Sunday, October 31, 2010


The history of "Trick'O'Treating" can be traced back to the early celebrations of All Soul's Day in Britain. The poor would go begging and the housewives would give them special treats called "soulcakes". This was called "going a-souling", and the "soulers" would promise to say a prayer for the dead.

Over time the custom changed and the town's children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they would be given apples, buns, and money.

During the Pioneer days of the American West, the housewives would give the children candy to keep from being tricked. The children would shout "Trick or Treat!".

Some U.S. cities have chosen to ban teenage trick or treating. In fact, if teens in these cities do choose to come out dressed in a costume and ask for free candy, they could face trouble with the police.

Now I have often wondered at the number of teenagers who trick-or-treat, especially when some of the girls are (ahem) mature and dressed to impress, as it were. When they say "trick or treat" am I supposed to reach for my wallet? What kind of trick am I supposed to expect?

When I was their age I was drinking beer and lying about getting laid. What's wrong with teenagers today?

But arresting them?

This year I got a group of four ladies that were very mature. I'm knocking at fifty and they were all older than me. Considerably.

Lemme tell ya, when they said "trick or treat" I was scared either way.

In Douglas, Arizona, trick or treat took on new meaning for Robin Brekhus. Robin used to amuse herself by joking with the ghosts of the Gadsden Hotel when she worked in the basement.

She was down there a lot after moving to the border town to run the old hotel. She would jokingly call out to the ghosts, asking if there was any buried gold, but she didn't believe the legends of apparitions and unexplained noises in the old hotel.

That changed on Friday, March 13, 1992, a little after 4 p.m. The hotel lost its power, and the lights went out, the clocks stopped, the elevator froze. The staff needed candles, so Brekhus picked up a flashlight and headed for the basement to retrieve some.

She started getting creepy vibes almost as soon as she got down there.

"I got the feeling that someone was watching me," she said recently, standing in one of the hotel's basement corridors. "The hair on my arms stood up. The hair on my neck stood up."

Brekhus recalled how she pointed her light down the hall. Nothing there. She grabbed candles from one of the rooms and walked back into the hall. She shined the light toward the other end of the hall, the end with no entry or exit.

Someone was standing there, calmly watching her, she said. Brekhus ran for the stairs.

"He looked like a cowboy," Brekhus said. "It looked like he had a long duster coat and a cowboy hat. I know I saw somebody. It's like he was waiting for me to acknowledge that I saw him. Then he just kind of turned and moved down the hall. It made a believer out of me."

It doesn't have to be Halloween for ghost stories at the Gadsden. Employees and guests have reported eerie tales all times of the year. There are so many stories that the issue is met with a shrug. Employees don't seem upset that their workplace is haunted. The ghosts apparently are frisky, not nasty.

"They're nice," said Brenda Maley, the assistant manager who's worked at the hotel for 32 years. "I think they're happy here."

The Gadsden is loaded with legend and history beyond the supernatural. First opened in 1907, when Arizona was a territory, and reopened in 1929 after being destroyed by fire, the ornate hotel became a home for the cattlemen, miners, ranchers and railroaders who drove the area's economy. Most of the state's governors have stayed at the hotel. Movie scenes have been shot there.

The lobby is a picture of opulence, with a white marble staircase and marble columns topped with gold leaf. Light pours into the lobby through a 42-foot Tiffany stained-glass mural on the mezzanine and through stained-glass skylights. The hotel, named after the Gadsden Purchase land deal, is on the national historic register.

"It became the social and financial center for cattle barons and mining magnates," said Marshall Trimble, Arizona's state historian. "They say million-dollar deals were made there on a handshake in the saloon."

Brekhus moved to Douglas from North Dakota with her then-fiance in 1988. His parents had bought the hotel and wanted her to manage it. She and her husband, a commercial pilot, live at the hotel. She's been hearing - and living - the Gadsden's ghost stories ever since.

She's seen hanging kitchen pans move inexplicably, and there was a report of a rocking chair rocking by itself. The hotel keeps a logbook for people to record their brushes with spiritual turbulence. There have been reports of strange happenings in Room 333, including one from a woman who claimed that a spiritual presence snuggled up to her in bed. She didn't ask for a different room, Brekhus said. The experience apparently was oddly soothing, not scary.

Not so for the Florida paramedic who checked into the governor's suite only to come sprinting into the lobby a few minutes later, claiming a woman was using his shower. Maley had given him the key. She said she knew no one was in the room. They both checked, and the shower was empty.

