Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone? I'm no iFan (yet)

Have you see these people waiting outside the Apple stores in NYC, some of whom have been waiting since Tuesday in anticipation of the official release tonight at 6 p.m.?

They've braved hours (and for some, days) of oppressive heat followed by torrential downpours, waiting in line to be the first in the world to shell out $600 for a phone. Let me repeat that: Six hundred dollars for a phone.

Yes, yes, I get it: You can make phone calls on it and access the internet on it and download music with it and take and share photos with it and split the atom with it and turn back time with it and finally win your parents' approval with it.

I get it: The thing does everything.

And as big of a geek as I am, that sounds great. But these people are waiting on line to be first to pay for the privilege to pay (say it with me) six hundred dollars for a phone.

And that's even before you pay for all those services: iTunes to download the music, text messaging fees, and oh, yeah ... monthly access fee to actually make phone calls! (Yes, you can use it to make calls, remember.)

Hey, I love my iPod. And text messaging? I'm like a 14-year-old girl on the keypad, texting everyone I know. I love e-mailing, watching YouTube videos and all that stuff.

But I don't think I need to be connected to all that stuff every second of every day. Have you ever done somewhere and left your cell phone at home? It's pure paradise! Pure freedom!

So, sorry Steve Jobs, when it comes to the iPhone, iPass ... for now!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The apocolypse has begun

Sit down. Take a deep breath.

I'm about to tell you the five scariest words in the English language:

The Spice Girls are reuniting!
I know, I know. I'm scared, too.

Gather up your family. Head for higher ground. Whatever you do, don't look directly at the Spice Girls. We'll all make it through this somehow.

Yes, nine years after what we all hoped would be their demise, they're coming back with a new world tour: Posh, Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Baby, Dopey, Sneezy, Doc ... oh, no ... those last three were part of Snow White's posse.

Think of them as the Pussycat Dolls (as seen on the right) ... only not as good-looking and not as talented.

The Girls' tour will start in L.A. on Dec. 7, which Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1941, called "a day that will live in infamy." Coincidence???

Honestly, I can remember back in '97 or '98 when a friend of mine (Danielle L.) and I tried getting tickets to a Spice Girls concert at MSG for her little sisters, only to find out that the show sold out in like 6 minutes!

Hopefully, this time around, fans (if there are any left) will be more sensible.

Oh! This should make us all feel old: Between them, the Spice Girls have seven children between them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What a difference a day (or two) makes

I got the phone call from the office around 6:30 p.m. Monday evening.

"Sean, they just found Chris Benoit and his family dead," my assistant sports editor told me as I prepared to cover a Hudson Valley Renegades baseball game from the press box of Fishkill's Dutchess Stadium. "Do you think you can blog about it? I know you met him a couple years ago."

Wow! Dead? I thought. He was the nicest guy when I met him.

"Sure," I replied. "No problem."

I then went on to talk about what a great guy Benoit was backstage at that World Wrestling Entertainment show in Poughkeepsie four years ago. Because he really was.

Like it or not, professional wrestling has become pop culture — grapplers like John Cena and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin have starred in Federation-produced motion pictures — and its popularity is undeniable, particularly among the 18-to-34 demographic advertisers salivate over. This was major news, as the reports on the likes of CNN, Fox News and "Good Morning America," among others, bore out.

As such, I tried to pen a fitting tribute.

At the same time I wrote Monday night, WWE chairman Vince McMahon broke character and storyline on the WWE's flagship TV broadcast, "Monday Night Raw," telling fans worldwide of Benoit's passing, speaking from an empty arena in Corpus Christi, Texas.

This was before we knew of the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of Benoit, his wife and young son. A murder-suicide? How could it be? How could the guy who was so cordial and friendly to me — not to mention countless fans across the globe — do such a thing?

Whatever the reason, whatever the circumstances, investigators say he's done it and three lives have been snuffed out.

Should the WWE have all but eliminated mention of Benoit on its TV programming? Probably. Can we learn from the tragedy in Atlanta? Hopefully.

If authorities' theories are accurate — and it's almost certain they are — Benoit performed a horrific act, taking three lives.

Still fans, like those seen above visiting a memorial at Benoit's Atlanta-area home, are left to wonder Which Chris Benoit did we know?

