Pterodactyls are Pterrifying

I have known for a long time that dinosaurs are awesome.  This weekend I learned something about my favorite dinosaur that I never knew before. 

The whole family went to the Turtle Back Zoo with our next door neighbors on Saturday August 25, 2012.  On the drive there, the skies opened up and it poured rain for most of the drive.  When we got to the bottom of the hill where the zoo was, the rain stopped – the ground was completely dry and our day at the zoo was on.

Our first stop in the zoo was the reptile house.  The first thing you see when you walk in is a giant pterodactyl hanging in the ceiling.  We had been here before, and I had seen it hanging up there before -but I never thought to question “why?”

Why is the coolest f’ing dinosaur ever in the reptile house?  I asked myself.  The pterydactyl is a bird!  It has wings.  It flies.  It makes that scary-ass screeching sound when it swoops down to catch its prey with its super sharp talons.  At least, it probably did anyway.  It is the scariest BIRD to ever flap its wings.   It had no feathers – it was the bird equivalent of those freaky bald cats that the Egyptians had on the walls of the pyramids.  Hell, even the way you spell its name is frightening.

I asked my wife, “Why is there a pterodactyl in here, aren’t they birds?”  No sooner did I finish my question to her, when she pointed to the info written out below the display.  Pterodactyls are REPTILES!  My mind was blown.  My entire childhood and grown life I thought that they were birds.  I began to question if everything I had known up until that point had been a lie to me.

So I quickly took that picture that you see above, and texted it to my oldest friend ChuckO.  We always used to say to each other: “OH NO!!, THE PTERODACTYL!!”  I have no idea when we started saying that to each other, or why it started in the first place – but to this day if one of us were to use a super stupid high pitch voice to say “OH NO!!” – the other one would continue “THE PTERODACTYL!!”

I did a bit of research while I was writing this and learned even more about Pterodactyls.  Apparently, the term pterodactyl, isn’t even their real name. 

1. There’s no such creature as a “pterodactyl.”

It’s unclear at what point “pterodactyl” became a synonym for pterosaurs in general, and Pterodactylus and Pteranodon in particular, but the fact remains that this is the word most people use. Working paleontologists never refer to “pterodactyls,” preferring to focus on individual pterosaur genera.

Thanks to this website for crushing my childhood dreams even further.  10 Facts About Pterodactyl

While my childhood may have been turned upside down at the zoo this weekend, the kids had a blast.  And if I can’t have my own pet pterodactyl, then I want a Pterodactyls are Pterrifying tshirt.  Even if they aren’t the scariest birds ever.

My Fascination with Stats

It is kind of ironic that I work with numbers all day.  I’m not good at math.  I never have been.  But that has never stopped me from being borderline obsessed with stats.  

My obsession with stats started back when the New York Mets were good at baseball.  The 1986 Mets were the most fun team that an 11 year old kid could watch.  I remember reading each game’s box score in the Bergen Record newspaper the morning after each game.  Batting Averages, RBIs, Strike Outs  were all compiled neatly for me to pour over every morning.  It helped that the Mets were so good that they had players in almost every League Leader category, which meant more stats for me to check.  So, Dwight Gooden with your league leading 24-4 record, 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games, 276.2 innings pitched and 268 strikeouts – thanks for making me obsessed with stats.  

Thank you Tecmo Super Bowl on NES.  The greatest football videogame ever made.  It was the first one to have real players names from real NFL teams.  Except for QB Eagles – screw you Randall Cunningham.  Freshman year at College, our entire floor played an entire season together.  We had at least 10 guys who each picked a team name out of a hat. (the Giants and 49ers were excluded because they were too good.)  After each week, the stats were handwritten and posted out in the hallway so everyone could see where they stood.  In the words of one of my floor-mates that year – “Awww stats.”

Thank you NHL 94 and 95 on Sega Genesis.  There was nothing better than being able to play an entire 82 game NHL schedule and have all of your goals and assists kept track of for you.  Especially since having a 100 goal scorer was not unheard of.

