman is always interesting and who knew Jessica Biel cold act, she was Emmy nominated . Pretty dark and twisted this one, so of course I recommend it.
I did come back to bad news in our Ancramdale neighborhood . Our friends and neighbors, the Millers, had a disasterous Fire in their barn, all their cattle were lost. As is the way up here, the neighbors all came together with fund raisers and a successful GoFundMe campaign . Hopefully the family can recover from this catastrophe . The Millers have helped us out in various ways in our sixteen years in Columbia county.
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Met up with my good friend, Mike Waldholz (a real prize winning writer) for lunch at Le Gamin, in Hudson, broad brunch/lunch selection and soso cappuccino.
I’ve been going to Hudson for years. They have a wonderful winter walk parade, every December, where the close down Warren, their main drag , for an evening of holiday festivities, with haycart rides, Carol singers, hot Apple cider stands, thd works. All the stores participate and Christmas up to the max.
The Spotted Dog, Book, Beer and Wine Bar, housed in one of thd older brick buildings on Warren. They’ve a decent book array and a beautiful antique bar up front, almost Irish pub looking.
Warren Street is known for its vast range of antique stores , and has a throng of restaurants and art galleries. We’ve gotten a couple of paintings ourselves from the Carrie Haddad gallery. The Gallery is used as the workplace of Sarah Jessica Parker in that dreary Divorced on HBO. If you hated her in Sex in The City, as I did,  try this gloom fest of a show.
After all this radio listening on the trip , I have  a music question that’s bothering me. Has there ever been a good band named after a City? Boston, Chicago , Kansas – nope. Obviously The Dubliners, but who else?

The Firehouse Museum, in Hudson, covers the multi century history of volunteer firefighting in New York State . They house automated fire trucks dating back to 1902, with a couple of dozen antique pieces. It’s a grand big , dual level warehouse. 75% of firefighters in New York are volunteers to this day, including our firehouse in Ancram.

 

Upstairs houses the non automated machines and steam engines,  all in remarkable condition, there are dozens more pieces. Some date back to the 1700s. Sond extremely beautiful pieces of equipment, considering the tasks they performed.
The wall cases are covered with the history and tools of the firefighting trade, including a collection of speaking trumpets, used to shout instructions.
Great song today – Miles and Miles  – Zero Seven.
Museums on my upstate doorstep. Just a matter of looking around I guess.
If you get the chance to watch Hotel Artemis, don’t . It’s a film lacking a single original idea, deriving it ideas, look and feel from better films , which is not hard because there are few worse. The only thing slightly amusing is watching Jodie Foster shamble around like Cornelius from Planet of the Apes, trying to hold in a turd. That’s what the director seems to think old nurses look like.
Hereditary, on the other hand, is one of my best movies of the year. It’s got the slow burn of The Shining and the building dread of Rosemary’s Baby. I put on my big boy pants and watched alone in the Ancramdale house, middle of the woods. Lights off and everything.
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Dropped off the Escalade for resuscitation at the Cadillac shop and visited my friends at Charlotte Taylor. They had me run delivery’s all over Millerton. With tightening immigration , cheap Irish is the best they can do. Cheap as in a lousy cappuccino no pie.
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A favorite song that’s played any number of times recently, and maybe my anthem, Talk Talk by Talk Talk, a very underestimated 80s band.
Sheffield, Massachusetts – today felt like a good day for an auld Alien probing. In November 2015, the Thomas E Reed UFO Memorial Park & Covered Bridge was cited as the United States first official Off World Incident, was factually upheld and deemed historically significant.
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A monument and plaque was dedicated by the Governer. “The truth is out there”, famously claimed Gov. Mulder as his wife Scully cut the ribbon.
 The aliens engaged the Reed family here September 1st, 1969. They looked like giant insects,  according to Dad and Brother, Mom & Granny. Granny’s never lie. Finger food  from nearby Guidos was enjoyed by Reeds and ETs alike.
And there is a perfect , mint condition , covered bridge to see for those not alien hunting. It’s open to pedestrians only at the end of a half mile rutted, dirt lane.

