Sunday, August 26, 2007

“Homegrown UFO – Part Three”

c. 2007 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Doing research about the Geauga County alien landing from 1957 was an incredible experience. It proved that even a place like ours can be touched by the surreal elements of other worlds.
I learned that the story of our homegrown UFO is one that has been analyzed by investigators from around the world. George Hunt Williamson spoke of the happening in his ‘Road In The Sky’ series. As part of a chapter called ‘The Visitants’ he mentioned personal knowledge of Olden Moore and his strange encounter:


“On November 15, 1957, I was lecturing in Cleveland, Ohio, when a report reached me that a UFO had landed on November 6th a few miles north-east of Cleveland. On that date, Olden Moore was driving home from Painesville, Ohio, to Montville, when he saw a blue-green flaming object fly over the highway at midnight. In describing the experience, Mr. Moore said:
In seconds the object loomed up in front of me. It was as large as a house. Then it seemed to split apart. One section disappeared into the sky and the other section settled down in a field near the road. When I first observed the object approaching me, I pulled off the road and turned off the ignition. I watched the craft in the field for about fifteen minutes, then I got out of my car and walked towards it. I heard a ticking sound like that of an electric meter. I stopped before I reached the object and returned to my car and drove home to get my wife so she might be a witness to the landing. When we returned together the object was gone. It was about fifty feet in diameter and shaped like a 'saucer' with an inverted 'saucer' on top of it, There was a cone-shaped dome that came to a point on top. The dome glowed brilliantly.
In the same area on the same day that Olden Moore was having his encounter with the strange craft, a great cigar-shaped object was sighted by many people and also a car windshield was covered with pock marks and found to be radioactive.
On November 8th Olden Moore was interrogated by Lake County Civil Defense Director Kenneth Locke, Geauga County Sheriff Louis A. Robusky, United States Army officials and many newsmen.
However, on November 7th, Mr. Locke covered the field (where Moore had seen the UFO land) with a Geiger counter and discovered that 'the counter registered 150 milliroentgens in the center of an area So feet in diameter in the field. The reading dropped to 20-30 milliroentgens near the perimeter of that area.
Robert Seitz, a graduate student at the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, said that the normal background count was about 20 milliroentgens. Does this mean that the UFO was radioactive ?
Several small, but very deep, round holes were found in the field where the craft had landed. These were arranged in a strange circular pattern. The prints looked as though they had been made by something with `spikes' on it. The first report said that these were `footprints'; however, they were actually holes made by a protruding pole or something similar. The holes were very deep, and much force had been used to reach such a depth in the ground. Scientists from the Case Institute took soil samples a few days later but the counter registered a normal count and the ground apparently didn't suffer from the effects of the radiation.
The Geiger counter reading in this case is important, but not because it measured radioactivity. If the element causing the counter to react as it did was radioactive, then its half-life was shorter than that of elements made artificially in atomic accelerators. In other words, we can assume that the reading was due to some other stimulus than radioactivity. Free electrons will actuate a Geiger counter and it is quite possible that the object observed by Olden Moore possessed such a strong magnetic field that it ionized the air and the Geiger count was due to the free electrons.”

In the course of gathering evidence about Mr. Moore, I realized that the story was larger than I had imagined. Our point on the map had been visited again since that day, fifty years ago. In fact, we seem to have attracted extra terrestrial attention on many occasions. Something eerie was at work. What could possibly direct those from the intergalactic neighborhood to a spot on the Earth like ours?
I began to compile reports that specifically mentioned a Geauga community. In only a short while, I had collected dozens of such incidents:


 Occurred : 2/20/2001 23:00
Location: Chardon, OH
Shape: Sphere
Duration:3-4 minutes
Blue orb hovering over trees, then crosses field.
I was burning brush in our back yard. My house is rather secluded, so other than the light from the fire, it was very dark. I walked away from the fire, and walked deeper into the yard. On either side of the field is forest. I happen to look to the north and noticed a blue ball of light through the trees. It appeared to be roughly 50 ft. above the treetops. It slowly hovered to the south, crossing the field. There was no sound, only the blue light. It continued south in a straight line, until it vanished over the south tree line.
 Occurred : 10/20/2005 20:00
Location: Montville, OH
Shape: Cone
Six coned like objects, with bright white lights floating in the Montville sky.
Bright Floating object hanging in the sky from the northeast. Bobbing in the air up and down and then it took off towards the west.
It was followed by five others, doing the same thing. They traveled about a half a mile from one another. They all appeared the same.
 Occurred : 1/25/2006 02:30
Location: Aurora, OH
Shape: Other
Duration:20 minutes
Aurora, Ohio, string of lights deep in the woods at 2 in the morning hovering above the ground, revolved and whistled. 20 minutes.
The object sighted was 8 yellow spheres aligned and slightly bowed down towards the ground, it appeared as though they were all linked together, this object was about 15 feet long and hovering above the ground 10 feet. The other witness and I were deep in the woods camping, we were away from the fire gathering wood when we heard a high pitch noise such as a tea pot going off, we looked over and there it was hovering and slightly revolving, and of course it was night time so it appeared to be glowing, when we came upon it, it started to revolve faster and faster and get louder and louder, then it just appeared to fold into itself, and the light it had given off slowly dissipated. this all took place at about 2 in the morning. the other witness and I sprinted back to the campsite through the woods and told the others, who were skeptical even though we were clearly shaken.


