Letters to Holly

Wednesday, August 2

Waits! Waits! I Never Got a Chance to Love You!

A great night was had by all. Mark strolled into town and a group of us former ECU folk met for dinner beforehand. I suggested Jerusalem Garden unaware of the disparity between the prices for lunch and dinner. It's a big leap. I left early to meet Travis and his Ohio pals so we could divvy up the tickets. Travis and I took the furthest seats, and they were pretty damn good. We were in the front row of the balcony section and dead center aligned with the stage. Tom Waits emerged at 8:20 and played for 90 minutes and then returned for two encores. I'm not as big a fan as the Greenville folks or Travis, and I recognized maybe three songs. The show was great, however, as Waits boasts a personality and sound that no one else on earth can offer. He treated us to the legendary between-song banter about audiences and coffee ("The key word in 'instant coffee?' Instant. ... My jar, my water, my coffee.") After the show, we hit a bar, exchanged ECU stories and quizzed each other on music trivia. I got back home about 1 a.m. Coupled with the Orlando hangover, I am dragging hard.

One more word about Orlando: Seaworld is a waste of time to anyone over the age of 17. There are exactly two aquarium exhibits: a snazzy shark tank you can walk under and a small dolphin nursery. Everything else is a trained animal act. The Shamu show was a brief, smaltzy production, and desperately dehydrated people flocked to it in hopes of getting drenched by whale splashes. If I was an eight-year-old girl, this would be heaven; it also has stables for Anheiser-Busch horses. But it's swarming with souvenir stands and overpriced theme restaurants. The Boston aquarium betters it five times over, easily.

During the trip I read to books by Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club). Survivor starts out solid as a rock: A former Christian-offshoot colonist toils as a housekeeper and fakes a suicide hotline service to encourage people to die. He tells his life story into the flight recorder of a hijacked airliner running out of fuel. But the book takes a bad step in the middle and becomes a weak parody of evengelical celebrity. Not sure I buy the ending either. Diary reads like a Stephen King story as a woman speaks to her comatose husband about a conspiracy involving suffering artists, generations of rich islanders, and cryptic warnings painted onto walls. He tells it well, but the ending, again, is bad; he even uses the cliche that the manuscript was sent to him by a character. It's obviously his post-911 story. The climax involves emergency personnel calmly walking into a burning house. Fight Club remains his best work, and even he readily admits the movie surpassed his book. Palahniuk is a fun read because he sprinkles the stories with interesting facts about household chemicals or art history. I wonder if he find trivia books about certain subjects and then crafts a tale around them.

Picture of the Day

Our view from the Thomas Wolfe seats, and Waits performing. The shadows added a lot to the tone.

In the News
While Israel vs. Hezbollah gets the most attention, Iraq is falling apart. U.S. generals are finally admitting civil war looms, which only puts them about a year behind everyone else who sees civil war is already upon them. Can the administration hold out until after the elections before pulling out? Do we ramp up our forces and try to hold the federal structure together? How do they repackage the "cut and run" insult when they do pull the plug?

+ + +

Rejoice and revel, french fries are back on the menu in Congress. They dropped "freedom" as the replacement name.
+ + +

Heath Ledger is playing The Joker in the new Batman film. I can dig it; he's certainly a good enough actor. But I'm very curious as to the character's design.

No comments: