We’re Off to See the Wiggles… A review of the Wiggles US Tour 2013

We’re Off to See the Wiggles…
A review of the Wiggles US Tour 2013
                September 18, 2013 my wife, daughter and I saw the Wiggles in concert at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri.
                I retired from concert-going in 1992. My hearing was shot even then and with a screeching baby the tinnitus has not gotten better. Going to concerts would rip apart what was left of my hearing, as well as rip apart what was left of my bank account. Five hundred bucks to see the Eagles?  I can hear them for free every time I turn on the radio. Every. Time.  Not even if they performed in my front room.  I came out of retirement three times – once to see Ringo Starr do a free concert under the St. Louis Arch on July 4thin the late nineties (a Beatle for free? Yes, I will come out of retirement to see a Beatle for free…), once last year to see Rik Emmett ($10.00, yes, I will come out of retirement to hear Triumph’s Greatest Hits live for $10.00), and now to take my daughter to see the Wiggles.
                This was the tour supporting their DVD “Taking Off” and was the first “solo” tour of the new Wiggles. Founders Jeff, Murray and Greg retired. Anthony continued with three new Wiggles – although all of them were with the franchise either playing secondary characters or back-up singers and dancers.
                The new members were Simon, Lachy and Emma. It was quite a controversy when the new Wiggles took over, but most of their world-wide fans wished them the best when the shock wore off.
                My daughter discovered the Wiggles early in 2013. To her mind, Emma is as much a Wiggle as Greg. Or Sam for that matter. She adores Emma. She is her favorite. So of course she wanted to dress like Emma for the show. Easy enough – she already has a black skirt, black leggings and a yellow shirt.
                She looks good in yellow, with her dark skin. My wife has always been happy about that.
                I was afraid I would be the only adult male at the show. I wasn’t. I was afraid I would be the oldest father there. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. In fact, most of the fathers I saw there were about my age. Some of them had children younger than mine (this concert was her fourth birthday present).
                I’m not sure what to make of that. I am afraid of generalizing by saying younger fathers wouldn’t bother going to such a thing … but I have no facts to support my theory.  Would an older father tolerate these things easier than a younger one? “See the Wiggles!?  And miss Kill Division playing across town!?”
                The stage cast consisted of Anthony, Emma, Lachy, Simon and Paul Paddick as Captain Feathersword along with three back-up dancers and singers. They would take turns as the costumed characters of the franchise: Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus.
                They did an excellent job of keeping the pace going so that you never noticed who was missing from the stage when the costumed characters were on.  Paddick does the voice for Henry the Octopus. I didn’t notice if he was on-stage or off-stage while Henry was “singing” his song. He may have been IN the costume for all I know.
                The set was sparse considering the concert videos you can purchase or watch on You Tube. This isn’t Madison Square Garden or a packed amphitheater in Australia. This was the last few weeks of a two-month North American tour playing smaller venues. The following night they were in Nashville, then Detroit, then Chicago for two shows on Saturday. The following week they played two matinees in New York. Remember this was the same franchise that sold out twelve shows in a row at Madison Square Garden
                So there were no elaborate sets depicting Wiggle Town or the Wiggle House, no 12-foot blow-up Wiggles, no working Big Red Car. The backdrop was a replica of the cover of their new DVD that set behind a drum kit and keyboards and guitars. The only props were a cardboard castle set in front of a tall stand as well as a camel and airplane costume – each worn by Captain Feathersword.
                Sparse settings made sense, though. Who knows how successful this tour would be? Who wants to spend millions on setting up, tearing down and moving elaborate sets for half-filled stadiums?
                They needn’t have worried. They went for smaller venues and all of them are sold out. I checked the tour venues online and there were only forty or so seats remaining in each venue for the rest of the tour. All but forty seats available for a 3,500-seat venue (at least for Peabody)? I’d say that’s pretty good.
                I checked and checked online for a set list for this tour with little luck. The only review I found was on a blog of a Detroit mother. I thought I would do a set list and review the show. By the time this post gets to most of my readers the tour will be over, of course. But perhaps if they tour next year (or more likely the year after) this will give parents who know nothing of Wiggle concerts a taste of what to expect.
