Friday, December 28, 2007

Jive and Wail

I love the new dueling piano bar, the Jive and Wail, which is in Maplewood. Hubby and I were there on opening night in September, which happened to be our wedding anniversary. We were brought there that night by a happy coincidence.

I had read info on the web about this dueling piano bar coming to Maplewood. I was interested to go, but hadn't heard/seen much about an open date. Then one day, I was inside a Bread Company near my work, standing in line waiting to make my lunch order. There was a fellow in front of me who turned to me and said he was originally from the east coast, and now lived in Florida, but everywhere he had ever been, the Bread Company was called Panera Bread Company, while here in St. Louis it was called St. Louis Bread Company. He wondered aloud to me why that was. I said that it's because they are headquartered here and while they tried to change the name in this area, I think they must have gotten some feedback about it from St. Louisans who didn't like the change, so it still remains St. Louis Bread Company. So after that, we talked for a couple of minutes and he told me he was in town to play piano at the Jive and Wail and invited me. I told him I had heard about it before, but didn't know it was open yet, and he said that very night was going to be their soft open, so I should come on down.

So, hubby and I made it there that night after dinner, and it was a great time, even if there weren't that many people there that first night. We really loved it from the beginning. I had never been to a dueling piano bar before, so it was a new experience and one that I enjoyed much more than I expected I would. It's just a great time to sing along to songs played live for you by two folks on pianos -- amazing to watch/hear them sing and pluck these songs out on the piano with no sheet music!

Well here it is going on a couple of months now since that first night, and this place has gone nuts -- it's so busy now we can barely get into the place ourselves!

We stopped in again last night because the pianist I mentioned above, Matt Nichols, was playing. It was good to see him again; very nice guy. If you get a chance you should go see him -- he'll be playing there now through New Year's Eve. Here's a pic of me and him from last night. He had the cutest t-shirt on that you can see in the pic -- Linus playing on the piano with Snoopy watching and the word "PLAYER" underneath. Clever.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

My pastor begins the eucharistic prayer at Mass today.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Preparing for Christmas

Here's what I did today -- made a ton of cookies:

Here's what everyone else did:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What's it like to party at the biggest brewer in the world?

Short answer -- lots of fun! I contract at Anheuser-Busch and they were nice enough to invite me to a holiday party earlier this week. I grabbed some pics while I was there.

You had ice sculptors:


Arcade games galore:


A Clydesdale:

Lots and lots of people:

There was also an old-fashioned style photo snapshot booth, a mechanical bull, an oxygen bar, a nightclub with a DJ spinning, and food. Oh yeah, and there was beer. It was a great time.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I love this site.

Don't know what a lolcat is? Read about lolcats here.

There's even a lolcat Bible.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Light of the World

My parish is currently holding its annual seven days of prayer prior to Christmas. As my pastor wrote in our bulletin last week,
Beginning with December 17, the Church proclaims daily one of the significant events that happened immediately before the birth of Christ. Each of these stories such as the Annunciation or the Visitation help to prepare us for the great celebration of the Mystery of the Incarnation. In liturgy of Evening Prayer for these days, the Church also reflects on one of seven titles from the Hebrew Scriptures given to the Messiah. Those titles have come to be known as the O-Antiphons.
The evening begins beautifully with prayer and song. The presider lights a small candle from the Paschal candle, then he in turn lights another individual's candle, who lights another's and so on until all candles are shining brightly.

Since everyone's candles are lit from the flame on the Paschal candle, I can't help but think of the symbolism of Jesus Christ being the light of the world and how each of us carries that light with us. Not only do we carry it with us, but even though sometimes that light may be hard to see, we can still feel its warmth.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brave New Squirrel

Mischief is not at all happy with this turn of events:

Squirrel says "thppppppt."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blade Runner

Rachael: May I ask you a personal question?
Deckard: Sure.
Rachael: Have you ever retired a human by mistake?
Deckard: No.
Rachael: But in your position that is a risk.

The four-disc edition comes out tomorrow! Hoping Santa brings me one. . .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

December Snow

We had a lovely snow this weekend. It made everything beautiful and quiet.
From Snow 12/15/07...

We popped over to 8 AM Mass today . . .we got in quite a bit earlier than we expected, so I grabbed a pic of the church while it was still very quiet
From Snow 12/15/07...

