Sunday reading

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving ...

Here's some of the stories I took an interest in during the last week ...

Sports ...
a Mitchell thinks drug use down in MLB
a In Detroit, Tradition Takes a Hike

Music ...
a 2008 American Music Awards: The Best and Worst
a Digital Sales Surpass CDs at Atlantic
a Austin tries to keep title of 'live music capital'

Movies ...a 'Christmas Story' fans celebrate film's 25th year
a Chenoweth Has Christmas Covered ... Ah, Kristin Chenoweth. Chirpy!
Politics ...
a Obama team delivers a changeup in news conference seating
a Barack Obama chafes inside the 'bubble'
a BlackBerry vs. the bubble
a Change From the Top
a The true school scandala Send Bill Clinton to the Senate
a Obama steps forcefully into vacuum
a White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters
a The White House: An Operating Manual

Media & the Internet ...
a Facebook broke my heart ... I'll admit it, there are old girlfriends and flames on my Facebook. Each hold a special part of my past, and it's been a thrill for me to reconnect with them, too, and see what they're doing now ... But there are lines you shouldn't cross.
a Friends in a Facebook World
a Online networks have rendered reunions obsolete
a Dine-and-dash gang nabbed via Facebook ... From my friend Raechel.
a Woman who won a date is suing Waukegan radio station ... This is crazy. Why, why why! would the radio station not do a background check on the guy!?
a Woman Guilty of Minor Charges for MySpace Hoax ... Crazy, interesting stuff.
a A Penny for My Thoughts?

Technology ...a No Keyboard? And You Call This a BlackBerry?

Life & other stuff ...a The Car of the Future -- but at What Cost?
a Back to the old toy box: In hard times, parents and retailers turn to tried-and-true favorites
a Reducing costs 1 word at a time
a A president named Obama changes the name game
a Frank Gehry: The Starchitect's Best Work May Turn Out Not to Look Much Like Him
a Louisville drops Who-ville Christmas display at behest of Dr. Seuss lawyers
a Area Man Shocked To See His Elementary School Has A Website ... From The Onion.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Kates and I are back from a two-day break of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with our families. Great food. Great conversation. And our little hambone Phoebe -- whether it was beating on her antique hi-chairs, talking to her pacifier or just observing her surroundings -- was the star of the show for much of the time she wasn't sleeping ...

Tonight, we're watching Star Wars movies on TV and beginning our Christmas decorating ...

And counting our blessings. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I'm especially thankful for ...

... Phoebe and Kates.

... Still having a job in a barely-breathing industry.

... Our Forrester.

... Lower gas prices ... $1.69 per gallon!

... And coupons ... Which allowed us to pay just $1.19 per gallon for our gas!

... Our freedom.

... In-laws who I actually really enjoy spending time with.

... Jessi and Scott and their new addition ...

... Family hikes in the country snow

... "Boy's Life" and the high school English teacher who introduced me to it.

... Friends like Matt & Ed; Jocelyn, The Four and the rest of my Olathe crew; Leah; Raechel ...

... And Facebook for allowing me to reconnnect with lots of other friends who have put their stamp on my life.

... Music.

... And The Hush Sound.

... And iPods.

... My mom's cooking.

... And her barbecue sandwiches.

... Naps.

... Funny, family-friendly films ... Specifically "The Incredibles" and "Elf."

... The defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks.

... Parents who have always loved us, supported us, listened to us and welcomed us no matter the circumstances.

... Babies R Us. A mecca for all things baby-related.

... Boston Market.

... The trap that finally caught the mouse lurking around our garage.

... Owning a house we can come back to.

And a couple good reads to put it all in perspective ...
a Count Those Blessings
a Blessings Of the Moment


Andy's homage to newspapers

Thanks to my friend Raechel for passing this on ...

Thanks to Andy Rooney for sticking up for newspapers ...

Watch CBS Videos Online


Sunday reading

... I visited a local ski mountain for a story this afternoon. I sooo want to go skiing now ...

Tonight, I arrived home in time to catch a bit of the American Music Awards -- that Beyonce can dance! -- before I got sucked into the "JFK: Breaking the News" documentary on PBS. Even though I saw it last year, once I started watching tonight I absolutely could not pull myself away ...

Oh, and this just in, I think Oklahoma scored a few more touchdowns on Texas Tech ... Holy cow, that was a thrashing last night ...

Here's some of the reads that caught my attention during the last week ...

Sports ...
a Favre won't talk about next year
a Tie Games? Who Knew? Not All of the Redskins ... I find this hard to believe. How can these guys even be playing professional football?!
a It's hard to believe - but Sox always did
a Ryan Dempster admits Cubs were not prepared for playoffs ... Interesting. Lou Piniella disagrees.
a Free Agent Market Is Well Stocked

Entertainment ...
a Totally Over: Last Squeals for ‘TRL’

Politics ...
a Intense security a force Loop reckons with
a Lincoln and the myth of 'Team of Rivals' ... I'm still reading 'Team of Rivals.'
a Time for Him to Go
a Obamas enjoy fine food, wine, but hold the beets
a Game on: Pros and big-league politics
a Madam Secretary?
a Two for the Price of Two
a Let Detroit Go Bankrupt ... Good arguments here. I've sort of been thinking the same thing.
a When the President-Elect Talks, The BCS Should Listen ... Thanks, Wilbon. I couldn't have said it better. ... And by the way, that '60 Minutes' interview last weekend was fascinating to watch.

Life & other stuff ...
a Detective handcuffed to Oswald can't escape photo
a Cellphones in Yellowstone?
a The Moon View


We sang. We danced.

Let me tell you about you about the first time I saw or heard Jason Mraz

I figure it was sometime in early 2003, on David Letterman. I remember him wearing a white T-shirt and cock-eyed red trucker’s hat, and I'm thinking, Who the heck is this kid? He started in on his guitar, singing this sort of melodic rap. Then he got into this cool chorus and my ears perked up. I thought then, Hey, this guy’s pretty good … A couple weeks later, that song, “The Remedy,” was all over the radio …

Jason Mraz - The Remedy(Letterman) - Click here for funny video clips

I eventually acquired his “Waiting For My Rocket to Come” and “Mr. A-Z” albums … And last night, I got to see him live and in person. Knock another one off my mental list of singer/songwriters and musicians I’d love to see before I die … If only I could just get to a Matchbox Twenty show!
* * *

In anticipation of last night’s show, I picked up a copy of Mraz’s latest, “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things” -- a limited edition deluxe package! I popped it into my CD player as soon as I returned to my car and immediately I was hooked. The heavy use of horns was something I wasn’t used to hearing from him. The songs fuse Latin, Raggae and even gospel. Plus, I was struck by the spiritual nature in almost every song; Mraz references things like angels singing, pictures of Jesus and righteous living.

