Jul 242014
 
  • Saintseester told me in the middle of last year’s mild summer that we’d have a brutally cold winter. I laughed her off. She said the same thing yesterday, and I chose not to laugh this time.
  • Apparently there is a Fifty Shades of Grey movie on the way. The still from the trailer accompanying the blurb I read appears to show a boy of perhaps 12 as the male lead. Yeah, that ought to be great.
  • Coach Saban could have gotten his point across without calling the Sugar Bowl a “consolation game,” and I think Coach Stoops is justified in returning fire. Can the rationalization, folks. Oklahoma didn’t sneak by us. They beat us soundly. Let’s hope we get another shot at them sometime and leave it at that.
  • I caught a little of the band touring as Van Halen massacring “Unchained” on YouTube last night. I think we have an awful lot of emperor’s new clothes happening here. Dave is just a bad lounge singer anymore, and Michael Anthony’s harmonies are sorely missed.
  • Have you seen the hospital billboards that have continuously updating wait times for their emergency rooms? Why? Are you going to say “well, try to hold your ankle together and stop screaming there, Junior. The wait there is too long. Let’s try the next town”?
  • My Fitbit spontaneously reset itself to zero steps yesterday about dinnertime. That’s rather irritating. Hope it’s a fluke.
  • Porsche’s Macan is its second SUV. Poor ol’ Ferd must be spinning in his grave. How about a pickup next, guys?
 Posted by at 11:12 am
Jul 232014
 

That may be the lesson I’m slowly absorbing, more than any other, as I process our Kiss concert last week.

Though it was my first Kiss show since April 14, 2000, I’d seen and heard plenty of live Kiss since. The Rock the Nation Live! DVDs include cool stuff like “Tears Are Falling” and “Love Her All I Can,” which are awesome to see and hear. The AXStv concert I DVRed not long ago has “Shock Me” melting into “Outta This World,” which I love. It’s good stuff. Crank it up a bit and sing along, perhaps with a slight whiskey haze, and it’s a fine time.

But I left all of the truly visceral reaction I had to spend on the floor of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center 14 years ago. I’ve made peace with that.

Nothing will ever top my Hot in the Shade show, because it was my first Kiss show. Goodness gracious sakes alive, I liked both Winger and Slaughter, but their sets were interminable. Bring my guys out!

I was going to revisit this no matter what, because I wanted to get my boys a live Kiss experience, and I was certainly going to go with them. So this was going to go this way no matter what.

But I have choices elsewhere.

For example, I haven’t eaten Underwood Deviled Ham in perhaps 35 years. I remember my mom making me sandwiches with it, and I remember loving it.

I’m sure it’s a fine food product, but I’m confident my memories of it are better than a 2014 sandwich would be. So I’m leaving it alone.

Wisdom.

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
Jul 212014
 

Citing ongoing crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, as well as the continued fragility of the U.S. economy, President Obama today announced that he and his family would vacation for one week at Camp David next month, rather than more than two weeks at Martha’s Vineyard.

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“After much reflection, I have concluded that I’m simply not comfortable with the message an extended vacation to a luxury resort sends at this time, nor do I consider it good stewardship of the people’s money,” President Obama said in a statement. “Camp David keeps me much closer to Washington if I am needed. The girls are excited about having some school friends over to spend the night and play games, and I’m sure we’ll all enjoy the quiet and relaxed time together. Maybe Michelle will even let us have a pizza night.”

Mr. Obama’s decision is receiving widespread bipartisan support.

 Posted by at 7:21 am
Jul 182014
 

Dad, the boys, and I went to pay our respects to the sinkhole Corvettes today. (Click photo for a larger version.) We each had to sign a release to access the Skydome to see the sinkhole directly. There is no angle available to the public that allows one to look directly down into it, but we all agreed it was larger than it looked in the photographs we’d seen.

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Museum revenues are up 75% over last year to this point, largely because of these pilgrimages. Indeed, there were more visitors there than I’ve ever seen before.

It’s certainly come a long way from the early days, when we’d go and be three or four of maybe fifteen people in the whole place, and say to each other “wow, this is really neat, but is it going to make it?”

