Offtheshelf's blog

On the Campaign Trail

Well, two days into the race for Governor and already things are not going well. Yesterday I worked at the library from 9 to 5, so I wasn't able to visit miniature golf courses as initially planned (to grab little pencils for my write-in campaign ... see earlier blog) . Then I wanted to do some campaigning today, to get the word out to "Vote Whig Party," but I had to deliver the US mail (my second job), which ate up a lot of the day. This evening I figured I'd shake some hands at the D-Y football game, but it was so chilly that people were keeping their hands in their coat pockets. (Great game. D-Y 17 - No Quincy 14. And a dynamite half-time show!) And then the final straw - I found out via email that I was not invited to participate in next week's gubernatorial debate. I had a feeling, since the subject line of the email read "Get Lost You Bum!\


Let's "Take Back Maine"!

I've been giving this matter a great deal of thought (well, at least, I thought about it between the 1st and 2nd periods of tonight's Bruins game) and I've decided to run for Governor. I know, I know, it's kinda last minute, but I've been working six days a week for the past couple of months and haven't had time to run a proper campaign until now. My schedule is opening up a bit in November, so I figured, why not?

First, I have to consider which party I should run under. Well, the Republicans have Healey, and the Democrats have Patrick, and Mihos is the Independent, and Ross is the Green-Rainbow candidate, so I figured I'd run as a Whig in the great tradition of William H. Harrison, John Tyler, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Zachary Taylor. With backing like that, how can I lose? I considered running under the Know-Nothing Party, but didn't want to call attention to the fact that I essentially know nothing about being governor.

I'm still working on my platform, but I do recognize the need to raise more revenue through taxes in order to fund the expensive projects I have in mind (erecting three more canal bridges - one northbound, one southbound, and one westbound; widening all the seats at Fenway Park; moving the Big Dig three feet to the left; etc). But don't worry, Massachusetts residents will not be required to pay one dollar more than they are currently paying. You see, I have a plan. I was doing some research the other night and discovered that Maine used to be part of Massachusetts until it broke away to become its own state. Well I say, let's take back Maine! Think of all the taxpayers up there slipping through our fingers. And we'll make their tax payments retroactive back to 1820, the year they split from Massachusetts. That'll teach them! We'll be rolling in the dough!!  Heck, let's build four canal bridges!!! HaHaHa!!!!!

Of course, because I'm late entering the race (and therefore won't be appearing on the ballot) I'll need to rely heavily on write-in votes. Not to worry, I'll be visiting miniature golf courses all across the state to shake hands ... and to steal the little pencils, which I'll be handing out to voters on election day to make it easier for them to write me in. I was going to visit bowling alleys, but I understand the scoring is now all done by computers.

As far as my war chest goes, I have my checking account, which fluctuates because I'm paid every other week. I also have a home equity line, so I could dip into that. Additionally, I have two coffee cans full of pennies and a few of those Susan B. Anthony dollars that look like quarters. I used to have a Sacagawea dollar, but can't seem to find it. Hey, what ever happened to the Ike dollars they used to mint? Oh well, I guess engineering D-Day and winning WWII wasn't good enough.

So this November, Vote Whig Party! And together, we'll "Take Back Maine"!

Jack Sheedy - Whig Party

How I Learned to Stop Worrying

Just when the world starts to get boring ... there's always North Korea and Kim Jong-il to keep things interesting. Apparently that nutty, renegade Asian country detonated a nuclear device over the weekend (although the US wouldn't immediately confirm it, although a disturbance the size of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was detected exactly where they thought the test might occur ... certainly wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions). Anyway, the test now makes North Korea one of just nine countries around the globe with nuclear capabilities - the others being the classic adversaries: US and Russia, India and Pakistan, Britain and France, and China and itself, ... oh, and Israel - the only Middle East country with the bomb!

Back in the 60's/70's/80's we all thought that any day now the world was going to end in a mushroom cloud of radiation as the US and USSR bombed each other "back to the stone age" (to borrow AuH2O's phrase). But since the Berlin War came down, and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the bomb has taken a back seat to other more pressing matters. Ask Americans what they fear, and they are perhaps more likely to point to the spinach and lettuce in their refrigerator than to a nuclear bomb.

