We were very lucky to know about the 2006 Tom Waits shows in time to get tickets. On one of the rare times we checked our email in Africa, our friend Julia from London kindly sent us a message giving us a heads-up that a tour announcement was supposed to be forthcoming. The announcement took place the day after we arrived home, and although we had forgotten to take a look, our friend Tom forwarded the announcement email to us. We are very grateful, because we were so backlogged with mail that otherwise we never would have seen it in time. Having just returned from a big trip, I couldn't take much more time off from work. Although there were only 8 scheduled shows on this Orphans Tour (to promote his forthcoming 3 album set "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards," scheduled for release on 11/21), they all required travel. We studied the dates and determined that with one day off from work, we could catch two shows: Memphis and Nashville. Tom and Karen, our friends currently living in Florida, were doing a road trip to catch the first four shows of the tour. This included the opening night at the Tabernacle in Atlanta for which they had an extra ticket.
I convinced Craig that he should fly to Atlanta on Tuesday for the show. He was hesitant to do so, as we have never traveled separately since we got married. To make it even more unlikely that he would go, the night of the show was our 8th wedding anniversary. Craig felt extremely uneasy about going without me, especially on that particular day. But I convinced him that was ridiculous. We are not a "Hallmark couple", and we don't play those games. Our marriage isn't any more special on one day than another. Just because card companies, and external pressure, tend to disagree. We just don't tend to run our life that way. We had just been on a fantastic trip together, and spending the anniversary apart wouldn't be the end of the world. I just didn't have the time off, but he did. I insisted that he should take advantage of this opportunity. Tom Waits doesn't tour very often, and we need to get our fix whenever and wherever we can. I made him promise to do me proud in the note-taking and photo-taking department. This would be a "Craig and Steph's Vacations" trip minus the "Steph," so he would have a lot more responsibility. He is usually in charge of the pre-trip planning, and I usually take care of run-time operations. He would have to pull double duty this time around. This was the beginning of a crazy week, as Craig would fly to Atlanta first thing Tuesday morning. First thing Wednesday morning he would fly home to Boston for a day of work. Then he would fly with me and our friend Kevin to Nashville on Thursday night. Sometimes the life of a Raindog is a life on the road.
So, without further ado, I pass the keyboard to Craig, who will tell you about his solo adventure.
We woke up at 4:30 am, and I was out the door by 5:30. I drove to the airport, parked in central parking, and entered Terminal B. There was no line at the main USAir counter but I was told there was a separate area for the shuttle to Laguardia. It was a new security entrance and gate area for me. After a rather lengthy line, I made it through security. Once inside, I wandered over to Cafe Ritazza. There was a strange line and it was difficult to tell where it started or ended so people were coming at the counter from both sides. I ordered a toasted "everything" bagel and a bottle of water and sat at one of the little tables in front. Opening the bag I realized at I was served a plain bagel instead. That was ok with me and not really worth doing something about, especially since it seems someone else already got my bagel. I can picture the reaction to the person that ordered a plain bagel and realizing, probably once it's too late, that they had one with everything on it.
I finished my lonely breakfast and sat in one of the seats at the gate. I read another chapter of "I Robot". Sitting here without Steph was rather uncomfortable so I found myself people watching rather than reading. I could hear various people on their cellphones talking about multi-hour flight delays and I wondered if I would be affected. I needed to make a quick stop in the restroom before boarding the plane and it occured to me I couldn't leave anything behind. Fortunately I had my backpack as luggage so I could easily carry it in with me. After coming dangerously close to walking into the ladies room, I realized just how much I was missing having the operations staff with me on this trip. She never would have allowed such a near-miss.
I finally boarded the plane and sat in seat 6D. It was a very full plane set up in the typical 3x3 configuration in a very nice and roomy A319. A lady seated a few rows behind me was clearly making sure everyone on board would have to listen to whatever she had to say. I could only hope the drone of the engines would overpower her voice. As the temperature outside was supposed to reach 100 degrees fahrenheit I was relieved to find that it was so cold on the plane that there was actually a foggy mist in the air. It felt like I was seated in the freezer section of the grocery store. They actually served a breakfast snack. It was an individually wrapped honey-dipped doughnut labeled as a "sweet roll." As they delivered me a can of Cran-Apple, I lowered my seatback tray and was mortified to see that they actually had a big advertisement on the surface of the tray table. Is there nowhere safe from marketing? I was disgusted by this new trend and can only hope it either backfires on them or doesn't catch on with other airlines. Most likely this is the latest dvertising intrusion we will have to accept. On the overhead TV monitors they were showing "Cranium" trivia questions. They were not very challenging but they at least offered a little bit of a distraction. I read a little more of "I Robot" and just relaxed a bit.
