Big Papi!!!

... He does it again!!!

... This is baseball at its best. I just watched David Ortiz blast another homerun to deep center field with two runners on, one out, in the bottom of the ninth. Red Sox win!!

Woo hoo!! ...Suck on that Yankees.

... Haven't American League pitchers learned not to pitch to David Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth when the game's on the line. ... Now as the 'Baseball Tonight' crew is showing the highlights once more and giving the anlysis, Buster Olney just compared to Ortiz to Michael Jordan in the final seconds of a basketball game: he's going to hit the shot.

Amazing. And so fun to watch!

... and by the way, kudos to Theo for holding tight and not making any dumb deals just because the Yankees flaunted their money again. Sure the Sox need pitching help, but they're still going to be in the mix ...

Trade talk

... They had to do what they had to do I guess, but geez.

... I switched on Sportscenter tonight, and there it was: Cubs trade Greg Maddux to the Dodgers. ... With all the talk swirling around over the last few days, it was inevitable. So sad... On the other hand, we got a solid infielder in Cesar Izturis ...

...But then came the bigger stinger. Todd Walker gets sent to the Padres ... darn. Say what you will about his glove and bat at times. But he's a solid guy and a solid player, and I've always looked forward to watching him play the last couple years. I'll miss him ...

... and this Jose Ceda guy they got in return better be good ...

Meanwhile ... what the heck are the Yankees gonna do with Bobby Abreu!?! Yeah, yeah, Hideki Matsui's out, Gary Sheffield's out. Blah, blah, blah. But seriously!?! How many more sluggers and all-stars does Steinbrenner think he needs over there!?

...Gosh I hope they fall flat down the stretch and Steinbrenner's head implodes ...

...But hey! By accident I discovered how to use the picture-in-picture on our TV. Now, I can watch the Cubs-D-Backs game and the Red Sox-Indians game at the same time. Nice.


Sunday reading

... A few of the interesting, intriguing reads I came across this last week ...

Janet Bares Belly, Not Soul ... Since I posted the heat story on here last week, my buddy Matt's become power hungry. Therefore two of this week's good reads are brought to you by him. As for Janet, the only word that comes to mind is bizarre ...

Requiem for a Rookie Card: How baseball cards lost their luster ...the other one sent to me my Matty, because he knows how much I love my baseball cards. This story is so good. So sad. And so true ...

Miller Park sausage race gets some more flavor ... ah, the shot heard 'round Wisconsin this last week. There's nothing like the sausage races at Miller Park ...

My co-workers are driving me crazy! ... If you can't relate to this one, you've got my dream job.

Returning to the lake

(...happy sigh)

... Kates and I just returned from a weekend at the natural gem that is Pine Lake ... 400 acres of nature and forest area, all surrounding a 40-acre, sprin-fed, crystal clear lake. It's the place where Kates took her first steps. The place where I practically learned how to fish and canoe. It's the place where both of us spent numerous summer camping with our families, the place where Kates and I eventually met, and the place where we spent three glorious summers working on the camp's staff, not to mention a couple winter breaks and long weekends away from college ...

...and it's where a starry nighttime sky is at its brightest ...

... It'd been nearly four years since we were last at the camp, but as Kates and I hiked around the lake Saturday afternoon, all the memories of staff pranks, rustic campfires, games, road trips, hikes and favorite spots came rushing back ...

...Grilled brats and vegetables for supper on Saturday night and then an early evening swim in the lake to cool off. And a hot fire under that starry sky to cap off a near-perfect Saturday ...

... we awoke to the cadence or rain beating our tent this morning, yet there's something beautiful about that too ... Sunday also included a scrumptious French toast breakfast, and a rousing game of Phase 10 before it was time to pack up and, always, let the iPod take us home ...


Sunday reading

... I was having so much fun last night, relaxing, jamming with my iPod and doing my Sudoku puzzles that Kates had to take both of them away from me and hide them so I would go to bed ...

Suddenly I was like a lost boy. Shucks.

Anyway ... Interesting and intriguing reads from the past week ...

Life & politics
a Read it here! It's hot outside! ... My friend in the journalism business, Matt, sent this to me this week as just about all of us were being sent out in business suits and ties to find out it was hot everywhere! ... even if you're not in the journalism biz, this one should have you laughing out loud ...
a Mark Patinkin: Plugging in may not be about tuning out, after all
a Resume the draft: Start in Congress ... Fun column. And only No. 7 applies to me, so apparently I don't have much to worry about ...
a Jonathan Chait: Is Bush Still Too Dumb to Be President? ... every time this discussion comes up, I can't help but think back to being in D.C. during August 2001 and hearing a veteran of the White House press corps talk about how easy they'd been on Bush who at that time was just a few months into his presidency. The journalist told us then, 'just wait a few weeks and you'll see the media really start to question the President.' ... But we all know what happened the following month instead and as this column points out we "were desperate to see heroic qualities in him." and before we knew it, our country was embedded in Iraq ...
a The Boy in the Chimney ... a fascinating LA Times story about a boy's body found in a chimney, where it had gone unnoticed since 1977 ...

Pop culture, media & entertainment
a YouTube Slapped With First Copyright Lawsuit For Video Posted Without Permission
a Rivers Cuomo Says Weezer Is 'Done' ... too bad. They had a really good year.
a In ‘Clerks II,’ Smith brings back same characters, same attitude ...personally, I liked 'Dogma' and 'Chasing Amy' ... but 'Clerks' still makes it ...
a Lupica Knows How To Please Young Readers ... about Mike Lupica, one of my favorite writers, and his latest project.
a Anchored in TV History ... PBS is airing a doumentary about Walter Cronkite. It sounds good ... now if I could just remember to watch it this week.
a In Bravo's new 'Tabloid Wars' reality show, journalism is the star ... looking forward to watching this one too!

Baseball & Bonds
a Tigers sharpen their claws in Chisox series
a A decade later, Rivera still dominates ... Ignoring the stats for just a little bit, I've always thought of Mariano Rivera as horribly overrated. Ok, so maybe his 2001 World Series performance was an anomaly, and maybe it's because he plays for the Yankees -- I still get sick of hearing broadcasters gush about him every time he steps from the bullpen ...
a Clutch Treat: Some players just have a knack for late-inning heroics
a Ringolsby: Quick fixes for stretch run can be costly ... some perspective on baseball's trading deadline
a Bonds avoids indictment, then injures knee
a Column: Sadly, Steroids Saved Baseball
a Ray McNulty: No indictment necessary to condemn Barry Bonds
a Prosecutors in Bonds Case Veer Toward Vendetta


Maddux vs. Clemens

... So the end result wasn't ideal. That's OK -- I'm getting used to it ...

... But it sure was great to watch. My eyes were glued to the TV all nine innings ... Clemens was tough, but how amazing was Maddux's defense all night long!?! ... As usual, the Cubbies just couldn't ignite the offense ...