Born just one month prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, I grew up beneath the shadow of nuclear war, which I used to my advantage. "Why do I have to do my homework, I'm just gonna die in a nuclear war anyway!" I would say to my parents. "Why do I have to bring out the trash, it's just gonna get melted in a nuclear war anyway!" "Why do I have to get a haircut, it's just gonna get all burned off in a nuclear war anyway!" Of course, it never worked. I still had to do my homework, and take out the trash, and occasionally get a haircut. And somehow, through it all, we survived.

So now, I no longer fear the bomb. I try to look on the positive side. Nine countries have the bomb, but hundreds of countries don't. Think about it. Canada doesn't have it (to the joy of Burlington, VT). Mexico doesn't have it, although they have tequila, which is probably more powerful ounce for ounce. (I remember a certain night back in 1982...) None of the Central or South American countries have it, nor do any of the African countries (imagine if Togo had the bomb - now they could do some damage! ... by the way, do they still call it Togo?) Most of the European countries don't have it - Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the Eastern European countries. The Middle East and all those countries that end in "stan" -- they don't have the bomb (or at least, we don't think they do ... I mean, they might have stolen one or two from the Soviet Union when it crumbled, but that doesn't count). So overall, in a glass-half-empty / glass-half-full mindset, we really have nothing nuclear to worry about.

So take my advice. Clean out your refrigerator, throw out all the spinach and lettuce and any other suspicious food items past their expiration date, go out and buy a pumpkin for the front step, and stop worrying about the bomb ... it'll make you sleep easier at night (that and a shot of tequila!).

Jack Sheedy

May I help you, Sir?

I don't remember when I was first called "sir," but I'm sure it took place in either the check out line at the local grocery store or at the counter of a fast food restaurant. "May I help you, sir?" was probably the question asked by the teenager/20-something year old behind the counter. Sir? I'm sure I looked behind me to see who just walked through the door. Then it hit me. Wait a second, she called me sir? Am I really old enough to be "sir"? Or perhaps I've recently been knighted by the Queen ... Sir Paul McCartney ... Sir Mick Jaggar ... Sir Jack Sheedy ... not bad!

I quickly realized that the title "sir" tossed in my direction had less to do with knighthood and much more to do with the streaks of gray about my temples and hints of white in my unshaven stubble, as well as the crow's feet emerging at the corners of the eyes, and the extra 10 pounds I'm carrying around with me ... and my complete disregard for the latest fashion trends (apparently an untucked flannel shirt is not making a fashion statement) . And perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the 16 year old in the concert T-shirt standing next to me (and standing at my height, no less) is referring to me aloud in public as "Dad." My God, I am that old! I'm ... sir!

How did this happen? For the longest time, it seemed, I was in my twenties. Then I slipped into my thirties, but I figured that was just a temporary thing. Then forty. Forty. Forty! The gateway to the second half of life! My aunt used to always refer to the old Jack Benny line: "Thirty-nine and holding." Now I understood the joke!

You start acting the part. During the day you discover strange aches and pains that never existed before, chalking them up to old football and ice hockey injuries (recalling glory days). You watch the evening news and find yourself complaining about everything the anchor says. Next you pick a fight with the meteorologist over today's high temperature and the forecast for tomorrow. You find yourself understanding fewer and fewer TV commercials. Suddenly, modern music seems LOUD. Later, after dinner, you return to the couch and watch an entire baseball game ... all nine innings. Sometimes even extra innings. Then you fall asleep.

That's why it was so refreshing yesterday while out on the mail route to be called "sonny" by an older gentleman. I don't mean sonny as in Sonny & Cher, I mean sonny as in "young man." He was waiting by his mailbox as I approached, I handed him his mail, and he said, "Thank you, sonny." It made my day! I was young again. No longer "sir," but "sonny." Like I was 18 or 19 years old! I drove on to the next mailbox full of life, reborn, full of energy. Nevermind that the older gentleman was in his 90's - and that everyone under the age of 70 is "sonny" to him - I took it as  a victory!