The plane arrived in Washington DC (Reagan National) 15 minutes early. In order to make my connecting flight at gate 25 I was told to take a shuttle bus leaving at gate 23. A shuttle bus? Isn't it just two more gates down the hallway? When I arrived at gate 23 there was a plane already boarding. I asked if this is where I catch the shuttle bus. The woman said yes and asked me to take a seat off to the side. This was weird. Do I have to wait for the whole plane to board first? As I waited a few more people came along and they were equally confused about the arrangement. While waiting at the gate I started reading a few of the small signs posted there. Apparently the shuttle doesn't run in bad weather. So what would I do if it's raining? I wondered. Then I read that it only runs during certain hours. Well, I guess that might make sense if flights are geared around that but it sure seemed to me this shuttle added an awful lot of overhead and confusion and I began to wonder where it was even taking me. Was it really just two gates away?
After a short wait I was told that we could now enter the gangway. As I got to the end I realized the plane had already closed its door and I was standing at a dead end. I was told that I would just have to wait a minute longer. I couldn't even imagine what was going to happen next. I was instructed to exit the gangway through a small door, take the stairs to the runway, and get on the awaiting shuttle bus. After a few more people boarded the bus we were on our way. The bus driver said it would only take a few minutes. As I looked out the front of the moving bus I could see a big 25 painted on the side of the building. Was this where we were going? It really was just a few gates away but on a different arm of the building. I couldn't believe it. Getting off the shuttle bus a few minutes after getting on, I was now at gate 25. This was hilarious. I did learn that the problem is that security is actually situated between the two gates. Apparently the shuttle bus avoids having to go through security between flights. I think it would have been much faster to skip the whole shuttle experience. I still had plenty of time so I wasn't concerned, but this was really comical. I wished Steph was here to witness this. One of the first things I saw while sitting at the infamous gate 25 was a cop on a bicycle driving up and down the hallway. I swear, this airport was surreal! The whole time I was waiting at the gate I felt a bit unsettled. As people would arrive I noticed that I kept looking up as if I was waiting for Steph to appear from the bathroom or something.
I boarded the next plane and sat in seat 4C. This plane was a 2x2 configured Embraer 170. It was much smaller than the last plane but still comfortable. I noticed there wasn't too much room for luggage and some folks had to check their wheelies because they wouldn't fit in the overhead bins. They were filling up fast but since I always keep my backpack at my feet I didn't have to concern myself. Suddenly Chris Brown and his band entered the plane with all sorts of laughter and good natured joking with the flight attendant. It was clear they were musicians as they had back stage passes draped around their necks and had various small instruments as carry-on luggage. The flight attendant asked the name of the band and one member let out a "Ricola" call just like in the TV commercial. It was hilarious. As Chris scanned the overhead bins realizing there might be a problem stowing some of their items Chris asked one of the others, "How did we start out so early and yet end up being so late?" I couldn't help but laugh at this and Chris' patted me on the shoulder as he went by saying "It's been a long morning already" and laughed.
I had never been to Reagan National before. It was right on the water and I was surprised at how close the airport is to the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, etc. As you take off you really do fly right over the whole area. I can see why they had concerns about this airport after 9/11. They had Cranium trivia again, but they were the same questions as the previous flight so I finished another chapter in my book. I was served a Cran-Apple and two (count 'em!) bags of mini-pretzel bits. Wow, did I have the space for all that food? I was relieved to see that the tray tables were not sullied with a nasty advertisement. It was an uneventful flight and the plane arrived in Atlanta right on time.
