Birthday Dinners and Superbowl Winners

I know I’m getting old because the two things that interest me most these days are politics and Jazz. And my right hip’s been killing me lately. I’ve never taken more than a passing interest in the Presidential elections of years past, but this time around I can’t seem to get enough. Every weekday morning I listen to a variety of political podcasts from both sides of the spectrum. The best part (to me at least) is that I still don’t know who I’m voting for. To take it a step further, I don’t even know which party I’m voting for. I honestly don’t. I feel like it’s common for people to pick a candidate based on one or two issues that they strongly identify with, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m doing my best right now to listen to each candidate with an open mind, and try to hear their entire message, rather than just the bits and pieces that I most closely identify with.

In order to get the most well-rounded coverage, I listen to podcasts from a variety of sources, including NPR, ABC, CBS, and FOX. Unfortunately, due to the electoral college system, I don’t really feel like my vote means anything, because regardless of which party I vote for, I live in a state that has always (and will always) vote for the Democratic candidate. Regardless, I like feeling well informed and I’m excited for the heat to get turned up in this race over the coming months.

I don’t know exactly where my interest in Jazz came from but it hit me pretty hard recently. I remember watching the movie ‘Whiplash’ last year and thinking to myself “This music is awesome! Why don’t I listen to this stuff more often?” Since then I’ve caught myself noticing little jazzy parts in songs and really liking them, so at a certain point I just decided to jump all the way in. Not surprisingly I immediately gravitated towards the more guitar-driven form of Jazz, and I now spend most afternoons at work listening to the sounds of great players like Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and many others.

If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I thought of Jazz I would have told you I hated it. At that time, if it wasn’t saturated with distortion and screaming vocals, I simply wasn’t interested. Over time, however, my tastes have gradually changed, and I welcome that. I don’t want to be the same person I was 10 years ago, and I’m consciously enjoying this change in perspective that I’ve been having as of late.

In order to increase my knowledge and appreciation of Jazz, I recently started watching the Ken Burns PBS documentary “Jazz”. It’s a 10-part series, with each part taking around 2 hours to watch, so we’re talking about a lot of content there, but that’s cool. I’m in no hurry to get through it. I’m just enjoying learning all about the history of “the only true American art form.” I quickly came to realize that all the music I’ve loved over the years was in some way related to Jazz. The blues, country and R&B came directly from Jazz, then Rock ‘n Roll came from the blues, then heavy metal came from Rock ‘n Roll, but ultimately it all started with Jazz.

The other piece to this jazzy puzzle is that I’m teaching myself to play Jazz guitar. As a rock and blues player, I’ve always been intimidated by Jazz guitarists. All their fancy chords, finger-picking, and exotic scales were just too much for me, but now I’m embracing all that stuff. I bought a great book on Amazon full of Jazz guitar lessons and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t mind going back to the basics because I know I’m going to learn so many cool things that will influence my playing moving forward, regardless of style. As usual, I feel like I’m always either learning something new, or I’m stagnant, and I really hate being stagnant.

This past weekend was a good one for us. We spent Friday evening at El Gaucho celebrating Kallan’s 21st birthday. We had dinner in the 410 Room, which is a private room that I’ve worked in hundreds of times, but had never eaten in before this. The room was named after Victor Rosellini, who owned a famous restaurant in Seattle back in the day called Rosellini’s 410. My Dad was a friend of Victor’s, and a regular at his restaurant, so I knew that name well before I ever started working at El Gaucho. I remember one night when I was a busboy, the GM of El Gaucho (who was an old friend of my Dad’s) took me into the 410 room, which was full of investors and high rollers. He said “Gentlemen, I want you to meet the son of the infamous Elmer Pellegrini.” I’ll never forget Charles Ainsley, bigtime regular / bank owner / Gaucho investor getting up out of his chair, coming over to me, and saying “Your Dad was one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I was floored. Here I am this 19 year old kid and the guy from the painting on the wall is coming over to shake my hand? Unbelievable.

So it was the perfect room for all of us to have dinner in, and not surprisingly we had a great time. The kids were all so well behaved, I couldn’t have been more proud of them. It was really cool to be able to show them all around Daddy’s old stomping grounds. Obviously they won’t remember it, but I always will. The part that I was most looking forward to was after dinner. For reference, about a year and a half ago I wrote a post titled “My Guitar Living Will”, and in that post I went to great lengths to tell the story behind each of my guitars, as well as who I would want each guitar to go to if I were no longer around. Well, one of those guitars was always meant to go to my nephew Kallan. After writing that post I told Kallan to read it, then the following morning I got up for work and saw a missed call from him in the middle of the night. Apparently he read that post and was so touched by the fact that one of my guitars was meant to go to him that he couldn’t help but call me and leave me the nicest voicemail about how much he appreciated it.

