Is There Gas In The Car?

Posted in Miscellaneous, NYC, Steely Dan on June 27th 2008 by Randy Reichardt

.: Since returning from Madison, I’ve been on the road two more times. From 14-19 June, I was in Seattle attending another Special Libraries Association Annual Conference. I had a good time, saw many old friends, made a few new ones, and documented for the record, Librarians Gone Wild.

A day after returning from Seattle and washing clother and repacking, I flew to NYC to see two Steely Dan concerts at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway. I arrived at LaGuardia around 17:00 hrs, took the usual two hours to get to The Leo House, and hopped the subway to The Beacon Theatre in time to see the show. Afterwards, I ran into a number of the loyal Danfen who follow proceedings via the Dandom site and discussion lists, most of whom flew in from other parts of NA for the show. A dedicated and motley crew of misfits and ne’er-do-wells, I hung out with them until 01:00 or so, and made my way back to the Leo House. On Saturday, >20 of us met at Blondies’ for a pre-show dinner and Danfest, at which the humble Doc showed us his collection of Dan-related Pennsylvania licence plates:

After the sixth and final Beacon show, we hopped over to The Bitter End for an amazing Steely Dan After-Party, organized by the master himself, Mr Pete Fogel of Razor Boy Music. The entire rhythm section of the SD Band played on one song, which I recorded using my Flip video camera:

After the jam, which featured Jon Herington‘s band followed by Jeff Young‘s band, I was fortunate to finally meet Jon, who has performed live with Steely Dan since 2000, and has appeared on their last two albums, as well as the two recent solo albums by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. I had a nice conversation with him, and was able to tell him how much I admire his playing and how inspirational he is to me as a fellow guitarist and musician.

It was a whirlwind trip. I also had another amazing dinner and visit with my friends, Leo and Diane Dillon. They autographed more of their books for me, and showed me the next two projects on which they have been working. One is called Mama Says, written by Rob D Walker, and the other is called The Night Goblin, written by Mem Fox. I can’t wait to get copies when they are published. It is such a privilege to know both of them, and to be able to see the amazing work they are doing before it hits the bookshelves. I love them both dearly and am incredibly blessed to have them in my life.

Thank you to everyone who has sent along words of love and encouragement regarding my Mother. She will be having surgery on 18 July 2008, and I promise to keep everyone informed on her progress. Right now it’s looking good, and we are feeling positive and upbeat about all of it.

Well, in 15 minutes I turn 55, and it is the moment I am eligible to retire at full pension. All I can say is, “Freedom 55” is a myth, people! 🙂

Yes, there’s gas in the car.


Posted in Flip Ultra, Madison WI, Miscellaneous on May 31st 2008 by Randy Reichardt

.: I was in Madison WI for a week recently, and had a very nice time. Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, and home to the University of Wisconsin’s main campus. I divided my five day stay between the homes of two friends, Jude and Lenny. Both visits were relaxed and low-key, which was just was I needed. Madison is a beautiful, seemingly gentle-paced city of about 225,000 people or so, with the campus population around 45,000 during fall and winter session.

While in Madison, I made good on my desire to buy a Flip Ultra, a little camcorder that has a good chunk of the US camcorder market, and has been getting good reviews. For unknown reasons, it is not sold in Canada (like the iPhone, the Kindle, and many other products), and those who sell it online only, like, will not ship it to Canadian addresses. I first heard about the Flip when I was in San Francisco in March, and wasn’t able to find one at the Best Buy store there, because it was sold out. While in Wisconsin, Lenny and I made a pilgrimage to find one, and we went to the four locations that sell it in-store. The first stop was Target. We went in, and approached the woman at the electronics service desk. I told her I wanted to buy a Flip, and her reaction suggested to me that I might as well have been staring into the eyes of a chicken – she had not a clue what I had just said to her.