I've never been to the airport in Atlanta before but knew it was quite large. It occured to me that I didn't really know where I was supposed to meet Tom and Karen, so I figured I'd play it safe and head for the exit near the baggage claim area. As I headed down the hall toward the baggage area, I saw that I could take a train, or I could walk. After spending a good amount of time on a plane I thought the walk would be good for me so I passed the train platform just as it arrived. I walked and walked and walked. I hadn't realized that I must have been in the terminal that was as far as possible from the baggage area. As I passed each terminal, still not getting on the train, I started thinking I probably should have hopped the train. How far is the baggage area? The hallway had just enough of a bend to it so I couldn't really tell just how far my final destination was. I kept thinking it was crazy to hop on the train now, it must have been about 10 minutes walking already. Finally deciding I should probably hop on the train, I approached one platform as the signal let me know a train was approaching. All of a sudden the train appeared at the platform and what seemed like well over 100 military men all in uniform came streaming out of one of the carriages. It was seriously intimidating and I found myself backing away from them. Maybe I was supposed to simply walk afterall.
|I've never been to the airport in Atlanta before but knew it was quite large. It occured to me that I didn't really know where I was supposed to meet Tom and Karen, so I figured I'd play it safe and head for the exit near the baggage claim area. As I headed down the hall toward the baggage area, I saw that I could take a train, or I could walk. After spending a good amount of time on a plane I thought the walk would be good for me so I passed the train platform just as it arrived. I walked and walked and walked. I hadn't realized that I must have been in the terminal that was as far as possible from the baggage area. As I passed each terminal, still not getting on the train, I started thinking I probably should have hopped the train. How far is the baggage area? The hallway had just enough of a bend to it so I couldn't really tell just how far my final destination was. I kept thinking it was crazy to hop on the train now, it must have been about 10 minutes walking already. Finally deciding I should probably hop on the train, I approached one platform as the signal let me know a train was approaching. All of a sudden the train appeared at the platform and what seemed like well over 100 military men all in uniform came streaming out of one of the carriages. It was seriously intimidating and I found myself backing away from them. Maybe I was supposed to simply walk afterall.|
|As I finally approached what appeared to be the final concourse (A), I found myself in a hallway full of all sorts of African artwork. There were photos, statues, clothing, and all sorts of displays. Having just recently been to Africa I was intrigued by the synchronicity of this display. Steph should have been here to enjoy this too. That would not be the last time I felt this way either. Some of the artwork was beautiful but I was using the people-mover walkway and couldn't really stop to check them out carefully. Besides, it was now a full 15 minutes after I had landed and I was still in the terminals. I couldn't believe how long this airport concourse system was. I really should have taken the train. I had better get out and find Tom and Karen. I finally reached the staircase leading up to the baggage claim area and the exits when I noticed a familiar song emanating from the ceiling. What was it I wondered? Wait, it was the instrumental section of Downtown Train. This sounded so 80's, it was terrible. What was this? Then the vocals kicked in and I actually thought "Is this Tina Turner? When did she cover this song?" that's when it hit me, this is Rod Stewart. The very person that did his best to make me not like Tom Waits all those years ago. Quick, to the bat-doors, I gotta get out of here. What a way to ruin a great song. Luckily I was going to see the man himself tonight, so this blasphemy would surely be wiped from my mind.|
|As I went out the main doors and felt the humid heat of Atlanta, it occured to me that I wasn't sure what vehicle I was looking for. I knew they would find me but it's always nice to know what they will be driving. I went up and down the sidewalk making sure they weren't pulled over. After only a few minutes Tom and Karen arrived to pick me up. Suddenly this all felt real. Here I was in Atlanta with my friends and we would be going to see Tom Waits tonight. We left the airport, got onto the major highway, and before I knew it we had arrived at the Highland Inn. It seemed like a really nice part of town with lots of little shops and places of interest nearby. The hotel itself looked rather nice from the road. I gathered my backpack and was led to our room, number 337. It was an old quaint hotel that had loads of character. I really liked the hotel, although I will admit it was a bit run-down and could use a little loving care. Entering our room I saw that Tom had already secured and set up my cot for the night and all looked well. I saw no reason why I wouldn't sleep wondefully here. There were two wndows in the room and both had air conditioners in them, which was a blessing on a day like this.||
|Because Steph wasn't with me, I had to remember to take some pictures. I became frustrated because every time I looked through the camera there was a big flashing symbol of a clock but I couldn't figure out how to set it. There are many menus hidden in that thing and I just wasn't able to find the correct combination of events to allow me to set the damn thing. Never being one to let a VCR clock flash 12:00 for very long, I gave it my best shot. I finally accepted defeat and realized that was just how it was going to have to stay. Steph is the "operations" end of our outfit, after all!|