Jack Sheedy

$3.99 per Gallon!

That's right folks, $3.99 per gallon. Do you believe it? No, no, I'm not talking about gasoline. Thankfully, that's dropped significantly as noted in the Cheap Gas blog. No, I'm talking about milk ... one gallon ... skim milk ... from a cow!

The economic arena is certainly a strange place. Gasoline prices drop suddenly, while milk prices increase. I didn't realize there was an inverse relationship between the two. And what is the reason for the huge increase in milk prices? Demand, they say. Demand. Hmmm. Demand. Hmmmm. Demand? Demand?! How is that possible? Are people drinking significantly more milk these days? Are people switching over in droves from Black Russians to White Russians? Has there been an increase in the size of cereal bowls? Is there suddenly a mass realization amongst school age children that milk is more healthy to drink than soda? Is Red Bull on the outs with college students and milk the new "pick-me-up"? Or is something more sinister afoot? (Or should I say, ahoof?)

Perhaps it's not demand at all, but supply. Perhaps the spigot has been turned to a trickle to drive up the price. And perhaps the cows themselves are involved. Are they holding out on us? Is there some sort of cow revolt going on that we're not being told about? Does the government know? And if so, what else aren't they telling us? Are the hens next?

Today it's milk prices. Next comes cheese, and then ice cream! Oh no, not ice cream! In the backrooms of Washington, economists are scrambling to determine the impact of these higher milk prices. Could it drive up the prices of other goods? Could it bring about nationwide runaway inflation? Higher interest rates? Higher unemployment? Is a recession lurking, to be brought about by some disgruntled Vermont cows? Where's Jimmy Carter? Quick, someone get Jimmy Carter to smooth things over with the disgruntled cows!

Jack Sheedy

Twice Bitten

Over the course of my 44 years I've been bitten twice. The first time was when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I was sitting on my front lawn playing with a snake and it bit me on the finger. I screamed ... and I quickly discovered that it wasn't about to let go, so I screamed again. I envisioned it swallowing me whole, finger first! I swung my hand around wildly and finally had to pry the snake's little fangs from my finger. Since then I've had a fear of snakes.

The second time I was bitten was in a nursing home where I worked during my college years. I was helping a nurse hold down a 97-year old woman so that she could be given a shot. The woman had three personalities - one being German. She was very frail, or so it seemed, so it didn't seem like a big job on my part. Anyway, within seconds she turned her head and bit me on the arm. (I think it was the German personality that bit me!) I screamed! Thankfully, she didn't have a tooth in her head, and all she left - once the nurse peeled her jaws off my arm - was a bruise.

I was almost bitten a third time by a squirrel that I cornered in my living room one Christmas season. It leapt out of the fireplace like Rocky the Squirrel, landing on my lap. Again, I screamed! And then spent the next hour trying to get it out of the house.

But the best kind of "bitten" is when you get bitten by the book bug. I remember when I first realized I enjoyed books - it was when I read the children's book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina as a young lad. I still pick it up every once in while for a chuckle - I'm a sucker for anything with a monkey in it (or in this case, a whole bunch of monkeys).

Jack Sheedy

Oil Change Synchronicity

Life is made up of little episodes. For instance, out on the mail route today I had a short conversation with a handicapped gentleman. I may have been the only person he talked to all day. Who knows. We shared a couple of laughs, and then I was on my way. It's strange how paths cross like that.

Another episode. Tonight I noticed how mature my 16-year old son is getting as he drove on his learner's permit in my '91 Chevy Lumina. As he turned into our neighborhood I pointed out the waxing crescent moon over Kelly's Bay. Like a good kid, he kept his eyes on the road.

Yet another episode. Tonight my 17-year old daughter arrived home from her waitstaff shift at a local assisted living facility and told me of how she took the time to cut up someone's dinner into smaller bite-sized pieces. It didn't seem so long ago that I was cutting up her food.

