Old 97s Know How to Throw a Party (The National 08.18.16)

Last week Old 97s played at The National. I could write a lot of words about how much fun they were, about how they are the “rockingest” and “bestest” bar band I’ve seen in ages, maybe ever. 

I could tell you how surprised I was that the show didn’t sell that well, about how I hadn’t planned on going until my friend Dana said she’d go to this venue for the first time so she could see this band. 

I could tell you how impressed I was with openers American Aquarium, especially when they played a slowed-down version of John Prine’s “Spanish Pipedream.” I could say that all those in attendance had a rip roaring, alcohol-fueled party for two uninterrupted hours. And I could tell you how sorry I was that you missed it. 

All of those words mean little when I have this video I could show you. Here is most of the Old 97s song “Stoned” that I recorded only because I knew videoing it would prevent me from screaming the lyrics to the point of losing my voice. 

So here’s the video. I’m very sorry you missed the party, but I’m glad Dana and I were there. 

Make sure you see them the next time they’re in town. Until then, pickup a copy of  (or stream via Spotify) “Alive & Wired”, grab a bottle of something and throw your own party. 

Thank you for reading. 


No Badge Needed 

As the clock read 6:30pm on my work PC tonight, it just sort of hit me that tonight is my last full shift at the office before moving to Work At Home Full Time on Monday. I am leaving work early on Thursday and Friday to attend shows. 

This is actually going to happen.


I was thinking last night, of the core group of original ‘Tier Two’ HelpDeskers (Beth, Tony, Chris C., Chris B., Sharon and Eric), I am the very last one to start working from home.


My desk is pretty much cleaned out of the stuff that belongs to me. Since this desk used to belong to Beth, the Help Desk Mom, the desk has a medicine cabinet, plastic wear, mugs and enough markers to last years. Most of that is staying put. I am however taking the mini-mirror that belonged to Mark C., and then was ‘handed down’ to Beth, and then to me since I inherited the desk. I have already put my key in the desk lock for whomever lands here next, knowing full well they will have no idea or appreciation for the small trinkets that have adorned this cubicle since the eBiz Help Desk moved up to the third floor.


All in all, I am very ready to begin the next chapter, and I look forward to the new challenge of working from home, though I know I am going to make myself go out more often after work, so as to avoid becoming a hermit who never leaves home.


As my calendar proves, that’s never been my style.


McCartney in DC (08.09.16)

Tuesday marked the first of two nights for Paul McCartney and his band at Washington, DC’s Verizon Center, as part of the ‘One on One’ tour. I’ve been very fortunate to see Paul live in concert before 
(Read about 2009 here and read about 2015 here), and while all three shows were very similar, last night’s edition did provide a fair amount of surprises and songs that have not been played live in decades. 

For example, the show began with ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, a song that, until this current tour of Paul’s, was not performed by a Beatle since 1965! Also ‘Love Me Do’ has been performed on this tour, marking the first time Paul sang it in concert since October 1963, a full three months before the mop-tops arrived in America. (Ringo performed the song on his 2000 tour). Those set list additions were wonderful, but, for me there was even a more surprising addition of a song that I would have never dared dream would ever be performed: The Quarrymen’s ‘In Spite of All the Danger’, written by McCartney and George Harrison and recorded in 1958! That song has been a personal favorite of mine since it was included on the first Anthology set in 1995, and being part of the audience who sang the background harmony vocal (at Paul’s urging) was a wonderful concert moment.

 Here’s the set list, followed by some thoughts:

Photo by Dana Kiser

A Hard Day’s Night

Save Us

Can’t Buy Me Love

Letting Go

Temporary Secretary

Let Me Roll It

I’ve Got a Feeling

My Valentine

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

Here, There and Everywhere

Maybe I’m Amazed

We Can Work It Out

In Spite of All the Danger

You Won’t See Me

Love Me Do

And I Love Her


Here Today

Queenie Eye


The Fool on the Hill

Lady Madonna


Eleanor Rigby

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!


Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Band on the Run

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude



Hi, Hi, Hi


Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End


Some thoughts:


Paul is still a great performer, and very energetic. However, his voice is getting very thin (I still can’t believe that he sings everything in the original key, not tuning down at all). There were some moments where he struggled to reach for a note, but those moments didn’t mar a fantastic performance.


Every time I read over a McCartney set list (since he began playing Beatles tunes live again in 1990, anyway) I always marvel at how many songs that are included are not just great songs, but landmarks in the pantheon of pop music. It boggles the mind if you think about how many seminal songs Paul had a hand in writing. Because of that, there are about ten songs that, every night are ‘required’ inclusions in the set. People want to hear ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Let it Be’…and ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Live and Let Die’; if you see a Paul show, you will hear those songs, and they are great concert moments. As great as those moments are, I wouldn’t mind if Paul skipped ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Live and Let Die.’ I know that won’t happen, and that’s okay.


This was the first time that Dana and I had seen Paul where we had seats beside one another, so I got to watch her watch the show, which was great. She told me she would cry, and she did. I think it started one verse into the opening number. Now, as a rule I am not a crier at shows; goosebumps? Sure, many times at many shows; but actual tears? That’s rarely, if ever happened.


Until this show…and it happened to me not once, but twice!


Ever since the wonderful 2002 tribute ‘Concert for George’, Paul has played ‘Something’ and dedicated it to his friend. He begins the song solo on the ukulele for a verse and a chorus, and then when the song arrives at the middle guitar solo, the band joins in to finish the number very close to how it sounds on “Abbey Road.” Right at that moment when the drums and guitar enter, the projection screen behind the band showed a huge picture of George, circa 1970, then they showed pictures of Paul and George in the studio, around a vocal mic smiling and laughing. That’s when I began to cry. After ‘Something’ came ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ which ended In an uproarious sing along. I managed to get myself together by the end of that song. But then, the next song was ‘Band on the Run’ and, as they have done for the past few tours, during this number, the screen displays an archival film of the Band on the Run album photo shoot, showing Paul, Linda, Denny Laine and ‘friends’ posing as prisoners caught in the search light circa 1973. During the first chorus, the screen showed a close up of Linda and I ‘lost it’ again, this time unashamedly using the collar of my shirt to wipe my face. While I saw the exact same images at the show in Charlottesville last year, for some reason, seeing them this time hit me very hard emotionally. It marked the first time I shed tears since hearing of Bowie’s death in January. (2016 has been a helluva year, hasn’t it?) I know I wasn’t the only one crying and smiling through tears, it just really surprised me at the emotional punch those moments had.


When Paul released the compilation “Wingspan: Hits & History” in 2001, he practically apologized for including the song ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ and it’s obvious reference to marijuana. Thankfully, the song has been added back to the set and it’s a highlight, no apologies necessary.


As I watched the show, I couldn’t help but feel that this may be Paul’s last go-round. Now, the very next day, Rolling Stone published an interview (Read it here) where Paul talks about a new album and doesn’t even hint that he’s stopping any time soon. I hope he tours for years to come, but if this is indeed his last global trek, I’m very glad he’s still in top form, and appears to be having such a great time.


Extra special thanks to the staff at Verizon Center, especially Larry, who made sure we were taken care of and arrived at our seats safely without having to negotiate a fair amount of stairs. It was a pleasure seeing this show with Dana. I sincerely hope it wasn’t our last Paul show.


A McCartney show in 2016 is just like the lyric said almost fifty years before: ‘A splendid time is guaranteed for all!’