Walking up to The Rave last night, there was a good buzz in the atmosphere I hadn’t felt there before. Maybe it was just the 25-degree air freezing our blood vessels, I don’t know …

The Mraz show was in the ballroom, which was a new experience for me. All the shows I’ve seen previously at The Rave have been downstairs … But the oval-shaped ballroom -- I couldn’t keep from marveling at the expansive space (It had to be the size of a football-field), the hardwood floor, the art-deco design, the raised ceiling. I couldn’t stop picturing a World War II-era group of sailors dancing with their girlfriends to the sounds of a big band.

Lisa Hannigan opened for Mraz. She sounded good, but no one could understand a thing she was singing, or saying, beyond the distorted sound of her band. That and the crowd didn’t stop yapping throughout her set …

She breezed through nine songs, finally rocking out a little bit on the last one … Although I couldn’t tell you what song it was because, again, I couldn’t understand a word she was singing.

It was too bad we didn’t get more from her. I wanted to like her.

Between sets, our entertainment was a wide screen on the stage displaying snapshots and text messages being sent from the crowd’s cell phones. The older residents of the crowd couldn’t seem to resist poking fun at the extreme number of teenie boppers in the crowd. Multiple texters suggested their moms take them to a Hannah Montana show instead. But I think I got the biggest kick out of a text that read:

“If the only Mraz song you know is ‘I’m Yours,’ leave now. I’m serious.”
Clearly, last night’s audience knew more than “I’m Yours.”

Mr. Mraz made his entrance about 8:45 p.m. He was introduced with a video of him and his band jamming backstage and covering a myriad of pop songs. Then a message flashed across the screen that read “Welcome to the show … Thank you for coming … Please sing and dance during the show … Yours truly … Jason Mraz.” The words “Fond of …” were illuminated on the screen and a slew of words began flashing faster than you could comprehend most of them. At one point, I did catch “Barack Obama,” whose name has come up a few times at concerts I’ve attended lately

Finally, a giant picture of the Earth appeared on the large screen and Mraz stepped to center stage. His backing band included a drummer, a percussionist who also sang backing vocals, a keyboard player, a three-piece horn section and a bass player who I couldn’t get past the idea that he looked like a young Peter Gammons with young John McEnroe’s curly hair.

As I’d anticipated, he launched the set with “Make it Mine,” the opener on the new album. And the horns soared … Then he served up “Only Human,” “Clockwatching” and a spot-on cover of Steely Dan‘s “Peg.” Very cool.

On “If It Kills Me” the crowd hung on every word and nearly drowned Mraz‘s voice … Since seeing Dashboard Confessional a couple years ago, that show has been my benchmark for the loudest singing crowd. Last night’s crowd might have beaten that … The graphic effects on the big screen behind Mraz also added to the entertainment last night, too. During the coda on “If It Kills Me,” a roughly drawn tank moved across the screen before exploding into a ball of little hearts.

Song No. 6 was “Love For a Child,” which Mraz introduced as “a holiday song.” … I caught the word “pretty” entering my mind a lot to describe some of the Mraz’s songs last night. This was one of those times …

Song No. 7 was the anthemic “The Remedy,” a little earlier than I expected, but fantastic, nonetheless. Easily, the highlight of the show … Every time the chorus came around, Mraz barely bothered singing, letting the audience carry it instead. Animated fireworks exploded on the screen behind him, and the horns went off on a good jam toward the end as strobe lights flashed. For one more round of the chorus, Mraz crossed the audience’s singing with the first verse of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Again, very cool.

Then he slowed things waaaaaay down with “Bella Luna” and another pretty one, “A Beautiful Mess.”

He got the crowd singing again on “Live High” … For this one, the screen took on a background of stained-glass windows. And during the second verse a pair of Barack Obama faces appeared on the screen , which of course drew loud cheers from the young crowd; it struck me after a few seconds that those images of Obama were set within the stained glass windows and he was taking on a Jesus-looking-to-the-heavens pose … In the meantime, nobody seemed to notice the horn section had disappeared from the stage -- until they showed up for the second half of the song, blasting their instruments from atop the balcony behind us. Another very cool moment.

Next up, Mraz played “The Dynamo of Volition,” a fun crowd-interaction number that had the crowd raising high fives during the chorus (“gimme gimme that high five good time”) … During his introduction of the song, Mraz had encouraged us to look like we were having a good time because the show was being videotaped, and he was taking the tape home to Grandma for Thanksgiving.

Finally, he brought out “I’m Yours” … The band started it with some blissful harmonies, and Mraz performed the first verse acoustically while ocean waves played out on the big screen … He closed out the song with a call-and-answer session that had him giving the crowd some funny tongue-twirling sounds to mimic, like the kind you do to warm up your voice at choir rehearsal. Then, Mraz got the crowd chanting a sweet, melodic “every little thing is gonna be all right” to end it.

Now for the encore …

In the same realm as the loud singing, it also might have been the most electric pre-encore intermission I’ve ever been part of … The crowd started beating their feet on the floor like a virtual drum roll, while the strobe lights flashed like crazy. And the cheers were deafening.

Mraz returned to the stage with just his percussionist and they performed “After an Afternoon.”

Then, the percussionist left and Mraz invited Lisa Hannigan back to the stage. You knew then “Lucky” -- the playful, romantic tune Mraz sings with Colbie Caliet on his album -- would be next. The song has quickly become my favorite on the new album, and it sounded as good live.

Mraz ended the night with the full band rejoining him for a medley of “No Stopping Us” and “Butterfly,” during which he shot Polaroids of the band members and Frisbee’d the photos into the crowd, where they surely got stomped, crumpled and torn to bits.

I left the place satisfied, thinking if I had to grade the show, I’d give it a B+.

I also left the place thinking Jason Mraz is one heckuva performer. He’s a cool cat with one smooth voice.


The scoop

In case you're planning to see "Bolt" this weekend ... Here's a little inside scoop ...

Also, here's the trailer ... Looks like a funny one. I wanna see it.

* * *

We also got the sad news today that ABC has decided to shelve "Pushing Daisies."

Like Maureen Ryan says in her post, I can't say Kates and I ever were huge fans -- any chance of that was kind of ruined by last year's strike.