That and Meatloaf announced in the booth with Len & Bob that he's releasing Bat Out of Hell III on Halloween ... Sweet!!



... Happy Birthday Kates! ...

... Both of us arrived home tonight and, with the temperatures down into the 70s for the first time in nearly a week, decided we were going to grill out and enjoy the evening outdoors ...

... As the sun set, we had a candlelit, home-cooked meal. Juicy steak, corn on the cob, perogies and salads ...

... The scene couldn't have been sweeter. Our house, our deck. Surrounded by lush green grass, our flower gardens and lightning bugs flashing throughout the yard. ...Afterward I continued sitting at the table for what seemed like hours, in a daze, taking it all in, and feeling thankful for it all. I can't remember the last time I've felt so relaxed ...

You wanna talk about dreams come true? This was it ...

Now, if only the other parts of our lives and this world could be so perfect ...



One moment I'm working a Sudoku puzzle and the Cubs are shutting out the Mets, 5-0.


The next moment, the Mets are going nuts on Cubs pitchers and the Wrigleyville bleacher bums.

Todd Walker errors. Two grand slams. Another homerun. And suddenly the Cubs are down 13-5.

... ay yay yay.

How much worse can this get!?!?!

Sunday reading

Lots of good reading this week. Here they are, some of the stories that fascinated me, captivated me and intrigued me from the past week ...

The life surrounding us ...
a Inspector: Homeland Security database flawed ... a good laugh. Seriously!? 8,591 potential terrorism targets in Indiana!? Seriously!?
a Wolves in Blazers and Khakis ... an excellent op/ed piece from the Washington Post regarding the boys involved in the Duke LaCrosse episode ...
a Where did all the kids go? ... A HA-larious, sarcastic look at kids playtimes thes days ...
a Even now, Gumby has that special dimension
a Death by Wikipedia: The Kenneth Lay Chronicles ... Hey, I'm not gonna lie -- Wikipedia is one of my favorites sites to read and surf around on it. But you've always gotta double-check your facts ...
a Vidgames can help you switch to sudoku
a Dave Barry talks about his Peter Pan ventures
a The YouTube way to fame and fortune (maybe)
a Music Blogs Try -- Futilely, Thus Far -- to Generate Radio's Communal Spirit

Entertainment stuff ...
a SHeDAISY pulls in sibling to continue sister country act
a After decades of bonding, disbanding and reforming, these women have nothing left to prove ... ah, the Go-Gos! ... I'm still glowing from seeing them a couple weeks ago, and a majority of their catalog had since been added to my iPod ...
a 'Clerks' Filmmaker Nurtures His Fans, and Himself, Online
a Pee-wee back on TV

Bonds and baseball ...
a Ex-friend accuses Bonds of ‘roid rages’ ... why I oughta ...
a Attorney says friend implored Bonds to stop using steroids
a Mantle, Campanella, Greenberg and Ott honored on new stamps


Our steamy movie weekend!

... So with the temperatures approaching 100 degrees, and our air conditioning, well, dead ...Kates I have literally been living in our basement for the weekend ...

... We called off our plans to go up to Bastille Days last night and instead opted to rent half of Blockbuster's inventory -- ok, not half, just 5 DVDs -- and spend it filling up on pizza, pop corn and, well, cold water in our naturally air-conditioned basement rec room. We blew up our air mattress, moved the pillows and sheets downstairs and were set ... only traipsing upstairs to get more food from the cupboards or refrigerator ...

Yeah. Lots of fun. ... if only the movies would have been better

... First up on Friday night, 'Prime,' featuring Meryl Streep as a shrink who's protective of her adult son and Uma Thurman, the 37-year-old patient, who has a chance meeting with Streep's 27-year-old, Jewish son. They fall in love of course, not knowing each other's connection to Streep ... The premise was enticing, but other than some hilarious moments between Streep and Uma, the movie is pretty blah and a stretch to get through ... 2 stars.

Next up, 'Flightplan'. ... Not spectacular, but by far the best movie we saw all weekend. Jodie Foster, of course, plays the mother whose daughter somehow disappears on this gigantic plane, which in a convenient twist of fate, she helped build and knows better than just about anyone on it. The fun of it all is you spend the first half of the movie -- a la 'Sixth Sense,' or any other recent mind-game thriller you can think of -- trying to figure out what's real and what's not, is she just dreaming things about her daughter's disappearance or is really the work of someone else on the plane ... needless to say, though, I did have the bad guy pegged from the beginning. ... 3 1/2 stars, highly recommended. And it it's any consolation, it's the only DVD in which we bothered to watch the special features afterward, which of course, always enhances the enjoyment and affection you have for a film.

After a good night's sleep (in our basement, on a cushy air mattress, remember) we watched 'Chicken Little' over breakfast ... whoah. I don't want to say awful ... but it came pretty close. The opening sequence where a narrator negated the traditional 'Once upon a time' and 'the shot of a book opening' fairytale introductions drew a good laugh from me, but it was all down hill from there ... You know the beginning: Chicken Little thinks the sky is falling, and the whole town goes crazy but ultimately disbelieves the innocent little chicken. Fine ... but the 'War of the Worlds' way the rest of the movie plays out isn't worth repeating ... 1 1/2 star. Don't bother.

Saturday night, we picked up again and kicked the evening off with 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith.' ... Ugh. Watching Brad and Angelina do nothing but hop around and blow things up, in between bickering and hopping around and trying to blow each other up, got really old after, like, 10 minutes. ... possibly one of the worst movies I've ever seen (right up there with other 'Feeling Minnesota' and 'Mary Reilley'). 1 star. That's 2 hours of my life I'll never get back.

Finally, we ended it with 'Matchpoint,' one that drew a lot of interest from me, given the Oscar buzz it got last winter, not to mention the beauty and charm of Scarlett Johansson and Emily Mortimer. Simply: It's a love triangle that goes horribly bad. Fading tennis star Chris meets and marries his friend's sister, Chloe (Mortimer), but quickly falls for the friend's fiancé, Nora, (Johansson). ... and you can imagine everything that follows -- an affair, a pregnancy and a murder. The story, acting and suspense were as good as any film, but it's easy to get annoyed with Nora's over-the-top whining and desperation, as well as the horrible opera music that plays throughout much of the movie ... 3 stars. But it's nothing I'd run out and grab.

As we shut down the DVD player and cleaned up our mess, Kates and I looked at each other and agreed: Overall, that was a pretty sucky batch of movies ...


83-year-old strikes out in lone at-bat

83-year-old strikes out in lone at-bat

Also: Wallace officially signs with Bulls

Woo hoo!

Something's always wrong

...This pretty much sums it up ...

... My car's been sputtering a lot lately and needs to get checked out. And tonight I couldn't mow our lawn because the lawn mower wouldn't start ...

… Kates has been on me about the air conditioner, which we don’t think is working properly. The Cubs suck. Barry Bonds is going to be indicted next week. Gas prices will be at 5 bucks a gallon before the end of month. Interest rates are going up. The Middle East is getting blown to pieces. And Bush is still in the White House.