Later in the day, the sun shone so beautifully that I went to Carondelet park to take pics at Horseshoe lake. Here's one of my favorites:
From Snow 12/15/07...

More are in the album:
Snow 12/15/07 - 12/16/07

Saturday, December 15, 2007


A couple of my brothers-in-law are in a local band called Grumass. Went to see them play last night for the first time at Off Broadway -- lots of fun and they played great!
From Grumass! 12/...

I had a good time dancing, which I haven't done in a while!
From Grumass! 12/...

I hope to see them put together another show in the near future.

Neat thing about last night was that all six of the Ryan siblings were partying together.
From Grumass! 12/...

I made the mistake of thinking they were playing at Broadway Oyster Bar, so hubby and I accidentally went there first. Oops! We decided to stay for a few minutes to grab something to eat and ended up chatting with a vivacious bunch of SLU students, who were there to celebrate one of their sorority sister's 21st birthday.
From Grumass! 12/...
We offered them some of our chips, since we weren't going to be able to finish them, and they gratefully accepted.
From Grumass! 12/...
They were a lot of fun and engaged us in conversation, asking lots of questions about us, where we go/what we do on the weekends, about my husband's kids, etc. It seemed like they were looking for info on what "real St. Louisans" do/are like. They were cute/fun!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dan Schmatz Transitioning from Pro Cycling

Nice article from VeloNews about a native St. Louisan former pro cyclist and his decision to leave the pro circuit this year.

I met Dan at the Rally in the Valley in September, not long after his TOM accident when he broke his collarbone after a very unfortunate run-in with an armadillo (yes, a real armadillo). Very nice fellow and was very good about chatting with me for a few minutes. We compared our respective shoulder injuries (I had a grade 5 shoulder separation on July 21 that resulted in surgery July 30) and chatted about the baby he and his wife are expecting. Seems like a really nice fellow and I wish him every success with his new endeavors and hope he and his wife enjoy their little guy when he comes along soon.

He also has a blog, if you are interested.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Puppet Bike Pics

More puppet bike pics I took while I was in Chicago:

Notice the puppet bike is secured to the bike rack, even though someone is inside the puppet bike doing a show (behind the brown curtain). I wonder if they have ever had a problem with someone trying to steal or ride the bike away while a show was happening?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free Windows Vista Ultimate

Microsoft is offering free versions of Windows Vista Ultimate -- the catch is you have to let them monitor your usage of it. Sounds to me like they are trying to find ways to mitigate the disaster that the Vista release has been.

Maybe instead of, they should rename it to


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Puppet Bike

One of the more unique things I saw while in Chicago was this mobile puppet show on a bicycle.
From Chicago Trip ...

Very cute and clever.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

I took in this morning's Mass at St. Mary of the Angels parish near the neighborhood where we are staying here in Chicago. It's a very beautiful church.
From Chicago Trip ...

The church was almost completely full for Mass this morning.

The liturgy was about as close as you can get to a Tridentine Mass without it actually being in Latin. Opus Dei staffs the church. There were about a half-dozen altar boys -- no altar girls. The altar boys wore red cassocks with white surplices and all the priests wore cassocks too. The book of the Gospel was incensed before the reading. All responses were sung. The altar and all the priests' hands were incensed before communion. Only the presider took the Blood of Christ at communion and the Body of Christ was distributed exclusively on the tongue. No kneeling at a communion rail, though and the priests faced the congregation rather than have their backs to us. It was about a 90 minute Mass.

Being a feast day in honor of the conception of their parish's namesake, the folks attending SMA for Mass today were very well dressed. There were many beautiful little girls in their pretty velvet holiday dresses and little boys in tiny jackets and ties.

The music was performed/arranged well and reminded me of a chamber orchestra with accompanying chorus -- violins, french horn, organ, and perhaps some other instruments. Can't say for certain since the musicians and singers were in a choir loft.

The church also had some beautiful statuary. This one, which appears to me to be the Agony in the Garden, was really touching.
From Chicago Trip ...

Here's St. Michael:
From Chicago Trip ...

