Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blue No Longer

Rockapella at the House of Blues -- Sunset Strip
Los Angeles, CA
Monday, December 22, 2008

The day after Rockapella: Epic Fail (heretofore known as R:EF) started off OK.  I was lucky enough to get the day off of work, so that I could recuperate from last night's disappointment.  OK, so it was originally supposed to be to recuperate from last night's revelry, but it wasn't that...um...revellious?  So I slept in, wrote lots on this blog, and wrapped 2 presents.  Way lots more to go, unfortunately, but all I wanted to do was stay in my nice, warm bed.

I finally got ready and drove to Jenn's house to meet up with her and Rhonda.  Rhonda was about to see her first Pella show, and Jenn was very excited about it.  I guess I would have been, too, if I wasn't still so apprehensive about everything.  Rhonda had been hearing a lot about Rockapella from Jenn, so she was eager to find out what all of our obsession was about.  

We drove to the Sunset Strip, almost missing the House of Blues because it's BLUE and DARK.  We were also busy looking at the Comedy Club across the street because Rhonda was talking about how much time she used to spend there.  Karla had arrived early and had been calling us.  She told us where to park, but I didn't see that, and ended up at the valet stand.  $15.00 is an exorbitant amount to park my car, if you ask me.  

Anyway, there I was with my bags of goodies again, and I passed a guy talking to one of the employees.  I thought to myself, "That guy looks like Jeff Thacher....wait a minute, Sherry.  You're at a Pella show.  That IS Jeff Thacher!"  Yes, that actually went through my head.  So I turned around, said hi to JT, and he gave an enthusiastic "hi" back.  I asked him if he could please take the bags of goodies to the dressing room, not noticing that he had 2 big suitcases to carry already.  Gentleman that he is, though, he added them to his haul, commenting on how heavy they were.  I think he thought that they were all for him until I told him that they were for all of the guys.  He went through the stage door, and I was finally happy.  Pella was here, JT took the cookies so I wouldn't have to worry about where to place them, and there would be a concert tonight!!!

We went to the restaurant and sat with Karla.  We signed our Christmas cards for the guys, signed copies for each other, and basically initiated Rhonda into seeing the obsession just take us over.  I also had a birthday card for Jeff, but didn't let Karla sign it because she had brought one from herself already.  I ordered the Catfish Nuggets because Jenn wouldn't shut up about them, and I also wanted the sweet potato fries.  For dessert, I had the Banana Bread Pudding, which was also tasty.  The trouble for me with eating before a Pella concert is that I get so keyed up that I can't really eat very much, so I maybe had, like, 3 of the baby back ribs that Jenn ordered (or maybe even just one), and a cornbread muffin along with the other stuff.  Karla kept looking over at the stage because she had a view of it, and kept telling us who was there for sound check.  When she saw Fred, I thought she was going to mess up my Christmas card because she hit me.  Cindy joined us a little while later and was able to enjoy her dinner before we decided to go outside to brave the cold and Bypass the Line.  As we were about to go down the stairs, who should appear before my eyes, but my Pella friend, Gordon!!!  Angela and I became friends with Gordon when we stood in line with him at the Redding show in May 2000, and I haven't seen him in over a year.  

APPARENTLY, "Bypass the Line" is supposed to start in different places, depending on which employee tells you about it.  So we had to go to 3 places to find the correct one.  We thought that we'd be first in line, but there were about a dozen people in front of us.  So, what?  You're supposed to order your food to go, then get in line and eat there?  Whatever.  It was cold, so we wouldn't have done that anyway.  We finally made it past the bag check and weapon wand, and I saw Gordon sitting in the front row.  He motioned to the empty seat next to him, so I took that one, then reserved some seats in the next two rows for everyone else.  Mox arrived as we were getting situated.  Karla sat behind me, and Fred walked by, so she talked to him for awhile.  He mentioned to her that he contributed to the holiday decorations on stage by including a Hanukkah stocking.  Gordon and I caught up on lots of stuff, and I also talked to our fellow fans from Reno.  They're hoping to have 2 shows there next year; one holiday, one regular.  I'm looking forward to going back there, and maybe we can stay at the Siena again.  I made friends with the bathroom attendant and just gave her a tip for the whole night since I'd be back often, and I didn't want to keep making sure that I had $ on me.  Besides, she told me that I looked really cute in my outfit: a houndstooth cape jacket, black pants, and pretty black & white-checked shoes.

Rockapella walked onto the stage wearing burgundy and white.  Very nice!  I love JT's burgundy vest.  I want it, actually.  It was red and sparkly. Anyway, they started the show with "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  Scott introduced himself as Yukon Cornelius, and I cheered for him, which made him stare at me.  I then realized that I had forgotten to place the Rudolph Ornament cookies into his bag.  Oh, well.  

They then sang a quick version of "Hope We Hold."  I don't know if they were just trying to get through all of their songs in time to catch their flights, or if I'm just used to the slower version on the CD, but it seemed pretty fast to me.  During the song, Scott smiled over at me, and I mouthed "hi."

Scott asked who in the audience was supposed to be at the Rrrancho Cucamonga show last night.  He said that their plane wouldn't start.  So there I was, picturing a pilot in the cockpit, urging the plane's engine to turn over.  

Scott introduced George, and when Geo started to sing, Scott said that George is nothing but testosterone.  Whoo, Baby!  He introduced the different voice parts as they sang a little bit of "Zip."  

Scott said that he was "so surprised to find that there are other holidays besides Christmas."  They sang the Dreidel song for all of their Jewish fans...and all of the other fans who just like hearing the song.  I especially like Scott's pelvic thrusts while the others are high-stepping.

Up next was "Winter Wonderland," and I liked the pause that Scott did for the word "Chill."  

Angela's not-favorite song was next: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and I couldn't help myself from joining in on the choreography from my seat.   Yay!  Scott's whistle solo!  He's just awesome.  And of course, I love JT's sleigh bells at the end of the song.

Scott said, "This would be the best place we've ever played if it was this afternoon, because Monday Night Football would be right there," pointing at the television at the bar.  They're big football fans, these guys.  

After singing "Glow Worm," (during which someone in the audience giggled while John danced, which puzzled me), Scott talked about John touring with Phil Collins, Tina Turner and Julie Andrews ... all at the same time!  Or not.  They then sang "Little Mary Snowflake."

Kevin said, "This has been a crazy, crazy holiday season so far and it's nice to be back in some nice, warm weather."  It was 4 degrees below zero with the wind chill outside the airport where they were stuck yesterday (Chicago).  He said, "I don't mind being called a baby girl," referring to him being a wimp when it comes to cold weather.  This was their last holiday show this year.  He said that people celebrate the holidays differently around the country.  They were in a little town in Wisconsin, and there was snow on the ground, and it was like they were in "It's A Wonderful Life."  He noted, "You know what's great, is we only had to be there one day."  He showed everyone Fred's stocking, and thanked him for being Fred.  I turned around to Karla and told her that Fred got a mention because she was there.  Kevin asked if any of us were driving or flying for the holidays, and then advised, "Don't go to Wisconsin."  They then sang "Love and the Lights."

During "Rudolph," JT asked for applause for being Vixen.  I like when JT gets to dance, too.  Karla reminded me, so we both yelled out "Yahtzee!," which scared Gordon, and made Scott look over at us.  Hey, we know when we're supposed to participate!  

John did his victory dance: "I'm done with my shopping for the holidays.  I'm done with my shopping, I know you're not!"  He told those of us that had not finished that it was already too late and we'd be in line at CVS, just grabbing anything.  He dedicated the next song to all of the love birds.  He said that they should turn to each other and forget about whatever happened before they got here tonight, look at one another and say, "This is for you."  They then sang "Merry Christmas, Darling."  I loved George's solo: gorgeous!

Scott asked Kevin where he stayed when he was traveling with musical theater.  Kevin said that at one place (in L.A.), there was a big Mormon statue outside the hotel, and he wondered, "What have I gotten myself into?"  Scott said that Jeff is the Acme, the Zenith of his craft.  Kevin said that "you can only be the King of VP if you can do sleigh bells with your mouth," to which JT responded with his sample.  Kevin said of Scott: "Not only does he have really pretty hair, but he can sing notes only dogs can hear."  Scott said, "chihuahuas."  I wish Linda had heard that.

Scott talked about the original group singing on street corners in NYC, and "people started throwing cards in, started throwing their shoes at us..."  Love it.  They sang "This Christmas Day," and they had me and many others in stitches as he tried to back up and snuggle into Kevin, and Kevin tried to ignore him, but they both ended up giggling at each other.  Ah, tenor love. :)

"KEVIN!!!"  They sang "Christmas, Don't Be Late," and I was like, "YOW!" when George did his hula hoop move.  Scott came back after the drum break wearing a sweater.  It's just so cute and Perry Como.  

At the start of the next song, Scott took his mic stand and pretty much pounded it onto the floor to sing "Please Come Home for Christmas."  A variety of microphone antics ensued, like him letting it fall to the floor, and kicking it back up again, as well as dancing with it a la Fred Astaire.  During his monologue, he said, "I felt like a turkey at a Sarah Palin rally" and later said that maybe he could "get a little bail out, a little cash."  When George started to flirt with someone in the front row during his solo, Scott yelled at him, "This is MY song!" and sang to the same woman himself.  I want them to fight over me!

