Friday, November 16, 2007

Old China and New China

This picture of a worker carrying rocks on his back is, I think, a great visual representation of the dynamic meeting of stability and change in China today. In the background is the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydro-electric power station.

~Steve

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Ballas on the Boss

You can go pretty much anywhere on the Internet to get the basic story of what happened the other night when Bruce and the band hit the Verizon Center stage here in DC. You know, the fact that he delivered Jackson Cage (great song!) for the second time on the Magic tour and spent a lot of time playing to wounded soldiers who had come down from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. What follows, then, is not a repetition of these kinds of details, but rather a set of observations of all kinds from the four of us...the concert behind the concert, if you will.

Desi and Julie were big on noting that the E Streeters all seem to have gone on diets. The "Jenny Craig Rock-and-Roll Diet" is what Desi called it. Soozie and Clarence's rear ends have left the building (another funny line from Desi).

We all predicted what "unusual" songs would be played. You know, not total rarities, but the kinds of songs that surface only periodically. The big winner? That would be me, with my prediction of The Ties That Bind. Hey, if the Ballas go see Bruce, The Ties That Bind is coming out! Which is a good thing, as it is one of my "go to" Bruce songs. (Twenty-seven years later and I still crank that bad boy all the time.)

Desi was big on noting that several band members have teleprompters that they use periodically during the show. My response? Uh, Des, they've been using them since at least the Human Touch/Lucky Town tour. How many shows have you seen since then? Desi's response? My tickets are usually so good that I can't see the stage floor...

Z was big on noting that he couldn't get two songs out of his head after the show, Jackson Cage and American Land, the night's closer. (For Desi it was Devil's Arcade.)

The girls were on spot in noticing something that would have escaped me if the concert had gone on for ten years...Patti and Soozie had matching hair, with lots of curls (which is not their norm). "Fun with hot rollers" is what Desi called it.

The lyrics of American Land were broadcast over the screens, giving everyone a chance to play some "Bruce karaoke" as Desi put it.

A big musical note on my part was that Bruce played an awful lot of harmonica (and the bullet mic from the Devils and Dust tour made a cool reappearance during Reason to Believe, another one of my "go to" tracks). Two of the harmonicas ended up in the hands of little kids near the stage. I'm thinking, effective use of props by dads itching to score a Bruce harmonica! Why didn't I think of that when Julie and Z were little!?

There was a funny Batman and Robin thing going on at the very end, when the E Street Band was introduced. Remember those POW! and BAM! graphics from the old TV show? Well, they were used to add emphasis to Bruce's words. "The legendary E [the letter E appears on the screens inside those familiar jagged lines in bold colors]...Street [ditto]...Band [one last time]!"

The last words of the night? The always welcome "We'll be seein' ya!"

~Steve

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Halloween Success at a Price

This Halloween, just like last Halloween, was a nightmare in the costume department. The search began in early October and concluded with about a week to spare. The quest? Not unlike the actual cast of Lord of the Rings, we made our trek to the Mount Doom of Costume shops (you know, that "let's set up a store for a month and call it something like 'Halloween Express' where we can charge exorbitant prices for a couple of pieces of felt embellished with five and dime sequins"). The story was the same as last year as the selections for "pre-teens" were an abomination. As an aside, someone at the Washington Post must have read my blog last year since there was a great article about just this very topic right around Halloween...

In any case, all the poor selections led me right to the Mines of Moria....yes, I had to delve into cyberspace to find something appropriate for my daughter and son to wear. I might as well have purchased Mithril as the cost of those "felt and sequins" was a bit over the top. I'm actually embarrassed to say that over a hundred bucks left my pocket like a flying monkey (oops, that's a different movie!)

I'm thinkin' ...whatever happened to those old-fashioned, home-made costumes of yesteryear. I recall seeing many a gypsy and hobo back-in-the-day. Hey Julie and Z, I think I might be "on" to something here! (I know what they're thinkin'..."thank goodness it's a year 'til next Halloween...she'll forget that plan by then!")

~Desi