After Mass, we went to a neighborhood art/craft fair. Very beautiful handcrafted jewelry was available there, among many other handicrafts. Hubby bought a couple of candles he liked. After that, we did some shopping at various stores nearby. Eventually we headed towards downtown and had a very late lunch at Portillo's. Santa was there, so I decided to ask him for my Christmas present.
From Chicago Trip ...

Funny thing was, I asked Santa (because surely he would know!) which way to Michigan Avenue, and he sent me to ask one of the Portillo's staff. Hubby concluded it must be because the reindeer magically know the way, so Santa doesn't have to. Santa did say he would see me in a couple of weeks, however. I am feeling pretty good I won't get a lump of coal this year. ;)

After Portillo's it was off to buy some gourmet chocolate, then we went to Holy Name Cathedral to take in a Vigil Mass.

Holy Name Cathedral is beautiful in its own way. Its interior is a lot more rustic style than most cathedrals I have seen. Instead of a lot of gilding and mosaics, the interior has lots and lots of woodwork in the ceiling, especially. The stations of the cross appeared to be sculpted bronze, beautiful with a rough-hewn appearance. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to grab any pics of the inside, but there are some photos of it on their web site.

After the Cathedral, we went to dinner. Going back home to STL tomorrow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A new perspective

Chicago's outdoor sculpture, called Cloud Gate, in Millennium Park is like a huge distortion mirror. Everybody in Chicago affectionately refers to it as the bean, sort of like everyone in St. Louis calls the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial the arch.

Here's a pic of the bean around twilight today. There's snow on it right now.
From Chicago Trip ...

Here's an interesting perspective of me taking a picture of myself in it with the distorted Chicago skyline also in the reflection.
From Chicago Trip ...

I really liked going underneath it to look up into its center. It wasn't at all what I expected it would be like; it reminded me a lot of a black hole. It's not something I was able to photograph well in the light that I had, so you'll just have to go there yourself!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chicago Fun!

Visiting Chicago right now. Lots of fun!! Too many things to cram in one long weekend. The main priority was to visit the Museum of Science and Industry to see the Star Wars exhibit, which, if you are a Star Wars enthusiast like me, is fascinating. You get to see the props and costumes that were actually used in the movies, which is almost like seeing the stars themselves up close.
From Chicago Trip ...

I'll add more as I get time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shopping of a different kind on Amazon

Was checking out the Gold Box (daily special) deals on Found this on the forum on the bottom of the page.

It says, "Need to get my girlfriend something on the Q-T, so my wife doesn't find out."

Ah the spirit of giving!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A gift that says "I Love You. . . "

. . but your back looks like a wooly mammoth pelt and it's repulsive, so do something about it already."

This great idea comes to you courtesy of your friends at MSN shopping. I wonder if someone put it on there as a joke?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent Begins

Today is the start of the season of Advent -- a time of preparation and anticipation. I am especially looking forward to the novena at my parish later this month; it's always an excellent method to remind myself to slow down/relax just at the time preparations for Christmas typically reach a fever pitch. I tend to set very high expectations for myself, so it is a good time to get real and remember the true focus of the season.

Speaking of preparations, the cats were helping with the decorating this weekend:
From Cats December...

From Cats December...

From Cats December...

Seeing a Pattern

Seems to be a pattern here....
From Joe's Always ...

From Geek Squad

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Terror" on the Trail

Fox 2 news ran a story on the 9 PM edition last night about a cyclist who is bothering people on Grant's trail with rude and confrontational behavior.

Of course, there's no excuse for the guy to push other people around, though I would like to hear his side of the story. I wonder if he was calling out to people in advance of passing them? Whatever he was doing, he definitely crossed way over the line when he decided to get physical with other people.

Too bad Fox 2 didn't contact Trailnet, whose offices are right on the trail, because it would have been a great opportunity for Trailnet to talk about trail use etiquette. I have definitely experienced my fair share of frustration when cycling that trail. In particular, I come upon situations where there are several people together walking abreast, taking up the majority, if not all, of both lanes of the trail. I always call out loudly that I am passing on the left and in that situation, I'll usually call out at least twice. Most people don't move over or even acknowledge that they have heard me. As long as I can get by, I don't care if they move over -- I just want a simple hand wave or head nod that tells me I have been heard, so that when I pass, I know they are aware of my presence.

What I really would like to know is whether those rollerbladers were exercising single file as the clip shows or if they were taking up both sides of the trail when these confrontations have happened?