I don’t think the museum has announced official plans to display any of the sinkhole Corvettes permanently as is, though the Mallett Hammer Z06 (the last of the photos above) would be a good candidate for such. No restoration is possible. The car would essentially be replaced.

We had good family time today. “Making memories,” as Dad likes to say.

 Posted by at 8:47 pm
Jul 172014
 

kissconcert1Wow, everybody was so old and fat at the Kiss/Def Leppard concert last night. I’m sure glad that hasn’t happened to me.

Lea, the boys, and I traveled to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville last night to take in Kiss, Def Leppard, and Kobra and the Lotus. The boys saw Night Ranger at a festival last year, but this was their first full-on concert.

(Let me brag on Bridgestone Arena for just a sentence or two: world-class facility with world-class folks. Have no venue concerns if an event you want to see is at Bridgestone Arena.)

I’m going to write primarily about Kiss, because while we were all excited about Def Leppard too, Kiss was most of the point of going.

Def Leppard did a safe (Adrenalize-era and earlier) but extremely tight and energetic set, and we all dug it. Loved the opener choice of “Let It Go.” Loved that “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” started acoustic and finished electric, and then was immediately followed by “Switch 625” in its entirety. That was an awesome touch. There were six Hysteria cuts (all of the singles save “Women”); three Pyromania cuts (the ones you can name easily); the High ‘n’ Dry cuts I’ve already mentioned; “Let’s Get Rocked”; and “Two Steps Behind.” They sounded great, instrumentally and vocally.

Kobra and the Lotus was a blistering 30-minute sonic assault, including cuts from the new album High Priestess and a cover of Heart’s “Barracuda.” Gene Simmons discovered them, so that’s most of why they’re on the tour, but they’re really way too heavy for a Kiss/Def Leppard crowd. Lead singer Kobra Paige sounds like a cross between Doro Pesch and Geoff Tate. If you like old-school metal as hard as granite, check Kobra and the Lotus out. They deliver.

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I so wanted to get my boys to a Kiss show while it was still mostly a Kiss show (and that can’t possibly be much longer). For whatever reason, our few previous opportunities either fell through or were never viable to start with. They got their memories last night, and I know they’ll cherish them as much as I have my very earliest memories of live Kiss. It was my first time to see Kiss since April 14, 2000. (Remember the “farewell” tour?) I said my goodbyes then, and it took having boys with whom I wanted to share the experience for me to want to see them again.

As ecstatic as I am for my boys, I’m sad to report that last night, I received full validation that I’m over the Kiss live experience.

It’s no more complicated than I’ve just seen it all several times before. Paul singing “Love Gun” in the middle of the floor; Gene flying and singing “God of Thunder” from the ceiling; the bombs; the flash pots; and so forth. They’ve exhausted the paradigm. These are great tricks. They’ve been great tricks for a really, really long time. Do you have any others? (The non-makeup years’ stage shows changed a lot more tour to tour.)

To be sure, the experience remains theatrically memorable for new initiates. Nathan and Aaron were blown away. I’m so glad for that.

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Now if Kiss toured like, say, Cheap Trick does, they’d go out in support of a new album and play half of it live. But they’ll never do that. The Kiss live experience is just too tightly constrained. I loved both 2009’s Sonic Boom and 2012’s Monster, but Kiss sells new material very predictably. About 100,000 people like me buy the record the first week, and then another 100,000 or so eventually buy it in the years following. If Kiss came out and played five or six new songs, they would alienate too many people.

And indeed, there were no new songs last night. They did mix it up just a bit. It was a pleasure to hear “Hide Your Heart,” which I hadn’t heard Kiss do since 1990 (though Paul did it on his solo tour). “Psycho Circus” was a neat opener. But absent a lot of newer stuff, or a set list that might genuinely turn over 75% from night to night (a la Grateful Dead), there’s nothing for me anymore, particularly for the money. The days of a concert ticket costing about the same as a fillup are long gone.

Aaron talked about feeling the heat from the flames on his face. Nathan ate it up when “Hotter Than Hell” made the set. (I thought that was pretty cool myself.) They both talked about it most of the way home, and then first thing this morning. Mission accomplished.

But I say, a little bit sadly but mostly just resignedly: it’s over for me. I’m confident the Kiss live experience will never again cost little enough for me to consider it.

 Posted by at 6:08 pm

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