And yet another episode. Just recently I was talking to my son and daughter at dinner about psychologist Carl Jung and his theory of synchronicity. (What a fun dad, huh?) I tried to explain the notion as best I could and they actually seemed interested in the concept. Basically, synchronicity occurs when two acausal events occur in a way that makes them seem somehow connected, though they are in no way connected. And yet you cannot rule out some sort of strange linkage between the two. (Or as the band the Police sang: "A connecting principle, linked to the invisible.") A simple example would be something like this : You suddenly think of an old friend with whom you have not spoken in years and later that day that same person telephones you. A more complex example might be: You get into a car accident on your way to the airport and miss your flight ... and you later learn that the plane you missed crashed with no survivors.

Well, a day or two after our dinner discussion something strange happened. I have gotten into the habit of changing the oil in our cars myself ... something about putting the car up on the ramps, crawling under there, and getting the hands dirty (it makes me feel like I have control over something in my life, I guess). Anyway, I keep a little notebook of the oil changes I've done -- when I did them, the mileage, whether or not I changed the oil filter, etc. I had written a little note to myself back in July to change the oil in our '97 Saturn Wagon at the 96,000 mile mark. So, I poke my head inside the car to read the mileage and what do you think it reads? Yes, exactly 96,000! What are the odds of that?! I don't know if you'd call it synchronicity, but I'd certainly call it spooky!

Jack Sheedy

Taking up the Carpet

Program note: If you're looking to read a synopsis of "Das Rheingold" from Wagner's "Ring" please see my earlier blog entry. If you're looking to hear about how I took up the carpeting at my house, read on. (If you're looking for breakfast, get it yourself!)

Wall-to-wall carpeting. It gets dirty. It needs to be vacuumed constantly. It gathers dog hairs, and food crumbs, and dirt from outside, and pine needles, and micro-organisms. It needs to come up! Thus was the decision for the one bedroom in our house with carpeting. And with Sunday wide open -- the Patriots game was not until evening (don't get me started on that game!) -- this seemed the perfect project for the day. Of course, I went about it the lazy way. Instead of moving all the furniture out, which would have meant breaking down the bed, emptying drawers, etc, I decided to cut around the furniture, which probably added about four hours to the job ... in fact, it's still not entirely done and I plan on pulling up the rest today (maybe).

Fortunately, I found that under the rug was a perfectly good hardwood floor (as the realtor had noted on the listing sheet when we bought the house last year). That's a good thing. Yup, a mighty good thing. Hmmm? Huh? What? Oh ... so, getting 'round to the point, as I was taking up the carpet I was reminded of the Marx Brothers' movie Duck Soup and of the scene when Groucho, playing Freedonia President Rufus T. Firefly, is addressing his cabinet. He asks his cabinet ministers if they have any new business to discuss. One minister replies: "We need to take up the tax." Groucho responds: "I say we take up the carpet." The cabinet minister says again: "I still insist we take up the tax." Groucho then says: "He's right ... you've gotta take up the tacks before you can take up the carpet!" (If you don't get it, try saying it aloud.)

Duck Soup is the greatest parody ever made ... and it was made back in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, which makes it even that much more special. At the library we have a five-DVD set of Marx Brothers movies -- Duck Soup, Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers, Coconuts ... I can't remember the fifth movie ... they're the five that included Zeppo ... if you can remember the fifth Zeppo movie send a comment. Anyway, stop by the DPL for this great collection, or order it through your local library.

I'll leave you with one more Duck Soup quote. Here, Firefly (Groucho) is talking with Mrs. Teasdale, whom he is attempting to woo (because she's rich):

Firefly: "Not that I care, but where is your husband?"

Mrs. Teasdale: "Why, he's dead."

Firefly: "I bet he's just using that as an excuse."

Mrs. Teasdale: "I was with him to the end."

Firefly: "No wonder he passed away."

Mrs. Teasdale: " I held him in my arms and kissed him."

Firefly: "Oh, I see, then it was murder!"

