May 20th, 2004


David Byrne

(Written on May 20, 2004.)

I've neglected so far to tell y'all about the David Byrne concert. It was super-fabulous.

I can't remember the name of the opening band, and I don't much care; they weren't singing in English, and the music was sort of arhythmic and weird. The duo did use a vocoder and a "boomerang" loopback device in their instrumentation. I found myself thinking of problems in my code during their performance.

David Byrne, though, was excellent enough to counter that.

I'd been waffling a lot about whether to go; I haven't enjoyed his solo work that I've heard as much as I enjoyed the Talking Heads, and I didn't even enjoy the last Talking Heads CD as much as I'd enjoyed their earlier work. I'd heard that he would be performing new arrangements of Talking Heads songs, but I feared that they'd be low-energy, watered-down versions.

I was completely wrong.

I don't remember the playlist, but almost every song was wonderful.
He did soulful operatic songs. (I remember one called "Aussencia")
He did Latin songs.
He did old Talking Heads songs.
He did new songs that would have fit Talking Heads well.

His band was a normal drummer, a mixed percussionist playing bongos and some other funky percussion, a marimba player, a guitarist (who was also one of the percussionists, but I don't remember which), and the Austin-based Tosca Strings, who included two violins, two violas, and two cellos.

I was particularly impressed by the marimba player, because he was usually playing with two mallets in each hand. But the strings were also amazing and rocked the house.
I would never have expected that "Psycho Killer" would sound so amazing backed by marimba and strings.

When he invited people to dance, I got up and danced with the crowd for the rest of the evening. Most of the attendees were dancing--I even noticed one woman dancing who was old enough that her daughter had grey hair. (There was a granddaughter with them, too. It was cool to see.)

He did three encores, I believe, for a total of over two hours of performing. (With "Burning Down the House" in his last encore; the crowd really joined in on "what about Pittsburgh, PA?" It was wonderful. I would gladly play a lot for a recording of that night's concert.

Steak party

For last Sunday's dinner, we organized a dinner of Omaha Steaks. We'd enjoyed two of the steaks that Lori had gotten me for a birthday present, and wanted to share that with our friends.

We'd hoped that someone would have the coupon that we'd used. Unfortunately, no one did. But we got a deal almost as good:
I called Omaha Steaks on Saturday morning to see if they'd honor the '12 6-oz top sirloins for $69.00' deal that I'd found on the web. I was told that they would, but it'd be helpful if I'd bring in a printout of the web page for confirmation. When I got there that evening, they had two boxes set aside for me--with a price marked of $56.00. I pointed out that the web price was higher, but they were happy to give me the cheaper price, and I didn't argue further.

(Incidentally, their refrigeration is top-notch. We bought the steaks, went to dinner, and saw Van Helsing, and when we put the steaks in the refrigerator five hours later, they were still frozen solid.)

It probably ended up being to their profit anyway. The steaks came out wonderfully, and several of the attendees declared their intention to purchase some of their own.

I grilled them three ways, and all of them came out well. One way was plain; one way was sprinkled with Penzey's Chicago Steak Seasoning (which also got some people to declare an intention to purchase some). The third way was rubbed with the Char-Crust seasoning we'd recently purchased at McGinnis sisters. This was a fairly successful experiment. The Char-Crust had a nice flavor, but it didn't really form a firm crust. But then, I didn't really sear the steaks at the beginning. That's fine with me, though I may try searing the steaks more another time.

Other menu elements:
corn on the cob (brushed with olive oil, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning, then grilled)
fruit salad
grilled angel food cake with strawberries
It was really an excellent meal.

The degree to which people declared an intention to acquire steak and steak seasoning of their own made me think that this could be turned into a profitable sideline, along the lines of a Party Light or Pampered Chef party. The general idea would be that we would host a meal of fabulous food, and prominently mention the source of the food, encouraging our guests to go buy their own. With a sufficiently low-key approach, this could even be a style of party that I'd want to attend. I don't know that I really want to put in the work to make this plan profitable, but perhaps we could get some cheap treats by demonstrating that we inspire demand in others. :-)