Monday, October 31, 2011

A Tale of Two Concerts

Elizabeth and I don’t go to a lot of concerts.  Or, Elizabeth and I go to a bunch of concerts.  I don’t know which of those two statements is more true; it probably depends more on the perspective of the other person involved in the conversation, in this case, you.  I’d say we average about 3 concerts a year, which has been pretty consistent over the 22 years we’ve been married.  3 concerts a year doesn’t seem like a lot, thus validating the first statement; but if you add up all those shows over the years, we’ve seen somewhere between 60-70, which I think fits the technical definition of a bunch.

Foo Fighters
Paul Simon
In all that time, I don’t think we had ever attempted the formidable feat of back-to-back concerts.  But that’s just the position we found ourselves in when the Foo Fighters decided to put on a show Sunday night, and then Paul Simon came along and scheduled his concert for the next night.  Two shows in two nights is not a challenge we intentionally set out for ourselves, like hiking the Grand Canyon, for instance, or reading Sarah Palin’s biography.  It just kind of happened that way. 

It’s important to understand that Elizabeth and I aren’t extreme personalities; as a rule, we don’t like extreme sports, we don’t watch extreme television, and we don’t do extreme things.  We’re big fans of the golden mean, of stability, of routine.  To us, extreme is putting the kids to bed and then…watching a movie, or if we’re really out of our minds, having sex.  The fact that both of us will be asleep before it’s over tells you just how horribly pathetic we are, both at determining what qualifies as extreme behavior, and also in carrying it out.  Perhaps you can imagine just how daunting the prospect of back-to-back concerts appeared to two such small, hum-drum individuals.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Candy Smackdown 2011 - Results

For those of you who have gotten caught up in the Arizona Republic’s Candy Smackdown Madness (and from the looks of it, that’s about 5 of you), I just wanted to post the final results, and see how my skills as a candy competition prognosticator stack up.  I will tell you that things did not go according to plan.  My plan, anyway. 


In the Vampire regional, I had Peanut M&M’s advancing over Nestle Crunch.

Actual voting result:  Nestle Crunch over Peanut M&M’s

In the Mummy regional, I had Butterfinger giving ‘the finger’ (couldn’t resist) to the Heath Bar.

Actual voting result:  Butterfinger over Starburst

In the Ghost regional, I had Twix beating Take 5.

Actual voting result:  Hershey chocolate bar over Kit Kat*
*Twix lost to Kit Kat in the first round. Anyone who read my initial bracketology report knows how strongly I feel about that match-up in the first round.  Kit Kat derailed Twix, and from that point on, this bracket was a complete disaster for me.

In the Witch regional, I had Milky Way advancing over Hershey’s Kisses.

Actual voting result:  Hershey Bar beat Milky Way*
* Hershey Bar and Hershey’s Kisses were also matched up in the first round, and I went with the Kisses, because as everyone knows, Kisses are cuter.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Night of Terror in Zanesville – or, Lions and tigers and bears, O hi (o)!

October 18th, 2011
Somewhere near Zanesville, Ohio

911. What’s your emergency?
I just saw a lion crossing the highway!
Excuse me sir, did you say a lion?
Yes, a lion.  Crossing highway 75. You need to get somebody out here, and I mean pronto!
Sir, can you describe the lion?
Describe the lion? Uh, well, he was big and brown…and he had a black mane, and I just saw him cross south of milepost 129.  I’m not kidding, someone’s gonna have a serious problem soon if they don’t get that animal.
Sir, are you sure it was a lion?
Trust me, I know it sounds weird, but it was definitely a lion.  We need the police, or game and fish, or Barnum and Bailey's, or somebody, quick.
Sir, how do you know it was a lion?
How do I know it was a lion?! Because I saw The Lion King, and @#%*&$! Mufasa just ran in front of my car!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Forward Path - 14 October 2011

I had another guest column published in the West Valley editions of the Arizona Republic on Wednesday.  This one focuses on the centennial of Glendale High School, which is the school where I spent my short-lived teaching career.  I wanted to do something to bring some attention to the school’s historical importance and vital role in the community, and so this seemed like a natural fit. 

This piece marks the first time I’ve actually written something expressly for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, and not for the blog.  As a result, you may notice that the voice is a little more restrained, and my naturally sarcastic tone is muted.  But I feel the tone suits the article, which really is a kind of letter of appreciation, as I find myself, more and more, admiring and celebrating the old, the weatherbeaten, the survivors.  Since I’m heading in that direction myself, I suppose you could look at it as an act of self-defense. 