Jack Sheedy

Revisiting "Der Ring des Nibelungen"

Update: Scroll below to "Siegfried" and "Gotterdammerung"

I awoke this morning with a tune in my head. Humming it to myself, I realized it was music from the opera "Gotterdammerung," the final opera of German composer Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen," more commonly known as Wagner's "Ring Cycle." (Oh, that old chestnut!)

Anyway, I couldn't get the music out of my head. I don't know when I last heard it. A couple of years ago, perhaps. But I do remember when I had first heard it. It was back in 1990. PBS was airing a special Met performance of "The Ring" (not to be in any way confused with Tolkien's "The Ring"), with conductor James Levine at the podium, and I settled in for what proved to be a long week of opera viewing. You see, Wagner's "Ring Cycle" consists of four operas ("Das Rheingold," "Die Walkure," "Seigfried," and "Gotterdammerung" ... translated as "The Rhinegold," "The Valkyrie," "Seigfried," and "Twilight of the Gods") which were aired on good ol' Channel 2 over four consecutive nights, in German with English subtitles. The entire four-opera performance totalled nearly 15 hours in length!

"Der Ring des Nibelungen" is perhaps the most ambitious undertaking in the history of classical music ... or any music for that matter. It took Wagner some 26 years to complete! The music itself was so revolutionary that it was necessary for Wagner to assemble a greatly expanded orchestra and to invent new instruments (including the Wagner tuba) in order to create the sounds he envisioned. Wagner even had a new opera house built to accommodate the elaborate production, the enlarged orchestra, and to better meld the sounds produced by the musicians with those singing on stage. In every way, it was HUGE!

If you've never seen it before, give it a try. Start with "Das Rheingold" - part one - it's only about two and half hours long. "Gotterdammerung," on the other hand, is about five hours long!

Over the next four days I'll be updating this particular blog entry with a synopsis of each of the four operas. It's a tale of gods and demigods, of mortals and Valkyries, of love and revenge, of a ring that holds mighty powers, and of those that wish to possess it. So tune in here (and scroll down) for more.

"Das Rheingold" (163 minutes): In this first opera of the Ring Cycle, the curtain rises on the River Rhine wherein live three Rhinemaidens guarding the precious and magical rhinegold. Only by renouncing love can the gold be made magic. A dwarf by the name of Alberich (a Nibelung) arrives and steals the gold from the Rhinemaidens.  Meanwhile, the gods Wotan (the king of the gods) and Fricka (his wife) are overseeing the construction of Valhalla, which is being built by giants in exchange for Freia (Fricka's sister - the goddess of love). Wotan's sidekick Loge (the demigod of fire) tells him of the stolen rhinegold and of the magic ring that Alberich has forged. Wotan offers the gold to the giants in order to free Freia from bondage. The giants agree, so Wotan and Loge descend to earth to trick Alberich and steal the gold, but not before Alberich puts a curse on the ring. Wotan returns to Valhalla and pays the gold ransom (including the magic ring) to the giants. The giants fight over the gold, and one is killed. As the curtain closes, the gods enter the newly completed Valhalla. (Musical excerpt from "Das Rheingold": Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla, complete with anvils) 