And as I write this there’s plumes of water from our street and the surrounding sidewalks next door. Kates has just came to tell me the neighbor from across the street stopped by and confirmed there’s a water main break and people are getting water in their basements …

...Luckily none in ours yet …but the way things are going, we'll probably be paddling away by the end of the night.


If this one isn't doomed ...

Katie Holmes' parents may boycott wedding
Katie Holmes initially wanted a Catholic wedding, but “realized she’d never win the argument about having a Catholic wedding” ...

hmmm ...

... Get out, Katie!! Get out!! Get out now!!

I missed it

... I missed the All-Star game last night, I think for the first time in my life ... or at least since I was old enough to start watching MLB all-star games. Or old enough to remember watching them.

... Kates and I went down to Chicago for a show. So I set the DVR to record the game , and I had planned to try hard today to avoid any All-Star coverage so I could watch the game tonight.

... It was not to be. We arrived home last night, and I flipped on the DVR, only to see the game didn't record.

... Too bad. It looked like a pretty good game. I had to catch the coverage on Sportscenter.

* * *

... So about that show.

... Kates and I were down at the refurbished Chicago Theatre Downstairs for the premiere of 'The Big Bang' ...


The tagline:
Have you ever dreamed of getting involved in a big-time Broadway production? Join us in the elegant Park Avenue apartment of Dr. Sid and Sylvia Lipbalm as two wannabe producers, Jed and Boyd (Ben Dibble and Tony Braithwaite), try to line up backers for The Big Bang, the most expensive and lavish Broadway musical ever written. With a budget of $83 million a cast of 318; 6,428 costumes, 1,400 wigs and 302 prosthetic devices, this show will depict the entire history of the world - from the formation of the planets, to the building of the pyramid. From Napolean's France to the present . Adam and Eve, Nefertiti and the slaves, Ceaser, Mrs. Ghandi, Attila, Columbus, Minnehaha, Tokyo Rose, Eva Braun and more. Will Broadway ever be the same? Surely, the Lipbalm apartment won't!
... While the audience takes the role as the possible suitors for the show, Dibble and Braithwaite, as the wannabe producers pitching their expansive show.

Think Abbott & Costello, or Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby playing off each other in White Christmas. Or better yet, Lenny & Squiggy. The chemistry and comedy chops of Dibble and Braithwaite were striking as they threw a whirlwind of scene changes, product placements and songs at the audience, and tore apart the apartment using linens, drapes, pillows, wall decorations, fruit and more as props for their show -- only have to hurriedly put it all back when the sudden phone call came that the Lipbalms were coming home.

... the 'production' never got dull or boring, and Kates and I barely stopped laughing. Before we knew it, the 90-minute show was over ... and, in what might be the show's only downfall, we were left wanting more ...

Highly recommended.

* * *

... So Kates and I started watching the Grey's Anatomy Season One DVD tonight ... Woo Hoo!

... Episode 3 is playing as I write this ...

... Kates and I haven't missed an episode since the show started airing last year and said then that it was the new best show on television and yada, yada, yada ...

... But here we are again, recapturing the magic of the first episodes when we met Meredith, George, Alex, Izzie, Yang, Burke, Shepard, Bailey, Chief -- the whole gang. ... our newest 'Friends' on TV ...

... Not only is it fun to connect the episodes with the music Kates and I have been downloading and listening to for months (it's great stuff!), but as always it's amazing to catch all the stuff you didn't see the first time, and see the story unfold in a new light, given all the things we've learned up to the 36th episode (aka, the season 2 finale) ... like the fact that Izzie was showing her crazy side even in the first couple episodes.


Summerfest. Day #5. It's a wash.

... Closing day. The last one. The grand finale. ... Good thing. Cause I'm exhausted and ready to be done with Summerfest for awhile ...

On tap for tonight? The Bangles for an 8:30 show at the Classic Rock stage (since when are the Bangles classic rock!?!?), and then if we were lucky, Aqualung at 10 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. ...Yeah, you read that one right too -- Aqualung -- mellow piano pop -- at the typically rowdy Harley-Davidson stage ...

So I caught the Ryan Road shuttle one more time -- Bus No. 41. It's been engraved in my brain this last week -- and met ol' buddy Matty at the Summerfest gates as planned a little after 5:30, never minding the ugly-looking storm clouds that were suddenly rubbing away the sunshine and settling over downtown Milwaukee. ... I was starving; he'd already eaten. So we started our walk through the grounds and eventually came to the Saz's booth. Their combo plate (mozarella sticks, cheese curds, fries, etc) had come highly recommended from another friend, so I stepped to the window and placed an order. (I also was proud of myself for eating a different food from a different restaurant every day I'd been to Summerfest ...)

...No sooner had I finished ordering, Matt and I turned around to see a torrential downpour beginning to fall from the sky and the throngs of Summerfest-goers scattering for any piece of shelter they could find -- including the canopy we were standing under at Saz's. A couple minutes later, I had my combo plate and there we stood, stuck in the crowd, waiting for the rain to subside ...

Eventually, it did. But only for a little while.

Beginning our walk again, we stopped once more to watch the kid juggling fire and knives on his unicycle. And soon we were at the classic rock stage, surveying the crowd in place for the Bangles show. With about two hours before showtime, a good cover band on stage and a decent-sized crowd in place, we decided to stay ...

... But once again, no sooner had I got my routine 'bucket' of Dew, the rains broke loose again. There was no use finding shelter this time and we quickly settled on the idea of enjoying the rain, getting soaked and having all the fun we could. ... On the stage, the Rockerfellers -- fronted by a cute female vocalist and a tank-top-wearing stud with arms so bulging he should be a pro wrestler -- had the crowd getting, well, wet n' wild. ... A classic Summerfest cover band, they belted out 'It's My Life,' 'Jessie's Girl' 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,' 'Our Lips Are Sealed' 'Let's Go Crazy' and much, much more. All the while, the rain kept falling, Matt and I kept singing and dancing -- and enthusiastically stepping closer to the stage everytime someone in front of us gave into the rain and left ...

...We had made it to the third row -- perfect for the Bangles show! -- when the rain started becoming so thick and heavy it had ruined my Mountain Dew. And shut down the rest of the Rockerfellers show.

... And now the rain is coming down so hard, it's approaching hurricane status. Matt and I bolted from the stage, along with the 30 or so other people there with us. We ran past the 40 or so people still waiting in line for Kenny Chesney tour shirts. And I see a few people taking shelter in the port-a-potties.

Seems like a good idea, I thought. ... I began to enter an empty one.

'You're going to wait it out in a portable toilet!?' Matt shouts.

Right. Bad idea. ... we shared a hearty laugh.

And finally found Jo-Jo's Martini Lounge, one of the few covered stage areas on the grounds, where another band was finishing up and a drenched 21-and-over crowd was packing in among the only dry people remaining on the grounds.

