Monday, November 16, 2009

Little LEGO Legends

I have yet to complete my trip report from the trip to Boston, but I just HAD to share this with you!  (er, whomever, y'all are)

Remember that LEGO figure of Mark Twain from my time in Connecticut?

Well, here is a mini-MT, along with other historical figures.

My favorite is Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  I love those Tudors!

Yes, Mom, that's LEGO, too.

The Celebration Continues

When the Houston Rockets played the Lakers at Staples Center last night, Trevor Ariza was awarded his NBA Championship Ring.  He brought his son along with him.

What a nice moment!

Thank you, Trevor, for your great help in helping my favorite team win its 15th championship!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

DLR LotD 11/15/09

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"OK.  I've had enough of those balloons." -- Repeated  multiple times by mother of birthday girl, who then allowed her daughter to walk around with them anyway, blocking others' view of Tiana's Showboat Jubilee at the Rivers of America

Friday, November 6, 2009

Helen takes Sher to Hartford

Rockapella at Lincoln Theater/University of Hartford
Friday, October 2, 2009
West Hartford, CT

When Kevin announced that he would be leaving Rockapella, I decided that I wanted to see them as much as I could before his last show.  Cindy turned to the Dark Side and decided that she wanted to go, too, so we decided to go to Boston.  I had Friday off anyway due to furloughs, so I figured that I could see two shows in one trip.  Unfortunately, I had to do the 1st part of the trip by myself, but I had fun anyway, as you'll see. :)

I took a red-eye flight on JetBlue out of LAX on Thursday night.  The flight attendants offered a Sleep Kit, which included an eye mask and earplugs.  That's nice!  I didn't use it, but I kept it for whenever I'd need it.  I had an aisle seat, and the man next to me asked if I would switch seats with his wife, whom was also in a middle seat, but I declined.  It's too long of a flight for me to be uncomfortable, sorry, and I chose my seat a while ago.  I remember when I was on a choir tour and we were flying back from overseas, and Rudy asked someone to switch seats with his "fiancee" so that we could sit together.  That person was nice enough to switch with me, so I felt a little bit guilty this time.  But back then, we didn't get to choose our seats in advance, and I think that I'm the one that ended up in the middle seat that day.  Dude slept for most of the flight anyway, probably for longer than I did.  I wanted chocolate chip cookies for my snack, but the flight attendant said that they needed to get more from the galley.  This never happened.  I don't know if it was because the flight was a little bit turbulent and they forgot about me or what, but they also didn't come down the aisle with the hot towels that they announced about over the PA system.  I got to Boston without any major problems, though, so that's a good thing.

We arrived at Logan Airport in the morning, and I went to Alamo to pick up my rental car.  I spied a PT Cruiser, and hoped that it was available for me since I had driven one before.  The agent at the desk was very nice, and I asked for a GPS.  When I asked about the toll booths, he said that I could rent a transponder for the EasyPay lanes, which would be good for the whole weekend, so I opted for that as well.  I was allowed to choose my own car, so that PT Cruiser was mine!  It was white, so it wasn't as pretty as the PFCV, but at least I didn't have  to learn to drive a different vehicle for the drive to CT.  

I was advised not to turn on the GPS until after I got out of the tunnels, since it wouldn't work in there anyway.  I followed the agent's directions and set up the address ahead of time, and turned it on as soon as I was in open air.  Well, the darn thing kept stalling.  Luckily for me, I had also printed directions before I left home, so I didn't panic.  There I was all alone in my car, strange area to me, and getting frustrated with the GPS.  I needed to think of a name for her, as several of my friends have named their personal GPS.  The name "Helen" came into my head, probably because I already felt like I was in Hell with the dang thing.  So Helen it was named.  I stopped at a rest area, one of the fancier ones with restaurants and gift shops.  I decided to do as the Easterners do and have Dunkin' Donuts coffee with a pumpkin muffin for breakfast.  Aside from naming Helen and yelling at her to stop sleeping and guide me already, I spent my drive time admiring the fall colors along the highway.  It was pretty, and I wished that the rest areas had some of the nice scenery so that I could take pictures.  I mean, I couldn't ask Helen to do anything other than the job that she already wasn't doing.  She was too busy giving me the silent treatment.

