Sunday, September 30, 2007

The last of the concerts and some comic relief courtesy of Tony

Wednesday night was my last Def Leppard concert for this tour--and also their last US show on this tour. They played with Styx and Foreigner at the White River Amphitheater, a cool venue southeast of Seattle in Auburn, WA. I finally got to see Foreigner this time. They weren't on the bill in Clark County, and I missed most of their set in Concord, because I was helping out a friend who lost her ticket (long story). The only original member is Mick Jones, who looks a bit like Jimmy Buffet:


Their new lead singer is Kelly Hansen, formerly of Hurricane, who looks like a skinny Steven Tyler:
He sounds quite a bit like Lou Gramm, though, so they sounded just like the old days.

The Leps played the same set they've been playing at every show. This time, in addition to taking a boatload of pictures, I tried shooting some video with my digital camera. I had mixed results. I got a nice video of "Rock On," complete with the bass solo intro. I tried to video "Mirror, Mirror," mostly because I figured they'd never play it live again after this tour. I did something wrong, though, and it never recorded. I guess I'll have to search YouTube to see if anyone else recorded it. Speaking of YouTube, I'll load my "Rock On" video as soon as I figure out how to reduce the size, because right now the file is way over YouTube's maximum. If anyone reading this knows of a good video converter, please speak up.

Rather than post a whole bunch of pics, I'll just include a collage:
Def Leppard at White River Amphitheater, 9/26/07
If you want to see all of them, hop on over to

Before I sign off, I have to include a funny story. Tony went with us this time (he's a closet Leppard fan), and he was responsible for the funniest thing that happened all night. Foreigner encored with two songs, "Hot Blooded," and their sappy ballad from 1984, "I Want to Know What Love Is." That song probably got played at every high school dance in America at one point. Kelly Hansen introduced it in the usual cheesy way, by encouraging the crowd to grab someone close to them (hopefully not a random stranger, but I digress...). Cue the opening notes of the sappy ballad. Just then Tony leans over to me and says... Are you ready for this? He says...

I need to fart.

Yep. I married Mr. Romance. And no, he wasn't joking. *Sigh*

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Parenting randomness

Last night, as we were all getting ready for bed, my son asked me, "Mom, were you ever a stripper?"

Huh????? I don't even want to know what inspired that question. And if any of you out there are wondering, the answer is, No.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Concerts and California and a beach trip too

I've been slacking on my blogging, mostly because I've been getting ready to travel, traveling, or just returned from traveling. I'll try to catch up a little with this post.

My last "what's going on in my life" post covered the first of three Def Leppard concerts, the local show in Ridgefield, WA. A couple days after that, I was off to the beach with hubby for our anniversary. We stayed at the Surfrider outside Depoe Bay, Oregon. We were only there for one night, so we didn't have any big plans, but it was very relaxing. We walked on the beach, explored some tidepools, and took a bunch of pictures:

Computer store in Lincoln City with a funny name:

Moon and shadowy trees:


Strange life form found on the beach:

And another one:

We came back Saturday, and I flew to California Sunday morning for a trip back to Tracy and another concert.

As usual, it felt weird to be back in Tracy. It has grown so much since I moved away in the late 80s, from a little over 40,000 people to over 80,000. I stayed in a hotel near West Valley Mall, which sprouted a decade or so ago from what used to be tomato fields and turkey farms. They say you can't go home again, but you can. It's just that home isn't home anymore. Places change, people change... yet there's still enough that's familiar to dredge up a ton of old memories. And speaking of old memories, I met up with a couple of people I hadn't seen in over 20 years! It's so interesting to get back in touch with people from the old days, reminiscing but also exploring what kind of people we've become. Adulthood seems unreal, or maybe surreal, when you're 16. Yet here we all are with our spouses, kids, mortgages, and careers. Wow. The years have gone by too quickly.

After my 2-day nostalgia fest, I picked up Laurel at the airport, and we headed to Concord to see Def Leppard again. The show was great--as usual. I'm too tired to write a detailed review, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, these should be enough:

Jason Bonham, son of John Bonham, drumming for Foreigner:


And my Def Leppard collage:
Def Leppard in Concord

The rest of the pics from the show are in my Flickr account at

I got back from CA a week ago Wednesday and led a mostly normal life till last Wednesday, when I was off to Auburn, up by Seattle, for my third and final concert. I think I'll cover that one in a separate post, because this one is getting a bit long, and I'm getting a bit tired.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A trip down memory lane with Schoolhouse Rock

My husband brought home a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for my son. As soon as Son started reading the preamble to the Constitution, I started singing it, thanks to Schoolhouse Rock. That sent me scurrying for my computer, where, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I was able to introduce my 9-year-old to Schoolhouse Rock, without which I would never have learned the aforementioned preamble.

