Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Jacob's 2004 Adventure: Part IV- Day One At Niagara Falls

Instead of waking up and seeing the cabinet in my bedroom covered with Superman memorabilia, I woke up to a view of a city stretched out far below me. The sun was out and the world was bright, I was in the midst of an adventure far from home.

I sat up and looked at the book and picture on the foot of the bed. I smiled as I saw these reminders of my wonderful experience the night before.

While we were all waking up, my aunt was on a mission. She tossed on a little outfit and went down to the front desk to talk to the morning concierge. She told her version of the story and ended up redeeming herself for being an hour late the day before. This generous concierge gave us an upgraded room for the price of the room we were supposed to have. Poor guy never knew what hit him.
We all got dressed and hauled our stuff to the new room. It was great! A living room with a couch and pullout bed, a bedroom with two big beds and a beautiful view of the Falls, a bathroom, a separate shower, and a even Jacuzzi. Style, baby.

After getting settled in, we set out for adventure.

Getting a late start, we went down to the T.G.I. Fridays that was connected to the lobby of the hotel. After a quick breakfast, we were on our way.

We walked for a while to see what we could see, then we decided on our first destination: The Maid of the Mist.
Our journey to the Maid of the Mist was roughly a half hour to 45 minute walk. It led us through the new casino, which we'd be returning to later. When we came out the other side of the casino's mall area, we were directly across the street from the Skylon Tower. One of my goals for the trip was to see the view from the top of the tower. My aunt said she'd go up with me...until she actually saw it. Apparently I was the only one of the four of us who isn't terrified of heights.

To get to the Maid of the Mist from where we were, we had to make our way down a huge hill, which was easy and I thought quite fun, but there was one thing we overlooked, on our way back we'd have to go back up that hill.
Deciding to make it easier on myself by not fighting gravity, I let 'er rip and flew down the hill. Mom matched my speed. As Grandma observed, she thought I had lost control and Mom was chasing me. With that, Grandma began chasing us while yelling to my aunt "Help your sister! Help your sister!"
We finally made it and got in line. We got our tickets and they led us down an elevator and through a long hallway. We were given ponchos, which we quickly put on, then we went aboard the Maid of the Mist.

The boat rocked as it traveled against the current and it took us practically right below the Falls. It was so incredible. The rocking, the wind, the mist spraying you. Mom thought the same effect could be achieved by going to the firehouse and having them hose you down, but I absolutely loved it. The poncho came in handy, but my legs were soaking wet for the rest of the day.

After getting back on dry land, it was time to eat. Right by the gift shop was a cute little eating area overlooking the river. There were one or two little restaurants, drink stands, live music, and a little craft stand. I decided it was souvenir time and approached the craft stand. They were selling leather bracelets that they would personalize for free if you wanted. I thought about it, I wanted one, but I didn't want it to just say "Jacob," too predictable. After some thought, it came to me. Over the past few days, I had met so many people from message boards and they kept referring to me by my message board name, "BoyOfSteel". So I picked a nice black bracelet, told the lady what I wanted it to say, and watched as she burned the letters "B.O.S." into it. After I ate me an ice cream sundae, we were once again on our way.

As we walked, I made a last-ditch effort and offered my aunt $15 for the casino if she took me to the top of the Skylon Tower. No luck. It was worth a shot. Maybe next time.
Shortly later, we found ourselves at the base of the hill, gritted our teeth, and started to make our way up. It's insane how tiring it was, even for me in my wheelchair, I felt like Frodo scaling Mount Doom. About 90% of the way up, a guy working a parking lot at the top of the hill came down and asked if help was needed. My mouth said "No thanks, I've got it" but my brain was saying "Screw you, buddy! I made it this far on my own and I'll make it the rest of the way!"

We took a breather at the top and then we headed into the casino. I had set myself a $50 limit for casino use over the entire trip. That night I lasted over an hour on $40 and the credits I won at the quarter slots. I don't think that's too bad for my first time.

Upon getting back to the hotel, we were all hungry again and decided to go to the steakhouse in the hotel. The atmosphere in the restaurant was great. Dimly lit, very friendly staff, hot waitresses, and amazing view of the Falls, which were lit up at night. I had a nice steak, a baked potato, and a drink called an "Orange Slice." The drink was okay, but went fast, everything else was fantastic!

Slightly buzzed from my drink, I followed as we made our way back to our room.