                I spent most of my time talking photos, writing down names of songs and smiling at a squealing and giggling three-year-old. Near the end of the show, my daughter and two others were on the far left aisle dancing. I had to warn my daughter not to flail around too much for fear of hurting the other children.
                The mother of one of the little girls asked her to stay near. She kept her arm around her daughter at first. She didn’t want her daughter dancing with other girls while some tall, fat, bald man took their pictures. But she soon relented.
                During the last song my daughter finally took that tumble I warned her about. She cried and I picked her up. It was by now 7:50 and she was very tired. As the Wiggles waved goodbye I told her they were leaving and to say goodbye. She stopped crying immediately – as children of that age do – and shouted goodbye to everyone on stage.
                Before and after the concert we took pics of the stage. An usher very kindly took a picture of the three of us in front of the stage when the show was done. Although sold-out, by 7:30 quite a few of the ticket-holders left with their sleepy charges. We ended up with only a few people in our Orchestra Left section.
                This allowed me to stand and take plenty of photos of the performers. Earlier I was afraid to stand too long for fear of blocking the people behind me. One of the few younger fathers sat two rows ahead of me. He wore his hair in high spikes, which blocked most of my camera’s flash. Near the end, as there was no one behind me; I could stand and hold the camera as high as I wished – his light-absorbing head no longer a problem.
                We had great seats. Well, Peabody Opera House (I still think of it as Keil Opera House – I saw Clapton there in the 1980s) does not have a bad seat; but we had particularly good ones. We were seventh row to the far left. The front rows taper outward. This means there were three rows between us and the far stage left. 
                 Lachey spent some time on our side of the audience. He gave my daughter a high-five!
                 When Anthony stood on the end of the stage he was ten feet in front of us. He waved back at Abby and me. Yes, I was waving at Anthony – I am one of the few surviving Cockroaches fans in the States…
                The Wiggles and their troupe sang and played their instruments live.  In most of the concert footage they look like they are lip-synching. With all their dancing and activity that isn’t surprising. And this is the Wiggles, not Milli Vanilli – who cares?
                But we were close enough to tell. They sang live. And their instruments were live, too. Good for them.
                This despite the fact that there was LOTS of dancing going on. Every song had its own moves. The children (and most adults) followed along faithfully. Captain Feathersword played bass, Anthony played acoustic and electric guitar and drums, Emma played drums, Lachy played keyboards and the glockenspiel. And even the dancers played percussion, drums and guitar as needed.
                Speaking of the dancers… They were introduced at the end, but by then I was dancing with and photographing my daughter.  Looking online doesn’t help identify the three dancers.  The beautiful Catarina Mete has a bit of a following and hers is the only name I can find. The other lady is Lauren –  I hope the spelling is correct.  She was named in a concert segment on the Wiggles’ new TV show.  The male dancer, Nick, looks a lot like Lachy; so much so my daughter thought it WAS Lachy when he came on stage.  
                He was the first one on stage. He gave us a safety lecture much like the stewardi on a plane – find your exits, watch your children, that sort of thing.  He also told us to tweet what we think about the show and they will later read their favorites during the concert.
                So spend the concert staring at your phone? Um, no. I disagree – My tweet would read, “I would love to watch the show but I haven’t seen a minute of it because I am trying to tweet.”  Don’t text and wiggle.  
                Like I’m one to talk. I spent the concert taking photos and jotting down the playlist.
                Speaking of which:
Rock a Bye Your Bear
Can You Point Your Finger and Do the Twist
Quack Quack
(My Sharona – spoof)
Monkey Dance
Here Comes a Bear
Romp Pomp a Chomp
(The Rose – spoof)
Joannie Works With One Hammer
Numbers Rhumba
Shakey Shakey
Fruit Salad
Peanut Butter
Toot Toot Chugga Chugga
(If I Could Turn Back Time – spoof)
Captain’s Magic Buttons
Five Little Joeys
Emma (With a Bow in Her Hair)
We’re Dancing With Wags the Dog
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Henry’s Dance
Simon Says
There Was a Princess Long Ago
I’ve Got My Glasses On
Shimmy Shake
Hot Potato
Do the Propeller
                Oh, and I tried keeping a “Gee C’mon” tab, but I lost track among the other things going on. I know Anthony said it two or three times.
