Friday I went to see Neil Gaiman read from his new book Fragile Things at Politics and Prose. Or it was supposed to be at Politics and Prose at 7, but due to high demand it moved to a church two blocks away (good thing I check his blog on a regular basis). I took the 950 to Metro to the L2 to get to Tenleytown, then walked a bit to get there. He read “The Day the Saucers Came” (again) and “A Study In Emerald” (because this time he asked what he’d read before and realized he’d read us “How To Talk To Girls At Parties” at Balticon). The irony was that I’d read the introduction and the first 2/3s of “A Study In Emerald”, so since I knew both pieces, was able to pay closer attention to his style. He then answered questions and tlaked about movies and was his usual charming self (funniest bit was when he mentioned Guillermo del Toro saying a naughty word, then looking up at the church ceiling and ducking). I elected not to stay for the signing this time – I didn’t feel like killing three hours in line again this year.
Afterwards I stopped at Politics and Prose to pick up the new Terry Pratchett book Wintersmith, because if you bought it there you get two tix to his talk at that very same church on October 17th (Sorry Chris, doesn’t look like he’ll be near Boston this time). I’d read the nearby Besto Pizza was good, but it looked like they did carryout pies only, besides which I’d had a protein bar just before leaving work. So I reversed my trip, getting home at 11 (glad I had plenty of reading material, I made it through the Post, and an issue of Paste). Jill was asleep so I had the leftover pretzel dogs, and finished watching “Smallville”.
Saturday I slept in. I made egg sandwiches for breakfast, then read the paper and watched two episodes of “Arrested Development” and the first episode of the new second season of Doctor Who, as well as the first half of the “Star Trek:Enterprise” pilot. HDNet is playing “Arrested Development” (two eps a week) and “Star Trek:Enterprise” from the beginning, so I’ve added those to my viewing roster. I made a Thai influenced hoisin chicken for dinner (Jill got home from studying right as I was making it), then headed over to the Metro again, this time going to the Verizon Center to see Tool. I had to get there by 7:20 because I had will-call tix. Not the way I prefer it, especially since I sold one of my tickets (Jill wasn’t interested), but I had used the new Ticketmaster auctions and the tix were only available at will-call. That’s probably because the auction was only two weeks prior to the show – I also used an auction for the Roger Waters tix, but that was a couple months back and they shipped those to me.
So I got my tix, then had to wait around for the guy I sold the second ticket to. He didn’t show until just after 8, so I didn’t follow through on my original plan to head over to RFD and have a pint of Magic Hat. I went in, hit the bathroom, water stand, and beer stand (Hefeweizen). The opener, Isis, hadn’t impressed me that much when I listened to songs on their site, so I wasn’t worried about missing them. I had enough time to confirm my opinion. The interesting thing was when I tried to go to my seat, the lady checking tix told me I’d been relocated. I wondered if that was good or bad. Good, it turned out – moved down in section 120 (already the section closest to stage right) three rows to the row right off the floor on the aisle. Couldn’t have picked it better myself (although it was a distraction when people would try and sneak down to the floor).
Tool went on around 9, playing a solid 2 hours but only 12 songs. I think I’d classify Tool as progressive industrial metal – they’ve got the feel of a melting pot of progressive rock, industrial, and metal. When I’d seen the selist for the shows, I admit I was disappointed at first. I became a Tool fan with the song and video for Sober, off their second album, Undertow, and they weren’t playing any songs from that. Instead the set relied heavily on the new album, 10000 Days. But knowing the set, I played 10000 Days in the car almost nonstop in the week leading up to the show, and was ready for it when the lights went down.
Their stage show was very impressive – the entire floor of the stage and the backdrop was filled with video monitors. I’ve enjoyed singer Maynard James Keenan work with them and his other band A Perfect Circle, but the other members of Tool – Danny Carey on drums, Adam Jones on guitar and Justin Chancellor on bass, had an incredible musicianship I wasn’t prepared for. Danny was a ferocious drummer while still showing his technical mastery, reminded me of Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. They had a different stage setup – Maynard was on a riser next to the drum riser in back without lights, and Adam and Justin were out front. The sellout crowd (and did you know Tool was so big they sold the place out in half an hour? I hadn’t prior to trying to get tix back when they went on sale) was an appreciative audience to every song, and the new songs didn’t disappoint. They successfully recreated the aural landscapes the CDs have, even though at times three of them were playing keyboards.
The thing I thought was coolest was the encore, or lack of one. When they finished the set, they put their instruments down and sat down on Maynard’s riser, chatting and having drinks. As the crowd grew louder, Justin held up a lighter, a move that instantly was copied around the venue. They waited a couple of minutes as the crowd continued screaming, then Maynard stepped to the mike. “Pittsburgh was louder”, he said. Man, I thought it was loud before, but he got them even louder before he was done, then they played the final three songs, finishing with a great version of “Ã†nema”. After the show, I headed straight home, getting back at 12. Jill was asleep, and I stayed up for a bit watching SNL and some more “Star Trek:Enterprise” as I played with Illa and had a snack of pears and a leftover pizza slice, then went to bed.
Sunday Jill and I got going early (for us) to get on Metro and get to Largo Town Center by 1. We were meeting my dad and Sharon and Forrest for lunch near FedEx Field. We had three tix for the Redskins/Jaguars game that day (why we were meeting my dad there), and we wanted to have lunch with Sharon beforehand because she’s leaving tomorrow for nearly three months in South Africa (everyone was too busy the rest of the weekend to get together). We went to the mall next door, Boulevard at the Capital Centre (built on the remains of the Capital Centre, where I went to my first concerts and sports games), picking the Pizzeria Uno’s because it was a known quantity. We had a good lunch (everyone had pizza), then Jill and I piled into Dad’s car and headed over to FedEx Field.
The three tix Jill had purchased from a coworker included a blue parking pass – not the best, but at least it was walking distance to the stadium. We tailgated for a bit, then headed in. These were the sweet seats, 10 rows up from the end zone. We forgot our binoculars, but now we didn’t need them just to watch the action on the field (although sometimes you need to check out the trim on the cheerleaders’ outfits). Since we’d ate prior to coming in, the day wasn’t nearly as expensive as my last visit, only two drinks at the game. The game was great, back and forth all day. I was worried that the Jaguars’ defence was impenetrable, but that turned out not to be the case. We started leaving at the two minute warning, and saw the Redskins pull ahead by three as we were leaving, but missed Jacksonville tie it as time ran out. But we did turn on the radio to catch the three plays it took the Redskins to score a TD in overtime, finishing just as we pulled up to the Metro. We were home by 9, and Jill thought she’d study some, so she went off to read while I played with Illa and watched the remainder of “Star Trek:Enterprise” (I read the paper on the train). Got a couple things left to do before bedtime, unfortunately (besides writing this monster post).