And we waited. And watched the torrential rains. And waited. And walked around the tent. And laughed at our situation. And saw an older gentleman actually pouring water from his shoe. And came up with alternate names for Summerfest (Blubberfest, Rain Forest Fest, Splashfest, Drenchfest ... ) And waited some more. And watched more of the torrential rains ...

Finally, when we saw the rain diminish ever so slightly, having come to the conclusion there would be no Bangles concert tonight (... at least for us. It turns out they did play.), we left the shelter of Jo-Jos and ran for the parking lot ... Only the Harley-Davidsion stage still had a band playing and soaked fest-goers were running every which way ...

Matt and I said our goodbyes. And I said my goodbye to Summerfest. It was fun and memorable again my dear friend. And I'll look forward to doing it again next year ...

But yeah, about that rain storm ... As I rode the bus back to my car, now at about 8 p.m., I couldn't help but notice this rain seemed to be getting worse. The lightning was getting worse. And the roads were getting worse ...

I stepped off the bus and jogged to my car in the downpour, and breathed a deep sigh of relief when I was finally behind my steering wheel, unloading my drenched pockets, and turning on the heat to relieve my soaked, cold body ...

But, oh, we weren't done yet. ... In what's typically a 15-minute drive from the Ryan Road parking lot to my doorstep, it would take me the next hour to get home. ... It was probably the worst -- no, it was the worst -- rainstorm I've ever driven through. White knuckles gripping the steering wheel and all. Mine and every car going barely 20 miles on the interstate. People were driving with their flashers on. Blinding lightning flashing all around. Flooded bridges and overpasses. Driving rain so hard I thought my window was going to shatter. Windshield wipers on to the max ...

But my little green machine and I bonded, held strong and made it through -- good thing, too, because she's been a little stubborn lately.

And finally when we pulled into the garage, I could leak a smile, look out and enjoy the spectacle Mother Nature had produced ... and be thankful for a heckuva a five-day run at Summerfest '06.

a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Big Gig looking to get better with age
a JS online's Summerfest blog ... there's been some great posts on here throughout ...
a OnWisconsin's Summerfest section, including MKE's Summerfest bingo card, tons of show reviews and archived coverage from past years ...
a My Summerfest preparation: 'It's here baby!!'
a My Summerfest Day #1
a My Summerfest Day #2
a My Summerfest Day #3
a My Summerfest Day #4

Sunday reading

Another round of some of the more intriguing and interesting reads I found this last week ...

Life in general
a 11 "Don't-Tell-the-Wife" Secrets All Men Keep ... a great read for both sexes. Even better if you read it together -- and then laugh at how many you nod and say yep, 'he does that,' or 'yep, she's like that.'
a Ogling Google's doodles: Artist loves challenge of holiday logo tweaking ... this is an old one I stumbled across, but interesting nonetheless for fans of the daily google artwork.
a Greatest annoyance at work? Cell phones, employees say Why the need for collecting?

a Outfield save still fresh in Rick Monday's mind 30 years later

TV & movies
a For Amy Sedaris, the weird is weirdly wonderful
a Clip Tease: Trailers As Art
a Series of lies cloud 'The View' ... oh boy, how fun was this to watch unfold all week!?

a When Smokey sings, the audience melts
a Woodstock site rises from its muddy past
a Great year made Keane miserable
a Imogen Heap doesn’t need band for backup

Summerfest. Day #4

In one preview for fest-goers earlier this week, I told readers 'If you’re still looking for a reason to go to Summerfest on Saturday, do it just to see Guster’s Brian Rosenworcel pounding instruments as the band’s one-man percussion section ...'

Going into this year's Summerfest, there was no show I was looking forward to more than Guster's appearance Saturday night. And my anxiety was only amped up further during an interview last week with Rosenworcel.

"The live show is still very much an abusive spectacle; No one should be disappointed," he assured me during the interview.

For those of you unfamiliar with Guster, Rosenworcel, aka "The Thundergod," is arguably one of the most winning aspects of the band’s unique sound, playing a combo of bongos, cymbals, snare drums and other percussion with his bare hands.

So it’s no surprise that when Guster released its fifth studio album, "Ganging Up On The Sun" just a couple weeks ago I found message boards lighting up with long time fans lamenting the evolution of Guster from a cool college-indie band with a bongo player to a polished pop-rock act.

But while Rosenworcel still pulls out the bongos for shows, he’s not sweating the negative vibes from members of the band’s devoted followers. In fact, the drummer himself would be the first to say the decision to weed out the bongos was a music-based one the band made to ensure its growth.

"I’m aware of it, but I don’t read it," he said of the Internet posts. "I’m also aware those people are the vocal minority and are passionate about having a band sound a certain way. That doesn’t really gel with our own ability to be artists."

Starting with 2003’s "Keep It Together," the Boston quartet ceased relying on a percussion kit and a couple acoustic guitars. The band has expanded its sound with more piano, more horns and banjo.

After all, "Ganging Up" debuted at No. 25 on the Billboard Album Sales charts and has won the affection of critics who like the new sound. The album also benefits from Pisapia, who previously had joined the band only on tour.

Said one reviewer for the Boston Herald: " ‘Ganging Up On The Sun’ aspires to classic pop. With the dorky bongos gone, it’s an album that fits on the shelf between Coldplay and The Shins (or even the Beatles and Elvis Costello). It seems their migration has made the boys a little more cosmopolitan."

The Guster boys have named ’60s rock bands like The Kinks, The Beatles and The Band among their influences, but the group’s signature vocal harmonies also have induced comparisons to The Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel.

"I think it’s just what happens when we get in a room as a quartet," Rosenworcel said. "... Everybody has sort of a direction they’re feeling and what ever happens happens.

"We never intended to create a seven-minute Pink Floyd epic song," he added, referring to the epic "Ruby Falls," the seventh track on "Ganging Up," which features lush harmonies and a muted trumpet. "But a chord progression happens. A lyric happens. A melody happens. There’s no pre-conceived process."

When I asked Rosenworcel what we could expect at the Summerfest show, he noted it would be just the band's second show promoting the new album (after two weeks of running around doing in-store gigs, Leno and other big-time performances) and the band still enjoys playing the songs on the new album.

"We might play some of the songs faster ’cause we’ll be excited," he said. "We’ll play a long set and give everybody what they want. There’s 12 songs on the record and I’m excited to play them live so something’s gonna have to give."

Added Rosenworcel, "I think Summerfest is one of my favorite things. I really, really, really rallied hard for us to do it … We have an incredible amount of support in Milwaukee. I don’t know where it came from, but Summerfest is like a giant celebration of that fact."

... So how could a show so anticipated, be such a let down? Let me explain ...