From the comfort of the room I relaxed and watched as they shut the lights on the Falls off one by one. I worked on my travel journal on my laptop, but we were so busy throughout the trip, I never even finished documenting the first day's journey to Toronto. Then it was time for bed. I had to rest up for what was sure to be another full day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jacob's 2004 Adventure: Part III- On the Road

August 30th arrived. I had gone to bed early the night before, but because of my excitement level I wasn’t able to sleep. Mom and I got up at 6:00 AM and got ourselves ready. I calculated that if we hit the road at 9:00 AM we would easily be able to make it to Toronto by 4:00 PM. A little after 8:30 we left to pick up Grandma. When we got to her house we got some frustrating news. My aunt, who lives about 45 minutes away, hadn’t even left her house yet!
I was fuming, this could throw a wrench into the gears of my whole plan. At 10:00 AM she showed up and we were on our way. We were an hour late and Mom knew what to do: drive fast (while of course obeying all speed limits and traffic laws...mostly.)

Though the weather was rainy and at times foggy, the ride was beautiful. I sat in the passenger’s seat wearing my lucky Superman shirt I had been wearing when I met Chantal Kreviazuk (that's another story in itself). I hoped it would bring me luck again that day.

Armed with my iPod and lots of good music, I helped Mom navigate and enjoyed the scenery. One of the things that sticks out the most in my memory was a sight somewhere in Pennsylvania. As we cruised along on the freeway, we crossed high above some valleys and rivers, when we did, we were almost level with the treetops of the forests running along the road. At that height, it struck me how beautiful it was to see the mist lingering above the roof of the trees. It reminded me of something out of prehistoric times in a way.
The fog got pretty dense as we passed into New York, but that was short-lived. The closer we got to the Canadian border the better the weather got. Shortly after we crossed the border, the sun finally came out and shone down upon our road.

Just after we passed Niagara Falls, our stomachs were empty and our bladders were ready to burst, so we stopped to remedy those issues. After a quick slice of pizza, we loaded back into the van and headed for the QEW. It was roughly 3:30 I think, still behind schedule, but I hadn’t lost hope yet.

Around 5:00 I finally saw Toronto emerging over the horizon. I was so excited, the city looked beautiful. Gleaming skyscrapers everywhere you turned, everything looked so clean, and the sight of the people quickly walking down the sidewalks after getting out of work was something straight out of a movie. To my Superman-loving eyes, it looked like Metropolis had been ripped right out of the comic books and I was smack dab in the middle of it.

It took a little while to find our way to the Air Canada Centre, but we persisted and made it there. We hurried inside and went straight to the box office to pick up the tickets that were waiting for us.

I had some time to kill before doors opened and I had traveled nearly three hundred miles, so I decided to check the place out and see what I could see. Mom and I went back outside and walked around the building. I was shocked to actually find a door marked “Stage Door.”
Outside of the door were a bunch of security guards taking their breaks, having cigarettes, etc. I decided to play it cool and hang around for a bit. In my mind, me playing it cool greatly resembles Richie Cunningham trying his best to act like The Fonz. After a little while, I made my way over to the guards and asked if this was where the band comes in, but he told me they had already been inside for a couple hours. I was obviously disappointed, but had nothing better to do than continue to wait around, so I did.

When I’m determined to do something, I like to think that I’m nearly unstoppable, you can’t kill my hope and motivation. At the same time, I’m not too naive to know when I’m defeated. It was 7:00, I was tired, discouraged, and I admitted defeat, so Mom and I headed inside. Having not slept the night before, I was feeling a bit grumpy and to be completely honest, if it wasn’t The Corrs, I really wouldn’t have been in the mood for a concert.

A short time later I got to my seat in the chilly arena, home of the Maple Leafs. I met up with a friend from the message board, Richard, who I had met at the Cleveland show. We swapped our travel stories and as he left, I told him to send my friend, Steph, up to see me if he bumped into her. It was then that something completely unexpected happened, as a result, Steph wouldn’t find me until after the concert.

Meanwhile a few rows back (When buying tickets, we were only allowed to buy two seats in the disabled section, so my aunt and grandma were sitting a few rows behind us) my aunt was amused by the fact that we traveled to Toronto and people here knew me. What can I say? I’m a schmoozer.

As I sat there wearing my Superman shirt in this Metropolis-lookalike city, I could barely believe my eyes when I saw a tall, muscular, completely bald Lex Luthor clone coming up the stairs. Instinct from years of comic books had me ready for a battle or at least some intense witty banter. Thankfully it didn’t come to that, being tired and all it certainly wouldn’t have been one of my better performances.
I watched him and was surprised to see he was indeed coming to me. Who was this? Someone from the message board I hadn’t met yet?
He came right in front of me and spoke.
My aunt couldn’t take the mystery anymore and came down by us to find out what was going on.
The following is what was said to the best of my recollection. For storytelling purposes, I’ll affectionately refer to him as “Lex.”

