1. I had picked Michigan State to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, which is why they got bounced last night. As a nice measure of vindication, their men’s hockey team lost 3-1 this afternoon to tiny Union College of Schenectady, New York. When we first moved to New York in 1993, my office was a couple of blocks from the Union campus, and when the weather was nice, I would go buy some bread and cheese at Perreca’s Bakery, and go sit and eat on Union’s lovely campus. That was just after Union stepped up to Division I in hockey. So, go Dutchmen! I’m pulling for you to replicate your arch-rival Rensselaer’s stunning national championship from 1985, and it’s always a delight to see little colleges knocking off giant state universities, especially when they mess up my brackets.
2. I am so excited about this that I can hardly stand myself. As noted here, I would claim Jethro Tull as my life-time favorite band, so having Ian Anderson revisit one of their greatest albums is quite the treat for the Tull geek. That being said, I suspect the absence of Martin Barre and the fact that this album is being billed as an Anderson solo means that this is probably the end of Jethro Tull, some 44 years after the group’s birth. Oh well, if that’s what it took to get Anderson writing album-long suites again, then I will take it.
3. I’ve written about the exceptional food we’ve had in Des Moines in a variety of posts here, and both Marcia and I have to add another favorite to our collective list: both of us agree that the prawn pad thai at Wasabi Chi (in our neighborhood) is the best pad thai either of us have ever had. And let me assure you, between the two of us, we have eaten a lot of pad thai over the years, in many cities. Wasabi Chi’s version is light, not greasy, with fabulous Asian basil flavor, perfectly grilled tofu and pork, dynamite shrimp, and consistently great quality over time, since we’ve had it more than once each. They also have exceptional sashimi at Wasabi Chi (especially the yellowtail), again demonstrating the surprising available of outstanding and fresh seafood in the middle of the continent, as noted in bullet two of this post. I give them bonus points for lovely preparation, as I generally order sashimi a la carte, and they always make it look like an exotic treat when it arrives at the table, over ice. And did I mention that Wababi Chi is in our neighborhood? Yay! This is a very highly recommended restaurant, with a lovely dining room and a great bar, where I’ve caught a basketball game or two with a nice appetizer sized portion of seared ahi tuna and a good glass of Shiraz. See you there?
4. I was very sad to hear the news of Ernie Williams‘ passing this week. I saw him perform many times during my years in Albany, and he was the quintessential bluesman, a born entertainer who made everyone who worked with him better. Marcia and I saw him open for Buddy Guy once at the Starlite Music Hall in Latham, which has been shuttered for years, and is now crumbling back into the wetlands on which is was built. Ernie’s band, The Wildcats, at that point featured drummer Rocky Petrocelli, guitarist Mark Emanatian, and teen prodigy keyboardist Jason Ladanyi. They more than held their own against their much more famous headliner, and they actually probably produced the evening’s most transcendent moments. Bless you, Ernie, your work here is done, and you did it so very well. Yes, yes, yes . . .