Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventures with the Military and the Top Shelf Flea Market by the Kyles

This past weekend Girl Kyle and I went to an open house at the Otis Air Force Base. The purpose of the open house was to let people see some of the barracks and the equipment being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also there was a section where historical re-enactors set up recreations of a camp from their time period. There was a Civil War camp, both Union and Confederate soldiers; and a World War II camp, both American and German soldiers. I have to say that while I understand that someone always has to play the villain role, I don't think I could ever get into the mindset of portraying a Nazi, at least in a re-enactment capacity. I think it's just the idea of having to collect Nazi memorabilia in my spare time. There was a mock battle put on by the World War II re-enactors and it was great fun to watch. But at the same time it made me feel very uncomfortable. It had nothing to do with the people portraying the soldiers, it was actually the people who gathered to watch. I could see that the people participating in the skirmish were very serious about what they were doing and they had a healthy respect for what it was that they were doing. However there were several spectators, young and old, who had the attitude of "this is going to be awesome, I can't wait to see all those guys die!" It had a bit of a Roman Colosseum feel and it really upset me. For that reason I don't think I'd ever be able to do what those re-enactors do.
After the battle was over, we wandered to the modern barracks. There wasn't much to look at, just temporary housing mostly. But there were soldiers wandering around who are currently enlisted. I couldn't help thinking that it was entirely possible, even likely that these men and women could be overseas before Christmas. And that not all of them would make it home. It was a very heavy day for me and even though it's good to get some perspective now and again, I was grateful that I could leave the base, get a drink and go back home to watch Big Bang Theory. And it's because of the sacrifice of all the soldiers represented there, from the Revolutionary War to the present day, that I am able to enjoy the banalities of every day life.

Moving on to a more lighthearted topic, last Sunday was the Top Shelf Flea Market in Somerville. It was a small gathering of local vintage clothing merchants who brought items from their shops and sold them at pretty steep discounts. I was able to procure a splendid cotton bow tie for $7. I've recently started a quest to start dressing even more like an adult than I already do and regularly wearing a shirt and tie is part of the plan. There was a lot less at the flea market than I anticipated but it was still fun to see all the vintage clothing.
After leaving the market, we had lunch at Redbones; a barbecue restaurant with an impressive beer selection, including an Imperial version of one of our favorite beers, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale. The food was great and the beers were even better. I found out the next day that my boss' old shop was right around the corner from Redbones so we'll have to check it out the next time we're in the neighborhood.

I (Girl Kyle) had a different experience than the other Kyle during the open house at Otis. My family and I did Civil War reenacting for about 7 years. I haven't been to a reenactment since we stopped participating so it was nice to see the encampments and the soldiers and campfires and things like that. My mom and I portrayed soldiers and participated in the battles. Surprisingly there were a fair amount of women soldiers in the ranks (this is becoming more and mo
re popular which I definitely approve). I have never been to a World War II reenactment before and I've always wanted to go. This was a great opportunity for me to see what they do and how they set up camp. I agree with Kyle, it was unsettling to see the Nazi flag waving about in the German camp. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable portraying the Nazis. But I guess someone has to do it. They had some really cool items out on display. They had lots of tanks and motorcycles and jeeps. During the battle that we saw they actually used the tanks which was very surprising. The battle was very exciting. I haven't seen a reenactment battle in quite a long time. I'm always the one in the battle. It's a completely different experience watching a battle happen rather than being in it. Watching a battle happen can be very emotional for me. It's really hard to watch something that you know happened in real life and many people were killed because of it. It's really easy to separate yourself from that idea while you're in the battle. It's a lot of fun and typically you know a lot of the people involved so it's like playing war on the playground. But when you're outside of it and just a spectator, you can see what it really looked like and how horrible it must have been to be involved in it. I can understand other people's excitement watching the fake battle but they should remember that what they're watching happened in real life. People were killed, families were ruined. It's easy to forget that when you're emotionally detached. Seeing the modern soldiers walking around was hard for the same reasons that Boy Kyle said. They are involved in a real war. The other people are just portraying people in war, they won't have to be shipped out a couple months from now. So while the day was fun, it was also heartbreaking.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adventures with So You Think You Can Dance by Girl Kyle

Welcome to my guilty pleasure.