What’s your name?


Jacob Drake?


Who are you with?

My mom, aunt, and grandma.

At this point you could see him stop and think about it.

We thought you’d be here with your parents. We have passes for you and two guests to meet the band.

After they resuscitated me, he told me to follow him.
I raced against the general flow of traffic in the main corridor of the Air Canada Centre as fast as I could, trying to keep up with him. It was like time slowed down as I bobbed and weaved through the crowd. This news had completely eliminated any feeling of tiredness I had just moments ago. I felt as though I was in a dream, after so many years of hoping for a chance like this, I was just minutes away from meeting The Corrs.

Eventually we got to a little waiting area, he told me to wait there and eventually “a big black guy in a red t-shirt” would come to take me downstairs.

As I sat there waiting, my mind and heart raced. I don’t remember the last time I had felt even close to this nervous. It was so bad that I had to keep wiping my hands because they were sweating so much. I could hear the opening act go on, but up to the point that I’m writing this I still have no idea who it was.

Fifteen minutes later a gentleman came up and started talking to us, it turns out he was one of the band’s tour managers. He was very cool and told us it was alright to take pictures, give gifts, or have them autograph anything I might have with me. He told us that as soon as they finished with another group of people, someone would come and get me. When he left I got my picture and book ready while Mom got the camera ready.

A few minutes later, the big black guy in a red t-shirt appeared. This was it, it was time.

We piled into the elevator and went downstairs. We were joined by four or five other people, they were contest winners I believe. I was led around a corner and down a hallway, I felt like such a bigshot. At the end of the hall was a door that was just slightly cracked open, I knew this was our destination. My excitement and nerve levels skyrocketed. All I could think was “Are they actually in there?” As we got there and entered, I found the room was empty. Disappointing, but a relief at the same time, now I had a few more minutes to try calming myself.

The room was quite nice and luxurious. Leather couches all around, a refrigerator, and a big plasma TV hanging on the wall. The contest winners sat off to the right of me as I got comfortably seated directly across the from where we had come in. They chit chatted about their jobs, sports, and the like. I wondered to myself how they could be calm enough for casual conversation while my main focus was trying my best not to hyperventilate and/or wet my pants.

Twenty minutes or so passed, it was nearly 9:00, they were to go on stage shortly, where were they?
At this point I was surprisingly calm. I remember I looked down at the ground for a second and when I looked back up I saw a tiny figure silhouetted in the doorway I had just come in. Time slowed down and as it hit me, I thought to myself “Holy’s Andrea Corr...”

She glided across the room, coming directly towards me. She was followed by Sharon and Jim. She waved to the other people, but kept coming in my direction. As she got closer, she spoke.

Hello, Jacob...

Holy shit! She knows my name!

We got your letter, it was beautiful. We loved it, thank you.

Holy shit! They read my letter!

With that she leaned in, hugged me, and kissed me on my cheek. I’m amazed I had the ability to speak after that.
There I was, talking to three of the four Corr siblings. To say it was surreal would be an enormous understatement.
It was such a rush to me, but sadly, a lot of it is blurry in my memory. Even so, what I do remember, I remember clearly.

We briefly talked about the Cleveland concert, I said how great it was and then Andrea said something unexpected. She not only mentioned the signs I had (she remembered!), but she also said that my last one made her laugh and it was what made her forget the lyrics to “Breathless”! Even though I probably should feel bad about making her mess up, I can’t help but smile when I think about it.

I gave them the picture I had made and they were kind enough to sign my personal copy and my copy of the Corner to Corner book. Then they gathered around me and we took a couple pictures together.
Looking back at the pictures I’m still awestruck that I’m in the same picture as them, that their hands were touching my wheelchair, that Andrea is holding a picture that I made. Little things like that just blow me away.

One by one they wandered over to mingle with the other guests, but Sharon seemed to hang around and talk with us the longest. Mom congratulated her on her soon to be born niece or nephew and we talked a little bit about how far we had driven to get there that night. This next bit I remember so clearly simply because I found her choice of words so damn adorable. After Mom commented on how tiring the drive was, Sharon replied by saying “Oh, I know. It’s a puffer.” Not being a word used in everyday conversations where I’m from, I absolutely loved it. Puffer.
As Sharon was about to join Jim and Andrea in mingling with the others, I made a decision. I decided to fight my shyness and speak up, so I did. I blurted out “I’ve got to ask...can I get a hug?” I’m so glad I spoke up, it got me a hug from the lovely Sharon Corr.