Thanks for reading,


Work, Life and iPods 

 First, an update on my iPod: I want to sincerely thank you for the outpouring of support and commiserating that so many of you offered after hearing about the demise of my iPod Classic. I even had some friends toss around the idea of starting a Go Fund Me page to purchase a refurbished iPod. That was completely unexpected, and just proved once again what great friends I have. Even before I finished and posted the blog about the iPod, I had bid on a few iPods on eBay, and I won one of them; just like mine, but a generation newer, so it was a bit thinner and sleeker, but still held 160GB of memory. While I was waiting for that to be shipped, I still tried to ‘revive’ my iPod, usually trying to disengage the ‘Lock’ mode. Then, on Tuesday July 19, eight days after it locked up, the iPod suddenly responded and the lock icon was removed.


I made the mistake of trying to revive the iPod right before bedtime, so now, instead of the expected failed attempt followed by going right to bed, I was now shocked and hyper at my success. I plugged the iPod into an outlet to let it charge up, and then stayed up far too late listening to songs with headphones, songs that were not available on Spotify (namely Rialto and Taylor Swift).


A few days later, the iPod I purchased on eBay arrived, and I did a transfer of my entire library to that iPod. So, now I have two working iPods. I am certain that my original 2008 device is running on borrowed time and I am expecting it to crash/die any moment, but I’m glad I have a backup device at the ready, even if I don’t have to use it for a very long time.

 The second reason for this blog post is to announce that, very soon I will be a fulltime Work At Home (W@H for short) employee with Anthem. Since April I have been paying $20/day or $100/week to get to and from work. After getting some advice from my former boss, I went to HR in mid-July and, after a series of meetings, a medical exception was granted to allow me to work from home and still do all of my current duties. It wasn’t that long ago that almost any job at Anthem was able to be made a W@H position, every job except a call center agent. That’s changed recently, so that allowed me to even broach the subject with my boss and HR.

The ipod: Alive and well


I have said repeatedly since I began working at Anthem ten years ago that I would be a horrible W@H employee, because I would have too many distractions at home. But, as circumstances have changed, I am more than willing to prove my original assessment incorrect, especially if it saves me $100 a week! I am all at once excited and looking forward to the new challenge, and I am also kind of freaking out about the sea change. One of the drawbacks of working from home as a call center agent is, it’s an all or nothing deal; you either work in the office 100% of the time, or work from home 100% of the time. I know I’ll miss seeing coworkers at the office, but I won’t mind one bit being able to sleep about an hour later than I do now, so I’ll take that trade.


I had to watch some online training presentations to prepare for W@H and one of them actually recommended, ‘to get into the right frame of mind as you start your work day, you may want to walk outside, close the front door, wait a few seconds and then re-enter your house as if you’re walking into your office.’


Seriously?? I laughed so hard at that straight-faced statement that I had to pause the presentation and wait for the giggles to pass.


Thanks to my former boss Frank for convincing me to go to HR with my situation and request, and thanks to HR Rep Susan and my current boss Jim for making it happen.


I’ll be writing much more as my W@H date nears.


I saw the new Woody Allen film, ‘Café Society’ this past weekend. I’ll say at the outset that it was far more enjoyable than the utter waste of celluloid that was his last picture, ‘An Irrational Man’, so that made me very happy. Is ‘Café Society’ as strong as his classics, or as strong as his most recent ‘great’ film, ‘Midnight in Paris’? No, it is not. It is however a very enjoyable period piece, somewhat reminiscent of 1987’s ‘Radio Days’. The cast is excellent, and the script is a great dose of the ‘comedic melancholia’ that Allen can do so well when he wants to. If you’re a fan of Allen, you’re going to see this movie. I don’t know if the movie will win any new converts, but it’s a good film; not great, but good. As I have said before, a good Woody Allen film is better than almost any other film out there.


Lastly, the summer concert season rolls on in August! First up on August 9 (One week from today!!) is McCartney in DC at Verizon Center. That promises to be a blast, even though the venue is probably my very least favorite indoor concert arena, and it makes me miss the old Cap Center each time I go there.


(I’m still on a high from last week’s Garbage show!)


Thanks for reading.