Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Charlotte 500, Lap 82: The Horse Lap

I forgot one thing from Tryon Street that I meant to include with the last post. There are actually a number of things on Tryon that will eventually be added, but this is the one I've got the pictures for right now. It kinda speaks for itself - you hop in the carriage, the horses start walking...I think you get it.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Charlotte 500, Lap 79 - 81: Tryon Street History

Tryon Street is the main drag of Uptown Charlotte. Actually, Tryon runs through the entire city from southwest to northeast, and might be the only road of such length that doesn't change names four times on its way through town.

Anyway, in Uptown, there are three points of historical interest memorialized on Tryon Street that make up the next three laps on my list.

Lap 79: Every now and then, an event so momentous occurs that everyone knows exactly where they were when they heard the news. I imagine that every American, North or South, alive in April 1865 forever remembered when they heard about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Thanks to this marker in the sidewalk outside McCormick and Schmick's, you can stand where Jefferson David stood when he learned the news.

Lap 80: The Final Surrender. Just down the street, there is another marker identifying the location of the final meeting place of the Confederate cabinet, where Joe Johnston's surrender of the last major rebel army was authorized.

Lap 81: Charlotte was Country when Country wasn't..., well, when Country just wasn't: Some histories say the modern Country music and Bluegrass movements began in Charlotte. Of course, most major cities south of the Mason-Dixon line probably make the same claim. There is no denying, though, that the father of Blugrass, Bill Monroe, began his recording career in the Southern Radio Corporation offices on Tryon Street in 1936. We've got this marker to prove it!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

2008 Reading List

When I started this blog, I intended to post reviews of all the books I read. That lasted for approximately one book, with a few more reviews scattered over the months. So, to make up for that I thought I'd post a list of all the books I read in 2008, with my recommendations or criticisms included. And even this is late, since I intended to post it while watching football on New Years Day. Oh gets in the way sometimes, but here's what I read in 2008.

1) Isak Dinesen - Out of Africa - Boring
2) William C. Davis - Look Away: A History of the Confederate States of America - I'm not sure the author's analyses were always backed up by the facts, but this was a very educational book.
3) Omar Khayyam - The Rubaiyat - Don't know why this is a classic.
4) E. B. White - Stuart Little
5) Eugene O'Neill - Long Day's Journey Into Night - Repetitive and not very interesting.
6) Edmond Rostand - Cyrano de Bergerac - Silly.
7) Thornton Wilder - Our Town - I don't remember a thing about this book.
8) Cait Murphy - Crazy '08 - Great book, capped by the Cubs (the Cubs!!) winning the World Series. And, it's a true story!!!!!!!!!!!!
9) Theodore Dreiser - An American Tragedy - Very long, but very good.
10) Maureen Ogle - Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer - Informative and fun look at the American beer industry, tilted a bit too heavily, at times, toward Anheuser-Busch.
11) Edward Steers, Jr - Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln - Just the right amount of detail about a story I thought I knew.
12) Bill O'Reilly - Who's Looking Out For You - Typical conservative trash. O'Reilly can do better than this.
13) Kemp P. Battle - Great American Folklore - Much too long.
14) Joel Chandler Harris - Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings - Most disappointing book of the year. I thought I would like this, but it wore thin really fast.
15) Patrick F. McManus - They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? - Not very funny, which for a book of humor is not good.
16) Louis L'Amour - Last of the Breed - Horrible writing, stupid characterizations, awful book.
17) John Koessler - Names of Israel - Surprise book of the year - every section taught some good lessons.
18) Charles Frazier - Cold Mountain - Great story, but with arrogant writing.
19) John S. Carbone - The Civil War In Coastal North Carolina - I don't normally like topical history with such a narrow scope, but this was okay.
20) Jay Winik - April 1865 - Excellent history.
21) Thomas Keneally - American Scoundrel - Disappointing. Good, but disappointing.
22) Shel Silverstein - Where the Sidewalk Ends
23) Fred Saberhagen - The Lost Swords: The First Triad - Typical fantasy, these three books have been on my shelf for about half my lifetime and now I can finally get rid of them.
24) Fred Saberhagen - The Lost Swords: The Second Triad
25) Fred Saberhagen - The Lost Swords: Endgame
26) Booker T. Washington - Up From Slavery - Good stuff and easy to read.
27) Richard Bachman - Blaze - From Stephen King's alter ego, this book was surprisingly great.
28) Alexander Solzhenitsyn - One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Outstanding. I can see why this is a classic.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Walking Soundtrack # 12

1) Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Willie Nelson: Willie Nelson wrote a lot of great songs, but he didn't write this one, which was his first #1, and, in my opinion, the best song he's ever sung.
2) Tear Stained Letter - Johnny Cash: Forgettable song.
3) Stages - ZZ Top: My favorite song by ZZ Top, it really gets me fired up, so it is good for walking.
4) Heaven and Hell - John Entwistle: Live recording of one of Entwistle's Who songs. Too bad he never answered these questions for himself.
5) Where the Soul Never Dies - Willie Nelson: Interesting how these last two songs were shuffled together. I'm sure there's some great spiritual analysis to be done, but I'm not up to it.
6) I'm One - The Who with Eddie Vedder: One of the Who's best songs, it sounds like it could have been written for Vedder.
7) Top Jimmy - Van Halen: Great song to get you moving. It cooks and swings, just like Top Jimmy.
8) Death of a Clown - The Kinks: I'm almost afraid to know what this song is about, but it's one of my favorites, so it helps me keep up a good pace when I exercise. Otherwise, it's not exactly a working out kinda song.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Charlotte 500, Lap 78: eeZ Fusion Grille & Sushi Bar

We don't do sushi, but we will definitely go back to eeZ Fusion for the other delicious selections on their menu. The Spicy Thai Cucumbers we had as an appetizer were incredibly good, and apparently healthy as well! The Cashew Chicken and the Mongolian Beef were both excellent, and many of the other choices sounded like they'd be fun to sample on our next visit. Located in Birkdale Village in Huntersville, eeZ is an easy walk to the movie theater, a couple ice cream shops, a Starbucks, and all kinds of other things that would make it a convenient date spot. We will be back to eeZ, and we recommend it to anyone passing near Birkdale.

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The Charlotte 500, Lap 77: Cafe Monte

Cafe Monte on Fairview Rd in Charlotte is part bakery and part restaurant. We visited on New Year's Eve, arriving just in time to toast the New Year in Paris (6PM local time). While the highlight of the meal was the soup - I had an amazing Tomato Bisque, while Tiff went with the French Onion - the entire meal was outstanding. We both went with our French favorite, Steak Bearnais with pommes frites (french fries) for the main course, and we both were both were far too stuffed to even think about dessert. But we weren't too full to hope for a return visit, some time very soon, to try something else from the menu - crepes, quiche, sandwiches, even pizza. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cafe Monte is arguable the best restaurant we've found in Charlotte so far. And you gotta try the soup!!!

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