 

The only close encounter of the tooleing kind was with four elderly ladies from Florida , who had stopped to see the bridge, nice enough to take my photo. They were unaware of the extraterrestrial history.
Sicario: Day Of Soldado , was far inferior to the original move, which had a far superior director. The sequel had a couple of good action sequences but tried to pander to a larger audience, with a weak kidnapping plot, and a teenage victim. It felt incomplete in all of its character and story lines. Benicio is always great to watch though, so it’s not a complete waste.68B5376A-8888-4FCF-91A1-C66BB0CC995C
Oh, Country Living. Awoke to the sounds of squeaking from my bathroom early this morning. There was a mouse swimming in my toilet. Mickey meet Nemo.
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“It”, surprised me. It is one of the better Stephen King adaptations. The film had the look, sound and feel of a Spielberg film, if he made a gory R Rated horror film. A little like ET or The Goonies, in that adults are never really present or people who take effective actions. There’s a touch of Don’t Look Now in there too. Smart move splitting the book in two, I look forward to the second chapter.
Back to Manhattan with a blast, two hour drive took three and a half. Lots of laying on the horn. I’m baaaaaaack.
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Looking out on the bustle of Park Avenue, from the apartment, I feel like Mac, from the last scene of Local Hero. A little sad the trips all done and a little optimistic about my next trip and an excellent reminder of all the great things out there to see. I think I’m going to start looking for non traditional tourist destinations in my own town, I live and work by some of the Worlds Biggest and more popular sites.  My office is by the Freedom Tower and five minutes walk from Wall Street; our apartment overlooks Park Avenue, blocks from Grand Central Station, minutes from Madison Square Garden   .
You all should find Local Hero to watch. That movie will put a big smile on your face and has a killer score by Mark Knopfler. There are not that many nice films that are this good. Certainly not many I like.
Work Monday.
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Tooleing Around : Day 47 – Home

 

100DF5DF-27DA-40B7-A39D-3D49D332C620Twelve hours driving , 630 miles across West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and I’m home in Ancram, New York. Landed at 4AM. It smells all fresh and leafy, I love this time of the year upstate New York.
I unpacked the Escalade this morning. My real mistake was packing all those books, I read one in seven weeks, packed 30, bought 20+ new ones, pretty much one per book store visited . Lesson learned. I will read a couple this week.
Today I’m a tourist in my local upstate town of Millerton. I’ve been coming in here practically every weekend for the past years, since we bought our Country place in Ancram. Pretty much 16 years ago to the day.
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This section of the Hudson River valley , just a couple of hours from Manhattan, is a really beautiful wooded and Farm region, with views of the Catskills. Lots of hiking, golf and some skiing in the region, and other healthy activities.
First stop is the Oakhurst diner and they know my order, Corned beef hash, Eggs over,coffee and rye toast. And they remember to bring Tabasco. I always take the corner stool by the window. It over looks Harneys , tea makers to the Queen, whatever that means. Damn good coffee.

 

Before we bought the house up here, Millerton is the town we rented the groomsmen’s tuxedos. We got married close by and grew to love the region as we were going back and forth with arrangements.
There was a multigenerational clothing store here called Sapersteins , which just closed recently, did tux rentals . They sold some ugly ass gear and were never cheap, but they were an institution. They bitched my very hungover brother out for losing one stud on returning the suits and charged him $20. One stinking little black stud! $20!
I have Irish Alzheimers, I forget everything but the grudges.
The Columbia County and Duchess County area is pretty special and mostly unspoiled. The town is abuzz today, the leaf peepers are here for the changing colors. The fall foliage should be prime around now.
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The town is home to the world renowned Harney Tea Factory, one end, and the Irving Coffee Roastery, the other. I live near beverage central, our house is 9 picturesque miles from here .
You are close to it all around here. Bash Bish Falls close by connects New York and Massachusetts . Minutes the other direction you are quaint Salisbury Connecticut , it where I go for good meat and fish and pies. Close by are some other great towns to visit, shop and eat in : Rhinebeck, Great Barrington, Millbrook.
Stopped in to say hello to my friends in Charlotte Taylor, the best gift store in the State. I practically own stock. The have a wide range in a small store from high end baby gifts, to birthday and holiday presents and a few things for myself, every now and then.
Always great Cappucinos at Irving, right next door to one of the most elegant little cinemas in the country. The roof line along Main Street will give any town in the country a run for its money. Main Street also houses Oblong, a favorite book store . I probably cover their mortgage.

