I was excited to be able to see Al perform on his birthday. I was more anxious than usual (if that's possible) about this show. On Monday morning, I dragged myself out of bed to get to my stupid Foundations of Design class to get some advice on the current project, and then I went back to my dorm to take a nice shower to prepare for the concert that evening. I had one more class to get to that day before I could leave- English. Oh boy. The class was pretty short, so I was able to get back to my dorm and get my stuff together for the show and then get back downstairs to meet my mom.
Finally, we were on our way to Leisenring, playing Al tunes on the stereo all the way. We got to where we were staying in Connelsville, the home of the mother of one of my mom's old friends, at around 6:00. We had a quick bite to eat and then headed out for Divito Park at around 7:00, since the show was to start at 7:30. We got to the skating rink within a few minutes and went inside to find Sue, Darcy, Lynn, Denise, and Alison. We stood around chatting while we waited to get into the concert area. We picked up our backstage passes and soon we were able to go find our seats. Before we were let in, Sue and the others were issued new tickets because there had been a mistake in the seating. I hadn't gotten new tickets even though my seats were right beside theirs. I was a bit upset because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sit by my friends and that my seats would be bad. When we got in, I saw that there were no seats where our seats should have been in the front row, way off to the right side. After asking around, I was told to go ahead and sit with my friends. My seats had been upgraded afterall! I was now sitting right in front of Steve! The first row of seats was pretty far away from the stage, so I wasn't able to get any really closeup pictures. I still got some great pics though!
I got my gifts for Al situated around my seat while we were waiting for the show to start. Then I made a trip to the merchandise table to get a new TWS Band shirt and went back to my seat. There was no opening act- Yay! There was also no security, but more about that later. Soon, "Fun Zone" started to blare from the speakers; that song really pumps up the crowd. We all clapped and shouted the "hey's", and soon the video screen flickered into action with all the wacky video clips and finally "The Weird Al Show Theme."
Now, on to the show: This was a full concert except for the exclusion of "Like a Surgeon" and "Bedrock Anthem." I barely noticed the songs were missing until after the fact because I was having such a good time. At the start of "Gump" I was happy to see Jim back on guitar since I had missed him at Hershey. I took quite a few pictures of him throughout the show. At the beginning of the show, I waved at Steve enthusiastically; he grinned. Then, it was on to "Polka Power!" I think it was during this song that Al really seemed to start to notice me. I'm pretty enthusiastic: I song along to every song, tap my feet, and bob my head to the music. During the accordion solo, he gave me one of those patented quizzical-Al looks as he walked to the right side of the stage.
The drum solo was very fun that evening: When Al called for the DRUM SOLO, Jon waved his arm indignantly as if he wasn't going to play it and then hit the drum once. It was priceless!
Then it was on to "Jerry Springer" and "Eddie Vedder." We also got a nice snow bath during "The Night Santa Went Crazy."- It looked like the entire middle section of the first few rows of people had bad dandruff. Next came "Dare to be Stupid." I had only seen this live once before at Penn State, and that was from pretty far away. It was great to see it up close. I really get a kick out of the extended "I can't hear you" bit. It's fun to tell Al and the guys to dare to be stupid at the top of your lungs.
"Pentiums" was next, and I got a bit more attention from Al. He pumped his fist at me a couple of times, and I just shook my little fist right back at him. It was cool. Al really knows how to pump up a crowd. Hehe.
"Germs" was also very cool. Like "Dare to be Stupid", I had only seen this once before at Penn State, so it was neat to see up close. I hopped out of my seat to get a couple closeup photos. Al stared at me for a few moments while he was lying at the edge of the stage. It was weird. I could just tell he was looking at me.