Late Saturday night, November 16, 1996, at approximately 11:10 p.m., Carl Draper was driving on Ohio Route 422 in rural Geauga County, heading east toward Auburn Corners (population 70). As he approached the intersection of Route 44, just west of the reservoir, he "saw an object about the size of a manhole cover cross the sky from north to south." The disc-shaped UFO was flying at a high rate of speed, seemingly coming from Lake Erie. Carl described the UFO as "orange in color, and its trail was green...The tail extended across the entire arc of the sky, and it (UFO) covered the distance in less than one second."

These stories were informative and entertaining. But they had me wondering… was there some connection here between UFO visitation, sightings of Bigfoot, the Bulldozer Guy, the Tube Farm, and Agent X?
The question offered a perfect reason to return to my quest for clues!


“One Week in September”

NOTE TO READERS: You've read much on this blog about 'Tim's House' and the courage of Carole Brazis from Hambden Township. This column was written in September 2006, after the tragic suicide of her son, Tim Weed. Somehow, I missed posting it here. My sincere apologies for that oversight.

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

For this writer, newspaper columns often seem to compose themselves. It is a truism that when ideas are scarce, current events often bring unintended inspiration. Then, need for passionate wordsmithing becomes unstoppable.
Recent days demonstrated this phenomenon with clarity. As I pondered my next installment of TAL, household concerns seemed more demanding. My attention was diverted by various personal matters. Soccer scheduling, a writing possibility for noted coffee purveyor Starbuck’s, and the need for legal advice crowded my thoughts.
Meanwhile, developing news headlines provided an intellectual backdrop for this busy routine. While I fretted over the weekly challenge of making my deadline, these fantastic stories took shape in print…
First, radical Islamic leaders began to call for the assassination of Pope Benedict XVI, after taking umbrage at comments he made in Germany. This outrageous step came over a 14th Century quote he repeated from Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, a Byzantine ruler. Then, the automotive world was stunned when reports surfaced that General Motors and Ford had secretly discussed a possible merger. In yonder days, such a proposition would have indicated the onset of sheer madness. A pairing between the two could never be considered! But with Toyota, Honda, and Nissan enjoying competitive advantages, even on American soil, such a move might have been beneficial. Meanwhile, the Shuttle ‘Atlantis’ and its crew were plagued by mysterious, floating debris while on a twelve-day mission. And finally, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez appeared at the UN after President Bush, proclaiming that “The Devil himself has just been here!” It was a strange period for reporters across the world. Meanwhile, in Northeastern Ohio, public discourse centered on upcoming statewide elections. As ever, political ads littered the airwaves with sensationalized rhetoric. It was a point in time that could make the most hardened news junkie go numb!
Thoughts about all these rowdy events were stilled by news that a young friend had passed away unexpectedly, in Chardon. With disbelief, I read an e-mail message about the tragedy from a former co-worker. Suddenly, my head was clear. Nothing else mattered. Only quiet reflection remained over the loss of this familiar face from Geauga…
Tim Weed was the sort of personable, energetic soul that anyone might want as a neighbor, comrade, brother, or son. Though only in his twenties, he seemed to cherish the experience of human existence with maturity. His good humor entertained and uplifted the crew at Mikolsky’s Giant Eagle. Customers were treated with courtesy and good cheer as he handled duties in the Produce Department.
My first encounter with Tim came from the perspective of supervision. As a Co-Manager for this local business, it was typically my responsibility to work a late schedule. After closing the store at midnight, we would enjoy conversation while completing end-of-day tasks. I used to pump a fist in the air and exclaim “Another one in the record books!” when my day was finished. He would still be busy with overnight chores. Yet the moment of celebration made him smile.
Eventually, he began to ask questions. First, in relation to my background and retail experience. Then, about more personal matters like my custom motorcycle. When I professed a long-term affinity for classic rock, and biker culture, he spoke about his father. I was surprised to learn that such things were commonplace, at home. A sense of camaraderie developed between us, that went beyond standard workplace civility. I felt glad to have Tim as a member of our grocery team.
Hearing him ruminate over social activities, girlfriends, pro sports, and career goals evoked many moments of personal reflection. I was often moved to think of my own life, in bygone days. He seemed to enjoy tales of highschool adventure from the 1970’s. We had a cross-generational bond that became stronger with each passing year. This dialogue ended when I exited the store in June. Yet my memories of him remained compelling.
Calling hours at the Ritondaro Funeral Home lasted for two busy days. An incredible number of people came to offer their condolences. It highlighted how many other hearts had been touched by Tim’s upbeat nature and outlook. Anguished tears flowed incessantly. But despite the visitation of sorrow, love brightened the darkness. His mother offered a gentle embrace to every mourner. Even with the moment’s burden so heavy to bear, there was strength in her heart for tomorrow.
I bowed while waiting in the receiving line. My lips moved with invisible devotion. “Dear Father in heaven, we were not ready to surrender this traveler to you so quickly. And he was not truly prepared to finish his journey. So accept this earthly plea… give mercy and peace to our beloved friend. And watch over his family in the days ahead… amen.”
After the silent prayer in front of his casket, I went to a front room where music was playing. A computer rendered still photographs from the life that had ended. And words filled the air with a familiar refrain that swelled my eyes with dew:

“Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.
Take your time... don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple kind of man.
Be something you love and understand.
Be a simple kind of man.
Won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.


Boy, don’t you worry... you’ll find yourself.
Follow your heart and nothing else.
And you can do this if you try.
All I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

And be a simple kind of man…”

The song was a classic tune penned by Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Humbly, I reckoned that it embodied the spirit of an older generation, not unlike notable recordings by Bob Seger or Bruce Springsteen. Yet the lyrics represented a fitting tribute for Tim, as well. I listened to the song over and over again. Even as we departed, the melody filled my thoughts.
Ink patterns on a page of parchment offer little in the way of authentic solace from events like those described here. But for a wordsmith, no better tool exists to wring out hope from clouds of woeful gloom. So let a simple promise fill the days while we are apart from such wandering gypsies:

“Don’t ask me to say goodbye, my friend… only farewell, until we meet again.”

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

“First Responder”

c. 2007 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
- John Lennon

It was early on a Friday evening.
A post-work caravan filled the street. My truck was one of many in a line of vehicles that stretched out to the concrete horizon. Traffic streamed busily toward Route 6, as I tuned in sports coverage on WTAM-1100. All personal tasks were done, for the moment. I had just accomplished a quick round of household banking, and a brief visit to the grocery store. With luck, I intended to make an eastward trek in search of photo opportunities at the Ashtabula County Fair. With festivities in Lake and Geauga soon to follow, it would make for an extended season of photogenic delights. A sense of relief took hold while details of Cleveland Indians play echoed from my in-dash receiver. I slumped in the seat, lazily. It felt good to be out of the office.
While driving through Hambden, I tried calling my wife. Predictably, there was no answer. I reckoned that she was making her own post-employment journey through pockets of cellular vacancy. Meanwhile, Mark Schwab growled about losing to the Yankees. I considered the Hambden Country Inn, and Poppa C’s Sunoco, in passing. Both were filled with local residents cheering their Friday liberation. Nothing hinted that soon enough, wild forces of chaos would challenge this typical day.
I left a message for Liz. “Hey honey, hope you’re good! I made contact today with a fellow who does PR work for a couple of novelty vendors. He was interested in discussing a writing project. I’ll meet you at the fair…”
In Thompson Township, I had to pause at the intersection of Routes 166 and 528. It was a daily ritual. Look across the way, then left, then right. Check again, and again, and again. One at a time, my fellow travelers crossed the road. I pulled up to the stop sign and gripped the steering wheel. My turn was next!
Suddenly, I witnessed a YouTube moment, in true-life proportions.
A dark, four-door Honda turned into the path of an approaching Dodge pickup filled with young boys. Their convergence was unavoidable. Inertia sent the truck airborne after impact, in a circus-arc that had it spinning sideways. Glass and metal showered the surrounding landscape. The Honda suffered a crushed hood, fender, and driver’s door. It came to rest in the field. With similar ferocity, the red Dodge landed on its operator side, facing in the direction from which it had come.
A split-second of confusion elapsed as everyone instantly experienced a common shock of reality.
An ugly smell of mechanical woe filled the air. Like scorched rubber or burned away plastic insulation. The Honda’s horn was stuck on, at full volume. I pulled off the road, and ran to assess the scene. Several other drivers did the same. One of the crowd reminded me of a bygone friend named Don. He was quick to offer help.
While gathering composure, I called 911 to report the incident.
Before we could get to the trio of young boys, they had already crawled outside of their cargo vehicle. Each seemed battered and bloody, but surprisingly well off for having survived a somersault at highway speed.
The wrecked Honda had trapped its driver in a metal cocoon. His legs were pinned under the dashboard. While one of the crowd disabled his vehicle’s blaring horn, ‘Don’ tried to open the passenger side door. We encouraged the driver to lie still until help arrived. He was in shock, and dazed. The seconds seemed to tick away with a plodding lack of concern. I wished for a way to ‘fast-forward’ the progression of time.
A constable from Thompson was first on the scene. He checked the accident site, radioed for assistance, and began to direct traffic. Soon, rescue units from Montville and Hambden arrived. Then, an officer from the State Highway Patrol. A life-flight helicopter came soon afterward. We had a full compliment of first responders.
‘Don’ observed that his daughter’s life had been saved by such professional intervention, after her own roadgoing mishap. He was emotional when reflecting on their talent and dedication as public servants.
I felt glad that his own fearful moment had ended happily.
Field care for the boys was accomplished without great difficulty. But the Honda would not surrender its pilot willingly. We could barely see him under the expanded airbag, and crushed dashboard. Skillfully, both rescue groups brought out ‘Jaws of Life’ devices. With careful prodding, they removed the automobile roof. This provided better access to the injured motorist. Yet he was still gripped by the dashboard.
While waiting, I filled out a report for the highway patrolman. Only two of us out of the group had actually witnessed the calamity. While writing, I noted that ‘Don’ had stepped closer to the car. He made the sign of the cross, and then clasped his hands in prayer.
For the first time, I felt a measure of comfort.
The ‘Jaws’ worked their magic again, at last forcing the Honda to release its operator. Metal and plastic cracked and shuddered. The gray-haired driver moaned with exhaustion. Instantly, he was on a gurney and being carried to an ambulance.
His agony filled me with sadness. Yet I felt thankful that in spite of the open-road ordeal, he remained alive. I felt gratitude that he could return to his family.
We were told to clear the scene, and everyone scattered immediately. I said a prayer of my own. Traffic was stalled toward St. Patrick’s Church, and past Sidley’s in the other direction. I was relieved to get back in my truck.
My pickup spun through mud on the roadside, as we headed east once again. Driving along Route 166, I kept seeing the accident over and over in my imagination. It was like a skipping record that wouldn’t stop playing. The red Dodge careened like a mad gymnast, flipping and flipping and flipping endlessly… I tried to shake off the repeating vision. But it remained clear and persistent.
I wished for a cup of coffee to clear my head.
After arriving at the fair, and meeting Liz at her booth, I retold the story of my unexpected adventure. But a slight sense of guilt colored my thoughts. “I’m a newspaper guy by profession...”
“A journalist!” she said, offering correction.
“Okay, a journalist,” I agreed. “Yet when the accident occurred today, my first inclination wasn’t to run for a camera. Or my notebook. I wanted to… help.”
“Yes…?” she responded.
“So, was that wrong in some strange way?” I asked. “Should I have been more hard-nosed about getting a story?”
My wife smiled with comprehension. “Rodney, you always say that what you do provides a public service. You give information to readers, and maybe a bit of entertainment as well.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That’s right.”
“So today, you thought about helping others directly,” she said. “You placed that need where it belongs – first.”
“Cool,” I replied. “So, it’s okay not to be a journalistic hound for once?”
“I know you’ll still get a story out of this,” she said. “Or a column?”
My face went red with embarrassment. “You’re right. I was just thinking of a way to use this in the newspaper…”
“Come on,” she said. “I’ll buy you a sandwich at Cunningham’s.”
I brightened at the thought of Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Swirling neon flashed across our path as we left the commercial building for a walk down the midway.
It was time to celebrate being alive.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