 

My 47 days on the road was the trip of a lifetime, it was more than I could have hoped for. The trip put a real face to so many of those places I’ve read about and viewed in film, all the way back to childhood.
In in a nutshell :
I traveled 47 days.
I slept in 43 different beds.
I visited and stayed in 22 States.
I drove 10,088 miles.
I averaged around $200 a day between accommodation, gas and food, which puts the total trip just under $10k.
I calculated it would be far cheaper for me to live on the road, permanently , than living in Manhattan.
I think I’m going to blog once a week from now on. It will push me to keep my life more interesting and keep  my Mother informed back in Ireland. She has been a great follower and supporter, as was my researcher in NYC. The blogging and followers and comments really added to the trip for me. I’ve had over 10k visits to the site in the past 7 weeks, between online and mail subscribers. And all across the world. The support and friendship was fantastic, thanks all. It really added to the fun and kept me honest, well honestish.
 “It’s been quite a party ain’t it?” – Gus McCrae
Last song for the trip, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John.
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I put together some rules of travel before I started on the road. They worked out pretty well for me, some better than others:
  1. Travel via Blue Highways as far as possible. I did travel the back roads quite a bit on the earlier part of the trip, but realized I needed to hit the interstates if I wanted to get in all the places I wanted to see on my timeline. I did continue to meander when I got into places.
  2. Milk the Irish thing for everything it’s worth. Man, did I.
  3. Find Movie & Book related locations and independent Bookstores. I was successful on both fronts. The Point Break Beach was an unexpected find as was Butch Cassidy’s Bed.
  4. Avoid big cities (except Nashville!). I saw a few more big cities than planned but enjoyed them all and discovered some of their quirkier spots.
  5. Maximum of two nights per location. Done. 43 beds in 47 nights.
  6. Keep my opinions to myself (the toughest of rules). I did keep my big mouth shut, but then, no one tried to push their opinions on me either , in any State.
  7. See as much live music as possible. I saw live music 6 times in 7 weeks. The prime venue being Tuesday at the Ole Oprey, a real treat.
  8. Eat only in “Where are you from, Buddy?” locations. No Fast Food. Succeeded royally.
  9. Plan & Book travel Day by Day. This approach worked ideally for me. Taking local direction really helped make my trip and got me seeing places I’d never of heard it thought of.
  10. Talk to every Tom, Dick & Harry along the way. I did indeed, And there are many fabulous Toms, Dick’s and Harriet’s across this country. I was blown away by the generosity of people everywhere I travelled.  This was a large part of what made this journey so fantastic for me.
If there was an 11th rule it would be “Buy crap everywhere”. I have gotten an A++. Books not included.
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Last leg:
Gas: $162
Food: $8
In order of travel, these are the States I visited and spent at least one night in, 22 of them. It was such a whirlwind I’ll need to go back and pick my top ten. And the worst.
Ohio
Indiana
Michigan
Illinois
Iowa
South Dakota
Wyoming
Montana
Washington
Idaho
Oregon
California
Nevada
Utah
Colorado
Kansas
Oklahoma
Arkansas
Missouri
Tennessee
North Carolina
West Virginia
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Tooleing Around: Day 46

