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  • iPhone Challenge: Isbell at the Ryman

    Those who follow my page know that I shoot a lot of live concerts. When I can't get a photo pass, I join the masses in using my iPhone.

    How these photos turn out is often a mixed bag. Cellphone cameras don't capture movement well — if at all — and the lighting also is a challenge.

    But when the show you're attending is a bucket list item — my first concert at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, no less — you've got to try.

    Fortunately, the lighting for Friday's show — part of Isbell's annual residency at the Ryman — was good. And our seats, in the front row of the balcony, also helped.

    These photos show what you can get with an iPhone when the circumstances are right. They're not as good as I can get with my DSLR. But, given the circumstances, they are a great memory of a great show.

    For more photos, go to my Facebook album here.

  • Bucket List Weekend

    There'a reason I call this past Friday to Sunday a "bucket list weekend."

    On Friday, Jill and I went to Nashville to see Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit at the Ryman Auditorium, a holy cathedral of live music featuring one of our favorite artists. Before our flight left, we had a chance to see Emma, who came down from New York to attend game 3 of the World Series.

    After flying back Saturday, I attended my first-ever World Series games between my two favorite teams with  Jill and my friend/brother from another mother Eric Kleppinger. Then, on Sunday morning between the two games, Kate, Matthew, and I met Nicholas and the Croxons at the end of the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer on Conner, who finished the 26.2 mile race in 4 hours and 11 minutes, averaging less than 10 minutes per mile.

    One concert, two baseball games, three adult child sightings = 72 hours I'll never forget. #gratitude #weareTHATfamily

  • World Series: Game 5 Observations

    World Series game 5 observations:

    1, The weekend comes down to this: The Nationals haven’t won a World Series home game since Oct. 5, 1933.

    2. Not sure if it was the after effect of the waterlogged Marine Corps marathon, but this was a weird night even by D.C. standards. You know it’s weird when the president gets booed by a majority of the masses (with chants of “Lock him up” for good measure) and people shrug their shoulders afterward. An elderly woman sitting next to us said it was the best thing she’d seen all night.

    3. Additional oddities: A rainy monsoon-type morning turned into a beautiful evening, with temperatures in the 70s at game time; Scherzer was scratched two hours before due to spasms; two women flash Gerritt Cole in a publicity stunt and are “indefinitely” banned from all MLB games; calls for robo umpires are rampant following several missed calls at the plate; and the visiting team has now won all five games in the Series.

    4. Credit to the Nationals and the Secret Service: The lines moved well going into the stadium. Getting in took only a couple of minutes longer than it did the night before.

    5. You have to feel bad for Joe Ross, who was thrown into a starting role with Scherzer’s injury and was victimized by one of those bad calls. He then gave up a two-run homer and turned it over to the bullpen down 4-0.

    6. By now, everyone should know the odds of a Nationals reliever getting three outs in the middle innings are the same as containing a bull in a pen made of cardboard.

    7. The Astros fans travel well. I saw a number of shirts and hats at the marathon, and there was a considerable amount of orange in the stadium Sunday night. Their loyalty was rewarded.

    8. Cole looked like the pitcher who entered the game with 363 regular and postseason strikeouts, but it can’t be discounted that the Nationals played with fungo bats throughout the three-game homestand.

    9. I’m so glad it’s a travel day — for them, not me.

    10. Game 6: Strasberg vs. Verlander, who remarkably has never won a World Series start. Will my Astros in 6 prediction — seemingly unrealistic when the weekend started —hold up?

  • World Series: Games 3 & 4 Observations

    Observations about World Series games 3 and 4 (with a few travel side roads added for good measure):

    1. Due to our bucket list, 23-hour trip to Nashville, we did not attend game 3, the first World Series contest hosted in Washington, D.C. since 1933. And it sounds like we didn't miss much.

    2. In fact, game 3 seemed to mirror the first two, except the teams exchanged uniforms. After the Astros left a ton of runners on base in games 1 and 2, the Nationals could not get a critical hit when it was needed.

    3. Seeing Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit was a great first trip to the legendary Ryman Auditorium, but the buckets of drizzle and gloomy skies in Nashville apparently were foreboding signs of things to come for Washington's baseball team. (No frogs, thank goodness.)

    4. Travel Observation #1: If you're going to describe yourself as a cosmopolitan city (and we love Nashville), closing your restaurant 45 minutes to an hour early because you "ran out of food" and saying that's "the way we've always done it" is no excuse. (This is especially true if you are the only restaurant within short walking distance from three new hotels.)

    5. Travel Observation #2: If said new hotel is going to charge full price rates, it should have the amenities you come to expect when you pay full price. Telling your customers that you can't provide room service because you haven't built the restaurant yet (but have made no mention of this on your reservations website) may be factually accurate, but it's not a good look.

    6. Back to baseball: As hard as this Series has been to watch for this Astros/Nationals fan, it was beyond cool to be in the stands for game 4. But in reality, the game was sort of a dud, a grind it out victory for the Astros to tie the series at two games each.

    7. If voting for Gold Gloves took place today, Anthony Rendon and Victor Robles surely would win. Both made spectacular defensive plays in the Nationals loss.

    8. Otherwise, the Nationals seemed tight throughout game 4. The pitching was meh and several hitters could not get untracked. It made for a long night.

    9. Case in point: When Wander Suero has the best results of any of your staff, that should tell you something. All series long, I’ve said that if Suero actually pitches in the World Series, something is dreadfully wrong.

    10. Case in point #2: Fernando Rodney, age 42, pitching to Alex Bregman (possible AL MVP) with the bases loaded. I turned to my friend Eric and said we should leave when Bergman hits a grand slam. Next pitch: Dinger.

    11. We stayed for the rest of the game.

    12. My daughter-in-law, Conner, is running the Marine Corps Marathon in the rain. Major props to her and to my son, Nick, who ran a half marathon last weekend. After the week we’ve had, I’m struggling to get out of bed.

    13. It’s a three-game series, folks. I’m hoping my Astros in 6 prediction doesn’t come true.

  • Bucket List: MLB Spring Training

    Scratch one off the bucket list. Thanks to a good friend, Tony Jones, I had the opportunity this weekend to go see two spring training games involving the Washington Nationals in Florida. The first was a road game in Jupiter against the Miami Marlins, followed by a day of activities at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new stadium that the Nationals are sharing with the Houston Astros.

    The Nationals and Astros (my hometown and other favorite major league team) squared off Saturday in the new stadium, which is part of a 160-acre complex that just opened this month and is still being completed. It was a win-win game for me.

    The best part of the weekend was getting to see the ballplayers and coaches up close during warmups and batting practice. Of course, given this week’s return of winter to the Northeast, the weather in Florida wasn’t bad either.

    Enjoy the photos, and see more in my Facebook album here.

  • Jill's Bucket List Checkoff

    The day after I saw this humorous advertisement touting the Breaking Bad ticket for 2016, Jill had an opportunity to scratch an item off her bucket list. With her co-worker Amanda Fitzgerald, she had the chance to meet and have a picture taken with Bryan Cranston at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's annual Hope Awards in Washington, D.C. 

    As much as we might want a Heisenberg/Pinkman ticket, we'll have to settle for Cranston's portrayal of another president instead. The four-time Emmy winner won a Tony Award for his outstanding portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson in the play "All the Way." The movie premieres later this month on HBO, and it looks like Cranston could walk back onto the award stage again.