These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Soaked to the core

So a little over an hour into the Petty concert, and while he did an acoustic version of "Learning to Fly," the rain came down like crazy. The fans were screaming and it seemed to drive them even more.
I had a Duke Blue Devils cap on and thought it was a good protection from the sun earlier in the day. It served a different purpose -- keeping rain out of my glasses. But even that didn't help in the end, as the rain fell with ferocity.
Dawn wrapped the thin blanket we brought around her but that was soaked through in no time. Our clothes were clinging to our bodies, rain running down my back, into my pants, down my legs.
Petty kept playing. The electricity went out twice as a result of lightning striking somewhere near. Still, he played on. Fans were getting crazier. Lightning kept flashing and thunder kept on rumbling. I think Petty was amazed that the fans weren't leaving. I didn't see anyone bolt for the entrances, even though it was a sheet of rain falling, making things difficult to see.
Then around 10:30 he went into "Refugee." Everyone was waving their arms in the air, their clothes becoming part of their bodies. A guy next to me gave me a high five, and yelled something incoherent into my face. It was all good.
I felt my socks and tennis shoes soaked through. I could have been bare foot and it wouldn't have mattered either way.
After "Refugee" he said "I can't let you guys stand out there in the rain and continue to get wet." And the show was over. But then came the task of getting the 26,000 people out. We started the decent toward the bottom, getting a "have a safe trip" from the guy who gave me the high five.
I took off my glasses and grabbed on to Dawn's shirt. When we reached the bottom, the walkway wrapped around the pavilion, before ascending up to the top and out of the bowl.
When we got to the bottom of the grassy hill, our feet plunged into about six inches of water, which was running from the top of the bowl in torrents. Flip flops floated in the water as people lost them in their rush to get out.
We kept walking, people kept moving, I couldn't see shit (without my glasses), but we finally made it out to the top. It didn't help, since it was still pouring,and even the top, flat area of the amphitheater was flooded. We just followed the crowd. Finally, we made it to the entrance and squeezed out. Then we got stuck in a jam and we weren't moving. Then it happened. These chicks behind us decided they were going to do something interesting. They pinched my ass. Dawn said they got her too. We could here them giggling away.
When it was over, we pulled free and out to the parking lot. It took us a bit to find our car. When we did, we jumped in and had to stay in it (with the heat running to warm up) for more than an hour before we were able to leave the parking lot. The preferred parking people got out first.
So while in the car, I removed my shirt and pulled down my pants so as not to completely soak the seat. These guys in a car in front of us pulled off their pants outside the car and got in their car wearing only boxers. Some girls in a nearby car got out to check something in the trunk. They were topless. One chick even went out twice. Dawn said she was being an exhibitionist.
By the time we left the place, the rain had more or less stopped. But we took another exit out and got lost before finding our way in the Indiana back roads. A quick shower later at the hotel and all was cool with us.
However, we did have some damage to our stuff. My wallet was very wet. I had to dry out the papers inside (including the money). And Dawn's purse got wet, along with most of the stuff inside. This included our cell phones. I was highly pissed about that. They had water inside them. They were goners. Luckily we were able to replace mine with a new one (and a new contract) and Dawn got a loaner at no charge.
It was so much fun. It made me feel like a kid again. There's nothing like being at a show with tons of people, getting drenched together, and tolerating it and having just been through a great show.
Rock on, man.