Still in shock after meeting them and unable to believe that they were still just feet away from me, I sat there with the biggest smile across my face you would ever see. At some point my aunt noticed Jim had forgotten to sign my book. When it comes to shyness, Aunt Karen is the exact opposite of me, the word “shy” doesn’t exist for her. That said, let me give an example of her in action.
Without hesitation, she walked across the room, grabbed Jim by the arm, and told him he forgot to sign the book. When she came back I couldn’t say anything due to the fact that my jaw was dropped after seeing her do that.
Being the great guy that he is, Jim graciously came back to sign my book before heading for the stage.

As the three left the room, they waved and said it was lovely to meet me. All I could think was “Who the hell am I? It was lovely meeting you!”
Jim was last in line as they made their exit. I called out and said “Come back to Cleveland soon!” He turned as he walked, waved and said “We’ll be back!” With that, they were gone.

I sat stunned. Did that really just happen? So much happened so fast it was like those few moments when you first awake from an incredible dream. You feel the joy from experiencing such a great dream, yet you also feel sadness in knowing it was nothing more then a dream. For me there was none of that sadness. Dreams do not write their names on your artwork. Dreams do not take pictures with you. Those facts and the memories make me smile because they remind me: on August 30th, dream came true.

Before we even left the room, I could hear that they were already on stage and starting to play “Humdrum”. By the time we got back to our seats they had already finished it and were beginning “Only When I Sleep”.

Again, the concert was phenomenal, though my mind remained backstage replaying the night’s events over and over again. As a result, the two hour long concert seemed to speed by in about fifteen minutes.

After the show, Steph finally found me. When I told her what had happened earlier, her jaw dropped and her eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. The look on her face was priceless.

I gave her a copy of the picture I made and she and her father walked with us for a bit as we left.

Shortly after 11:00 PM we were on the road again and headed back to Niagara Falls. As I gazed out my window and watched the streetlights silently whiz past in the night, I reflected on my long, but amazing day.

After the long post-concert drive, we arrived at our hotel at 1:30 AM. We wearily unloaded our suitcases and went inside. Before leaving home, Mom had called and let them know we'd be a very late arrival and to hold our of course we get inside and find out they gave our room away. We protested a little to the concierge, but we were exhausted. He gave us free valet parking for the night, put us in a cityview room, and said we could get into our original room the next day. We were too tired to argue, so we went up to the room. I knew I would have sweet dreams that night.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Jacob's 2004 Adventure: Part II- A Chance Taken

All summer I had been saving money and planning a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. I spent the days after the concert finalizing the plans and looking up other tourist attractions in the area. All this research was done with a silly grin that I had on my face since the day of the concert. My energy was high and my mood was great, but one thing still nagged at me: the letter.

One night when it was on my mind, I did a little research and found something quite interesting. On the day our Niagara Falls trip was to begin, The Corrs would be playing the final show of their North American the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Just an hour and a half away from our hotel at the Falls.

That night I used every bit of internet knowledge I had and I sent a few e-mails to some people in the Toronto area I hoped might be able to help me. I told them my story and told them about my letter. I made it clear that all I was asking was that someone help me get this letter delivered to the band. I didn't expect a reply, but figured I'd regret it if I didn't even try.

As the plans were, I would be going to Niagara Falls with my mom, aunt, and grandma. I checked the money I had saved for the trip, did some calculations, and came up with something that really excited me, but it wasn't for sure yet, so I called a meeting with my fellow travelers. I told them about my concert experience on the 21st, I showed them pictures from that night, and I told them about the letter. Next, I made my announcement: if they were up for a slight detour, I had just enough extra cash to buy four tickets to the concert in Toronto. Surprisingly, they didn't even think about it before agreeing. Success! To top it off, at the age of 73, this would be my grandma's first concert.

Two days after writing those e-mails, I woke up and saw I actually got a reply from CHUM FM, a Canadian radio station. As I opened it, I was convinced I was about to read a "Sorry, we canÂ't help you" e-mail. I was never happier about being so wrong. A wonderfully generous woman told me she had forwarded my e-mail to a friend at Warner Canada, the record label that handles The Corrs when they're in Canada. This kind man said to have me courier the letter to him as he'd be doing press with them the day of the concert. He said he'd try his best to give it to them and maybe even get me an autographed CD! Again, success!

I sent my letter the very next day and began another little project. I'm one who always likes to be prepared for whatever situation may arise and I had planned to get to the arena early enough to hopefully catch the band as they arrived. So, just in case I somehow got to meet them, I wanted to have something to give them. I decided to start working on a picture. Five days later, I finished it.

