The Squirrel, The Heather, & The Conspiracy

Out of the 52 weekends I typically participate in during any given year, there are only a select few which get an additional day tacked on by means other than a government mandated holiday.  This last weekend was one of those events which had been months in the making.  Whereas most weekends usually involve a lethargic drive to hold the couch down to the ground while at the same time testing the mechanical integrity of the “channel up” button on the remote, I set aside the ways of the inaction hero that I am and went on a field trip instead.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 – If I could point to one specific event which started this weekend, I would have to say it was in the remaining hours at the office on Thursday afternoon.  The Penske File has taken up a majority of my time for the last few months, and it’s just a matter of weeks before it becomes the full blown bane of my existence.  But then, as I was filling out the last of the new coversheets for the TPS reports, I received a flickering indicator that the long week was just about to be over.

That’s right people.  I got an email forward.

It seems that the latest internet sensation right now is a picture of a couple who had set up a camera on a self timer.  While they were crouched  in front of a lake and waiting for the camera to do the one thing it was meant to do, a squirrel appeared in front of the lens and became the centerpiece of the resulting photo.  The photo itself is quite amusing, just under the circumstances alone.

Personally, I find myself laughing at the photo because of our dog Faith, aka The TharpSter TreadMill.  Faith loves squirrels.  That is, of course, if you can define “love” as possessing the instinctive desire to capture a squirrel in the back yard before it runs up the Arizona Ash tree, hold it’s fighting little body in ones mouth and shake the head violently so as to end the little guys life, and then taking it into the house to present the recently deceased as a first fruits offering to one of the members of the Board of Directors here at TharpSter.Org.  If you can define “love” that way, then yes, Faith loves squirrels.  They stay crunchy in milk.

Cheap Trick sings “Surrender”

Friday, August 21, 2009 – This particular day had been one I had looked forward to for nearly six months.  The reason was because I would be going to Dallas on this day with my 15 year old son to see Cheap Trick, Poison, and Def Leppard in concert.   Long story short, (believe me, it was too long.  I just typed it out to verify it and then deleted it.) I am a very big fan of Def Leppard.  Just to give you an idea of what a fan I am, consider this.  I hate Poison.  I could go into an entire diatribe as to why (I ain’t gonna type that one out), but I’ll spare you the expense.  Just know that if I’m willing to set the Penske File aside and make the five hour drive to a town which hosts the one football team I hate above all others, I have a pretty good reason to do so.

All along the six months of anticipation, I could only hope the show wouldn’t suck.  I knew that Cheap Trick would do what they needed to do.  I knew that Poison would rock the house with a whole bunch of stupid songs that 20 years ago served as the epitome of why hair metal had to exit stage left and make room for grunge.  What I didn’t know was what Def Leppard would do.  As a purist, I haven’t been the biggest fan of their new stuff.  I would hate to think I had driven all the way up there to see them pimp their pop friendly love songs from albums of late.

Well, we got there late.  By the time we took our position on the grassy knoll at the back of the arena, Cheap Trick was finishing up “The Flame”.  Strange enough, the last time I had an opportunity to see Cheap Trick, they were opening up for .38 Special about 20 years ago.  I only caught the last couple of songs for that one too.  I was more disappointed back then because I thought the band was on their way to retirement.  They appear to be on scenic route to their golden years.  Regardless of how long Cheap Trick has been around, I can assure you that Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, and they still seem just a little weird.

My first encounter with Poison that evening came during the intermission after Cheap Trick.  We had gone back into the area where beers were $9, shirts were $35, and the spirit of capitalism reigned supreme.  The place was loaded with a variety of fans ranging from children who showed up with their parents, to geriatrics sporting mullet wigs.  At one point, the nasal tickle hit me and I sneezed.  Naturally, I didn’t expect anyone to acknowledge the sneeze.  I was somewhat surprised to have someone throw a “Bless you” at me.  When I looked to see where the gesundheit had come from, I saw a buxom bleach blonde offering the courtesy.  It wasn’t just any buxom bleach blonde though.  It was Heather Chadwell, who is best known for being the runner up on the first Rock of Love season over on VH1.

Big deal.  I know.  She appears to be more polite than I originally thought.  That’s all I’m saying.

C.C. Deville blasts out a guitar solo. *Note to self – cell phone camera not the best for a concert.

The time then came for Poison to take the stage.  At this point, I should probably let you know that my preconceived notions were a little off base with this group.  For 20 years, I have shown little to no respect for Poison.  Once again, the details are covered in the diatribe I chose not write.  The one thing I learned that night once they went on stage was that their songs are written for live shows versus the CD player.  Shockingly enough, I found myself singing along with everything they did.

And then they were done.

After planning for the moment for 6 months, driving several hours to get there, and then seeing the moving advertisements provided by the collective efforts of the plastic surgeons from throughout the Dallas – Fort Worth area, it was now time to see the headlining act.

Def Leppard sings “Two Steps Behind” *Note to self – Cell phone camera makes it look like they’re from ‘Cocoon’.

I’m not going to go into extreme detail about the show that Def Leppard put on.  While I stood there pumping my fist to the beat, I had another revelation.  First of all, the volume knobs were cranked up way beyond 11.  It was so much so, that any kidney stones I may have had previous to the show have been pulverized and dissipated.  Even more important, was that fact that this band knows where their base is.  They know that it’s their die hard fans from the early years that are willing to pony up the dough to go see them live.  Based on that knowledge, it appears they made a very conscious effort to stay away from anything written in the last 10 years, save for one song from the newest album.  Not only did they renew my faith in their ability to git-r-done, they also set the bar for my son and any concert he should attend in the future.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 – On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while his motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.  Within 90 minutes of being exactly 549 months later, I found myself in that same plaza taking in a bit of history.  The interesting thing about the events of that day was that there was a time I subscribed to the conspiracy theories about who actually pulled the trigger.  I haven’t altogether given up on those theories, but at the same time I’ve seen evidence in recent years which points only to Oswald.  Regardless of who done it, I wanted to see where it happened.

One of the eerie things about the area is that an ‘X’ has been painted in the middle of the road at the exact point where the fatal head shot took place.  It’s quite ironic that the particular location is marked in the road.  People go out there all the time to stand on the ‘X’.  The look up at the book depository, and then turn around to look at the grassy knoll.  A witness to the actual events of that day told me he has seen at least two people hit by cars as they stood on that mark.  Even after that, I felt compelled to go stand on the ‘X’ just like so many others have done before me.

View of the Depository from the ‘X’

I would be remiss in visiting Dealey Plaza without checking out the grassy knoll where the second gunman presumably took a position to fire the fatal head shot. After I talked my way out of a ticket for standing in the middle of the street and holding up traffic, I made my way back to where the conspiracy started.  There’s a wooden picket fence back there.  At two different places on that fence, the picket is painted red.  This is supposedly where eyewitnesses had either heard shots or saw poofs of smoke.

Overall, I would have to say I had a pretty

The grassy knoll view

good weekend in the place Hank Hill referred to as having nothing but crack-heads and debutantes.  Presumably, there was some football game there in which a new stadium was being used for the first time.  There really wasn’t much about it in the news, so I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to whatever fly by night operation that was.

None the less, I’m back.  The kids go back to school tomorrow, and I’ve got the Penske File and the TPS reports at work to keep me busy.  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for more email forwards.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

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