Four years after that brief encounter in Poughkeepsie, I'm left asking the same question.

(For more on the Benoit story, click on Phil Strum's "
Under The Ring" blog.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

When pop culture clashes with real life

It was one of probably a dozen similar calls he got on his cell phone that week back in January 2003.

Talking to some sports reporter in a town called Poughkeepsie, Chris Benoit talked to the stranger as if he were sitting in the booth next to him at that Chili's in Houston.

"Hey, Sean, thanks for your time," Benoit said at the end of the interview, one that plugged an upcoming card. "You'll have to come to the show when we're in town. It would be nice to meet you."

Yeah, right, I thought. This guy's blowing smoke up my butt. Anything to get some good press for the company.

Three weeks later, there I stood in the backstage area of the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, waiting a few minutes. An hour or so after flying off the top rope, leaping through air and head-butting a laid-out guy named Edge, a soft-spoken Benoit in a button-down shirt and khakis greeted me.

"Hi, Sean. It's a pleasure you meet you. How ya doin'?"

OK, now on the job, I've met guys like Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter and Tiki Barber. No sweat. Growing up a World Wrestling Federation fan, taking in many a WWF show at this same Civic Center as a kid — and never getting anywhere near the backstage area — here I was talking to one of the tops guys in the company, and I was actually excited!

That will be my lasting memory of Benoit, who died Monday at the age of 40. He and his family, including his wife and 7-year-old son were found dead in their home. Leading up to tonight's 8 p.m. "Monday Night Raw" live broadcast on the USA network, which is being dedicated to Benoit, no further details of his death have been made public.

For a guy who made his living in what many call a "fake sport" — even the now-World Wrestling Entertainment calls its product "sports entertainment," since the outcomes and storylines are pre-determined — I walked away from both my phone conversation and brief, in-person talk with Benoit thinking he's just a real guy.

He had a family. He went to work every day. It just so happened that his job took him to places from Asia to Albuquerque, Indianapolis to India, Portland to Poughkeepsie. It just so happens that his office was a 20-foot-by-20-foot squared circle. You cross-check facts at work? He gave people the "Crippler Cross-face."

In all of sports — "fake" or not — he might have been one of the most real guys I've ever met. In death, he deserves the same respect he gave — be it in the boys in back or just someone he met once backstage. Benoit deserves the dignity he showed even a stranger.

The sad irony, though, is that the WWE has been involved in a storyline that involves the "presumed death" of chairman Vince McMahon (or at least his on-screen persona, "Mr. McMahon"). For those not in the loop, Mr. McMahon stepped into his limousine two weeks during the final segment of "Raw" from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. As Vince closed the door, the limo exploded into flames; the segment was taped two nights before.

Ever since, everyone in WWE had been pushing the story that Vince is dead. Tonight's three-hour "Raw" broadcast was supposed to be a memorial to McMahon. In the interim, former female wrestler/manager/valet "Sensational" Sherri actually did pass away, with only a small mention on WWE programming. The show must go on, remember. Death, be damned.

Luckily, that stopped tonight.

At the opening of the "Raw" program, McMahon addressed the TV audience from an empty arena, the wrestling card since canceled. Finally, common sense overcame the bottom line.

Benoit's death is a tragedy. His wife's and son's, too. Death is not a storyline. It's not something to be joked about, not to make money on.

In continuing its wretched Mr. McMahon-is-dead story, the WWE simply trivialized the real-life deaths of such brethren as Owen Hart, Curt Hennig, Brian Pillman, et al.

You don't always get a second chance in life.

Sadly, the WWE got its second chance today. Thankfully, the company seized the moment.

Strike up the band!

As a nice change of pace — a break from the hectic world of Paris Hilton and "American Idol" and the like — we took a trip back to yesteryear Sunday night, heading up to the Mohonk Mountain House to listen to the melodic tunes of The Big Band Sound orchestra.

I know, I know: You're thinking a guy who lists the official Web sites for Britney Spears and Barry Manilow among his favorite links (go ahead, go look at 'em over there on the right) went to see a 20-piece orchestra play songs by guys like Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller? Totally!

The first time I saw Barry at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center back in '95, he was there with a big orchestra, coming off the success of his latest CD, "Singin' With The Big Bands." (See where I'm going with this one?) But forget the Manilow connection ... for now.