Anyway, what follows is the original version of the column.  There’s a link after that to the version which appeared in the paper on Wednesday.  If you read them both, you will see that they are very similar.  The paper’s editors trimmed a few things here and there, either for space or because they figured out that I don’t always know what I’m talking about.  Either way, the paper’s version reads a little tighter, which apparently makes me sound better. 

By the way, the festivities continue today with the homecoming parade at 1 p.m., the time capsule deployment at four, tailgate party after that, and the homecoming game (vs. Flagstaff) at 6:30.  If you have the opportunity, come check it out.  Tell ‘em thunderstrokes sent you.  Go Cardinals!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Uncle Day Weekend - Part 6

In part 5, I’m sure you remember, we spent an evening at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.  We slumbered the night away peacefully, and the next morning it was waffles, brochure rack, and Bearizona. I also rhapsodized about the many fine qualities of Super 8 motels. Now it is Monday, Labor (Uncle) Day, and we are ready to set off on the return trip home.  Remember, the goal was to go from Phoenix to Flagstaff and back without using Interstate 17, and without retracing our steps…

Back at the car, I called the number on the Bearizona brochure to verify the hours and admission price.  The person I spoke with told me they were already open for the day, would stay open until 7 p.m., and the cost to get in was $16 per adult, $8 for kids, with free admission for children two-and-under.  Although I grumbled about the cost of admission, we decided to take a chance and check it out.  We would be driving through Williams anyway, so we always had the option of skipping it if the bear place turned out to be three bear cubs in a playpen, or something like that.    

We gassed up the Sportage and rolled onto the westbound I-40 shortly after eight for the 30-mile drive to Williams.  The I-40 west of Flagstaff is one of the stretches of interstate that many people who live in the Phoenix metropolitan area just don’t use.  Williams does provide a way to get to the Grand Canyon, via Highway 64, but most people, me included, prefer the much more scenic Highway 180 which winds north and west from Santa Fe Drive in Flagstaff, skirting the voluminous San Francisco Peaks through stands of aspen, fir and spruce, mixed in with the pine and juniper.  Once you get past Williams, I-40 is a hundred miles of terra incognita to most people from the Valley.  If it weren’t for the fact that a small stretch of I-40 serves as a critical link for people traveling between Phoenix and Las Vegas, its existence west of Flagstaff would be probably be doubted by even the more religious members of our community. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Candy Smackdown 2011

The Arizona Republic just started a great contest called “Candy Smackdown 2011.”  If you’ve ever played, or seen, a March Madness bracket, this is set up exactly the same way, except instead of college basketball teams, it’s got a 64 different brand names of candy.  The slots aren’t seeded, but each candy faces off against one other candy in the first round, with the winner advancing to round 2.  There are four rounds, with the final two candies advancing to the “Candy Smackdown Championship” to decide the winner.

Voting for Round 1 has already started, and continues until Round 2 begins on October 10th.  The Scary Sixteen voting starts on 10/14, the Eerie Eight on 10/17, the Freaky Four on 10/19, and Championship Round voting begins on 10/21.

Check it out, and make your first round selections:  AZ Republic’s Candy Smackdown 2011.

Being the astute candy bracketologist that I am, I went ahead and completed my brackets in advance, all the way through the finals.  I’ll share the results of the final three rounds with you here.

We’ll see how I do against the voting public. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ten Signs Your Kids Are Addicted to Pixar Movies

As I was reading up on ways to attract new readers to the blog, I learned that people love Top Ten lists.  In fact, many successful bloggers say that Top Ten lists are one of the best ways to help increase the popularity of your blog.  Normally, I would disdain such heavy-handed and blatantly manipulative tactics as beneath me.  However, I also felt like I shouldn’t rule anything out until I tried it.  So, I thought for a while about the kind of Top Ten list I would write.  A few years back, “You might be a redneck” jokes were very popular, thanks to Jeff Foxworthy.  I thought I might try to bring them back, so I started a Top Ten list of “Ways to Know You’re a Redneck.”  This is what I came up with:

10  Your driveway has more grass growing in it than your yard.

That’s as far as I got. 

Then I remembered the old advice that says you should write about what you know.
Well, when you put it that way…