Thank you Microleague Baseball for the Apple IIGS in my parent’s basement circa 1986-1987.  This game wasn’t much on actual gameplay, but rather it was all about stats.  You didn’t even have to use a controller.  All you did was press One for a fastball, and Zero to swing the bat.  The computer simulated every play.  The original game contained about 25 old-time great teams including the 1927 Yankees and 1969 Mets.  It had actual player names and their actual stats from the season.  The best part about Microleague Baseball was that you could print out the box score at the end of each game.  With the addition of a “General Managers Disk,” you could create your own teams.  I remember spending hours entering entire teams stats onto that old computer.

That’s why I am such a geek when it comes to Phish.  Why do I need to know that I have seen Chalk Dust Torture the most times (36) of any song played?  Or that I have seen it at 37% of the shows that I have attended?  The answer is that I don’t need to know that, but I want to. 

Why do I need to know that it was 66 shows between seeing the Beatles “A Day in the Life” on 10/17/96 in Penn State until 6/05/2009 at Jones Beach? 

Why not?

Padding The Stats: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez Go to a Phish Show

I’ll admit it.  I love stats.  One of my favorite things about this whole blog thing is that I get to see how many people visit my page each day.  Not only that, but it shows me where most of the clicks come from.  After only a few short weeks of life, my page is now searchable on the Interwebs.  I received my first Search Engine hit the other day.  Someone in Singapore entered in his Yahoo! search bar – “I feel feeling.”  I have no idea what the hell they could have been searching for, but it directed them to my first ever post.   

I started thinking about a way to get the most readers with the least amount of work.  That’s kind of how I roll – I like to work smarter, not harder.  And honestly, I’m not very smart.  But today I am a genius.  To steal a line from my other blog inspiration, “that’s right kids”  JUSTIN BIEBER AND SELENA GOMEZ went to a Phish concert last week in Long Beach, California.  And he like, totally Tweeted about it on the Twitter.


I can’t wait to see how many hits those two names get me in the next couple of days and weeks.  A bunch of Tweens are going to be searching for more info on their favorite heartthrob, but instead they will get directed here to my blog.  Ha – the joke is on you 13 year old girl from the midwest!  No Justin Bieber content here. 

Alright, maybe just one picture from backstage.


OMG – Biebs (That should get me at least 6 clicks from Google) and Selena!!  Also known as Jelena (worst Hollywood couple nickname ever).  According to Hollywood insiders – and a bunch of dirty hippies at the Phish show, they were throwing glowticks during the second set.  Glowsticks wars have been a normal scene at Phish shows for the past 15 years.  When Justin Bieber was only 3 years old, I was at the Great Went listening to Phish play “Harry Hood” in complete darkness while thousands of glowsticks were launched into the air for the first time.  A Glowstick War was born!  It was spontaneous, it was beautiful, it was painful at times – but it was a moment I will never forget.

Thank you Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez for helping me remember my first Phish glowstick war – and more importantly, for padding my stats.

And if you want to see Justin Bieber’s arm throwing glowsticks, watch this Youtube video:

August 17, 1997 – “The Went Gin”

The first time I made it way up north to Limestone, Maine was with “Black Saab” and “DanO.”  We had attended the previous show together in Darien, NY and it was the first Phish show for both of my brothers.  That night we camped together outside of the Amusement Park in the shadows of the venue and the rollercoasters.  I have no idea how or why we got separated from them before the long drive and the weekend ahead.  But, that’s the whole point of this – maybe “Fat Strawberry” and “Rod B” can help me remember what happened with that.  I don’t remember seeing my brothers at all the entire weekend in Maine.

Two things that I remember vividly from that weekend both occured during the second day of music.  The first was about a minute into the opening song “The Wedge.” 

I’m building you a pyramid
With limestone blocks so large
I drag them from the mountain top
You’ll need a two car garage

I looked over at “Black Saab” and he had that look in his eyes that things were just not OK with being in a field surrounded by 50,000 other people.  The wave of people seemed to be sweeping over him and he leaned over and said something like.  “Dude, I’m freaking out.  I need to get out of here.”  I calmly assured him that everything was going to be alright.  We sat down together for a minute or two in the same spot where we were standing and the tide slowly went back out to sea.  We stood back up and smiled at each other and were able to enjoy the rest of the set.