Once I arrived in Connecticut, I stopped at the Welcome Center, which was quite small and old, just like the state is small and old.  I was going to arrive in Hartford early, and needed to find something to do before check-in time.  The Visitors Guide mentioned the Mark Twain House, so I figured I'd go there.  That is, if Helen would let me.  Well, she got me there just fine, but I couldn't figure out where to park.  It took some driving around and Helen now yelling at *me*, but I finally found the correct entrance.  

I arrived just in time for the next tour.  Mark Twain lived in Hartford because that was where the big publishing houses were.  He lived next to Harriet Beecher Stowe, but they were of different generations, so they didn't exactly hang out together.  (I could have toured the Stowe house as well, but I was tired and wanted to get to the hotel).  He lived there with his wife and 3 daughters.  The property has recently undergone a major refurbishment.  It was beautiful inside, with intricate decor and our tour guide was quite knowledgeable.  We were all surprised when she told us afterward that we were her very first tour, because she did really, really well, fielding questions and providing trivia.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside, but here it is from the outside.

Clemens Home

I walked around the Visitors Center for awhile.  LEGO was one of the sponsors of the renovation, and they did a LEGO Mark Twain.  I kept singing to myself, "Mark Twain" a la the boat at Disneyland.  If any of you had been there with me, you know I would have sung it out loud.

LEGO Mark Twain

I bought "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" for myself, as well as a picture book of the house itself, since I couldn't take any pictures inside.  Then I went to the hotel.  I stayed at the Hilton in Hartford, and my room was nice, with a very comfortable bed.  I took a short nap before getting ready for the show, then I had dinner at the M&M Cafe downstairs.  The food was OK, and I realized that I still don't like bleu cheese.  

Then Helen and I made our way to the University of Hartford.  We had a hard time getting there, what with Helen giving me the silent treatment half the time.  It was dark, and since it was a University, I needed to find my own way to the Lincoln Theater.  At one point, I thought that I had arrived with a few minutes to spare, so I parked the car, and walked quickly to the theater, where there were guys in tuxes standing outside.  I asked them if I was at the right place, but no.  They told me where to go and suggested that I come back to watch them in the orchestra if I was too late for Rockapella.  As much as I love orchestral music, I don't think I would have been a happy audience member if I drove all the way to CT for No Pella.  

When I got to the Lincoln Theater, I saw that there were a lot of people standing outside.  I picked up my ticket at Will Call, and was told that the performers were late, so the doors weren't open yet.  Phew!  I made it!  I had pictured myself running down the stairs to my seat in the front row and the guys giving me a hard time, but I dodged that bullet.  They finally opened the doors about a half-hour after the scheduled show time, then we had to wait until everyone was seated before the show would start.  The configuration of microphones on stage was different than I'm used to, so I figured that there must be an opening act of either a couple of guitar players or a group that included little people.  

Someone walked on stage and said that it was Parents' Weekend and Homecoming, so he was happy that Rockapella was there to entertain and support their benefit (a portion of the Rockapella CD sales went to the benefit), which was for local non-profit agencies.  The opening act ended up being L'Shir, U of H's premier a cappella group, which included 10 men and 8 women, none of whom were little people.  Their repertoire included "Love the One You're With", a song that I think is called "Peace of Mind", "Put Your Records On" and "Love That Remains the Same".  They did a great job, and I wondered if they watch "Glee".  We had an intermission after that.  I texted Angela, and told her to rub her (pregnant) belly and kiss her son Tyler for me.  She told me to kiss Pella for her and rub their bellies, too.

The guy that introduced L'Shir earlier returned to the stage to announce Rockapella.  I saw Scott walking on the stage a little bit early, not realizing that someone was going to introduce them first.  Scott APPARENTLY didn't get the memo:  he was the ony one wearing a light-colored suit, and the others were in dark colors.

Scott introduced himself as Chris Dodd.  I realized that this is one of the last times I'll see Kevin, and already got a little bit teary.

4U 4Now 4Life:  I love this song, and at one point I was screaming inside "OMG, I LOVE THEM!!!"  I have realizations like that once in awhile. ;)  Some people in the audience were from Springfiled, MA, home of Basketball.  Scott said to them, "You braved the state line!"  He then introduced the band, saying that JT's throat mics were used to pick up the rumble 'neath West Hartford.  