"It was dry as a bone," Maley said, noting that the man decided not to stick around.

There have been reports of spirits that look like cowboys, a woman dressed in fancy clothes, a Mexican soldier and a young boy. One of the housekeepers says she was once slapped across the face by something. A guest said his golf clubs flew across Room 333 one night.

Count in Rod Franklin, a computer technician and founder of the Phoenix Arizona Paranormal Society, as a believer. His group tries to help people get rid of unwanted spirits, "There are a lot of people who don't take it seriously, but they've never had an encounter," he said.

The Gadsden is one of many Arizona hotels "from Oatman to Douglas" said to be haunted, Trimble noted, adding that the supernatural sells. "If I had a hotel, I'd have a ghost, too," he said.

Brekhus is in no hurry to chase the spirits out of the Gadsden, even if they aren't everyone's idea of fun.

"It can be a double-edged sword. I've had people walk out and leave, saying, 'I'm not going to stay here if there are ghosts,' " she said. "I had a priest say it should be exorcised. He said he could hook me up with people who could do it."

She declined.

"I said, 'They're pretty darn good for business.' "
I'm not sure if I believe in ghosts, and I definitely do not believe in incarcerating teenage trick or treaters. I do believe in scary old trick or treaters after this year.
Maybe next year I'll go to the sports bar instead of handing out candy. All the servers dress up, and they're old enough that if I get caught looking I won't get thrown into a cell next to the teenagers who were busted for mooching Snickers bars.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Todd was the Band Leader today for Indiana University's Marching Band when they performed "Bang The Drum All Day" during the first timeout of the 4th quarter of the Hoosiers football game.

This was Todd's first time to ever attend a college football game.


Important announcement for serious Todd fans!

Todd's solo concert/lecture/recital at Indiana University will be streamed live with audio and video action!

The recital takes place at 8pm ET this Sunday (Halloween night).

We were told this would likely NOT be archived so you might want to watch it live if you can.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The Glendale, Arizona premiere of the "Toddstock" DVD is happening live as I type this.

In my living room.

And I seem to be the only one in attendance.

And no weed!

Bummer. Maybe I'll smoke one of the cats...

Just kidding-I gave that up after high school.

Smoking weed, not smoking cats.

If these cats keep sharpening their claws on the furniture, all bets are off!

In June of 2008, rock icon and music pioneer Todd Rundgren opened his home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to his friends and fans for a Utopian celebration of music and community. For more than a week, 300 people from all over the world built a community, cooked out, connected and celebrated with each other.

I was not one of these people. Just could not make the dollars work. My loss.

The video portrays Rundgren, family, and fans celebrating his 60th birthday and enjoying the debut performance of his 2008 album "Arena". 

There's even footage of a live broadcast of a Rundgren Radio show (

I was hoping the "Arena" show would be represented by a complete performance (just clips) but you can't have everything.

Now I know what I missed...

Probably a video best recommended for die-hards, most of whom probably have their copy by now.

A good look at what has been a true fan community for the better part of four decades, and at the artist that gives us a sense of unity.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Announced last February, and supported by a short tour in the spring, Todd Rundgren's album of Robert Johnson songs is finally in stock at Amazon, although as a pricey Japanese import. Die hards (like me) will pay through the nose for this, but casual blues fans (who would enjoy this disc) may want to wait for the domestic release.

A download-only sampler is also available at Amazon and iTunes.

Per Amazon:
By one legend for another, Todd Rundgren's Johnson is a wonderous album of reinterpretations by Todd Rundgren of legendary blues man Robert Johnson. Johnson, described by Eric Clapton as "the most important blues singer that ever lived" is represented in a worthy manner as Todd Rundgren and band recreate the songs that have made Johnson a legend beyond his years.

Rundgren has scheduled some fall shows in support of the album:

Dec. 7 Gramercy "the BLENDER" NYC

Dec. 9 Park west Chicago

Dec. 11 Las Vegas NV RED ROCK

Anyone going to Vegas-I'll be there!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Now looka I say looka here

Nice boy but he's got more nerve than a bum tooth

Only in Arizona could there be a story of a rooster statue in the news. The statue sat outside an Apache Junction restaurant, until the city ordered it taken down.