I was ready.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jacob's 2004 Adventure: Part I- A Long Expected Concert

About a week before the concert I began to feel more excited than I’d been in a very long while. In a matter of days I would finally be seeing them. I would be feet away from these people who had helped me so immensely through such hard times over the years without even knowing it. It was then that I got the idea: write a letter to them, tell them your story and thank them.
I spent two days before the show pouring my heart out onto sheets of paper. I wanted to make sure they knew how truly thankful I was.

The 21st arrived. The day I’d waited roughly five years for. I literally woke up with a smile on my face that morning. Excitedly, I got ready and my parents helped me make a few signs for during the show.

We got to the venue around 5:30 PM and joined the small crowd out back by where the tour buses were parked. I met some great fans, a few of whom had even come from outside the US to see this concert. After a little while I heard a small commotion in the crowd, then I looked across the street and saw the reason: Keith Duffy was heading in our direction.

I was so struck by the fact that The Corrs’ bass player was standing right in front of me that it didn’t dawn on me until later that the two gentlemen he was with were Anto Drennan and Kieran Kiely, the band’s lead guitar and keyboard players respectively. Though they seemed in a bit of a hurry, Keith was gracious enough to sign my copy of Corner to Corner for me.

Having until 7:00 when the doors opened, I hung around for a while in hopes of catching a glimpse of the band. We saw Jim for a split second in the distance, but that was about it.

Things were going great, my energy level was high, and a little after 7:00, we decided to go in. As they looked at my ticket I got a bit nervous. Were they going to stick me in the disabled section? Thankfully, things continued to go well. While I bought the tour program and a poster at the souvenir stand, they sent someone ahead to move some chairs for me!

My parents and I wandered the venue for a little bit and finally got to our seats just minutes before the opener, Sophie B. Hawkins went on. She played for around a half an hour and put on quite a show. It was unique to say the least.

In between acts I got to meet some other Corrs fans that I had met on an internet message board dedicated to the band. It was great to put faces with the names and to be together sharing this experience.

Time passed and the sun set. Through the curtain at the back of the stage I watched the moon rise as night fell across Cleveland. It was nearly 9:00 and I was glowing with excitement.

Shortly after nine the lights went down. The audience began to applaud as the intro music began. One by one Keith, Anto, and Kieran took the stage along with Keith’s brother, Jason Duffy, who was filling in for Caroline who was too far along in her pregnancy to play. Then Jim crossed the stage and took his place as the cheering intensified. Next was Sharon, again the cheering intensified. Finally Andrea came on stage, the crowd exploded with cheers and applause and in that moment time slowed down for me. After waiting for so long, there they were, The Corrs (minus Caroline) were assembled on stage right in front of me. That was the moment it fully hit me. All the waiting and hoping had led me to this moment, it was finally happening. All the energy built up and I'm not ashamed to admit I nearly cried, but Andrea took the mic, the band burst into “Humdrum,” and I used that energy to dance along all night.

The seats were incredible! I had never been in a better spot for a concert. I held up one of the signs I brought, it read “Welcome to Cleveland!” Upon reading it I saw Jim smile, that sent my energy level even higher.

After each of their first few songs, the audience kept giving standing ovations. The band, especially Andrea, seemed taken aback by the response.

During “Joy of Life/Trout in the Bath” I switched to my next sign. It read “Andrea- Can I Have Your Tin Whistle?!” Once again, time slowed down. I saw Andrea’s eyes as she was reading the sign, then they raised and met mine. As Andrea was playing and looking right at me, she nodded. I was speechless. As if being feet away from them wasn’t enough, I was now interacting with The Corrs.

About halfway through the show, Sharon set down her violin and took center stage to sing “No Frontiers.” Though Caroline was missed, Sharon’s performance was absolutely flawless and left me with my jaw dropped.

Towards the end of their set, they played “I Never Loved You Anyway” and Andrea introduced each member of the band before being introduced herself by Jim. At the end of the song Andrea made good on her nod. She came over in front of me, bent down, handed her tin whistle to my mom for me, and then she blew me a kiss. Every time I tell this story to someone I say this and mean it: that moment alone was worth the five year wait.

The last song of the set was “Goodbye.” It was even more beautiful now that I was hearing it live. At the end of the song Andrea left the stage, shortly followed by Sharon. They put down their instruments and left the stage just as they arrived, one by one. In the end there was only Jim left. Eventually he stopped playing the keyboard, said “Good night,” and left the stage.