Just an aside: How many of you Readers of a Certain Age, when required to memorize the preamble in school, were unable to recite it without singing it? That was me... and my entire 7th grade class. We really should have made costumes and done it as musical theater.

Anyhoo, if you are old like me and want to relive Saturday mornings in the 70s, or if you're a young 'un who wants to see what passed for educational television back then, come along with me, back to the decade of Watergate, the Bicentennial, disco... and Schoolhouse Rock:

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Conjunction Junction

Elbow Room

And of course, the Preamble

There are more. Just search YouTube for Schoolhouse Rock. Oh, and my son loved them. We might just have to buy him the 30th anniversary DVD collection, which includes all of them:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hot rock stars, screaming women, and fake mullets? Must be a Def Leppard concert!

I’d love to write a well-thought-out, entertaining review of the concert last Wednesday night, but I’m way too busy for that. So here’s the quick and dirty version.

Last Wednesday night (9/12) I saw Def Leppard and Styx at the Clark County Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA. I went with a group of fellow fans, some of whom I’ve known for years and others I met only recently (*waves at Laurel, Erin, Karen, and Amy*). We were in the 12th row but waaaaayyyyy off to the left, behind a big stack o’ amps. So we got to watch the bands in profile for most of the show.

Styx opened with an hour-long set that included most of their biggest hits: Too Much Time on My Hands, Blue Collar Man, Renegade, Grand Illusion, and Come Sail Away, along with a cover of I Am the Walrus. No Babe, Mr. Roboto, or The Best of Times. Tommy Shaw and James Young are still with the band, but Dennis DeYoung is gone. Still, they sounded great and seemed to be having a great time. They also don’t really seem to be showing their age much, as you can see in these pics:




After a 30-minute break, we got what we really came for—Def Leppard! They played for only 90 minutes, typical when they share the bill with another big-name act. Since they have so much material, it really isn’t enough time, and the set felt rushed—very little stage patter, a shortened version of Rocket, all business to fit as much in as possible. They don’t have a new album out this year, so it was mostly a greatest-hits set (oh, heck… the last few years they’ve played mostly a greatest hits set, even when they have had new material to promote, but I digress…). They did make some changes from previous years, though:

  • Different music during the changeover before they took the stage. Yeah, I know… Only someone who’s been to way too many shows would notice that, but it is a little discombobulating. They’ve had basically the same filler music for the last eight years at least, so I always knew how long I had to get drinks and hit the restroom before the show started. This year I actually had to look at my watch and think (horrors).
  • They added some material from what Joe Elliott calls their “back catalog”, in this case “Mirror Mirror” from High ‘n’ Dry and “Excitable” from Hysteria. I don’t think I’d ever heard “Mirror Mirror” live (and this was my 20th show), and I hadn’t heard “Excitable” since the Hysteria tour. What a treat.
  • They brought back the acoustic set, missing for at least the last two tours. It was cool to hear “Two Steps Behind” again, as well as a mostly-acoustic version of “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” with a kick-ass electric finish.
  • They didn’t play “Let’s Get Rocked”. Drat. But we can’t have everything.
  • They only played one song for an encore, “Rock of Ages.”

All in all, it was a great show. The band was energetic and the sound was great. And for you women in the audience, the guys look great. They still aren’t really showing their age, and the only major difference looks-wise is Rick Allen, who is now sporting facial hair. Let’s wrap this up with some eye candy:





The rest of my pics are posted in my Flickr account at

Next up: the Concord show on Tuesday.

