Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dial up the drama - Fantastical Football

Years ago I participated in a fantasy football league.  For the most part, I found it akin to mentally retarded masturbation.  This may invoke troubling imagery but I think it's an accurate assessment.  Allow me to explain.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement is upon us.  But there is a high-holy-holiday of vastly greater magnitude.  It's called the fantasy draft.  And on this day ye shalt repent for your receptions.  If you're going to experience life through the performance of Ben Roethlisberger, ye shalt not take his name in vain.  Sorry... get married, have kids, become a goodwill ambassador. It does not matter.  To me, you'll always be the "Raping-Burger."    

Draft day is rapidly approaching.  So first, we must find the perfect day to accommodate everyone.  It's a challenge that NEVER works.  Someone always gets screwed over by some mishap... kids soccer game, funeral, untimely food poisoning, oil change, diabetic coma, etc.   What's even worse is the person who's out of town, but thanks to modern technology, he will participate via skype or cell phone.  This is one of the most confusing, annoying scenarios ever conceived in the history of man.  Absolutely maddening.

So draft day has commenced.  Here's how it starts.  Someone usually shows up with a frozen shrimp ring and lays it on the kitchen counter.  Apparently, their job ended with the purchase of said, 100 count shrimp ring.  It's always up to someone else to defrost the damn thing.  It remains completely frozen and sealed until the waning moments of the draft.  Suddenly, the token hippie deadhead in the room decides he has a case of seafood munchies.  He silently reflects...

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it. 

In this case, it's the economical Kroger frozen ginormous shrimp ring.  But the stoned, hungry hippie fumbles when trying to open the package.  He ends up spilling shrimp-infused, melted water all over the living room carpet.  He tells nobody of his transgression.  The host remains oblivious for a few days until the smell becomes so overwhelming, he has to crawl around the living room with his nose pressed to the floor.

Alright, the season has commenced.  And with it comes the desire to discuss fantasy football above all else.  Every time you run into someone in the league, the conversation is a given.  It's fantasy football, 24/7.  The election, global warming, abortion, pedophile Catholic priests... none of that matters.  The only matter of concern is the league.  Al Qaeda is arming Syrian rebels.  Who cares?  Mitt Romney might steal the election.  So what?  I saw your ex-wife on the northern regional jail website.  Uhhh, no.

But the worst aspect of fantasy football is the one-dimensional reciting of endless names and empty statistics.  News flash: nobody gives a fuck who your players are.  Nobody gives a damn about Michael Vick's rushing touchdown.  Nobody cares about Peyton Manning's 312 yards or Billy Cuntiff's 3 field goals.  Nobody cares.  Well... except you, of course.  Then, the conversation extends to one of the other league participants.  Now it's his/her turn to regurgitate how their players performed.  And the woeful cycle continues unabated.  "Dude, Joe Flacco had 280 yards and 4 tds.  And the Giants defense had a safety.  YEAH!"  8 minutes later, someone else gets a turn.  As Jay-Z might say, "Onto the next one."  Of course, he was referring to bitches and Ho-Ho's.  More meaningless information must be exchanged.  And as usual, the only person giving a damn is the blabbering buffoon.  People aren't listening to you, they're listening at you.  They're just standing there, ignoring every word you say.  Because rest assured, they'll eventually get their 5 minutes of fame.

There are other bothersome aspects as well.  The sudden desire and obsession with watching games like Carolina vs. Tampa Bay.  Enter the remote control experts and television split-scene supremacists.  Don't blame them.  Pity them.  Why watch the actual game when you can see a flood of real-time stats?  After all, that's way more exciting.  Reclining in your Lazy-Boy, consuming handfuls of Funyons while living vicariously through feats of athleticism in a distant metropolis.

And what about the dumbing-down of intriguing subject matter.  Like no other professional sport, the NFL offers so much in the way of sub-plots and story lines.  Legalized gambling, the integrity of replacement refs, coach firings, the notion of an artificially generated stampede and the ensuing domino effect.... but all you get is, "Duh, I used to have Kurt Warner for my QB.  I acquired him by the grace of god."   

And just when you think it's over, here comes Honey Boo Boo.  Here comes the annoying bozo who loudly cheers on his team while simultaneously rooting for one of its opponents.  Everyone experiences this conflict during the season.  Yet it takes that really "special" person to constantly make an issue of it.  Ohhh, the ironic conundrum he's faced with.  You see... it's just this crazy hand he was dealt.  He wants the Eagles to win, but is secretly hoping for a high scoring game because he started Dallas QB Tony Homo.  But more important, he doesn't want to jinx it.  So he'll try to keep it on the down-low.  But that never works because fantasy football just gets too emotional. 

Back in 5th grade at Woodsdale Elementary School, I had a "Language Arts" teacher named Mr. Richardson.  He was one of the better instructors I had.  Although a little intimidating, he had great stage presence.  He always tried to make ordinary things come alive.  One of the events we'd look forward to was a "mock football game/spelling exercise."  He'd set up a football field grid on the chalkboard.  Magnets were used to recreate the image of a team moving down the field.  Then, he'd divide the class right down the middle.  Both teams got to choose their own name.   

Students had 3 options.  Choose either a run, pass or bomb and correctly spell the assigned word.  A run equaled a 4 yard gain.  A pass was a 15 yard gain.  Or you could choose the "bomb" option which translated into an immediate touchdown.  Of course, the most challenging words were reserved for the bomb option.  And Mr. Richardson was a stickler.  You'd have to coherently recite the word, spell it perfectly and recite it again.  No do-overs.  If you made even in the slightest error (lightly cough or murmur the word "uh"), it was a turnover and the other side took possession.

One time, I argued that the word "aardvark" had been unknowingly moved from bomb to pass.  Mr. Richardson rebuffed my accusations telling the class, "Yeah, we all know about the double "a"...  that cat's out of the bag."  But for some reason, I became livid and wouldn't let the matter die.  He eventually acknowledged that it was a spontaneous, unilateral decision.  Considering his imposing nature, getting him to admit the error felt like a great triumph.   