                Emma left the stage for a time to say hello to the fans. Doing my best stage-mother imitation, I grabbed my daughter and walked with her to the center aisle and plopped her in front of Emma. 
                “You’re wearing a yellow skivvie and a black skirt just like mine!” Emma said. My daughter was giddy! She met Emma! Her favorite! I was so happy for her!
                I knew my daughter was getting tired when she kept asking, “Is it over?” after ever song during the second half.  But not in a whiney way, just like asking if a TV show is over. She had a ball. She squealed with delight and laughed and giggled when she recognized a song. By the end, though, she was happy just to dance along with the songs in the side aisles. It made both of us so tremendously happy to see her so happy.
                There were enough nods to the adults to keep us smiling, too. Captain Feathersword did a funny Cher imitation.  Anthony made a Lady Gaga reference. He said, “We used to say Miley Cyrus but we changed that a few weeks ago.” It was funny but I’ll bet he was also very serious. There were comical homages to the songs “The Rose” and “My Sharona”.
                We might get one last Wiggles concert out of our daughter before she gets too old for that sort of thing and starts dragging us to the boy band dujour.  But I’ll cherish the look on her face and the sound of her laugh. Thanks Wiggles!
Copyright 2013 Michael G Curry


The Business of Bankruptcy

The Business of Bankruptcy
                On September 9, 2013 I spoke at the monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Business Women’s Club about bankruptcy.
                The person who invited me, Marilyn, was my wife’s boss for many years before she retired and is also a good friend of both of us. I said I would be happy to speak at their meeting. Considering the audience, we decided the topic should be about how bankruptcies affect businesses.
                Here is a transcript of the speech from my notes with details filled in and some details changed for a wider audience (“In my district courthouse” replaces “In Benton”, that sort of thing). I hope you enjoy it.
                As a business owner, bankruptcy can affect you in three ways: as a creditor, as an employer and as a debtor.
                Of the different types of bankruptcies available, there are three that you would see – the Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11.
                They are called that because the Bankruptcy Code is just like any book – it is divided into chapters, 1 … 2 … 3. And the Chapters that involve individuals are 7 & 13. Why 7 & 13 and not 1 & 2, who knows, that’s just the way it is laid out.
                Chapter 7 is what most people think of as bankruptcy – a liquidation of all unsecured debt. These are credit cards, medical bills, back utilities, book clubs, record clubs, finance company loans, bad checks, and cash advance businesses. Unless you’re in the business of giving loans to customers in exchange for collateral, debt owed to your business is unsecured debt.
                Chapter 7 lasts for 90 days. From the time of filing until it is finished, 90 days pass.  At the end of those 90 days the debtor receives a discharge and all of those unsecured debts are discharged.
                As for secured debts – where I have a lien on my house or car – I can either reaffirm with the bank and keep paying for the collateral or surrender the collateral. Banks usually will allow me to do that if I am current.
                Some bills survive bankruptcy – taxes, student loans, and child support – government-ordered debt. The federal government is saying, “We’ll forgive all debt you owe except for debt you owe to us.”  I would doubt any of your accounts receivable would qualify as that kind of debt.
                Chapter 13 is a consolidation of all debt into one payment. It includes all debt owed – even vehicles – except for your house payment if you are current. Otherwise the bankruptcy payment has to include that as well.
                Chapter 11 – I do not do Chapter 11s although the senior partner of our firm does once in a while – is similar to a Chapter 13 but it is for corporations or individuals who owe about $260,000.00 in unsecured debts.
                Corporations or LLCs cannot file Chapter 13. Only an individual or an individual doing business as can.
As a Creditor:
            You will receive notice in the mail that a customer/client/debtor has filed for bankruptcy in any of the available Chapters.
                At that time, all collection activity must cease. It’s called a “stay”. It’s automatic. Boom. No questions asked. Stop the collection. You might dispute the dischargeability of your debt, but that is an argument for another time. Right now, stop collecting it.