Tom Petty, pot, and God's light show

What a wild and crazy time Dawn and I had at the Tom Petty concert Thursday night in Noblesville, Ind.. It was a show that I won't soon forget.
We got there several hours before and rested. The show was held outdoors at an amphitheater. It was a big bowl cut into the hill with the stage and some seating under a pavilion. We sat on the grassy area just beyond the pavilion, stage center.
It was hot but tolerable as the sun beat down on us. But soon the clouds started coming in and made it easier to cope. And the crowd started coming. Soon there was 26,000 crazy fans there.
The Black Crowes hit the stage promptly at 7 and the crowd dug it. The jams were great but they sang only two songs I knew. They didn't sing "Hard to Handle" or "She Talks to Angels."
The youngin' there were shaking and grooving. Three large screens around the top of the pavilion provided views of the band for the lawn people.
Droplets began falling here and there, just enough to dampen our clothes and some thunder rumbled in the distance. But they played on performed a lot of instrumentals, though. Maybe it's something new for them.
That got the crowd going; they even sang to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" when it was playing during the intermission. People kept looking up at the sky and hoping the impending rain would hold off. And it did...For awhile anyway.
By the time Petty took the stage at 9, it was getting ominous out. The clouds were threatening.. But that was soon forgotten when the lights went out and the first cords came across the speakers through Petty's guitar.
Petty came onstage and it was magical. The crowd stood and piled up together. The crowd went nuts, singing along to just about every song.
The second song brought on the pot. People toked up all over the place. The air was rife with it. It was something I hadn't smelled since my teenage concert days. It was refreshing in a weird way.
For about the first forty minutes he played all songs I knew from his greatest hits. He played an Animals song, a Traveling w. song and some new stuff. Then when he was into "Learning to Fly" the droplets began to fall heavily. But the lightning display was awesome.
During the first part of the show, when the lightning was providing more lighting than the stage, Petty said "God's got his own light show going on." That got the crowd cheering.
It was amazing that someone who's been around for 30 years can provide such enthusiasm from the crowd, which consisted of both young and old. A vast majority of the songs were being sung by the crowd.
We had dancing couples (girls dancing together), a guy pointing to my shirt with big eyes and weird expression on his face (he liked my Beatles shirt) and another guy gave me a high five during the show. People come together during these types of shows. It's like a camaraderie is formed by the crowd and we all become one.
As the lightning got worse, the lights went out -- twice -- stopping the show for about five seconds. But it didn't deter Petty, who kept on playing in synch as if nothing happened and the crowd kept on singing and screaming when the lights quit. They kept on going.
It was until about an hour and ten minutes into the set when the rain finally fell and fell heavily. Petty cut the show short by twenty five minutes.
Yet the show was fulfilling and probably one of the best I've seen to so far. Maybe even the best. There was something going on there -- a connection between him and the crowd. When he played "Last Dance for Mary Jane," the crowd lost it. He does make two references in it to Indiana town and Indiana boys. So cool.
Would I see him again? Oh, hell yeah.
(continued in next entry)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Smurf those remakes!

So this summer we've had so many remakes,that going to the movies sucks, which is probably just as well since movie-going can be expensive.
This summer we've had everything from a revamped Samantha Stephens to a new Boss Hogg. I don't like any of it. Hollywood isn't original anymore. All producers, directors and screenwriters have to do is put a magic finger on a certain movie year or TV season (about 20 years old or more) and it's done.
And then they have a hour and a half movie script, add in sorta lookalikes, famous name movie stars and debut the new movie in the summer when it's sure to cash in on the moolah.
What a way to make a whore of Hollywood.
This summer we've seen remakes of "Bewitched," "Dukes of Hazzard," "The Bad News Bears (coming up)," "Charley and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Longest Yard."
It seems Hollywood can't get enough of the past. It must take a make endless remakes.
There will be no other Boss Hogg than Sorell Brooke and no other Willy Wonka than the great Gene Wilder.
But wait...what lies in the distant horizon? A...Smurfs movie?
Holy shit yeah! Now that would be cool. Those little blue creatures were da bomb
back when I was a kid. I saw them until I got into high school or when I really stopped waking up early on Saturday mornings.
I was only 10 when the Smurfs started appearing on TV but I remember them so vividly. My favorite was Handy Smurf, my least favorite was Brainy Smurf. I thought Gargamel was great. And I remember when Smurfette came along to mix things up. Then there was that bald giant who kept running amok throughout the countryside. His name escapes me right now.
Now that would be a great thing to redo. They've been out of the limelight for some time (at least with me) and it would be refreshing to see them on the big screen. I guess it would be an escape from this time into another.
I have a soft spot for those cartoons of my younger years. I'd love to see a Thundar the Barbarian movie, too. The whole idea behind it was dark. I saw King Kong (1933) and it reminded me of Thundar. There was an episode where they came across these large hairy arms and ape body. It turned out to be the remnants of King Kong from the movies. It was great to see that in the apocalyptic world of Thundar.
I'd love to see a Transformers movie. One is supposed to be coming out and it might be fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

D'Addona needs a shave!