Growing up, my mom and grandparents were always listening to Frank Sinatra songs — I've told you how Dad loves that country music, right? — so I knew songs like "Summer Wind" and "All The Way" that the Big Band Sound played Sunday night. (Not to mention that Barry put out an entire CD of Frank Sinatra songs — creatively titled "Manilow Sings Sinatra" — so it was like a double whammy!)

OK, so on to the show...

Seriously, when's the last time you got to see a full orchestra play in such a tranquil setting as Mohonk? OMG! It was like the perfect summer night. (And honestly, having gone to a pair of Britney Spears concerts before, it was nice to finally be the youngest ones in the room for once!) For more than an hour, the Big Band Sound played songs like "When the Saints Come Marching In" and "It Had To Be You," bringing back those around us to simpler times.

There was no glitzy stage show, no lasers or smoke machines like you see at today's big rock shows. Instead, it was the band and the music. And for those around us, it was all about the memories.

All in all, it was a great night and by all means, check out the Big Band Sound's schedule and catch one of their performances throughout the summer. Bring a friend, head out to the show and leave your worries at the door!

And on a side note, as a SUNY New Paltz student, my friends and I occasionally went up to the mountains, going to what we called "Mohonk." Sunday, though, was the first time I'd ever been to the actual Mohonk Mountain House. Ever been there? Got one word for ya: WOW! It was like nothing I'd ever seen! (I had seen the resort profiled on The Travel Channel's "Great Hotels," starring Samantha Brown, but even that didn't prepare me for how amazing that place is!)

Even more amazing than the actual mountain house itself and the views is the way you get so close to nature. Don't believe me? Check out this little video I shot on the deck before the show (and yes, that is a chocolate-chip cookie he's scarfing down)...

got milk?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Meet Me Half Way" between the "Danger Zone" and "Pooh Corner"

Kind of bored, I was listening to Kenney Loggins' greatest hits CD just now when I just blurted out, "I can't believe how many great, crappy movie songs this guy sings!"

Now, you can take this one of two ways: Either Kenny sings lots of great songs from crappy movies or lots of crappy songs from great movies.

I'm not even sure which way I meant it — it was probably a little bit of both — but either way, I was just amazed how many of his songs I already knew ... even if I never thought about the fact that he sung them!

You've got "Danger Zone" from that cinematic gem "Top Gun." There's "Meet Me Half Way" from "Over the Top," that awesomely bad '80s movie where Sylvester Stallone played a trucker/arm wrestler with a heart of gold. Then, of course, there's "Footloose" ... though I can't remember what movie that song came from.

I mean, if my man Barry Manilow writes the songs that make the whole world sing, then Kenny Loggins sings the songs the whole world listens to when they go to the movies.

The only reason that A.) I bought the CD; and B.) even cared to listen about it is because I'm down to see Kenny Aug. 5th at Bowdoin Park. That'll be quite a weekend, as my GF and I will be rocking out to The Police at MSG two nights earlier.

And while my beloved wants no part of the Kenny Loggins show, The Wife of "Daddy Diary" fame was kind enough to invite me and some of her friends, so we're all going to pile up into her minivan, defray the cost of that $60 pass and enjoy the soft rock in the park!

"Point/Counter-point": Taylor Hicks

OK, so if you've been reading the past few weeks, you know that my GF and I are going to see Taylor Hicks, the guy who won Season Five of "American Idol," at the Civic Center later this month.

Just like last month's Bo Bice show at The Chance, I got a chance to get tickets to this show and thought, "Hey, it could be fun!"

Honestly, I don't know much about "Tay" (though I do know that his fans call him "Tay!") and I just yesterday got his debut CD from the BMG Music Service. I've seen, though, what a loyal following he has, and how they've all told me that we're in for a great show!

Well ... I was talking about the show to John Barry, the Journal's music reporter and author of the "Sonic Storm" blog. We had an interesting conversation.

Now, John's a music expert — he writes about it for a living and goes to more shows in a month than I've gone to in probably my life — and let's just say he and I disagree on what my GF, I and the rest of the Civic Center crowd have in store for us, come August.

Who's right? Who's wrong?

