Saturday, September 30, 2006

He's still got it

On an almost-whim, I attended a concert in Seattle Friday night given by the musician whom I consider to be among the greatest in American music: Paul Simon. And although he is slowing down a bit, his songs defined decades of music, and he can still rock an arena.

I appreciated that most of the songs in the lineup were from his earlier years, including his Simon and Garfunkel days and his solo work. Especially nice to see was a great selection from the "Graceland" album of the '80s. But four songs from his new album, "Surprise," were also included, and I think they blended nicely, too. Simon was welcomed back to the stage for three encores, including "Call Me Al," "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the new "Wartime Prayer." The encores are where the show really rocked. He should have just played the set all the way through and avoided the foolishness of the encore.

The Seattle Times preview
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer review

All in all, it was a swell concert, and I had a fantastic seat. I guess if you go alone, you can geta good seat at the last minute. I was on the main level (really the only level), in row 6 and with the stage just to my right. Honestly I think I had a fantastic view. My cellphone camera didn't provide much in the way of a digital memory, but I'll live.

The only stress of the evening came when I thought I would be late. I planned to leave Wenatchee by 4 p.m., plenty of time to get to Key Arena and settled in my seat. I stopped for a pop and ended up poking the straw through the bottom of the 32-ounce styrofoam cup. Yes, styrofoam. I block down the road I realized I had Diet Coke leaking everywhere and finally pulled over to try to sop it up. I got most of it down, went back to the mini-mart, cleaned up, got a new pop and, 20 minutes late, I was on my way again.

It was a pleasant drive over the pass (even heard Simon's "Father and Daughter" on the radio), but traffic came to a halt just east of Bellevue with some sort of collision in the Mercer Island tunnel. I did not really get moving again at all, as the I-5 traffic was backed up to exit onto Mercer Street for the concert and other activities in the Seattle Center area. The show started at 7:30, and I desperately pulled into a $10 parking garage at 7:40, abandoning my plans for free parking at a spot I know 10 minutes from Key Arena.

The opening act, the Jerry Douglas Band, was just ending, and there was a 20-minute break. I could have just parked where I planned in the first place and would not have missed any of Simon's show, but it all worked out fine.

-- Issaquah, Wash.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back to business

OK, I'm back. I know that I have been really, really bad in not posting here for five weeks (!), but it has been a heck of a month personally, and I just had no energy to invest in this. Honestly, it was a long and relaxing summer, and suddenly in mid-August I found myself adrift with no aim and nothing to prompt me to focus.

It's strange, this self-discovery. I have learned I need something in life to keep me going. It has to be tangible and attainable, not just a quality or concept. I realized over the summer that I had reached many of the material goals I had for myself with career and volunteer activities, and I finished my commitments for the summer workshop, so then I mentally just shut down. All that done, I had nothing to spur me on.

When school rolled around I continued in the same vein, and I was lethargic and unmotivated. Yet, almost a month into the school year, I feel my teaching is some of the best I have done. It's hard to reconcile.

So now, I am trying to get back into a routine that allows self-expression. That includes posting here to the Weblog. It wasn't that I didn't think of things I wanted to say. It was that I didn't have the energy to say 'em. Maybe now I will.

-- Issaquah, Wash.