Why do I mention all of this?  Well, last year Gigi and I started playing our own NFL game.  It's easy to fill out the sheet.  But tallying up the final scores presents a decent challenge.  All in all, it strikes a nice balance.  Points are awarded for the following:

1 pt. for each correct winner
1 pt. for correct over/under
1 pt. for the correct line
1 pt. for all of the above
3 pts. for an upset
10 pts. for an exact score
asterisk selection = total points are doubled

If the margin of victory = the spread OR the total lands on the listed over/under, IT'S A PUSH and is scratched.
Each week, you get to "asterisk" one game.  Your total points for that selection are doubled, so obviously it's desirable to take an upset.
Each person tallies their own points privately.  When you're finally confident with the math, you sit down and compare results face to face.  If you get a score wrong, YOU LOSE ALL THE POINTS FOR THAT GAME.  This is how I won week #2.  Gigi got her asterisk selection wrong and lost 14 points.  Ouch.

You can get the lines from any website, but I like the layout of  It sounds like a sex website but actually stands for World Sports Exchange.  Normally, I wouldn't divulge the results until our Sopranos-style sit-down.  But this week, I was utterly obliterated.  As you can see, I need to focus more on picking up the shattered pieces of my picks.

51-17.  Talk about a beat-down.  Being sodomized by multiple replacement refs.  Yep, that's what it feels like.

I desperately need to step up my game.  So I added a picture to my team's cover.  I did it free-hand.  Took me about 15 minutes.  I think it might help.  I just need some inspiration.  My picks sucked this week.

Here's Georgiann's team:

Onto next week.

Our game (which I have just named "Fantastical Football") is superior to fantasy football because it involves the real components of the game (the spread, the over/under and predicting the upsets).  Just like on Maury Povich, every week we dial up our own drama.

Final notes:  We keep a running tally of weekly point totals for the season.  We do a separate contest for the playoffs.  I'll elaborate on that format when the time comes.  Each week the winner is lavished with $10 worth of prizes (completely at the discretion of the loser). 

And hey... one last predictable prediction: Everything seems to point to the stampedes occurring before the presidential election.  Commissioner Goodell and the entire NFL seem almost purposely distracted with all the replacement ref nonsense.  It's the one curve ball that hands Mitt Romney the White House.      

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Elton John comes to Wheeling, WV. Wesbanco Arena, 9-18-12

It's a couple hours before Elton John plays at Webanco Arena aka the Wheeling Civic Center.  Since it's a local show, it stands to reason that I'll run into plenty of locals.  These are the people who rarely go to concerts, but they just can't resist based solely on the logic that the show's taking place in Wheeling.  I will go to the event, because it IS an event.  I usually find this line of reasoning annoying/amusing.  When they see my sign,

some will invariably ask me this exact question, "Saf, why are you trying to get a free ticket?"

I figured I'd best game plan a response.  There are 3 reasonable answers.

A.  I will not be attending this concert.
B.  I will go to the concert and fork over between $44.45 - $147.80.
C.  I will go to the show for free.

Since I'll be standing right in front of the arena, choice "A" seems to make no sense.  And choice "B" terrifies the living shit out me.  I've always wondered why people use the adjective "living" when referencing shit.  So obviously, it's "C" for me.

Of course, I could resurrect the successful sign from the 2011 Elton John show in Pittsburgh...

Seems a bit too crass for Wheeling, WV.  I'd assume the lewdness laws are stricter here this deep in the bible belt.  Wheeling PD could arrest you for public obscenity, or even worse, charge you with "encouragement of homo-eroticism."  With either charge, they'd haul you into the giant RV - The Dept. of Homeland Security / Wheeling Counter-Terrorism Active Response Command Center Vehicle.  They usually have that mammoth car on hand for potentially dangerous events... you know, stuff like the Wheeling Chili Cook-Off, Italian Festival and minor league hockey exhibition games.


So it's the morning after and here are my thoughts.  As expected, the show was a "dead giveaway."  I  met up with my "gay-date" for the night (my ex-girlfriend's husband).  We felt a bit embarrassed even asking for freebies.  It's just something about Wheeling.  I feel like my mom is going to pick me up after the show.  Considering the 2,000+ trek from Phoenix, that's simply not convenient.

And just like I alluded to, it was a complete freebie.  Geezer, elder rock star in Wheeling on a rainy Tuesday night.  Sure enough, some guy quickly handed us a couple extra tickets.  Bang.  I felt horrible for this one dude from Glendale.  He had 8 print-out tickets with a face value of $147 each.  That's a grand total of $1,176 of worthless ticketmaster garbage.  Ouch.  Kind of like watching a colonoscopy without anesthesia.  It was a lengthy and deliberate process.  I wanted to lend a hand but there was zero demand.  I'd say there were about 15 people outside who ate tickets, some of them had multiples.

We went inside and grabbed some seats behind the stage.  All the Wheeling celebs were on hand.  I saw the mayor, a Joelle imposter, and a realtor/ex-politician accompanied by his mother (she turfed my lawn a few years ago).  I even saw a family that resembled the Honey-Boo-Boo clan.  The older daughter walked by me and blurted out, "People are fucking stupid!"  Nice.

Elton put on a strong, decadent performance.  I admire the guy for playing all these secondary markets.  Or in the case of Wheeling, it's more of a distant, tertiary market.  We call these smaller venues... sheds.  The dates on the t-shits were kind of amusing.  Towns like Savannah, Huntsville, Johnson City (TN).  I must give Elton credit where credit is due.  I seriously doubt that greed was a motivating factor when he mapped out this tour.  He doesn't have to play these tiny towns.  But he's a real rock star.  Some of the current shit bands (Creed, Train, Urine and other 5 lettered bands) could learn a valuable lesson.  Then again, they suck so bad... it just doesn't really apply.

All in all, the concert was decent.  Basically a greatest hits package.  Compared to last years Pittsburgh show at Consol, the energy level was surprisingly higher.  I sensed a deeper level of gratitude with the fans.  They seemed to be saying, "Thank you for breathing a little life into our decaying downtown.  We really needed it.  The last 25 years have been really rough."

My alter ego in Ohio had some song alteration suggestions on facebook.  For the locals, instead of Philadelphia Freedom... go with Triadelphia Freedom.  For the gas drillers, instead of Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting... go with Saturday Night's Alright for Fracking.  For the biker gangs of East Ohio... Rocket Man becomes Crotch Rocket Man.  To properly address the chlamydia outbreak in Bell-Dirty, instead of "The Bitch is Back"...  I suggested "The Itch is Back."

