Thursday, February 21, 2008
Yay! Tomorrow we leave for Texas and our much anticipated Polka Fest. I just realized today that I really don't have any "dancing shoes". I wear clogs, which might not be the most appropriate footwear to be dancing in.
The other day I learned that Brave Combo is going to be playing a show in Austin on Saturday night. Woo hoo! Hopefully we will be able to hit that show as well. You can never have too much BC!
I'm also looking forward to exploring Austin. I've heard so much about that place. Maybe we will even get to see some Presidential Candidates! And I definitely hope to be checking out some Tex-Mex and Czech food.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Road Trip coming up!
We are getting excited about our upcoming trip to Texas to see Brave Combo at the Big Joe Polka Show.
We've been watching the Big Joe Polka show for about two years now. I accidentally came across it one Saturday night when I was flipping through the cable channels. At first, it had that "train-wreck-can't-look-away" appeal for us. Oh sure, we like polka music, but this show was so surreal on so many different levels, we got hooked. Actually, we are still trying to figure it out, which is one reason we're going to check it out for ourselves.
The Big Joe Polka Show is hosted by (naturally) Big Joe, a Czech-American from Omaha. He puts on these multi-day events a few times a year (in various locations), videotapes the whole thing and then shows them throughout the year on his one-hour RFD-TV show. The basic set-up is that bands play as people are dancing in a huge dance hall.
The first few times we watched the show, we seriously could not tell what year this tape was made in. Understandably most of the dancers were elderly and we knew that the location was Minnesota. So, let's say it wasn't a group that was going to be wearing the latest in fashion anyway that could tip us off to the year. After a few weeks of watching, I did see someone wearing Crocs and I saw one man had a cellphone on his belt, putting the date in the relatively recent past.
The main thing that that gave the program that "train-wreck" quality were the amateur production values. The show is shot with at least two cameras, but they were shaky and out-of-focus more often than not. I will say that in the last two years things have gotten much better.
The other thing that totally had us stumped was that some of the bands are REALLY BAD. Out-of-tune, off-key....Dale and I some times sat there with our jaws dropped open...incredulous that some of these bands were so bad. I have a pet theory that polka bands generally have the WORST singer do the singing. (Brave Combo definitely not in that group!) But the cool thing about the whole deal is that you can tell everyone really is having fun and loving what they do. Heck, they are better than me, that's for sure!
So we've been watching for about two years now. Joe has put this show on the road, filming in places like Medina, MN; Round Top, TX and Branson, MO. There are definitely "regulars" on the show...at least 10 couples that are on every show and attend every event. They probably drive around the country in their RV's like Polka Nomads. (Sounds pretty good to me!)
A couple weeks ago we found out that Brave Combo would be playing at the Polka Fest in Round Top, TX. We had been thinking about taking our spring vacation at the Trinity Test Site Open House in New Mexico, but that was scrapped immediately when we heard the news. My niece is finishing school in Austin, which is close to Round Top, so we're all going to get together and have a Polka Party!
I can't imagine how BC is going to be received by the usual patrons of these shows. BC respects the music, so I have a feeling that they will be sticking to playing more of their traditional songs, but who knows? I also have a feeling there might be a big BC following in attendance, since Denton is only a few hours away.
Anyway, I can't wait!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Yay! Now that it is Lent, Friday night fish frys are back at Nativity Parish in Torrance and I couldn't be happier.
I've been attending their frys for about 4 years now--ever since I just happened to be driving past the parish hall and saw the "Fish Fry To-Nite" sign. I drove home so fast and told Dale..."Get your coat honey, we're going to a Fish Fry!".
This year I see they are going to be happening every Friday during Lent, whereas in the past it might have been only 2 or 3 times.
Milwaukee has a huge Fish Fry culture and this was one of the things I did miss when I moved to California. In Milwaukee, most Catholic parishes will host one and every type of restaurant will have some sort of special fish offering. Everything from small corner taverns serving beer-battered cod to upscale places serving fresh walleye or lake perch. The local paper even has a special section in their restaurant guide devoted specifically to Fish Frys. In the last few years there has been a trend for places to offer both the deep-fried fish and a more heart-healthy baked fish. The parish I grew up in, and that my family still belongs to is considered to have one of the best fish frys in the city. They can serve 700 dinners at times.
Attending fish frys on Friday is a tradition in my family. There isn't one particular place we go...the fun is finding new places to try. Whenever I travel back there, I always try to hit one. In fact, I was there for my last birthday and I even got to WORK at the parish fish fry!
The traditional fish fry that I remember the best is lake perch with a cornmeal breading; coleslaw that is more on the vinegar side, rather than a creamy one; hot, thick fries; and best of all a slice or two of dark rye bread with sweet butter. The rye bread was special because not only did it have some caraway seeds but it had a sprinkling of kosher salt on top. Oh man, that is good bread. It used to be pretty common, but not so much any more. Lake perch too, is a thing of the past. Now if it is on the menu at all, it usually has a premium price.
The Fish Fry at Nativity is on par with typical Milwaukee frys. The choices here are beer-battered or baked cod, French fries or baked potato, creamy coleslaw (that seems to be home-made), a roll and all the usual condiments. Also included in the $7 price is coffee, punch and a piece of cake. Beer, wine and soda are also available for an extra charge. The hall where this takes place has been remodeled since the last time I was there and is larger now and quite nice.
The place was pretty crowded when we got there and we sat at a table with some other people. This is always an interesting experience. Dale was unfortunately seated next to an elderly woman who lamented to him how disappointed she was that Mitt Romney left the presidential race. But then again, she also said she had lived in Milwaukee for a short time and didn't like it! Well, nuts to her, I say.