Best Thing I Saw This Weekend

It was one of those weekends where you felt like you knew what was going to happen, but it all ended up going another way. Things that I thought would take like five minutes ended up taking several hours, and things that I figured would take all day to track down ended up getting knocked out right away. My sense of time isn't really what you'd call the very best in the first place -- and more than once this weekend I got phone calls from people wondering where the heck I was (apologies) -- but it was weird the way that the hours sort of seemed to run away with themselves.

To that end, I wanted to make a little side programming note here: Friday and Saturday ended up being really really busy at work, and by the time Sunday had rolled around half the things I wanted to put in the Hot Sheet were already essentially over. I can't always foresee how a given workday is going to go, but in the end I just need to be better about planning that thing out ahead of time. Apologies to all who were looking forward to it and sent me messages wondering where it was.
Anyways, onto the best things I saw this weekend.
Winner: Esperanza Spaulding
I've been talking her up forever on this site, and gushing about how excited I was to finally have the chance to see her live. To be honest I was a little unsure about the venue (a local church that happened to be down the road from my old apartment -- gorgeous, but really tiny [Kind of like Esperanza herself, when you think about it]), and wondered what sort of crowd might come out for a show that honestly had come with very little advertising and/or hype beforehand.

The place filled up quickly (the audience almost doubled in size after intermission) with a mix of older folks in suits, children in Sunday dresses, hipsters, and the easy-to-pick out musicians (of course). The crowd was really respectful and eager -- and were treated in kind with what was honestly one of the best live jazz experiences I've ever been a part of.

She nailed her hits, played a few standards, led her ace three-piece backing band through a few Wayne Shorter-sounding experiments, and then something that a lot of live bands forget about -- played a handful of new originals that as far as I can tell aren't available yet, which not only added an element of freshness to the set -- but now has me salivating at the thought of a new album coming out.

Add her subtle sense of humor and confidence in her skills, mixed with the fact that even after all the fanfare and exposure she's had Spalding still looks like she's having the time of her life up there -- and what you're left with is one of the best evenings of live music that Jacksonville's seen in a while (seriously, I haven't had that much fun at a show since Skindred rocked The Pit last year).

With the annual lameness that has become the Jacksonville Jazz Festival rapidly approaching, one can only hope that the community bigwigs that came out to see her will want to recapture some of that feeling when they put on the big show in May.
Runners up (in no particular order):
  • The US hockey team taking down Team Canada -- Lets start with the good things here. It was a fantastic game. Physical, fast-paced -- everything a full-contact all-star hockey game should be. Two squads that really don't like each other going at it full speed, selling it all out on the ice. Even when the offense wasn't happening, the intensity was off the charts -- which helped the whole thing totally live up to the hype surrounding it. I've enjoyed the curling and watched highlights of the skiing, but for me it was all really killing time until this happened. And what we got was totally worth the wait.

    That being said -- I'm pretty bummed about the outcome. I love my country, and I'm excited by all the medals that Team USA is winning -- but Canada flat-out has to win the gold medal in this event. There really is no other outcome that is acceptable. If you're a fan of the NHL and want it to finally step out of the shadows to where it's considered a major sport -- then the nation who's entire life is essentially built around the sport cannot walk off their own ice with anything less than a win. Even worse if the team that takes it away from them ends up being the Americans, who already basically stole their pro teams away.

    Reports say that the team has already benched goalie Martin Brodeur, who seemed lost out there -- but my issue with the Canadian team is that they seem to be waiting for Sidney Crosby to bail them out. Sid the Kid's a great hockey player, but he's got a bad case Peyton-Manning-Big-Game choke-itis, which reared it's head again and again against Team USA.

    What Canada does better than half the teams in this tournament is physical play, and yet it looks like they're all out there waiting for Crosby to make some fancy goals and do all the work. Simply put -- they've got to sack up if they want to make the medal round. Because as much hype as the American team is getting after their win, the real threat out there is the Russians -- who have nothing to lose and are looking stronger every game. Especially Alexander Ovechkin (the best player in the NHL right now, IMHO) -- who is just looking to hit people.
    Seriously, if he can crush Jagr this easily, he'll break Crosby in half.
    Then where will your medals be, ya hosers?
  • Bartender Compassion -- When I rolled into Endo after the Esperanza Spalding show, there were a few raised eyebrows from Matty and the doorman. That's when Ralph came over and we had this little conversation:
    "Wow, didn't think I'd see you back here so soon. We almost had to carry you out of here Thursday night."
    "I know, things did get pretty wild."
    "I'll be honest, I was kinda worried about your safety there after all those shots."
    "I appreciate that, man."
    "So, you're ok?"
    "Yeah -- takes more than a good time to take me out of the game."
    "Cool. You wanna do a shot?"
    ..Friends like these, eh Gary?