Coming off the Train show of the previous night and having officially dubbed it the best show I've seen at Summerfest -- I was back at the grounds at 5:30 Saturday night ... With my friend Eddie allegedly on his way to meet me, I roamed -- first stumbling across Good Luck Joes, a tight and talented little rock band inside the Pavilion. I then got over to the Miller Lite Oasis to catch a bit of Bobby Friss and survey the growing crowd for the Guster show. I had some time, I thought, so I grabbed a Chicago-style dog at Martino's and roamed some more ...

... I stopped for awhile and joined the crowd encircling a dude juggling bowling pins, knives and eventually torches while riding a unicycle ...

... and eventually got to the Big Backyard for one of the shows I had my eye on when the night started, a Prince tribute band called Perple Rain. The show started at 7, the benches in front of the stage were loaded with families and the band opened with 'Let's Go Crazy'. So I'm thinking, sweet! This is going to be a fun show ...

Think again ... it went downhill fast. I quickly remembered why I like some of Prince's music, but always hated watching his act ... and then some. To be honest, the guy playing Prince wasn't that great of a singer, although he had the getup and pant-suits down. Not only that, these guys weren't playing any of the Prince classics or hits. Aside from the opener and 'Rasberry Beret,' they played just about every song in the Prince catalog unfit for radio. Even worse -- especially for the families watching with little girls and boys, I'm sure -- the show was chock full with scantily-dressed women (we're talking women in thongs parading across the stage before each song to hand 'Prince' his guitar ...) dancing and appearing throughout the show ... Aye.

... I had also wanted to check out a Pink Floyd tribute -- Think Floyd USA -- playing at the Classic Rock stage (not to mention Pink and Toto were playing later in the night...) but decided to forego it when I took another gander at the swelling Guster crowd at the Miller Lite Oasis. So I took up a bench at the Oasis, much, much, much further from the stage than I'd hoped to be. And waited while the Willy Porter Band -- a grrrrreat little jam band (below) held the stage (One college-aged kid behind me was so enthralled with Willy Porter, he yelled 'These guys are so much better than Guster!' ... and later, 'Guster should open for YOU!)

All the while ... Eddie's finally arrived at the grounds. Actually finding each other would be a whole other task ... He calls my cell phone (how people ever survived at Summerfest without them now baffles many of us younger Fest-goers ...) but with the loud music and crowds, neither of us can make out anything the other is saying ... long, looooong story short: the two of us spent the next 90 minutes screaming into our phones with me trying to direct him to where I was standing (for the hundreth time, Eddie ... I'm on the benches, on the left side of the stage, just to the right of the bar, by the number 6 on the pole. I'm dressed in all red, you can't miss me! ... there was no way I was leaving, risking giving up the terrible but decent spot I had ...). We exchanged more text messages than either of us had sent in our cell phone careers, in between more ill-fated attempts to try speaking over the phones, which often resulted in hanging up on each other out of extreme frustration ...

By the time Guster stepped on the stage at 10 p.m., I was wiped ... not to mention, surrounded by disrespectful teenie-boppers and frat boys (my least-favorite crowd to be around ...) and a guy standing next to me who I swear had smoked about two-dozen packs of cigarettes, single-handedly putting me in the hospital with a lung cancer diagnosis for sure by next week ...

The band opened with a song off their new album 'The Captain,' and quickly began entertaining the crowd with their between-song banter. Said lead singer Ryan Miller, sporting a Kenney Chesney tour shirt, no less: "If you guys are unfamilar with us, we are Carrie underwood, season four American Idol winner. And we are doing everything to avoid the Ruben Studdard curse..."

From there, they went back a couple years to my favorite Guster album ('Keep it Together') and played a great 'Careful.' Then it was back to the new stuff, as they ran off 'One Man Wrecking Machine' and 'The New Underground' and then, off the Goldfly album, 'Airport Song.'

The band was just going into 'Hang On,' when I got yet another text from Eddie saying 'We're at Pink'

I wrote back. 'I'm coming over.'

Sorry, Guster ... They were amazing when Kates and I saw them a couple years ago. And they're albums are sooooooooooo good ... But -- given the rambuctious crowd, my terrible view (it wasn't even fun to watch the video boards) and the fact I was subconciously hoping to top that amazing Train show from the night before -- Guster just weren't doing it for me Saturday night ... And that's when you gotta suck it up and enjoy the fact that you're at the World's Largest Music Festival and you've got a dozen other top-notch acts to choose from ...

So -- as though I was giving into the world -- I sighed and stepped off my spot on the bench and began walking toward the Big Backyard stage to see Pink. ... I was met by another bulging, but much more manageable crowd. Still, Eddie was nowhere to be found, but I somehow managed to slither through and land atop a picnic table with a great view. ... And there was Pink, looking as beautiful as ever in her bleached blond hair and a long black skirt with blue trim; she was playful with the crowd and totally fun to watch ... (the picture here doesn't do the scene any justice ...)

A couple minutes later, she had the crowd rocking out to a dynamite 'Don't Let Me Get Me' (my personal Pink fave!). Then she pulled out one of the great, early hits I'd almost forgotten, an awesome 'There You Go' And she followed that with soaring, crowd-energizing, sing-a-long covers of 'What's Up' and 'Blister In the Sun' ... watching Pink dance around the stage, singing to her songs and getting a chuckle out of the two starstruck gay guys standing in front of me, a huge smile was spread across my face and it was easily the most fun 20 minutes I had all night ...

... seeing all I wanted, and knowing Toto was playing a a few strides away, I decided to keep with the bounce theme and leave Pink for yet another stage. ... I walked up to a modest crowd at the Classic Rock stage just as Toto was finishing up on Rosanna ... Doh! that's the one I really wanted to hear from them ... Nonethless I stuck around, sent a couple more voice mails and text message to Eddie who was till missing in action, and enjoyed the classic sounds of Toto ... I did get to hear 'I Won't Hold You Back' (ah, the memory of my mother's easy listening radio stations ... ) and then 'Africa' for the finale, which ended with the band hanging up their instruments one by one and the drums fading out just like the original recording. Pretty sweet!

... so now, with my night seemingly over, I started heading to the exits, but decide to take one last look at the Tiki stage for Eddie. The last I'd heard from him, 15 minutes earlier, that's where he was ... So I'm looking, I'm looking ... And there he is, sitting on a picnic table, nursing a beer and looking Ed-blivious. I walked up, stood smack in front of him, and stared back, not saying a word.

He laughs in his own Eddie way, throws up his arms in his own Eddie way and shouts 'Mark!' in his gravely Eddie-voice. And then gets off his picnic table and gives me a hug. Nice to see you too, Eddie -- finally!!

'Are you going to be here for awhile!?' I ask. He nods. 'Good!'

... I walked briskly back to the Miller Lite Oasis out of curiosity ... and to my delight, Guster was still playing. There last song, in fact, a lovely (if I remember right ...) 'Backyard.' ... the entire night had been such an utter frustration mixed with a small collection of surprisingly enjoyable moments, and suddenly here I was back where it all started. Finally being able to look back and enjoy it all ...

