Paul McCartney brings ‘All [His] Loving’ to Houston

Young and old filled Houston’s Minute Maid Park Wednesday to stand in the face of music history and sing along to some of the biggest hits since 1964.

Paul McCartney – you know, the Beatle – brought his “On The Road” tour to Texas, and I was there to witness it from section 330, row 4, seat 13 with my dad – the man who introduced me to the Fab Four.

Donning a blue jacket and pants with a stripe that matched it, Sir Paul kicked off the show with the psychedelic “Magic Mystery Tour” and by the third song, “All My Loving,” I was already struggling to contain the tears.

Why, you ask, was someone born 20 years after the Beatles disbanded so excited for a 70-year-old man to sing? 1) Because he’s Paul McCartney. 2). Because every road trip I ever took with my family included hours of Beatles sing-a-longs followed by pop quizzes about song titles. 3) Because he’s Paul Friggin McCartney. He’s a living, breathing, walking, singing historical landmark. He might as well be Elvis. And he was BFFs with John Lennon. Enough said.

Once I accepted that this was, in fact, real life and composed myself, I got to shoulder shimmying, head bopping and air drumming to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band On The Run,” “The Long And Winding Road” (with my added air piano-ing), “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Jet,” “Dance Tonight” and many more.

Then there was story time with Paul. He told one about watching Jimi Hendrix do a Beatles tribute days after the release of Sgt. Pepper, half of which I missed because my brain was still processing the fact that Paul McCartney was telling a story about Jimi Hendrix, but there was something about Hendrix learning the title track in a couple days and asking Eric (Clapton?) in the crowd to tune his guitar after untuning it with his frequent use of  the whammy bar.

He described watching the civil rights movement unfold and feeling inspired to write a song about hope in “Blackbird.” And then, in separate instances, mentioned two people who need no last name – John and George. He dedicated “Here Today” to his “dear friend” John Lennon and then brought out a ukelele to perform George Harrison’s “Something,” laughing as he recalled the time Frank Sinatra called it his favorite Lennon-McCartney song.

He even got Texans to find their inner hippies and sing Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” after treating me (okay, us) to “A Day In The Life.”

Before I knew it, McCartney was at the piano serenading us with “Let It Be,” lulling us into a false sense of security before blowing up the stage (not literally, though it kinda looked like it) with fireworks during “Live And Let Die.”

I would have loved to have seen/heard “All You Need Is Love” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” but any slight complaint I may have had was eliminated as soon as I got the chance to “na na na na” along with Paul and the crowd during “Hey Jude.” It didn’t matter that I had to pay $40 for parking or that everybody in my row seemed to have to go to the bathroom or get concessions every other song or that David Petraeus had an affair. All I know is that I got my “na na na nas” in and it was glorious.

But it didn’t end there. Oh no. This is Paul McCartney. He doesn’t come out for just one encore, he does two. You really wanted to hear “Yesterday,” Lady Madonna,” “Get Back,” “Day Tripper,” “Golden Slumbers” and “Helter Skelter”? Bam. They’re in the encores.

Knowing there was no way we were leaving unless he made it it very clear it was over, he segued into “The End,” sending us all home with the ultimate McCartney message: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

That is how Paul McCartney took my arena concert V-card on Nov. 14, 2012 around 8:50 p.m. CST. He didn’t stop until nearly midnight. And there were no maybes about how amazed I was.


Colorado Theater Shooting – Are Condolences Enough?

Having grown up just half an hour away from the Aurora Town Center, the news of the mass shooting during a The Dark Knight Rises midnight screening Friday, left me shocked. In my disbelief, I turned to my mom and asked, “How could this have happened?”

It’s a question many people around the world are asking themselves after James Holmes allegedly opened fire killing 12 people and injuring 59 others at a Colorado movie theater, but it was unbelievable to me because it hit so close to home.

My mom’s answer? We live in a very trusting society. We don’t expect a man to fire at men, women and children in a movie theater. Around the world, people live in fear of being robbed, raped and killed while doing their every day business, she told me. Not in U.S. suburbs, however. We don’t usually stray from wearing jewelry to keep robbers at bay or steer clear of public places (including movie theaters) in fear of guns and bombings like she had to in Peru, where in the 1980’s and ’90s the Communist terror group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) left more than 35,000 dead. That’s a big part of what she loves about the United States.

