Posts Tagged ‘Rick Springfield’

 

Southwest Airlines – May I Kiss You On The Lips?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

I am writing this, sitting on a cold faux marble floor in our bathroom at the Holiday Inn, just outside of Baltimore-Washington Airport. It is 5:00 AM and I can’t sleep. In order not to disturb Helaine and Stef, I have adopted this as my temporary office.

The free wireless access works much better here than in the actual room!

That we are here is some sort of minor miracle. If you fly on airplanes and are used to being treated like fecal material, please read this story, made even better by this email from meteorologist Bob, in Florida.

gon, wst (westerly ri) both went to snow last hour

dad went to snow 5 mins ago.

good thing you left when you did.

The GON he mentions is Groton/New London Airport, arguably Connecticut’s airport most likely to report rain when others are seeing snow! His dad is in North Branford, also less likely to see a quick change to snow.

Yesterday morning, when it looked like we’d be seeing significant snow, sleet and freezing rain, and knowing we had to get to California now or miss our cruise ship, I called Southwest Airlines. The best way to summarize the opening of the conversation is to quote Rick Springfield’s, “Don’t Talk To Strangers.”

“I’m begging you, please”

Though I explained my situation, the agent couldn’t help. Southwest Airlines had policies in place.

I pleaded my case for a few minutes before asking, nicely, if I could speak to a supervisor. I tried everything, including the option of moving us to Islip, a 2:30 hour drive. The supervisor listened to our plight (Linda from Albuquerque. “I’m not the bilingual Linda in Albuquerque.”) but wouldn’t budge.

Finally, she broke down. She understood the fragility of our cruise plans and that Southwest was booked solid, should our flight be canceled. They would move us out of Connecticut Monday night and we could pick up the rest of our itinerary on Tuesday.

Quickly, Helaine went to hotwire.com and found a hotel at Baltimore-Washington Airport. Last minute, Holiday Inn – under $70.

When I told my friend Peter, someone who had racked hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, mostly on United, he said he was amazed. Southwest had done the right thing for me and for Southwest, but he had never heard of it happening before.

Let me add, this is not because I’m “TV-boy” in Connecticut. These operators were in Albuquerque.

Now the real test began – we weren’t packed. Helaine, our ‘packing supervisor’ and all around ‘logistics specialist,’ would have to compress 24 hours of planning into six! And she did.

This was one of those times when Helaine’s incredible organizational acumen took over. She was worried we wouldn’t make it, but she faced the task and moved forward.

There were chores out of the house she needed to do, and things for me to do while she was gone. I made a list. I am not a list maker. I understood today had to be different.

I’m not going to take my usual cheap shot about how much baggage we finally brought. It’s a lot. At this point how could I mind?

We got to Bradley Airport in Hartford to check in. The change of plans left me with a legit ticket, but Helaine and Steffie (both flying non-revenue) with nothing on paper and some cobbled together exceptions that the computer couldn’t handle on its own.

Donna from Torrington was our customer service agent at the ticket counter at Bradley. When she read the notes on her computer she stopped. She said she hadn’t seen anything like this before… and neither had the computer. It refused to issue Helaine a boarding pass (though it had for Steffie, and had hours ago for me).

She called the help desk to get some assistance. The person on the other end also commented on how unusual the remarks with our reservation were.

Because of Helaine and Steffie’s late re-booking, their tickets were marked for extra screening by the TSA. No problem. At this point we were way ahead of the game. Screen on.

So, here we are at the Holiday Inn at BWI. We had a lovely ride on the courtesy van with a bunch of airline employees and four drunk folks from Cleveland, kicked off their flight to sober up!

Our flight from BWI to LAX doesn’t leave until this evening. Based on what I’ve seen of the Northeast’s weather, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were open seats and we made it out of Baltimore a whole lot earlier.

We are not in Los Angeles yet, but we are much closer than mileage alone would imply. And, a huge burden has been lifted from our shoulders.