Scott then gave us some facts about Kwanzaa, and talked about traditions that we've adopted from other countries.  Like on "Cinco de Mayo, we drink tequila and celebrate Mexican culture."  They sang "Matunda Ya Kwanzaa".  To you I say, "Habari Gani? -- What's the news?"  I enjoyed watching Scott trying to learn the Afrikana dancing from John while George was singing.

John chose a woman named Mariko to join them on stage.  Kevin immediately greeted her, "Hi, Monica!" and she corrected him.  He noted that she was wearing Uggs.  She said, "It's cold."  Mariko's wish was for her whole family to be together.  Kev tried to get her to say that she wanted a Rockapella CD, which she finally said.  He asked her to sing along with them, but when they started the intro, she clearly didn't know it until they got to the refrain.  Scott tried to get too close to her with his microphone and scared her.  John tried to dance Da Butt with her, which was amusing.  She mimed the whipping of the reindeer quite well, but I don't think that her part, "To Town" should have had the inflection of a question.  It was funny, though.  Kevin told her to "make sure to keep those feet warm her in L.A."  Scott said, "She was sweet.  I think we had a moment there."  Yes, Scott.  A moment of terror.

They sang, "Christmas Without You," which is my favorite original Rockapella holiday song, even though it's supposed to be depressing, because it's funny at the same time.  

George said, "I was standing up there during that last song and I thought to myself, 'I know what I want for Christmas.  I want to sing like a woman.  I want to sing like Whitney Houston."  So he did his "I'll Always Love You" thing (really, for the holidays, Geo, you should think of a nice "O Holy Night" or something like that).  He then said to us, "I want to tell you all that really hurt.  I had to squeeze my butt cheeks together and I need 15-20 seconds, to just keep laughing."  We did.  He added, "5 more seconds, please."  More giggling.  He said that he loves this part of the program because he gets to ask the audience to sing.  "Let's do Handel's 'Messiah'."  OKAY!  I know that one really, really well.  But no, we sang "Silent Night" instead, and George said, "Again, I'll be playing the part of Whitney Houston."  The audience was talented, and sang pretty harmonies.  George said, "Too bad it's the last show 'cause I'd scoop all of you up to sing with us."  To which I say again, "OKAY!"

I really like how he segued into "Grinch," talking about how our singing reminded him of those Whos in Whoville and how he hated those people.  I just plain love when they sing that song anyway, because it's pure awesomeness, but I really did like his intro.

They sang Wendy's favorite song, "Angels We Have Heard on High," and I thought about how I wished she hadn't missed this, especially the last chord.

For the encore, they sang the Jingle Bell Rock/Ukrainian Carol.  Scott said that their Rrrrancho shows would be rescheduled for either March or June 2009.  He then asked if we'd like to hear a world premiere.  Well, of COURSE!  They sang "Happy Christma-Hanu-Kwanzaa-Koliday," which leaves a lot of room for (really quick) adlib, and should be fun in future holiday shows.  It actually reminds me a lot of "Indiana" the way the beat starts with Scott's clapping.  It also involves some audience participation, during the "whoa"s.  Altos first (yay!), then Lumberjacks (manly basses), and castrati (not-so-manly high tenors).  I'm listening to it right now, and like it more with each listen.  Jeff has a workout in this one, as he does in "Indiana."  Well, now I want to hear "Indiana"!  

Scott mentioned that a long time ago, their first agent wanted them to be a group like "The Wiggles" on their first album.   Then they went to Japan to record their own stuff there, and while they toured, Scott wrote "Hold Out for Christmas," which they sang off-mic.

The Meet 'n' Greet was scattered style.  George gave me a hug.  (yay!)

I asked John if he got his package, and at first he gave me a quizzical look.  I said that I wanted to make sure that Jeff didn't take all of the goodies for himself.  He then said, "Yes, I saw an ornament or something hanging on it, but didn't look inside yet.  The bags were on the table."  Phew!  

Kevin told me that he has mastered the harmonica already.  I giggled because I asked him about that on his Christmas card.  I asked him to open his Christmas card in front of us, and he was the only one that I was requiring to do so because they were mainly done for him.  He laughed and loved our pictures.  Jenn had written "Santa says 'naughty.'  I say 'nice.'"  Kevin responded, "Ooh, that sounds seductive!"  Karla and I both said, "That's our Jenny!"  Jenn was embarrassed and hid herself.  He kept reading our signatures and said, "Oh, yeah!  You could have been in my room!"  We told him about the idea to Photoshop him into the pics.  He said, "Yeah, you could put me right here, and I could be under the covers, and you could just see my eyes and nose...and then over here, I could be jumping up in the air (during the pillow fight).  Jenn was worried that perhaps Kevin had been fantasizing about us on the way home from the Wigwam.  Okay, but that's it, OK, Kev? ;)  I later told him that Aura was there and said hi from her, to which he said, "HI!"

While I was waiting to talk to Scott, the gal that made us wait a long time to talk to Kevin walked up and said to me and others, "Oh, are you all waiting to talk to Scott?"  Yes, woman, we actually WAIT instead of just busting in!  AUGH.  She left.  My face must have been more expressive than my "Yes."  As I was waiting patiently, Jenn and Rhonda told me that the gals in line in front of me have been following this blog.  (They had thought that Jenn was me because she was talking about the Pellapusher blog to Rhonda).  I didn't want to interrupt their conversation with Scott, and I had much to say to him myself, so I'm sorry that I didn't say hi to you, whomever you are out there!  Leave a comment, OK?  

Scott thanked me for the cookies, saying that I baked up a storm.  I told him how sad we were, and he was sorry.  He kept saying how sweet we all were as he read his Christmas card.  I told him later that my friends and I made a video while they were consoling me because I was sad and had a couple of drinks, because I missed them so much.  Karla said to Scott that she and Liz both pictured me sitting on my couch, eating up all of the cookies in my grief.  He said that he'd like to see the video.  I sent it to him a few days ago, but I don't know if he'll ever respond.  As long as he gets it, I'm fine.  Karla then mentioned that I won't freeze on New Year's Eve in Utah to see Pella, but I was willing to freeze in DC at the Inaugural.  I said, "It's a once in a lifetime experience!"  She said that she'd seen it 3 times already.  I said, "Oh, you've been to see the first Black President go into office 3 times?"  Scott interjected, "Well, there WAS Bill Clinton twice."  So I hit him while I laughed.  Thanks for that, honey.  OMG, I later realized that I said, "Hi, Love," to Scott when I greeted him.  I've lost my mind.  It must be the whole holiday season-airport husband thing.   No, Lisa does NOT have to worry about me.

Karla then introduced me to JT's brother, Andy, then told me something about JT being adopted and I got all confused.  She was just kidding, though.  I walked up to Jeff as he was talking to the many friends and family in attendance, and he said, "Hey, Sweetie!  There you are!  Where've you been?"  I explained to him that I was busy waiting for other people to stop talking.  He said that he knows what that's like.  He's staying in town with his family in L.A. for Christmas.  It's nice that he and his parents could come out here.

Fred kissed me on the cheek after Karla and I gave him our cards.  I made sure afterward that Karla was OK with that, which she was.  Aw, a kiss on the cheek from Fred!  Cute.

We said our final goodbyes so that Scott and Kevin could make their flights.  I refused to tip the valet because I felt that I paid enough to have him go down and up a hill in my car.  I know it's the holidays, but I have my limits.  Jenn, Rhonda and I talked about Pella pretty much all the way home.  Rhonda really enjoyed the show, and would like to go to a regular show someday.  YAY!  I love new Pella fans!

So now my Christmas will be complete.  I only wish that it had been complete three times over by the 22nd. :)  Thank you, Cindy, Mox, Karla, Jenn, Rhonda, and Gordon for your fun company.  Thank you, mostly, to Pella for making me genuinely smile again after R:EF.  

May You All Keep the Thunder In Your Heart!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Tuba Christmas 2008

December 14, 2008
Tuba Christmas at the Alex Theater

My family doesn't really have many traditions that we follow at Christmas anymore.  Our big Christmas parties with other families stopped happening many years ago once they started to get too big due for a variety of reasons.  I'm so busy singing at Christmas Masses that my family doesn't even really get together on Christmas Eve, but sometimes we all see each other at one of my cousin's houses, to celebrate Christmas and a bunch of kids' December birthdays.  For several years in a row, we either had a pregnant family member at our Christmas Day dinner at our old Arcadia house, or there was a newborn or two.  I'm convinced that the Santos side of my family is most fertile in the months of February and March. :)

Jen, one of my former roommates, has made a tradition of going to Tuba Christmas every year, and we go to the one at the Alex Theater in Glendale to see a hundred or so different types of tubas on stage, playing Christmas carols.  The sound of all of those tubas playing together is really cool to hear.  They play one verse and refrain, then the audience sings along.  For some reason, the flyer that they distribute always has 3 or 4 verses of each song listed, which really doesn't make sense because we never sing more than one verse.  They also don't seem to proofread the paper EVER, because I'm pretty sure that this wasn't the first time that I'd seen "Hark the Harold Angels Sing" and "Angles We Have Heard on High" on the program.  We have fun, though.  We like to see how some of the musicians decorate their tubas with tinsel and lights and ribbons.  They even have a contest among themselves every year for the best decorations.  