Some of the orange fold-out chairs had difficulty "encompassing" the morbidly obese.  Me thinks it's amusing to watch people pay in the hundreds supposedly in search of the best seats.  It becomes a rude awakening when the neighboring flab encroaches into your domain.  You paid all that money and ended up with only 2/3 of a seat.  I'd like to see a "luxurious, over-sized recliner section" for people exceeding the 300 lb. mark.  Problem solved. 

I did find a WVU ball cap.  It's going straight into the washing machine.  Perhaps it's an omen because I was just offered a free WVU-Maryland ticket game for this weekend. We're 27 point favorites.  Seems a bit high, even for the Holgerson era.  Then again, welcome to the big leagues.  If we're going to legitimately compete with Texas and Oklahoma instead of Syracuse and Rutgers, there are gonna be some early monster lines.  Instead of LET'S GO.... MOUNTAINEERS, I think the new stadium back and forth war cry should be - LET'S COVER... THAT SHIT! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tebow's leavin' on the Jet's plane... don't know when he'll be back again

Big game with a late start.  Yesterday was a fun one.  Gigi got done with work around 3pm.  She had a co-worker drop her off at the stadium.  We zipped over to her relatives' tailgate (DJ, Sally and friends), squashed a couple beers and set out on our customary quest for free tickets.

It had already been an interesting morning.  She got to interview Jill Biden and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Pretty powerful duo, ehh?  Yep, that's what I'm talkin' about!  Regrettably, the final product churned out by the news was less than stellar.

The ticket scene was fluid, but guarded.  Not a whole lot of action.  Even big shots like this guy were out of luck.

I had anticipated some degree of difficulty.  But Gigi stepped up (both figuratively and literally).  Within about 10 minutes, this older guy saw our sign and dished out 2 freebies.  KA-POW!  Considering that it was a home opener with quality and historic opposition, a judging and worshiping Tim Tebowing contingency on hand, the fantastic weather and the late 4:25 pm start,  I thought it would be much tougher. 

The ticket stub featured a lifelong Steelers fan named Angelo Cammarata of Pittsburgh, PA.  The Post Gazette wrote an inspired story about the man and his connection to Art Rooney Sr.  Interesting that the deceased Rooney needed a free ticket while Angelo is wielding dual stub-stacks.

It was a celebration to last throughout the years.  Kool and the mutha fucking Gang.  But Gig wasn't done.  She continued to hold the sign and sure enough, this woman handed her a $200+ club seat.  One of our scalper acquaintances observed what happened in a state of mild disgust/disbelief.  He said we should sell it to him.  He offered a paltry $16.  For some reason, I didn't put up any resistance.  I'm sure I could have sold it for substantially more, but we just let it go.  I looked down at the crumpled wad of cash and he had handed me only $11.  But for some reason we just smiled and laughed.  It all seemed to make sense.  After all, our veracity surrounding the final ticket snag was a wee bit shaky.

 We strolled in right after kickoff.  We used most of the proceeds for a Primanti's capicola sandwich and a dill pickle.  We wolfed down the food in about 3 minutes.  Towards the end of the first half, we met up with her relatives.  They had front row seats along the North End Zone goal line.  And when I say front row... yep, I'm talkin' Row A.  Here's where things got a little weird.

We noticed two open seats in Row B at the end of the aisle.  Like I said, here's where things took a strange turn.  We asked the couple behind us if anyone was sitting in the seats.  They replied in unison, "Nope, but whoever was sitting there, threw up all over the place.  I looked down and noticed the splattered remnants of vomit on the seat.  On the concrete below was a clump of pukified napkins and a capless, plastic bottle of Pepsi in an upright position.  The bottle of Pepsi was about 80% full and had this frothy, chunky film.  A noticeable, thin layering of vomit separated the clashing liquids.

The couple behind me chimed in, "Oh my god, you're not really going to sit there, are you?"  I replied, "Well, maybe we can salvage the situation."  I used some napkins and wiped down the seat.  But I still had to contend with the bottle.  Personally, I couldn't detect the smell of vomit but Gigi could.  Gigi said she was going to Guest Services to see if they'd send down a clean-up crew.  

I asked the kid next to me for his thoughts on the vomit fiasco.  The kid looked a little like this guy.

I wanted to know what he knew, see what he'd seen, smell what he smelt.  But the kid didn't have any answers.  I pressed forward a little more aggressively.  Assuming the role of a psychiatrist, I asked him, "How does the vomit make you feel?  What's it like sitting in such close proximity to the vomit?"  He muttered that he didn't like it and turned his head to the action on the field.  

So right now, it's just me gazing at the Pepsi bottle.  I decided to take action.  With an almost delicate, dainty napkin-handed tweezer-like grip I moved the bottle to the lower row.   But just as I placed it down, it SPILLED OVER.  It went all over the person's commemorative program and started to encroach on a folded t-shirt.  The fans in front of me didn't see what happened but I suspect they may have noticed the strengthened stench of vomit.  I was starting to feel like we may have overstayed our welcome.  At this exact moment, Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for a touchdown in our corner of the end zone.  The crowd erupted.

Gigi returned with this official intern-looking kid.  It was his job to oversee the vomit clean-up process.  He asked if either of us were sick and we said no.  "So it wasn't you guys that threw up?"  He then asked if we were in the right seats.  "Uhh, you can't sit in seats if they're not yours."  I flashed Gig a "let's just get out of here and regroup look."  We had just been de-seated in the butt hole.  We moved too close to the field, on the puddles of vomit.  George Costanza would call it "riding too close to the sun on the wings of pastrami."

So we said our goodbyes to everyone and made our usual exercise loop around the stadium. On our way down the South end ramp, we spotted 3 successive piles of vomit.  One, two, three.  The piles looked a little like this... but without the cigarette butt.  And each pile was a bit more liquified.

I've got to remember to use my phone to take pictures.  I see shit like this all the time but it rarely dawns on me to take a picture or role i-phone video.  In fact, I think everyone should take photos of their respective vomit and post them on facebook?  Just seeing another person's vomit really helps you identify with their journey.  Empathy via vomit, or if you will... E.V.S. (empathic vomit syndrome).

In a prior blog about the Carolina preseason game, I wrote about the "Steel Pit Runners" - an idea for a committed group of runners to jog in place for the entire game.  You watch the game on the widescreen from the back of the Steel Pit.  Basically, you run a marathon at your preferred pace.  Regardless of a Steelers win or loss, you're a winner all the time.  