                To avoid anti-dun letters or even sanctions, contact your collection agency, department or individual in charge of trying to collect the debt and get it stopped. Press whatever button you need to press on your computer to stop that bill from being mailed out.
                You don’t have to write the bill off entirely – wait until you get the letter from the court discharging the debtor. If for some reason the bankruptcy is dismissed or the discharge is set aside, your debt is “revived” and you can go back to collecting it.
                A bankruptcy can be dismissed for several reasons – usually because the debtor has done something wrong.  He doesn’t qualify because he had filed before or his income is too high. He may have failed to appear in court or failed to provide the Court the documents required.
                You can dispute and fight someone’s discharge – if they wrote a bad check or if they committed fraud against you. It’s hard to do, and you should discuss the possibility with an attorney. And I don’t mean fraud in that someone left off a credit card on their application. I’m talking about if they said their income was double what it really was.
                But you will have to prove you had the wool pulled over your eyes to win. The first thing the court will ask is “did you pull a credit report? Was the missing credit card on there? Did you ask for paystubs? Didn’t you notice his income was substantially lower than what he said it was?”
                Here’s a tip – if he just got a loan from you five days before filing bankruptcy; unless there was a change of circumstances in between (he lost his job, his family went to the hospital), odds are he was insolvent when he got the loan and was considering filing bankruptcy when he was in your office.
                Sometimes if the Chapter 7 Trustee (this is the person in charge of investigating the facts of the case to make sure the person qualifies for the discharge of his or her debts) has an asset to sell you will be notified to file a claim.
                A Chapter 7 liquidation is not only the liquidation of debts but also liquidation of assets. If someone has a luxury item or property they do not need – a boat, a piece of land, a third car, expensive collections of coins or guns or comic books – those things can be liquidated and the cash from the sale will be disbursed to the creditors for one last payment. But to get any money, you have to fill in and file the claim form provided.
                It’s a simple form. Fill it in, mail it to the court, and send a copy to the Debtor’s attorney and you you’ll get a few bucks. You may have to file it electronically, which will mean a trip to the courthouse. Ask the clerks for help. That’s what they are there for.
                “It’s not worth the time and postage.” I don’t think that’s true, even if it only gives you a few dollars.  But I’m cheap that way…
                In Chapter 13, you will also be notified to file a claim. You will probably get substantially more than you would in a Chapter 7, so it is worth preparing the claim and sending it to the court and Debtors/counsel. It is possible after five years you will get a few dollars, if any at all. With the time-value of money it is easy to repeat, “It’s not worth the time and postage.” Five minutes to fill in the form, a stamp or a trip to the courthouse. If you complain about the gas spent, do something else during the trip to the courthouse. In my district the courthouse is next door to a wonderful city museum. See the radio DJ booth George Harrison visited in 1963.  See the jail cell of the last man hanged in Illinois – my grandfather was there and watched it.
                You should not send the Debtor a 1099 for the unpaid debt – a debt discharged in bankruptcy is not taxable income. It is not a forgiven debt. That IS a waste of time and postage.
                You can write it off as a loss. If you have insurance (most credit cards have bankruptcy insurance), you can submit a claim.
                The only thing you cannot do is try to collect the debt from a discharged debtor.
As an employer. 
                You’ll probably never know that your employee has filed a Chapter 7 unless his wages are being garnished.
                If an attorney knows what he is doing he will fax you a notice of the bankruptcy as soon as it is filed and ask you to stop withholding the funds. If you have already given the funds to the judgment creditor; that is nothing for you to worry about. If you are still holding funds and don’t know what to do about it – you can ask for a court order, you can call your attorney, the attorney for the creditor, the attorney for the debtor. “I’ll give this money to whoever the court tells me to…” Generally, though, if you stop the garnishment when you receive the notice of filing bankruptcy, you’ll be fine.
                An employer will receive notice if the employee does a Chapter 13.
                If you are employed the Chapter 13 payment comes directly out of your paycheck.
                The employer will be mailed a notice from the court to withhold a certain amount per month from this person’s paycheck. You should try to do it but if you simply cannot don’t worry about it. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Debtor to pay the Chapter 13 payment, not the employer.