But we were faithful viewers every week it did air, setting a space aside for it on our DVR. Its whimsical characters, settings and storylines truly set it on its own amid a television world loaded with standard crime and hospital dramas ...


Toshiba commercial

This is pretty cool ...

There's a video about the making of the commercial here.


Women ... As Explained By Engineers

Kates sent this to me awhile ago ...

You can see more explanations here ...


Sunday reading

Here's two weeks of reads I found to be interesting ...

Baseball ...
a 'Good citizen's' spot in Cubs' lore secure ... When the Cubs got rid of Kerry Wood last week, I was a little susprised given the strong season he'd had. Then again, the Cubs should've gotten rid of him years ago. But even through all of the injuries, he was a good personality to have around.

Politics ... from the day after the election ...
a A new morning in America
a America turns the page
a Shift in tone will bring a watershed for nation
a Nation crosses hopeful bridge
a Now, Promises to Keep, and Divides to Be Bridged
a Obama and America
a No Time for Laurels; Now the Hard Part
a For Many Abroad, an Ideal Renewed

More politics ...
Light in November ... I became a fan of Kathleen Parker a couple years ago, but her stuff during this election cycle has been wonderfully entertaining.
a A Moment for the Ages, Many Years in the Making
a Finally, a Thin President
a Sitting on top of the world
a Thinking of Good Vibrations
a 'Renegade' joins 'Twinkle,' 'Rawhide,' 'Lancer' on list of Secret Service code names
a Obamas just like us except ...
a 10 most viral videos of the campaign
a What's up with Obama's Sox hat?
a For Obama and Family, a Personal Transition
a The Election Lives! ... This is a good one about the yet-to-be-decided Senate election in Minnesota.
a Tolerance fails T-shirt test ... Astonishing is one word to describe this one.

The Internet & media ...
a Google at 10: Searching Its Own Soul
a Election’s Over, So What’s Next for the Cable News Channels?
a Freaky hologram on CNN recalls 'Star Wars' ... Who wasn't saying this after the election?!
a In Era of Blog Sniping, Companies Shoot First
a Remember Me? The One With the 'O' Button?
a The Monitor embraces its future - a digital one
a Rejected Tribune Front Pages ... My friend Liz tipped me off to this one. My favorite is definitely the WHOOPS. page.
a We are not bemused. Or are we? A word's dueling meanings

Music ...
a Elvis mystery solved! ... and how the Tribune solved it.
a Shawn Colvin: Wild Child, Now 52, Finds Fun In Her Music
a Van Morrison discusses 'Astral Weeks,' which he'll perform at the Hollywood Bowl

TV ...
a Flagging ‘Heroes’ Attempts Self-Rescue
a In Its Final Season, 'ER' Is Embracing Its Roots
a 'How I Met Your Mother' fans await big reveal day
a Talking Obamas, Huxtables with Bill Cosby

Entertainment ...
a Fanning is a big girl and a big star now

Life & other stuff ...
a Toy Hall of Fame points to new addition: the stick
a Massive waves a mystery at Maine harbor ... This is fascinating.


Seven months

Phoebe turns seven months old this week …

She stayed home today with a really bad cough. Remnants of our sickness the last couple weeks, or an effect of spending too much time over the weekend in the chilly outdoors. Hopefully it doesn’t last …

As I write this tonight, Kates and I are listening to her rack her pacifier against the bars of her crib. Actually this has been going on and off for almost two hours now, since we put her to bed. She’s been kicking and babbling and talking to who knows who … Kates just keeps rolling her eyes, but I can barely stop giggling as we listen to it. I’m thinking Phoebe’s probably got my insomniac genes …

This is a new part of Pheebs we haven’t seen … But then again, she is one amusing and entertaining baby. She’s so going to be a drama queen …

Kates and I are beginning to take pleasure in seeing her sleeping positions lately too. There have been several nights that we’ve found her with one hand gripping the other and her wrists resting on her eyes, like she’s trying to cover her face from the papparrazi or something. We’ve found her turned 90 degrees from the way we left her … And tonight we found her contorted in such a way that her legs and back were flat to her mattress, her shoulders and head were completely turned to one side, and her right arm was bent over her chest pointing in the air …

In her waking hours, she’s got this other new thing where she extends her arms from her sides and then stiffens them and gives a quick shout. Last week, we were teasing that she was like a spaceship blasting off. But the last couple days it’s looking and sounding more like she’s practicing karate…

She’s not yet crawling. But she’s on the verge … She doesn’t get so upset anymore when we put her on her belly; instead she raises her arms and legs as though she’s pretending to fly.

She loves playing with tags on toys more than she enjoys playing with the actual toys ... See the picture.

And while we’re at the stage where everything she gets her hands on is destined for her mouth, there’s nothing she craves more than our TV remote control. She is content with any one of her toys, but, oh, when one of us lifts that remote in front of her, she immediately drops whatever toy she’s chewing, her eyes widen, the mouth opens and she lunges for the remote.

Here’s a video of her trying to put my camera in her mouth …


Rock chalk weekend

We’ve just returned from a trip to my beloved, former stomping grounds in Kansas …

This time, our trip was centered on Lawrence, home of Kansas University and those reigning national champion Jayhawks … We made the trip to participate in a good friend’s wedding. Sure, that and the prospect of reuniting with some of my closest friends was reason enough to be excited, but I could hardly wait just to be back in Lawrence. To drive down Mass Street again, to walk the campus again, to step inside Allen Fieldhouse again -- but to do it all with Kates and Phoebe …

If you know me or you’re familiar with previous posts, you know Lawrence and the university hold a special place in my heart. There were a lot of good times there from shows at The Grenada and the Lied Center to camping trips and festivals at Clinton State Park to KU basketball games. I have no regrets of the path I chose (I was so close to attending KU I had a dorm room assigned to me before opting to attend Northwest instead … ), but it will always hold that specter of what might have been …

For all these reasons, I’d been looking forward to this trip for months. And when Kansas won the national championship last spring -- well, that made the anticipation even sweeter

As Kates and I arrived home last night, we felt refreshed and smiled at the memories of our mini-vacation. It went off even better than we had envisioned … Phoebe behaved wonderfully. We made plenty of time to enjoy the sites and the campus, without ever feeling rushed. We ate lots of excellent local food. And we got to see some of our best friends and marvel once more at how much we’re aging and building families. None of it gets old.

* * *

The flights to Kansas City and back were Phoebe’s first plane trips. Going in, we were bracing for a load of airport chaos and jumping through hoops with Phoebe and all of her luggage, not to mention our worries of how she might behave during the flights. We found the opposite, though, and the airlines couldn’t have been more accommodating … Even our shuttle bus drivers couldn’t resist at poking Phoebe and smiling at her cuteness.