But in the past 15 years, we’ve had tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Rep. Gabby Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event and now at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater.  I have to wonder if I need to be more cautious, or even distrustful, of the person sitting next to me at the movies, walking behind me, etc.

I’m many states away from beautiful Colorado now, but that doesn’t make me any less affected by Friday’s shootings. I’ve driven past that shopping center. I know people who live near by. The Denver metro area is where I spent half my life. For someone to violate my former stomping grounds by killing innocent human beings watching a movie is chilling, disgusting and deeply saddening.

People were appalled at how quickly politics was brought up in relation to the events of the Dark Knight Rises midnight screening. But I find it only natural for people to want to find a way to prevent this kind of tragedy. In fact, I find these discussions slightly more constructive than sending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. As kind as those wishes are (and I offer them myself), they won’t bring back the innocent people who lost their lives Friday morning. Action – giving blood for those who were wounded or working out a safer way to sell guns – that’s productive.

So when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked that President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney address the issue of gun control, I didn’t find it insensitive. Not because I’m heartless or want to take everyone’s guns away, but because I’d like to know how my friends and family can attend a movie theater, high school, university or supermarket without facing death in the hands of a rifle-toting masked gunman. It might not happen every day but it happens enough to deserve serious public discussion.

Now I stand behind the second amendment as much as I stand behind the other 26. I understand a person’s desire to keep a handgun close by for protection. I would hope that person would be well-trained in using that gun so it isn’t used against them and that it would be kept safe and away from children. But I understand the reasoning behind having one, even if I personally don’t feel the need for a gun. What I can’t understand, however, is a civilian’s need for (and ability to purchase) an assault rifle, shot gun and, as Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates described it, “full ballistic gear.” Or why it’s not equally difficult to buy a weapon capable of killing as it is to be in on government secrets. Or why we can’t have a non-partisan conversation about how to maintain gun ownership rights AND tighter control over who can own a gun.

I know there are always going to be people who do atrocious things, and I know that there will also be a black market. I just don’t want to see more people die in shootings or for this country to fear public places like so many people did in Peru and many other places around the world. Instead of being associated with two of the most horrific mass shooting incidents in the past 13 years,  I hope Colorado once again evokes images of clear blue skies, aspen trees in the fall and the beautiful snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the west.

Photo credit: Mark Rantal

‘The Newsroom’ and ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ 2.0

It’s been an exciting week in journalism. The same week that Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer’s characters on HBO’s The Newsroom decided to change the way news was reported in the show’s premiere episode, the real media became the news after flubbing the coverage of the Supreme Court’s health care ruling. I’m looking at you, CNN and Fox News.

One look at my Twitter feed on June 28 showed that teasing jokes about CNN and Fox may have equaled those about the court ruling most of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) constitutional.

Enough has been said about how embarrassing, disappointing and pathetic it is for two (once?)credible news organizations to make such a gaffe – many of those tweets made their way onto Buzzfeed’s “25 Funniest ObamaCare Tweets.” So I won’t add to the CNN/Fox jokes, though I did love this one:

Instead, I’ll just say this: the Twitter age is demanding instant news from these organizations that are, at the same time, failing to balance business and journalism. Journalists are human beings. I’m not trying to justify what happened, but when we as readers value speed over truth and context, there is bound to be human error. That’s what we saw last Thursday. Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if these major flubs become even more common. In a competitive industry where speed and accuracy (two values that hardly go hand-in-hand) are key, smaller newsrooms won’t lead to success. Until readers, owners and advertisers realize the importance of a journalist’s work and find a way to balance the need to make money with the need for accurate information, there won’t be any improvement.