"Die Walkure" (244 min) Things start to really get interesting. It's years later. A bloke named Siegmund, who happens to be the illegitimate son of the god Wotan and a mortal woman, arrives at a house during a storm seeking shelter. He is admitted by a young woman named Sieglinde (who happens to be Siegmund's long lost twin sister, but they don't know that just yet). Sieglinde is unhappily married to Hunding, and during this stormy night Siegmund and Sieglinde fall in love. (See the complications arising?) Hunding arrives home, and due to some earlier bad blood between the two (it seems they met before) it is decided that Hunding and Siegmund will fight to the death in the morning -- after a good night's sleep ... and perhaps a big breakfast. Sieglinde drugs Hunding, Siegmund draws a magic sword from a stone, and the young couple flee. Meanwhile, in Valhalla, Wotan is visiting with yet another of his illegitimate children - his daughter Brunnhilde (who is one of the Valkyries -- a group of nine warrior women, yes all Wotan's daughters, who collect fallen soldiers from the battlefield and bring them to Valhalla ... and then collect the 5-cent deposit on each ... that's just not funny). Wotan instructs Brunnhilde to protect Siegmund during his upcoming showdown with Hunding. Fricka arrives and in a jealous fit (perhaps due to the fact that everywhere she turns is another of Wotan's children via another woman) instructs Wotan to instruct Brunnhilde to allow Siegmund to die. Phew! Wotan caves to his wife (let's face it, the guy doesn't have a leg to stand on). Hunding ultimately catches up with Siegmund and Sieglinde, who is now pregnent with Siegmund's child (yes, they are brother and sister!), and the two men do battle. Zzzzzzzz.... I'm sorry, it's been a long day and I'm tired. I'll have to pick this up in the morning. Until then .... zzzz ...... Ok, I'm back, fully rested. Let's see, where were we? Ah yes, so Siegmund and Hunding do battle. Brunnhilde disobeys her father's orders and protects Siegmund, but Wotan arrives and causes Siegmund's sword to break, allowing Hunding to kill him. In his despair, Wotan kills Hunding. Brunnhilde then takes the pregnant Sieglinde on her horse and away they fly back to a mountaintop where all the Valkyries hang out. Wotan arrives, Sieglinde flees, and Brunnhilde remains behind to face the wrath of her father. Once again, I'm sorry ... gotta head off to work ... never enough time, always interruptions ... I'll finish this off later (I told you this opera was long!). Okay, I'm back again. Long day on the mail route. So there is Brunnhilde on this mountaintop, with Wotan. It's a painfull scene to watch as Wotan realizes he has to punish his favorite child. First he makes her mortal, which leaves her defenseless. Then he decides to place her in a magic deep sleep, leaving her to the first bloke that passes by. But then Wotan softens up, and tells Brunnhilde that he will encircle her in a ring of magic fire, courtesy of Loge - demigod of fire, through which only an heroic warrior can pass.  The opera ends with Brunnhilde asleep, encircled by fire, and Wotan exiting stage left ... just another day in Valhalla! (Musical excerpt from "Die Walkure": Ride of the Valkyries -  you may remember this music from the helicopter attack scene in Apocalypse Now ... or from Bugs Bunny's "What's Opera, Doc?" as Elmer Fudd sings: "Be very quiet --- I'm hunting wabbit")

"Siegfried" (253 min) Years pass. Something close to 20 years. Earlier, Sieglinde died giving birth to her son, Siegfried, who was then raised by the Nibelung Mime (the brother of Alberich, who originally stole the rhinegold from the rhinemaidens back in the first opera ... you do remember the first opera, I hope?!). Siegfriend is in possession of the broken pieces of his father's sword, and is hoping that Mime can forge them into a proper sword. One day, Wotan - who is Siegfried's grandfather - appears and enters into a series of riddles with Mime. The final riddle answer reveals that only a person without fear can forge the sword. That person, it turns out, is Siegfried himself. Wotan next visits the Giant who possesses the ring (except that now the Giant has been turned into a dragon). He also encounters Alberich. Later, Siegfried arrives and slays the dragon. The dragon's blood, which spills on Siegfried's hands, gives the young man special powers. He can now understand the song of the woodbird. And he can now read Mime's mind ... just in the nick of time as Mime was plotting to poison him (so he slays him as well). From the woodbird, Siegfried learns of a sleeping woman atop a mountain encircled by fire. Upon arriving there, he first encounters Wotan. Siegfried breaks Wotan's spear with his sword and travels on to the fiery rock upon which Brunnhilde sleep. He kisses her, awakening her from her slumber. The two fall in love. The encounter with Brunnhilde teaches the young Siegfried fear. Thus ends another day in the Rhineland! (Musical excerpt from "Siegfried": Forest Murmurs )

