Last weekend, I saw Yacht Rock Revue cover The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album at Variety Playhouse, at it was awesome.  Before they did that album, they did Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” with “The Wizard of Oz” playing on a screen behind them, so we could all see if what we heard was a worthwhile endeavor from our stoner friends in undergrad actually is, in fact, a worthwhile endeavor.  It sort of is.  Maybe it’s moreso if you’re high.  Speaking of high, this was the encore after the Beatles’ set:

I loved it.

I grew up loving the “Abbey Road” album, because my dad did.  He had it on reel-to-reel, record, cassette, and CD.  Possibly on 8-track, too.  I used to love it when my mom was down the street for the neighborhood Bridge game, and the old man would open the closet at the end of the hallway, reach into the stack of LPs, and pull out the iconic picture of the fab four in the crosswalk.  Just as the opening notes of “Come Together” would pipe through the Pioneer speakers he brought back from Vietnam, he’d pull out the tambourine with the peace sign and “up against the wall” handwritten in yellow highlighter on it, and he’d add live percussion.

I learned to love quality music from my dad.  Almost as much as he liked The Beatles, he liked Genesis.  Once in high school, when I mentioned wanting to stay out past curfew with my friend Chad to see a show, he asked who the performer was.  I don’t remember the act, but he smirked in response.
“It’s not like you’re going to see Phil Collins or something.”
For the past 20+ years, Chad and I have regularly brought this comment up as the alternative argument to anything we considered doing for entertainment, as it was the gold standard:  Phil Collins or something.  Hell, I still want to see Phil Collins or something.

The odd thing is, I didn’t have much interest in live shows when I was younger.  My first concert was Bon Jovi with Skid Row in the 8th grade, and I enjoyed it pretty well, but later on, when friends would talk about wanting to see live musical performances, I’d protest with a “but you can hear them for free on the radio!” and save my $18.50 instead (which seemed a lot when working for $4.25/hr).  My being a cheapskate trumped my liking music.

One summer night in high school, a bunch of friends went to see Don Henley, and I stayed in to save my $18.50 (even though I really liked his music).  The next evening, my friend Jeremy told me in detail about the songs off “End of the Innocence” and the old Eagles tunes he played, and my chest burned with regret.  I decided I’d never skip another show I was interested in again, and for the most part, I’ve stuck by that.  So, when Don Henley came to Atlanta last October at Cobb Energy Center, I was there, and I texted Jeremy to let him know it.  His response:  “you’re my most beloved maniac” (which I translate to “I love how you hold onto a thought for 25 years and then act on it when given an opportunity!”).

Now, seeing live music is a staple of my spring and summer.  This year, for example, I’ve already got tickets to They Might Be Giants, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson + Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Duran Duran, The Cure, and Journey.

But for 20+ years, I’ve wanted to see an artist I’ve never quite been able to see.  A Yacht Rock Review show covering his “Purple Rain” album one Halloween a few years ago was as close as I’ve come, and I was beginning to worry it would be as close as I’d ever come.

But last night on Facebook, someone posted an announcement:  on March 30 at noon, tickets for 2 shows next week at The Fox Theatre will go on sale.  Only 2 tickets per purchaser, and they had to be bought on the theater’s website, by phone, or in person there (ie, no Live Nation, Ticketmaster, etc.).  I was excited, but was afraid to let myself get ecstatic, as I knew I had to be at the Air Force base for a mandatory meeting today at noon, so I asked my bride to please please try and call or get through on the website for me.

At 5 minutes before noon, I began to worry I wasn’t going to get tickets, so I texted my paralegal to see if she would also try for me.  I walked into my meeting (which, thankfully, started about 10 minutes late) after trying the phone and website a few (about 75) times, and both were obviously inundated with traffic; I couldn’t get through.  I was not optimistic.

Then, at 12:19pm, I got this text from my paralegal:  “Oh shit, I got in!”

In the orchestra pit, on the 5th row, at 7pm next Thursday night, borrowing some unforeseen disaster, I will be at this show:

prince show

And it’s all I’ve been able to think about since 12:19pm.

March began with the launch of “Lego Bionicle” and “Lego Friends” shows on Netflix.  I don’t always pay attention to my new suggestions for streaming shows to check out, but my children apparently do–by the time some Legos came in the mail from Netflix, they were already familiar with the characters.  I’m not sure if the creators’ intent was for the former show to be marketed toward boys and the latter one for girls, but that’s certainly how my progeny wished to divide their spoils when the box appeared on our front porch.  They were very excited and began building them immediately.

Kids playing w Legos

Also this month, the Atlanta LegoLand Discovery Center invited us over to see a new “4D” movie they released and then again to see the new Pirate Adventure Island–an interactive play area featuring a giant pirate ship (that was strong enough for me to climb and run all over it with the children), a boat building + racing area down a water chute, and some other cool stuff.  We loved it.

Emmet and i lego pirate and i

While we like to encourage the children to play outside as much as possible (and they often bring their Legos outdoors), it rains a good bit during springtime in Atlanta, and Netflix or LegoLand are great ways for all of us to engage with one another when it does.

boat races

Given my 84-mile hike coming this July, I’ve been trying to spend more time on my feet when there’s a free weekend, as I need to break in my new shoes (I went with waterproof Merrell Chameleons) and build my endurance.  Since the days leading up to our walk will be spent touring the UK with the children, I figure I should bring them along for training.

Normally at this time of year, Atlanta might be up to 60-something degrees, but this year, it’s been high 70s, so we’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible outside. Last weekend, we started with a picnic by the Chattahoochee River before hiking near Sope Creek.

picnic by river

We even brought Winnie the dog.

winnie the dog waits

I bought an Olympus “tough” camera that the children can use on our trip this summer, so we’ve begun practicing with it as well (all pictures in this post were taken with it).

After eating, we began walking an easy loop trail of about 1 mile.  My 7-year-old son almost immediately began whining about hurting feet and not liking hiking.  My bride stayed in the rear of our pack to try and talk him out of his grumpy attitude (I’m not so good at being patient with whining).

Meanwhile, my 5-year-old daughter ran the entire trail.  In fact, I could hardly keep up with her.  Every few minutes or so, I’d round a switchback and find her waiting on me in some sort of pose, such as these:

waiting by stump

my 5yo seeking solace

I didn’t prompt or encourage these poses; she just did them.

It reminded me of my friend Glenn’s rehearsal dinner down in Destin, Florida in 2006, when I went AWOL from my deployment to Andrews AFB to attend.  We were at a beachside bar, and my bride was pregnant with our now 9-year-old, when I very publicly asked why she wasn’t drinking like the rest of us, so that we could “have a little Forrest” while pointing to her belly.  For some reason, she failed to see the humor in this, but I brought it up at the conclusion of our hike on Saturday, pointing out that we now have, in fact, a “little Forrest” (but without the mental challenges).  I suggested we add “Born to Run” to our bedtime stories list.

Eventually, the rest of the family caught up to our youngest, and they allowed a rare moment of across-the-board smiles as they wallowed in the grass next to the bike path that brought us back to the parking lot after the loop trail.

babies and winnie the dog

When we got back, we decided to book a trip to the Len Foote Hike Inn during their spring break next month.  It’ll mean 5 miles up a mountain at the southern edge of the Appalachian Trail, spending the night at a rustic hotel at the top, and hiking back the next day.  I figure it’s time to see if “little Forrest” can live up to her nickname and if her ornery brother can learn to like hiking like the rest of his family.  And, my bride is currently writing a murder mystery requiring sewing a quilt to solve the mystery, and it’s set there.  So, it’s research on multiple levels!  Hopefully, it’ll even be fun.