If we were home right now, hoping to make our scheduled flight, we’d be out-of-luck. No one in bed in Connecticut now will make that Wednesday cruise.

I think I’m going to try to go back to sleep.

The Proud Father

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Stef and Helaine went to New York City and Jim Thorpe, PA to see Rick Springfield perform this weekend. I would expect no less. They are rabid fans.

As I hear the story, they were walking around before the concert as other fans started coming up to Steffie, congratulating her. She had no idea why, but it didn’t take long to find out, she had been published.

In the new Rick Springfield 2006 calendar, Steffie is represented with four photos! Two are half page, two are quarter page.

She’s an incredible photographer. Even better, she enjoys taking these concert pictures.

I am a very proud papa.

Here’s an overview of some of her best.

Hangover

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

I don’t drink alcohol. So, I don’t know what a hangover is. However, I think I have experienced a pretty good simulation of one today.

My head is killing me in a very ‘special’ way I’m not used to feeling. This is one headache aspirin has not been able to tame.

It actually goes back yesterday’s poker game. What I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post was, the game was played with Helaine out of town. She and Steffie went to see Rick Springfield in concert (NYC last night, Jim Thorpe, PA tonight).

That doesn’t mean Helaine’s presence wasn’t here. She is the consummate host and incredibly organized. Her work was done before she drove off.

When the gang got here last night, the house was loaded with snacks perfect for poker. We had home baked chocolate chip cookies, home baked chocolate brownies, pretzels, chips and salsa.

My kitchen had become my own personal carbohydrate bulking station!

Back when Helaine and I started dating, I weighed about 12 pounds. I was rail thin while living off Hydrox Cookies and Coca Cola. Unfortunately, that train has left the station. You can’t go back… as I proved.

By the end of the night I was full and hyper, as all that sugar moved nicely into my bloodstream. I woke this morning to a pounding head.

After a few hours awake, I figured the only cure was to go back to sleep. Conveniently, I thought of this while prone on the sofa. By the time I was conscious again, the Sun had set.

The nap didn’t help. Here it is, around 9:30, and though I’m feeling as good as I have all day, I still feel like… well, it’s family blog, but you get the idea.

Tomorrow Helaine will return, and I’ll get back to healthy eating. Not a moment too soon. After all, not only was I not feeling well, I had no one to kvetch to!

Not Meant To Be Alone

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

Steffie, as has been well established, is away at college. Helaine took this weekend and joined a friend from Texas, seeing Rick Springfield concerts in the Midwest. I am holding down the fort at home.

The house has grown eerily quiet since Steffie left. It is even more quiet now.

I got home from work last night, changed out of my suit and went downstairs to play poker, watch TV and put off bedtime. ESPN Classic has begun running old episodes of ARLI$$ and I tape every one.

I didn’t get to bed until after 5:00 AM. I have no willpower when it comes to going to sleep.

My boss asked if I would work today and knowing there would be post-Rita explanations necessary, I said yes. Without that, this would have been a totally purposeless day. As it was, it was only partially purposeless and very, very quiet.

That’s it. It’s too quiet.

I’ve said this before, but even when we’re not chatting, having Helaine and or Steffie around the house is reassuring. It doesn’t make sense, but the house is different even when I’m downstairs watching TV and Helaine’s upstairs, hours into sleeping.

Tomorrow morning I get up early for the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation “Walk to Cure Diabetes” (that’s a lot of capital letters). This is one of the most rewarding charity events I’m involved in all year. How can you say no to something that affects so many kids and their families?

By Sunday afternoon, the solitude returns. I’m sure there’s something worthwhile to do. I’m sure I’ll never be self motivated enough to do it.

Everybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Rick Springfield was on Good Morning America today and the ‘stalker tour’, featuring Helaine and Stef, followed along. There were better shots of them standing near Tony Perkins during the weather segment, but I forgot to capture the video on the computer until the very end.

Tomorrow it’s Helaine and Stef with Regis and Kelly. That Springfield guy’s there too, I suppose.