Minutes passed and the audience was on their feet, then the band returned for an encore. They started with “Breathless” and once again I switched signs. The final one read “Can I have a hug? Okay, I’ll settle for an autograph.” Jim started to read it, but the bottom of it was in the shadows, so Mom lifted it up for him and he started laughing. Then the cutest thing happened, Andrea forgot the words to “Breathless.” It was so great how the audience’s singing helped to get her back on track. Later, Mom told me she thought Andrea messed up the lyrics because she was reading my sign, but I wasn’t sure.

After “Toss the Feathers” they took their final bows and the show was over. I had been to some great concerts in my life, but that was the best. Finally seeing them and practically being a part of the show had surpassed even my expectations.

On our way back to the van, tin whistle in hand, it dawned on me: I still had the letter! The letter I had worked so hard on was still in my possession. We quickly made our way back to where the buses were, but found that the band had already left.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to give it to them, but the rest of the night had more than made up for it.

Continued soon...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jacob's 2004 Adventure: Prologue

One Sunday night in 1999 I happened to be watching a show on the Canadian music channel, MuchMusic. The show was called Clip Trip, it featured music videos from all around the world, I guess on this particular night they were featuring Irish music. As I watched, a video I had never seen came on. There were three girls and a guy wearing matching outfits dancing around in a black & white room. The song was a strange mix of celtic and pop sounds with an almost reggae sounding beat. I had no idea who this was, but I was pretty sure I liked it. The video ended and the title came on screen, it was “The Right Time” by The Corrs.
They cut to the host, Bill Welychka, and he was sitting in a room with The Corrs and actually interviewed them throughout the entire show. A few more of their videos were played and they had my attention, I needed to know more about this band. I set my VCR to record the rerun of that show the next morning.

I remember being in the parking lot at Best Buy one day not much later. Mom had to run in really quick to pick up a gift for someone while the rest of my family and I waited in the van. I remember asking if she could see if she could find a CD by this new band I had heard of. When she came back out and tossed the bag into the van, I looked at it and saw not one, but two CDs inside. Mom’s always been cool like that. Those CDs, Forgiven, Not Forgotten & Talk On Corners, received nearly constant play in my CD player.
Sure, it wasn't the kind of music the average guy of my age might be into, but I didn't really care, I liked it.

A year had passed and I had spent my fair share of money collecting whatever Corr-related items I could find. Thanks to sites like Amazon and eBay, I was able to get my hands on import CDs, DVDs, and books featuring the band, none of which I'd have been able to find around here. I’ve said it many times, without the internet it’d be extremely difficult to be a Corrs fan here in the US.
They're very well known everywhere in the world, but they've had some trouble taking off here in the states. A family band that writes and performs their own music, I think it's a beautiful thing. Sadly, I think they're too clean for the US music scene. It seems you need scandal over talent to get noticed nowadays.

In late summer of 2000, I could hardly wait for their new album, In Blue, to be released. The day the CD was released Dad drove me to Best Buy. I raced to the C section, searched and found The Corrs...but In Blue was nowhere to be seen. I was a bit confused and disappointed, but that would soon be cured. After asking a clerk, I found they hadn’t even put the CD on the shelves yet. He grabbed me a copy right from the box it was shipped in and I went home happy.
As expected, I loved it. I noticed the celtic flavor was toned down a little in favor of a more poppy sound, it was different, but I still enjoyed it. Some fans said things along the lines of that they were giving up the unique sound that attracted fans in the first place, but I disagree. That sound was still there, it was just a bit more subtle this time around. The way I see it, it’s natural for people to change, and if they happen to be musicians, their music is most likely going to change with them. It’s like a if you were reading a book: if the characters didn’t change as they story goes on, it’d just get boring.

Four years passed. Not really a lot of time, but quite a bit happened during that time. I had grown and changed as the world around me did. I met people and made new friends, but some loved ones had moved on and some had been lost, one of whom left a big void in my life and my heart. My younger brother was gone. To say it had a big impact on me would be an enormous understatement.
I slowed down on a lot of things and closed myself off a bit from the world outside my door. Nothing had truly excited me much for a while, then one day in March a spark of excitement was given life.

I found out that later in the year The Corrs would be playing a show in Boston. The band I had been following for five years would be playing in the US, though it was a few states away. Nevertheless, I let my parents know we’d be taking a road trip to Boston that summer. A few days later, my hopes for going to the Boston show were obliterated and replaced with something much better and unexpected.
On March 24th, 2004 it was announced...The Corrs were coming to Cleveland. They were to play downtown at the Tower City Amphitheater. A mere half-hour drive from my house. This was easily the best news I had heard in a long, long time.