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I felt like Michael Douglas in Falling Down this morning. I got to Starlings at 12:05, top rated breakfast spot, they stop making sandwiches at Noon. Looked like a dump too, for all the rankings. Not sure if the staff or establishment needed a good scrubbing more. I wasn’t eating a nuked fridge sandwich. Next !
This double headed goaty coffee place a bit further along had a very good cappuccino and decent scone, though not to the blue cheese and bacon level of back West. I’ve turned in to a biscuit connoisseur.
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The coffee shop staff told me to check out the Cultural Center. It’s a big collection of  govermental looking buildings, that surround the gold domed state capital, with various public displays . There is a monument to the World Wars as you enter the park area. I started out with the West Virginia State Museum, It has free entry.
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I touched Donny Osmonds dress at the Hippie Culture exhibit, right on entry. The exhibits here cover the full history of WV, with the usual cheesy , re-enactment videos. It was heavy on Civil War history. This one had creepy video oil paintings talking to one another.
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I did learn a lot about John Brown, and saw a painting of him, just hours before his body lay a molding in the grave. Also learned West Virginia’s secession occurred after the Civil War when it became the 35th State.57E36513-D480-4E97-A471-A2B9893322C0
Theres an interesting little exhibit on the Hatfield and McCoys. No one knows the real start of the feud, but it’s believed it was all precipitated by the theft of a Razorback hog.
Of course, a lot of the museum is dedicated to the coal mining industry.
I believe I’ve already used my “two tents” joke.
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And I’m repeating my “pressing engagement”.  Though this time with s printing press, rather than a large iron,
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This museum blows. Bellows -get it, blows. I believe is new, if not that original.
The same implement I had seen previously, for ladies grooming, was displayed in WV with the Gatling Gun. What in the name of Jehovah is it for? I’m visiting too many Western Museums.
Speaking of Westerns, I did finish the Dodge City Audio Book and it was excellent . To quote the John Ford movie, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
I’d say in this case, the real story of Wyatt Earp and the boys is far more fascinating and violent than any of the legendary versions. Wyatt was no saint .
Back to the Museum,The heads moved on these creepy animal things and they make constipated noises. Jesus. And scabby looking ducks, always ducks. Back in Claude’s Amusements in Galway , as a kid, there used to be a glass case of marionettes on strings, that danced when you put a penny in. They still turn up in my nightmares.

Who thinks animatronics are a good thing? I needed to get back to sunlight.

I’ve had enough State Museums for one year, but I need a souvenir. They had the biggest collection of key chains of any museum. I got the “Almost Heaven” West Virginia shaped .

Walking around more, I feel like Charleton Heston in Omega Man, where is everyone? This is the State Capital on a perfect Friday afternoon. Deserted .
Me and a bell.
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I’m struggling in West Virginia trying to entertain myself.  it really be this dull? Mountain Mama – sent me some guidance. I drove the streets in a zig zag looking for the post office. No one lives her.
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As I anticipated, once I passed Nashville, on my way back East, I was going to sprint through the last States. I’d originally planned on a night in Maryland but it’s time for those Country Roads to take me home. And I’d started reusing bad jokes. I was turning in to my brother.
“Three holes in the ground. Well. Well. Well.”
630 miles from West Virginia to Ancram, New York. Time to pull a late nighter. And I’m off…
Hotel: $0
Gas: $TBD
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Tooleing Around: Day 45

It’s was the perfect weather day for mooching around Asheville.

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I had the Continental breakfast buffet space to myself. Headed in to downtown center Asheville, Wall Street and Battery.  It smells like Irish vinegar and chips at the Parking.

It’s a very happening walk around down town, lots of cutsey little stores, with that happening hippy feel, bead and fabric shops, karma stores, tea stores, a good used books and records, vintage stores, antiques and street artists.

Encountered the most random mural of my trip . “Well , ain’t we a pair , Raggedy Man.” –  for 10.18D62A94-8373-460D-81BC-FB3F8786D517
Great song, lousy film.
A lot of the streets have a West/East Village look and feel in Asheville, including the people.
They also have a very healthy smattering of homeless.
I had a pressing engagement in town. (Dad Joke # 147).
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The first album I owned ever, was Oxygene. As such, I have had a thing for synthesizer music since I was a child. So first stop was the Moog Store and factory, they give tours.