I have a confession to make.  Steel Pit Runners was a really gay idea.  Almost attaining the much-heralded status of "super-duper faggolicious."  In retrospect, it was not good.  "There's good and there's not good.  This is not good." - Hesh on the Sopranos listening to Visiting Day's cd (the band was formerly known as Defiler).  But out of the Steel Pit Runners, a new idea spewed forth with a cum-like, almost venomous acumen.  And this one is NOT gay.  I repeat... no gay no beret I will not come out and play.  This idea is supremely heterosexual.

Why not have a 5K that runs through Heinz Field and PNC Park?  You start at the casino and run down Casino Drive which segues into North Shore Drive.  Enter the Heinz Field South end zone, Steel Pit area.  Funnel through the rotunda and into the upper level, back down and do a loop on the lower level.   Out onto West General Robinson Street.  Follow the steet and enter PNC through the right outfield.  One lap on the 100 level, up the ramp and into the upper level.  You might scratch the upper level because it poses some weird logistical turn-around issues.  Exit the ballpark and jog down the North River Trail along the river.  Finish ON the Heinz Field surface.  

You really get it all with this course.  Casino, the river, the stadiums, the views.  It's just insanely cool.  But here's what makes this idea particularly strong.  It ties into cities all over the U.S. that have tried to reinvigorate their downtown areas with baseball and football stadiums in close proximity  They all have these redevelopment initiatives and professional sports complexes.  Very forward thinking.  

The only downside - if you're competitively running down the ramps, it could get ugly.  Although difficult, someone could trip and end up hurling themselves over the concrete wall.  I've often wondered why more people don't kill themselves by lunging off the upper tier of stadiums.  Not to sound morbid, but it's pretty much a sure thing.  Both quick and effective.  Quite dramatic, I might add.  Definitely get your 15 minutes of fame.  I'd suggest wearing a t-shirt like this....

I bought that shirt at a 1997 preseason Steelers -Falcons game at Mountaineer Field.  Normally, I'm not too big on impulse purchases, but I loved the idea of some rogue parking lot dude selling a Dallas Sucks shirt so far away from a relevant "home base."  The Cowboys weren't even playing, yet here's this guy dishing out the propaganda.  It was $10.  And I didn't even try to barter.  I mean, how could you?

But here's the dilemma if you wear that particular shirt while committing suicide, people would invariably ask, "Why would a guy with such a cool t-shirt and proper societal outlook want to kill himself?"  Sends conflicting messages.  I'd sooner where a shirt with this guy on it...

God-damn!  Is that guy creepy or what?  No offense to my Roman Catholic brethren, but what a fuckin' freakshow!

Back to the 5K idea.  At some point, you'd have to limit the number of entrants.  Many 5K's cut off the number of participants so it's not that big of a deal.  You'll need cooperation from the cities and team ownership.  As usual, the biggest obstacle to anything cool is overcoming the insurance hurdles.  Worst case scenario - just make it a 5K Walk.  This would have strong appeal to the community at large.   Greater participation of the fatso contingency, who under regular circumstances, would dismiss the idea from the git-go.

One last thought random - what the fuck was up with that phantom pass interference call on Ike Taylor early in the 4th?  I wonder when Goodell will cave to the demands of the first string refs.  Fortunately, Pittsburgh wasn't going to throw the game on a bullshit call.  But at some point, one of these teams is gonna lose a prime time game.  And the fans will go ballistic.  I doubt they'll stampede, but you never know.  The real refs average about $149,000 per year.  Their union wants the median increased to 189,000 by 2018.   Their demands don't sound that outrageous.  I expect Conquistador Goodell will follow the same path he took with me.  Ignore the problem and maintain the status of a gutless coward.  I sent Goodell a letter... 

May 1, 2012

Roger Goodell, National Football League Commissioner
National Football League
280 Park Avenue, Suite 12
New York, NY  10017-1216

Re: The prospect of an artificially generated stampede in National Football League stadiums

Commissioner Goodell:

In 1913, 73 people were crushed to death in the Italian Hall Disaster in Calumet, Michigan.  This event is generally regarded as the basis for placing reasonable limitations on the First Amendment.  Most refer to it as "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater."  Roughly a century later, allow me to pose a similar question.  Is it conceivable to text "fire" in a crowded NFL stadium?  If a significant number of individuals received a text message conveying IMMINENT DANGER and/or the NEED TO IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE, the consequences could be catastrophic.  It would likely result in an artificially generated stampede.

Following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, companies offering mass text alerts became more commonplace.  Many of these companies offer SMS (short message service) systems to anyone willing to pay for them.  It's just a matter of time before someone with a pernicious agenda opts to utilize this platform.  Furthermore, a perpetrator would probably seek maximum impact as it would likely be a one-time occurrence.  

While security and safety measures have been greatly enhanced in the last decade, there has never been a credible plan to safely evacuate an NFL stadium in the event of a sudden panic.  Why?  Because it's simply not logistically feasible.  We have already witnessed the evolution of flash mobs and the recent spread of dangerous viral text hoaxes.  The prospect of hacking and manipulating a text alert system or cellular service provider represents the gravest concern.  But it's simply the mere existence and availability of lengthy lists of cell phone numbers corresponding to individuals in a confined location.  This, combined with the established level of trust placed in emergency SMS communication, represents the underlying problem.  

While I doubt that I am the first person to conceive of this potential threat, I do suspect this is the first time you've heard about an artificially generated stampede.  Other than virally spread text hoaxes, I've seen nothing about deliberately transmitting false texts in an attempt to create a sudden, mass panic.  There seems to be no discussion of this asymmetric security issue in the public domain.  And if you connect the dots between large crowds and the potential misuse of SMS technology, I think you'll agree that my concerns are justified.  Please consider the following:

    •     The potential for hacking or intentional misuse of any relevant text notification or fan alert system.  Due to their wider accessibility, socially driven media platforms such as Twitter represent another area of concern.   
    •      The acquisition of cloned cell phone lists linked to season ticket holders and employees.  A spoofed (disguised) message could easily be configured to appear as though it was sent from an opt-in notification system.

    •      A message originating from a wireless carrier.  You may recall the December 12, 2011 "Civil Emergency: Take Shelter Now" alert sent to Verizon customers in central New Jersey.  Termed a "malicious hoax" by Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, the event remains unexplained.  Although an apology was issued, there has been no admission of negligence or responsibility.