Most of the time, we go out to dinner beforehand somewhere on Brand Blvd., then go to the Alex for the festivities.  This year, we went to BJ's, which was fine except for the fact that one of our plates got dropped on the floor and the kitchen didn't bother to tell the server, so when she wondered what was up, they finally told her that they were making another pizza for our table.  Larry never worries about being late to Tuba Christmas because it's not really his thing, so he didn't mind if he would have to wait for his food and just meet up with us later.  He got it in time, though, so he reluctantly came with us.  (Larry does enjoy the portion of the program with the professional quartets/quintets.  We don't sing during this portion, but I don't think that's the reason that he enjoys that part more than the rest of the program.  At least *my* singing can't be the reason!).  

This year, it was Jen and Larry and their girls Rebecca and Danielle, our other former roommate Jennifer, and me attending.  It had been raining quite a bit, and our organizer was really busy, but we're the core group that is required to attend, anyway.  I think that I've only been excused when the event coincided with a Rockapella concert somewhere on the West Coast.   

The concert is free, and seating fills up rather quickly.  We ended up sitting in the balcony, about halfway back.  Rebecca was very tired, and I think she lasted maybe one or two songs before she fell asleep.  We tried to wake her up for Jingle Bells, but she was completely out.  Danielle, the younger sister, decided that she would dance instead of sing.  There she was, doing little ballet and modern dance moves to the music in front of her seat, and it was quite entertaining.  Jen was worried that her daughter would inadvertently knock into one of the other audience members.  Rebecca eventually woke up after Larry had taken Danielle outside (and subsequently missed the professional portion of the show), so she didn't completely miss everything.  At least I don't think that she missed seeing Santa, but I'm pretty sure that Danielle did.  Or maybe they both missed him.  It didn't matter.  There were no elves throwing candy canes at us upstairs in the balcony this year.  Bummer.  

We went to Starbuck's afterward, and then walked by the petting zoo to feel sorry for the cold animals for a little bit.  Danielle really wanted to walk with me for some reason, even though she never referred to me by name.  (She just called me "HER" when she talked about me).  She had insisted on wearing her pretty shoes from the party that they had attended earlier, and liked to skip around instead of just walking.  At one point, she slipped and fell, and I thought to myself, "See, we learn at an early age that pretty shoes can hurt us."  Rebecca asked us questions like "Is Aunt Sherry my aunt?" and we told her stories of our college days when Jen had decided, long before she even met Larry, that her kids would call us Aunt Jennifer and Aunt Sherry.  

We had a good time, even with the moodiness of some people that aren't me, and I was a little jealous that Jen was going to the Tuba Christmas at Downtown Disney, which would have over 500 tubas playing.  Then I remembered that on the same day as the Rockapella shows in Rrrrancho Cucamonga and didn't care anymore.  Perhaps I should have just gone, since we all know now that Rrrrrancho was an Epic Fail.  Oh well. 

Merry Tuba Christmas to you and yours!  

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend 2008 -- better late than never

Thanksgiving plans for this year were originally slated to be me and Linda taking care of my brother's dogs, while Bro, V & Brady would be in AZ with V's family, and my mom and dad would be up north, visiting my grandmother.  Mama's passing obviously changed my parents' plans, and V's family was having travel issues, so we all ended up together at my parents' house.  OK, not ALL of us.  V's family stayed at their own home.  Unfortunately, Auntie Milda couldn't make the drive down either, so we missed her.  Linda and I had figured on just having tons of food left over from whatever we were cooking, but the more the merrier!

As noted in my NKOTB post, I came home from the concert and baked one of the desserts, which is one of the easiest cake recipes in the world, and yummiful.  I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning and went to Ralphs to buy condensed milk and came home to quickly bake the pie before Linda arrived.  Yeah, I could have just gone to buy a pre-made one, but that would be cheating!  

Of course, by the time Linda arrived, I still wasn't ready to go, but luckily for me, she's patient.  We drove on down to my parents' house and we saw some guy digging in the dirt on some empty land a couple of blocks away from the house.  Our imaginations ran wild, and we decided that we should check that place out later in case he had been burying somebody.  We got to my parents' house and Linda and my mom prepared the turkey while I cooked the green beans.  I somehow got confused while reading the recipe, added water when I wasn't supposed to, and therefore diluted the onion flavor instead of carmelizing them.  Duh.  Well, the dish still turned out OK, but my goal is to cook them the correct way next time, to see if I should use the recipe again.  (Mom later ended up using those leftovers and added shrimp, which was yummy).
Brady helped my dad hang ornaments and play with the train, and didn't actually want to eat dinner because he was so busy playing around.  We enjoyed our dinner, though.  Linda had added persimmons (as you would apples) to the stuffing and it came out way yummy.   My mom was just impressed that Linda knew how to cook.  I guess it's because she's one of my friends, and my mom assumes that we all go out to eat so much because we can't cook for ourselves.  My pie came out very spicy, but still edible, but the cake was the winner in the dessert department.  It is a pineapple angel food cake, and I added sliced strawberries on top, and allow the guests to use as much cool whip on top as they want.  It's light and tasty.  With ZERO fat!

While we were winding down from dinner, Bro and I tried to polish off our bottles of wine.  He drank some Chinese wine that apparently is used in the Philippines to assist with labor pains, and I attempted to finish off the Cranberry Honey Wine that I had bought in Sacramento.  We each had about half a bottle to drink by ourselves, since our dinner companions had only drank a little bit.  During all of our laughter, an episode of "Friends" came on the TV.  In this episode, Ross tries to write down all 50 states of the USA, which the others, especially Chandler, said would be impossible to do, because apparently one always forgets at least one.  So I decided that we should try it.  Especially because I had been drinking and I thought it would be more amusing that way.  Only V took on my challenge, and we individually wrote down the states.  We are both independent thinkers, so we refused any actual help.  I did try to sing the Animaniacs song "Wakko's America," but that didn't help.  All it did was get the music from "Turkey in the Straw" in my head.  After about an hour or so, I had 5 states left to remember, and V had 3.  She had drawn a map for herself.  I started to go through all of the state abbreviations, and I finally finished!  I couldn't believe, and neither could my brother, that I missed one of the states that we had actually traveled to together, because every time I hear that state mentioned, I tell people that they drive backwards there.  Can you believe it?  And that's WITH alcohol.  Oh, and I did finish my bottle of wine before Bro did.  V still had 3 left.  She agonized and finally gave up.  My next challenge was to do the state capitals, so we all worked on that together.  We looked it up later, and found that we didn't really do very well.  I didn't care, though.  I was better than Ross.

The next day, Bro and I took the dogs for a walk, and I insisted that we go check out what the heck the guy had been digging.  It turns out that he was making dirt ramps for bikes to jump off.  Or at least he made it seem that way.  At one point, Cadence went all nutso and sniffed all over the place, which freaked us out a little bit, but it was nothing.  We tired out the dogs sufficiently, and then the whole family went to Tom's Farms.  I finally got to take my picture beside the huge chicken, and Brady did not want to leave the duck pond and its fake duck. 

We bought lots of candy and goodies at the candy store, and also bought some ornaments for our trees as well as gifts for some people.  One of the items we bought was an activity book cover,  which had little pockets for pencils and pens and such, made out of cloth.  The lady had originally made them for coloring books, with about 10 pockets for individual crayons.  I hope she does well, because it's a really cute idea.  My activity book holder is very girly, and very Sherry.  The girls still felt like being out, so we went searching for Boba.  We ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant and we were drawn to the menu items, but decided to try it another day because we had plenty of leftovers at home.  The boba menu was quite sparse (only 5 flavors), but we were craving it, so we bought some anyway.  
This is what we found in the garage when we got home.

Later on, we ended up going back up the freeway to shop at the outlet mall so that V could check out the Disney Character Warehouse.  She didn't buy anything, and I ended up with a bag full of stuff.  Dad treated us to dinner at Red Lobster, and I actually ate my whole Admiral's Feast, probably due to the fact that it took me so long to work on my snow crab legs that I made myself really hungry by the time I got to eat.  Thanks for dinner, Dad!

On Saturday, we just hung out a little bit before Linda and I drove back to my house so that I could sing in church.  We bought Them Chew Balls at Aloha Boba so that V could have one that she actually wanted, and drove back to Wildomar.  Rudy came over for a brief visit, and he, Linda, and I went to Arby's for a quick dinner before he needed to get back home.  Linda and I had been planning to go to the casino this weekend, but Mom didn't want to join us because she knew that Linda wasn't a big gambler and that we therefore wouldn't stay very long.  So the two of us went to Pechanga.  Rudy called as we were trying to find a parking space, and he wanted to join us, so we left to pick him up at his house, which wasn't very far away.  We returned to Pechanga with Rudy, got Players cards for Linda & Rudy, and looked for places to play.  It took forever for my favorite game to open up, and actually Linda & Rudy were both done with their free play, so they just gabbed away in the food court while I played my cow game.  I didn't win, but I had fun.

The next morning, V treated us all to donuts.  They don't have any good donuts near their apartment, so their Sunday morning tradition has been thwarted as of late.  The glazed twists were in the shape of alligators, and apparently they even had eyes on them, but Brady had eaten all of the eyes before I came downstairs.  While my dad was outside, he saw that their neighbor had come back from a morning run, so Bro and I went out to meet her.  She and her family are all drum corps fans.  Their daughter was in last year's SCV, which made us happy.  Unfortunately, that daughter wasn't awake yet, so we didn't get to meet her.  We did yell for her, though, at Finals, even though we didn't know her yet.  We talked lots of drum corps talk, and Bro was very happy to be speaking of all things SCV.

We said our goodbyes to Bro, V and Brady.  Brady said, "Bye, Tita Sherry Baby!" and I missed them already as soon as they drove away.

Linda and I said our goodbyes to my parents and headed over to Disneyland.  We eventually met up with Cindy & Glenn and their friend, and hung out with them for awhile.  I saw my friends, the Blyn family, in line for the castle walk-through, so that was a pleasant surprise. 
 Main Street City Hall at Twilight

Linda and I ended up leaving for dinner and ate at Mami King, because we wanted some soup, and we were happily sated.

Thanksgiving weekend was great, and I'm glad that Linda was able to spend time with us.  She feels that she's part of the family now that my mom felt comfortable enough to criticize her for not gambling enough.

I thank God for my wonderful family and friends, and will cherish many memories from this weekend.

Oh!  I forgot!  If you are diligent in reading my blog, and can recall the NKOTB post, you might be wondering what happened to Liz and the whole pie ordeal.  She ended up buying 5 pies.

Here's her experience when she arrived at her sister-in-law's house.

Sister-in-law: "Where's the cake?"

Liz: What cake? Joe said to bring pie."

Mother-in-law: "I told Joe to bring two pies. One of them apple."

Sister-in-law: "But I made two pies."

Liz: "Okay the message relayed to me was to bring an apple pie, a chocolate silk pie, a pumpkin pie and a sweet potato pie. I ruled out the pumpkin pie"

Mother-in-law: "That is not what I said. Joe just wanted pie."

Joe: "You said pie"

Sister-in-law: "So there's no cake?"

Jordan: "Which pie is mine?"

My mother -in-law had no idea that her son sent me on that dangerous mission the night before Thanksgiving.  I believe we each went home with a pie  :)
Ah, family.  Ya gotta love 'em, 'cuz sometimes you're all they've got.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wishing I Could Click Click Click

New Kids on the Block
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Nokia Theater -- Los Angeles

After seeing the New Kids concert in Dallas with Angela, I had been looking even more forward to the night in L.A.  I had bought tickets awhile ago for myself and my friend Aura, whom I had met at a Rockapella show several years ago.  When I had read her blog showing how excited she was that NKOTB was back and touring, I offered to get us tickets.  Later on, her cousin April, whom I also know from Pella shows, wanted to join us, so I got another ticket for her in the next section over.  I had never seen a concert at the Staples Center, and I was happy that my first non-sporting event there would be my beloved New Kids.

Somewhere along the line, the Staples Center people realized that the NKOTB concert conflicted with a Clippers/Nuggets game.  WHATEVER.  So they moved the venue across the street to the new Nokia center, where I had been earlier this year, so at least I knew the layout of the venue.  The Staples Center refunded my pre-paid parking fee, and assigned us 3 seats that were supposed to be comparable to the ones we previously purchased.  Um, no.  One of the seats was much closer to the front of the theater than the other 2, and on different sides/sections.  So, being me, I took the one closer the front, and sent the other two to Aura and April, hoping that they would at least be next to or near the revolving stage in the back of the orchestra section.  I mean, hey--I didn't want a family feud to occur over NKOTB seats!  OK, so I also wanted to be up close.  I'm lucky that I have such understanding friends as A&A. :)

Traffic to Downtown L.A. was horrific from the valley.  It was the day before Thanksgiving, after all.  But I was entertained for awhile by Liz's telephone call.  Apparently, Liz sees me as some kind of pie afficionado, so I helped her think of places where she could get 4 or 5 pies for Thanksgiving Day without needing to have made a reservation.  (Her husband's family decided at the last moment to have a big dinner even though she'd been asking about it for a couple of weeks already.  They're stressed out, so that's excusable.  What Liz didn't understand, though, is why one of the pies listed was pumpkin pie, since nobody eats it).  All of the pie talk was making me hungry, and I needed to find a restroom, so I exited the freeway and went to Panda Express to get some dinner to go.  No, I wasn't planning on eating Chinese food while driving, but I sure was tempted once I got back into the crawling traffic, with the yummy aroma of Beijing Beef and ChowMein wafting about inside in my car.

I finally made it to the Nokia, parked the car in the new very well-lit parking structure, and proceeded to eat my dinner.  As I was eating, I people-watched and played a game in my head:  "Clippers Game or NKOTB Concert"?  I think I was more amused than I should have been, because I kept guessing wrong on purpose.  There were a lot of Nuggets fans, which surprised me a little bit.  I was already dressed for the concert, but did need to do my makeup and atchechapies and such.  Since I still had plenty of time, I read a few pages in my book between the times that I was being distracted by the couple and child that had parked beside me.  It seemed that they were arguing about something, and were trying to decide if they should still go to the game.  At one point, she was ready to leave her man there, and just go home with the kid.  I felt sorry for the kid because he had to hear the fighting, and because he probably just wanted to go and watch the basketball game.  They ended up all going upstairs together, so I guess they decided to see the game.  No, they did not appear to be NKOTB fans.

I went upstairs so that I could go buy the track jacket that I had been eyeing in Dallas.  At the top of the stairs, a bunch of fans were staring at a tour bus, hoping that NKOTB would step out shortly.  I stood around for a little while, but realized that I needed to buy merchandise so I went to the theater.  

Wow.  My seat was in the front row of the orchestra section, after the break from the pit, on the right side of the house.  I then felt really guilty about taking this seat, but that didn't last very long, since A&A were still having dinner, and I was just hoping that they'd get there in time for NKOTB to take the stage.  I met the gal seated next to me, whose name was Cathy.  She warned me that they were all crazy, and that I'd enjoy hanging out with them.  I love sitting next to fans who are excited like me!  I went to the souvenir line, which was really long, but at least it was more organized than the one in Dallas.  They didn't even have my track jacket hanging.  I was disappointed, but I saved myself a bunch of money and bought an expensive program instead.  I met more people in line, including a gal who had gone to the first Staples Center show the month before, as well as another gal who had been shaking earlier in the day because she was so excited.  She told her mom that she thought it was because she was cold, but her mom told her that it was her adrenaline.  I think her mom's right.  So does she.  I thought I saw Aura in the restroom, but when I smiled at the woman, she just looked at me with no recognition whatsoever, so I felt stupid and texted Aura.  She wasn't even in the building yet, so that wasn't her.  Dummy.  I went back to my seat and chatted a little bit with Cathy, who said that she's going to be going to London for the first time so that she can see NKOTB there, too.  She'd also been at the Staples Center in October, and was willing to pay for the VIP tickets for this show, but couldn't get them.  She reminded me a little of myself.  I wonder why. ;)

The opening act was Ga-ga, whom I didn't really know, but at least she wasn't Tutu Girl from the Dallas show.  I did finally recognize her hit song "Just Dance," so I didn't feel old and unhip anymore.  

Everyone in my section then went nuts, because who should walk by but the Lachey brothers.  I was just loving the Boy Band love.  Nick was lookin' good!  They passed by several times, which distracted us in our row quite a bit during the evening, but it was a good distraction.  I wasn't that big of a fan of  N*SYNC, but I do like some of their stuff.   I think I enjoy Justin Timberlake's solo stuff more, though.  But I digress.

Natasha Bedingfield then took the stage.  It was her birthday, and her last date of the tour, since the USA portion of the tour was ending that night.  She was as amazing as she was in Dallas.  I really still have to get that other CD of hers.  Perhaps I'll buy Justin's CD while I'm at it.  At one point, I thought that she was pointing at me and waving, but I could just have been having a moment of delusion. 

The big screen showed NKOTB's performance at this year's American Music Awards.  I can't believe that I forgot to record that thing.  Mmmm...they looked good on that screen.  Before the show had started, I told the gal on the other side of me that they were going to be RIGHT THERE, and that I was going to freak out.  She laughed and said she'd freak out, too.  Once A&A arrived, I relaxed a little bit, and sent a text to the number on the screen (this time I could see the number without squinting), but they didn't show my text message on the screen because NKOTB was about to start.

They started with "Single" and the crowd went crazy.  Once they transitioned into "My Favorite Girl," Donnie walked over to our side of the stage, and jumped on top of the speakers.  I went bananas.  I wanted each of them to do that, but they didn't.  Donnie was the only brave one, and he didn't do that more than once.  Maybe he got talked to.  I don't care.  It was awesome to us!  The gals on the other side of the gal on my right were drinking beer and going even more crazy, and the staff had to tell them several times to step back to leave room in the walkway.

When they sang "The Right Stuff," Jordan walked over to our side, and I yelled "HI, JORDAN!!!" as if he knew me or could hear me or even see me.  He's just still way cute.  And right there!  Sure, I wasn't in the very front, but I didn't need to look at any of the screens to see them well.  I was quite happy.  

During "No More Games," Jordan led our section in the "Wizard of Oz"-sampled "Oh-ee-Oh"s.  OK, I'll sing for you, baby!  Ahem.  When they showed the Boston teams on screen, especially the Celtics, I sat down.  I refused to cheer for the Lakers' rivals anyway, but when we were across the street from Lakers Home Court, I felt that everyone else in the theater cheering was a bunch of traitors.  No, I didn't boo, but I did feel like we deserved to be in the Nokia at that moment, because I couldn't imagine myself being able to bear all of the Celtics fandom if we had been in Staples Center.  I maybe would have worn a Lakers shirt just to piss them off.

When they got to the section with the revolving piano, I was disappointed to see that the piano was on the stage in front, instead of in the back of the audience, as in other shows.  They did go up the aisle, though, to sing a little bit from the back.  It really wasn't enough time, though, as compared to what I saw in Dallas.  

Joe talked about the old days, what fans would do, like throwing stuffed animals and such, as opposed to now, when the fans throw underwear on stage.  Yeah, that would have been creepy back then, but now we're older and allowed to be sluts, I guess.

OK, so this night I was closer to the stage than in Dallas, and much happier to see Jordan's bare chest in "Baby I Believe in You."  Hello, Beautiful!  He's just ... swoonworthy.  At this moment, I was so hating the fact that I didn't have a smaller camera to hide in my purse, because I'm sure that I could have taken some awesome pictures (they were not caring at the security line).  But at least I could concentrate on the show instead of the photography, right?  I did try to get a couple of shots from my cell phone, but they were too bright.

After they sang, "I'll Be Loving You Forever," Donnie asked if we were ready for more.  We screamed.  He asked, "Are you sure?!"  We screamed louder.  Then Jordan repeated Donnie's words, "Are you sure?" and snickered.  Yeah, Donnie, like we're going to say that we've had enough, and they should just go home already.  I only think that during the Celtic stuff.  Not the going home part, but the ENOUGH part.  

They sang "Click Click Click," and I mimed the camera action at the same time as Joe.  He saw me and pointed, smiling.  I beamed.  During the final pose, Joe lifted up part of his shirt and said to us, "Jordan said that he'd give me $2,000.00 for showing skin... He gets big bucks just for ' Baby, I Believe in You'."  We just kept on screaming.  Joe did win the pose-off, though.  

We all sang "Happy Birthday" to John, who is celebrating his 40th this year.

There are some classical instruments played on the recording of "Step by Step," which are simulated during the stage show by the synthesizer.  I mimed one of the violin riffs at the same time as Jordan.  That was cool.   

Joe told us that the thing to say now is "LET'S GET LOUD!!!"  So we yelled it at him.  Then they showed the whole Boston Celtics "Let's Get Loud," and I just stood there.  I would have sat down, but there were a lot of people getting in front of me at this point because it was just crazy.  Staff was frustrated with all of the non-listening.  But it was still OK.  

I met up with Aura and April for a brief chat before their ride arrived, then I went back to the parking structure.  People were again gathered around across the street from the tour bus, hoping that they'd see the guys one more time.  Yeah, I stayed for awhile.  Then my feet told me to get the hell home because they were hurting, and because I had a pie to bake.

Remember those girls drinking beer in my row?  Somehow that beer got into the plastic bag holding my expensive program, and got it a bit wet and drunk.  I was quite angry, and tried to salvage it, but it still sucks.

I got home and realized that I didn't have condensed milk.   It was too late to go to the grocery store, and I was exhausted.   There's not really a substitute for that and I was already trying out a new recipe, so I decided to bake the cake before going to bed, and would go to the store in the morning. 

Thanks, NKOTB for the great time!  Thanks, Aura and April for not hating me!

Once the concert ended, I already missed them.  Was I ever going to get to see them again?

Well, apparently maybe, since they have just announced that they'll be back in the USA in 2009.  YAY!  Hmmm....maybe they'll have an even cooler jacket next year.

DLR LotD 12/26/08

Disneyland Resort Line of the Day
Friday, December 26, 2008

"...he looks like he could kick some major cybernetic ass." -- Ryan, at Catal, upon meeting Mecha Gloomy Bear

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rockapella 12/21/08: EPIC FAIL

Rockapella in Rancho Cucamonga
Sunday, November 21, 2008

The night before the RC show, I had a bunch of friends over to keep me company as I baked goodies for Pella.  This is an activity that I usually do with Angela, but ever since she moved to Texas, I've felt really lonely when I was baking for Pella without her, and I knew that this year would be no exception.  So I had my friends over to entertain me from my living and dining rooms as I baked up a storm, and got drunk in the process.  I can't help it if I love Cranberry Honey Wine, people.  A couple of my friends saw me in the final throes of drunkkenness, and told me that I should drink more because I'm cuter that way.  Cuter for me, or cuter because they're drunk, too?  You decide.  I went to bed at about 3:30 a.m.

I woke up and designed the bags for the guys, got dressed and did my hair, and decided I'd do my makeup and nails in my car since I would have a couple of hours to kill before the show.  I had asked Wendy if, through her theater connections, she could get me into the green room before the guys would get there, so that they would have goodies waiting for them before their arrival.  So I left early and made my way to Rancho Cucamonga, forgetting the directions at home, and needing to call Jeff to find out how to get there.  Duh.

When I got to the theater, Wendy opened the door, and immediately told me, "Don't freak out."  So I'm thinking to myself, "she doesn't want me to freak because I have no makeup on, and the guys are already here" or "they're not going to let me go to the room at all" or "Wendy saw a big stain on my outfit and now I need to shop for new clothes 3 hours before the show."  I was NOT expecting her to say, "The show has been cancelled."

Cancelled?  WHAT?!  I almost dropped my goody bags.  My beautiful, wonderful-smelling goody bags.  She and I went into the lobby and sat down to discuss and stop each other from shedding tears.

APPARENTLY, the guys were stuck in 2 different airports (JT and Fred in Denver due to the runway being on fire, and the other in Chicago due to severe weather).  The airports were so backed up that they were not going to arrive in time for the show.  Not for the 4:00, not for the 7:00.  I followed Wendy's instructions and didn't freak.  Instead, I went into Manager Mode and texted/called everyone to advise them of the cancellation, and advise them that I wasn't kidding.  I had been so excited about these shows:  I had a Virgin Rockapella Concert fan coming to the 7:00 show, we had really good seats, and I was hoping that they'd sing a rare performance of "Snowstar."  I was UP. SET.    I had flashbacks of my childhood and not being able to see Scott Baio at Knott's Berry Farm.  Thank goodness I'm not 13 anymore, no crazy adolescent hormones for me to try to control in front of my friends.  Just regular Sherry moodiness.  Wow, I was a mess at KBF that day.  Back to No Pella though.

Wendy called hubby Jeff, advised him that she wasn't kidding, and also told him that I was hungry and needed food, so we could all go out to lunch and commiserate.  When Jeff arrived, I asked him to take a picture with us by the Concert is Cancelled sign.  
California Sad-Eyed Girls

I was so sad that my hunger pangs went away for a bit.  It didn't matter anymore that I hadn't eaten anything in 12 hours.  All that mattered was that Rockapella would not be here today.  We're not supposed to be affected by weather here.  This is So Cal, dammit.

I gave some goodies to the guy who would have let us into the room, and he said that he would definitely need them to get through the day of providing bad news to eager concertgoers.  He told us later that he'd be in the theater's production of "Sweeney Todd," so I'll probably go to that show, not only to support him, but also because I really want to see that on stage.

We walked over to The Cheesecake Factory, and although it looked really crowded, we only had a 5-minute wait.  I decided that I was too depressed to eat anything healthy, so I ordered the Shrimp and Bacon Club sandwich and fries.  It was huge, and I had forgotten just how much yummy bread was on it, plus I think my big appetite had decreased quite a bit due to my emotions, so I pretty much picked at it and just made sure to eat the protein.  We looked at the view from our vantage point: there were the beautiful San Bernardino (of CSEG fame) mountains, with a beautiful powder of snow.  
Wendy had been thinking that the guys would have such a pretty view when they landed in Ontario, especially if she and I had gone up to the mountains to write "Welcome Pella" in the snow.  OK, so that last part was out there, but I liked the thought.

We decided that it would be sadistically interesting to go watch the theater workers turn everyone away at the door, so we went back to the Cultural Center and sat inside the lobby for awhile.  Wendy and I became more sad when the time came to 4:00.  We were supposed to be inside, waiting in our seats, and Rockapella was supposed to be backstage, eager to entertain us.  I didn't cry at all, but I was really, really sad, especially for Wendy and Jeff, because these were the only holiday shows that they'd see this year, and they had talked up the boys at their workplaces, so they had a lot of friends coming.  They had called all of their friends in time, except for one.  When we were at the restaurant, Wendy saw a friend of hers drive by, and realized that she hadn't called her to tell her not to come to the show.  Oops.  Luckily, I had reached my friends before they left their houses, too.  But there I was, all dressed up with nowhere to go, no Pella to see my pretty shoes that only cost $15.00, 
a ton of goodies with nobody to eat them, and no songs to hear live for the first time.  SIGH.

We talked to the house manager, and she said that they only found out about the flight problems at noon that day.  At first, Pella's agent thought that they could at least get the guys out in time for the 7:00 show, but then they called back a few minutes later to tell them that it wouldn't happen.  They had to call of the the theater volunteers (all of them had signed up for this one because it's such a popular show), and then had to call all of the ticket holders.  They offered a full refund to those that did not want to go to a rescheduled, non-holiday show, plus a 15% discount for any other show due to the inconvenience.  The manager said that they faxed a bunch of dates that the theater was available, so that the agent could figure out the reschedule, and said that it would most likely be a Sunday again so that they could do both shows in one day, and it would be easier that way.  She said that the agent was even willing to reschedule the shows to this Tuesday the 23rd, but that would be too short of notice to everyone, and not fair to the ticket holders because the theater would only be able to hold one of the shows on a Tuesday night.  She had suggested to the agent that they should just let Pella go home early, but he advised her that they still needed to play in Hollywood on Monday, so they could not do so.  So Pella was still going to arrive in the evening, as they did get flights out.  I was happy that I'd still see Pella, but sad for Wendy and Jeff and all of their friends that wouldn't see them at all.

We also talked to one of the box office workers, who told us about her ordeal calling all of the ticket holders.  Her very first call was to a guy who was upset because he had rented a limo and made dinner reservations and it was supposed to be a special night out for him and whomever he was taking to the show.  Awwww....her FIRST call was that sad?  She took a deep breath after that and braced herself for even worse.  It turns out that most people were understanding, although some didn't understand how a concert was delayed because of severe weather when they could see outside that it was a beautiful, clear So Cal day.  When they were told that the guys were in Indy last night, they understood.  One guy had traveled down from Nor Cal, so he was unhappy and just wanted a refund, no reschedule, nothing else.  I was grateful that at least we hadn't traveled for this show, like we do much of the time.

Since I had dressed up all cute, I messaged my other friends and asked that we go do something with our now-free evening.  I said my sad goodbyes and Merry Christmas greetings to Wendy and Jeff, hoping that I'd see them soon.  

I called Angela to share my sadness with her, and she was plastered, so that was funny.  I then felt sorry for her because she wasn't going to see any holiday shows, either.  But at least she wasn't EXPECTING to see any holiday shows, much less 3 in a row.  I went to Aloha Boba to drown some of my sorrows in Them Chew Balls before meeting up with my friends.  My only requirement was that we go somewhere that we don't normally go, and that it be a place that serves hard liquor.  Wine was just not going to do it for me.

Glenn, Cindy, Jenn, Mox, Linda and I all went to Macaroni Grill and sat at the bar for our dinner.  I got sad again when my phone showed that I had a calendar appointment to see Rockapella at 7:00 p.m.  My friends were great company, though, and I cherish them for making me laugh when I'm down.  I also cherished the 2 Cosmopolitan Cellos that I drank.  Yum.

We went back to my house to hang out. 
 Linda and I decorated Rudolph Ornament cookies. 
 Do you know that they make edible ink now?  Mox decided that it would be easier just to suck on the pens.  Cindy decided to share that fact with our twitter community.  Cindy also just plain cracked me up for much of the evening because she was tipsy from her Leaning Tower Bellini thing, and also just wacko.  Glenn and Mox collaborated on splicing this video together, upon suggestion from Jeff E.  I don't know if Scott will let me send it to him, or if I should just burn him a copy, but this is how we felt:

I look forward to HoB.  I don't want to receive a phone call from them, unless Rockapella is there, and on the phone to make sure that I'm going tonight, and bringing them goodies.

Pillows for Pella

Rockapella at the Wigwam
Day 3
November 22, 2008

We returned to our house suite, and got ready for our photo shoot.  We had decided that we should take pictures of what Kevin would be bluesing about with his harmonica, or at least do something similar.

We felt like (very modest) Victoria’s Secret models, decked out in our jammies and pretending to fight.  After a few photo snaps, though, we couldn’t hold back, and ended up actually hitting each other and knocking each other down.  

Posing with Pillows for Pella

So, guys, when you are all fantasizing about your favorite women having pillow fights, YES, they’re actually getting into it.  They may not always be as naked or fighting over you as you would necessarily want them to be, but pillow fights are fun.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of that, unless they had a bad personal experience with a pillow.
Pillow FIGHT!!!

We also took some photos of us in the big bed in Karla’s & Wendy’s room.  Now that I think about it, we should have left an empty space and photo-shopped Kevin right into there.  Oh, but these pictures were going onto the Christmas cards for the rest of the guys.  They might not have enjoyed that as much as Kevin. ;)
Don't we look like a welcoming bunch of fans?

Brady was delirious with exhaustion, so he ran around quite a bit and enjoyed watching our pillow fights (we’re training him early), before we all went to sleep.  Well, Jenn and I had to giggle quite a bit before actually falling asleep, but you know what I mean.

Bro and family left before breakfast the next morning, and Wendy had a lot of time before her flight, so Jenn, Karla and I went to the hotel gift shop to have pastries and coffee at their in-house Starbuck’s.  Jenn wrote some postcards, and I bought myself a Wigwam t-shirt as a souvenir.  

We said our goodbyes to Wendy, happy that it would be only one more month until we would see her again for a Pella show.  Jenn drove us back to the airport, where we got into the very long line to check our bags.  It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so that was to be expected.   Karla’s flight was going out of a different gate, so we bid her farewell. The people at the security line were annoyed with us,  because Jenn is on A-list status with Southwest, and I had just become the same, so we got to bypass the long line.  I was annoyed by the one family that was holding up the line due to gate restrictions, but I need to remember that not everyone travels as much as Jenn and I do.

Our flight was fine.  Jenn’s car service guy didn’t get lost nor did he take forever to pick us up or get us home, so we were happy.  I had a fabulous time on this trip.  I hope to return to the Wigwam and maybe even stay longer to enjoy the spa again, and maybe Rockapella will play there again.  Maybe they’ll fix the speakers and the lighting by then, too.  Sheesh.

One month to go, and we have holiday shows!!!  YAY!!!!
See you in December!

Rockapella, Featuring the Santos Family

Rockapella at the Wigwam
Day 2
Saturday, November 21, 2008

That's our house, on the left.  Isn't it nice?

In the morning before going to Cracker Barrel, Jenn and I had to make a Target run because both of us had forgotten our brushes/combs at home.  Hello, I just friggin’ bought one at Hooters, and I still forgot it!  We got a little teensy bit lost trying to find CB from the Target location, but that made our trip a true Pella one:  Target and Getting Lost are mainstays for the PellaPusher and her Posse. So we got to CB, I got my pancakes, and all was right with the world.  Especially because I was also able to order Sweet Tea to get me all hyper.  We shopped in the store for awhile and Jenn absolutely loved a toy talking bird that mimicked everything that anyone said near it.  We didn’t have room in our luggage, though.  I bought a harmonica for Kevin for his birthday, as well as a couple of Christmas gifts for other people.   After asking strangers for change for my dollar, I bought a local paper and found that Rockapella was indeed listed as one of the events on their calendar.  I also found a hilarious “Dear Abby” type page, which will be posted at a later time. We returned to the hotel and spoke to the desk clerk to arrange for Karla and Wendy to stay in the adjoining room, and also tried to get reservations for seats for the concert, but that was a no go.

We got back to our room in time to prepare for our spa appointments.  It so happened that our room was kitty corner from the spa building, so we took a very short walk over and saw that yes, the door to the spa was actually red.  Jenn was happy with the Lindor truffles that they offered. I was happy to be in a spa after a long time away from them.  We were welcomed and guided past the lap pool, and into the dressing room.  We were given a short tour, but the lady who entered the spa with us didn’t need a tour because she was too snobby and had been there before, I guess.  We changed into our robes and left our belongings in very nice lockers which had programmable unlock codes.  We sat in a waiting area for a little while and drank some of that yummy spa water with the fruit slices in it before our massage therapists took us into our individual rooms.  When I walked into the bath room, I was in awe of the size of it.  The tub itself was HUGE, a fireplace had been turned on, and there were 2 lounge chairs as well as a separate shower.  Jenn later told me that it was a rain shower, so I regretted not using it, but will do so next time.  The MT, Kaki, advised me of the timer, showed me the complimentary candied nuts and water, as well as the iced washcloths to get relief from the bath’s hot water, and then prepared the tub for my Hydrating Milk Bath.  She left the room, I climbed into the tub, and wavered from relaxation to sliding all over the tub.  It was too large for me, and I didn’t know if I was supposed to fill the tub all the way with the water, and didn’t really want to for fear that I might fall asleep and drown.  The milk powder had made the bath really silky, and I did enjoy it, and thought to myself how Jenn and I used to play in the tub when we were little girls and pretend that we were mermaids.  We would have just loved playing mermaid in these bathtubs!  Once my time was up, I dried myself off and when I opened the door, Kaki was waiting for me.  She brought me into a different room that had 2 massage tables, and we proceeded with the Red Door Signature Massage,  which included aromatherapy, an herbal eye pillow, and a full body massage, including the face.  I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, and I arose from the massage table, my legs were a little wobbly from all of the relaxation.  I wanted to go into the sauna, but there was already a lady lying down in there, not leaving much room for another person.  When Jenn was done with her massage, we went to the steam room, and it surprisingly did not choke me like some steam rooms.  We talked about our baths and massages, and she said that she thought of us being mermaids, too!  We saw that the lady had left the sauna and went in there afterward.  Then Jenn got more truffles and we sat outside with our feet in the Jacuzzi.  The lady must have been annoyed by us and left eventually, so we were then free to talk and plan out the day.  Bro called while we were getting dressed, and we met them outside the spa.

Brady wouldn’t hug or kiss me, so I was annoyed for quite awhile.  We went back to the room, and showed them our living room, where’d they be staying after the concert.  Wendy had already started getting ready, and was startled by my brother’s knock on the adjoining door.  We were all happy to have a house all to ourselves!