The second thing that stands out in my mind from this weekend is the performance of “Bathtub Gin.” 

Phish had previously toured with Carlos Santana, and he described the band as a “Hose.”    Trey paraphrases Carlos’ statement here –  “(The Hose) is where the music is like water rushing through you and as a musician your function is really like that of a hose. And, and well his thing is that the audience is like a sea of flowers, you know, and you’re watering the audience. But the concept of music going through you, that you’re not actually creating it, that what you’re doing is — the best thing that you can do is get out of the way.”

 The best way to describe this section of the song is “Pure Hose.”  The music and energy flowing from the stage into the crowd was drowning us in sound.  I find it hard to believe that someone was able to hold a camera during this:

Yeah, The Went Gin has a special place in Phish lore.

Boom Boom’s “Coventry Glide” – August 15th, 2012

On August 14th and 15th of 2004, Phish was playing what was supposed to be their last concert ever.  According to Trey, they “were done.”  The scene was right out of the Woodstock Movie.  Except all the rain came before all the hippies got there.  So when everyone was trying to park their cars in the big grassy fields in Northern Vermont, EVERY car got stuck in the mud.  Giant farm tractors were on call to pull every car to a parking spot.  50,000 (?) people in the middle of nowhere with no place to escape from the mud.

The scene itself was not far from parts of Apocolypse Now.  A giant tent village setup in the rice fields of Vietnam.  The constant helicopters overhead only added to the mystique and mayhem.  The band was breaking up partly due to the people in the scene, but mostly due to their own personal demons.  This weekend in Vermont was supposed to be a celebration of the band’s career, but instead turned into a funeral.

So here I am, 8 years after Coventry – sitting at my desk searching for my ticket stub and the wristband that adorned my arm for the entire weekend.  I take out my phone and snap a crappy cellphone picture under the lamp.  My son Boom Boom wakes up.  He had been asleep for an hour and is really good at sleeping through the night.  Boy, who would have thought that 8 years ago in a muddy field in Vermont, I would be writing that sentence?

In the middle of the 2nd set on the last night that Phish was playing – the band was just awful.  They completely broke down in tears during one of their slow ballads – “Wading in the Velvet Sea,” and spoke to the crowd from their hearts.  They were spewing emotion from the stage.  The next song that they attempted to play was a song called “Glide.”  With its upbeat rhythm and childish lyrics, it should have been a nice comic relief from what had just gone down.

And we’re glad glad glad that you’re alive
And we’re glad glad glad that you’ll arrive
And we’re glad glad glad glad glad glad glad
And we’re glad glad glad that you’re a glide

Instead of playing it like the “professionals” that they have been for the past 21 years on stage – they completely butchered this version.  So badly that Phish fans still refer to it as the “Coventry Glide.”  The absolute lowpoint of any concert I have ever attended.

On August 15, 2012 – I walked into Boom Boom’s room and he is sitting up in his crib sobbing – covered in his own vomit.  His bed is a mess, the walls are dripping.  It is in his hair and up and down both arms.  For a kid who is usually such a good sleeper, tonight was his “Coventry Glide.”

Unfortunately this is a trend for both of my kids.  Both Boom Boom and Miss A like to throw up when they getting new teeth in.  Luckily I don’t think I need to worry about Phish throwing up on stage anymore – I’ll take my chances with my kids.

For the record, Coventry is the only Phish concert that I have attended that I have never re-listened to.  I attempted to listen to one song, but my iPod completely froze.  I immediately deleted it out of my iTunes and off my iPod.  I listened to it once – and that was enough.

August 9th, 1998 – Phish – Virginia Beach Ampitheater

The loudest, most intense, meaningful crowd reaction I have ever witnesssed.  Under a full moon on the third anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing – Phish encored with this Grateful Dead song – Terrapin Station.  I still get goosebumps everytime I listen to the first twenty seconds of this.  Even though I never got to see you perform live, we miss you Jerry.