I did go back to the Tiki stage to meet Eddie ... Finally we could catch up. We closed the place down. I crawled in bed at nearly 3 a.m., and somehow dragged myself out of bed this morning to do all of it one more time.

Gosh, I love Summerfest.


a My Summerfest preparation: 'It's here baby!!'
a Summerfest Day #1
a Summerfest Day #2
a Summerfest Day #3


Summerfest. Day #3

This is going to be a long one folks.

Let's start with a phone interview I did last week with Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford. The band was set to play Summerfest, and I was writing up a preview ...

Now, digging through my archive of concert memories, Train will always have a special place.

It was October 1998, and opening for Ben Folds Five in a small Omaha, Neb., auditorium was Train -- then a little-known San Francisco-based band with a song called "Meet Virginia" grabbing decent radio play.

When the band finally took the stage that fall night in Omaha, Train frontman Patrick Monahan explained the band had lost some of its instruments and equipment. The group would have to improvise.

What followed was an unforgettable acoustic set with Monahan serenading the crowd and the band’s guitarists rocking back and forth on their guitar. Heck, drummer Scott Underwood, sans his regular drum set, beat on a grouping of cardboard boxes.

So I was eager to ask Stafford about that night. He couldn't remember why the band's gear didn't show up, but he did indeed remember that show -- and the tour. "Ben Folds is the kind of band where their fans are just all about them and they especially don’t like any bands with commercial success …That was a tough tour for us, trying to win over fans" ... I didn't tell him I was as big a Ben Folds fan as they come. But I also knew what he has said, sadly, is so true.

Yet even in its rawness, I remember Train’s sound that Omaha night being, well, pretty awesome. And I remember the crowd going wild when they played "Meet Virginia" to finish their set.

Still, in a pop-rock music culture laden with one-hit wonders and bands whose first couple albums shine as bright as the sun one year and fade into oblivion the next, most of us in the crowd that night probably would’ve shrugged at the notion that Train was embarking on something big.

And yet there I was in my college apartment a couple years later, watching them perform"Drops of Jupiter" on a brightly-lit Grammy stage to the roar of thousands of screaming fans. I'll never forget that Grammy performance and thinking, 'Gosh, they've come a long way.'

Since "Meet Virginia," Train has quietly rolled into a station at the top tier of today’s hottest pop-rock acts. Each of their four studio albums have gained platinum status while attracting critical acclaim, thanks to Monohan’s skillful songwriting and instrumentals that often feature lush orchestrations. Much of Train’s appeal is a sound that’s largely rock-influenced, but also blends adult contemporary, country and pop music.

"Radio’s been really good to us over the years," Stafford said to me. "People don’t always know the band name but they know the songs … It’s pretty amazing to have your dream come true."

Now on "For Me, It’s You," the latest Train album coming out earlier this year, newcomers bassist Johnny Colt and keyboardist Brandon Bush banded with Monahan, Stafford and Underwood to produce one of Train’s most organic albums to date. And Stafford says it might be Train’s best yet. But then, he admits he says that about every release.

"I’m proud of all of our records," he said. " … I loved the old records where you could just sit and listen. You’d listen to side one, and then you’d turn it over and listen to side two. Not a lot of bands are doing that these days and that’s why people are downloading. I think we’re the kind of band that it’s been a goal since the beginning to make good records, put out a whole record and make it a journey."

Finally I asked him what we could expect at the Summerfest performance. Of course, he said the band would likely pull out one or two Led Zeppelin covers -- something that’s become a staple of any Train show, as well as a lot of the classic Train tunes. If the crowd was behaving, Stafford said the band could play an acoustic segment as well. Finally, he said, Train is packing more production than usual with its current tour -- but then he pulled back, saying he wasn't sure how much the band would be able to use in a festival setting ...

* * *

Now fast forward to last night when Train rolled into Summerfest. And while the Go-Gos show last weekend and the upcoming Guster show tonight were my biggies, Train was on my radar, but not high on the list as far as expectations.


Let's just say my expectations were blown away. Train raised the bar. And I'm calling it the best show I've seen in my four years of doing Summerfest.

With Train due up at 10, Kates and I arrived at the fest grounds at about 5:30 p.m -- to the sounds of Steely Dan doing 'Reelin in the Years' for their sound check at the Marcus Amphitheater. Nice ... We got some Chipotle (yum!) and parked ourselves at the back of the Classic Rock Stage where U2 Zoo was already rocking out. ... There show was just as amazing as I'd remembered it being last year. They had attracted a HUGE crowd, and I could say their covers of "Beautiful Day," "Desire" and "With Or Without You" were amazing -- but hey. They're a U2 cover band playing at Summerfest -- they're supposed to be good.

With plenty of wide open spaces still available at the Miller Lite Stage (and not being interested in the crappy heavy metal band playing) Kates and I began wasting time, walking the grounds, watching people and laughing at the people's random text messages being displayed on the video board at the U.S. Cellular Stage where all the teenie boppers were waiting for Yellowcard. ... This whole text displaying text message thing must be a new popular thing, because they did it the other night on the video board at the Brewers game too. Among the message displayed: 'Beer is Lovely.' 'Hawaiian Shave Ice Rocks Let's get some.' And 'I'm bored let's make out.'

...We caught Andrew Lynch (I call him Milwaukee's version of Jason Mraz) at a side stage and then returned to the Miller Oasis as Mat Kearney and his band were doing their sound check ... Now, Kates and I didn't think we'd hear of Kearney, but his voice and sound -- a pleasing rock sound infused with piano and acoustic guitars (sounds like The Fray, or Keane -- it seems there's a lot of that going around Summerfest this year.) -- were all to familiar. Plus there was a good crowd of people around the stage who were mouthing his songs and knew his stuff. And it was really good stuff that you couldn't keep from dancing or singing along with ... He hooked the crowd even deeper by interchanging a lot of his lyrics with phrases about Milwaukee and Chicago.

Then Kearney came to the last song of his set ... I recognized it instantly. A sweet, catchy tune called 'Nothing Left To Lose.' Ah, yes. Mat Kearney. Mark him down on my list ... very good stuff.

So Train ...

Best way to describe the show in one word: Explosive.

...the guys walked on the stage and wasted no time raising the energy level way up with 'Am I Reaching You Now.' Monohan was racing from one side of the stage to the other and barely stopped all night, belting out the songs. And Stafford, who I'd remembered as wildly entertaining to watch in Omaha, was going crazy on his guitar like there was no tomorrow ...

From there, the band played a fast-paced 'Meet Virginia' with a wild Jimmy Stafford guitar solo. Then 'Get To Me' and 'She's on Fire' with a rocking keyboard from Brandon Bush ... and while 'She's on Fire' continued, and the energy level only got higher, Monohan called five girls onto the stage and introduced them as The Trainettes. As the band finished off the last half of the song, the girls huddle around the mic, belting out the 'She on F - i i i i i i i i i i -- re' chorus with the crowd. Awesome.