We got pretty for the concert, and my companions were hungry, so they went ahead to Red’s Steakhouse for dinner while I finished getting ready.  In the meantime, Karla arrived and met up with all of us later at the restaurant.  The food was quite tasty, and I would definitely return.  I just had a little house salad, which was very good, and was able to taste some of the others’ entrees.  We all signed a birthday card for Kevin, and so did a couple of celebrities.  I was antsy because I wanted to make sure that we would get in line early.  Bro had left with Brady ahead of us and called to tell us that the line had already started forming, which irritated me because I got all competitive about the seating.  We ended up being about 10th in line.  I was also concerned because they started allowing people to line up at another door, and didn’t want those latecomers to obtain the seats that I wanted.  When they opened the door, we quickly grabbed seats in the front row, near the center, on the rhythm section side.  I was no longer irritated or concerned.  I was just happy that we’d be able to see the guys.  The lady introducing them to us advised that they were the season opening act for the West Valley Arts Council.  

Rockapella was wearing dark-colored outfits as they started the show with “Tonight.”  Scott introduced all of the guys after the song and introduced himself as John McCain.  The man sure knows what territory he was in.  They then sang “For You.”

Scott said that when he heard that they were playing at the Wigwam, he didn’t know what to expect.  He said that they rarely go to Arizona, but on their way to AZ, they passed through New Mexico and realized that they had never done a show in that state.  Scott asked that if anyone at the concert was from NM, they needed to “get us out there to play at the Denny’s or something.”  

The stage was a small one, as evidenced by the guys running into each other as they tried to walk around during “Zip.”  John did a great job in that song.  Go, John, Go!  I informed Karla and Jenn that the pitch pipe wasn’t the only outline that I could see in Scott’s pants.  

They then sang “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and Kevin jumped down from the stage to go out into the audience.  When he came back up to the front, he looked at our group and took my hand, so I got up and danced with him.  That was fun!  I was wearing a 60’s type cut in my dress with ankle boots, so I felt like my outfit fit the period of the song, and I was a happy camper.  Jenn told me after the song that she wanted to reach for her camera, but then she’d have to put her head down right where Kevin’s private area was, so she decided against doing that in the inevitable event that I’d punch her.  In the middle of the song, the lights dimmed, which made Scott react because they had just done a pelvic thrust kind of move before it happened.  At the end of the song, when they sing “I love you more/ you more/ you more,” Scott was gesturing to me, and I was even happier.  That song was just way cool that night. 

They then sang “Stand By Me,” and John had to sing with the right-side speakers having some kind of problem.  I could see the sound techs approaching the speakers and they tried to fix them, but the sound kept wavering all night long.  Annoying.  

Scott lost his mind during “Use Me”:  he sang “Scottsdale People,” which is not where we were.  Oops.  Later, though, he redeemed himself and said, “They got the beat in Phoenix."  Scott was in rare form during his dorky part of the dance segment.  He was, like, Dorkorama.  

Kevin said that they had had a really long travel day.  They stopped in Charlotte, and thanked some woman named Joanne for picking them up today in style with a big yellow Hummer.  They had to stop for gas twice, though. :)  He acknowledged a group of kids from a local high school.  He talked about his 8- and 10-year-old girls when they came home on election day.  One of them said, “Daddy, daddy, we got to vote!”  Grace, when asked who she voted for, said, “That’s my own personal business.”  She’s growing up, and now has her own personal i-phone at 10 years old.  (I don’t even have an i-phone).  Kevin talked about how dry it is in AZ, saying that he always has to drink water, and he forgot his chapstick.  Somehow this discussion about the dry weather led to Kevin saying “All men here at the Wigwam and beach vicinity wear Speedos.”  So they sang “Under the Boardwalk.”  During the lyrics “on the carousel/we’re turning round and round,” George made a circle for a ferris wheel instead of a carousel.  Knowing that this has already been pointed out to him as incorrect, he looked over at us and smiled.  At least I THINK he knows that was wrong.  Maybe he was smiling at us because we were cracking up at his wrong-ness, and thought we were just enjoying ourselves for no reason.  

They then sang “Tell Me What You Want.”  Afterward, they walked over to bring their stools upstage.  The stools were quite big and fancy.  Scott: “Man, that’s the best stool we’ve ever had.”  Kevin: “That’s a Paul Bunyan stool.”  Scott: “That’s a Pecos Bill stool: we’re in the Wild, Wild West!”  They sat down and the ballroom was hushed as Scott started to talk about the next song.  So there we are, at the quietest part of the show, and a child’s voice from the front row says quite loudly for all to hear: “NOOOO!  DRINK!!!”  Laughter ensued.  All of Rockapella looked into the front row to find Brady arguing with his parents, and  Veronica taking him out of the room.  Scott responded by saying, “I need to go potty, too.“  Kevin mimicked a toddler and said, “Get me out of here!  I hate these guys!“  That’s my nephew, everyone!  Presenting Rockapella, featuring the Santos family!  I was mortified, but could not stop giggling.  Leave it to my family to be the center of attention during a Rockapella concert.  

They sang the beautiful “California Sad-Eyed Girl,” but the inconsistency of the speakers was driving me crazy.  Scott talked about the individual talents of the guys, and, during the discussion about George, there was one lonely clap for him being from Philly.  One clap.  Not one person clapping.  One. Clap.  He got more of an ovation when Scott said that George was the sexiest Frankenstein ever, to which Scott responded, “Was that for the ‘sexy’ part, or the ‘Frankenstein’ part?”  I’m hoping that it’s the sexy part, Scott.   Scott then said (mostly to the group of high school students), “Thank you for coming here instead of going to see ‘Twilight’ tonight.”  Hmmm…vampires or Pella?  Or is it vampires vs. zombies?  I really need to get that Zombie thing I’ve been wanting.  Back to Pella:  Something happened which made Scott asked Jeff, “Is there going to be any long-term damage?”  Jeff said, “I can crack walnuts with my tongue.”  Rrrrrrr.  No, I don’t remember if the question to Jeff and what Jeff said were related.  I’ve forgotten.  All I know is that Jeff can crack walnuts with an apparently very strong tongue.  Oh, my mind is going to places....Anyway, during all of this, I could see that one of the sound dudes was again trying to fix the speakers.  

They sang “Paper Doll,” which, for us, is Rhythm Section Wonderfulness, especially that wicked bass part.  Jeff saw our faces of awe and wonder and smiled at us.  Yeah.  Jeff actually SMILED at us from the stage!  Whoa.  They closed the first part of the show with “Rock the Boat.”

During intermission, we giggled at the bits and pieces of the show, especially Brady’s part in it.  He was just cranky and tired, and the speakers were too loud for him, so when Bro and V were asking what he wanted, they couldn’t hear/understand what he said, which resulted in the big outburst earlier.  V decided to watch the rest of the show from the side, standing up so that Brady could still see.  Wendy told me that she wants to scratch my eyes out (for dancing with Kevin).  Karla and Wendy asked me if they could give Kevin a hard time for looking at them before seeing me and dancing with me.  Well, of course you can! I would do the same thing!  

The second part of the show opened with “It’s A Small World.”  Ooh!  George changed his shirt to a black one.  I like costume changes, because that means that they had to take off something at some point.  Scott informed us that he had a Power Bar and a Diet Mountain Dew during the break, so he was ready to go.  Diet Dew always reminds me of Scott, so I cheered for him.

They proceeded with the Jingle Medley.  I like John’s little leg lift during the final “coconut” in their first Mounds/Almond Joy version.  Scott talked about singing anything for any occasion, including corporate functions.  In fact, one of those corporate functions was right there at the Wigwam a really long time ago.  Ooh, I like the interaction between Scott and JT during the rejected Dr. Pepper song: Scott mimes pulling the tab on a soda can, and JT does the sound of the carbonation.  Very cool!  

They sang “Long Cool Woman” REALLY quickly.  My goodness, is Scott going for the record of fastness?  Or is it just him challenging JT to see if he can keep up?  He, of course, is stellar at it, so no problem, but wow.

John picked a gal in the front row named Mimi to be serenaded to by the guys.  They sang “My Girl.”  Kevin introduced her to the guys, and after George interrupted Kevin with his sexy walk and voice, he went back to his place on the stage, smiled at Kevin, and waved to him.  Cute.  Mimi is a Music Education major from Puerto Rico.  This prompted Kev to sing lyrics from West Side Story (which I also do when I hear the name of the city): “Puerto Rico…” and Scott responded with “My heart’s devotion…” and I was happy as a clam to hear my Pella singing something from my favorite movie musical.  Oh, and that’s my favorite song in the musical, to boot.  (Where does that “to boot” thing come from, anyway?)  Kevin then began to sing, “Mimi, Mimi, Mimi, Mimi, Mimi, Do Re Mimi!”  Loved it.  They sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” and we all liked the look of surprise on her face.  I also liked her black patent leather shoes, which I pointed out to Jenn at the same time she pointed them out to me.  

They began “People Change,” and we heard an “Awww…” from the back of the room, which caused Scott to make a pouty face.  During the song, a moment of darkness occurred when the lights inexplicably dimmed again.  They kept singing, and Scott paused before the phrase “clear for you to see.”  So it was another funny rendition of “People Change.”  At least there weren’t any crickets!

When the other guys walked off stage, George said, “I used to sing high like those girls.”  John stuck his head out from the curtain to react.  Funny.  George talked about filming “The Bodyguard” with Whitney Houston.  Not.  He said that his college major was in Vocal Performance, and his teacher told him, “If you want to sing high, squeeze your butt cheeks together, face forward to the audience, and make sure you’re wearing black.”  Ah, so THAT’s why he changed his shirt!  He listed his musical influences including--Britney Spears.  George has lost it.  He started to sing “Papa” and we enjoyed the Geo Butt Action that could be seen from our seats.  NICE.  Jenn asked if we were saying that because he did new stuff.  I said, “No, we were enjoying the butt action.”  Sometimes my mind goes to places other than the wonderful music I’m hearing.  I was not alone in that, by the way.  Right, Karla?

