Sunday, December 30, 2007

Concert Inventory

Following in my old pal George's footsteps (as I always have, as I always do) I was curious to recall the live concerts I have been to. The exercise, going way back to a Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons concert I saw in the 70's with my dad, caused my brain to ache, and I have not been able to remember all of them from the past.

I did recall a number of concerts that I saw with George: Elton John, Billy Joel, Steve Taylor, Michael W. Smith, Ray Charles and Chuck Mangione. The "when" on all of these is fuzzy.

I have, however, kept a tidy pile of ticket stubs in my desk drawer since 1998, so here's my list of concerts attended in the past nine years:
  • Afro-Celt Soundsystem (WOMAD-USA: Celtic musicians and Senegalese percussionists, these guys were amazing!)
  • Aimee Mann and Michael Penn (I was on an Aimee Mann kick for a while)
  • Annie Lennox (an amazing stage presence, I had no idea what a spectacular performer she is, and what an amazing voice she has, until I saw her live)
  • Arturo Sandoval (Cuban jazz trumpet virtuoso)
  • Ben Folds Five (saw these guys - there are just three members of the group, despite the name - just before they broke up)
  • Ben Folds (sans the "five," I saw him solo piano and again with his new band, and yet again having a tense phone conversation outside a restaurant in Portland, OR)
  • Blind Boys of Alabama (this gospel group opened for Peter Gabriel, and are among my favorite live performers)
  • Bob Newhart (Hello?)
  • Chick Corea (with my friend Todd, who taught me about polyphonics)
  • The Divine Comedy (a solo artist, he's English and a great songwriter)
  • Eartha Kitt (saw her show at Jazz Alley - she knows what showmanship is all about!)
  • Eric Idle (on his "Rips Off Monty Python" tour)
  • Fleming and John
  • Harvey Korman & Tim Conway
  • Indigo Girls (outdoor concert at Pier 66, a memorable experience)
  • Hall and Oates (my wife has this thing for Daryl Hall, who can still hit those high notes)
  • Jerry Seinfeld (ask me about my "George" story sometime)
  • K.D. Lang
  • Nellie McKay (saw her with Mike at the Crocodile, and now I am a fan)
  • Peter Gabriel (saw him both at WOMAD-USA - my daughter was tiny at the time but dug him all the same - and again on his "Growing UP" tour)
  • The Police
  • Ray Charles (took my parents to see Ray and the Rayettes on one of their first visits to Seattle)
  • Sting (a few years ago I actually had to take a float plane out of Friday Harbor to make a Sting concert at the stunning Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington)
  • Train (great band to hear live)
  • U2 (the Vertigo tour, what a show!)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Images from the Past

Shortly after Chuck returned from Japan in the mid-1990s, he and I took a trip to Busch Gardens. There was a log ride there called the Little Scoot, more of a kid's attraction than anything.

On the way down the "big" hill, they snapped a photo of the riders. Having done the Scoot once or twice, we decided to "mug" for the cameras.

The image at the left was the priceless keepsake we took home with us after the event.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Splash Down!

At Disney World, we rode Splash Mountain twice, a log ride themed after the little-seen 1946 Disney film Song of the South, a mix of live action and animated stories told by Uncle Remus about Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit. I asked my daughter to comment on the experience:

"Splash Mountain is almost terrifying," my daughter said. "The big hill is a steep drop, and I am riding Splash Mountain just for [my dad]. In the picture I am feeling my stomach drop. I am thinking in the picture, that was very surprising! I did not know this was coming!"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas Indeed

Just returned to Seattle. Been up now for 22 hours now, and cannot sleep. It's been a great week, and a Merry Christmas. Wednesday we flew to Florida and spent seven nights down there at the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World. Leave it to us to choose the one Pacific Northwest themed resort. We did not want to stray too far from home, thematically speaking.

My family convened in Columbia, SC, and I spoke to them briefly by cell phone. I miss my sis and brother in law, the folks, Nan, my grandmother, and my uncles, aunts and cousins, and wish I could have been with them. They throw a great Christmas Day dinner, and always have. Aunt Cindy's dressing, Nan's lemon pie, and Auntie Joice's tasty Christmas treats are better than any we got in Disney World.
Mimi and my brother-in-law and his new wife were together in Denver, where they had some Christmas snow! My mother-in-law is a stellar hostess, and her Christmas gatherings are a joy. The Crabbs wre missed as well, and I look forward to touching base with all of them this week to find out how things were in the mile-high city.

Funny thing, even though today is the 27th, because we were on vacation we have opened no Christmas presents. They are still under the tree. We may do so on New Year's.

Santa Claus, however, was not deterred by our Florida adventure. He managed to visit our hotel, leaving my daughter gifts which included the three things she asked for -- a Webkinz monkey, a Barbie video game and a digital camera. He left a few other things as well, including a matching raincoat and umbrella, with rain boots to boot.

Problem was, apparently he came in through the balcony and left the door open. It was freezing in the room when we awoke at 7am.

My daughter had the idea to bring a tiny tree with us, so we would have a Christmas Tree while on vacation. We bought some Mickey Mouse ornaments and decorated the tree, and as luck would have it, Cinderella gave my daughter a "Wishing Star" while at lunch at the castle at the Magic Kingdom which we used to top off the tree. Perfect!

We had a nice time, and fortunately for us, Christmas will continue throughout the next week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The last time I saw Steve was at a reunion in 1996. We had not spent any time together, however, since 1991, when we shared a hip bachelor pad together before Steve went into the Air Force.