Unfortunately, the net result of this news story is that it reinforces in people's minds that cyclists are inconsiderate jerks. The vast majority are not, but there are a few gung-ho types, as with any sport, who are. If he's that gung-ho about cycling without "pesky" pedestrians and rollerbladers in his way, he should be a real man and try doing his workout on the road. At the mercy of cars and trucks, then he'll see what it feels like to be the vulnerable one!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chocolate Rain

This vid was very popular over the summer. It's very peculiar because you wouldn't expect that voice to come out of that young man and he has interesting mannerisms. I'm sure I'll sound like your grandmother when I say this, but it's refreshing to see a young person doing something creative and unique with his talent.

It was so popular, other people on YouTube parodied it. My favorite is Chad Vader's version.

Now, you can find promos for the Comedy Central Last Laugh '07 for it using the same fellow. And, Dr. Pepper had the same idea, but much more elaborately done/over the top than Comedy Central's.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christ the King

Today was the Solemnity of Christ the King, which means that the Roman Catholic Liturgical year almost at its end, and soon we start the season of Advent, the time for the anticipation of Christ's birth.

In today's homily about Christ the King, my pastor reminded us about the cosmic Christ with these words, "Christ yesterday and to-day, the beginning and the end, all time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever." This statement is drawn from the Paschal Vigil Mass (a.k.a. Easter Vigil Mass), at which time the new fire is lit to represent the light of Christ in the world.

Remember and reflect on the vast eternalness of Christ in our lives.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


OK yes I admit, I am in the Information Technology industry, but I had to call the Geek Squad to help me get my wireless network running.
From Geek Squad

Let that be a lesson to all the people who seek free computer advice from me or other IT people -- we don't know everything there is to know about every piece of hardware and software that exists. It's like asking asking an orthopedic surgeon about your heart condition -- sure, the surgeon likely knows of the heart condition, but isn't practiced at treating it, and you would be better served to seek out a cardiologist to help you.

Turns out the network issues were not completely due to my hardware ineptitude -- the router I had purchased has known issues (though they were unknown to me), so we replaced it with one I picked up yesterday when hubby and I were at Best Buy. Turns out the same Geek Squad guy I saw at the store yesterday in the computer area is the one who came to our house today to help us. Very professional guy and 2 hours later, I had 2 desktops, 1 laptop, and two printers networked.

Anyway, hubby was pretty happy that the wireless network is running:
From Geek Squad

Then all the excitement wore him out.
From Geek Squad

Friday, November 23, 2007

All Around Town

Busy day. Went to Mass this morning. Good peaceful way to start the day.

Came home, got the hubby and we headed out for just a little Black Friday shopping. Went to Best Buy and JC Penney and that was it. Got my step-daughter's gift done, so I can check that one off the list.

After shopping, we took some goodies from yesterday's meal to a friend who had surgery earlier this month. Had lunch and visited with him for a bit. He started to look sleepy after a while, so we took our leave after about 2 hours so he could rest. Healing is hard work!

When we left our friend's, we saw this:
From Day After Tha...

I think this guy must receive his radio signals from deep space. Who needs an antenna that big? NASA?
From Day After Tha...

Continuing on our way home, I asked hubby to take me by the Macy's downtown so I could see the Christmas display windows. Saw a performance artist guy in front of Macy's who wanted $2 to take a pic. I only had a buck on me, so I told him and said I guess I can't take a pic. I turned around from him, and decided to sneak this pic of his reflection:
From Day After Tha...

About the same time, he said he'll take the buck. He did some weird thing where he tilted himself sort of sideways while making some kind of mechanical noise. Meh.
From Day After Tha...

Macy's windows were neat:
From Day After Tha...

Went home, dropped off the hubby and then I went to a jeweler to get three of his watches' batteries replaced. I also checked out the jewelry for myself there while I was at it. Gotta' come up with something to ask for this Christmas, after all. ;) Saw some beautiful things there.

Stopped downtown on the way back to go to another jeweler just to look at some things there, too. Afterwards, I took a walk and snapped some pics of downtown with the Christmas lights up.
From Day After Tha...

Was fun to do a little sightseeing in my own town. Also seeing the Christmas lights help me get into the holiday mood.