We left the store, and went to Best Buy. The staff member there did know the Flip, they had one on display, but when she went to check for inventory, she reported that there wasn’t a single Flip Ultra at any Best Buy store in Wisconsin, never mind just in Madison. At Toys ‘R’ Us and OfficeMax, we found the basic Flip Video camera, but not the Ultra. As we were leaving, Lenny suggested we try Sears. I mentioned that the Flip web site lists Sears as an online retailer only, but we figured why not check anyway, as it the store was across the huge parking lot from OfficeMax. We walked in, and at the electronics counter were greeted by a large Flip display. Pleased to see that, we inquired about an Ultra, and the staff member produced one for us. Even better, it was the black model, the one I wanted. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Later that night, I checked in with a colleague was interested in getting one as well, and she said yes, so the next day we went back, and I bought a second unit, in the process learning that I had in fact purchased the last two models in stock, perhaps in the city!

When I returned on Friday, 23 March, I drove home from the airport, and straight to the guitar shop to retrieve my RainSong, as I had a gig that night with Carrie Hryniw. Carrie and I are planning a mini-tour in the first week of July, that will see us perform in Winnipeg on Thursday 03 July, and hopefully Friday 04 July as well.

I will continue my travels in two weeks when I fly to Seattle to attend SLA, and upon my return, fly to NYC to see Steely Dan and hang out with friends.

My most heartfelt thanks to Keith, who recently helped me considerably with the purchase and installation of a new desktop computer. In the process I gave Keith my old Dell Dimension 4400, which I had purchased in March 2002. It had slowed considerably, and was probably about 150 years old in computer years. Keith cleaned it up, gave it a new hard drive and whatever else it needed, and passed it on to a teenager eager to run iTunes. Reports indicate this young person has adopted the Dell and apparently the old machine loves its new home very much. Thanks, Keith.

Finally, on a more serious note, I learned this week that my Mom has breast cancer. We are hoping that an early diagnosis, combined with her age, will result in successful treatment and cure. I’m looking forward to a visit from my parents on June 5th for a few days before they head back to Winnipeg. Please keep my Mom in your thoughts and prayers.

A Steely Summer

Posted in NYC, Seattle, Steely Dan on May 15th 2008 by Randy Reichardt

.: Today was the warmest day of the year so far in Edmonton, and it felt like summer has finally arrived. I have a number of trips upcoming, beginning with one to Madison WI on Sunday, to visit a couple good friends. I’ll first spend some time with Jude, and then another friend, Lenny. I’ve never been to Madison before, but have it on good authority from a friend who studied at U Wisconsin at Madison that it is a great city. I may also take a quick side with Jude to see a band in Milwaukee. And while in Wisconsin, I hope to pick up one of these and bring it home to Canada, where like HBO, the Amazon Kindle, and the iPhone, it is not available for purchase.

Following my return, my parents will be visiting for a few days in early June. I’ll be in Seattle from 14-19 June for my annual library conference. I return to Edmonton on the 19th, and the next day on the 20th, fly to NYC for five days to see one, and perhaps two of the shows on the 2008 Steely Dan tour. I already have a ticket for the show on the 21st at the Beacon Theatre, and will follow that by attending an after-party at The Bitter End, featuring some of the SD Band musicians (Jon Herington, Jeff Young).

I’m planning to do a mini-tour with a local singer, Carrie Hryniw. I’ve played three shows with her already, and we are planning to hook up to play shows in Regina, Brandon and Winnipeg before I drive back to Edmonton afterwards.

Then the Steely Dan summer continues. I fly to Chicago on 15 July to see them perform at The Chicago Theatre, and return on the 17th. My friend in Madison, Jude, will meet me in Chicago to see the show there. Finally, I’ll return to Seattle to see two more SD shows on 30/31 July, when they perform at the Chateau Ste Michelle Winery in Woodinville WA.