Danny boy, what's going on with you? Had a fight with the razor?
No, he left his electric razor in Ann Arbor at his folks' home. And Dan just can't bring himself to use a disposable razor for fear of cutting himself.
For of you who don't know, Dan's my coworker and friend at the paper. He works for
the sports dept. and often works desk.
This week Dan comes in sporting growth on his face and lets it grow all week
until his trip back home.
His beard-like growth reminds me of when I used to have a beard. Yes, yours truly had a beard back in college for awhile. I doubt there are any pics of the event. Thank God! It was nasty looking and completely unattractive. I looked like an emaciated old man.
Chock that one up to one of the biggest bullshit ideas I've ever come up with in my life.
Luckily I came to my senses and shaved that puppy off in time.
So Dan, come on and do us a favor and make that trip to Ann Arbor. Corinne would be happy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

"Half-Blood" lacking

("Half-Blood Prince spoiler alert)
After my marathon session to finish the "The Half-Blood Prince," I was sort of disappointed with it. It didn't have the same ferocity that "The Goblet of Fire" and "Order of the Phoenix" had sustained throughout.
These books had action going on at different levels, with various minor climaxes occurring here and there. This one, I found, really only had one, and that's when Snape performed the spell that killed Dumbledore. So that happens and then the book continues for two more chapters, which is fine except it went on a little too long.
Several things about that, too. I am a Snape fan. I have always been under the impression that Snape is not evil or bad, only misunderstood and with a little attitude against Potter. So if he's bad, then why didn't Dumbledore see it, being that he's all-mighty? To me, if he couldn't see through Snape's facade, then it diminishes Dumbledore's greatness. If Snape is not in league with Voldemort, then why did he kill Dumbledore and then run off? How will he explain his actions to Harry and the wizarding world without being judged as a killer?
But I am resigned that Snape could be evil and was using Dumbledore If so, then there should be a showdown with him and Potter, as well as with Voldemort and Potter. Or will book 7 finish and Snape be left alive and perhaps ascend to the status of Voldemort after V. dies at the hands of Potter.
I must admit that I was disappointed that Snape did what he did. It leaves me feeling odd and out of sorts. I do not mind that Dumbledore is dead, since it leaves only Harry as the one who has the ability to kill V.
An interesting scenario would be if V. kills Potter and the wizarding world is in peril. But I think that's highly unlikely.
I also expected some other minors characters to die. I would not have minded if a few "unknown" students bit it and maybe a few death-eaters, as well.
I did like that Malfoy was more human and had emotions. I don't think he would have killed Dumbledore if the others hadn't arrived.
And what of Snape being the Half-blood prince? That was kind of cool. For a good portion of the book, I thought it might be V.'s book.
There was also too much "hooking-up" in the book. It seems that by the time it was over, everyone had his or her partner (although Harry did the valiant thing and departed from poor Ginny). Still, there was quite an abundance of love going on, maybe a little too much, since it seems that love is what V. is incapable of dealing with.
Oh well, I'll still be anxiously awaiting the final book to see how it all turns out in the end.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hmmm, tough day??

It's been Potter overload. In my effort to finish it by tonight (Dawn's niece R.P. is coming over to discuss it tomorrow), I've tired myself out. I've done pretty much nothing but read, read, read, all day. I had to put it aside and take care of some other things around the house. I'm two tapes away from the end and I guess I was getting a bit annoyed at Harry and his usual distrust of Snape. He does it all the time and then in the end of the book,he finds out otherwise about Snape. I guess that's getting a little old. I can't say much else since there are no loose ends to talk about, being as how I've not finished it.
Got a call from my mom this evening. It was sad. The phone rang and then stopped and then started up again. It was her. She was crying. She said my dad, as he was sitting down to eat, began to shed tears and become emotional, so she hung up and consoled him.
Turns out my dad saw my brother outside working with the cattle in a corral. He moved a small calf by carrying it and my dad became emotional. I guess he wishes he could be out there helping him (he'd do it in a second) and also he's proud and happy that my brother is out there helping him, especially on a day off from work, because he could be home resting. I give my brother a lot of credit for what he's doing. He's taken over and doing what he has to do, in addition to taking care of his family and work. And he puts in a way more than 40 hours in a week.. But if you ask him, he'll tell you that he's doing nothng special. Well, Robert, even though you like working at the ranch, here's a big hug for you, man. You're making your dad very happy, bro.
Tomorrow dad starts his first chemo session. Here's hoping it all goes well.