Rockford, Rickford… What The Heck, They’re Back

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

When you’re a fan… a rabid fan… you will move heaven and Earth. I guess that’s the best way to put Helaine and Stef’s trip to Rockford, Illinois into perspective. They are rabid Rick Springfield fans. You remember, the Jessie’s Girl, Don’t Talk to Strangers guy?

I’m not sure I would travel to Rockford for the ‘cup of coffee and danish’ period of time they were there. On the other hand, I don’t hang out online with people who decided to call it “Rickford” or “The Rickdom.” They do.

Tonight they’re back home.

For Rick Springfield, the venues are no longer giant stadiums and arenas. However, a dedicated. screaming crowd – mainly women – is still there and as Helaine’s license plate frame says, “Rick Rocks.” He has moved into the retail world of rock and roll where the contact with fans is a little more manageable and the touring a little less frenetic.

I’m not sure how Rockford got involved in this, but the classic and freshly refurbished Coronado Theater was chosen to be the site of a concert/DVD taping. Steffie and Helaine could not resist.

I have asked them in the past how many of the attendees of a Rick Springfield concert have been to see him before? Most. How many have seen him a dozen times or more? Lots.

I know for this concert, women were traveling from all across the US and parts of Europe. That’s rabid fans!

Over the past few years Helaine has gotten more involved in the infrastructure of his fan base, becoming a “Street Team” manager who helped in the promotion of his last CD. For this concert, Helaine and Amy, the Street Team national manager, organized a charity luncheon for 150 guests.

I watched over the last few weeks as faxes and emails and phone calls moved back and forth from the hotel in Rockford¹ to our house in Connecticut. The fact that Helaine is extremely organized and probably could visualize what she wanted, didn’t hurt.

It was a thing of beauty. Helaine is modest and very talented in this regard. I’m not quite sure how she did it, but I’m proud she did.

Stef pitched in, helping register the attendees as they came in… and finally associating faces with some of the names she’s seen online.

From what I hear, the luncheon went off without a hitch and with the money collected through raffles and auctions of Rick Springfield oriented ‘stuff,’ around $18,000 was raised for the Disaster Relief Fund of the American Red Cross.

Helaine says Rick, who came to the luncheon for a few minutes and ended up spending around an hour, was taken aback by some of the prices paid for tickets and ‘meet and greet’ access.

They said the concert was great — but they always do! The proof will be in the DVD, whenever that’s issued, and the HDTV concert that will also be broadcast.

I think ‘being’ Rick Springfield is a good and lucrative business. He has to look at it differently than he did when he was a soap star and avoiding having his clothes torn off. He understands what his product is and who is buying, and he delivers. In the few times that I’ve been around, he seemed to genuinely enjoy what he’s doing.

When people find out Helaine and Stef are big fans, they are often surprised. Rick Springfield is no longer a household word. Who would expect a 21st century fan base? In fact, in this morning’s New York Times his name was used as a contrast the modernity of today’s MTV.

It was not meant to be complimentary.

MTV’s durability at the place where the fickle music business and the protean television trade intersect can be attributed to a singular mind-set: its 24-year-long insistence that the channel itself is the star. The Rick Springfields of the world can rise and fall, but MTV endures.

The problem is, even without the hits, he’s a talented guy who was a musician before he was a soap opera star. His success is now different, but there’s no denying, it’s still success.

¹ – You would think a hotel in Rockford would be thrilled to get what amounts to convention-like business, on a weekend, in the dead of winter. They did and I’m told it showed.

Alone

Saturday, August 14th, 2004

Helaine and Steffie have gone to Boston for the night so I am alone. The house gets very quiet.

I’ve spoken with both of them on the phone. They saw the concert and had a great time. I know there’s a filthy anology I could use… but the worst Rick Springfield concert they’ve seen has been amazing. They’re rabid fans.

Steffie seems to think the camera worked well. She only has the small LCD on the back to look at, so she can’t be sure. She commented on the clearer, crisper viewfinder on the new Canon. I’m glad she likes the camera.