Check out "Sonic Storm," take in John's point of view, decide and let us know ...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Calling all "24" fans

Got to thank Kathleen Murray (you might know her from "Exiled Hipster" fame) for this tidbit:

Logan Marshall-Green, known for his role as Trey Atwood on "The O.C." and from his recurring role on "24," will be summering in the Hudson Valley, part of Vassar College's Powerhouse Theater program.

Logan will portray Lance Cpl. Mel Anderson in Powerhouse's production of "Geometry of Fire" this summer.

Kathleen interviewed Logan earlier this week, and her story will appear in Friday's "Enjoy!" section. Here's a shot of Logan rehearsing earlier this week, as shot by Journal photog Darryl Bautista.

Can't get enough Logan? He's also stars in TV's "Traveler," which was a mid-season replacement that first aired last month.

Want more info on Powerhouse Theater? Just click here.

Be sure to read Kathleen's story Friday and tell her how much you liked it. Tell her Sean sent ya!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Can't wait for Taylor Hicks?

Is August 16th too long to wait for an "American Idol" alum? Does that Taylor Hicks show at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center seem sooooo far off?

How's Friday work for you?

That's when Paris Bennett will perform at Fishkill's SplashDown Beach at 7 p.m. (Look another girl named Paris is in the news, and this one isn't in jail!)

For those not in the know, Bennett was one of the final five contestants on Season Five of "American Idol." (By coincidence, Hicks won Season Five.) I'm not even going to pretend like I know anything about her, so if you want more information on Paris, click here.

Bennett's performance is part of SplashDown's summer concert series, which you can learn more about by clicking here.

Here's Paris' original audition for "American Idol."

Loyal "Sean's Space" readers (and you know who you are!) already know I was blown away when Season Four runner-up Bo Bice rocked The Chance back in May, and how I'm joining the Soul Patrol for Hicks' August show here in Poughkeepsie. This gig in Fishkill, though, I will miss — due to both work commitments and the fact that I have no idea who she is.

Admittedly, I haven't been to SplashDown in like 15 years, but from what I've heard (and seen by driving along Route 9 South), it looks like they've done a very nice job with the place; and if they're bringing in concerts, it looks like they're trying to attract even more people.

If you're going to the show, enjoy! And come back "Sean's Space" and tell us how it was!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bye, bye, Bob Barker!

After 35 years of mornings on CBS, Bob Barker hung up the long, thin microphone today, hosting his last episode of "The Price Is Right." (Re-runs starring Bob as host will continue through September.) This final episode was actually filmed on June 6th.

Having watched him on "The Price Is Right" for 32 of those 35 years, all I can say is this: Thanks for the memories, Bob!

Some of my fondest childhood memories were watching "TPIR" with my grandparents at their house in Hopewell Junction at 11 in the morning, followed by Grandma making my favorite sandwich at the time (whether it was tuna or salami) after the Showcase Showdown.

I feel so old saying this, but I remember when Bob used to have brown hair on the show. (I later learned he'd always had white hair when I watched it; he just stopped coloring it 1987, when I was in 7th grade!)

I also remember a time when Bob didn't sign off the show by telling us to get out household pets ... um ... "fixed" like he's been doing now for years. (I'm sure there are millions of cats and dogs across America rejoicing at today's retirement!)

As for Bob's last show this morning, it was pretty ho-hum, in terms of a send-off. CBS is replaying this morning's episode at 8 p.m. tonight, so I don't want to give away much in case you missed it, other than to say there was a little confetti and a short, classy good-bye from Bob at the end. (Although there was a very enthusiastic contestant named Philip that you'll have to look out for! Oh, and you won't believe how much the big winner walked home with today!)

So with Bob hanging up the mic, the search goes on for his replacement. Such names as Mario Lopez (he of "Saved By The Bell" fame) and Poughkeepsie High School graduate Dave Price have been bounced around.

It's fitting, I think, to sign off this blog entry the same way Bob signed off each episode of "The Price Is Right"...

Please help control the pet population; have your pets spayed or neutered!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Who Wants To Go Home Broke?"

Though it's very rare — usually occurring just once a month, if that! — but when it does, it totally brightens up my day:

I LOVE when a contestant on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" answers one of the first five questions wrong and walks away with nothing.

So, the first five questions (the ones valued at $100, $200, $300, $500 and $1,000) are the easiest ones in the game, ensuring each contestant walks away with at least $1,000 on their way to the $1 million.