There is a show on Fox called So You Think You Can Dance that I've watched since the second season. It's not like Dancing with the Stars where the people can't dance and the music is pretty awful. It's a show with people who can dance quite well and the music is decent. After the show is over, the cast does a country-wide tour. My mom and dad wanted to go to the one in Boston so my sister-in-law Ally and I decided to join them.
The show was at the Agganis Arena on the BU campus. I've never seen any kind of show at a venue this big before so I knew it was going to be an interesting experience. There were many different ranges of people who showed up. There were 10 year old girls with their mothers and group of friends, there were many teenage girls, lots of women my age, older women, and a handful of men. The men that were there were probably either dragged by their wives to join them or, which is probably the smallest crowd, were there to actually enjoy the show. My dad was in the latter category but maybe a tiny bit in the former category too. The place was huge and really really loud. But what was I expecting with a huge crowd of teenage girls and men dancing with their shirts off?

Ally and I had better seats than my parents which doesn't happen very often. They were closer to the stage but they could only see the side of it. Ally and I were farther but we were facing the front of the stage. It was the kind of show where you could feel the music in your chest. You could barely hear the screaming anymore because the music was so loud. The dancing was incredible. I've never been to any kind of dancing performance other than school type things so it was really nice to see professionally trained dancers performing. They do the kind of performances where you get goosebumps because they put so much emotion into it.

We had a really great time. They performed a lot of the dances that I wanted to see. I had an odd buzzing in my ear for a handful of hours afterward but it was totally worth it. So for anyone who has never seen the show before, you should check it out. It's really impressive and the new season starts pretty soon.

(Boy Kyle went golfing.)

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adventures with the dapper Paul F Tompkins by the Kyles

I have been a fan of Paul F. Tompkins ever since I first heard him on the Never Not Funny podcast about 4 years ago. In those 4 years I've kept an eye out for the possibility of him performing in Boston or Rhode Island. This past Saturday, it finally happened. Tompkins has created the "Tompkins 300" format of booking shows which came about after joking with a fan. He said "if you can find 300 people in Vancouver who want to see me perform, I'll fly up there." And of course, 300 people agreed. The show in Boston stemmed from that show, as Facebook groups all over the country have started popping up saying "Bring Paul F. Tompkins to..." If 300 people sign up to be in the group (essentially promising to buy a ticket), then PFT will perform in that city. Now for this particular show, Kyle and I planned to drive to Wollaston, park at the T station and ride the train in. Sounds easy enough but it proved to be a bit more complicated. We left the Cape a little late since we wanted to grab dinner before heading in to town. Once we got to Wollaston we were informed that the trains weren't running between Braintree and JFK/UMass so we would have to take a shuttle from Wollaston to JFK/UMass, then take the train from there. It was pretty inconvenient but the people watching was top notch. On the shuttle there was a group of about 20 girls, approximately high school/early college age, most of whom were wearing North Face fleece jackets and Ugg Boots. It seems to be the uniform for girls of that age. We have decided that the best label for this uniform is UggFace. Once we got on the train there were 3 girls in varying degrees of disarray. The high (low?) lights in the group involved a tube top and a bright red sunburn, knee high tights with flip flops and a state of inebriation that included the phrase "it's so funny that we all have hot pink lipstick on!" They did not all have hot pink lipstick on, I believe only the speaker did. When we finally arrived at Harvard Station we discovered that the exit to the street that we needed was closed for construction. Neither Kyle or I are familiar with the area so we had to ask for directions at the Harvard gift shop. And of course the person I asked had no idea where the theater was. But we did find the venue with about 30 minutes to spare. When we got to the will-call window, however, we were stalled once again. "What name are the tickets under?" "Brennan, Kyle." Long silence, multiple page flips. "What was the last name again?" "Brennan." Another long pause. "And the first name?" "Kyle." Long pause. "Well I don't see that name on my list-" "Is it under Damron?" Long pause, multiple page flips. "First name on that?" "Kyle." Long pause. "Oh yeh, here you go. Enjoy the show." We had finally made it. I have to admit, I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to see the show, but we did and it was fantastic. I think the most amazing thing about what Paul F. Tompkins is doing now is that the first 30-40 minutes of his set was improvised. All the jokes he told in that portion were off the top of his head. He cracked himself up several times before saying what he thought, which was delightful because it seemed as if he was excited to tell us what was making him laugh. When he finally got in to his prepared material he formed a long narrative about the many jobs he's had. Almost 2 and a half hours of one of my favorite comedians, I could not have been happier. Or perhaps I could have. After the show, Paul stuck around to sell CD's and say hi to people. Since I didn't have any cash, I completely chickened out and we left without saying hello. I guess I just thought it would be awkward to walk up to his table and say "hi, great job, I really enjoyed the show. I'm not going to be buying a CD though." So with regret we left the theater and popped in to a local watering hole for a pint. And I managed to not lose my camera!
- Boy Kyle