ONE FAN'S OPINION - X-treme Sports

New X-treme sports leagues could help revitalize Ashtabula County - or not
Gazette Newspapers
Much has been written and said lately about planning the future direction of this county. It is a subject that interests nearly everyone, regardless of their own perspective.
Some believe that business pursuits could lead the way to better things for our residents. Others are convinced that developing greater cultural awareness might pay dividends. Many insist that political action is the foundation of progress.
But for a young sports fan named Josh Riddle, one inevitable conclusion remains.
“We need more games to follow!”
Josh is a writing student at Byler College & Feed Store, not far from the Pennsylvania state line. We’ve had many long discussions about the future of sports journalism over pizza and wings. But recently, his observations were even more spirited than usual.
“Good sports are a thrilling diversion from everyday routines,” he said.
“But what about sports that are better that - say, crazy good?”
My reply made him frown. “I’m content with football.” “The county is well-prepared with teams that compete in football, baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, cross-country, track, swimming, tennis, and golf,” he moaned. “But these are sports found nearly everywhere.” I grinned. “And your point was...?”
“To generate extra interest in ‘Bula, and build a unique identity,” he pronounced, “We need something more. Some new athletic match-ups that could add zest to the local flavor. A type of gaming designed to please growing minds that have become bored with the same old thing. X-treme sports for the 21-st Century.”
I took a deep breath. “Don’t let me offend you Josh, but I could watch football all year ‘round. I don’t need x-treme anything. Except perhaps an x-tremely big amount of Italian sausage on my pizza.” He snorted with irritation. “I’m working on a list. Take a look at this... I know you’ll be impressed! Don’t lie - you’ll soon be begging to run it in your newspaper!”
From his notebook, he produced a roster of alternative sports creations. My stomach began to growl for mercy as I read the manuscript:
Austinburg Bull Riders - Co-sponsored by Jewels Dance Hall, this league of cowboy competitors might be our county’s toughest. Participants would be brave souls who straddle the mechanical beast to win macho bragging rights, and racing souvenirs.
‘Bula Supersized Bocce League- What could be more perfect for a county full of wineries? This festive Italian pastime is already enjoyed by many of our residents. Making a cross-county league might change the nature of summer fun in our region, forever. Forget tradition, use something hefty like a cannonball! It would connect us with our European neighbors in a way that playing soccer could never hope to achieve.
Conneaut Cricket Club - Few Americans have heard of the British game called cricket. Fewer still have participated in an actual match. So if a local confederation was started, it is unlikely that anyone would know if the players got it wrong. That alone might guarantee success for the league. Serving plenty of Bass Ale with fish and chips could seal the bargain. Play could begin in Ohio’s sharpest corner, and develop according to interest.
Dorset Dodge Ball - This pursuit is growing quickly as a favorite for young athletes around the nation. It is fast-paced and requires trained reflexes. The sport translates video-game intensity into live competition. To win, a player must jump, twist, and turn with skill and endurance.
Morgan Motocross Track - Flying through the mud on knobby tires would appeal to many residents of the county, without an x-treme slant. But when charged-up with big hills, obstacles, and lots of dirt, the sport could revolutionize our surroundings. Finish with a buffet of food from the Rock Creek Pizza Shoppe, and it ought to be a magical venue.
Sheffield Skateboard Park - Kids from the post Gen-X era never grow tired of skateboarding. But the county has too few places where the sport can be enjoyed without causing public irritation. A few sculpted slabs of concrete could change that reality, however. Add a sound system, and the spot would be complete.
Monroe Mower Motorway - Riding mower racing combines the fun of yard work with the glory of NASCAR. It is a sport almost any American could enjoy on a personal level. Imagine spinning wheels during a full-power launch from the starting line! It would be irresistible to hardcore racing fans, and those with a green thumb.
Williamsfield Wind Walkers - Skydiving enthusiasts could do a big jump over the township, then parachute toward the shores of Pymatuning Reservoir. On the way, their aerial acrobatics would entertain spectators on the ground.
Perambulator Baja 500 - County residents have heard a lot about the history of olden-day baby carriages. But an off-road adventure with a stylish buggy? It hasn’t yet been tried. Studded tires would help the kid-carts gain traction under rough conditions. Mothers would compete through a process of face-to-face elimination until a winner is decided.
“These x-cellent choices would offer variety to the county sports scene, and bring ‘Bula into the 21st Century,” Josh boasted. “Beyond that, they could encourage the growth of local tourism.
It would be an x-tremely good situation for everybody.” I had reached my limit. “Josh, I’ve got to admit, this really has an effect on me.”
He was hopeful. “Really? Thanks! I am honored!” “I’ve got an x-tremely big bellyache after reading your plan,” I said. “It’s time for some Rolaids, I think.”
He closed the notebook and left, quietly.
Our conversation was x-tremely over!

“Ballpark Interlude”