|Feeling about ready for a small lunch we headed out to an area called Little Five Points (L5P) where everyone suggested we visit. There are many shops, record stores, cafes, and things to keep us occupied for a few hours. As we arrived on Euclid Avenue we found an available meter and prepared to start filling it full of quarters. A friendly local business owner came out of her shop and recommended that we pull up one more space. She said the meter had been stolen the prior evening and that they couldn't ticket you, or charge you money since it was missing. Taking her advice we took the free spot. As we walked toward the main cluster of stores, we passed Little 5 Points Pizza. We knew we had to go in. Tom loves pizza and will normally choose pizza pretty much anywhere he goes. I had a big slice of cheese pizza with a local Atlanta brew called Red Brick Ale. The tap was a big red brick and seemed to be calling my name. After ordering they handed us a plastic placard with some old black and white movie movie scene on it. Aparently that was what they used in place of numbers so a waitress can quickly come by and know the order belongs to us. I was intrigued as I didn't see anything that attached us to this placard but it seemed to work. Soon afterwards we were drinking our beer and enjoying some pizza. The pizza was pretty good and really hit the spot. I was thinking of ordering another slice but realized we would probably eat again before the show and decided to hold off for a nice dinner. Karen was looking for a quiet little place to sit and write, but we were in search of a record shop, so we split up and went our separate ways.|
|Going around the corner, we went to two record shops: Wax 'N' Facts, and Criminal Records. Everywhere we went there were Raindogs and other Tom Waits fans discussing the show tonight. It was the talk of all the employees as well as all the clientele. We met Mark and Nicole who were looking through the bins of vinyl and were thrilled to find a copy of Alice. One that had been eluding them. They showed us and let us know that there was still a copy of Blood Money on vinyl as well. It was great to see these albums on vinyl with big proper artwork and everything. Turning to leave the store we ran into Shannon, a Raindog whom Steph and I had met in Vancouver. He suggested that before we left the area we had to stop in A Capella books. He said that we should look right behind the counter and we'd understand why we had to go there. We were supposed to meet up with Karen and were running a few minutes late, but how could we resist a Raindog with such an enticing secret message? What could be there? We walked a few doors down to see that above the main counter they had a big yellow clock shaped like a pocket watch. On the face of the clock you could see that it was a promo piece for the Tom Waits' movie "Big Time." Very cool but obviously not for sale.|
We got back to the car and headed into town. We wanted to find the theater, find parking, and then find a way to kill some time in the general area of the show. After only a few wrong turns, we pretty easily found our way to the theater and parked in the lot right next door. There were a few people in line already but we weren't trying for front row and had no intention of sitting there for hours. It was only 4:00 at this point so we started walking. Karen, spotting a Starbucks, wanted to go inside. I don't think I've ever been in one before actually. Where was Steph, she wouldn't want to go into a Starbucks either. She wouldn't want to visit the sterile corporate world of Starbucks, she would go to some greasy spoon or diner that served coffee Mr. Waits would be proud of. Someplace where the coffee wasn't even strong enough to defend itself. Oh well, looks like I was outnumbered. On Tom's recommendation I ordered a large Pomegranate Frappucino...the first time I had ever had something like this. I am a Dunkin Donuts man, straight up coffee. Nothing flavored, trendy or anything that anyone can claim is good for me. I guess I do try to be open minded to other cultures though.
Karen struck up a conversation with two women seated at a nearby table. They both highly recommended a restaurant a few blocks away for dinner. After finishing my frosty beverage, which I will admit to enjoying very much in the hot weather, we walked to Ray's in the City, a seafood house. This place was a lot more expensive than I think we were expecting but we decided it looked good and we would try it anyway. I always ask what local beers are sold, and in this case I have to admit being sold just by the name. I couldn't resist, I ordered Sweetwater 420 Amber. They served a basket of sourdough bread rolls and they were really good. Seeing the menu I couldn't help staring at the crab cakes. Steph loves them and would definitely have gotten them if she were here. Karen warned me that she hasn't had much luck finding proper Maryland crab cakes since moving out of Maryland but I decided to try them anyway, I was going to do what Steph would have done. I ordered the jumbo lump crab cakes with whipped potatoes, thin green beans and skillet corn salsa. I was very glad I did. They were fantastic. I saw Karen's eyes light up when they arrived at the table so I offered her a taste. She thought they were fantastic and wished she had ordered them as well. Fortunately she really enjoyed her meal and all of us had a very nice dinner. During dinner, Tom received a call from Buddy. He was an acquaintance of Tom's who would be coming to the show with us. He arrived soon after ordering so he also ordered a small meal and joined us. Realizing this dinner was taking quite a bit longer than we had planned, we finished up dinner and headed off.
