Welcome to my foray into the blogging world. I don't promise to be your source for political and social commentary, but I will always endeavour to be entertaining, charming and witty (and by witty, you may also want to read that as sarcastic . . . I sometimes mix the two up).
You will see a mix of poems and/or song lyrics, my skewed little musings on life, the odd rant or two, and hopefully I can pass along some inspirational pieces – either from my own personal experiences or from those who inspire me.
I will try not to work Bruce Springsteen into everything I write, though it will be difficult as he does impact a large part of my waking world as well as a good portion of my dream world.
Enjoy. Be kind. Come back often and visit.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Let me explain: Since discovering – and experiencing – our first general admission (pit) section at a Springsteen show back in 2008, my friends and I have a hard time going back to sitting in seats ... well, not that we really ever sat in them.
The lure of the pit is just too strong. The absolute joy of being close to the front within drippage range of some Springsteen sweat, or God forbid actually touching the man or his guitar, immersed in a sea of singing and dancing Tramps is hard to describe, but it is joyous indeed.
That being said, the pit is not for everyone. So here are a few things to keep in mind to make your pit experience more enjoyable.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
You are going to be standing for a long time so comfortable shoes are critical. The pit is no place for your four-inch stiletto sling-backs. The line-up for general admission (GA) usually starts around 4 p.m. Once you get your numbered wristband, you are lined up in chronological order. Generally, you are let into the venue around 6 p.m. The concert will likely start anywhere between 8 and 8:30 p.m. Then the show itself will be at least three hours long . . . Toronto's Aug. 24 show was roughly three hours and 45 minutes. That was almost eight straight hours of standing. Some people do opt to sit down in the pit prior to the show but it's not always an option. Plus, you take the chance of being stepped on, spilled on or some other kind of on . . . none of them pleasant.
LIMIT YOUR BEVERAGE INTAKE
You are gong to be in a tight space, surrounded by hundreds of people for several hours. Trying to navigate your way out of the pit and more importantly, back to your space in the pit, is tricky, so you want to avoid or limit those trips. Hence, the dehydration process. We usually try to have a good hearty lunch prior to the show and then cut off any beverage intake directly afterwards. It always amazes me to see people drinking in the pit. The road in and out is not an easy one and I can't fathom why people would be up to that challenge multiple times. Hey, I enjoy a nice, cold beer just like anyone else, but I don't mind waiting until after the show. It's too much work to make that trek. And while there always seems to be extra space around you when you first position yourself in the pit, those spaces seem to tighten up as the concert start time approaches. Sometimes people don't make it back to their original spot.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH THOSE AROUND YOU
At the risk of sounding repetitive . . . you are going to be in a tight space, surrounded by hundreds of people for several hours. Why not get to know a few of them. They may turn out to be that new friend who gets you GA tickets for the upcoming Ottawa show in October – thanks Carolyn!
BE WARY OF THE TALL SPRINGSTEEN FAN
Bruce seems to have an abnormal abundance of extremely tall male fans. And by tall, I don't just mean 5' 11" or 6'. No, these guys are 6'4", 6'6", and even taller! Being vertically challenged (5'2") it's key for me to position myself in the section with the least number of tall people in front. You may think the best spot is at centre stage, but sometimes it's more prudent to be slightly off-centre based on what's in front of you.
But while the tall, male Springsteen fan can be a pain-in-your-sightline, it is part of the Springsteen concert enjoyment factor to witness the outpouring of man-love for Bruce. You would think it would be strictly females crowding the front of the stage for the opportunity to touch Bruce, but there are tons of dudes too. They're there with their dude buddies (they're usually the ones who don't mind fighting their way through the pit quicksand for a few beers) singing at the top of their collective dude lungs, dancing in their dude styles and pumping their fists with equal abandon to "Badlands."
It's fun to watch.
MEDITATION SKILLS ARE NOT MANDATORY BUT DEFINITELY HELPFUL
Two hours into your pre-concert pilgrimmage you may find it necessary to go to your non-Bruce happy place for a few minutes in order to survive the next few hours waiting for the show to start. In addition, Tweeting and/or updating your Facebook page may help pass the time, as well as waving to your friends in the stands who have opted for seats.