Today's Meme: Things Everyone Likes (Except Me)

One of my friends on LiveJournal posted on this meme a couple months ago, and it seemed like a great excuse to rant a little. Here we go:

Things I don't like that everyone else likes . . . on TV:

  • Reality shows -- all of 'em. I watch TV to escape reality. Besides, there's nothing real about these things. They're contrived nonsense that has proliferated because a) they're cheap to make, and b) we are a nation of voyeurs. Blech.
  • Soap operas: Can't stand 'em. The last soap I watched was Dynasty back in the 80s. Joan Collins rocked.
  • All Star Trek shows after Next Generation. I've tried to get into Voyager--I gave it a whole season. But I was bored. DS9? I gave it one episode. *yawn*. Enterprise? No soul.

Things I don't like that everyone else likes . . . on the radio:

  • Queensryche: My music-loving friends love these guys, the critics love these guys... but I don't. Geoff Tate's voice annoys me, and they seem a little pretentious. But then what do you expect from a band from Bellevue?
  • Hip hop: I could go off on a rant about misogyny and materialism, but I can overlook that. I just find that most hip hop lacks melody and is incredibly irritating. Yes, I realize that means I'm old. So be it.
  • Prairie Home Companion: I like Garrison Keillor (heck, I even blogged about him once), but I just can't get into PHC. *yawn*
  • Talk radio: I used to listen to a little of the liberal stuff on Air America, but even that annoyed me. It's just too negative, not to mention full of lies and deliberate exaggerations. When there's so much at stake, these shows just whip up people's emotions, ensuring they'll vote without engaging their brains. Plus, who wants to be angry all the time?
  • Howard Stern: No, it isn't his crudeness (I'm pretty crude myself), and I usually appreciate guy humor. It's his ego. It's all about him, and he never lets you forget it.

Things I don't like that everyone else likes . . . actors/movies:

  • Gladiator - good acting, good story... but horribly depressing. I was bummed for about 2 weeks afterward. I'll stay in my happy place, thanks.
  • Nearly every movie nominated for an Academy Award. I think I must have a stray bit of Y chromosome somewhere, because I like movies with car chases, explosions, or laser blasts. Yes, they need plots and passable acting, but mostly they need action. I have the attention span of a hummingbird... Entertain me!
  • Chick flicks: See my previous comment about the stray Y chromosome. I've seen some romantic comedies I like (and I'm a big ol' sap who needs half a box of Kleenex to get through one), but in general they aren't my thing. Maybe it's because I don't like to cry over some fictional person's love life (or my own, for that matter). Maybe it's because too many of the women in these movies irritate me ("Tell him to piss off, then sleep with his best friend! Sheesh, girl, grow a backbone."). Or maybe it's because they don't have enough car chases and explosions.
  • Ben Affleck: Sorry, but he does nothing for me--too bland. Matt Damon, on the other hand, is welcome in my... uh... *house* anytime ;-)

Things I don't like that everyone else likes . . . when it comes to people:

This is a tough one, because I'm pretty tolerant and usually find people's quirks fascinating.

  • Pretension: Not sure if everyone else likes it, but there sure is a lot of it, and pretentious people seem pretty popular. So you see art house films and go to poetry slams at the local coffee house? Good for you. I dig in the dirt and schedule my vacations around Def Leppard's tour schedule. Get over it. [And yes, I realize that many nice, non-pretentious people go to art films and poetry slams. But the ones who tell me about it while sniffing disdainfully at my entertainment choices are the ones who irritate me.]
  • Parents whose lives revolve around their children: I'm a parent. I love my son, and he's the single most important person in my life. But I have other interests and do other things, and I don't raise him to think he's the center of the universe. News flash: You don't have to schedule every minute of your child's time (how many soccer games and dance lessons does one kid need, anyway?). And you don't have to spend every minute of your free time doing stuff with and for your child. When you do that, you just teach your child to be high-maintenance, expecting to be entertained constantly. Oh, and your child probably needs (and wants) his/her own space once in awhile--private time, away from the prying eyes of Mom and Dad, time to daydream, draw, write, imagine, think... you know, the stuff kids did before soccer leagues, taekwondo tournaments, gymnastics, and all those other structured, scheduled activities.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More randomness

Best quote from the book my son brought home:

Monsters don't apologize.

So there.

Today's randomness

So I thought about writing a thought-provoking post about 9/11, but I'm just not in the mood to be that serious. Maybe next year. Instead, since today has been sort of random, I thought I'd share some random stuff that's crossed my path in the last couple days:

1. I heard on the radio this morning that Sammy Hagar will turn 60 (that's six-zero!) next month. Holy crap! The man who gave us I Can't Drive 55 and Mas Tequila is going to be 60? How the heck did that happen?