After a whirlwind night of packing, we were up by 5 a.m. Thursday and on the road around 6:15; not bad since our goal was to be out by 6 and get a head start on the Chicago traffic … We were pulling up to our airport parking at 8:45, loaded our cargo and then began the process of checking in …

As we headed to the counter, we figured we’d thought of everything. We had Phoebe’s car seat and packed it in a box with address labels. We packed a suitcase with all of her clothes, toys, bottle, etc. And we had her pack n’ play packed cleanly in its casing.

Then the checker -- a hefty black woman -- asked to see Phoebe’s birth certificate. Kates and I looked at each other and back at the checker. We didn’t bring it.

“You need to make a copy of her birth certificate and have it with you at all times,” the checker said. “You will need to show it whenever you fly with her.”

“So we can’t fly today?” Kates asked.

“I didn’t say that,” the checker said.

The checker worked around the system and gave us a special boarding pass for Phoebe. Then we checked in our 109 pounds of luggage, breathed a sigh of relief that we beat the first phase -- without having to pay any extra fees -- and headed for the security check area.

That test proved much easier, although we needed about eight bins to put all of our shoes, coats and carry-on bags through the x-ray machine … I carried Phoebe through, and with no alarms sounding, the agent sweetly directed us to the "little giraffe chairs" where we could set Pheebs to put on her shoes again.

At our gate, Kates spread a blanket on the floor and sat Phoebe for some breakfast, playtime and a diaper-changing. I walked the gate area and picked up a Tribune to read about the day after Obama’s big win and Chicago’s glow-basking.

I loved this lede ...

We split the atom, invented the skyscraper, reversed a river, linked a sprawling continent by rail and air, butchered the world's hogs, rose from the ashes of a historic blaze, rigged a World Series, raised graft to an art form and all but trademarked the political machine.

Yet Chicago, a city defined by superlatives and cunning, had never in its 175 years produced the ultimate American leader. Until now.
By 10:40 we were boarding and getting settled in a window seat within the back third of the plane. We sensed the nervousness from some people around us -- or maybe it was just us -- when we sat down with a baby in tow. I heard one woman say optimistically to her seatmate, “She’s going to sleep the whoooole time.” Let’s hope, I thought.

Almost immediately Phoebe started squirming. “Come on, Phoebe. Don’t be one of those babies,” Kates told her. … Thankfully, she fell asleep in Kates’s arms just before takeoff and stayed there until we began our descent ... Her eyes burst wide open and her head bounced off Kates’s shoulder like a boomerang when the pilot came over the intercom to announce we should be prepared for landing.

After touching down in Kansas City, it didn’t take us long to find our luggage. We loaded it on one of those awkward $3 carts at every baggage claim area and then headed for the rental cars … We got a Dodge Avenger, which looked nice, but it felt like driving a boat … We hit up an Arby’s for lunch, and Kates fed Phoebe another batch of cereal while I served as her hi-chair … Then it was off to Olathe to pick up my tux, and, as usual, my mouth was agape at how much the city has grown and changed in the decade since I lived there. “This used to be a two-lane country road!” and “This place used to sit out here in the middle of nowhere!” I kept saying … We also took a run to the Sprint store to investigate phone chargers because I’d forgot mine at home; aside from waiting a couple hours for a technician to charge my phone, we came up with no valid answers … By 4:30, we were settling into our better-than-average digs on the river, just one block from Massachusetts Street.

On Thursday night, we met Glen and Heather and other members of the wedding party at Zen Zero, a happening Asian restaurant on Massachusetts Street. Turns out it was the place Glen and Heather shared their first date, and it’s where Glen proposed … Great food!

After dinner, while Kates and Phoebe returned to the hotel, the guys and I headed out for a night together. We donned matching KU basketball T-shirts and drove to a Dave & Buster’s in North Kansas City … We played arcade games, drank our share of beer, caught up on each other’s lives and reminisced on the past.

On the way back to Lawrence, I passed out in the back seat of Glen’s car ...

* * *

On Friday, we took our time getting out of bed and took advantage of the hotel’s continental breakfast …

Next stop: the Lawrence Target. We had to pick up some food and things for Phoebe, but we hadn’t planned on buying what proved to be our most important investment of the weekend -- a collapsible, umbrella stroller for Phoebe -- for $15 …

See, we’d left Phoebe’s big stroller at home because one, we already had so much Phoebe stuff we couldn’t bare to saddle more, and, two, it’s one of those heavy duty strollers with cup holders and pockets and storage compartments -- excellent for a walk around the neighborhood and a day at the park, not so much for loading on an airplane and carting around the Midwest. Besides, Kates had been thinking it was time to get Phoebe a more grown-up, lightweight, front-facing stroller, anyway … We wasted little time buying the stroller, and we carted Phoebe everywhere in that thing the rest of the weekend, complete with her fleecy Bundle-Me. She loved it.

After a quick lunch at Culver’s -- My friend Tom is right, Culver’s burgers aren’t nearly as good in Kansas -- we walked the KU campus. Some things have changed, and there was a lot of construction underway. But much of the campus was just as picturesque and charming as I’d remembered. We visited the bookstore and settled on a little Jayhawk T-shirt for Phoebe, which she will be wearing prominently during basketball season. We strolled up to the Campanile and looked down at Memorial Stadium. We walked along Jayhawk Boulevard, past Strong Hall, past Stauffer-Flint Hall and back to the Union. We walked among the students, musing at how many of them were tuned into iPods and text messaging, things that were still in their infancy as Kates and I were finishing college.

We returned to our hotel room just in time for me to get ready for the night’s rehearsal and then I met back up with Kates and Phoebe later for the rehearsal dinner at the Free State brewery

* * *

With the wedding not scheduled until Saturday evening, we had plenty of time to take in more of Lawrence on during the day …

We visited the house of worship that is Allen Fieldhouse, first. The last time I was there, I saw arguably the greatest KU basketball team ever give Brown University a 50-point thumping. And the fieldhouse atrium looked nothing like it does today … Now it’s equipped with a full-scale store, loads of display cases and tales of Jayhawk lore. Cases spelling out the word K-A-N-S-A-S … And now there’s two national championship trophies.

The one blemish on the visit was that we couldn’t get into the arena. Apparently it’s closed to the public on weekends.