After "Germs", Denise leaned overand told me, "Now for the moment of truth." I knew she was referring to who would get scarves or boxers, but I joked, "What? Shooting the Mexican?" That got a good laugh. She told me she would have to remember that one. Al's pre-"One More Minute" speech was about how he'd always wanted to do a show in a skating rink in the middle of nowhere.- Very amusing. For some reason, Al didn't have his gun, so Rubén didn't do his obnoxiously loud solo and was spared being shot for that evening. They just went straight into the song. I decided to put my camera down (I think a lot of other people did too...) and just locked my eyes on Al, crooning along with him. When he and Mongo hopped off the stage, they headed for the left side of the front row for scarf #1. Al moved towards the middle and back for scarf #2. On the way back up the aisle, Al was heading up our side. I just thought to myself, "There's no way...." But, as Al got closer and closer, I could feel his eyes on me. All of a sudden, he stopped a couple feet away from me and started pulling the boxers out of his pants, looking at me the whole time. Now, I'm usually terrible at trying to catch things, but for some reason, when Al tossed me the boxers, I caught them easily. It was barely even a conscious motion, I was so shocked that he was actually giving them to me. Afterwards, I just got this warm feeling inside- Al gave me a present. I wore the boxers around my neck for the remainder of the evening.
The medley was pretty standard for the evening. It's always a pleasure to hear "Fast Food", "Free Delivery", and "Laundry Day." I did make a discovery that night about "Laundry Day" that I'm sure everyone else already knew, but I finally noticed that it was Jon doing the "Ya gotta keep 'em seperated" bit.
After the medley came "Smells Like Nirvana." I think I got hit with a drop or two of gargle water. Then they went straight into "Amish Paradise," always a crowd pleaser. This went pretty normally until a couple of drunk guys decided to leave their seats and walk the perimeter around everyone and the stage. Al pointed right at them when he got to the "fool" part. Al had them pegged absolutely right as it turned out later. Next was "Fat." This one's always fun, especially jumping in your seat from the "impact" when Fat-Al jumps. Mongo-Santa was pretty silly that night; he patted Jim on the head. Jim just got this disgusted look on his face. It was funny. Ah, well- Santa ended up getting his. Hehehe.
Before "Saga," I took a couple of glow sticks out of my backpack, cracked them, and hung them from my glasses. One was red, and one was blue. (I guess I had both sides of the force with me.) Then Darth Rubén came out to pump up the crowd and do his keyboard solo. The song started without a hitch, but soon Al noticed his stool wasn't onstage like it should have been. He looked really confused as he scanned the stage looking for the stool. I don't know if this was planned as a trick for Al's birthday, or if somebody really accidentally neglected to put out the stool, but I did notice Jim smirking. Al finally gave up and just sat at the edge of the stage for the middle part of the song. After "Saga," Rubén led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Al. That was a lot of fun. Then for the grand finale- "Yoda." It was great as usual. The "Yoda Chant" was done at warp speed that night, but somehow I managed to keep up without getting too terribly tongue-tied. Everything went great all the way up until the very end when the drunk guys from "Amish Paradise" decided to leave their seats again. One of the jerks jumped up on the stage. My heart skipped a beat, but Mongo tackled the moron promptly. It turns out that the crew was the ONLY security at the venue. Poor Al ended the show with the customary, "I love you all! Goodnight!" It's a real shame that those jerks had to spoil the end of the show like that.
After the show, everybody with passes hung around and waited for the crew to disassemble and pack up all the equipment. We stood around chatting, and I saw Jon poke his head out of the doorway. I waved at him, and he came right over. What a sweetheart! I still had the glow sticks hanging from my glasses- Oops. I quickly removed them when I remembered they were there. Poor Jon wasn't feeling too well that night, so I didn't keep him too long. I got a nice hug from him and got him to sign a pic for me quickly. Then I gave him the new portrait I had done for him and a wrapped up Shepherd College t-shirt. He thanked me, and told me he was planning on growing more hair for the next time. He's so cute. Then I took a quick pic of him and Sue, and he signed things for a few more people and headed back to the bus for a well deserved rest.
A little while later, we were led back to see Al in two groups. We all opted to go with the second group. We formed a line, and soon we were let in to see Al. He was seated behind a table with balloons and all sorts of stuff. One could tell he was the birthday boy. Everyone gave Al their gifts one by one and got to have a quick word with him. Al was really enjoying himself: He said, "I wish all the meet and greets were like this." Stupid moment for me: I say from the line, "Aren't they?" I tried to keep my mouth shut for the most part after that.