Well, when someone either goofs up or just plain doesn't know the answer and gets it wrong, it is just the funniest thing in the world!

No matter how bad your day might be going, when you see this happen, you feel so much better about yourself.

Don't believe me? Just click on this video, watch that hottie Meredith Vieira ask this guy the $100 question that a 2nd-grader could get right, and enjoy...

(There was a HILARIOUS video on here from YouTube, showing a guy striking out on the first question — the look in his face was priceless — but The Man won't allow us to post YouTube videos any more!)

Now, I know that might sound harsh, but I speak from experience when I write about this: I've twice reached the hot seat at the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Play It!" game at the Disney-MGM Studios at Disney World. I topped out each time at the $32,000 question.

Admittedly, I didn't have the pressure of a $1 million prize hanging over my head, but I did have to beat out more than 600 studio-audience members all trying to get into the hot seat — the actual "Millionaire" studio holds little more than 100 audience members — by answering the questions correctly and in the fastest time.

Again, I didn't play for actual money — at Disney World, you played for Disney souvenirs like hats and shirts — but I still know the pressure of sitting in the hot seat, so watching contestants blow it on TV just makes my day.

I'm just saying!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Wizard

This will be my saddest "Sean's Space" post yet:

Don Herbert, known to millions of kids across the U.S. and Canada as "Mr. Wizard," passed away from bone cancer Tuesday afternoon. He was 89.

I can still remember as a kid, waiting for the school bus to come, I'd watch "Mr. Wizard's World" on Nickelodeon each morning. Click on the video below to see the opening sequence from the show.

Thanks to "Mr. Wizard's World," I learned about how you can't fold a piece of paper in half more than 7 times; how these new things called lasers worked (hey, they were new back then!); and how if you get too much static electricity on you when you walk across a carpeted floor, you'd get a shock when you touch the doorknob to leave the room.

My fav part of the show was that they taped it in Canada, and all the little nerdy kids with whom he conducted experiments would say "aboot" when they said "about," and other Canadian things like "eh" when they'd talk!

With all that learning compliments of Mr. Wizard, you'd think I'd have been a whiz in Science class, right? Nope! I was so bad that my final year in high school, I squeaked by with a 65.3 average in physics ... and that's only 'cause I cheated off Christy Marshall all year!

Still, Mr. Wizard was one of my favorites when I was a kid, and he'll surely be missed!

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Circus life under the big top, whoa"

(Yes, I did just quote Journey's 1983 soft-rock classic, "Faithfully." But this entry isn't about music...)

While it might not be on the same level of "pop culture" as Paris Hilton and Bo Bice, for example, this was just as fun:

We went to the circus last week!

The Cole Brothers Circus, to be precise.

Now, the last time I saw the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus was at Madison Square Garden when I was in college, like a dozen years ago.

Admittedly, this wasn't Ringling Bros., but this wasn't MSG, either. Still, it was a fun night out; it was something you don't always get to go to; and it was one way to kill time before we see Taylor Hicks play the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in August.

For a smaller show under an actual big-top (even Ringling Bros. doesn't use a tent!), it was a really cool show, giving us a chance to get up-close with the acts ... although a little too close to the elephants, which were really cute from afar, but stunk really bad when they walked by!

You also get to see how everything is contained under that small tent — from the rigs for the Chinese gymnasts to the trapeze apparatus — and how the different acts each work together to make the show a success.

Enduring a schedule of two shows a day, you also realize how amazing the performers are to be able to do their death-defying acts twice a day, although not always to perfection.

For example, we got to see the trapeze-flying family miss a triple somersault (though they had a net underneath, which totally killed the excitement for me) before once again climbing the rope ladder and pulling it off flawlessly.

The "main event" of the show was also the night's shortest (but loudest) act: The human cannonball enters the "world's largest cannon" and BOOM ... flies more than 100 feet across the tent to the net waiting below.

Go ahead! Click the video below and watch her fly! (Never mind that "Image Coming Soon" thing ... the video works)

(Yeah, I actually didn't mind the fact that she used a net ... it would've been messy if she didn't!)

I pity the fool that don't read my blog!

I couldn't help but post a link about this report from TMZ that a buddy here at the office sent me.