This was a completely new experience for me. I have never seen a comedian live before and I was really excited about it. I used to watch Best Week Ever and Paul F Tompkins would be on it a lot. That's where I first heard about him. Ever since then I had seen him randomly on TV shows or while changing channels. The theater where we saw the show was really great. It was small and we were about 10 rows from the front. We had a great view and there weren't any hecklers. I'd love to see another comedian live. It was a really cool experience. So even after all the nonsense we went through to get there, it was completely worth it.
- Girl Kyle

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures with Pretty Things by the Kyles

So we've noticed a trend with this blog, most of our posts revolve around or are related to beer in some way. And while this post is going to go along with this trend, the next couple of posts in the coming weeks will not. I think it just shows you our love and dedication to the golden elixir that is beer. But anyways, for this week we went to Allston because Pretty Things was having a launch party for their newest beer in the Once Upon a Time Series. Pretty Things is a different kind of beer company. They don't own an actual brewery. They rent out different breweries for a couple of weeks and then take over and brew as much of one beer as possible and then move on. Almost everything I've ever had from them is delicious. They have this thing called the Once Upon a Time series and this is when they resurrect a beer recipe from long ago and attempt to make it. Hopefully it will then be good enough to sell. The newest one in the series was the November 15th 1901 KK beer. A description of it can be found on their website.
It was announced that for the launch, since the beer had originally been brewed during Edwardian times, that they would prefer if people dressed up in period clothing. Kyle, Liz (our great friend) and I tried very hard for the weeks leading up to it to find something that could be called Edwardian, but we didn't succeed. So instead, we all just dressed a little fancier than usual. We had a great time. There were only a handful of people in Edwardian clothing and most of them were from the brewery itself. The people were incredibly nice and we talked to Dann Paquette, the head brewer, for a little while and he told us all about the beer. He also had an amazing mustache. I think it gave Kyle ideas for increasing the size of his own mustache.
So anyways. After an amazing time at the Pretty Things launch, we decided to go into town and have dinner and walk around for a bit. So that was our night. As you can see, there aren't many pictures up and that's because we (I'm not sure who exactly and I think it's better that way because the blame isn't on a specific person) lost the camera half way through the night. So we are without a camera. We hope to get a new camera before our next adventure which will be on Saturday. Let's hope we can succeed.

I just wanted to add that I was able to talk briefly with Dann, Martha Paquette and Julia Horvath at the end of our time at Deep Ellum. They were all lovely people and incredibly welcoming. I think that their joy and enthusiasm for what they do is enviable. I know that I would love to be able to attend any future launches and will definitely plan to make them. My thanks go out to them and the folks at Deep Ellum for hosting a great event. We did get some great pictures with our lost camera and unfortunately we won't be able to share them. So in closing, check out Pretty Things online and see what they're all about. Then pick up any of their products that you come across because you won't be disappointed and you'll be supporting some fantastic and creative people. Also if you have any questions or suggestions, email us at