c. 2007 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: The best thing about writing for a living is being able to work and have fun at the same time. When these moments can involve others from the family, they become authentically special in nature. What follows here is my description of such an event, from last week.
The afternoon hours brought an undeniable craving for coffee, as I sat in front of my office computer. I was determined to get through a long list of documents that needed to be edited and organized for future use. But each minute weighed more heavily on my consciousness. I was equally distracted by incoming e-mail communication. My only point of focus was a fresh cup of java…
Suddenly, the phone rang in my pocket. I noted that the caller was my wife. “Hello?” I
Liz purred in my ear. “How are youuuuuu, Honey?”
“Great,” I replied. “Your timing is perfect. A message just came here about an event at Classic Park in Eastlake.”
She brightened. “Hmmmm, does that mean we get to see a Captains game?”
“Not exactly,” I explained. “They are hosting a special event with three rock bands. The trio is visiting Minor League Baseball parks across America. It is called ‘The Triple Play Tour.’ Doesn’t that sound great?”
She paused to catch her breath. “Well, yes! That’s different.”
I agreed. “It should make for a couple of interesting stories.”
“Who is playing on the tour?” she wondered.
“The Counting Crows, with Collective Soul, and Live,” I answered. “All groups that I remember hearing on ‘The End, 107.9 FM.”
“Not to mention lots of other stations,” she added.
“Did you know that there is a website dedicated to ‘The End’ on the Internet?” I said, quizzically.
Liz giggled. “Uhm, no! I listened to country stations in the area.”
“It’s at,” I said. “They still come to mind whenever I see Vic Gideon on WKYC Channel 3.”
“Who?” she said.
“Never mind, Princess Pink,” I said. “It’s a ‘90s thing.”
My wife sighed. “Well anyway, I’m always up for a concert. Lets go!”
A review began to form in my head as we watched the show:
Triple Play Tour brings live music to Classic Park in a family setting
EASTLAKE - Residents in Northeastern Ohio know Classic Park as the home of Lake County Captains baseball. But recently, it became something more. The swinging sticks were replaced by electric guitars and melodic rhythms. It was an event embraced by fans and families from across the region. Collective Soul, Live, and The Counting Crows reintroduced their music to an enthusiastic audience that spanned generations. Many appeared to have come of age listening to the trio of bands - who first gained national prominence during the 90’s groundswell of ‘Alternative Rock.’ Others were more faithful in appearance to the older traditions of ‘Classic’ Rock ‘n’ Roll. But everyone connected with a communal spirit that flowed from the stage. There was undeniably something in the ballpark atmosphere.
Collective Soul appeared first, looking much as they had over a dozen years before. Ed Roland was animated and energetic. The group rendered memorable compositions like ‘Jamming On’ and ‘Shine’ with much conviction. ‘Gel’ evoked pleasant memories. ‘The World I Know’ and ‘Listen’ retained meaning. ‘December’ still sounded fresh, even in a 21st Century context. Dean Roland bent the signature guitar riff forcefully.
Teasing the spectators, the group previewed ‘Hollywood’ which will be on an upcoming release titled ‘Afterwords.’ It is slated to appear on August 28th. Live continued the post-modern, rock revival by breathing new energy into their familiar work. They offered ‘Selling the Drama’ and ‘I Alone’ as Ed Kowalczyk worked himself into an elegant frenzy. He gestured widely with each lyric, as if embracing the audience. ‘Lightning Crashes’ followed. Then, ‘All over You.’ Chad Taylor holstered four different guitars during the performance. For ‘Lakini’s Juice’ he used a seafoam blue-green, Fender Jazzmaster. It growled the notes he fretted like a harnessed canine, spitting through clenched teeth. Powerfully, the band played ‘I walk the Line’ in a style different from, yet reverent to, Johnny Cash. Bic lighters began to shine.
The moment of artistic fullness had arrived. Overhead, a covering of thick clouds reflected the stage lighting, but held their rain. The Counting Crows appeared, and immediately struck a reflective tone. Their songs meandered from the radio hit ‘Mr. Jones’ to more involved compositions. They offered ‘St. Robinson’s Cadillac Dream’ and ‘Accidentally In Love.’ Frontman Adam Duritz tiptoed over monitor speakers at the platform’s edge. He tossed lyrical observations like a Beat-era poet. Accompanied by the band, he seemed to have a stream-of-consciousness conversation with the crowd.
A peek into the future came from playing material to be included on Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, an upcoming release that would be their first in several years.
“I was taking a sabbatical,” Duritz said with a grin. “We haven’t made a
record in awhile. But we’ll be around now.”
The audience responded loudly. But the Crows were far from finished.
At the piano, Duritz played ‘Long December.’ It demonstrated the durability
of the Crows’ passionate sound. Eventually, the ensemble did ‘Mrs. Potter’s
Lullaby’ along with ‘Anna Begins.’
Throughout the show, a variety of instruments provided melodic reinforcement, including accordion, mandolin, acoustic guitar, standup bass, keyboards, and banjo.
Evoking the subtlety of yonder days, they played ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ which was written by the Velvet Underground. Duritz morphed the tune with touches of scat-singing and vocal play. Eventually, the interpretative experiment concluded in a wash of tonal flavors. They hung in the evening air sweetly, forming invisible droplets of ear-candy.
Late in the show, a young guitarist named Michael joined the group onstage. He traded licks with David Immergluck, Dan Vickery, and David Bryson. It was an expressive, emotional point for the crowd.
In closing, Adam Duritz took the microphone to give thanks for those who came. Then, he turned more serious. “We’re very, very lucky to live in a country like America, where we decide for ourselves how to run our own country. We’re very, very lucky that about two-hundred-and-thirty years ago, a group of very, very intelligent and original-thinking men decided to change the world.”
Listeners grew silent as he continued. “I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. It doesn’t matter to me. But if you’re a patriot, if you really want to be an American, the thing you have to do is go out and vote. Because other than laying your life down for your country, there is nothing that stands for that flag greater than exercising your right of franchise. Because you have it - and a lot of people around the world don’t.”
Over cheering and applause, he finished with a promise. “Some people forget that there’s a lot of America between New York and Los Angeles. But we won’t forget!”
At Classic Park, it was clear that no one had forgotten how to enjoy authentic Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Liz and I both took photographs at the event. Her work was impressive for being jostled around amongst the crowded spectators. I took shots from a ‘pit’ area, just in front of the stage. Adam Duritz of the Crows nearly fell on top of me, as he tiptoed over monitor speakers while singing. Each band displayed energy and talent that had not diminished over time. My review was easy to write.
Days later, my wife remembered seeing an ad for Gretchen Wilson with Tracy Byrd, the PovertyNeck Hillbillies, and Cleveland favorites, Lawless. Soon afterward, my cell phone rang as I was working on a column about extreme sports.
“Rodney,” Liz said enthusiastically. “I think you can hit another home run from Classic Park! They’re having a country extravaganza with some of my favorite groups!”
I laughed out loud. “Sorry hon. I’ve got to report on a turtle race that night.”
“Hey, you didn’t even ask when it was!” she bristled.
“It’s a slow race,” I said. “The event could take days to cover…”
She howled like a cat. “You’re still such a poo!”


c. 2007 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“Ready to work some yellow magic?”

It was a busy afternoon in the Ice household. We had just finished a lunch of chicken nuggets and homemade fries, when Quigley the Pomeranian began to sound off with excitement.
“Yip yip yip!” he barked.
My wife was puzzled. “What’s gotten into him?”
Soccer Fairy, our nine-year-old, got up from the kitchen table. She was perturbed. “Quiggy! Hey, what’s wrong with you?”
On the television was a living cartoon. “Come to Springfield! See the Simpsons movie and become one yourself!”
“Wow!” Fairy cheered. “Mommy, do you see that?”
Liz nodded. “That reminds me of the M & M promotion. What a nice gimmick!”
“Sure,” I agreed. “But it took them twenty years to think of it?”
Soccer Fairy frowned. “The Simpsons are that old??”
My wife nodded. “Yes, but it doesn’t matter. I love the idea!”
I joined them in the living room. “Your candy-ized versions of the family were cool, I’ll admit. But making us look like Simpons for an encore?”
Quigley hid his eyes. “Yowf!”
Liz sat down at the computer. “I can’t resist! This will be fun.”
I changed the television channel to ESPN after getting a brew. “Have your fun. I’ll just catch some game highlights.”
The computer monitor went yellow. Then, a start page appeared. It read: “Create your own avatar.” Giggles began to fill the air.
“This is great,” Liz said. “You start with a basic body profile.”
From across the room, I watched her click through various physical dimensions. “Slender… medium build… husky… extra-large…”
She clicked on the most rotund illustration.
“Heyy!” I protested. “Why do you have to start with that body type??”
My wife snorted. “It’s just a cartoon.”
Next was a selection of eyes. She clicked on a pair with square glasses.
“Okay, that’s a fair choice,” I agreed.
Following this was a selection of noses. “Small… pointy… hooked… round… fully-developed…”
She chose a plus-sized honker.
“Come on,” I protested. “Do I get any kind of a break here??”
Liz pointed her finger. “Do you want this to look like you, or not?”
“Actually, I don’t want it at all,” I said.
Soccer Fairy squealed with delight. “Keep going, Mommy!”
Quigley disappeared under the couch.
My wife clicked through mouth shapes and expressions. She picked a relaxed smile that fit well under the extended nose.
“Okay?” she asked impatiently.
“Sure,” I said. “It’s just a cartoon, right?”
Next came wardrobe choices. My wife immediately clicked on a black T-shirt.
“Well?” she said with a stare.
“No argument on that,” I said.
“Of course not,” she teased. “Since you won’t wear the pink shirt I bought you!”
“I would if it wasn’t at the bottom of Grumpy’s litter box,” I said.
She squawked like a mad hen. “Rodney!”
“At least the cat put it to good use,” I laughed.
Liz went red.
Soccer Fairy pointed at the screen to distract her from my comment. “So, what’s next, Mom?”
My wife spun in her chair. “Oh… yes… pants. Those would be blue jeans, of course.”
“Of course,” Fairy agreed.
“And then, black boots,” Liz concluded.
“Clomp, clomp, clomp,” Fairy said while cupping her hands.
I considered the image for a moment. “Are you satisfied?”
Liz clicked on ‘save’ while admiring her work. “I’d say it’s a fine bit of computer animation, my darling!”
My cheeks burned with embarrassment. “Okay, then. Well done. Who’s next?”
She rubbed her eyes.
“Well, I think it would be very tough to top a work of art like this…”
“Yes…” I agreed. “So, are you finished?”
She shook her head. “No, it needs something more. But… what?”
Quigley peeked out from under the couch. “Yap yap!”
“How about a touch of the ‘delete’ button?” I suggested.
Soccer fairy giggled.
“No,” Liz said analytically. “You need… a guitar!”
I couldn’t restrain a chuckle. “True, it just doesn’t look right without one.”
My wife typed ‘cartoon guitar’ into Google.
“Let’s see,” she said, while clicking through entries. “Flying V, Les Paul, Explorer, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster…”
“Jazzmaster,” I said.