I recall Al having a bit of trouble opening someone's gift because it was sealed so tightly. It was funny watching him try to open it. Someone asked him if he needed a pair of scissors, but Al said "No" and finally got the box open to find it stuffed with newspaper. Al joked, "Oh! Newspaper! Thank you!" Soon he got the real gift out of the box, which I believe was a hand cross-stitched framed inscription that read, "Life's too important to be taken seriously." How true. Al grinned; he really liked it.
Greg Method gave Al his gift and then had Al autograph his copy of the rare "Best of Yankovic" Korean LP. Al wanted to get a good look at the record and examined it thoroughly. The sleeve was the cover art from Off the Deep End. Sue joked to me about how ironic it was that they'd use that picture for a "Best Of" album. Grinning, Al continued to look at the record and said, "You never know what those crazy Koreans are gonna do." It was hilarious. He also said in reference to the LP, "Schwartz says when he dies I can have a copy."
Before I knew it, it was my turn to see Al. I said "Hi" and placed his wrapped gift and the new pointillism portrait I had done for him on the table. He always seems so impressed when I give him my art work, even though I don't think it's particularly good. He's so sweet and sincere. I really appreciate that. He grinned as he examined it and asked, "How long does it take you to do these?" I told him, "Only a few days if I work straight through." I think he said "Wow" after that. For some reason, I have trouble remembering the exact happenings of my encounters with Al right after they occur.... Somewhere in the middle of all this, Al noticed I still had the boxers around my neck and told me, "I wasn't sure if I'd ever given you the boxers or not." Nope! Thanks a lot, Al! Then I slid the wrapped gift in front of Al and walked around the table to kneel beside him. As he opened the box and picked up my card to him, Mom tried to take a quick picture of us, but the flash didn't go off. I said the flash didn't go off, and he said, "Oh. One more?" So Mom got the flash ready this time and got a really cute picture of us. Then he proceeded to open the card. I'd put my graduation announcement from earlier in the year and one of my senior portraits in with it. I don't know why I did that. I felt dumb explaining to him what else was with the card, and I stuttered as usual. Oh, well. I'm sure he understood. He read my card and got this big smile on his face, turned to me, and said, "Thank you. That's so sweet." Then he gave me a nice hug. I squeezed him tight. I love hugs. He then removed the tissue paper from around the shirt that was in the box. He really seemed to like it: "This is beautiful. I'll have to save it for a special occasion." That made me feel really good. It was a heavy black Hawaiian shirt with red, orange, and blue leaves and flowers on it; it was really shiny. He thanked me, and I said something like, "No. Thank you. Happy birthday." I was about to go, but I realized I hadn't seen Jim or Steve in the course of the evening to give them their portraits. I told Al that I really felt bad asking him, but would he please deliver the portraits when he got on the bus. He told me he would and that they'd really like them. Thank you, Al- You're a saint!
Mom posed for a quick pic with Al, and then it was Sue's turn to give Al his gift. I hung around taking candid pictures of everyone else giving Al their gifts. Sue explained that her gift was a little "racy," so I immediately wandered over and said, "Racy? Oh, lemme see!" Another stupid moment for me. He looked in the bag and got a funny look on his face. It was too funny.
After that, I finally got to meet Beth and Heather (MOO!) in the midst of all that was happening. They were so nice.
Lynn had made a cute little snail out of Model Magic for Al to sign. He seemed really intrigued with it and wanted to know what it was made of. It was so cute. I could picture Al playing with Model Magic.
The last really funny thing I remember was Alison giving Al the big teddy bear she had dressed in a "One More Minute" scarf and boxers. She did a kind of a strip tease with the bear and removed the scarf and boxers from it. It was very cute. After a previous show, Al had inscribed the scarf with something profound: "Eat your broccoli!" This time, Alison asked him to write something "profane" on the boxers. After all, they were boxers. One can't just write something innocent on them. So, Al started writing something on the boxers, covering up what he wrote as he went. When he was finished, the boxers were inscribed: "Thanks for a great weekend!" I think that may have been the moment I laughed hardest at that evening.
After everyone had given Al their gifts, we headed out. Before we left, Sue gave me a big hug and we posed for a picture. Then it was back to Connelsville for some much needed sleep. Another Al mission successfully completed.