I could use a laugh 'bout now

January 16, 2010

Well, I must say, the 12 Shows in 12 Months for 2009 was great. I hope you followed along. Just the fact that I promised myself to do something at the beginning of the year and then actually did what I said I was gonna do was a big achievement for me, really.

I mean, sometimes, these kinds of things (New Year’s Resolutions, Weight Loss/Dieting Plans, Organizing the Closet Attempts, Financial Goals, etc.) peter out in a few weeks. Or, in the case of organizing closet space, they peter out in a few minutes. I know that times can get pretty hectic, and it’s easy to find yourself “Skipping” or “Putting Off” a month here and there.

But that didn’t happen to me, no, not at all. And, I must say, when I was heading out the door from last month’s concert at the Crystal Ball Room, I was feeling a pretty nice sense of accomplishment.

That feeling could have been the sensation of temporary hearing loss, too, but at least I was feeling good about it.

In fact, the whole year went by so fast, that I really didn’t even have any time to complain about the recession. I mean, sure, there was a “Counting Crows Service Charge” on my credit card statement, and let’s not forget about the “Pearl Jam Access Fee.” That was a whopper. But, I was having such a good time, I hardly even noticed.

If you followed along last year, you now know that I made it through 12 shows, which included 17 bands that I hadn’t seen, an estimated 267 songs (I’m adding in the opening band sets), visited 8 different venues and accumulated to my account an untold amount of “Ticketmaster Processing Fees/Service Charges.” (Note to self: Check IRS 1040 Form for Ticketmaster Service Charge Line Item Deduction). [Note to IRS: Do Not Read this Blog.]

You also know that I braved bad weather driving, unruly crowds, traffic, parking, $9 beers…… and that was just the line for getting into the bathroom!

If there was one thing I learned throughout this whole process, through this great spectacle of coming together with touring bands to listen to their music in a meaningful way, it’s this:

We, as humans, have really not built a perfect concert seating venue yet.

And, let me just expand on that in a little more detail. Will someone please tell me, why, with all of the engineering, design, ergonomic and architectural people that are available in the world, why can’t someone please design a concert seating system that places more than 2.5” between your seat and the next seat in front of you? I mean, where on earth did they get this measurement from? Did someone consult the Table of Anthropomorphic Data from the 1832 Population Survey of Previously Unknown Dwarf Brazilian Rainforest Populations?

Really, do these concert seating design engineers ask themselves: OK, I’m at a show, and I’ve got food, a drink, my jacket, a backpack, a picnic lunch for 5, I’m fumbling for a ticket and I’m trying to check the stage out with my 1200X zoom binoculars, and Now I’ve Got to Stand Up Along with the Entire Row because Somebody has got to get through to their seat with THEIR food, drink, backpack, picnic lunch for 5 and 1500X zoom binoculars. How much space should I put between the seats?

And all that nonsense happens before the show even starts.

Now, let’s take this even one step further. Or, I should say, let’s take it one step to the side. Because that’s what should happen to each seat in Every Other row. Instead of placing seats directly in line with each other, the rows should be offset so you’re not looking directly into the guy in front of you.

Instead, you’d be looking at the guy directly in front of you ONE ROW UP.

Which, just might, provide somewhat of a better view.

See the difference here?

So, by now, you are asking yourself the big question,

Jim, what the Heck are you Gonna Do this Year? Sit around in 2010 and save a bunch of money when there’s perfectly good entertainment to go out and see?

I don’t think so.

I struggled with this same question, for a grueling 10 days. I racked my brain in coming up with some kind of new entertainment adventure plan. What could I possibly do, that’s kind of similar to last year, but isn’t exactly the same as last year, but still could be fun, and allow me to see something that I haven’t seen before.

And then, it hit me.

Well, actually it didn’t really hit me, but the idea came in an email. In fact, I think I got this email last year, but it didn’t dawn on me until I started writing this, that this one single email would be the keystone to my entertainment adventure for 2010.

And the answer is:


We’ll call it the “Laugh More Tour” for 2010.”

So, here’s the deal, I’ll only see comedians I haven’t seen before. And given my track record so far for seeing comedy shows, this shouldn’t be too hard. We’ll try to mix in some classic people, some local NW people, who knows, maybe even head up to Seattle for the weekend or something.

Do they have comedy in Seattle? I know they have “Flannel,” and “Grunge,” but I’m not sure about Comedy. We’ll See.

Now, since comedy shows may be a bit harder to find during some months, I might have to do some substitutions. Like, if August looks to be complete comedy dry-spell, I might have to go buy every Steve Martin DVD I can find, and watch those at home.

But, honestly, could you imagine if Steve actually toured this year?

I would be So There. In fact, he is out-on-the-road, right now, promoting his new album.

Oh, you didn’t know? Steve plays banjo, and he just released a new bluegrass album. It’s getting rave reviews.

So, I am making up this rule: If Steve Martin comes around to play banjo, and I go, and it’s not an actual comedy show, then guess what?

I’m saying that it counts anyway. Because, as far as I’m concerned, if Steve Martin walks onto a stage with a banjo, THAT’s going to be funny.

After all, he did say that “Comedy Is Not Pretty.”

And now, ON WITH THE (Comedy) SHOW!

PS – I would really like to say thanks to everybody who helped make my blog possible. Thanks to all the bands and artists who took the time to do the interviews and came to the Gorge to play. Thanks to all the bands I went to see, and to all the folks who came with me. It’s really been fun doing this, believe me. Thanks to Esther Smith, who takes the time to actually get this stuff on the internet and lets no typo go unnoticed, and thanks to the Hood River News for providing the Web space. – Jim Drake

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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