Being a whistle blower for a hypothetical national security threat is not something I relish, but I cannot in good conscience remain silent.  So in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, I have made a moral determination to send you this letter.  I would encourage you to research this issue and take preventative action.  And while this problem is well beyond my area of expertise, I do have some suggestions.

    •    Acknowledge and prepare for an unpleasant reality.  In the event of an artificially generated stampede, any emergency evacuation protocol would most certainly be rendered useless.

    •    Understand that your incident commander may not have ultimate control over the content, timing and delivery of an evacuation order.  This represents a profoundly changed dynamic in stadium security.

    •    Assess the security of any cell phone lists associated with season ticket holders and employees.        
    •    Be cognizant of the timing and context of official social media updates.

    •     Employ a looped message via the public address system warning fans of the possibility of an artificially generated stampede.          
    •     Include an assumption of risk disclaimer on the ticket stub similar to a foul ball or broken bat warning: Cellular communication devices can be used to create artificially generated stampedes.  If you receive a message demanding an immediate evacuation, wait for official confirmation from the public address system.

    •     Conduct general awareness campaigns as a matter of policy.  A simple slogan such as "Think before you run" could prove very effective in thwarting a text-induced stampede.     

While you may have sufficient confidence in your own stadium emergency evacuation protocol, your security could be compromised by mere association with the wider NFL community.  We live in an era of breaking news and instant, personalized communication.  Because many NFL games overlap, revelations of a stampede at one or more stadiums could trigger additional stampedes, creating a domino or cascade effect.

An event of this nature would likely not be a hoax or accident.  It would be executed with malicious intent.  National Football League stadiums provide one of the most easily recognizable targets.  As the leaders of the organizations that put people into these crowded and therefore potentially dangerous environments, you have a moral obligation to warn people about the dangers of panic-laden text messages.  We need to raise awareness before a catastrophe transpires.  There will be no dress rehearsal.

I believe that the federal government will not address this issue until after a disaster has occurred.  Therefore, I would implore you to work with each other and exercise your considerable influence with state and local governments.  It is imperative to devise a time-sensitive game plan.  I am willing to meet with you personally to review this matter.  Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

"There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction." - John F. Kennedy


Eric Saferstein
contact info omitted

cc:    National Football League ownership
Letters with similar content have been sent to the following individuals.
    Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security
    Chairman Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission
    Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education       
    NCAA Division I university presidents and chancellors   
    Representatives of Indy Racing League, Inc.
    Representatives of National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

... for him to read.  So what did he do?  Yep... nothing.  In fact, he did the exact opposite.  A few weeks later at an NFL owners meeting in Atlanta, he lobbied for total wifi access for every fan in all 32 stadiums by 2014.


By the way, LSU's campus was evacuated today.  Here's their official tweet...

A bomb threat has been reported on the campus. Please evacuate the campus as calmly and quickly as possible

Under exigent circumstances, this is a fine example of something that could trigger a stampede.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Brian Orakpo, Geico caveman commercial

I think the Geico caveman commercials have hit a new low.  Sensing a winner, the auto insurance marketing execs surely inked our dear neanderthal to a multi-year contract.  And yes, I realize the true mission of any insurance company is to saturate the airwaves.  Over and over again.  Until the word Geico is embedded in your brain... or tattooed on your forehead.  But this cheerleader ad seems to air extra-incessantly.  If you watch NFL football on Sunday, you'll likely see it a dozen times.  What was once barely enjoyable has morphed into a god damn annoyance.   I'd be willing to bet that the caveman's long term contract exceeds the Orakpo contract.  I wonder who makes more money over the long haul.  Odd that it could very well be the humiliated, subserviant caveman.

First off, what's with the script?  The caveman starts off defiantly.  "YOU ARE BRIAN ORAKPO, all-pro linebacker."  Who the hell talks like that?  Why would anyone, let alone a sub-humanoid, speak with such declarative temerity?  Let me give you a hint.  It's because unless you're a Redskins fan, nobody knows who the hell this guy is.  And I watch plenty of football.  If I were all up in Geico's collective asshole, I would have told them, "Hey, let's at least use an NFL star who plays on OFFENSE."  Strategically speaking, wouldn't it be better to use an NFL star that shows up in peoples' fantasy stats.  Regardless of his all-pro status, why choose a defensive player from a team that went 5-11 last year?  

And here's a thought that just entered my twisted mind?  Wouldn't it be crazy if the Geico caveman was black?  Political correctness subverted?  I bet you'd see a devastating Geico boycott.  One that easily supersedes the Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy's gay marriage fiasco.  Seriously, I'd much prefer a black caveman... and for that matter, a black Jesus.  After all these years, the hippie version seems really stale.  And I'd also like to finally see a picture of the prophet Mohammed.  I know what all the godlike characters generally look like... Buddha, Vishnu the elephant, Confucius, Yoda, Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, etc.  Why can't we get a definitive Mohammed?  

Does anyone remember the early days of the "caveman premise?"  They were sophisticated and urbane.  Viewed by the general public with this slight suspicion but relative acceptance.  Conceptually, it was intriguing.  But nowadays the caveman is one step away from slamming jagerbombs and hangin' with Sammy Hagar.  They're getting a high mileage discount at the DMV.  They're glued to the gambling machines at the Wheeling Downs.  The cavemen are everywhere.  You know what's really sad... we the people never really abandoned the cavemen.  They abandoned us.   

Here's a much better insurance commercial from our good neighbors at State Farm.  They're there.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hall and Oats

In February of 2012, I read a blog in the Wheeling Intelligencer.  The author (Phyllis Sigal) wrote passionately about her run-ins with various celebrities...

I've spoken to many celebrities — George Carlin, Arlo Guthrie, John Oats, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Kenny Loggins, to name a few. George Carlin was a little miffed during our interview because "his people" hadn't supplied me with basic bio information. John Oats didn't take too kindly to my description of Connecticut, where he lived, as a "suburb of New York City."

I felt the need to chime in.  She had invoked the name of one of my biggest musical influences - the other half of the magical twosome... John Oates of the famed rockers, Hall & Oates.  But she had misspelled his last name!  WTF?  A true fan of John Oates would know how to spell his last name.  Seemed to me that she was name-dropping.  Trying to live vicariously off the greatness of others.  I've met some famous people in my time, but you'll never hear me mention them.

Yep, that's right.  At the tender age of 10, I shared a hotel elevator with "Benson" in Hyannis, MA.  Or how about this fuck?

Yep, that's Allen Funt from the prehistoric tv show Candid Camera.  I met him while on safari in South Africa.  Imagine the impression he must have made.  I was only 12 years old, mired in the throes of prepubescence.

Rest assured, I've met my fair share of musicians as well.

Yep, that's King Diamond.  Everyone's favorite satanic heavy metal operatic singer from Denmark.  Hung out with him after a concert.  A man died that night.  A brief excerpt from my odd, oh biography.

On October 28, 1988, I watched a man die right in front of me.  I've witnessed a ton of random violence, but I've never seen anyone die.  On that day, a group of us went to a club called Bogarts on Vine Street near the University of Cincinnati.  Everyone's favorite satanist, King Diamond, was performing.  A small crowd had gathered for the opening act, Armored Saint.  About 3 songs into the show, I was standing on the periphery of the pit and watched a kid get karate kicked in the sternum.  He hit the floor like a bag of wet cement, reminiscent of the WKRP In Cincinnati airborne turkey drop.  The assailant just wandered off and got lost in the crowd.  I'm guessing he made a hasty exit.  It was unusually surreal.  Just one swift kick and the kid went into some kind of cardiac arrest.  To the best of my knowledge, they never caught the other guy.

Anyone ever hear of Brad Paisley?  Anyone ever hear of Danny Lilker (bass player/lead singer of Nuclear Assault) - I watched him get busted for smoking a doobie.  How about porn star Briana Banks?  And what about Vicki Lawrence from Mama's Family?  Yep, in theory I saved both of their lives.  I drove them both from Pittsburgh to Wheeling.  I could have easily driven all of us off a cliff.  But I didn't.  And I didn't go bragging to everyone either.  It's just not who I am.  It's just not what I do.  I can't go for that (no can do). 

So back to the Oates fiasco... I decided to write something in her little blog comment section.  I chastised her for the incorrect spelling and explained there was a reason he didn't take kindly to her description of Connecticut as a "suburb of NYC."  It's because she had equated his entire existence with "oats."  The sum of his parts, his sole purpose for existence had been marginalized.  Barley, corn, wheat, soy bean futures, rural sustenance.  I mean, I don't like it when people call me "Staff" or "Safershit."  One time someone used my address for a piece of junk mail.  They employed the last name "Waferbean," which seemed a bit of a stretch.  To this day, I have no idea of the perpetrator.

WELL... rather than Phylis Sigal politely thanking me for my submission, she did the exact opposite.  Yes, she made the necessary spelling corrections.  But what happened next really took me aback.  Not only did she delete my comment... SHE REMOVED HER COMMENT SECTION FROM ALL FUTURE BLOGS, both past and present.  I must have really offended her.  It's difficult to believe that a contributor to such a historic, noble and venerable newspaper, The Intelligencer, would have such "thin skin."  Talk about someone who is out of touch.  And I'm not the only who thinks this.

We've all heard the expression, "if you can't take the heat, get out of kitchen."  This reminds me of another "Phyllis."  She recently passed away.  A woman known for her self-deprecating sense of humor... Phyllis Diller (1917-2012).

Now there's a woman who truly set the standard.  Would she have removed the comment section of her blog?  I doubt it.  Would she have known what a blog is?  I doubt it.  Would she have known about the existence of the internet.  Maybe.  She was 95.

So what's the deal with all this crap about Hall & Oates.  Well, me and Gigi went to see them last night at Stage AE.  Believe it or not, it was totally SOLD OUT.  No joke.  Yes, that means 5,500 showed up to recreate some memories from the mid-Reagan era.  You need not be a private eye to realize that 5000+ is a packed house.

Before the concert, we were approached by some renegade t-shirt vendors.  This was the t-shirt.

The pose seems a tad melodramatic, I suppose.  I like the message though, especially in an election year.  John Oates is the epitome of doing what he wants and being who he is.  If you need any proof, look no further...

That bass-playing goober shaved his trademark mustache.  And maybe got a side of botox to boot.  It's definitely a cleaner, crispier, quakier Oats.  Well, the dynamic duo did not disappoint.  They "jammed" out for a little over an hour.   
How about that?  A double-double encore.  Not the greatest triumph considering they only played 10 songs, but who cares?  It was a fun, albeit brief trip down memory lane.
All in all, I'd have to say that Daryll Hall and John Oates helped make my dreams come true.
On the other hand, Phyllis Sigal has given me nightmares.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Opening night of the DNC

Just a few observations about the Democratic National Convention. 

First off, I think the party brass is truly regretting they held this event in North Carolina.  With all the other swing states in play, I assure you of one thing.  NC is not winnable.  It will line up for Romney in 2012.  But hindsight is always 20/20.

2.  You just can't help but notice the physical makeup of the delegates.  Every time they panned the crowd last night, there was an enormous variety of ethnicity and multi-culturalism.  And the Democrats seemed more enthusiastic about praising Obama, not tearing down Romney.  The RNC crowd trended in the exact opposite direction.  A wise political calculation.  If it was a Republican praise and worship session for Romney, it would have looked pretty silly.  

3.  The Democrats have committed a pretty big fuck-up.  You won't hear much about it in the mainstream press.  Obama's speech on Thursday night was supposed to take place at Bank of America Stadium.  Just this morning, they moved it to the arena.  That's a shift of about +/- 40,000.  I think this decision was made a while back, and just now, they've conveniently blamed it on the weather.  "Chance of rain" - big fucking deal.  That's not a reasonable justification for doing this.  Nor was it ever.  You just pissed off thousands of your biggest supporters.  I've read articles about the difficulty securing multiple venues and the potential for poor optics (the stadium having chunks of empty seats).  Not a smart move.  FOX News should jump all over this and interview disappointed Obama fans that were shut out.  Crush the Democratic momentum.  Nothing makes for better political fodder than hearing from diehard Obama supporters who feel BETRAYED.

4.  Comparing Michelle Obama to Ann Romney.  Of course this is NOT a fair comparison.  Michelle is a far more gifted public speaker and the speech itself was vastly superior.  The audience seemed truly moved.  When they showed the faces in the audience, peoples expressions were more "real."  The Republican crowd intuitively relied on waving red, white and blue.  It was more about signs, placards, balloons, confetti, etc.  The racial makeup of their crowd consisted of two colors, white and eggshell white.  Ann Romney did a nice job.  Michelle Obama tore the roof off the place.