The tickets went on sale on Saturday, April 3rd at 10:00 AM. At that time, I was asleep in my bed, having been too excited all night to sleep. Thankfully, as I mentioned before, Mom’s cool. She was at the local ticket outlet a while before ten, ready and waiting in line. She told me it was an interesting mix of people in line as it was the day tickets for most of that venue’s summer shows went on sale.
As she waited, she debated the handicapped seating situation. I had heard from a friend that the amphitheater had folding chairs and it shouldn’t be a problem for them to just move a seat for my wheelchair, but we also knew from experience that some venues aren’t very flexible with this kind of thing.
Mom was frustrated when the person at the ticket booth announced they would be holding a lottery to see who would get to be first in line. She was tempted to raise a commotion about how unfair it was and that first come should be first served, she had gotten there early to get her good place in line. Thankfully, she decided against raising a fuss, she won the lottery and had first dibs.
The inner debate about what seats to get raged on as she approached the teller. Then she decided. She said to give her the best seats available.

A short while later she came home and decorated a paper plate with shamrocks and other little Irish highlights and secured the tickets to the plate with paper clips. She walked into my room to prop up her little display next to my bed so it would be the first thing I would see when I woke up, but I’m a light sleeper and kind of spoiled it.

Groggily I muttered “...What?”

“Front row” she whispered.

As I lay there trying to process what I had just been told, I couldn’t believe it. She was obviously toying with me.

“Shut up” I said, sleepily.

I forced my eyes open and did my best to focus, when I finally did, I saw she wasn’t lying. Right there before my eyes was something I never thought I’d see: three front row tickets to see The Corrs.
Not just front row either, they were almost dead center. I would be sitting right between Jim and Andrea. This was a definite spark and I was finally excited, but it would still be a few months before it fully hit me.

On June 8th, after four years of waiting, The Corrs were finally releasing their newest studio album, Borrowed Heaven. Now that I had been a fan for so long, I was so excited to hear the new album that I was actually nervous. Don’t get me wrong, these nerves weren’t because I doubted the quality of the album in any way, I had just been anticipating it for so long and I didn’t know what to expect, it was a good kind of nervous.
The first night I had the CD, I listened to it at least three times in a row. I wasn’t disappointed. In my opinion it’s their most solid album to date, I love every single track on it. I related to so many of the songs, some of them touched me quite deeply. It was actually a bit eerie how close certain songs hit home for me, it was almost as if this time around the music changed along with me.

The summer came and plodded along in an overall uneventful manner. Borrowed Heaven played frequently in the house and it seemed to get better and better every time I listened to it. I’d get impatient when I thought of the concert tickets I had, but even then it still hadn’t fully hit me. I tried to be patient, August 21st would arrive soon enough.

Feelin' the Flow

After a bit of an inspirational dry spell, I feel like I'm back in the creative flow finally. I've been working on the storyboards for The Robin's Song and I'm feeling good. They look and flow so much better than I expected, it's resulting in a rush of confidence like I haven't had in months. It's like a barrier has been kicked down and ideas are just stampeding out.
In the past week or so, I've gotten an idea for what I hope will be a beautiful picture for a friend and I've been writing a lot. I'm feeling good about this.

To top it off, tonight I saw my friend, Amanda, for the first time in five years. We just sat as we reminisced and caught each other up on our lives. It was great!

I think I'll start to tell the tale of my adventure from last year now. Stay tuned, kiddies...

Friday, August 12, 2005


by Jacob Drake

Exposed my heart, exposed my soul
Told you things you didn't know
Hidden away inside so long
Hidden but remaining strong
Drawn to you since first we met
You dried my eyes when they were wet
I was hiding from the world outside
A beautiful stranger sat by my side
Always there when my sky's dark
To light my way with your smile's spark
Now you know, though far away
The things I've been afraid to say
Lonely times won't always be
But when they are, please think of me

Friday, August 05, 2005

Say No To Grandpa Joe

Just a little something I found hilarious and wanted to share with you all. Last night while talking to Jenny, she pointed me to a post on the message boards at where some guy was exposing the true evil nature of the character of Grandpa Joe from the old Willy Wonka movie. I'm gonna copy it word for word here for you guys, but if you want to see the actual post, go here. For those who aren't into it, there IS some coarse language ahead, so beware. That said, check this out...