Apparently, Mr. T is in such hot demand over in Japan, that he's gotten his own business cards printed up for those interested in contracting for his services.

Just for anyone who might have forgotten this icon of the '80s, here's the way he always told people to remember him: "First name? Mr. ... Middle name? That little period. ... Last name? T!"

You might also remember him as the only guy in the '80s to wear more gold around his neck than Al Sharpton, or as Hulk Hogan's tag-team partner in the main event at the very first Wrestlemania.

After the whole country fell in love with Mr. T following his cinematic debut in "Rocky III," I can never decide which of his famous '80s guest appearances I like the best: His cameo as Ricky's body guard on "Silver Spoons" or that time he and the rest of the "A-Team" cast shot an episode in the very same apartment building in which Arnold and the rest of the "Diff'rent Strokes" crew lived (that's the one where Arnold got a mohawk to steal a girl away from Dudley).

Then there was the Saturday-morning cartoon series with the very imaginative series title, "Mr. T."

Doing research for today's entry, I can across this long-lost gem that I didn't even know existed back in T's heyday: It's a music video in which he sings that classic "Treat Your Mother Right."

It's not just a cool song ... it's also sound advice!

The L.A. County Hilton

There's the Hilton Times Square, the Waldorf Hilton in London, and Honolulu's Hilton Hawaiian Village, among hundreds of other Hilton hotels around the world.

The heiress to the hotel empire, though, has almost spent a week (not counting her early "release") at someplace where the staff doesn't fluff your pillow each morning and then put a mint on it: Paris Hilton is in jail.

An earlier post enumerated why Paris (seen here in her L.A. County jail mugshot) landed in the pokey, not to mention the efforts her fans went through to get her out.

Just listening to Barbara Walters recount a phone conversation she had with Paris yesterday, you get the impression Paris wants us to think she's changed. (You've gotta read this!)

(And by the way, ya know what I love about Barbara Walters? It's never all about her. Oh, no, wait ... it is. But that's another post for another day.)

Anyway ... Paris wants us all to know she's a new person, a better person. She said acting stupid, the way she did almost every time she was in front of a camera, was all an act, and that she's never going to go back to that life.

So, what do you think? Will Paris emerge from the clink as a new woman? Should Paris be a role model? (And don't even get me started on the likes of Lindsay Lohan!) Would you want your daughter to emulate Paris?

Write a comment. Let us all know how you feel.

Here's the real question, though: How do ya think she looks in that orange jumpsuit?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Wreckers in Rhinebeck

Just got back from Long Island, checked my e-mail and saw that The Wreckers are going to play the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck on Aug. 22 at 8 p.m.

All I really know about them is A.) their song "Leave the Pieces" and B.) they're so hot!

C'mon ... look at those two!

The brunette is the Michelle Branch (you might know her from such songs as "Game of Love" with Santana and "All You Wanted") and her former backup singer Jessica Harp ... she's the blonde.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of country music (I grew up listening to it all the time 'cause my dad loves the stuff). Well, let me clarify that; I have two rules when it comes to country music:

1. I won't listen to any country song a guy sings. (They're always so depressing: He loses his woman and his house and his dog. It's just so depressing.) (Though, if you listen to the song backwards, the guy gets back his woman and his house and his trailer!)

2. I'll listen to anything a female country singer belts out if she's cute!

As it turns out, though, I LOVE that "Leave the Pieces" song. I've been meaning to go to iTunes and download it.

I don't even need Rule No. 2 in this case!

Now, I haven't seen a concert at the Dutchess County Fair in years. (Though I saw my first concert ever at the fair when The Jets played the fair way back in the 80s.) Nowadays, all they seem to book for the fair are country acts I'd never want to see (read that as "country guys").

Did I mention I did see Boys II Men at the Orange County Fair about a dozen years ago? Of course, that wasn't part of the fair; we had to pay a separate admission to see those guys. (Am I sharing way too much again?!)

But anyway ... I'll sooooo be at the fair to see these two cuties. Hope to see ya there!

She's funny ... she's sassy ...

... and she's coming to Poughkeepsie!

And we'll be there, baby!

Just in case the Aug. 16 Taylor Hicks show at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center wasn't enough excitement for one summer, my GF and I have tix for next Saturday's "It's Just Comedy" tour starring comedienne Mo'Nique at the Civic Center.