Why so many Steely Dan shows? Why spend all that money? Well, first of all, life is short, and Steely Dan wil always be my favorite band of all-time, after The Beatles. So with each year they tour, and this is the third year in a row they have decided to tour, one never knows if it will be their last tour. I’ve seen five shows this decade, in 2000, 2003, 2006, and two shows last year at The Beacon in NYC, and have enjoyed them all. It’s such a treat to see a band perform as good as this one, knowing in advance I wil be familiar with all the tunes.

Since the early 90s, I’ve subscribed to a Steely Dan fandom newsletter, called the Dandom Digest. As a result, I’ve become familiar with and made friends with a number of fellow Dandom subscribers, and met many of them at the previous shows. So when I attend the shows in NYC and Seattle, I will see many of them again, and because I am a known quantity among the Danfen, so to speak, I am assured entrance to the after-party at the Bitter End. Sweet. 🙂

What are your plans for the summer?

Boston Update 3

Posted in Boston on November 30th 2007 by Randy Reichardt

.: The Boston trip is over, ending today with two uneventful flights from Boston to Edmonton via Minneapolis. I found Boston’s Logan Airport to be very efficient, no time delays, and as is typical with Northwest Airlines, the flights were orderly and on time. I was happy to have no one sitting next to me on either flight, along with having an aisle seat both times.

I spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday with my friends Stu and Susan, who live in Brookline. Wednesday night was pizza and a movie, the extended version of Planet Terror, which I found funnier and grosser second time around. On Thursday Stu and I did an extended wine run, as Stu had to retrieve cases of wine from a wine storage facility, and take them to The Country Club for a Saturday event. This was followed with a brief tour of Harvard, which included some time in the Widener Library and a brief walk around Hah-vahd Yahd.

In the evening, the three of us had dinner at Giacomo’s Restaurant (pronounced JAW-ka-mo, so I learned). The food was incredible – I had a dish of linguini with shrimp and scallops in a scampi sauce. Ensuring Sue was able to secure a cab ride home, Stu and I walked to the TD Banknorth Garden (no longer called The Fleet Center) to watch the Celtics play the Knicks. With the Celtics ahead 82-41 by the beginning of the fourth quarter, we decided to leave to beat the traffic; I had to get up at 05:00 anyway. The game was fun, my first NBA game ever, even if it was a cakewalk for the Celtics.

I returned to -15C temperatures and snow everywhere, but it is still good to be home.

Boston Update 2

Posted in Boston on November 26th 2007 by Randy Reichardt

.: I spent some time this morning at the conference, and then repaired to my hotel room to do some “work” work – answering e-mails, editing a column. Then, despite heaavy mist and light drizzle, I took the subway to see Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and walked around soaking (no pun intended) in the sights, sounds, and wonderful smells of many kinds of cuisine. I had dinner at the Salty Dog Seafood Grille & Bar, where I sampled the Seafood Fra Diavolo: shrimp, sea scallops, calamari, fish, and mussels, simmered in white wine, olive oil, garlic, spices. and tomato, served over linguine.  I also had a nice conversation with the server, talking about the Red Sox, Bruins, and about how friendly I am finding the locals in Boston to be towards strangers and visitors from elsewhere.

Tomorrow is the Library Advisory Board meeting at the conference in the morning. In the afternoon I hope to be able to check out Boston Common and the Public Gardens, as it is forecast to warm up to 10C with a few sunny breaks in the afternoon.

Boston Update 1

Posted in Boston on November 25th 2007 by Randy Reichardt

.: Slept in the nice king-size bed until 10:00 or so this morning, and then really didn’t get active for another hour.  Wandered about Copley Place and the Prudential Center malls, spending the majority of my time in Barnes & Noble (where else?)  I planned to buy some DVDs and books there, given the strength of the CAD vs USD these days, but was surprised to find that some of the DVDs I wanted to buy, like My So-Called Life, are $20 cheaper on  I had breakfast at Au Bon Pain.  It is sunny and pleasant here, and it is surreal walking around hearing Christmas music everywhere, including the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas in many places.  It just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet.