Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beth’s Music Moment: Smash Mouth LIVE!

Beth's music moment6[4]Last night’s concert was at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan. We’ve been there a few times, but we had never been to this particular venue within the casino, Silver Creek Event Center. We decided to get a room and spend the night rather than drive back (it’s about 45 minutes away).

On the way up, we were jamming to a Smash Mouth CD, and I tweeted that we were heading there to see them, saying something like I hoped it was gonna be a kicky blast and the band would really bend the gig out of shape (Greg Brady quote that Shane and I still use all the time). The guitarist tweeted back at me, saying “We always do!” AGH! Awesome!

We get there and get checked in. It really is a beautiful place, with a winding drive through the Michigan woods, and the resort itself is all huge timbers and Native American decor. But we noticed the smell of cigarette smoke immediately. Good grief, it’s just pervasive and gross. At least we were able to get a nonsmoking room. As a former smoker, I try to be tolerant of others and I understand the addiction...but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think it smells gross.

Onstage with SmashMouthAnyway, we get up to our room and have a beer and get unpacked, I do some makeup stuff, and then we head out to grab a bite at the Hard Rock Café in the casino. We had worried that we’d have to wait a while, but no problem at all. It was fun to see some memorabilia from some of my favorites, like the Stones, Johnny Cash, and Prince. We had a nice chat with our waiter, and he said that they’ve been getting some pretty good concerts there lately, so I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for fun shows there. We wondered if the band would stop in after the concert and he said chances were pretty good that they would...they were there all morning and were really nice guys. Cool!

Off to the show. We sat and drank our beers while the place started to fill up. We probably could have taken a little time to play some slots, but we both think slots are boring, and we weren’t in blackjack mode ($10 minimum tables, too), so it was okay sitting there for a bit. The band started pretty much on time. I had tweeted back at Sean Hurwitz, the guitarist, something like “Rock my socks off!” and he replied “Will do!”

And boy, did they ever! Let me channel my inner Stefon and say, “This show had everything! Super cool fuzzy guitar, leaping keyboardist, great songs that made you want to dance, people dancing onstage, invited up by the band, including a young teenage boy dancing with a couple of hot girls and having the time of his life. And a human spark plug.”

I’m afraid to ask...what’s a human spark plug, Stefon?

“It’s that thing when a midget wearing camouflage shorts gets on onstage and dances like a crazy person who’s been zapped with a cattle prod.”

Ohhh...yeah, that would be me. Ken took a few pictures, and I’m the short one in the picture up there. I sometimes don’t realize just how short I am, until I see pictures of myself around other people!

Beth and SeanIt really was just a total blast of a show, and I’d put it right up there with one of the funnest concerts I’ve ever been to. I’m glad I wore a tank top, because I worked up a real sweat! I waved my hands in the air like I just don’t care, I put my hands on my hips, and I let my backbone slip. They really did ask people to come up onstage a couple of times, and I’m not one to let an opportunity like that slip by! There was a girl next to me up there who also having a blast, and we exchanged a double high five and I said, “This is awesome!” It really was just sheer joy hearing this fun band and some music that I’ve loved for all these years. There were a couple of young kids up onstage, too, and the lead singer, Steve Harwell, was so cool with them. Just having fun and helping kids learn the joy of music! Yeah!

We headed back to the Hard Rock afterwards to listen to the band playing there, and Sean the guitarist tweeted me asking if we had fun. I had tweeted to him before the show “Bring it!” and after the show he responded, “Oh, we brought it!” I said, “Yes, you did!” I tweeted that if they’re heading to the Hard Rock, we’d buy him a beer. He said they were on their way. Cool!

He did indeed show up, and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy, even offering a picture with him before we asked. He didn’t linger long, but was nice enough to sit and chat for a moment. Turns out he’s only been with the band for a few months, but what a great addition. He meshes perfectly with them, and you can tell he has a lot of fun playing the music. I think it’s also great to see how he interacts with fans on Twitter. It seems that they were up at 4:30 this morning to get on the bus and head to O’Hare. Yikes...I slept until about 10:30! If you ever doubted, it’s hard work touring like that!

Beth and MichaelWe also said hi to the keyboardist, Michael Klooster. He’s been with the band from early on, and he was also a really nice guy.

We didn’t stick around real late. The band playing there was kind of fun, but I think we were both a little wiped out from the concert. When we got back up to the room, I had more responses from Sean, saying that he was glad we liked the show and thanking us for offering to buy him a drink. I finally saw the picture of me and him and I totally cracked up. I hadn’t realized he’d flashed that tongue, and I said, “You better put that monkey on a chain!” Ken went to bed a little before I did, and jokingly asked, “You aren’t going to go meet the band, are you?” I laughed and said no, but I tweeted that to Sean and he said, “Sorry Ken.” haha

What a blast. For real. I had no idea they would be that good and that I would have that much fun. A complete blast of a show, and super nice guys to boot. Fangirl approved! If you get a chance, go see them! They’re on tour all summer, and it is an incredibly fun show. Ken and I were talking about it today, and agreed that it’s just FUN music. I’ve loved ‘em since “Fush Yu Mang,” and “Astro Lounge” was my favorite. I played the hell out of that album. It has such a retro, surf punk vibe, and you all know that I dig that, Daddy-O! Man, my neck is still sore from all the dancing. But it's a good kind of sore!

Hey, if my superhero identity is Fangirl, what would be my superpower? Hmm, I need to ponder that.

Look at some live Smash Mouth (pre-Sean as guitarist). This is my favorite song of theirs. See how much fun they are. Look at it. LOOK AT IT!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bad, Bad Cindy

Hurricane CindyDid I ever tell you guys about that one time when I was in a hurricane? Like, literally IN one? Yes? You don’t need to continue reading. No? Well, kick back and sit a spell!

This happened back in 2005, and I was reminded of it the other day when we had a “group call” with our friends Kim and Steve. I can’t remember how it came up, but we had a laugh over it.

We met up with them in New Orleans for a week of fun, friendship, fantastic food, and fabulous music (I’m sorry I couldn’t think of a synonym for music that started with an F!). Like most southern coastal cities, New Orleans gets its share of pop-up storms, usually in late afternoon, but then it clears up. It happens to us often when we go to New Smyrna Beach.

Anyway, we had heard that a tropical storm was brewing in the Gulf, and we were trying to keep an eye on that. But we weren’t going to let it spoil our fun, and things didn’t seem to be too bad, so we headed out for some food, then to Fritzel’s European Jazz Club on Bourbon Street, which is always one of our stops. World-class jazz musicians play there, many of whom also play at Preservation Hall. It’s a bit of a different style of jazz, though. At Preservation Hall, they play the kind of jazz that you always think of when it comes to New Orleans. Fritzel’s has a much more European sound to the jazz there—DUH! It’s right there in the name!—and you see a lot of German signs and decor. It makes me think of a German beer hall, if that makes sense. I’m sure music scholars could explain the full differences between the two styles, but I’m not a music scholar, so don’t look at me!

It’s just really fun music, and the talent of the musicians is phenomenal. The bottom line is that if you’re playing on Bourbon Street, you’re GOOD. We enjoy it every time we go. We were having a great time that night with Kim and Steve, too, just diggin’ the music and the talent, talking and laughing. I seem to recall Kim having a Hurricane (the drink), which is kind of funny now that I think about it!

The doors to the clubs in New Orleans usually stay open, and it’s part of the charm of the Quarter. As you walk down Bourbon Street, you can hear the music spilling out into the street, and as you walk along you can go from Cajun/Zydeco to EDM to blues to jazz to straight up rock and roll. It’s a little slice of heaven for any music lover, and it’s part of the reason I fell in love with the city the very first time we went. It can also get pretty hot in these places, so the open doors help bring in the breeze. We were there in July that year, so the cool night air felt wonderful, and it felt even better when the wind picked up a bit.

We continued to enjoy the music and got really caught up in it. At one point, we looked outside and realized it was raining really hard, and that there weren’t a whole lot of people walking around out there, but that’s to be expected when it’s raining hard, right? There were still other people in the club, so we weren’t the only ones hanging out. The music was smokin’, and we were having a blast on Bourbon Street. Yay!

Things eventually wound down, and I can’t recall if we stayed until the band was done, or if we left during one of their breaks. Knowing us, I’m going to say that we probably closed the place down. So we head out to walk back to the hotel—it was only a few blocks, and the blocks in the Quarter are small—and when we got to the doorway, we stopped and went, “Holy shit.” It was just pouring, sheets of rain blowing down Bourbon Street, water running like small rivers in the gutter (since it was Bourbon Street, it wasn’t just water, either, believe me). The street was deserted, and we weren’t going to stand there and wait for a cab to go just a few blocks, so we all looked at each other, said, “Ready?” and we took off at a run.

We were all laughing and saying “oh my god oh my god” and at one point, I’m pretty sure I went “AGGGGHHHHH!” as I ran. I have never been out in such a torrential rain before, the winds were powerful, and we were all soaked to the skin in a matter of seconds. Even our shoes were soaked, and took a couple of days to dry out. We made it back to the hotel safely, if completely waterlogged, and it felt good to get out of our soaked clothes and dry off.

Hurricane Cindy2
The storm blew through that night, and as we walked around the next day, we were surprised to see so much damage. Some of the glass in the gaslights was broken, trees were downed on cars, and at the Moonwalk, there were downed limbs and debris everywhere. We started realizing then that it was a pretty bad storm. It was Tropical Storm Cindy. We joked about being out in a tropical storm.

We enjoyed the rest of our week, and made it out just in time before they closed the airport because of Hurricane Dennis, which was supposed to make landfall that evening.

It wasn’t until a while after we got back that I was reading that they had upgraded TS Cindy to hurricane status. It was a Category 1, the lowest level, but it still packed a punch.

And that was the night I ran down Bourbon Street in a hurricane.

Fangirl unleashed

This week in the Twitterverse, I had two fun things happen.

First, on the night of the horrible tornado in Oklahoma, I was feeling pretty bleak and angry and just generally mad at the world. I know my limits and broke away from the news reports to get myself together. I follow several of the actors and crew from “The Walking Dead,” and David Morrissey, who plays the Governor, tweeted a video of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash singing “Jackson.” It was such a welcome diversion, so I responded to it. And he responded back!

David Morrissey tweet

Dudes! The Governor tweeted back at me! I did my best to be cool, but decided to tweet back once more. When I got up the next morning, I had another response from him and I was like “WHOA!”

David Morrissey tweet2

I loved it that he was “soooo” jealous! Well, I mean I never intend to make anyone was just so cool to me that here I am a fan and follower of his, and he’s got people that he is also a fan of. Know what I mean? Of course, who doesn’t love Johnny Cash? If you don’t, show yourself so I can punch you in the face! haha Not really. But I will lecture you on why he is one of the greatest artists EVER. Anyway, it was so cool that he responded and in such a nice way. He seems like a very cool and fun guy, the polar opposite of his psychotic character.

My niece Jen commented almost exactly what I was thinking...that sure, he’s all charming on the surface, but don’t fall for it because he’s crazy on the inside, and did I learn NOTHING from Andrea?? (Fans of the show know what we’re talking about!) The Twitter exchange itself made me happy, and then Jen’s comment made me even happier. Great minds, I’m tellin’ ya!”

The second fun thing happened when Ron Wood, the Rolling Stones guitarist, posted a picture of himself in a suit he’d just gotten. Black cashmere. Sharp. I thought, “Why not?” and responded.

Ronnie Wood tweet

And he favorited it! AGH! Ronnie Wood, man! Not quite as exciting as a tweet back, but damn, if it didn’t totally send this fangirl trippin’.

I suppose some would say, “Aren’t you getting a little too old to be acting like this?” Screw that. I’ll never get too old to be a fangirl. I’ve never gotten as involved in a show as I have “The Walking Dead,” and I’ve loved the Stones for years. Those who know me know how much music has meant to me for almost my entire life. When Ron Freakin’ Wood favorites one of your tweets, it is a BIG DEAL.

These are some of the things that make life fun and exciting for me, and I will always be an unapologetic fangirl. Thanks, David and Ronnie, for making me smile!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into DarknessLast evening, after a bite and beverages, we headed over to see the new Star Trek movie. We are both big Trek fans, and always go to see these movies in the theaters. For the 2009 movie, we even went up to Detroit to see that one in an IMAX theater with our friend Mark! I’ve been a fan since junior high, when I’d watch the reruns of the original series when I got home from school. As I was telling my friend Lisa, some of us in school even went so far as to give ourselves Starfleet rankings. Haha! I was First Officer, just like Spock. (Yes, the geek is strong in this one, if I can be permitted another movie reference!)

I loved TOS’s message of hope, peace, and inclusion. I would say that it had a large part in forming the way I look at the world. Better living through science, right?

I won’t go into an exhaustive review of the movie here, because I hate seeing or hearing spoilers for movie franchises that I especially love (Trek and Bond), and some of the best things in this movie are callbacks to the original series and fun surprises. All I’ll say is that I loved this movie so much. It is dark, action-packed, full of TOS references, and a total freakin’ BLAST. At one point, I was sitting there with tears rolling down my face, and I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.

I’ve loved these characters for going on four decades now, and I love J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the franchise, with the development of the young officers and the bonds that they form. The bond between Kirk and Spock is especially wonderful to see forming. “I have been and always shall be your friend.” I cannot watch that scene from “The Wrath of Khan” without just totally losing it. Okay, let me get a grip.

[deep breath]

Ahh, better. I loved this movie. I’m even thinking of going again to see it one afternoon while Ken is at work, if we have a rainy afternoon this week. Of my friends who have seen it, I haven’t heard anything bad about it, and everyone seems to think it’s a ton o’ fun. Probably the first great movie of the summer. All of the actors doing the young characters are just spot on, as in the 2009 movie, and made me love them even more...if that is possible. Fantastic movie. Seriously. Word-of-mouth buzz is “Go see this movie!”

Today consisted of some work outside, including getting some flowers planted in the front flower boxes, and Ken getting some new little pine trees and planting those between the house and the road. Tonight it’s another movie (a DVD this time: “Flight”), T-bones, salad, zucchini, and a nice 2005 Cab. To quote the original Star Trek again, “May you find your way as pleasant.” (Anyone remember which episode that was from?)

What Am I??

I’m reading the cover story of the May 20th issue of Time, about the Millennial generation. It’s interesting, but I’m not quite done with it yet, so can’t really comment on it.

What surprised me was that one of the graphics included says that rather than being a tail-end Baby Boomer, as I’ve always thought I am, I’m Generation X.

This changes everything.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because it changes...well...nothing, actually.

I wonder about their year ranges...everything I’ve read says that Baby Boomers ran through 1964, although a Facebook friend informs me that a couple of people have said that it ended in 1960. I’m a little fascinated by this, though. I’ve always felt that I had characteristics of both generations. I was born in ‘62, so I’m on the cusp. Here are Boomer characteristics:

Baby Boomers

I share with Baby Boomers the influence of TV, I remember Watergate, and I have an activist mentality, advocating for equal rights for women, minorities, and LGBT. As for the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll part, I won’t speak to all of that, but you all know how much I love my music. [wink] I believe it’s not just fun, it can be an agent of social change. I am absolutely idealistic, optimistic, and one of my mottos in college was “Question Authority”! I am totally not kidding! I’ve gotten a little less rebellious as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve always had that “Who are YOU to tell me what to do?” attitude. These are Gen X characteristics:

Generation X

With Gen X, I share somewhat the influence of shows like “Sesame Street,” but I was absolutely influenced by MTV. I had a PC very early on, back in the mid-’80s, and I had a web page before blogging became common and easier to publish. (Imagine posting pictures via dial-up!) I think most people would say that I’m somewhat eclectic, I have been self-reliant at times in my life (I lived on my own and supported myself for over a decade), and I think it’s pretty obvious that I can be skeptical about both institutions and people. (Another way to put it: I can spot a bullshitter a mile away.) But I definitely was not a latch-key kid; my parents were together for over 60 years, and my Mom didn’t work when I was growing up. Although in my early career, I was highly motivated by work and got some of my ya-yas out that way, by the time I reached the end of my career, I had the attitude that there was more to life than work and began to embrace the Gen X view of “work to live.” I don’t miss the daily grind of working, not at all.

There is a significant gap between me and my older sisters. Thirteen and nine years. My friend Chris tells me that the guy who says Gen X started in 1960 was trying to make the point that there is a distinct cultural difference between early Boomers and late Boomers. I think this is true. I share many traits with both of my sisters, but they embraced technology quite a bit later than I did, and although there is plenty of music from decades ago that I love, I still enjoy hearing new bands and being exposed to new things (as long as they aren’t infectious in nature!).

My post about this on Facebook generated a lively discussion, and I thank my friends for their input and information.

I think it’s very easy to say that a younger generation doesn’t “get it,” or to fall into the “back in my day” trap. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But technology changes, as do attitudes. My Mom thinks I spend too much time online, but that is where I get the bulk of my news. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to get four weeks of vacation in your starter job, but I do think it’s reasonable to expect to have a life outside of your job and not be at the complete beck and call of the company. Depending on the job, there is an opportunity for telecommuting. (That wouldn’t have really worked with my job, but for many, it would.)

Every generation has its talents and weaknesses. It’s important for workplaces and employees to recognize that and work together to maximize every person’s strengths and abilities, no matter what age they are.

I’m not sure if that was a Baby Boomer thing to say, or a Gen X remark.

Source (Incidentally, this source puts Boomers at 1946-1960, and Generation X at 1961-1980.)

Hey, how about a little Generation X, featuring a very young and very beautiful Billy Idol? Yeah!