They sang Carmen and JT did his amazing drum solo.  I love hearing the audience’s “wow”s during that part.  Yes, folks, that is the appropriate reaction to the LEGEND.  

For their first encore song, they sang “Shambala,” and I was annoyed by the audience’s clapping on beats 1 & 3.  People, please get some soul.  Since it was so close to the holidays, they sang “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  Scott did a sign to the others that we use in church: whenever we need to end the music, the leader holds up his/her fist to show that it should be the last verse or last repeat of the chorus (as in, let's close this thing out).  I got all choir-geek happy when I noticed him doing that.  Yeah, I’m wacky.
Brady OUT after the show

The meet and greet was a scattered one, and again, most of the guys were taking a red-eye home in order to rest up before the onslaught of holiday shows.  We were still able to talk to all of them, though.

I first talked to Scott, and introduced him to Brady, he who interrupted the show with his outburst.  Scott said, “Oh, that was your nephew?”  I explained to him about Brady being antsy and wanting a drink.  Karla gave him a Rancho Cucamonga Quakes baseball shirt, which he really liked.  He really, really liked it, because he was raving about the color, along with the fact that it had the name of his favorite city to pronounce, which he did for us a couple of times to make us laugh.  He said that he went to the World Series and had tickets for two more games, but they didn’t happen because Tampa lost.  Wendy asked Scott to go to her house after the RC concerts, so that he could sing “Angels We Have Heard on High” on their answering machine.  He said OK. Karla was happy because Scott actually did the math when she told him that she was excited because this was her 91st show, and her room number was 91x3.  I asked her if she thought JT did the math so that he could join us later on as a surprise, but she doubted it.  I suggested that we just walk around the hotel grounds and call out his name.

Wendy told John that he’d been working out.  He signed my program on the black portion with a black pen, so I voiced my annoyance, and advised him where the autograph would show up better.  Then he proceeded to sign Karla’s program on the same page of hers, but on the white portion.  You see? They do listen sometimes.

I said hi to George and he told me that he saw me trying to upstage everyone.  I told him that Kevin CHOSE me!  What was I supposed to do, just sit there?  He said that he did see that I was grooving. Wendy asked him what mood he was in according to his mood ring.  He said that he was green, which means calm.

We said hi to Kevin and he said to me, “You were rockin’!”  He met Brady, who high-fived and pounded fists with him.  Cuteness.  I gave him his birthday card, and noted certain signatures from celebrities, thanks to Jenn.
“Thanks for your vote!” -- Obama and Michelle
“Thanks for nothin'.” -- J. McCain
“I can see Florida from my house!” -- Sarah Pallin, complete with hearts in places where dots should be.
Kevin laughed at each one, and when he hugged me, he said that he was glad that Obama won.  Apparently, his entire family was rooting for Obama, except for Grace.  She had kept her vote secret because she voted for McCain and everyone else voted for Obama.  Kevin said that it wasn’t actually a secret until everyone had already told her their preferences.  I mentioned Kevin’s statement that Grace has an I-Phone.  He said that she was given an I-phone because she was able to walk around a whole year without losing a fake one, so she earned it.  Kevin was happy to receive a harmonica for his birthday, because he didn’t already have one.

I told him that if he had been able to stay overnight, he would have been invited to the after-party in our huge suite-house.  Wendy told him that we were scheduling a pillow fight for 12:30 a.m.  Kevin invited us to sleep in his room.  Yes, he did.  He meant that if we wanted to get sleep while others partied, we could use his room since he wouldn’t be there, but all I focused on was that KEVIN INVITED US TO SLEEP IN HIS ROOM.  He said that his harmonica is now very handy, because he can play the blues in the airport, singing, “I got 3 girls in my bedroom…and 2 in the bathroom…but I’m not there…”  He also told me what it was like to live at home with all of the girls in his house.  He said that no matter how grown up they get, they still want to get in bed with Mommy and Daddy, and then he proceeded to demonstrate by snuggling up to me.  So at that point, all I could think of was that KEVIN IS SNUGGLING WITH ME.  

I waited patiently for JT as he handled the business matters, and when he saw me, he said, “You looked like you were having fun out there!  That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to watch you from the stage.”  Yes, if you are following along carefully, you know that all I could think of was that JT WAS WATCHING US FROM THE STAGE.  I pointed out to him the fact that all of the signs posted spelled his band’s name R-O-C-K-A-K-P-E-L-L-A.   He responded, “That’s fantastic.”  
People, there is only supposed to be ONE “K” in Rockapella.  So JT agreed to have his picture taken with the sign.  

After saying our final goodbyes to JT (unless he was going to join us after doing the math from Karla in his head), we headed off to the Kachina Lounge in the hotel, where we enjoyed our delicious dessert and drinks.  

One of the desserts we ordered was not available, so they gave us a replacement dessert -- on the house.  NICE!  Oh, and yummy, too.  I enjoyed my quesadilla, but not as much as I truly enjoyed my chocolate martini.
  Ummy Yummy.  

Next up:  After Party antics

Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome to the Wigwam!

Rockapella at the Wigwam Resort
November 20-22, 2008

Day One: Thursday, November 20

When we realized that this venue would be at a Starwood Resort, Jenn graciously decided to allow us to use her points to get a room for free, and she also got one for a VERY reasonable price for Wendy and Karla.  At the last Pella show that we attended, we told Scott that we would be at the Wigwam, and he got all excited, hoping that they would get to stay overnight there as well.  Rockapella had apparently played there a long time ago and he said that it was really nice.  So that made me look forward to it even more.

Jenn and I decided to get there early in order to take advantage of the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.  We flew there after work on Thursday night,  I marveled at the fact that Jenn is a premium member for her car rental company, and her name was on the light board with the number of the parking space where we could find the car.  Neato!  I always feel like I’m traveling in serious style when I’m with Jenn.  We were really hungry when we arrived, and the problem we found was that we were still on Pacific Standard Time, and Arizona was on Mountain Time, so many of the restaurants closed by the time we arrived.  I remembered that I had seen a Cracker Barrel on the map before I left, so I called Bro to let us know where to go.  Unfortunately, that was closed, too, but we found the CB, which happened to be close to the Wigwam, and decided that we’d go there for breakfast in the morning.  Remember how much I loved their pancakes when I was in Utah?  So we ended up at a Denny’s, which doesn’t close.  The waitress marveled at the fact that I did know of a Denny’s in Michigan that closes.  She said that she didn’t know about it, and she’s from that area.  Oh well, maybe she doesn’t know all of the Denny’s in Michigan.  I happily ordered breakfast without pancakes (I was really looking forward to CB’s), and Jenn ordered a patty melt.  This is significant only to me because I remember our days in college whenever Jenn orders one of those.  She used to get that all of the time when we went to Herschel’s.  I never even knew what a patty melt was until we got to college.

We went to the resort, and found that there were lots of little bungalow-type dwellings.  I did a little bit of reconnaissance to find out where Rockapella would be performing, and the logistics of the tickets and such.  We then drove over to our room.  We were misreading the addresses on the doors and almost ended up trying to open someone else’s room.  When we found our room, Jenn was disappointed at first, thinking that our room was small.  I was just happy to see a robe and turn-down service.  

The bathroom was nice because we each had a sink, and you could actually walk into the closet.  You could even change clothes in there and probably iron your clothes there, too.  The toilet and shower area wasn’t very big, though.  Then we realized that we had an adjoining living room.  I mean, ohmigosh, it was like the living room in an actual house!  It was huge.  There was another desk in there, so Jenn claimed that as her office, and we had another TV in there, and a full fireplace.  The sofa had a pull-out bed, and we also had a wet bar, which had a very nice fruit and cheese tray with water and a note welcoming Jenn to the Wigwam.  
We also saw that there was yet another door from the living room and realized that it was probably another bedroom, so we decided that we would ask if it was available for our friends to stay there.   We unpacked our luggage, then sat down to watch TV and enjoy our fruit and cheese plate.  Jenn introduced me to eating a date wrapped in Muenster cheese.  Quite yummy, I must say, and I subsequently made myself another one.  We were very pleased with our room, and, as usual, giggled at each other until we fell asleep.

Next Up:  Spa Day and Pella Show

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Team Clueless Atchechapies

Posting this picture by request.

On the left is the winner of the Best Clipboard contest from MouseAdventure.  OK, so we made up our own award, but it really WAS the best one there.  I fashioned it out of a black clipboard and foam letters with adhesive backing.  I didn't have enough letters for all of them, so I had to do some fancy stuff to make the letters C, L and U.  The circle with a line was designed and cut from a sheet of the same type of "Fun Foam" from Creatology.

On the right is the mascot of Team Clueless, AKA Gloomy Bear.  He was not loved much by the other contestants, which led us to believe that we probably don't need to hang out with them since they don't appreciate our twisted sense of humor.  We did like the team with the winning mascot, though, because Gloomy handed them an assist for their win of the Mascot category.  Gooooo, Gloomy!

Toward the top center is the button that we ordered, attached to the Team Leader and Team Participant lanyards.

I really should do a complete write-up of our MA experience one of these days, huh?