We spent the afternoon walking Mass Street and downtown, starting with a stop at La Prima Tazza; I ordered a hot apple cider, Kates had a white chocolate mocha. And we did lunch at the Global Café, a cozy joint serving up Cuban sandwiches that almost melt in your mouth … We visited antique shops and art shops … The air was chilly and brisk, but hardly unbearable …

Glen and Heather were married Saturday night in a beautiful wedding that went off without a hitch … We celebrated afterward at the Eldridge, where we got to catch up and reconnect with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years … And there was Phoebe sitting contently in her stroller as two of my best girl friends from high school squatted to greet her and shake her little hands. On one level, it’s amazingly gratifying to see two of my worlds blending together, and yet it’s somewhat surreal -- There’s a part of me that still sees us as vibrant, energetic youth, and here I am introducing them to my daughter.

* * *

All of the celebrating behind us, we were up and at it again on Sunday

We were checked out of our hotel by 10 and returning our Avenger by 11. Kates and Phoebe went inside the rental center to wait while I worked again to stack our cargo on the tiny airport cart. I also endured two spills in the parking lot before finally getting all of it inside … Not fun.

Then, I forgot my backpack on the shuttle bus to the terminal. Not a big deal -- if you discount the fact it had all of our travel information, my camera and valuable reading material … I realized it as I’d left Kates and Phoebe at the drop-off area to find another cart (if only we didn’t have so much stuff!), and immediately snagged a shuttle driver to check on the missing bag. He radioed his cronies, and a second later, the driver of the shuttle we’d been on radioed back to say he had the bag, he hadn’t left the terminal yet and he was swinging back around to drop it off. A couple minutes later, my bag appeared and I was thanking that driver from the pit of my heart.

Inside the airport, we had an even easier time checking in and passing through the security checks in Kansas City than in Chicago … Then Kates and I barely had paid for a quick lunch at a Burger King stand before it was time to start boarding our plane.

But Phoebe was a little more fussy for the flight home. She’s become a champ at fighting sleep and she was at full throttle for the plane ride back to Chicago. Once again she was squirming and whining in Kates’s arms …

Finally, about midway through the flight, I took her from Kates and, within a few minutes, got her to fall asleep on my shoulder. She was zonked out for the rest of the flight; attendants had her stroller set up for us as we exited the plane, Kates laid her in it and she stayed sleeping all the way into the baggage claim area … It was great!

We summoned our shuttle to our parking area and got to share the ride with a nice couple who also had returned from Kansas City with their 3-month-old son. We enjoyed swapping stories around traveling with the little ones, and it turned out the mother had graduated from a rival of my high school alma mater …

By 5 last night, we were back home. With lots of stories to tell. We weren't in Kansas anymore ...


Presidential front pages

Check out front pages from around the world here ...

I think the Washington Times is my favorite ...

Yes we did!

… Some final lingering thoughts and scenes from this election night …

I got into the office late this afternoon … and then began the long wait. Hours of waiting for results to come in …

We had CNN on the TV, and laughed at their hologram technology. We couldn’t leave alone the fact that it looked like something out of “Star Wars” and Princess Leia pleading “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope.” ... Oh, Jon Stewart is going to have fun with this, we kept saying.

We became enthralled in the updates from the major news sites -- MSNBC, The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post -- and the mechanisms they were using to track the votes. We found it especially fun to track the MSNBC and Times sites, with their live updates and theirs tools that allowed us to click on specific states to get tallies. You could even zoom in to get vote totals from specific counties. I was checking out totals coming into my old residencies and other places of interest. Way cool!

Cell phones were ringing and echoing across the office with text message updates and news alerts …

The anticipation of what was happening mounted as we watched the footage of the crowd in Grant Park …

Our pizza delivery arrived at around 9:30 …

And then at 10:03, seemingly out of nowhere, CNN cast Barack Obama as the President of the United States …

At first, it seemed almost too good to be true …Not only was it the outcome so many of us had been wanting, it seemed way to early to call, given the way things played out in 2000 and 2004 …

But then we saw NBC call it, too, and we watched the footage of jubilant crowds in Chicago. In Times Square. Outside the White House. In Harlem …

It was so over … My friend Laura ran out of the office crying tears of joy. Our editor emerged from his office, greeting us with fist bumps and saying “Change is coming.”

Even more striking, John McCain came out within the hour -- far earlier than any of us had expected -- and conceded the election. You could hear a pin drop as we gathered around the TV to watch him speak …

“… He managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”
Around 10:45, I was directed to go to one of the local colleges to check out a report of a riot …

In my car, I immediately turned on the radio and caught the conclusion of McCain’s concession, and then realized I’d stumbled on an obnoxiously Republican station. The commentators began forecasting riots at any moment and other absurd scenes playing out … I promptly changed the station and found WGN …

At the college, it was quite the opposite of a riot. Students had erupted in cheers and were pouring out of residence halls into a courtyard, hugging and shouting “Obama!” I found one group of students dancing on a car and blasting music. I talked to a young black man, proudly wearing an Obama T-shirt, who told me, “I never thought this day would come.”

As I got back in my car, President-elect Obama was about to step to the podium in Grant Park. I listened all the way back to the office, in awe of the moment …

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where anything is possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
Back at the office, I caught the conclusion of Obama’s acceptance speech and watched as Joe Biden and their families joined them on the stage. Again, we were crowded around the TV. Text messages ringing by the minute …

Words like “transcendent” and “remarkable” were spoken. We mulled our headlines for tomorrow and settled on “Yes he can!”

We mused about the results. Obama had won 56 percent in Wisconsin. 51 percent in Florida. 51 percent in Ohio. 53 percent in Colorado, 56 percent in New Mexico. 55 percent in Pennsylvania. He cleaned up in New England.

Before I left the office I checked my Facebook, too, beaming as I read some of my friends’ status updates -- “Can’t be much happier.” ... “We did really did it =) obama!!!” ... “very happy with the outcome...now then...lets get to work!” ... “glad she stayed up for this- I'm so proud of our country!” ... “thank u america...i applaud you for the first time in 8 yrs.”

And my favorite, “An early bedtime on election night. Good night, President Obama!


Today's the day

Just another Tuesday, right? …

Out of bed at 6:12 a.m, though really I was awake about 30 minutes earlier because Kates didn’t shut off her alarm when she got out of bed. Put on my sweats. Give Phoebe her bottle while I watch last night’s Letterman on the DVR (He had some great lines in his monologue last night -- A lot of people are saying the weather is going to play a huge part in the election; for John McCain to win hell has to freeze over. And yesterday McCain campaigned in two states -- panic and desperation.)