"Ok let me start off by saying I love this movie…. It is, and always will be a favorite of mine, but I have to voice the one thing about the movie that has always driven me nuts… THAT NO GOOD LAZY GRANDPA JOE….He is maybe the most evil man in all films. I mean let’s take a look at this man... He lays in bed for 20 or so years, smoking a pipe every day, while poor Charlie and his mom had to work their fingers to the bone, and eat nothing, as him and the other three played footsies in the bed…. But we all know secretly the old bastard was moving around, because notice that one night Old grandpa pulled out that secret Wonka bar, and told Charlie to keep it down as he opened it…. WHERE DID HE GET IT FROM? What the Wonka Fairy come down and leaves it under his pillow? That guy proubly threatened to beat the sh@t out of the other three, if they tipped Charlie or his mom off to evil Grandpas plot to not work…. Charlie brings home the bread, and lazy old grandpa didn’t even care if it was stolen, just that he could get his old gums around a piece of that bread…. What a freaking role model for a kid… Now we get to Charlie winning the ticket, and asking old Joe to come with him…. After a cleaver act, he is dancing around the room, even tapping his heels in the air, and what does he sing? I’VE got a golden ticket…. That greedy old goat took Charlie’s thunder... But being the good kid Charlie is, he danced along with him…. Now they get to Wonka’s and we see him make a pig of himself in the Chocolate room... But hey who didn’t…. We get the goobstopers, and notice who pipes in when Charlie doesn’t get one… Old Joe… He damn well knew Slugworth offered the money, and figured if Charlie lost, f**k Wonka, I am getting the cash… Then we get to the wall paper, and him licking the fruit… Now let me say old Joe licked that paper like a freaking porno star.. It makes you wonder ‘Hey Joe who the f**k you been practicing on? This answers what old Joe’s been doing while Charlie and mom are at school and working… Old Joe’s the block Gigolo, and doing sexual favors for food, and a few dollars here or there… But back to the story... We get to the Fizzy lifting drinks, and who wants to take a sip, and break the rules… You guessed it, old Gigolo Joe… It talks poor Charlie into it, and almost got the kid killed… But yes he did save him... Only cues the old bastard couldn’t get close enough to steal the goobstoper…. If Joe had had it, Charlie would have been cut up, and Grandpa’s be chilling on an island with half naked women fanning him… Ok a few scenes later, and we got Greedy Joe asking where Charlie’s prize…is. Wonka explains how they broke the rules, and what’s Joe do? Calls him names, even though he was the one who screwed Charlie by making him take a sip... But then the idea hits... Screw Wonka, I’ll sell out to old slugworth, and then knock off the rest of the family, to keep the money for myself (Never been proven, but hey that’s what I think Joe thought..) But good sweet Charlie knew that Joe was evil, and decides to not be a punk, and betray Wonka….. Hence Charlie wins it all…. Now notice after wonka says you have won, and he going to put his coat on, who helps him? Joe, with a giant smile… Hey he knows what dick to suck to keep the money train rolling… Wasn’t it not less then a minute ago, you were calling him filthy names? Now comes the telling of Charlie being named owner of the Factory, and becoming a multi billionaire… Old Joe pipes in about what about me? And Wonka says they all can come…

Though out that whole flick Joe was out to get what Joe could get, and I find him to be a wicked and evil man… I hope there are others out there who can see this man for what he is… Because you and I know once he got in the place, who made the ompas wait on him, and I heard even made a few of them give him a reach around to make him feel special now and then… WHAT AN EVIL GREEDY MAN THAT GRANDPA JOE is…."

Enjoy that? Then you'll probably enjoy this site too, head on over to

Grandpa Joe, you sicken me.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Random Musings

One month from today is my 23rd birthday. I'm not normally one for parties, but I'm thinking a small one might be nice, just something cool to mark the occasion. I'm not quite sure what yet. We'll see.

I've been feeling pretty stressed lately, as you can see in recent entries, so I figure it's time to do something for myself to help me find my way back to my normal state of semi-sanity. I've done some research and planning and I've decided that just after my birthday, I'm hitting the road and spending a few days in Niagara Falls. It'll be fantastic, I really need this. A few days away to just wander, do my own thing, and maybe even re-create some of the magic of last year's adventure.
For those reading, if you're one of the few who don't know about my adventure from last year, I think I'm going to write about it coming up on the one year anniversary of the events. It's something of a long read, but I love reliving the magic.

I had a blast from the past on Tuesday. Amanda, an old highschool friend of mine, tracked me down on MySpace. After a couple notes, we got to chatting via instant message, just catching up and getting reacquainted with one another after five years.
Five years, it's really hard to believe how fast that went by.
It's so cool that we're chatting. We never really got to know each other very well in highschool, now we get a second chance. Too cool.

I'm feeling a bit more optimistic about filmmaking. I've been doing a lot of reading and research lately and the more I think about it, the more confident I am that it's entirely possible. I can do this.

Stay tuned.