She concurred. “Okay. This sort of looks like a Fender guitar.”
My eyes went wide open. “Davie Allan plays a Jazzer. I’ve got to have one, too.”
“Cartoon guitars are fine. Just no more real ones!” she said.
I grumbled under my breath. “Gotta have a Jazzmaster. Someday.”
Soccer Fairy covered her face. “We’re running out of room!”
Liz took a deep breath. “Perfection! This is just too good. We ought to share it, you know? I’ll bet everybody would want a copy.”
“What??” I protested. “Stop talking like that!”
“I’m serious,” she said.
I almost spilled my beer. “Come on, Honey. Just click out of there and…”
Before I could get across the room, she was composing an e-mail message. Her fingers typed feverishly. “ISN’T HE HANDSOME?’
“Sweetie, please!” I begged. “You’ve had your fun. No need to spread that picture around the galaxy…”
My wife was determined. She added address after address.
“Liz!” I pleaded. “Show your man some mercy!”
Soccer Fairy giggled so hard that tears were streaming from her eyes. “Mommy, you’re so crazy! I love you!!”
Quigley burrowed deep into hidden treasures behind the couch. “Yowwwl!”
I leaped like a linebacker in pursuit. “Noooooooooo!”
She clicked the ‘send’ icon as I slipped sideways, on a throw rug. My beverage went airborne. There was a thud as I hit the floor, on my back.
The PC emitted a delicate ‘ping.’ Her message had been dispatched.
Liz sat straight up in her chair. “Are you okay?”
My eyes were closed, tightly. “I’m good. Just let me lay here until the room stops spinning.”
Quigley crawled out from his hiding spot. He began to nuzzle my ear. “Yowf??”
“It’s okay, buddy,” I said. “Just having a quick nap on the carpet.”
Soccer Fairy took my hand. “I’ll help you up!” She tugged without success.
My wife covered her mouth. “I’m sorry, Rodney!”
“Well, you’ve made M & M people, and now a Simpsons character,” I reflected while staring at our ceiling. “What can you do to top that?”
She knelt down, and rubbed my forehead. “I mean it! I’m sorry…”
“You could makes us look like Flintstones? Or Spongebob Squarepants? Danny Phantom? The Proud Family? The Fairly Odd Parents? Go on, make your selection…”
Fairy was impressed with the possibilities. “Wow, we could have fun doing all that Mommy!”
I groaned. “But next time we do a picture of you guys. Leave me out of it.”
“Fine,” Liz conceded. “That’s fair.”
“Anyway, you’d look great with a hairstyle like Marge Simpson,” I observed.
Soccer Fairy squealed. “Oh Mommy! What an idea! You’ll be famous!”
Quigley went back into hiding.
“And don’t forget to send that around to everyone, as well,” I said.
My wife nodded. “Sure thing, Homer.”


Friday, August 03, 2007


(Top) Jahn Curtsey enjoyed helping make Tim's House a success by participating at the golf outing in Chardon.

(Bottom) Juanita Vetter joined friends at Chardon Lakes GC to support Tim's House.

The first annual golf outing in support of Tim’s House was held at Chardon Lakes GC on July 29th. Founder Carole Brazis described it as being a complete success.
“Everyone had a great day and the food was delicious,” she said. “I extend my gratitude to the volunteers for all their hard work as our effort yielded earnings over $4500.00.”
Brazis observed that the proceeds will offer hope to others who share her kind of grief. “This money will be put to good use in our community helping those ‘left behind’ after a tragic, shocking loss to suicide. Soon, survivors will no longer be forced to sit alone in the silent suffering as there will be a place for them to go where others understand.”
“An ad will be placed in our local paper thanking our sponsors for all the events this year,” she said in conclusion. “Check our website for a copy of that article within the next few weeks. Again, thank you to the volunteers and sponsors for your support making this event so successful!”
For further information, contact Tim’s House at: 440.286.HOPE.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Simpsons Avatar

Hey, that guy looks familiar.