Which brings me to The Newsroom – HBO’s newest drama, by The West Wing‘s Aaron Sorkin, challenging the American media and its audience to be better. It seems fitting considering the state of the news industry that Sorkin would write a show about the behind-the-scenes drama at a cable news channel. The Newsroom isn’t perfect or realistic or unbiased, and probably won’t have much of an impact on the media or the electorate, but maybe watching an idealistic take on the journalism industry will, at least, remind us all of the importance of good reporting, and for those of us in the industry, it might remind us why we chose to go down this unpredictable career path. As we move forward in defining the journalism of tomorrow, it can’t hurt to remember the journalism of the past and find a way to be better.

‘The Newsroom’ will feature real news, Aaron Sorkin says

The BP oil spill, Rep. Gabby Giffords’ shooting and Osama Bin Laden’s death are all fair game in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO series, The Newsroom.

“I didn’t want to do fictional news,” Sorkin told the New York Times about the news stories his characters will deal with at The Newsroom‘s fictitious cable news network.

His upcoming series, following the behind-the-scenes drama at a news show, won’t be like The West Wing, where the president and Congress were fictional. Instead, Sorkin, wanting “all the news to be real,” spent time at MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann during the BP oil spill in 2010 for inspiration.

However, much like The West Wing – one of Sorkin’s previous TV ventures – The Newsroom will be set in a world that many people know little about and that many find fascinating. By many, I mean me. The hectic feel of the newsroom, the yelling and stress and the adrenaline are all reasons for why I chose to go down the terrifying path that is journalism. Here’s hoping this series lives up to its potential. I watch The West Wing when I miss reporting from D.C. The Newsroom might be my new go-to when I miss getting yelled at in a newsroom, which, oddly enough, is something I do miss.

Read more about The Newsroom at

The Hunger Games: What A Book-To-Movie Adaptation Is Supposed To Be

Back in 2010, when no one knew what The Hunger Games was, several friends urged me to read the book. At the time, two of the three books had been released, and although I barely had time to eat or sleep, I made the mistake of listening to my friends. I started a blog to keep my friends updated on my progress and was immediately hooked on Suzanne Collins’ riveting take on poverty, oppression, war, love and hope.

Skip ahead two years and we have the first movie. Since it was released this weekend and made $214 million worldwide, I thought it would be downright irresponsible not to share my thoughts.

Read my review (only if you’ve seen the movie) at Live From Inside the Seam – my Hunger Games blog.

Online Piracy Bills Send Internet Atwitter

UPDATE: And so, two days later, SOPA and PIPA are postponed until further notice.

A few months ago, SOPA was the Spanish word for soup and PIPA the name of Kate Middleton’s sister. Cue Jan. 18. 2012: Wikipedia – the popular online encyclopedia – goes dark for 24 hours in opposition to proposed legislation targeting online piracy. WordPress and Google show solidarity by “censoring” their home pages, while posts about the legislation dominate on Twitter and Facebook. SOPA and PIPA gain knew meanings. Continue reading

It’s Not Goodbye, D.C. It’s See You Soon.

Three months ago, I stood in shock as Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor drove past me and into the Supreme Court parking lot. On my walk home from the office for the last time, the grandeur of the Supreme Court building brought me to tears. I just can’t bring myself to say goodbye to this place. It’s been more than a dream come true.

Six months ago, reporting form Washington, D.C. wasn’t on my radar. The idea seemed so far-fetched that I only saw it as a slight possibility late in my career if I managed to make something out of myself elsewhere. I can now say that at 21 years old and just out of college, I was credentialed at the Capitol and reported on hearings and news conferences about the economy, immigration and gay marriage that made national news.

I interviewed dozens of members of Congress after President Obama’s jobs speech in September 2011. I sat a couple seats down from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer at their respective briefings. I chased down several senators and representatives for a quote after being unable to book formal interviews. If I make nothing of myself as a journalist, I can at least forever remember the three months I spent covering the Hill.

But beyond the great experience I gained professionally, I had the honor of living and working with two of the best women I know. My roommates and I spent our days together for almost four months. We lived together, worked together and toured the city together. Despite the fact that we are all going to different parts of the country now, we will forever share those wonderful memories.

I have no complaints. I’m incredibly lucky.

I’ll be back, D.C. Until then, I’ll take comfort in episodes of The West Wing.