August 8th, 1998 – Phish – Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

I spent a week and half in August of 1998 traveling the east coast in my 1985 Toyota Camry with my college roommate and good friend DanO.  We left New Jersey on the night of August 7th and would be staying the first night in Alexandria, Virginia.  We merged onto the Garden State Parkway just as the sun had set and it had just turned dark.  A beat up car with its windows rolled down passed us just as we entered the highway.  The two long haired guys in the car had big smiles on their faces – and a Phish sticker on the back of the car.  We were more than 200 miles and 4 hours away from where the concert was the next night, and the first car we saw when we got on the highway was going to the same place as we were.

It was dark, and they did not have their headlights on.  I pulled up next to their car and yelled for them to turn them on.  “You going tomorrow night?” I yelled.  They both nodded yes.  “We’ll see you there.”  And we drove off into the night towards an adventure that would feature many more moments of magic like this.

I have zero recollection of what we did the next morning and day leading up to our departure for the venue.   We left for the show at 4:20.  The only reason I know that is because we wrote it down on the back of my setlist pad for the night.  The drive was supposed to take about 45 minutes.  It took us more than three and a half hours.  We sat on the exit ramp in the same spot for almost 2 hours.  It was a party on the highway.  People were out of their cars tailgating, riding skateboards, kicking around hackysacks and having a great time.  The most fun you can have in traffic is on the way to a Phish show.   It started to get a little nerveracking once showtime was approaching.  Luckily we found the Smooth Jazz station on the radio and got to listen to some Sade which helped calm our moods.  Traffic finally started rolling again, but we were still quite a way from the parking lots.  We made a decision that would go on to be a common theme for all of my future concert going excursions.  Get off the highway and take the backroads.

It was 8:00 by the time we finally parked our car.  The ticket time said 7:30.  We quickly walked to the venue and found a spot on the back of the lawn.  Just as we sat down – the house lights went down, and the band came on stage.  The stars were aligned for us on this night.  Even though we didn’t have good seats – the fact that we made it there was all that mattered at that point.  They opened with a song called The Wedge.  The chorus of it appropriately sang – “Take the highway, to the Great Divide.”  We had arrived at the Great Divide.

I don’t think I was able to see the band on stage the entire night.  I watched the show mostly on the monitors above the roof of the pavilion.  The show was extremely well played from start to finish, but the biggest memory from this night was the Encore.  The only time I was able to see the stage was when they started playing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.  To put it bluntly, the place went fucking crazy.  I jumped so high in the air that for a brief moment I was floating above the entire lawn and caught a glimpse of the stage.

The first night of our tour was a wonderfully stressful but perfect way to start the week ahead.

August 6th, 2000 – Santana in Hartford, CT.

It is really hard remembering stuff sometimes.   But, I Try…  Just like Macy Gray sang about when she opened for Santana in Hartford on a rainy evening in August of 2000.  I dare you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  Macy Gray – I Try

I remember singing this song all night after the concert.  Maybe it was just me, or maybe these 5 can help me remember more about this night.

Pictured left to right: BlackSaab, Suzy Greenberg, Brown So Sloppy, Jannifer Kawaka and “Keith”

Our seats were on the lawn this night, but the rain had us doing a lot of wandering around.  During Macy Gray’s set, Brown So Sloppy and Jannifer Kawaka found themselves in a VIP tent and acquired a few VIP passes and a bag full of swag.   I don’t remember how it all went down, but at some point during Santana’s set – I had one of the VIP passes hanging around my neck.  For the first time in my life, my Concert Instincts kicked in.  With Suzy Greenberg in tow, we walked ourselves into the pavilion.  Just like that scene from Wayne’s World when Wayne and Garth win backstage passes to Alice Cooper, I waved that VIP pass at every person that I saw.  Every yellow shirted usher just waved us passed them – never asking to see the Lawn tickets that were in our pockets.  We suddenly found ourselves in the center of the pavilion.  We slipped into a section of empty Box Seats and within 30 seconds someone approached us.  I thought we were done for.  Instead of asking to see our tickets, a girl in a white shirt asked us if we wanted to order anything.

We had great seats, were dry from the rain and now I had someone bringing me a beer.  Life was good this night.  Sometimes the music gets completely overshadowed by the experience.


16.   JINGO