The morning continues with trying to get Phoebe to eat her cereal, which is always a laborious and messy process in the morning. I have to find time to eat my own breakfast while Phoebe plays. Change her diaper. Dress her. Dance with her (This morning we did have a good time dancing to “Sloop John B.”) And if things go smoothly and I catch a little luck, we’re out of the house by 8:15 and driving to the daycare.

Ah, but today is not just another Tuesday.

Today is Election Day. I got to vote this morning. And it feels so good to say that.

I arrived at our polling place at 8:36 a.m., and I was back in the car barely 10 minutes later. I was voter No. 168 at our place… No lines. No fuss.

Sure, I could’ve voted early, as the campaigns and municipalities were plugging so heavily this year, out of fear for long lines and chaos on this day … But there’s something important to me about actually voting on Election Day. I suppose I’m a little superstitious, too, and couldn’t erase my lingering thoughts of something happening to my ballot if I cast it early.

I knew I was right as I began walking toward the polling place this morning. I couldn’t keep the smile from leaking out of my mouth, knowing the history we’re making today. The smile came out again as I received my ballot, again as I began marking it, and again as I left the poll.

On top of that, our polling place is a historic, picturesque beach house in town. It couldn’t have been prettier this morning -- a sunny fall morning on which the forecast is predicting record high temperatures. The leaves were bright orange and yellow. Lake Michigan was shimmering gold.

I arrived home in time to see “Today” showing Barack Obama voting in Chicago … What a moment, watching his smiling daughters at his side and the senator taking his time completing his ballot, and then the applause and cheers as he submitted his ballot … In the next moment, the network switched to Joe Biden casting his ballot in Delaware. I got a good chuckle when Matt Lauer pointed out nothing in a campaign goes unplanned and how well Biden timed his walk to the poll, just after the network had broadcast Obama casting his vote.

For now, I’ll go about the rest of my day, catching up on some house chores while keeping a close eye on the television coverage …

And then later this afternoon, I’ll go into the office and I’ll be in the thick of it all night long. Oh, what a night …

If Barack Obama doesn’t win this election, I think our office may implode …

* * *

I took a walk down memory lane over the weekend as I read an amusing story reviewing the long campaign odyssey.

It has been quite a ride, after all … Quite honestly, I’ve never ever doubted Barack Obama would be at this point, even while the media initially had Hillary written down as the Democratic nominee and even as we supported her in our state's primary ...

I’ll remember the day Kates and I -- on my deathbed -- watched live as Barack Obama announced his candidacy

I’ll remember our excitement over the possibility of the Chicago Olympics in 2016 and the remark my colleague Joe made

I’ll remember the day we got to see Hillary Clinton make a campaign stop in town …

I’ll remember the electricity of watching the Democratic National Convention in Denver … With Michelle Obama leaving no doubts she was a proud American. Hillary touting Obama, saying “No way, no McCain.” Getting to know Joe Biden and hearing his pledge to get back to having the conversations middle-class Americans are having at their tables about affording jobs, mortgages, healthcare and college tuitions. And Barack Obama accepting the nomination in front of 84,000 people crammed into Mile High Stadium, with fireworks exploding high in the sky …

I’ll remember watching the Republicans turn at their convention, mostly out of curiosity. George Bush speaking -- awkwardly -- from the White House, having excused himself from the convention to monitor Hurricane Gustav. Joe Lieberman crossing the aisle. And being somewhat intrigued by Sarah Palin’s defining speech, getting no clue of the circus that would follow her …

I’ll remember eagerly watching the debates …

I’ll remember eagerly watching Saturday Night Live, and the pop culture phenomenon their political sketches created …

I’ll remember the constant dispatch of political e-mails and text messages and Facebook notifications from the Obama campaign, and how Obama and young voters got the vote out with the Internet and technology like never before.

I’ll remember the significance of this election. John McCain could be the oldest President. Barack Obama could be the first black President. Sarah Palin could be the first female Vice President. Neither Obama or McCain were born in the 48 continental states. The next President will be the first senator elected since John Kennedy. The early voting and the predictions for record voter turnout.

And I’ll remember the palpable electricity and hope for change resting on this day.

Good reads ...
a TV news: Cautiously gung-ho
a Failure Is an Option ...
a Madam President: Will She Ever Get There?
a Obama's Nation
a The ’08 Campaign: Sea Change for Politics as We Know It


Palin pranked

In case you missed this from over the weekend ...

Interview with Nick Thomas

Started as a side project around 2004 by lead singer Nick Thomas, The Spill Canvas is enjoying a steady wave of success in the alternative rock landscape.

Their lifespan has had its share of ups and downs through three full-length albums, label changes and multiple lineup changes. But the South Dakota-based band’s 2007 full-length major-label debut “No Really, I’m Fine” helped solidify the Spill Canvas as an alternative act to watch. While catching fans attention on the Vans Warped Tour in both 2006 and 2007, the album broke onto Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart, and their single “All Over You” caught wind on the Top 100 Songs chart.

On Sunday night, the band swung through town as part of its tour with The Hush Sound and headliner OneRepublic. Before the show, I got to sit down with Thomas in the band’s backstage digs, aka: the college's locker room, and discussed his admiration for college campuses, his soul influences and why the band calls Sioux Falls, S.D., its home.

So how’s the tour going?
It’s good. This is probably like the fifth or sixth date with OneRepublic. We’ve had a couple one-off shows and stuff like that on our own, but it’s amazing. It definitely is a lot easier than we thought it would be. We’ve been on some headlining runs recently. It’s always just easier when there’s support, especially with being part of a big band tour. I mean OneRepublic is just huge, it’s going so well for them, and the venues are like enormously big as opposed to if we’re headlining we’re doing smaller room stuff. So it’s so cool to get the chance to play to a crowd.

How do you like the college shows?
They’re good. They are always so accommodating as you can plainly see (Thomas waves toward a table full of bottled water, candy bars and other goodies). Like right when we got here, I walked around the whole campus. It’s just so fun. It’s not just a dingy venue, you know, which are cool in their own right. It’s cool to get around and to see the atmosphere of being on the campus is always so cool. Kids come out and, you know, music and college go hand in hand.

Do you talk to the kids or hang out with any of them?
Not yet. It’s like I missed out on the college thing because I just went straight into this and so there’s this little vicarious thing going on when you’re on campus and everything. It’s cool.

What happened to Augustana? We just learned they’re not playing tonight.
As far as what we’ve heard is that the lead singer, he hurt his pelvis or his hip of some kind, broke it. It was during their one-offs, it wasn’t during a show that they were playing on this tour. So that was new. We just heard about it, and obviously you can’t go on with a broken hip or whatever. So yeah, we wish them the best. We only got to see them once too, they were only at one show.