I was over-the-moon excited to discover I was due for my monthly massage on the Monday after returning from my Springsteen show in Boston. Twenty hours in a car, plus the pit, equalled some pretty sore limbs. Needless to say I have pre-booked a massage for the Monday after my weekend of double-pit Bruce in Ottawa and Hamilton this October.
BE PREPARED FOR THE CHANCE YOU MAY NOT BE IN THE PIT
At the big stadium shows, everyone with a GA ticket makes it into the pit . . . the random number draw just decides positioning. At the smaller arena shows, only a portion of GA ticket holders make it into the main pit; the rest go into a secondary general admission area. When the random number is called, there are winners and losers on that train to the land of hope and dreams and I've ridden in both sections. If you don't make it in, do not despair. My friend Kimberly and I didn't make it in at a show in Cleveland but we ended up against the fence that divided the pit from general admission. Bruce generally travels during his shows and he ended up right in front of us for a few songs and we were both able to grasp a Springsteen limb. Magical!
Regardless of whether you're in the pit or dancing in the stands, you will enjoy your Springsteen concert experience. There is nothing else like it. It is a musical marathon of mystical happiness, and there is no other place I'd rather be.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
I mocked those who line up for their annual flu shot – just try and penetrate my cone of immunity little feeble flu virus!
One morning last week as I completed my post-shower ritual of washing down my blood pressure tablet, applying the Cortisone cream to my rash, and putting a drop of antibiotic solution into my right eye, I realized the cone had been severely breached.
May Day! May Day!
It appears that I am not having a good year medically since turning 50 ... or so it seems.
It started back in February when I noticed that the lines on my computer screen seemed a little bendy. I initially put it down to my cheaters – the drugstore glasses I use to read everything these days (they must be using smaller fonts). Perhaps it was time to move up to the real things. But, having the Internet at my disposal, I decided to Google "straight lines appearing bendy," and wouldn't you know it, got a few hits. When I read words like "retina" and "macula" in some of the explanations, I decided it was probably prudent to visit my optometrist, giving my father's history with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Long story short, it turns out I have a bleed in my right eye – not early onset of AMD, though the treatment, an injection directly into the eye, is very similar.
Yes, an injection directly into the eye.
As scary as that might sound, it's actually quite painless. I've had five injections to date and they have helped decrease the bleeding and reduce the bendiness.
The waiting room on injection day is filled with a multitude of senior citizens and me. It's very entertaining and I've made some new friends. Apparently long life can be attributed to golf and bridge, or so I overheard the 99-year-old woman in the chair next to me tell another injection recipient. I want to ask her if cribbage is a suitable substitute since I don't play bridge, but I haven't mustered up the courage yet.
The day I received my first injection, I told the doctor, "If all those old dollies and dudes can handle a shot to the eye, I should suck it up and take my shot." He commented that women seem to handle the injections better. Good for us.
The blood pressure issue reared its ugly head around the same time, and no, they're not connected (I asked). I tried avoiding medication by making a few lifestyle changes to reduce my 180 over 99 bp but it didn't help. Sometimes you have to resort to drugs.
And the rash ... well, it appears to be some allergic reaction to a plant, or poison ivy. I had one spot on the palm of my right hand that was so itchy I wanted to take a knife to it. But it's finally going away, so I don't feel quite like a leper any more.
I can only hope that the cone is just going through a mid-life crisis of sorts and will soon be back on track.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Waiting for Dave
Just another red wine mistake
That you can't take back
So here you sit
With one more regret.
Waiting for Dave
Just another night
Another one night stand hindsight
So here you sit
Trying to hedge your bets
He hadn't looked at you that way
He hadn't kissed you that way
You wouldn't be here.
Waiting for Dave
Just an exercise in patience
And self control
So here you sit
Trying to forget
Waiting for Dave.
What do people do at red lights?
Did they just discover that Facebook went public and are feverishly moving stocks via mobile phones to make room in their portfolio for a few shares? Have they picked this moment to declutter their purse?
All I know is that once the light turns red, it shouldn't take more than two or three seconds to transfer your foot from the brake to the gas and move on through to the other side. But does this always happen? No. More often than not, I find myself waiting a good 10 seconds or more for the car in front of me to move.
Now, I know 10 seconds doesn't sound like a long time to wait in the grand scheme of things, but in the grand scheme of things it is a long time!
It's like some drivers put their vehicles in park during a red light, or suddenly forget where first gear is when the light turns green.
And don't even get me started if we're talking about a left turn flashing advance green light. It is the job of the lead car to get as many people through that light as possible. That's the only way the whole team wins. Be a good captain people – don't leave any soldiers behind! It is totally unforgivable when only the lead car gets through.
While I do find this frustrating, I have yet to be pushed over the edge enough to honk my horn. I did have an interesting dilemma on one occasion however, when I was travelling behind what appeared to be two Hells Angels motorcyclists.
It was a bit disconcerting to discover they were following the same route home as I, but I was even more perturbed to find myself waiting for them to get their bikes moving at each traffic stop. The third time l waited behind them at the red light, I pondered to myself: "Hmmmm. Would they think it was really ballsy of me to honk my horn at two Hells Angels to get them moving, and give me props or would they get off their bikes and pound the crap out of me?"
I didn't think it prudent to test my hypothesis but it did make me chuckle the rest of the way home. And I was more than relieved when they blew past my turn taking them (hopefully) miles away from my neighbourhood.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
They may not be gourmet meals, but since leaving the parental nest many (many) years ago, I have survived and somewhat thrived on the few basic culinary skills I possess. And I was happy with my simple meals.
But then 18 months ago my friend Pat moved in and rendered me totally useless in the kitchen.
Pat enjoys cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I have been content in my new role as sous chef, blissfully chopping up whatever veggies are required for our meals, setting the table or opening pickle jars. It's all good.
Pat likes to post photos of our meals on Facebook.
Sometimes we even like to play with our food.
It's just that kind of household.
But Pat is away right now on a two-week holiday and I suddenly find myself wondering where she hides the food. It's not a big house – the food must be here somewhere. It was here before she moved in. Did she cook it all?
Oh well. I'll manage somehow.
Last night was takeout pizza. Tonight I met my friend Kimberly at the movies and enjoyed a fine meal of popcorn. Tomorrow, I'm meeting my sister Andrea and a few other friends for the Screen One showing of Hysteria. I imagine we'll go out to eat beforehand or afterward.
Ok; that gets me halfway through the week.
On Thursday my work mates and I are taking our vice president out for drinks (he's retiring), so I imagine we can order wings or something. This weekend I'm heading to the Mariposa Folk Festival, so there will be tons of delicious concession food.
Hey – this cooking business is easy! It's just like riding a bike.
Next week I've got golf (so, dinner at the clubhouse) and dinner out with my friend Carol. I head to the cottage with friends on Friday, so really, I only have to worry about two other meals.
Whew! Pat will be so proud of me surviving on my own.
Maybe I'll welcome her home with a nice, cooked meal . . . from Mucho Burrito.
Sunday, 17 June 2012
Not merely because it's Father's Day, but probably because it's 8 p.m. on a Sunday evening, generally the time when I would call to catch up on his week and fill him in on mine.
I looked forward to our conversations. For the most part his weeks were fairly routine – church, the occasional outing or visitor, perhaps the passing of someone in our home town. Depending on the season, we would chat about the state of my beloved Habs or discuss reasons why Mike Weir just couldn't seem to get his golf game together anymore.
The conversation would occasionally make a foray into the entertainment world – a world one would think a small town, visually impaired man in his 80s would know (or care) little about. But dad liked to keep up on everything, and I think it gave him great pride to toss some random comment about Madonna's latest antics into the mix.
One time he informed me about a Springsteen news story before I even heard about it. I was regaling him about my recent concert in Cleveland that week and he just sniffed and said, "Springsteen? I wouldn't cross the street to see that guy. He doesn't even know where he is." His comment alluded to Bruce's following show in Detroit in which he welcomed the crowd by saying, "Hello Ohio!" My dad with his pulse on all things newsworthy heard the story before I did. And it's not very often when I can be upstaged in the realm of Springsteen.