  • The maybe Beaver -- One of the weird things about parenting (or perhaps I should qualify and say that and say one of the weird things about me being a parent) is that some of the best moments I have with my son are things that when you try to explain them to other people afterward sound totally lame. And yet it's the little moments, the unexpected half-adventures that seem to like the most fun, and end up being the thing your kids talk about the most.

    Sunday afternoon we were walking the puppy around the apartment complex, and we did one of our normal stops at this fenced-in playground they have there. It's a place where we can take the mutt off the leash and let him run full bore without having to worry about him getting away.

    So we're in there and playing with the dog when my son starts pointing and asking me what that animal over there was -- at which point I noticed that there was a huge rodent-looking thing just hanging out a few feet from where we were standing, grooming itself and sniffing around for food.

    It sort of looked like a beaver, except that it's tail wasn't flat. And yet there it was, just sitting there. Curious, we went out to look, and then spent -- I don't know, the next twenty to forty minutes following this thing along the banks of the lake/retaining pond thing that cuts through the middle of our apartment complex. Curren was pretty fascinated by it, and kept asking all sorts of questions I couldn't answer while trying to feed it sticks.

    The more I looked at the tail on the thing (yes, I was checking out the tail on that beaver) the more I realized that we were probably weren't looking at an actual beaver at all -- but it's not like I'm really up on my local indigenous giant rodent biology enough to have any real clue what it could have been (people I've talked to since say it was probably a Muskrat -- which I'd only previously heard of in a Captain and Tennille song and honestly didn't think really existed). Eventually it swam off to a part of the pond where we couldn't follow, and we headed back home. Curren was all excited and kept trying to pick names for it, which was funny to hear -- while I quietly thanked my lucky stars that we had seen it outside, and not in my living room like the last oversized rat I had to deal with.
    Then I gave the brats a bath. One of them loved it.
    The other, ..not so much.
It wasn't a bad weekend at all, just a lot more busy than I was expecting. I was still able to get in time on the phone with j, hang out with friends, and have good times at the club with my boys. Now if I can just manage to get my blog back on track to where the things that are supposed to happen on Fridays actually take place -- the world will be five by five.
So, what were some of the cooler things you saw this weekend?

[Listening to:  The Ghost of a Thousand - "Moved as Mountains, Dreamt of by the Sea" ]


polkatronixx said…
Probably one of these:
JerseySjov said…
am i a bad person for not watching any olympics? at the end of the day it's all just sports to me.
Anonymous said…
In Sid's defense, he's pretty good at getting up after getting his bell rung. Jagr is notorious for being a non-factor if you give him one good shot.
Hex said…
Adam/Polkatron -- How did you know that?

Also, I was checking that wikipedia page and it said that the population of those that can be found in Florida were all either released or escaped.

..escaped from what!?

Jersey -- The only reason I give the Winter Olympics any time is the hockey. While you're stepping through the awful hoops of pre-game coverage and cutaways to other events you kinda get pulled into other things, but by and large the Olympics suck. You couldn't pay me to watch the summer games.

I am slightly surprised that you're not into the dancing-type ice-skating events. Isn't that sort of your thing?

WIGSF -- I just don't think that Sid's as good as all the hype. Maybe it's just because he's so pompous and plays a little soft in the corners, but I'd much rather watch Ovechkin. Dude's nuts.
polkatronixx said…
It's funny. I think I learned about those on an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell. He was in Louisiana and hung out with the local cops who were driving around near the canals shooting "nutria." I had never heard of them, so I looked it up. That was probably about 10 years ago. I guess it finally came in handy.

I wonder if they're slowly migrating into Florida. If they really are all escapees, that's almost scary or creepy or something.
Hex said…
Polkatron -- Well that explains it, I wouldn't want to stay in Louisiana either.

Dave Attell rocks.
JerseySjov said…
saying i would like ice dancing because i dance is like saying a tennis player would be into lacrosse because they both involve modified sticks and people chasing a ball.
Bef said…
the best thing I saw this weekend was the totally surprised look on my big sister's face when she walked into what she thought was a Mason's dinner that turned out to be a surprise 50th birthday party for her!

second best fucking awesome I looked that night

*pops collar*