Fast forward to this weekend. Kallan didn’t know it, but I’ve been planning on giving him that guitar for his 21st birthday ever since writing that post. We arrived to dinner a little early and I stuck the guitar in the closet. Then, after everyone finished their dinner, I made a little speech about how I’ve been looking forward to this night, and then presented him with the guitar. The funny part was that he told me during dinner that lately he’s really been wanting to get a new guitar, so it was perfect. Obviously he was thrilled, and so was I. Receiving a nice gift is always great, but so is giving one. This is something neither of us will ever forget, plus it’s probably safe to say I’m off the hook for any more big birthday presents for him anytime soon. Next we’ve got Anna’s sweet 16 coming up in December. Jessica and I are already talking about what to do for that special occasion.

Saturday was a pretty quiet day for us, although I did get a bunch of work done on our cars. My car had been idling a little rough lately, so I did some research and concluded that it was most likely due to my PCV valve. I removed it from the engine, cleaned it out really well, and reinstalled it. As hoped, the car was instantly running much smoother, so I gave myself a pat on the back for that one. I also changed my car’s oil and filter, then aired up the tires. On Sunday morning Jessica cleaned and detailed her van, then I replaced the front brakes and aired up the tires. Both vehicles were in need of a little love so it was nice to get all that stuff done.

Sunday evening was dedicated to watching the Superbowl, which obviously means I was also busy in the kitchen making a bunch of food. I found this great New York style pizza dough recipe a while back and thought making pizza’s for the Superbowl would be fun. I had to plan in advance though because the dough needs to cure in the fridge for 72 hours before baking. Luckily I didn’t forget to make the dough on Thursday night, and it turned out great on Sunday. In addition to the pizzas, we also enjoyed homemade tortilla chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Considering we weren’t having any company over there was definitely a lot of food, but that’s just how I roll.

The game wasn’t all that exciting, but I was happy with the outcome. I wanted to see the old Sheriff Peyton Manning go out on top and ride off into the sunset. Plus I can’t stand Cam Newton and all of his bullshit celebrations, so in the end it was a success from my perspective. Just a little ugly getting there. I guess as a Seahawks fan I’m used to watching defensive-minded football, so in a sense this was right up my alley. I will also say that Lady Gaga blew me away with her rendition of the National Anthem. I’ve always said that Whitney Houston’s National Anthem at the 1991 Superbowl was the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m not going to change my mind now, but this one easily took 2nd place.

This weekend is Valentine’s Day, which neither Jessica or I could care less about, but when you’re connected to the restaurant industry you can always expect to be busy. Since it falls on a Sunday this year, that means the entire weekend will be busy. So just like New Year’s Eve, Jessica and I will be bartending downstairs in the Pampas Room all 3 nights. I wasn’t going to be available but our neighbor hooked us up with a babysitter, so that freed me up to work. It’s going to be a long weekend, especially Friday since I’ll work all day at the office, then head downtown to bartend all night, but luckily we now get President’s Day off at Microsoft, so at least Monday will be relaxing.

In other exciting family news, we recently found out that we will be joining my Mom for an Alaskan Glacier cruise in the end of May. Strangely enough the day we depart is the same day I’ll be driving the Ferrari and Lamborghini. I actually had to reschedule my time from 11:00am to 9:00am, just to make sure I had enough time to make it to the ship. What a day that’s going to be! I get to drive two supercars in the morning, then head out on a cruise with my family that afternoon. Jessica is super excited to see whales and glaciers. I’m just excited to get a week off work. All 5 of us are going, plus my Mom and all of her co-workers at Card Player Cruises will be there, so it should be a blast.

We recently received the photos my friend Leon took at Enzo’s 1st birthday party, so I’ll part with a few of our favorites. To all you corny Cupids out there, Happy Valentine’s Day, but do yourself a favor and don’t go out to dinner. It’s amateur night.

One Reply to “Birthday Dinners and Superbowl Winners”

  1. Gosh I love this post! The birthday dinner was incredibly special. When you gave Kallan the guitar, I was flooded with emotion. It meant so much!

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