                The withholding is an allotment, not a garnishment, so avoid assessing points against an employee or charging processing fees. You can do it, but … shame on you.  It would be best to simply not withhold it. If a Debtor’s attorney calls and asks why it isn’t being withheld, be honest: we don’t have the wherewithal to do that sort of thing; I don’t want to be responsible for any misplaced checks sent out, etc.
                If you do assess points or charge a fee the Debtor’s attorney will likely ask for direct payment and the court in this district is good about granting that. So, hey, maybe it IS a good idea to assess points or charge a fee, your employee will ask the court for direct pay and you’re out of it. No, don’t do that. It’s best just to contact the debtor’s attorney (and your employee) and tell them you just can’t withhold it.
                And remember – 525(B)(1) – (3) of the bankruptcy code says you cannot fire or discriminate against someone for filing bankruptcy.  Any employment attorney will tell you to keep a long paper trail when firing someone. You don’t want them to say, “You fired me because I filed bankruptcy,” any more than you want them to say, “You fired me because of the color of my skin or my religion or my gender.”
                “No, we fired you because you were late five days in a row or stole from us…” Keep a paper trail!
                And just as a favor to me – don’t blame the employee for collection calls. 
                “I get in trouble when I get personal calls at work.” I hear that a lot.
                “Then don’t take the call,” I say, “tell whoever is telling you that you have a call to hang up.”
                Boss:  “You have a call.”
                Employee: “You said I can’t take personal calls at work.”
                Boss: “That’s right.”
                Employee: “Then why are you telling me?  Tell them I can’t take calls. Yell at them the way you are yelling at me now.”
                It’s silly.  Imagine how easy it would be to get someone you don’t like fired. You just keep calling his work anonymously and after a week they’ll fire him for receiving personal calls. You can clear a factory floor in a few months.
                Don’t blame them for calls. They’re not the ones calling.
As a debtor
                Chapter 7 will eliminate the debts, but will also likely eliminate the business. People or corporations file Chapter 7 to walk away from their business. Let the Trustee dole out who owns what collateral and who gets what from the liquidated assets of the company. That way, it won’t be your fault if someone gets more than their fair share – you’ve dusted off your hands of the whole ordeal when you signed the paperwork.
                Chapter 13 (for non-corporations) or Chapter 11 (for corporations) – keeps the business going. You pay a trustee or an administrator; the trustee pays your creditors. It’s never that simple but that is the basics of it.
                You file a Chapter 7 to close the business; a Chapter 13 to keep it going.
                Results may vary.  In any of the three circumstances – if you have any questions, do some research and then ask an attorney. It’s worth paying an attorney for advice to avoid confusion and aggravation. As a creditor or employer you can always call the debtor’s attorney. They will USUALLY help answer your questions as long as you are courteous about it. You can always consult an attorney of your own.
                There are not many books out there about bankruptcy. The ones that do exist give only the most general and basic information. This is because a lot of bankruptcy law, although federal, depends also on the state laws in which the bankruptcy was filed. Plus it also depends on the individual trustee and judges. Some require specific documents, such as bank account statements; some do not. No book can cover every Trustee and judge’s rules and rulings. It’s like the old joke – a good attorney knows the law, a great attorney knows the judge. It’s true – in that a “great” attorney knows what will work and what will not. What works in Tennessee will not work in Missouri. What works in central Illinois will not work in southern Illinois. What works in Benton will not work in East St. Louis.
                The closest thing to a pamphlet is the 342(b) notice. That’s just the section of the code that says we have to give this paper to every debtor. It explains each type of bankruptcy, although it’s a little dry. You can each have a copy if you wish.
                I thank you for letting me speak with you today. I hope it informed you as a business owner of your rights and duties and responsibilities under the bankruptcy laws. Thank you for inviting me.
                And I hope you enjoyed reading it too. As a bit of a disclaimer – ALWAYS consult an attorney before attempting anything mentioned above. If you try to rely on the information above to file a bankruptcy alone or to try to fight a bankruptcy as a creditor, you are a very silly person and I will laugh at you if you blame me or this speech if something goes wrong …
Copyright 2013 Michael G Curry