There’s a certain comfort I get when they’re here – even when I’m awake and they’re not. That’s missing.

I’m not very different when they’re gone, but I am different. I leave lots of lights on, and wait much longer before changing my clothes after work. I watch TV in bed, often showing no willpower in keeping it on long after it should be off.

Tomorrow, as they’re on their way home, I’ll move through the house trying to undo anything I’ve done, putting things back in place.

The New Camera’s First Assignment

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Over the past few years one of the major uses of my digital camera was to accompany Helaine and Steffie (aka – the cult members) when they went to Rick Springfield concerts. The Fuji S602Z has taken hundreds… maybe thousands of photos at his concerts.

Some of Steffie’s best were published in his calendar and tour program. She has developed a very good photographic eye.

Before they leave for the show I set the camera manually so its shutter is fast enough to reduce any motion (of picture taker or subject). Then I set the film speed equivalent. The camera looks at the light as the pictures are taken and decides how wide to open the lens.

Now they are going with my new Canon Digital Rebel and a Sigma 18-125mm f3.5-5.6 lens. The camera and lens are much better than those on the Fuji, but the lens is ‘slower.’ That means I need more light with this camera than with the Fuji.

I can make up some of the difference by increasing the equivalent film speed from 400, where it was with the Fuji, to 800 or even 1,600. I’m afraid if I up it too much there will be too much noise (though the Canon is known as a very quiet camera).

It is a quandary.

I went to the Canon Rebel forum on dpreview.com, a great photo site and was told to buy a different lens. Others there said there wouldn’t be enough light. I’m worried, but I think it will be OK.

The concert is Friday night. Sometime Saturday afternoon I’ll know.

Atlantic City and the Weather’s Awful

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

I’m writing this midday Sunday. There hasn’t been any sun or even the glimpse of the nighttime sky since we’ve been here. Sort of depressing.

As opposed to Las Vegas, this isn’t a good place for Steffie. The hotel, beautiful as it is, is very kid unfriendly. We are removed from the Boardwalk and midtown Atlantic City, though that would make little difference.

Helaine took Steffie to the Boardwalk yesterday, but they stayed only a short time. She was disappointed by the whole honky tonk, sleazy, scene. Of course that’s what Helaine and I like about it. More than anything, we enjoy the people watching, because there are characters of every sort.

We had dinner at the buffet at The Borgata with my friend Peter. I first met him in the early 70′s when I was working in Cleveland. He was the first person I ever met who owned a calculator! He still has it. Later, Peter became my boss – the program director at WPEN radio in Philadelphia. We have been very good friends for 30 years.

The buffet is definitely a Las Vegas contender. There were carving stations and lots of interesting, well prepared, dishes.

A chef was making some spaghetti sauce, I believe using vodka. I tried to take a photo, but was too late. So she put some vodka in a pan so I could have a photo op. Very appreciated.

Unfortunately, she was on the high end of service employees who don’t reach the same level as in Vegas. I’m sorry to do all these comparisons, but it’s only natural. And, time-wise, from where I live in Connecticut, Las Vegas isn’t that much farther away.

We had tickets to the comedy show at the hotel for 9:00 PM. I figured, since it was crowded, that I’d go down and register for poker before we went. That way I wouldn’t have to wait as long. As it turned out, my name wasn’t called until 11:30!

The comedy show, in the same room that Helaine and Steffie saw Rick Springfield the night before, was pretty good. There were three comics, “The Coach,” Jack Fontana, and Pete Correalle.

We all agreed Pete Correalle was the best. In some ways he was reminiscent of Seinfeld. He was in control and laid back.

I thought Jack Fontana, an ‘old school’ joke teller ,was better than “The Coach,” but I was alone in that impression. Either way, both were worse than great, better than bad. Entertaining, but not special.

Last night, the casino was as crowded as any casino I had ever seen. And the crowd was younger than any casino crowd I’d ever seen. Many of the women were dressed in that tawdry, slutty way that’s OK for women, as long as they’re not in your family.