"Gotterdammerung" (281 min!) And so we arrive at the last opera - Gotterdammerung. It's a great German word. Gotterdammerung. It just rolls off the lips. Say it ... Gotterdammerung.  Ahhh, what a great word! It translates as "Twilight of the Gods." So, picking up the action - Siegfried and Brunnhilde are in love, which is a bit weird because one is the aunt of the other in this crazy universe where Wotan begat pretty much everyone (their family tree must look like a telephone pole). I didn't mention this earlier, but Siegfried now has the Ring, which he took from the giant/dragon he slayed in the earlier opera, and presents it to Brunnhilde. He then takes Brunnhilde's horse and goes off to do battle with ... frankly I've forgotten at this point. He arrives at this great Hall where a brother and a sister are plotting to drug him in order to cause him to forget about Brunnhilde, so the brother can marry Brunnhilde and the sister can marry Siegfried (I don't understand why they don't bypass this complicated plan and simply marry each other - it worked for Siegmund and Sieglinde ... see "Die Walkure"). The drug does the trick, Siegfried falls for the sister, and then, dressed as the brother, visits Brunnhilde and steals back the ring. I know, it's getting confusing. At some point, Brunnhilde realizes she was tricked by Siegfried (not knowing he was drugged) and joins forces with the brother (and yet another brother) to kill Siegfried. So the two brothers invite him on a hunting trip and do him in, claiming it was a hunting accident ... it is unclear whether Dick Cheney was there as well. Of course, upon Siegfried's death Brunnhilde now knows that he was in fact innocent, and she rides her horse into his funeral pyre, which saves tremendously on funeral costs. The flames rise up to Valhalla where the gods meet their ultimate end. Twilight of the Gods indeed! Curtain closes. (Musical excerpt from "Gotterdammerung": Siegfried's Funeral Music)

I wish to thank those of you who came along on this lo-o-o-ong operatic journey, which began with my initial blog post on Sep 24 and ends today, Oct 1. If any of this sounds remotely interesting, I encourage you to watch "Der Ring des Nibelungen." If it is not of interest, there's always Monday Night Football. Until next time...   

Jack Sheedy

The Who by Numbers

See and hear The WhoTook my 16-year old son to see THE WHO at the Garden last night.

(Incidentally, and grammatically, wouldn't it be THE WHOM? ... I always get "who" and "whom" mixed up ... I'll have to check my copy of Strunk & White.) Anyway, it was a great show, a great father-son bonding event, and a great ... what? ... I'm sorry, did you say something? I've got this odd ringing in my ears!

The journey began with a brief stop at my childhood hometown of Braintree - a/k/a God's Country - to fill up on fast food ($12) and cheap gasoline ($2.49/gallon). From there we drove on to Boston and North Station, parking at a garage across the street from the Garden, formerly the Fleet Center. We were a bit early so we made our way up a side street to the Harp, an establishment with Boston Irish flair, for some pre-concert refreshments ($23 with tip).

Inside the Garden we wandered about for a spell, found our seats four rows from "ice level" ($228 for two tickets including convenience charge, order processing charge, and facility charge) and then headed back out to the lobby to see about purchasing a concert T-shirt for my son ($35).

Back to our seats for the opening band (???) - a strange mixture of rap, Gregorian chant, and primeval scream. Enough of that! I headed back out to the lobby to grab a cup of coffee ($3) and to people watch, which is always fun. Within minutes I was befriended by a couple in their mid-50's (he's seen Led Zep six times, she first saw The Who/Whom at Woodstock, whatever that was).

The Who(m) went on at 8:30 before a crowd of 16,000 and played for two hours - all the classics, some Tommy, and some new stuff including a brief six-song mini opera that was quite good. Do you hear that ringing? Will someone please answer the phone!

Meanwhile, back at the parking garage it's a free-for-all trying to get down to street level. But it's great fun, we locate the car, the car starts, and eventually we reach Causway Street. Now to find the expressway.

So, to total it up: Concert tickets - $228, pre-concert food & drink - $35, concert T-shirt - $35, parking - $25, driving around the streets of Boston at half past eleven searching for Route 93 Southbound - priceless!

Jack Sheedy