On the way back to the car to drop off a few things, we came across this very strange statue on the street corner. It was a large statue of half a person. When I say half, I don't mean just his torso or just his legs, this is half a person lengthwise. His head, his back, part of his arms, half of his ass and part of a leg was missing. It was most bizarre. We all stopped, staring at it for a few minutes, we wondered how people come up with this stuff. Of course we had to admit that it was successful, we were all talking about it. Arriving at the Tabernacle, the line was very long and stretched around the corner. We went all the way to the back to secure our spot. I guess we really should have been here a while ago. While waiting, a security person at the front of the line kept calling out for names starting with S-Z through the bullhorn. He kept calling and saying that people need to move up to the line if they are S through Z. Since I was Karen's guest and we fit that description, we headed to the front of that line. We felt terrible passing others in the line as they rightfully were there long before us, but that wasn't our fault. It just wasn't right. While following the very strict set of ticket rules, we saw our friends Matt and Helen from the UK. It was great to see them here. Matt immediately asked where Steph was and why wasn't she here. I had to tell them that I had to leave her at home and that Steph would be with me in Tennessee. We knew they were making the trip but it was great to see them actually here.
We went up the steps of the old Tabernacle theater, bought a bottle of water, and secured a spot in the center of the crowd, but back from the stage a bit. It was quite clear that it was going to be a rough wait. Although there was air conditioning it just couldn't compete with the crowd. It was very crowded, and everyone had to stand. As time passed the crowd got more and more dense. There was a long wait and everyone was buzzing with excitement. At one point a staff member came out and let the crowd know that many people were still in the long lines trying to get into the venue. He said that the show would not start until everyone was inside. You could feel the energy and people were getting ready to explode. Before Tom actually took the stage, I called Steph on Tom's cell phone to tell her about what was happening. This was the one part of the Commodore show in Vancounver that we both disliked greatly. The rowdy crowd attempting to wait patiently. It just doesn't happen. It was so loud in the venue that I couldn't even hear if she answered the phone. At first I heard a voice but I could no longer tell, the excitement was building. I gave a very quick rundown, promised to call her later, and then hung up. At around 8:50, just minutes after I called Steph, Tom Waits' shadow appeared behind the curtains looking like a scarecrow in a field. The crowd went crazy as the band launched into the opening night set of the Orphans tour.
Make It Rain
Hoist that Rag
God's Away on Business
Who's Been Talkin'/'Til the Money Runs Out
Tango 'Til They're Sore
House Where Nobody Lives
Don't Go Into that Barn
Lie To Me, Baby
Whistling Past the Graveyard
9th & Hennepin
Get Behind the Mule
Murder in the Red Barn
Goin' Out West
Day After Tomorrow
Heartattack & Vine/Spoonful
During the show Tom commented on a statue he had seen in the city. A statue of a man with only half an ass. He surmised that there must have been another statue, in another part of town, that was just his ass. It was hilarious and the crowd loved it. We couldn't help but agree with him, he clearly saw the same statue we were admiring just before the show. Even Mr. Waits was wondering about that rather bizare statue. We knew we couldn't be the only ones to find it rather notable.
The show ended before 11 o'clock and we got out of the Tabernacle and to the car quickly. I called Steph and told her all about the show. It turned out the reason I couldn't hear Steph earlier was that she wasn't even home. She had come home from work late and went out to eat with my brother Steve. She had just come home about 5 minutes after my call, just about the time Tom took the stage. We got a good laugh out of the message I left for her. Talking to a machine when you think a person is actually listening. A few minutes later we met back up with Karen. She had separated from us earlier. She swapped a standing room spot on the floor with someone who didn't want to sit in the balcony. Personally I think I might have preferred a seat in the balcony as well. The crowd was a bit too dense and just made for a very difficult two hour stand. At one point I saw a drunk woman crash to the floor, hard. When a man kindly helped her up off the floor she got in his face and yelled at him, it was ridiculous. Why some people get drunk at concerts is always beyond me. I'm there to see a performer whom I admire, singing songs I like, and entertaining me. Being drunk like that not only ensures she won't remember a thing, but it also helps to ruin the show for those around her. Another woman was carried out by security. I didn't see what happened but did see them carying her above the crowd as if she were dead.
