Can’t Get Enough: August 2019

1. John Mayer – Maybe you only remember him as that goober from 2001 with the silly pop song or the douche from 2010 with the dumb interviews and succession of celebrity girlfriends.  But honestly, have you ever heard this guy’s guitar playing?  It’s fucking incredible.  I had enjoyed his bluesy style pop for the past several years after being converted to a casual fan by his album Continuum. Then my wife got me tickets to see him live for my birthday. Friends, I cannot even find words to say how amazing his music is and how his astounding guitar playing was a near-spiritual musical experience for me. All I know is that I began crying when he began playing. 3 songs later I got myself under control only to randomly feel tears streaming down my face throughout the entire 3 hour, 25 song show. For weeks, he is all I’ve had playing and I implore you to at least give his live album a once through listen to experience the beauty of his bluesy pop with plenty of blues guitar solos.

2. Mad Men reruns. I watched this whole series when it came out and loved and hated and couldn’t get enough of it. A few weeks ago, I put one episode on to keep me company during dinner when my wife had a work function and promptly got slurped right back into the Mad Men world. Before I realized what was happening, I couldn’t wait to get in a few episodes every night after work and before bed. This show is just so damn good. And excuse me for being so fragile, but it’s wonderful to watch a show set in an urban setting and not entrenched in a historic world devoted to war and violence. And, my god, are the men’s clothes on this show incredible, or what?

3. Plain seltzer water. First, to be clear, I am NOT referring to hard seltzer. I’m not talking about club soda. I’m not hating on hard seltzer or club soda. But I’m talking about that most basic of bubbly water – plain, unadulterated, fizzy seltzer water. I’ve been trying to limit my alcohol intake during the week, but there is just something lovely about coming home and having something “special” to drink while cooking dinner. I’m not buying anything fancy – I’m grabbing basic grocery store brand seltzer. I’ve come to love the pop of the can, and fizz of the bubbles into my favorite glass, and the joy of drinking something just a little special every night when I get home from the office. It might be the mildest, but most enjoyable way of “treating yo’self” I’ve discovered yet this summer.

4. Crate and Barrel Hatch glasses. The wife bought me a hatch rocks glass a few years back and it was the glass I grabbed every time I poured my favorite sipping rum. One bad night a few months back, I tripped on my way to the couch, dropped the glass and watched it (and the last of my favorite rum) crash to the floor. My relaxation that night shattered along with my favorite glass. The next morning, my wife ordered me a replacement and bought a companion highball hatch glass to go with it. Now, that, folks, is love. I can feel that love every time I fill my new favorite glass with ice and pour my favorite rum to the perfect 2 (ok maybe closer to 3) finger pour.

5. Sauvignon Blanc. I am WAAAAAAYYYYYY late to the wine game. I’m 36 and I drank my first real glass of wine this month. Let me explain. I had some wine when I was … about 23 maybe. I got instant heartburn from that fine selection from the budget shelf. And I wrote off wine for nearly 15 years. Partly this was because I fell deep into the rabbithole of craft beer. I loved everything about it. And then I found out I should avoid gluten and my romance with craft beer was suddenly ripped away. I tried hard cider as a replacement and, forgive me, but there is no hard cider in the world that tastes like a strong IPA. So began my new journey with alcohol. As the saying goes, “When the alcohol goddess of the universe shuts a door, she opens a hatch to the wine cellar” . . . or something like that. In any case, I have new worlds to explore, alcoholically speaking. And I’ve just found the entrance to the rabbithole of wine. Hot summer days and very cold, crisp, and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc is a very promising pairing.

Can’t get enough: June 2019

1. FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019

I love watching the U.S. Women’s National Team with their high powered attacks, but in the game versus Chile this past weekend, I couldn’t stop being amazed at the saves of Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler. The drama and joy that is soccer is new-ish to me as I came late to the game while watching the 2015 World Cup. This time around I’m following every match and enjoying every good story I can find. Women’s soccer embodies everything beautiful about sports: the stories of lives dedicated to becoming great, the underdogs that everyone is rooting for, the personal triumphs, the controversies, and the underlying push for progress. I want it to never end.

2. The United States of Adventure from Outside Magazine

This is just such a cool interactive site. Summer is the perfect time to get out there and have some adventures, and this site provides some great prompts for highlights in all 50 states. I love looking at states I’ve been in and seeing familiar places as well as looking for some new places to add to my future adventures list.

My personal favorites: Hocking Hills (OH); Ohiopyle, Ricketts Glen, Pine Creek Gorge, Presque Isle (PA); William B. Umstead, Jockey’s Ridge (NC); Letchworth (NY).

Future Adventures List: Mount Mitchell (NC); Virginia Creeper Trail, Grayson Highlands, False Cape, Natural Tunnel (VA); Cathedral, Blackwater Falls (WV); Bahia Honda, John Pennekamp Coral Reef (FL); Mackinac Island, Picture Rocks National Lakeshore (MI); Flathead Lake, Bitterroot National Forest (MT); Umbagog Lake (NH)

3. Art of Manliness Podcast

Every time I’ve had a few free minutes this month, I’ve had the AOM Podcast on. This has been in my ears while driving, cleaning & getting ready for work. Some favorite episodes have been #496: What Plato’s Republic Has to Say About Being a Man, #479: Becoming a Digital Minimalist, #480: Hiking With Nietzsche, #493: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, and #495: Wish You Had More Time? What You Really Want is More Memories. I learn so much from each show and feel inspired by the conversations to learn more about each topic.

4. Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller ($25).

I call this our “Skeeter Beater”. We have tried professional mosquito sprays, mosquito traps, candles, coils, and sprays, but nothing is as effective at keeping mosquitos away as this little gadget. I usually put it outside for about 10 minutes to clear the area of those annoying little disease-carrying drillers before I head out to enjoy my latest book and drink in peace and quiet. We take this camping, to the pool, into the backyard, etc. If I’m going to be outside and sitting, I have this with me. It’s given us our deck and yard back and made our Southern summers a lot more bearable.

5. Song: The Best (Tina Turner)

The wife and I fell in love with Schitt’s Creek over the past several weeks. Between Noah Reid’s beautiful acoustic version, Dan Levy’s “olive branch” dance version and Tina Turner’s incredible original, I just can’t stop playing this song.