I headed down to the poker room to wait out my table. When I say down, I really mean it, since the room is in the basement.

Like the main casino floor, the poker room was astoundingly crowded. I did get a chance to see what the floor people were carrying. They each have some sort of HP PDA with 802.11b access to the poker room system. So they can work the lists and do nearly everything that can be done from the podium.

I sat at a $6/$12 Hold’em table and slowly began to lose money. It wasn’t long before I was down $100. But I was playing decently (though not as tight as I’d like)¹, so I figured I’d be OK.

My losses stabilized for a while and then I went down again. I had lost $130 or so when things began to turn. I won a few small pots. At least two times everyone laid down their cards to my bet on the river. I think I won because of my earlier semi-tight play. Then I won a few bigs hands.

By the time I went to cash in my chips, I had won $176. So, three sessions for $96, $5, $176. I’m happy.

As I walked through the casino, after 2:00 AM, things were still jumping. In the elevator, yesterday’s Rear Window had given way to Lost in Translation.

¹ – It’s reasonable to ask, if you know you’re not playing right, why not just do it? The brief answer is, while you’re at a table, you’re always looking at the hands and evaluating them. But you’re also there to play, which is what you don’t do when you lay your cards down. This is less a problem on-line. Even though I can intellectualize the problem, I don’t always act with my intellect.

The Borgata

Saturday, July 24th, 2004

The Borgata is a beautiful hotel. It is Las Vegas like. Unfortunately, it’s not in Las Vegas. Looking out my window, seeing the marshes surrounding Atlantic City and the gray, threatening skies, you know it can’t be Las Vegas.

Like the newest of the Vegas Strip hotels, The Borgata has a huge grand entrance. The lobby is bright and oversized, too. I’m surprised by how close the casino is to the common areas. I remember, in the original Atlantic City casino hotels, it was more segregated.

Unlike Nevada, in New Jersey minors cannot walk through the casino.

Our room is on the 35th floor with a view north toward Harrah’s, Trump Marina, and Brigantine. The room itself is very nice with two very comfortable beds. The bathroom has an oversized glass walled stall shower and nicely designed sink. The porcelain stuff is behind a door in a miniature room within the room – if you get my drift.

The common areas, like the hallways, are modern and bright in appearance. The elevator (at least yesterday) had one very strange quirk. At the rear of the car is a video screen. All day yesterday it was playing scenes from “Rear Window,” Hitchcock’s thriller with James Stewart.

We had dinner at Metropolitan, the 24/7 coffee shop. I had a very good, very large bowl of clam chowder. My Chicken Caesar wrap was dry. I didn’t think the actual wrap was particularly tasty.

Helaine and Steffie went to see Rick Springfield at the Music Box. They said his show was great – though they’ve never said otherwise, and probably never will. They were able to finagle their tickets to 2nd row, center.

While they watched, I played poker. Actually, I played twice – before and after dinner. In the early session, playing $6/$12 Hold’em, I won $96. After dinner I won $5. So far, so good.

The players seemed younger than any casino poker room I’d ever played in. This might be as much due to poker on TV than anything else, though I believe Borgata aims for a younger crowd.

The poker room, in a basement area, but nicely designed and appointed, was very computer dependent. That’s really unusual. The lists for each level of game were displayed on huge plasma screen TVs (and, unfortunately, plasma suffers from burn-in). The floor people walked around the room with some sort of wireless PDA and wireless microphones. On the corner of the podium where table sign ups took place were 4 802.11b antennas with the name TELEX in them.

As the night wore on, the disco upstairs opened. As soon as it did the poker room vibrated to the bass line from upstairs. It was really loud. But, other than that, the room was very nice with lots of drink service and decent action.

On a more somber note, while Helaine and Steffie went out for a while this early afternoon, I settled in and took a test in my Radar Meteorology class. Not the way I want to spend a vacation day, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.