For three days, the giant aluminum fowl was perched atop Hitching Post Pizza and Pub off Arizona 88 approaching the Superstition Mountains. Owner Mehmood Mohiuddin envisioned it as a sort of landmark.

That was until the city made him take it down. On Oct. 12, a city building inspector flanked by two policemen cited Mohiuddin for erecting the statue without a permit. He's now facing a criminal charge that could result in a $2,500 fine, six months in jail and three years' probation.

This is what passes for news in Arizona. At night, they televise high school sports. And people don't belive 2012 is the end of the world. LOOK AT THE SIGNS!

The town is probably in fear that the idol represents a Satanic cult that worships Foghorn Leghorn.

Go, I say go away boy, you bother me

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There are some musicians for whom rock and roll never stops. Tom Petty, who remains, for the most part, out of the celebrity-laden overload of this media-crazed world, is, indeed, far from “free fallin’” from his illustrious musical career.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers just finished a successful tour of North America in support of their latest album, “Mojo,” during which they played to more than 600,000 people. The “Mojo Tour” was Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ highest-grossing tour ever.

In addition to that feat, Petty’s annual “Petty Fest” is taking place at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Oct. 28, 2010. With performers like Adam Green, Norah Jones, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis Of “Saturday Night Live,” Nicole Atkins, Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes, Catherine Pierce, Jesse Malin, Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects, Reeve Carney Star of U2’s “Spider-Man” musical, Jody Porter of Fountains Of Wayne, Sammy James of The Mooney Suzuki, Steve Schiltz of Hurricane Bells and Longwave, Antony Elis of Five O’Clock Heroes and Mikki James, the possibility of others showing up for this icon’s 60th birthday fest are endless.

And, proving that his 60 is the new 20, this mellow music master is releasing an expanded and remastered deluxe edition of “Damn The Torpedoes” on Nov. 9, 2010, in North America and Nov. 15, 2010, in the rest of the world. The deluxe edition features previously unreleased tracks from the “Damn The Torpedoes” sessions and will be available with a choice of four formats: two CDs; one audiophile quality Blu-ray disc; two 180-gram vinyl LPs; and as an iTunes LP download.

All formats of the deluxe edition will come with nine additional bonus tracks not included on the original album. Seven of these tracks are previously unreleased, including two studio tracks from the original “Damn The Torpedoes” sessions: “Nowhere” and “Surrender.”

The never-before-heard “Nowhere” was thought to have been lost in 1979 when the tape boxes were being moved daily to avoid the possibility that court bailiffs would claim them as part of Petty’s assets in the lawsuit at the time. The original 1979 recording of “Surrender” is also included on the bonus disc. “Surrender” was a mainstay of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ concert set lists for many years, although this original studio version recorded for “Damn The Torpedoes,” which includes Stan Lynch on drums, never saw the light of day until now.

Also included on the bonus disc is the original demo for the B-side “Casa Dega” and an alternate take of “Refugee,” as well as a trio of live performances at London’s Hammersmith Odeon (March 6, 1980), including “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

Digitally remastered from the original analog master tapes, all formats of the “Damn The Torpedoes” deluxe edition also feature liner notes by noted rock journalist/author David Fricke, rare photos and lyrics.

The vinyl and Blu-ray versions of the deluxe edition also include a free download of the entire album in one of three high-quality digital formats.

Here is the “Damn The Torpedoes” deluxe edition bonus disc track list:

1. Nowhere (previously unreleased)
2. Surrender (previously unreleased)
3. Casa Dega/B-side
4. It’s Rainin’ Again/B-side
5. Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid)/Live – Hammersmith Odeon 1980 (previously unreleased)
6. Don’t Do Me Like That/Live – Hammersmith Odeon 1980 (previously unreleased)
7. Somethin’ Else/Live – Hammersmith Odeon 1980 (previously unreleased)
8. Casa Dega (Demo, previously unreleased)
9. Refugee (Alternate Take, previously unreleased)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Lee of Tossing It Out issued the following call to arms:

YOUR CHALLENGE is to write max 500 word piece or a poem about any character who loses an item that when found by another results in their mutual happiness/relief/salvation.

The piece that follows played like a movie in my head as I read his challenge. Then I went on to read his short story. While mine bears a resemblance to his (both happen on a public street, involve lost money, a car and a homeless person), it was fully thought out (although not written down) before reading his.

I almost didn't bother, but figured, what the heck. This is actually the first piece of prose I've actually finished since the Reagan administration!

So here goes...