For the uninitiated like me, Mo'Nique starred in the TV series "The Parkers" (no, I never watched it either) and the movies "Phat Girlz" (nope, never saw that one either) and "Soul Plane," which I actually saw one Tuesday afternoon at the South Hills Mall for $1.

But ... I must admit I know her from the current VH1 reality show "Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School," where she acts at the head mistress at a "charm school" (hence the name) trying to reform many of the wayward young lasses from the first two season's of another VH1 reality show, "Flavor of Love."

Again, I'll go to anything interesting once, so when the chance to win these tix came along, I jumped at the chance, figuring if nothing else, it would be a fun — if not funny — night out!

So are there any Mo'Nique fans among the "Sean's Space" readers? Anyone seen this tour or any of her past work? What kind of show are we in for next weekend?

My promise to you is this: I will remember one joke from her set and post it when I write my post-show entry.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

got shrimp?

So our night on the town in NYC last week began with dinner at one of the places in Times Square I've always wanted to go.

I've done the Planet Hollywood things ad nauseum. Hard Rock Cafe? They've got great food, but I've been going there since I was a little kid, back when it was down the street from Carnegie Hall.

No, I finally made it to one of the coolest places in Times Square: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Admittedly, going to a restaurant themed on a bit reference in a movie made in the mid-90s had me thinking how cool could the place really be, but if was soooo cool!

First, it's got two things I love: shrimp and props from movies! (Like the suit that Forrest wears throughout the movie, seen here. I mean, how cool is that?!)

I know, it's so corny, but I love being able to see things that were used in movies right in front of my face, even if it's clothes. (Planet Hollywood, for example, used to have the T-shirt and sweatpants that Britney wore in her debut movie, "Crossroads," on display in their lobby and I took tons of pictures of that. Oh! OH! And they also have one of the original Darth Vader and Chewbacca suits at Planet Hollywood, too! Maybe we should've gone there for dinner? Hmmm.....)

Anyway, just in case that "Forrest Gump" stuff wasn't cool enough, the food was de-lish, to steal a line from Rachael Ray! (Though there was no EVOO in mine!) The portions were huge and they have the coolest thing at your table:

There are a pair of license plates from Greenbow, Alabama (Forrest's hometown, of course!), one that says "Run, Forrest, Run" and the other saying "Stop, Forrest, Stop." If you have the "Run, Forrest, Run" license plate showing, it just means that you're all good at your table and that the servers can keep walking around. But if you need one of them to stop and get you something (cocktail sauce, the check, whatever!), then you flash the "Stop, Forrest, Stop" license plate and they stop! Cute, right?

Yes, as you can see from my plate at the end of the meal, the food was just as great as the ambiance, and the excursion to Bubba Gump's was well worth the wait!

You can also see that I'll take a picture of anything!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I'm joining the "Soul Patrol!"

So in an earlier post, I mentioned how I wasn't sure if Taylor Hicks, the guy who won Season 5 of "American Idol," would be able to fill our meager Mid-Hudson Civic Center.

Well ... I know at least two people who will be there!

Yes, even before the tickets went on sale, I managed to snag a pair of seats close to the stage. (At least no one will get thrown off the stage at this concert!)

Hey, if the tix are the right price, I'll see just about any musical act once (well ... maybe not Akon!) so I jumped at the opportunity for these.

With more than 2 months til the August 16th show, I'm enrolling for membership in Taylor's "Soul Patrol!"

After listening the debut CD from "AI" runner-up Bo Bice for almost two weeks straight in anticipation of his show at The Chance, I thoroughly enjoyed Bo's acoustic set and I'm hoping for the same with Taylor.

I've already heard from some readers about how great Taylor is in concert, but now I need even more help: Where can I download his songs? What songs does he play at his shows? Any chance Caroline Lyders will be on hand? (As new as I am to Taylor and his music, even I know about her!)

Help me out, fellow "Soul Patrol"-ers!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Talkin' about "Talk Radio"

Just another example of taking a chance on an evening out and being pleasantly surprised by an entertaining endeavor:

I'd gotten a pair of tix to a Broadway play, "Talk Radio," and coaxed my GF to head down to Manhattan and see it. Now, I'd remembered there being a movie of the same name back in the 80s, and all I remember was one commercial of the lead actor, Eric Bogosian (it turns out, he wrote the original play) inside a radio studio just yelling and yelling and yelling. Sounds like a fun night on the Great White Way, right?

