It's been a month and a half since I last made my presence known in this space, so this could get long.
The last three weeks of the leave period proceeded without incident - which is both good and bad at the same time. There are some types of incidents I would want to have happen! I left for Connecticut on the morning of June 22, taking the Cross Sound Ferry to New London. There was one slight problem with this - once I drove off the ferry onto Connecticut soil, I didn't have a clue where I was going. It took me a bit of time to find the base, and to start the check-in process. Upon arriving in Groton, I discovered that my orders had been modified over leave - I was now assigned to the USS Memphis (SSN 691), which is presently on deployment. They won't be pulling back into Groton for a long, long time, so right now I'm in something called "indoctrination division," which is basically the holding pen for those who are waiting to get to their boat or just checking in. What do I do? I show up in the morning, sit around for a couple hours, and then go home, with my weekends off. Since the driving distance between Groton and Northport is less than 200 miles, I can go home without needing approval from my chain of command. I've done this each of the last three weekends. tvisgod was right all along - there isn't much to Groton, and in my book, it rivals Trenton, NJ for the title of armpit of the Northeast. But at least it's in the Northeast, which automatically places it above Norfolk and Kings Bay. The first trip home was the Fourth of July weekend, which afforded me the chance to get a lot of stuff I did not bring on my original trip, most importantly my DVD collection. The following weekend, I came down to see a show that ended up being moved to another day because the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy drenched Long Island on July 8. And last Friday was my dad's birthday, so I took him and my mom out to dinner in downtown Northport. It set me back many American dollars, but it was worth it.
Let's talk about musical performing groups and houses of public merriment (bands and bars). I found a new favorite establishment over leave - The Nutty Irishman, specifically their Bay Shore location. Good drink specials, good bands, a clientele in the proper age bracket - but a few of the qualities that endeared this place to me. I still made appearances at Lily Flanagans in Islip and Napper Tandy's in Northport, both of which will continue to earn some of my business when I appear on Long Island.
I have seen the following bands since the end of May:
Big Shot, the Billy Joel tribute band. I had heard about them, and basically lucked into seeing them in my first trip to the Nutty. They were really good, and they earned bonus points for playing "The Downeaster 'Alexa'", a lesser-known Joel song that's one of my favorites.
MuRR, and all-girl punk rock band that Ryan has long raved about. They put on a good show, and I was disappointed that I didn't get to see them again (it was their show that was rained out a week and a half ago).
Gravy, who put on a great show following up Big Shot.
Luv Bug (twice), who were all right, but left me a little wanting on both occasions.
The Gyst, who represented themselves well over the Fourth.
Liquid A, who earned big points by playing the Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy" early, and went against Long Island cover band doctrine by not busting out Bon Jovi (unless it was right at the end - I was exhausted as the third set wound down).
Green Machine, who delivered a great rendition of The Outfield's "Your Love", and were otherwise solid all-around.
Sports...well, hockey finally sorted out its problems. Both Bettman (commissioner) and Goodenow (players' union head) should get the axe. Goodenow's departure is a virtual certainty after he was broken, particularly on the salary cap issue. Bettman may stay around, especially since he got the owners pretty much everything they wanted, but he is the man who shut down his sport for an entire frickin' season. He may have beaten the players, but in the eyes of this fan, he must share the blame for bringing my favorite sport to the brink of destruction. Tiger Woods won again, and given his financial situation, it might do him well to try to convince Nicklaus to come back, just so he can retire again (whenever Nicklaus announces his last appearance at a major championship, Tiger wins). And Lance Armstrong looks set to close out his brilliant cycling career with a seventh Tour de France win. He should follow the John Elway example and not come back, so that we can all remember him by his incredible string of yellow jerseys in Paris.
So there's going to be a vacancy on the Supreme Court. I didn't really follow the career of Justice O'Connor that closely, but admire her for writing the principal dissents on two of the most abominable Court decisions in recent memory - Gonzales v. Raich (the California medical marijuana case) and Kelo v. New London (the Connecticut eminent domain case). My personal pick for the seat would be Janice Rogers Brown, recently confirmed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. The mainstream media have been labeling her as a staunch conservative because they don't want to use the big long "L" word (libertarian). I doubt she'll be selected though. We'll probably see a close Bush ally, someone who won't upset the balance of the Court. Let's pray that we don't get another Souter.