As I headed north on Market Street towards the parking garage, my throat felt dry in the August Philadelphia heat. My eyes fell on a street vendor, and I pulled my wallet out of my back pocket.

“Diet coke,” I grunted, not making eye contact. You never make eye contact in the city. That’s a sign of weakness.

As I pulled a dollar out of my wallet, I did not notice as my last twenty, the same twenty dollars that would get my car out of the garage, fluttered to the ground. A breeze caught the bill and blew it into the shadows next to the vendor’s cart, near where a bag lady was sleeping.

I cracked open the can and felt the caffeine rush as the ice cold beverage slid down towards my stomach.


I continued towards my car waiting to be paroled, pausing at the corner as a taxicab careened into a left turn, and then jogging across to avoid being pancaked by the cross-street traffic. You also do not want to dare the drivers in downtown Philly-they’d just as soon see you maimed rather than miss the light.

I made it to the garage without incident. A few minutes later, as I pulled down the ramp towards the cashier, I opened my wallet.


I cursed aloud. Either I gave my last twenty the vendor or it dropped on the ground when I paid him. I cursed again.

Oh well, the garage took credit cards-this was not the end of the world. And I sure as hell was not going to go back for twenty dollars that would not be there anyway.

Two blocks south, the bag lady stirred, waking the scrawny kitten that was curled up at her hip.

She saw the twenty dollar bill a few feet away, glanced furtively around her, and reached a gnarled hand out to grab it before anyone noticed.

Today, both she and the cat would eat well.

"Like a fly batters itself against the window
Time and again and again it senselessly blunders
Up and down the length of West Broadway
The bag lady wanders"
-Todd Rundgren

Thursday, October 14, 2010

TRANSATLANTIC: "Whirld Tour 2010" DVD/CD

Seven years after the announcement of their creative break, the original members of prog rock supergroup TRANSATLANTIC - Roine Stolt (THE FLOWER KINGS), Pete Trewavas (MARILLION), Neal Morse (ex-SPOCK'S BEARD) and Mike Portnoy (ex-DREAM THEATER) - got together again and recorded a new studio album titled "The Whirlwind", which went on to be TRANSATLANTIC's best-selling album, entering mainstream charts in the U.S., Germany and Netherlands. Their two seminal albums, tours and DVDs redefined prog's artistic and commercial possibilities with a combination of modern and traditional prog, classic pop sensibilities, and mind-blowing musicianship.

The "An Evening With Transatlantic Whirld Tour 2010" was the group's largest tour, covering both sides of the Atlantic across 11 countries. With the addition of PAIN OF SALVATION's Daniel Gildenlöw on guitar and keyboards, it was also their most musically powerful. On May 21, 2010, at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, the cameras were rolling.

The upcoming release entitled "Whirld Tour 2010: Live At Shepherd's Bush London" will be available as a 2-DVD PAL-version set, a 3-CD audio version and a 2-DVD and 3-CD deluxe edition. The concert featured the entire "Whirlwind" album performed exactly as on the studio recording. But that's just the beginning. For the next two and half hours, TRANSATLANTIC performed nearly every song they've ever recorded, along with some surprises. The audio recorded at the show was later mixed by the band's own Roine Stolt, ensuring a genuine presentation of the music from that night. The show doesn't end, though, with the fading echoes of the final note. Backstage, in and around cities throughout Europe, the cameras accompanied Mike, Neal, Roine and Pete on their journey. Uncensored experiences and candid moments reveal the good, the bad, and the unexpected of life on the road. Also included is the band's encore from the final night of their tour, a headlining spot at the U.K.'s High Voltage festival. For the last song at High Voltage, they performed the GENESIS classic "Return of the Giant Hogweed", joined onstage by original GENESIS guitarist Steve Hackett.

Track listing for the 2-DVD and 3-CD Deluxe Edition:

DVD 1 (147 minutes)

The Whirlwind

All of the Above

We All Need Some Light

Duel With the Devil

DVD 2 (190 minutes)

Bridge Across Forever

Stranger in Your Soul


Band Interview

Return of the Giant Hogweed (with Steve Hacket)

Audio CD 1

The Whirlwind (79:52)

Audio CD 2

All of the Above (30:19)

We All Need Some Light (8:40)

Duel with the Devil (28:31)

Audio CD 3

Bridge Across Forever (6:03)

Stranger in Your Soul (30:00)

Available at