2. Yesterday I went to a meeting near Seattle with some co-workers. On the way up there, we saw a couple funny things, which thanks to my camera phone I can share here:


Just taking his rock out for a drive...

The first one is a huge inflatable gorilla, used to advertise some store in Tacoma (a furniture store, I think). He's quite freaky-looking. The second pic shows someone taking his rock out for a nice drive on the freeway. When we looked closer, we realized the rock was plastic and hollow, but it still looked really bizarre.

3. Today, on my way back from a meeting across town, I saw a van drive by with two flags protruding from it. That's not so uncommon. But. These flags were *huge*. And. One was an American flag (not unexpected, since it's Sept. 11), but the other one was... the Jolly Roger! Huh?? Apparently we have a patriotic pirate in town. I really wanted to chase him down and ask him what was up with the pirate flag, but I decided I'd better get back to work, especially since I had a co-worker in the car with me. I really wish I could have gotten a pic, but I was driving, and traffic was heavy, so no such luck.

Rock stars eligible for senior citizen discounts, inflatable jungle creatures, rocks and pirates on the road... I'm confused.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm officially a published photographer!

No, I'm not quitting my day job, but it's still kind of cool. This photo from the California Railroad Museum:

is now published in the Schmap Sacramento Guide, an online guidebook for Sacramento. My photo is in the historical background section. You can find it at

What's interesting is that I never submitted the photo anywhere. The publishers found it on Flickr and contacted me for permission to use it. That's the second time something like that has happened to me. The first time, a woman who makes software for autistic children asked permission to use one of my photos in one of her programs. Of course I said yes. Oddly enough, in both cases the photos requested were just snapshots, not ones into which I put much effort.

There's something incredibly cool about the Web 2.0 world, which makes it so easy for people to connect with one another in new and interesting ways.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Alaska Adventure Days 7-8: Goofing Around in Anchorage and Heading Home

August 27-28, 2007

For our last day in Alaska, we decided to do some low-key, kid-friendly things. Our first stop was the Alaska Zoo. It’s fairly small but has the essential Arctic animals: polar bears, musk oxen, caribou, and yaks, plus bears, tigers, and other typical zoo denizens.

After the zoo, we ventured out to one of the many parks in town. We didn’t spend much time in the park itself, but we had some excitement on the way there. Here in Portland, we occasionally see raccoons or deer by the side of the road. Here’s what we saw grazing along the road in Anchorage:

Moose on the loose

The funniest part was that no one even seemed to notice except us! We’re such tourists.

We ended our day at H2Oasis, a cool but really expensive indoor water park. The wave pool and the river float rocked, and Jerry loved the pirate ship. The park also has a big water slide that’s about 4 stories high, but you have to ride in pairs, and Tony and Jerry were chicken. I should have taken the opportunity to ride it with some cute guy half my age, but I decided to be nice.

After the water park, it was time to pack up and get ready to fly home Tuesday morning. The weather for our flight was gorgeous, so we had an incredible view from the plane:




All in all, it was a great trip. But there’s so much of Alaska that we didn’t get to see—I hope we can go back one of these years.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alaska Adventure Day 6: Palmer

I wrote the previous Alaska posts, at least in part, while I was in Alaska. The last three days, though, I didn't have much writing time, so I get to put those together after the fact. Here's the first:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday we decided to venture north to Palmer, about a 45-minute drive from Anchorage. Palmer is in the Mat-Su Valley, Alaska's agricultural region (yes, they do grow crops in Alaska, much to my surprise). On the agenda: visits to a reindeer farm, a musk ox farm, and the Alaska State Fair. The Reindeer Farm was interesting. Random fact #1: Reindeer and caribou are the same species. "Caribou" is used in North America to describe the wild animals, while "reindeer" refers to domesticated herds (raised for meat). In the rest of the world, they're just reindeer. In addition to Santa's means of transport, the Reindeer Farm had elk, including a huge bull elk named Awesome Eddie. We were warned about him: He can be aggressive, they said. He can pee about 30 feet, including all over the tourists, they said. Maybe so, but while we were there, he seemed primarily interested in food:

Jerry was a little wary of Awesome Eddie, but he became good buddies with some of the cows:

Our next stop was the Musk Ox Farm. Musk oxen are Arctic animals with lots of hair. They are raised for that hair and sometimes for meat as well, but the farm we visited raises them only for their wool--which sells for $400 a pound!! Clearly I'm in the wrong business. We need to move to Alaska and start raising musk oxen. Their wool is eight times warmer than sheep's wool and makes wonderfully soft scarves and hats, which sell for over $150. No, I didn't buy any, but I did look at them longingly for awhile.