...In no time, they were pulling out the Led Zepp covers, starting with an instantly recognizable 'Ramble On.' The guys played another song from the new album, 'I'm Not Waiting In Line,' before the stage lights dimmed, leaving Johnny Colt on mandolin, Stafford on acoustic guitar and Monohan on vocals for a spot-on version of Led Zepp's 'Going to California.' ...

When the lights came back up and the other band members returned, Monohan encouraged the crowd to think for a minute about their guardian angels ... leaving no doubt for the next tune, one of my personal faves: 'Calling All Angels.' Hands were in the air and the crowd was roaring (below) ... From there, the band went seemlessly into 'When I Look To The Sky,' with a beautiful piano accompaniment by Bush before the rest of the band came in on the second verse.

There was constant crowd interaction throughout the show -- the aforementioned Trainettes. Monohan telling stories to the crowd. And on 'Save The Day' Monohan pulled another one -- jumping into the first row and softly serenading a young woman -- Monohan was literally singing in her ear and brushing back her hair as he sang. ... so it's no surprise that when, after Monohan jumped back on to the stage, the video screen showed the girl flopping down into her seat and fanning herself with her hands, as if she was about to faint at any moment -- kind of like those old videos you see of Michael Jackson concerts.

And about that production, too. I'd pretty much written it off when Stafford downplayed it last week ... but apparently the festival setting wasn't so daunting after all. Huge spotlights of varied heights lined the back of the stage and swirling stars and other light forms were constantly circling the stage area ...

Then, after the band did 'All-American Girl' which followed a raucous segment of dueling drums between Underwood on his drum set and Monohan on a set of bongos (for a few minutes there I thought I'd just been transported to a Blue Man Group show ...), Monohan asked the crowd 'How about some Drops of Jupiter?' To which the crowd, of course, exploded in cheers. ... singing the words, espcially the Na Na Nas with the band and the hundreds of Train fans -- you can't beat it.

So the first set was over. And then came the encore ...

The band led it off with 'Cab,' a take-it-or-leave-it radio hit from the new album ...

... And then, another instantly recognizable cover which by this time had the crowd and the atmosphere busting with energy. The song: Aerosmith's 'Dream On'

Wow. Wow. Wow. ... The music seemed louder. The lights seemed brighter. The crowd was absolutely turned on. ... Monahan screamed 'Dream On! Dream On!' and then suddenly a huge plume of red and yellow confetti exploded from the top of the stage area, before fluttering on to the crowd.

One word: Explosive.

... and exhausting.


-My Summerfest preparation: 'It's here baby!!'

-Summerfest Day #1

-Summerfest Day #2


Livin' it up!

... Talk about living up the summer life in the big city on Lake Michigan ...

... On Tuesday night, after a day of relaxation, reading and grilling, we biked to the lakefront to watch the fireworks. It was a spectacular display, of course, but I think I might have had more fun riding home. ... 'Biking it' is huge in our city, so when the fireworks ended and like 90 percent of the thousands of spectators started making the mad dash to their cars, where they were likely to spen the next two hours in one maddening traffic jam, it was fun to watch the packs of bicyclists, including Kates and I, boarding bikes and whizzing by the stalled cars and crowded streets -- safely of course ...

... By the time we got to what's usually one of the busiest streets in the city, there was barely a car on the road -- because they were still stuck in the downtown traffic. And we glided home under the glow of the street lights ...

* * *
Wednesday night ... we were riding to the lake again. This time to catch my friend Liz and the city pops band, playing a rock 'n roll themed show ...

... '60s music and nostalgia galore.

... If you've never heard 'Satisfaction' and that classic guitar riff played by a line of trumpets -- it's worth the trip.

* * *

Last night: The Brewers-Cubs game at Miller Park, aka Wrigley Field North.

... With the legend Greg Maddux on the mound for the Cubs and oh-so-close-to-being-an-all-star Chris Capuano going for the Brewers, it was a flat-out pitchers duel. Despite a rough first and third, Maddux only gave up two runs on six hits in six innings. But Capuano was better, pitching a complete game shutout for the Crew, giving up only six hits.

The only play worth noting for the Cubs was Aramis Ramirez lacing a shot off the right field wall to start the seventh. Although it looked like it might've been gone on contact, Ramirez notoriously loafed around his way to first base and then turned it on when the ball bounced off the ball. He turned second for third, but by Geoff Jenkins' throw was right on the money at third, and Ramirez was a goner ...

The Cubs may be done, but the Brewers are just 2 1/2 out baby!!!


Copy-editing ...

So a press release came across our desk today for a local church festival ...

The headline read ...

Bring the whole family for two days of fun
Saturday July 7th, 8th and 9th

...I'll give you some time if you need to read it again.

A good laugh was had by all.

Ken Lay, Enron founder, dead

The shot heard 'round American newsrooms this morning ...

Ken Lay, Enron founder, dead at 64


Happy Fourth of July!

Leave the fireworks up to the professionals folks ...

Don't drink and drive ...

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July ...


Sunday reading

... We finally got back to playing baseball today. After three weeks of being rained out.

... And yet we nearly got rained out again this week. We actually warmed up in a light rain, but it stopped a few minutes before game time.

... Maybe we should've stayed home anyway. The game was a joke. Our worst of the season. We flat out weren't in the game.

... As the visiting team, we batted first and got one run across.

... Let's just say the other team got a few more. A lot more. ... Round and round the bases they went.

... In the meantime, their pitcher seemed to get better and better as the game went on. He struck out five batters in the first three innings -- including me.

... It wasn't until our last at-bats that we actually let go, started smiling, having some fun ... and scoring some runs. I walked and later scored, and I think we got like four or five runs across the plate. But by then it was too late ...

... I don't even know what the final score was. I do know our record is 1-4, and we need some practice. Badly.

Here's some of the good reads I stumbled upon this last week ...
a For diehard fans, a stadium sleepover makes for a field of dreams
a Milwaukee’s Prince: Cecil’s son own man in majors
a White Sox face new obstacle in Tigers

a Elmo: What a Firecracker! ... awwwwww! That Elmo!

a Buzzed-about album on deck for Hilton; now that’s hot ... hear me groaning at the thought? If you only you could see me rolling my eyes too ...
a Internet jukeboxes: Transforming an icon ... you can update the jukebox as much you want, but it's always going to be cool to play with.

Summerfest. Day #2

Let's just say Day 2 went a whole lot better than Day 1 ... (not that Day 1 was that bad ...)

... I left the house at almost the exact same time as Friday night. But this time, when I got to the Park & Ride lot, there were plenty of parking spots to be had. They hadn't even bothered putting the overflow signs up ... nice. Plus, I'd brought enough one bills this time so the bus driver didn't have to get me change.

Once at the Summerfest grounds, I found myself gravitating toward the Briggs & Stratton Stage again. Funny, in all my past years at Summerfest, I've hovered around the U.S. Cellular Stage (formerly the Piggly Wiggly stage) and the Miller Lite Oasis --stages generally reserved for the younger crowds and current, hip acts. Until this year, I'd never seen a show at the Briggs stage, and now here I was for the second time in as many nights (I must be getting old ...) ... this time waiting to see the Go-Gos ... woo hoo!

