Whither Whisky Wind-down?

By far the most popular series I’ve written here is Whisky Wind-down.

The original, set in 2016, was my way of combining my love for whisky, my disdain for the events of 2016, and my fascination with advent calendars.

The result? 31 days of drinking, talking about random things, and really enjoying my own words again.

Through 2017, my writing tapered off again, but I got fired up at the end of the year, and I once again laid down a month’s worth of (almost completely consecutive) posts, even though I spent the last few days of that year traveling around Costa Rica.

Then the silence. I still haven’t explained that (and am perhaps inclined not to?) but for the next twenty months the newest post on the site remained 2017 Whisky Wind-down, 1: Life’s a Beach.

For all you knew, I had died on that beach. Or decided to live on it.

Anyway, I didn’t.

I spent the next year not writing here, and when December 2018 rolled around, a few people — I have fans! Tens of them! — wrote to me when Whisky Wind-down didn’t start that year. I told them (truthfully) things had been difficult but I still planned (honestly, I planned) to write a reduced 2018 Whisky Wind-down. At first I thought it would just have a late start. Then a late start became “maybe a top 10 list,” which became “maybe just one good, long post to wrap the year,” which became 10 months not writing anything at all here.

Well, I’m writing here again. And whether I ever get around to properly explaining the time I wasn’t writing here, I am, right now, enjoying myself again.

And I still drink whisky.

It’s my pleasure, therefore, to tell you to expect, in the coming days, Whisky Wind-down The Third: The Saga Continues, Following A Hiatus That Will Likely Not Be Elaborated Upon During This Series, Though You May Read With Eagerness Just In Case I Change My Mind, Or, Just, You Know, Read It Because You Like Reading Whisky Ruminations.

I’ll call it 2019 Whisky Wind-down, for short.

Following Al: Weird Weekend

(Note: This is the second post in what was intended to be a trio. Like the first, it has languished in Draft Hell for a good portion of the time I was away from the site. I have finished it more or less as originally intended, so maybe just pretend you found it in the Archives? Great. Thanks. The final one will also happen, though maybe not immediately following this one.)

So, in 2018, “Weird Al” Yankovic was free for the first time.

Free from obligation, that is, to a record label. The prior year, with the release of Mandatory Fun, his 14th studio album, he had, at long last, fulfilled his recording contract and no longer owed anyone anything, professionally speaking.

How did he choose to celebrate? By taking the band on tour. Just the band, though. No costumes, fancy sets, monitors, backups, or extras. Not even the previously obligatory guest appearance by the local 501st Legion garrison.

It was just, as Al put it, “five old guys on stools, playing music.”

Some background here: I already mentioned how long I’ve been a fan. My concert-going days had to wait a while, but ever since I’ve had the means — starting during my college years — I have seen Al at least once on every tour that has come through Georgia, and he almost always comes through Georgia.

I’ve see him everywhere from terrible lawn seats in the Valdosta heat at Wild Adventures to front row at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, something like a dozen shows all together.

I had not, however, generally gone to the effort to see him more than once on any particular tour. Not that I don’t love the shows, but the big shows have always been pretty predictable — the latest hits, plus a few old favorites, with the odd deep cut tossed in. I loved the shows, but within a tour, they were the same, night to night.

Not this time.

This time, the shows would feature mostly original songs. None of the big parody numbers. And, and … every night would feature a different set list, pulled from about 70 songs the band rehearsed for this tour.

To say I was a little excited would be to terribly understate the issue. I immediately sought out dates near me and found two: A show in Augusta on Saturday, followed by an Atlanta show the next night. I set an alarm on my phone for the time tickets went on sale, and I pounced to get good seats for both.

Two shows! Both different! Wooo!

And yet … there was the temptation for more.

I looked around to see where else, within relatively easy driving distance, the tour would swing through.

Chattanooga.

It’s only two hours from Atlanta. Easy. But … that show was the Friday right before the Augusta show on Saturday. Augusta is also two hours (plus a bit) from Atlanta. Did I really want to drive two hours to Chattanooga, see a show, drive two hours home, sleep (a bit), get up, drive two more hours to Augusta, see a show, sleep (a bit), drive two hours home, then watch a third show?

No, I did not.

Want to drive that much.

I absolutely wanted to see three shows in three nights.

Reluctantly, I let the opportunity pass, consoling myself that I would have two shows in two nights, and that would be fantastic.

Then a funny thing happened.

My job decided I needed to attend a conference the week leading up to these shows. The conference was in Nashville.

Funny thing about Nashville — it’s two hours north of Chattanooga, a total of four from Atlanta.

Now, some people, having bought tickets to see shows on Saturday and Sunday and now having to drive an extra four hours the day before said shows, might be a tad grumpy.

I was ecstatic.

See, I had to drive through Chattanooga to get home.

And if I was going to drive through Chattanooga anyway, damned if I wouldn’t stop for a “Weird Al” show.

Thus it came to pass that, counting from Friday morning through Sunday night, I drove a little over eight hours (traveling about 550 miles), watched three concerts (about six hours total), and slept, well, some.

I was a tired monkey come Monday.

A tired, happy monkey.