So tell me how you got into music. I read your dad really encouraged you.
Right away, we’re from South Dakota so there’s not a lot of stuff going on there. There’s not a big cesspool of musicians to just pick from. It was so out of necessity I just started doing the solo-acoustic-singer-songwriter type thing. And then my dad was kind of the one that he originally had just been so supportive and kind of led me in the right direction, and ‘well you could go do the college thing or if this is really what you’re doing, go ahead and go for it.’ And here we are. And now all the parents are mega fans. They travel whatever distances. It’s awesome, they’re so supportive. I think, myself included, we’re all really lucky to get parents to support us.

And you started Spill Canvas as a side project, right?
NT: Yeah, I was playing in a metal band and I was just filling in on guitar. They really taught me how to play guitar. Obviously it’s very technically demanding. So that really helped my chops, I think. I like music of all kinds and it was just kind of like I’d sit down with the acoustic, fiddle around, write songs here and there. You know, I was like ‘well, let’s just try this,’ and then the more I would do it and play, I was like ‘oh, this is really something I could get into.’ So here we are.

You started with a completely different group of guys than those with the band now. The band’s gone through a lot of changes. How have those changes helped you grow, or what have you learned?
You know that’s the thing when you play with other people in musical worlds, there’s some that are great. You can always play with other musicians, but as far as chemistry goes, and the magic so to speak, it’s the Steven Tyler-Joe Perry thing. You know, like, it has to be there. That was a really funny example by the way, but you know what I mean. The magic, I guess. And there’s trial and error stuff. I think a lot of bands go through it. But then at the same time there are those lucky bands or those lucky groups that they just find it right there. It was kind of cool though to go through the member changes because you do learn stuff. You learn about your self, you learn how you want it to be, you understand like if there’s someone in the group that doesn’t want to do it or isn’t going along with it. You obviously learn what it is that you want. So there’s a lot of pros and cons to that whole situation. But ultimately the member lineup changes have been all very beneficial and very like ‘Oh this is what we wanna be.’

With it sort of being your project, do you have the final say?
Not really. It’s more that it started as I’ll bring the ideas of the songs and I’ll maybe write the lyrics. So that’s where that whole thing came into play. And then with everyone else, it’s a very Democratic kind of feeling where it’s like, ‘What do you think? Do you want this? Oh, I want this.’ So we’re good at figuring out what all of us want.

Let’s talk about the ‘No Really, I’m Fine’ album. How do you think that latest album turned out?
It turned out so much different than our previous efforts because we had a new producer. His name is Neal Avron. He’s just done so many amazing things and pushed us to be the best musicians that we can be, et cetera. And it was more of a we-wanted-to-rock, just make a rock record. It just kind of ended up being with touches of pop here and there. I didn’t even know what it would be like and then when you’re in there, it’s like ‘wow, this is happening.’ This is coming out, and this comes out and this comes out. I think that it was definitely a stepping stone for us and it’s wild to think about it and where each record has come from.

You touched on some of your influences from Van Morrison and Otis Redding on that album, too. Who were some of your influences growing up?
Those guys in particular like Otis Redding, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and those kind of cats with the soul. Obviously, it’s more of a rock-pop thing, but just the influences, you know what I mean? And there’s some grooves on there that are really just that easy groove the whole time. We definitely experimented with other things like horns. We had this guy named Jerry Hey. He played on all the Michael Jackson records, his same quartet of like these old horn players, studio cats from like Toto records and just ridiculous things in the ’80s. They just came in and laid down on this song and we were just in awe of these people. But the influences definitely came from just a very odd array of things like our drummer Joe, his favorite band is at the time Jimmy Eat World and he grew up listening to (former Blink 182 dummer) Travis Barker playing drums. So he’s just a drummer, and then he was starting to get into all these other bands like Fleetwood Mac at the time of the recording. So he started to take on this percussionist as opposed to just a drummer. And then our bass player Landon (Heil), he was originally a guitar player, switched over to bass. He’s our new bass player, so he was really finding his groove. And there’s so many albums we listened to while we’re recording.

Who do you guys listen to right now?
All of us have kind of dived into some different things. I’ve been getting into Ratatat. It’s like this instrumental, electronic stuff, so just like catchy and you just can’t help but groove to it. And there’s this guy that plays guitar, but it’s like within electronic music, it’s so good. I’ve been getting into the new Ray LaMontagne, I can’t pronounce his last name. That guy is from a different era. I’m so glad he is so popular, especially in the colleges. He’s just got some soul from a long time ago, you know what I mean? It’s cool to bring in that real music where it’s not about what he looks like, it’s not about any of that. It’s just the song and the feeling.

You guys are still living in South Dakota, too. How do you resist the urge to move to New York or Los Angeles?
It’s weird. At first, it’s like ‘Yeah, we gotta get out, we gotta get out there.’ Then you kind of realize we literally have taken on a very big weight. It’s wierd. Like at first we’re like, ‘Our we the only band that’s really come out of here and we’re like, ‘hah, nah,’ And then this new record came out and all the success started coming. It was like every other day there was a story in the paper about us. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool, there really isn’t.’ There hasn’t been a band that got the level of success we have had from our area. So obviously it’s a very simple area, there’s not a lot of culture going on there. More agriculture than anything else. It’s just a very proud, surreal feeling, and so it was like, ‘How do we represent this? This is where we’re from.’ And then if you go out to those other areas, it’s very easy to blend in, you’re just another one of those. Maybe your music might sound like other stuff, but you have that one thing because you’re from that area. It’s a hometown pride thing, for sure.

I suppose it’s nice to go home and relax after you’ve been on the road.
It’s so nice because it’s obviously very desolate and relaxing. The only weird thing is that you are recognized a lot more easy. You’re like, ‘I could go to New York and I would be a spec amongst the ants.’ But you go to the grocery store and they’re like ‘who’s that?’ ‘What’s that guy?’ They’re like, ‘I think I saw him in the paper.’ So it can be desired, but those are cool problems to have.

So what can we expect tonight?
We got just a quick one. We had been doing some filling time because of Augustana’s absence, but we’re just doing our regular half an hour. We kind of just bust through as much as we can. We toned it down a little bit, being as it is OneRepublic fans. You know, ‘Apologize’ is the song that a lot of people will probably come to hear which has a slower ballady type of feel. So we kind of backed off on too much of the rock. We’ll have a little bit more of just grooves, it’s a more chilled set. So we’ll knock through it and hope it’s good.