After the show we went around the corner to a pub called the Sidebar to meet up with the Raindogs. We met up with Shane, Matt and Helen, Zev and Christina (from Australia via NYC), Shannon, and some other folks whose name I don't recall. Shane bought me a Guinness and I was very grateful. It was just what I needed after the crowd, a seat and a Guinness. The crowd thinned out quickly, as most people had an early flight or had to go to work (both were true for me!). I ordered a second Guinness and looked around for Shane, to return the favor, but he was nowhere to be found. As the crowd thinned quickly we decided it was time for us to go. It was just after midnight and I had a very long day tomorrow. I had to commute back to Boston for a day of work. Arriving back at the car, Tom, who was only drinking water tonight, hopped behind the wheel and we were off. As soon as we left the venue and rounded the corner we saw that statue again. The cut-in-half guy that we saw earlier in the day and that Tom Waits had mentioned in the show. I hopped out of the car during a red light and snapped a quick picture of it. It was rather comical the way it happened. (We later read that the statue is called "Emerging," and was sculpted by Mark Smith.) Jumping back into the car, Karen offered me some cashews. These weren't ordinary cashews like normal people might eat. No, these were fancy organic cashews that weren't all slathered with salt or anything like that. They were amazingly good and I had to stop accepting them from Karen. I could have easily eaten the whole bag of them. As we left the city we realized we knew basically where we wanted to go but were not exactly sure how to get there. We went the way that just felt right to us, but as it turned into a more residential area we weren't quite sure and started looking for a road sign. The roadsign said Highland Avenue. Really? The hotel is on Highland Avenue. Could it be we accidentally found the right road out of the city, just like that? After a short drive we found ourselves back to the Highland Inn. Heading straight up to our room, we were in bed and sound asleep by 1 am.
I woke up at 3:45 and was out the door in an unprecedented 10 minutes. The taxi I had requested the night before was waiting out front. I hopped into the taxi and my driver, Robert, was very nice. He worked in construction and we talked a lot about Boston's Big Dig. He said he was sort of folowing the news about all the troubles they were having up there. He had all his own theories about what went wrong. He blames the companies and the corporations that take all the money while leaving the workers with bad material and plans. I don't disagree. It turns out that Robert loves Boston, especially the Italian food in the North End. He had been there many times and wants to visit again someday. He said he wants to leave Atlanta someday. He is looking to move to the Pacific Northwest. He is tiring of Atlanta, feeling that it is getting worse each year rather than getting better. It was a rather lively chat for such an early ride and I thanked him for the fun conversation and the safe ride.
I had arrived at the airport at 4:15 but the check-in counters opened at 4:20. Waiting in line for a few minutes and chatting with some of the other half-asleep customers, I eventually checked in, went through security, and took the train to Concourse D. Yes, this time I was sure to take the train. The whole process only took about half an hour and quickly I was sitting at the gate. The flight was on a small 2x2 configuration plane. We walked across the tarmac, climbed the stairs, and boarded the plane. It was a full flight. I sat next to Elaina and she was very nice and very friendly. We both talked about travel and the time went very quickly. We had arrived on time in Charlotte. After the flight, we walked together until our paths took different routes, and I was going to a different terminal. I remembered this terminal. This was where I had left the plane coming home from St. Thomas. Where I accidentally left my wallet with my carry-on, instead of keeping it on my person. Where the money from my wallet had been stolen on the flight. Oh well, bad memories of these gates but I was hungry and fortunately this time I did have my wallet with me. I stopped at the Great American Bagel Bakery for a "California Sunrise" (bacon, egg, and cheese on a plain bagel) to eat while I waited for the final flight home. The plane was a 3x3 configuration but I didn't have someone sitting right next to me. We departed on-time and the flight was uneventful. Once again, Cranium trivia was on the TV screens so I just relaxed and read another chapter from "I Robot." In no time at all I was back in Boston, heading to work, and dreaming about heading off to Tennessee in a few days for two more Tom Waits shows, this time with Steph by my side, where she belongs.