Zac at the Moog store is a budding synthesizer composer. He composes long form pieces , much like Tangerine Dream (who I had seen in the Hammersmith Odeon back in my mind altered days). We compared favorite TD albums (mine the Thief score, most people know Risky Business).He does a two hour set of his original music each Friday at The Black Cloud, a heavy metal bar.
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The Moog store and tour has an online reputation for having the nicest most interested staff. They do. Wayne in the Nashville Apple store had recommended seeing the place.
The next tour was at three-turty , I’d come back.
Seems the record shop mural is swapped out every few months. They do need another hero intermittently , it seems.
Popped in to Moonlight Makers to get some more souvenirs things, they make all their own products. It’s got that co-op look and feel.The girls in there wrote me a list of things to see around the town including best coffee and pastry’s and bookstores. Score.
Stopped at Donatello’s for a coffee and pie. Another man, in front of me,  choosing a pastry like it was a life altering decision. Just get the f$@&$g merengue.

Very good cappuccino and eclair and Nancy at the counters Dad is from Ireland.

On recommendation I went by the Grove Arcade, a very European feeling high end mall.  Outside they host stalls of local artists. Ground floor holds the stores, there are offices on the other two with wrap around , wrought iron balconies. Most unusual store combination yet, Book Exchange and Champagne Bar – lots of first editions. No thanks.
The Pinball Museum Of Asheville is infested with garden gnomes, they are all over the window ledges and intermittently spread around the store.
They have Pinball machines going all the way back to a 1937 Arlington. My favorite was probably the AC/DC, but the original Star Trek machine from 1968 was a close second and the original Batman.
The two back rooms were full of vintage video games and a video juke box loaded with the best terrible 80s videos. Shalamar anyone?
Lisa, originally from Pennsylvania , living here in Asheville for four years, gave me the tour. Free entry, $15 to play games all day. Bargain. I bought souvenirs.
They put my Funko collection to shame. The Pinball Museum has more crap than my office (for now that is).
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I got back to the Moog store in plenty of time to spent plenty of money.
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The Moog Tour, it was a nice small group today, only six of us. They do take up to 30. Bob Moog started his business in 1953, he had an electronics and musical background, a PhD from Cornell in engineering and pyschics. Moog started  manufacturing Theremins – you’d know the weird sounding instrument sound from horror and sci-fi movies. It picks up on hand movement , without any physical contact. Paul gave the presentation and demoed the equipment.
On display was an original Moog model, used by ELP, one of synthesized musics innovators. The massive synthesizer cost $150k back in 1968, pre MiniMoog Model D, the classic, now 45 years old . The MiniMoogs are very much back in use with bands.
Paul , our guide was a fantastic presenter and extremely knowledgeable (and a Gary Numan fan, we both had seen him recently).
This is the only Moog factory in the  world , with about 100 employees and Moog is mostly employee owned. To recreate a 1968 model it’s assembled  the same way today as it was back in the day, by hand. The instruments do need tune ups every few years, much like a car tune up. Bands keep backup Moogs. They produce tens of thousands a year. They will customize the casings for the synthesizers, one artist got 24 carat gold. They have always tried to keep it all American made but tariffs recently are making that very difficult.
They were building a 1960s version in the back while we were thrrr, they still run to the original cost. With their unique sounds and functionality they are still used a lot in film scores .Moog are about to release the new model, 10 years in the making.
Great tour for anyone with an interest in music.
Passing back by the second hand record store, I met Jesse Hicks, the store owner, closing up. I asked him why Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome of all bad sequels?They previously had Lemny and Screamin Jay Hawkins and debated Tina for a couple of years. He likes the movie, he likes Tina. Why not? It’s his store.
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My English Beat T-Shirt started two street conversations today. That one always works.
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Since The Claddagh is part of Galway I went in to the namesake bar to be nosey. The owner is from Nebraska or somewhere that’s definitely not Ireland. They do get an Irish band for St. Patrick’s day and the bathroom signs were in Gaelic and they had fake sods of turf in a fake fire. He had no idea what the claddagh ring was.
Country roads , took me home , to the place I belong, West Virginia. Charleston – 290 miles from Asheville. Found the Aldelphia Sports Bar & Grill, the only place still open for food at 11.30, serves Greek. A gyro at midnight, mmmmm.
Booked in online to a Holiday Inn, a few miles outside the downtown.
The Tally:
Hotel: $147
Gas: $53
Dinner: $10
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