Well ... apparently this is a revival of that play, starring Liev Schreiber (seen here in a pic with my GF after the show ... she's the shy type, hence the blue dot!). It takes place in a Cleveland radio station, WTLK, and it's one part drama, one part comedy.

We had great seats -- first row of the mezzanine, baby! -- and it we both had a great time, especially since were both about the youngest ones in the theater!

After the show, as you can see, we met both Liev (he plays the lead character, Barry Champlain) and Stephanie March, who plays his in-studio producer. That's Stephanie posing next to that adorable blue dot!

The best part was that before the night, we'd barely known anything about either Liev or Stephanie, and surely nothing about the play. By night's end, we were there schmoozing with them!

I knew Liev as "that 'CSI' guy." That was it.

And Stephanie? Well, my dad is a huge "Law & Order" fan (any time I walk in my parents' house, I can hear that opening theme music playing from either the TV room or the computer room!) and she's on the show. So we were just excited to meet her for my dad ... it was only until we got on the train that we remembered that Stephanie is married to celebrity chef Bobby Flay ... you might know him from the Food Network.

In short, the play was really entertaining, even though there were a few awkwards moments where you didn't know if it was OK to laugh at the politically incorrect comments being made, or if you'd get "Shhhh!"-ed from the uptight stiff sitting next to you.

Ah, what the heck ... I laughed. They'll never see me again!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Brooke Hogan in town this weekend

Well, let me tell you somethin', brotha...

Yes, the daughter of former World Wrestling Federation champ Hulk Hogan — that's when it was still the WWF — Brooke Hogan will be one of the acts appearing at this Sunday's K-Fest concert at Dutchess Stadium.

Sure, in that last post, I mentioned how I have all those other things to blog about (Taylor Hicks tix, "Talk Radio," Mo'nique, etc.), but I only have like 5 minutes to write something now, and figured this was a quick one I could bang out.

Between those other shows I'm going to this summer — not to mention The Police in August and possibly Kenny Loggins — K-Fest might be the only local show not to spark my interest. Well, maybe that and Mountain Jam.

A few friends and I went to the very first K-Fest, when Color Me Badd (yes, the Color Me Badd) was the headlining act. Enough said.

The only reason I mention Brooke is because I was such a Hulkamaniac back in the day — training, saying my prayers and taking my vitamins in elementary school. I remember, years back, hearing about Brooke starting a singing career in the mold of Britney Spears. Having watched the VH1 reality show "Hogan Knows Best,"* over the past few seasons, I've seen her continue to pursue it, hence culminating in this weekend's K-Fest appearance.

On a side note, Todd Bivona will be taking video from backstage at K-Fest for the Journal, so be sure to check the Web site next week for all the behind-the-scenes action!

*I freely admit, "Hogan Knows Best" is the fakest reality show out there. Again, it's the young lil' Hulkamaniac in me shining through. Just love seeing the Hulkster at home!

So much to blog about, so little time

It's been quite a 48 hours, so let me give you the short version, with longer, more detailed blog entries on each to come later:

1. My GF and I just got back from NYC where we saw the Broadway play "Talk Radio" last night, then met stars Liev Schreiber (you might know him from "CSI") and Stephanie March (she of "Law & Order" fame) after the show.

2. Before the show, we ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square. (Yes, so touristy, but so tasty!)

3. Two weeks from Saturday, we're headed to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center for the "It's Just Comedy" tour, starring Mo'nique. She's sassy. We'll be there!

4. And the latest-breaking news: I just got two tickets to see Taylor Hicks at the Civic Center in August! Yes, they don't go on sale 'til Saturday morning, but I did my best and scored a pair. Again, not knowing much about fellow "American Idol" runner-up Bo Bice two weeks ago, we were blown away by Bo when he played The Chance. Based on my earlier report about Taylor (the winner of Season 5) coming to town, readers have told me that if I went that his show, I'd likewise be pleasantly surprised. I've got the tix now ... can't wait to be dazzled!

Come on back in the coming few days for a full report on each of these!