It’s a great testament to the concept of friendship that the two of us were able to immediately pick right up where we left off. Last night we spent some time buying clothes for needy children and enjoyed a fine meal of raw oysters, fresh Alaskan King Salmon and Dungeness crab-stuffed sole at the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Seattle.

Steve is billeting out here in the great Pacific Northwest, pending deployment with the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base on December 27th. His family is back in Germany, and Steve will be unable to spend Christmas with them this year.

So on Christmas, please join me in raising a glass, or a prayer, for Steve and his family.

I look forward to seeing him back in my neck of the woods some time in 2008.

I Have Received Many Christmas Cards This Year from My Friends at Consolidated and Allied and Acme

Do you do business with on-line retailers? And as much as you may like their product or products, do you find yourself now inundated with unsolicited postal mail and email from said on-line retailer?

And to really heap it on, does it really make your holidays that much more joyous to receive a Christmas card via email from that on-line retailer, which, when opened, turns out to be a coupon for 10% off your next purchase?

What are we becoming?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stop the Cavalry - The Most Popular Song in the NW

I always find cultural differences among regions of the United States very interesting. There are many customs and practices here in the Pacific Northwest that do not translate well outside this region.

One of the most puzzling is the favorite Christmas song of Pacific Northwesters. I heard about it when I first moved here, and a couple of people were surprised I was not familiar with it. The song is "Stop the Calvary."

I'll include the link to the song performed as by Jona Lewie. The one that gets endless radio play here year after year is by the Cory Band. It's the most requested song on Seattle radio, and the CD is only available at one record store here.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is This Movie Sold Everywhere?

That's what's my daughter asked me after watching the DVD Burglar Alarm, a movie I made with friends back in 1986.

"I'm afraid no one wants to sell it," I replied.

"Too bad," she said. "Who has one?"

"People in the movie," I returned. "That's about it."

That said, my daughter is selling copies of the DVD Burglar Alarm, starring Julie Singleton, Brad Norris and Michael Homer as Thomas the butler. The cost is $14.95, which includes postage and handling. Send your email address if you are interested.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lunch Break

My daughter makes her own lunches, apparently. I was in the kitchen this morning when she read today's lunchroom menu and she announced she would take her lunch. This is what she packed:

  • A Hostess Christmas tree brownie

  • Three sausage balls

  • Cranberry raisins
  • Fruit snacks

  • Yogurt

  • A satsuma

She packs it all in an Incredibles lunch bag we won at an auction last year. (It was actually an Incredibles duffel bag packed with all sorts of Incredibles products, including a pillow case and lots of toys; I think we bid $20).

I was very excited when she offered to pack me a lunch as well. I never seem to find the time to do so. I am always up and already on my business email when everyone else is having breakfast and packing lunches.

But alas, she, too, ran out of time, and was off to school before she could pack a second lunch for me.

No matter. I'll just throw a couple of satsumas in my laptop bag and be done with it. No cool lunch pails for me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lookit! The First Sign of Winter

That's what my daughter said tonight while we were outside looking at the meager light display we hung around the front window on Saturday. She was pointing at the sky.

"Stars! I haven't seen stars in a long time!"

My best guess is that the last time was at the beach near Charleston in July. We live in a place where one does not have the opportunity to see stars very often.

"People say that stars are holes that people poke through from Heaven."

That they are, sweetheart, that they are.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Morning Coffee from the Inland Empire


"I'd have coffee, some-times six cups, along with the shake, and I'd have sugar in my coffee. By then I would be pretty jazzed up, and I'd start writing down ideas."

"I like cappuccino, actually. But even a bad cup of coffee is better than no coffee at all. New York has great water for coffee. Water varies all around. We've got to drink something. Do you just drink water, sometimes? It's very good for you."

"If you turn away from them [cups of joe] for one second, they go cold on you."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Five for Five

I'll jump on this bandwagon with a number of my fellow bloggers, as I tend to enjoy Christmastime and its trappings:

I. What are your five favorite Christmas songs?

1. "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" (Jazz organist Jimmy Smith's version swings)
2. "Merry Christmas Baby" (Charles Brown)
3. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Ella!)
4. "Sleigh Ride" (partial to Doc Severinson's version, though Johnny Mathis' take is pretty good)
5. "Winter Wonderland"

II. Five foods you look forward to at Christmastime?

1. Sausage Balls (Paula Dean uses my recipe)
2. Auntie Joice's dessert tray
3. Chex Mix
4. Turkey & Dressing
5. Egg Nog with a bit of nutmeg
(Alton Brown's receipe)

III. Five favorite presents of all time?

There are just too many to list just five, though a red necktie circa 1974 comes to mind as being close to the top.

IV. What are your five favorite holiday TV specials?

1. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (it's about the true meaning of Christmas)
2. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (fond memories from my childhood)
3. "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (Hermey the elf dentist just cracks me up)
4. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (classic Christmas TV)
5. "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (I recall that in sixth grade Robert Strickland knew the words to all the songs)

V. Top five holiday-themed films?

1. It's A Wonderful Life (James Stewart is at his most memorable as George Bailey)
2. Scrooge (the musical version with Albert Finney and Alec Guinness)
3. The Bells of Saint Mary's (Ingrid Bergman teaching the kid to box is priceless)
4. Holiday Inn (Bing Crosby and Astaire deliver Irving Berlin's timeless songs)
5. Miracle on 34th Street (the 1974 TV version with Sebastian Cabot)

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Todd has come out to Seattle for a little vacation and R&R, and it's been a fine weekend so far, with some good food, a little live jazz at Dimitrio's with Chick Corea, a Holiday Bazaar where we purchased a few gifts, and now it's snowing.