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2 posts from October 2011

October 29, 2011

Easy audience

Entertainers must love performing in Des Moines. It's such an easy auidence.

Take last night, for instance. Frankie Valli, of The Four Seasons fame, played the Civic Center and he got a standing ovation just for walking out on the stage. He hadn't done a thing, yet people stood and clapped anyway.

Maybe they were showing their appreciation that Frankie, at age 77, was still able to walk onto a stage. Or maybe they were applauding the fact that here was a guy well past his prime who would try to sing "Sherry" and "Walk Like A Man," songs with falsetto parts more suitable for a 12-year-old whose voice hasn't changed.

He sang both songs, of course, and yeah, he didn't hit those high notes quite like he did in the 60s, but he was pretty darn close. Pam joked that when he knew he couldn't hit a note, those were the times he held the microphone out for the audience to sing along.

Frankie had four young male singers -- The New Seasons? -- backing him. It was fun to see those guys get into the songs because they weren't even born when Frankie and the original Seasons hit the big time. Frankie had his own six-piece band, plus an imported five-man horn section. They either play together a lot or spend hours rehearsing because it was a very slick production.

At one point, Frankie said he was going to do some songs from a new CD. That's usually the low point for an "oldies" show because fans don't want to hear new songs. They want the old ones they remember from their youth. Fans still cheer when Paul McCartney sings his recent material, but they go wild when he does Beatles stuff.

But Frankie's "new" material turned out to be his version of old songs like "Call Me," "Spanish Harlem" and "Let It Be Me," so it was OK. I never could have envisioned a medley that combined "My Girl" and Groovin'," but Frankie and his bandmates pulled it off. 

In the end, it was a typical concert featuring a popular act from long ago who still has it. Audience members cheered, sang along, danced and clapped in rhythm to the music. And I always think: 40 or 50 years from now, will today's Justin Bieber fans still be going to his shows and singing along?

I just can't see that happening.

Pam and I saw "Jersey Boys" a couple of years ago, so when we learned Frankie Valli would be here, we decided we had to check out the real thing. Or at least one-fourth of the real thing.

Trust me, the real thing was better.



October 18, 2011

"Run to Remember" at Des Moines Marathon

One reason my blog writing has been non-existent: I've been in training for the IMT Des Moines Marathon. Not the entire 26.2 miles. Just to do four miles as a member of a "Run to Remember" relay team on October 16. We raised money for HCI Care Services (formerly Hospice of Central Iowa) and the work done around the country by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Central Iowa "Run to Remember" participants have generated more than $4,000 to date during the 2011 Des Moines Marathon (still accepting funds through November 15). 

Since gentle yoga is my idea of exercise, training has been a stretch and an adventure. But as I wrote on my fund-raising page, "running may never be anything I'm passionate about, but for the patients of HCI Care Services, I'm delighted to be doing it." The back of my team shirt showed that I was running in memory of the "Patients at Kavanagh House" (one of HCI's residential hospices, where I volunteer and where my mother died in 1998).

My four teammates—Debbie Kissinger, Terry Terrones, Ellie Du Pre and Donna Boots (all HCI staff or donors)—took pity on me as the non-runner and the oldest. They gave me the shortest and opening leg. I'd never been in a race before, and between my excitement and the upper respiratory ailment I was battling, I slept three hours the night before. 

Sunday a.m. arrived and there I stood, relatively clueless, with 5,500 people and holding our precious cargo: a tube containing the names of everyone our donors had asked us to remember as we traveled the miles. We exchanged it like a relay baton throughout the marathon.

So how was my start? Well, the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners had already completed a mile before I made it from the back of the pack to the actual starting line. In fact, when James Kirwa, the winning marathoner, crossed the finish line at 2:12:54, I probably was still coughing, blowing my nose and trying to catch my breath.  

To my awesome teammates—who brought us in at 4:51:57—I salute you and I love you ladies for letting a real amateur have a shot at saying, "When I ran in the Des Moines Marathon..." The photo below—when we met near the 26 mile mark to travel to the finish line—will link us together forever. To my many generous friends and family who helped me surpass my $2,000 fund-raising goal, I'm forever grateful for your support and your "you go, girl!" messages. And to HCI Care Services, thanks for all you do. It was a privilege to "Run to Remember" what your passionate and loving care means to patients and their families. 

 L to R: me, Terry, Donna, Debbie and Ellie