So what’s up next for you guys?
We’re crossing our fingers that this is the last tour on this record. And then hopefully we’ll do the holidays, get that off and start writing and getting ready to gear up, because it’s already been like two years this spring since we recorded the record. So we’re definitely over due and then we’ll start writing as soon as the holidays are done. So I’m really excited, yeah I’m really pumped. We’ll see what happens.

Set the night to music

... So I got to go to a concert last night. A pretty entertaining concert actually. And for the 1,200 or so crowded around the college venue stage it was a show of three very different acts ...

Opening “the party” was Chicago’s The Hush Sound, a bouncy, fun pop band consisting of the kind of people you’d want to chill with on a Saturday night. Until a few weeks ago, I'd never heard of them. But after receiving this concert announcement and doing my research, I fell hard for the foursome.

In the middle was South Dakota’s The Spill Canvas and their edgier, hard rock produced by four guys who look like bad boys on the outside, but still have a cool soft side.

And finally, there was the Los Angeles-based OneRepublic, those preppy darlings of MySpace who sound a lot like Coldplay, Keane, The Fray or – insert any other rock band with a guy who sits at a piano and strains to sing falsetto.

There was to be a fourth band, but signs plastered on the venue’s front doors announced Augustana would not perform because of an injury to one of its band members. I learned later that lead singer Dan Layus injured his hip during a show in Madison last week. Too bad, after interviewing Jared Palomar a couple weeks ago and playing their latest album, I was really looking forward to another try at Augustana.

As the opening act, The Hush Sound — comprised of Bob Morris, Greta Salpeter, Darren Wilson and Mike Leblanc taking over on bass for Chris Faller, who I was sorry to learn left the band last month — had the crowd easily entertained with their high-spirited tunes.

“You’re a fun bunch, I tell ya,” Salpeter shouted to the crowd after their opening number, to which Morris added, “This is already the best party I’ve been to!”

The classically-trained Salpeter is dazzling to watch and so at ease on her keyboard; her style made me feel like I was watching her at Miss Kitty's Old West Saloon.

Meanwhile the band’s hand-clappy melodies and sunny harmonies on songs like “Love You Much Better” and “Wine Red” were terrific fun.

Two days before one of the most significant elections in history, the show also wasn’t without some political overtones. After enthusiastically urging the crowd to vote, The Hush Sound pulled out their song “We Believe in Barack Obama,” which has been streaming on the group’s MySpace page for several weeks. (Chorus: We believe in Barack Obama / He loves you and he loves your mama / We believe in Barack Obama, yeah / With all the change that’s buildin’ / Gonna bring hope to the children / We believe in Barack Obama, yeah).

I've listened to it several times there, but hearing them do it live was way cool ...

Going in, there was no band I was as excited to see as Hush Sound; they were every bit as fun to watch and hear as I'd hoped and imagined. So good that I felt like I could've left after their set and I would've had my money's worth ... But I stayed, and lucked out with getting to do a meet and greet with them, too.

Check out their video for my favorite song “Honey” ...

The Hush Sound's set list ...
1. “Intro” / “Love You Much Better”
2. “We Intertwined”
3. “Medicine Man”
4. “Not Your Concern”
5. “Wine Red”
6. “We Believe In Barack Obama”
7. “Honey”
* * *
The Spill Canvas brought a harder sound that, at some points, bordered on heavy metal, and wasn’t surprising considering frontman Nick Thomas got his start playing guitar in a metal band.

I wasn't so excited to see The Spill Canvas. After all, I'm not a hard rock fan. But in the end, I really kind of liked what I saw and heard.

The tone was turned down as the set moved forward with the band also showing their classic rock influences. Some of the riffs in “Staplegunned” I thought could have been taken from a Boston song, while “Connect the Dots,” which was probably my favorite song in their set, seemed to channel Lindsey Buckingham.

The Spill Canvas's set list ...
1. “Hush Hush”
2. “Staplegunned”
3. “Saved”
4. “Polygraph, Right Now”
5. “Dutch Courage”
6. “Connect the Dots”
7. “All Over You”
* * *

On the surface, that whole Coldplay vibe has the tendency to bore someone pretty quickly. (I was yawning throughout the front half of OneRepublic’s set). But it turns out, there might be more to OneRepublic than that falsetto voice and those manufactured beats that have made them – so far – a little more than a one-hit wonder.

It occurred to me about midway through, they seem to really enjoy what they do, and they’re pretty good musicians, too.

Surrounded by a quintet of living room lamps (one at each instrument station) and a crystal chandelier hanging above them, the five guys who make up OneRepublic — lead vocalist Ryan Tedder, Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Brent Kutzle and Eddie Fisher — traded multiple instruments, playing not just with guitars and keyboards, but filling their computerized orchestral arrangements with live bells and a cello, too.

During their hour and 15 minute set on Sunday night, the band gave its audience a healthy dose of material from their popular “Dreaming Out Loud” album. In between the radio-friendly “Stop And Stare” and a catchy new song called “All The Right Moves,” the band inserted epics like “All Fall Down” and “Say (All I Need),” rock anthems that easily could have fit a much larger arena. At times, their sound reminded me of U2.

They also threw in a hopping, rock ‘n’ roll-tinged cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which Filkins introduced with a Mariachi-styled guitar solo.

Here's the intro ...

And then “Crazy” ...

Later, they began their two-song encore by covering Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” which also struck me as a political message. OneRepublic’s Brown also was sporting a T-shirt with a large picture of Obama. And Tedder told the crowd after the song that he dressed for Halloween as “Barack Obama as Sarah Palin.”

Both covers were so cool, they'll easily find a place on my “Best Live Covers” list ...

But by the time the band got to its uber-hitApologize” — which also started with a dramatic cello intro — the moment seemed a little anti-climactic.

Tedder, by the way, was dressed last night in a black and white Batman & Robin T-shirt. Before ending their main set with “Someone to Save You,” he dedicated the song to the “people in this room because you came out on a crappy night (It was raining ... it always rains when I go to concerts at this place) and supported us. I'm wearing a Batman & Robin T-shirt, I don't even look like I should be in a band, but thank you for everything!”

OneRepublic's set list ...
1. “Mercy”
2. “Goodbye Apathy”
3. “Stop and Stare”
4. “All Fall Down”
5. “Crazy”
6. “All the Right Moves”
7. “Say (All I Need)”
8. “Won’t Stop”
9. “Apologize”
10. “Someone to Save You”
11. Encore: “For What It’s Worth”
12. Encore: “All We Are”