I was always surprised about how much dad knew about everything – whether discussing sports, world events, politics, entertainment or local history. The man had a phenomenal memory. It was always a learning experience to watch any kind of sports game with him. You wouldn't be five minutes into the game before he'd be lobbing question at you: "What's unusual about the fellow pitching right now?"or "What town is that hockey player from?"
An avid reader before age-related macular degeneration kicked in full force, dad enjoyed reading many newspapers and magazines as well as any sports and historical books he could get his hands on. And I'm convinced he had a photographic memory since he had so many statistics, facts and interesting tidbits at the ready, regardless of the conversational topic.
In his later years he relied on an intricate system of radios (each set to a different channel) and the television to keep up on his favourite shows and the latest news.
He passed away March 20, 2010 and I still find myself reaching for the phone, thinking I've got to tell dad about some interesting story I just heard or get an answer to a question I know he will be able to answer easily. I miss him most during the hockey season, especially over Christmas, when we would watch everything from the NHL, to the Juniors World Championship and the Spengler Cup.
But mostly, I miss him Sunday nights.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
One would think such a dream would bounce me awake feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, ready to face the day singing "Glory Days" at the top of my lungs. Mais malheureusement, I awoke feeling stressed and concerned.
You see in my dream, I encountered Bruce with a group of my friends and we invited him back to my house for dinner; an invitation he accepted without hesitation (we were having ribs . . . not sure if that was the selling feature). While initially I was beyond thrilled to be hosting Bruce, it suddenly struck me: he was coming to my house. My house which is practically a shrine to all things Bruce.
How would he react to the Bruce Springsteen hallway which features at least 10 different posters or pictures of Bruce and the band? Which book from my Springsteen library would he pick up first? Or would he grab a Backstreets magazine? Would he find my poster from the Magic tour – framed with three of my concert tickets and pit wristbands – amusing and quaint?
All I could think of was, thank God my full-size cut-out of him from the Born in the USA tour was still at work.
Now, before you think I'm a complete whack job, my friends got the cut-out for me for my 50th birthday. Best ... birthday card ... ever.
|The ladies in my workplace posing with Bruce and I.|
Bruce never even made it to my house in the dream. I woke myself up in a mad panic before he could get there.
When do you know you've crossed the line from "really big fan" to your friends telling you to seek psychiatric help? I don't think I've hit that stage yet, but I do know that when it comes to Bruce, I have very little impulse control. New book coming out? I've already pre-ordered it. Rumour of a tour date in Buffalo? Room booked before it's even confirmed (hey, they fill up fast).
I spent almost two hours on hold trying to get tickets for the premiere of The Promise at the Toronto International Film Festival a few years ago. My Taurus tenacity would not let me hang up.
As far as obsessions go, I think it's a fairly healthy one. I'm sure my fellow Tramps would agree.
And Bruce would probably have been quite comfortable in the Springsteen hallway. At this stage in his career he is used to the crazy things his fans have done over the years. My collection probably pales in comparison to having fans sing all night outside his Barcelona hotel or knowing that fans book European vacations around his European tour schedule. Or even that fans collect little rocks from his childhood home . . . oh wait, that's me again.
And besides, he would have enjoyed the ribs.
Friday, 11 May 2012
Thursday, 10 May 2012
. . . well, at least a version of Bruce, at a place where he has played so often.
|Outside the fabled Stony Pony waiting for the Tramps Like Us show to start. Myself (far right) with Laura Cornish (far left) and Kimberly Wright. A lovely fellow from Wales took this photo.|
|No captain required :)|
|With our new friend Glenn in front of the great wall of Bruce.|
|Ed, the owner of Bruce's former home on Institute Street.|
|Wearing our new matching Stony Pony hoodies at the Izod show!|
There is nothing like seeing Bruce in Buffalo. This town always delivers a quality, fun experience – from the pre-show activities right to the post-show commentary and breakdown in whatever watering hole tickles your taste buds.
|Tramps from all over! My Rehoboth friend Kathy (second from left), Kimberly and two other Bruce fans that Kathy has met on the road at another show!|
|Me and my friend Caroline. We met at the 2009 Buffalo show.|
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
You will see a mix of poems and/or song lyrics, my skewed little musings on life, the odd rant or two, and hopefully I can pass along some inspirational pieces - either from my own personal experiences or from those who inspire me.