5.  I guess the boldest attacks of Mitt Romney came from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.  I watched his highlights and he was indeed pretty harsh.  The truth - you do need an attack dog to rev up the crowd.  The difference is... the Republicans closed on that note.  They wanted to leave you feeling angry and resentful.  The Democrats went the optimism and future route.  This all does make sense.  It's simply a matter of strategy and positioning.  You almost have to sympathize with the Republicans on this one.  It's just the hand they've been dealt.

6.  I thought Rahm Emmanual (Chicago mayor) was really stale and mediocre.  He's more of an aggressive behind the scenes guy, a Romulan from Chicago if you will. You don't want him on the stage, but with that massive ego, he likley could not be deterred.  However, Julian Castro (San Antonio mayor) was spectacular.  They're likely grooming him for a future Senate run against Ted Cruz (R) in Texas.  This guy is a superstar - could play a major role as the future Texas demographics are shifting toward the blue column.  Deval Patrick (MA Governor) was strong as well.

7.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke as well.  Wow, a Nevadan bean counter complaining about Romney not releasing his taxes.  Weak.  Why is this guy on the stage?  No doubt providing a muted counter-punch to Mitch McConnell.

All in all, I thought the DNC came across as more uplifting and authentic.  The RNC seemed stringently rehearsed (except for the Eastwood fiasco), caustic and generally resentful.  I'm certainly NOT an impartial observer.  My liberal stance on just about every social issue makes it exceptionally difficult to identify with the Republican platform.  No abortion in cases of rape or incest!  Hard to comprehend why mainstream America doesn't want to jump on board.  Democratic operatives should unearth some rogue Republican who wants to make an exception only for cases of "gang rape."  Now that would be sick/funny.

What's crazy is the DNC has 2 more nights, Wednesday with Clinton and Thursday is Obama.  They'll both give soaring oratory performances.  The only way FOX News will be able to spin it is to claim it was a love-fest for the Democratic gods.  No solutions are being offered.  It's just these high-flying speeches that haven't yielded any results.  I also see them trotting out the inevitable argument that he's "not doing the job."  I do find this troublesome, because even if you harbor intense hatred for Obama's policies and objectives, I can't see how anyone could make the claim he's not fulfilling the job description of the POTUS.  Just because you don't like the job he's doing, doesn't mean he's not doing the job.

And yeah, I realize it's all just playing politics.  That's cool.  Gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The impossible dream - KISS/Motley Crue, Niagara Pavilion, 9-2-12

Where does one begin?  So many tales of bizarre lore and misguided adventure all condensed into one evening.

Coming off the heels of a fantastic wedding and sleepover at the Sunny Pointe Guest House in Jane Lew, WV, Gigi and I decided take it to the limit and hit up the Kiss/Crue show at Starlake.  We were a little tired from the driving and previous evening's festivities, but decided to suck it up.  After all, how can you justify skipping a Kiss concert.

So we cruised up at 5 pm and snagged some takeout from Dee Jays in Weirton.  We opted to split a half rack of ribs, potato skins (friendly word of advice - don't get them plain.  Go for the cheese and bacon extravaganza) and a tossed salad w/ possibly the best house Italian dressing in the area.  It also came with a lone slice of bread.  The total cost chinged in at $17.98.  If you've never tried their ribs... let's just say they're really damn good.  As we left, a man bearing a strong resemblance to the lead singer of Loverboy peeled out of the lot in a bright red Chevy Cavalier.  This helped reassure me that we made the right choice.

We arrived at the lot and quickly devoured the food.  A middle aged man resembling a frail Chris Matthews approached us and asked, "Are you guys big Kiss fans?"  We responded, "Yep, that's why we're here."  He then asked us a couple of carefully rehearsed trivia questions about the band.  "Out of the total number of band members, how many have worn makeup?"  The correct answer is 11.  Then, he presented us with a parting gift - a homemade DVD.

Later that night, we watched it in its entirety.  From a directing perspective, it was pretty weak.  Set to music, it was just a slow camera pan of every Kiss action figure, album cover, ticket stub, t-shirt, kimono... basically everything trinket imaginable.  Insane collection of merchandise, but watching the dvd was a little exhausting.  I would have preferred to hear some commentary. We surmised that he might reside in a Millvale apartment.  Just a hunch.  Though I do admire the guy's passion and enthusiasm.  I know of this other weirdo who makes free live mix cds.  I wanted him to know that I fully supported his decision to spread this unique brand of Kiss propaganda.  His effort would not be in vain.  So I sent him this email...

Hey man,

Thanks so much for the KISS Museum DVD and related trivia questions.  We watched it last night when we got home from the concert.  Quite an extensive collection.
Great show last night.  Our highlights were Lick It Up, Deuce and of course, Black Diamond.  We managed to snag a couple guitar pics and a copy of the setlist (unfortunately, it was the Motley Crue one).
We're kind of curious.  Where in Pittsburgh do you live?  I'm from Wheeling and my girlfriend lives off 279N.  Do you offer tours?


If he replies, I'll copy and paste it in the comment section.

 We walked over to Jepson and his harem.  The girls had already purchased tickets, but Jepson needed our help.  So I made an "I NEED A FREE TICKET" sign.  In the corner, I wrote GODS BLESS.  I've never invoked the concept of multiple gods, but this was a tough ticket.  Had to think outside the box.  I knew there would be a huge walk-up crowd since it was Labor Day weekend.   And I was correct.  Plenty of scalpers and huge lines at the box office.  But we wanted it all.  We wanted to fly close to the sun on the wings of pastrami.

Jepson regaled the crowd with high-pitched vocal screams.  Suddenly, a strange man appeared.  He identified himself as "Nudie."  Nudie resembled a younger version of this guy.

Gig thought he called himself "Dooty."  But rest assured, he explained that "Dooty is when you get it in the butt.  My name's Nudie."  Fortunately, that brief visit comprised our first and last encounter.  A drunken Nudie staggered off in search of a cheap ticket.

As I'm sure most know, the thought of forking over $52.00 for a Kiss/Motley Crue concert ticket just did not compute.  We needed 3 freebies.  So we walked to the main entrance.  Lots of demand and zero supply = bad news.  I thought it would be best to check out the VIP section.  So we journeyed on.  Gig made small talk with an employee that resembled Geraldine Ferraro - one of the VIP entrance workers.  She pressed for free tickets but to no avail.  