The musk oxen themselves are really cool beasts. It was near rutting (a/k/a mating) season, so the males were a bit feisty. They win the right to mate with females by facing off and crashing head first into each other, just like football players:
Facing off

Instead of mating with cheerleaders, however, the victorious musk ox gets one of these:

We ended our trip to Palmer with a visit to the Alaska State Fair:

It was a beautiful sunny day, so apparently the entire population of the state decided to go to the fair. We had to endure the first real crowds of our trip. Even Saturday Market, with its busloads of cruise ship passengers, wasn't nearly so crowded. But we persevered. The fair contained the usual stuff you'd expect: a Midway full of loud children and teenagers, booths selling all manner of overpriced stuff from various merchants, an animal barn, and other assorted fair things (quilts, flowers, 4H stuff... you get the idea). I really wanted to see the giant vegetables--apparently Alaska is famous for them, especially 100+ lb. cabbages--but they weren't there. I guess the veggie competition was later in the week.

All in all, the fair was a disappointment. But we did get to meet Chad Carpenter, the cartoonist responsible for our new favorite comic, Tundra. Tundra really deserves its own post, but for now I'll just say that it's a little like The Far Side but with a Northern twist. Chad had a booth at the fair, so we got to meet him and add to our collection of Tundra gear.

We also noticed a few things about the fair that were different from your average state fair. For example, you know you're in Alaska when:

  • The fair has halibut stands (halibut tacos... *yum*)
  • The fair's hot dog stands feature reindeer sausage

The elephant ears, however, were standard issue--and delicious.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Alaska Adventure Day 5: Downtown Anchorage

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Today we visited the Anchorage Market, an open air market downtown with various craft vendors, souvenir stands, and food. Our primary mission was to find the Tundra booth. We discovered Tundra, a comic strip that originated up here, on our first day, and we’ve become diehard fans. Arlene told us that the cartoonist has a booth at the market where we could buy books, t-shirts, etc., so we had to go check it out. We are now the proud owners of all four Tundra collections, along with a Tundra t-shirt and 2008 calendar. Other tourists buy native carvings; we buy comics.

Tony had fun drooling over the handmade, very expensive knives (I had to intervene to prevent him from spending $300 on a bowie knife with a handle made from elk antlers), and we all had fun eating: caramels made with birch syrup (not quite as good as maple syrup but not bad), funnel cake (feel your arteries harden with every bite), and a halibut quesadilla. Come to think of it, I’ve eaten some form of halibut nearly every day that I’ve been here. I think I’m starting to grow gills and develop eyes on top of my head.

We spent another couple hours roaming around downtown Anchorage, which is an interesting mix of tourist traps, stores frequented by the locals, and usual downtown businesses. Some of the kitschy tourist things are pretty entertaining, like the rare tundra snake:
Rare tundra snake

Good thing they aren't real.

Now we’re lounging around Arlene’s, taking a much-needed rest before venturing out this evening. Tonight’s quest: internet access. All the hotels we stayed in were supposed to have access, but in every case it either worked sporadically or didn’t work at all. I’m going through MySpace withdrawl, and Tony keeps wondering aloud if he has any new email. Yes, we’re pathetic.

We found internet access! Thank you, Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, my laptop battery gave out after about an hour, and there was no handy plug-in, but at least I got my MySpace fix. As I said--pathetic.

We also found something cooler than internet access--Point Woronzof Park. We left Barnes & Noble about 9:00 and decided to watch the sunset at the coast (note: the coast is about 15 minutes from B&N, and sunset was at about 9:30). This turned out to be a great decision. The view was amazing, not only of the sunset but also the moonrise, as the moon was nearly full. The pics below show the sun setting over Cook Inlet:




And the Anchorage skyline:
Anchorage skyline

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we'll visit a reindeer farm, a musk ox farm, and the Alaska State Fair. It's truly a thrill a minute :-)