So I got my bucket of Mountain Dew (seriously. The cups they sell at Summerfest are so big, I call them buckets ...) and grabbed a seat. There was about 2 1/2 hours before the Go-Gos were scheduled to come on at 10, and still plenty of seats. On stage was the Briggs Bluesbusters, who according to the schedule had already been playing for about an hour and a half. A decent classic rock cover band with 13! members ... they kept switching in and out so not all of them were on stage together until the finale, but I counted as many as four guitarists, two keyboard/organ players, a couple women doing tamborines and vocals, a guy doing sax and flute duty and the drummer. One of the guitarists also was a former member of The Grassroots, which helped the band do a great cover of 'Temptation Eyes.'

... Even when I started to get a little restless, I tried looking for other stuff, but nothing at the other stages appealed to me and pretty soon I was back at the Briggs Stage -- just as the Bluesbusters were returning from a break and going into The Who's 'Baba O'Riley' ... Awesome!

But just when I was about to give it my 'cover of the night award,' they played Deep Purple's 'Hush, Hush,' which normally wouldn't grab me, but the Bluesbusters version featured a jaw-dropping organ solo... The band continued, playing some Springsteen, some Mellencamp, among other classic rock staples, and then -- for the finale -- an amped-up version of Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' ... While the band, now with all 13 of its members lined up on stage, rocked out and whaled into their mics, the crowd was on its feet, dancing and clapping. One of those scenes where you can't help but look around and smile at everybody having so much fun. No one seemed to notice the song was going on and on and on, I swear the band looped the song like three times ...

There was one crusty old guy sitting in front of me, however, who wasn't enjoying the music as much ... About midway through the show, he began berating the band for not playing anything he apparently wanted to hear, even getting in a 'You Suck!' during a break in one of the songs. Then, after yelling a bit more and shouting, 'Play something good! ... this isn't rock n' roll!!' the guy threw up his arms and stormed away from the seating area ... to the smiles and laughter of the crowd sitting around him. It was so good, it was as if the band had staged it, like one of those angry audience members in skits on 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien.'

... The Bluesbusters finally went off at about 9:15 p.m., and while there had been some empty seats throughout the area, the crowd swelled very quickly and began packing in for the Go-Gos show ... in the meantime, I had finished my bucket of Mountain Dew and badly needed to get to a restroom. And I had a sixth row, center seat that I did not want to lose. Luckily the burly bald guy next to me agreed to save it for me. ... Thanks Burly Bald Guy!

... As the crowd grew, I was pleased to see I wasn't the only guy in the audience -- as I had previously feared. No surprise, there were several packs of 30 or 40-something women who no doubt idolized the Go-Gos back in the day and were strying to recapture some of the magic on this night (I caught one group of women wearing matching T-shirts that said 'Vogos: 2006 Reunion Tour' which I took as some sort of inside joke; another woman sitting a couple rows in front of me was sporting a 1983 Tour t-shirt), but there was also a nice mix of families, older teens and 20-somethings, and middle-aged guys (like the superfan in front of me, who I think pulled a tattered piece of paper from his wallet that was scribbled full with Go-Gos setlists and notes, and he was telling Go-Gos story upon story to the couple sitting on the other side of me...).

... and as 10 p.m. got closer, I noticed my anxiety level actually increase a bit, and I thought: this might be my most-anticipated show of this year's Summerfest -- but only behind the Guster show next weekend ...

... and then it started pouring!!! ... But nothing to fear. The Briggs stage is situated under the interstae overpass. So while rain soaked the rest of the grounds and spectacular ligtning flashed across the Milwaukee skyline, we were completely dry!! ... Ha!

... Finally the recorded music stopped. The stage lights dimmed ... A soft chord started coming from the speakers, slowly picking up speed and volume like a drum roll and then there they were, taking the stage one by one, each of them bobbing and swaying to the beats like the pop-punk princesses they are -- Jane Wiedlin, Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock.

It was sooooooo sweet.

Seconds later, the guitars were strapped on and 'Our Lips Are Sealed' was being played in force ... (watch the original video here! ...whoah '80s!!)

The girls plowed through all of their hits, in addition to some of their other popular tracks from then and now (Get Up And Go, Lust To Love, Skidmarks on My Heart), playing every one of them with punked-up, loud, heavy, roaring guitars ... Meanwhile California girl Carlisle belted out every tune just the way I'd always seen her, swaying to the beat, tapping, beating a tamborine and bopping around the stage -- I could barely take my eyes off her all night ... Just as charming was Wiedlin, dressed in a white shirt with a pink tie around her neck. She too was constantly jumping around the stage, occasionally dancing alongside Carlisle, and beaming with glee, appearing to be having as much fun as anyone ...

Before we knew it, the girls were ending their first set with 'Vacation' (awesome!) ...

... a short break, and then they were out again for a short encore. Kathy Valentine started it off by telling the crowd, 'We've played Milwaukee before, but we've never played Summerfest ... wow. Wow!' ... she then noted Wiedlin was from Milwaukee and Wiedlin picked up the commentary, explaining the 'sad day' in 1985 when Carlisle left the group to embark on a solo career, 'and we thought what's she ever going to do with us,' Wiedlin said. 'Then she goes off and sells 5 zillion records. So right now we're going to play her first hit ...'

It was a nice intro to 'Mad About You.' ... Once again, Carlisle was at the mic belting out the vocals. And the rest of the girls were adding background vocals and heavy guitars, making for yet another sweet, rocked-up version of a song that normally passes for something on an easy listening station ...

After thanking the crowd, Carlisle announced the band's last song would be a cover from one of the original girl groups, a version of the The Shangri-Las 'Walking in the Sand.' ... It was probably the lightest tune the group had done all night ...

By 11:30 it was all over, and I was on my way to catch the shuttle back home again ... and I was beaming.

...Now I've had Go-Gos songs playing in my head for most of the day, and when Kates and I picked up our Sunday night Chinese food earlier tonight, I couldn't resist and stopped in at the record store (c'mon! it's right next to the Chinese place! ...) and went straight to the G's in search of Go-Gos records. A couple minutes later, I was paying for vinyl copies of 'Vacation' and 'Beauty And The Beat' ...

'The Go-Gos, huh?' the clerk said.


'Back in my day, we used to call them The Pretenders because we didn't think they could play, we thought they were pretending. But they put out some pretty good albums. They were really good ...'

... Uh, yeah! ... They're still good ... In the time it's taken me to write this post, I've had both albums going on the turntable and I think I've played both sides of both albums three or four times ...

a My Summerfest preparation: 'It's here baby!!'
a My Summerfest Day #1
a My Summerfest Day #3
a My Summerfest Day #4
a My Summerfest Day #5