As we heard the distant clamor of "Home Sweet Home," a visibly shaken girl sat down near us and the Ferraro lookalike.  Her boyfriend came over and started harassing her.  It was kind of uncomfortable.  About 8 of their friends walked over, but couldn't get the arguing to stop.  So they left them and headed in the side entrance.

As darkness descended, we thought we'd take a look in the woods for an alternative mode of entrance.  We aborted that idea when the trail descended into a swamp.  I decided to take a piss next to some of the tour buses.  Still no tickets and Motley Jew was about halfway through their set.  It wasn't looking good.

All of a sudden, police stormed the area.  Tons of golf carts appeared out of nowhere with flashing lights all over the place.  I thought to myself, Jesus Christ - a crime must have been committed.  Probably something drug or violence related.  Hell, is it feasible that someone reported me for taking a piss?  No fucking way.

We're making our way back to the entrance area and I see a guy hiding underneath a limo/party bus.  Gig and I figured something's up.  This had to be the guy the cops were looking for.  But I thought... what if he has a gun or something.  You never know.  Well, the security guys saw us staring and pointing at him and they charged the scene.  The guy sarcastically yelled at us, "Thanks for ratting me out."  I carefully monitored the scene (if there was police brutality, I wanted to be a witness).  The cop dragged him out by his feet.   They quickly cuffed him and threw him in the cruiser. 

Having read an excerpt from my book, Gig thought perhaps the guy was trying to be on the receiving end of a "golden shower."  Ironically, this is the only story from my book that is not factually correct.  The event did happen.  I just wasn't there for it... 

Golden Deadhead

I remember this Philly Spectrum Dead show in the late '80s.  My friend Scraggly Bobcat Goldthwait (without the voice) and I were tailgating toward the back of the arena lot.  We both needed to piss and wandered toward some mammoth touring rigs.  A misdemeanor charge for urinating in public is not the right way to start the party.  These 18 wheelers were narrowly parked and would provide tight coverage.  So we shimmied alongside the sardine-like-packed rigs and began to relieve ourselves.  All of a sudden, my buddy yells "What the fuck is going on?"  In a scrambling motion, he darts from between the rigs, shuffling from side to side much like vintage MC Hammer.  I hear some bizarre sexual murmurings (Ooooh, ahhhh) emanating from underneath one of the rigs.  I scream, "What the fuck?  Is someone under there?"  A moaning, begging, haunting voice cries out, "Please!  Please don't stop!  It's warm!  It's warm!" 

Technically speaking, this particular sex move is referred to as a "golden shower."  Whether or not, we were active and willing participants is completely irrelevant.  This fetishistic weirdo, this Golden Deadhead if you will, was the recipient of vast urinary delights on that fateful day.  He had chosen that spot with impeccable consideration.  Kudos. 

Twenty years later, that man's behavior laid the foundation for my most controversial creation - The Top 10 Sex Moves in Wheeling, WV t-shirt.  This shirt is a combined tribute to "Golden Deadhead" and Jerry Seinfeld's "Golden Boy" t-shirt.  Even though it has received strong reviews, I'm reluctant to wear it in public.  Feel free to make your own determination.



So we asked the Geraldine imposter what he was arrested for and she said, "I saw him hit her across the face.  I radioed for the police and he took off running."  I figured I'd offer a little levity and explained that we "were the ones who spotted him while trying to sneak into the venue."  Then, I decided to press the matter with the head of security.  Maybe we could use our act of "heroism" to gain free admission.

"Hey we're the ones who spotted him.  Don't you think that's worth something?  Maybe you could let us all in the concert."  The Ferraro woman overheard me and said, "Yep, that's true.  They saw him when they were trying to sneak in."  I scowled in her direction.  Talk about a fucking betrayal.  But much to my astonishment, the security dude said, "Alright.  I'll let you you guys in, but you've got to ditch the beer and promise me you'll stay in the lawn section."  KA-BLAM!  I rounded everyone up and he slipped us right in the VIP gate.  FUCKIN' A.  What a rush.  We stuck to our guns and were rewarded accordingly.

We congratulated ourselves and zipped over to the steps along the walkway.  Oddly enough, out of about 20,000 fans, we ran into Jepson's harem.  So we made it in for the last 4 Crue songs.  Vince Neil sounded fair I suppose.  He just doesn't look so hot these days.  He had a little trouble hitting the high notes while trudging across the stage.  Kind of looks like Johnny Depp from the movie "Blow."

Just my take.  So Crue finished up and we went to take a piss.  But the lines were too long.  I told Jepson my "Secret Starlake Restroom Strategy."  You simply go to the emergency medical tent and ask for a Rolaids or a Tylenol.  They give you the pills and you just use their private, immaculate port-a-jon.  Works like a charm.  While we took a restroom break, Gigi found a $20 bill lying on the ground.  Ka-Pow.  And she found a single dollar bill, too.  Grand total of $21.00.

As we were sizing up the security by the VIP drink area, the lights went out.  When the security moved off, we all slipped past the metal barrier and were immediately in the first three sections.  We   found a vacant row of seats about 20 rows back, dead center.  Bad ass vantage point, up close but not engulfed in the sweaty, rocker mongrels.

KISS was as strong as ever.  The always go all out.  At one point, Paul Stanley flew out on a zip line.  We nearly touched the "feet of god."  Not to be confused with the "hand of god."

All in all, I liked the KISS set list:

  1. Detroit Rock City (strong opener)
  2. Shout It Out Loud
  3. I Love It Loud
  4. Firehouse
  5. Hell or Hallelujah (very weak new song)
  6. War Machine
  7. Shock Me
  8. Bass Solo
  9. God of Thunder
  10. Love Gun
  11. Lick It Up
  12. Black Diamond (my all-time favorite KISS song)
  13. * Deuce (nice surprise)
  14. * Rock'n'Roll All Night
After the concert, Gig tried to snag a copy of the Kiss set list, but some douchebag chimed in and wanted one too.  So the roadie ripped it down the middle.  Lamentably, she ended up getting the Motley Crud set list...

And we also got our hands on two guitar picks.  Very Kewl.

And in a celebratory moment of modest triumph, I snagged a functional umbrella, ella, ella.

And I spotted a quarter on the ground.  This raised our monetary ground score total to $21.25.
All in all, it was a strong evening.  Straight up rock'n'roll show, perfect weather and an entrance overseen by the Starlake gods.