Got To Get You Into My Life:  I thought to myself, "You know, Scott's an awesome arranger."  See?  Realizations.

Stand By Me, which is when JT gets to take a break.  As I looked for JT, I saw that there was a guy watching from the sidelines, and wondered if he was the new guy.  I think he was just security, though.

Use Me:  Kevin's ring fell off during the stepping, rolled around, and he picked it up with a little smile and put it in his pocket.  During his high note, Scott just stopped using his microphone, and Kevin was laughing at him.  I'm really going to miss Kevin's laughing at the other guys.

Kevin told us the story of driving from Florida to Michigan for his wife's family reunion.  He didn't make any plans for different stops, just thinking that they'd figure stuff out as they went along.  They got hungry after a while, and Kevin looked around, saying to the girls, "We've got McDonald's, Wendy's..." and the girls said from the back, "HOOTERS!"  Kevin looked at his wife, then said, "We're not going to Hooters."  His wife repeated it.  But then the girls began to chat "Hoo-ters! Hoo-ters!" and Kevin said to Amy, "Well, they've got the best chicken wings," and the kids got their way.  When one of his daughters saw the waitress, she said to Kevin, "Dad, she's really pretty."  Kevin replied, "She's not that pretty," trying to avoid Amy's stare.  He said, "You've got to watch what you say in there.  I tried to just look at the TV and on the game."  

Under The Boardwalk:  Kevin sang, "You can almost taste the Hooters wings and french fries they sell."  At the end, he said, "Thank you for going to Florida one last time with me."  And I started tearing up again.

Tell Me What You Want
Wait.  Maybe that's John's ring, because Kevin was talking to him about it.

They brought their seats upstage, and Scott noticed that his had some water on it.  "Refreshing! It's like a peppermint patty on your butt."  He asked Kev, "Did you wet your seat as well?"  Then they all noticed that the stools spun around.  Scott said, "Oh my God, this is a good spinner.  It's like some kind of college secret stuff.  I'm getting dizzy!"

California Sad-Eyed Girl:  OK, I'm crying now.
Scott said that Kevin was in several Andrew Lloyd Webber shoes, er..shows.  Kevin said, "He's got nice shoes."  Kevin has also been in "Into the Woods", as the first Jack of Jack & the Beanstalk of the national tour.  I wish that I had seen that.  Kevin said about Scott," I like to say that he has the hair of corn.  You can make a lot of ethanol on that hair."  The mascot for U of H is the Hawks.  Kev said, "Hawks can hear really, really high notes, too," looking at Scott.

Paper Doll:  JT began to spin his chair around during Geo's wicked bass part, then they all did a ripple of chair spinning at the end of the song.  It was hilarious.

Rock the Boat:  Geo did an extra point for "Do the Hustle" and cracked himself up.

Jingle Medley:  "You ain't nothin' but an ointment (for my bottom)" -- I had never heard that part in the parentheses before.  Cute!

My Girl:  John chose Jill,  Kevin asked her for her sign in his high voice.  Jill was brought to the show by her boyfriend, Mike.  Kev:  "Is he a cool guy?"  Jill: "He's all right."  Kev: "Wow."  They've been together 6 months.  Mike has seen Rockapella 4 times, and convinced Jill to come to a show.  Kev:  "You didn't come the other times?  'Cause what?  You thought we sucked?"  Jill is a dental student.  Kev:  "I would go to Jill for my dentistry."  He sang, "Oh, Jill..I've got a toothache.  Oh, Jill, Jill, Jill, Jill -- OW!"  Kev cracks me up.

Ain't Too Proud to Beg:  It took a while for Scott to get Jill to dance, and she still wasn't really dancing when it go to Kevin's turn. 

Geo sang "I Will Always Love You".  He said that, "Being the bass of Rockapella, you have to be cool all the time.  My job is to make the ladies' seats rumble." So we screamed.  "So I walk around like this.  This is called The Dip, y'all."

Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Carmen:  JT backed into his little stage after his solo.


Up On The Roof/Wonderful World:  Somebody's cell phone rang between the penultimate and last notes of the song.  Scott said to Kevin, "Was that a cell phone?" before singing the last note.  I wanted to throw that person's cell phone away.  I mean, Hello, Dummy.  

Meet and Greet
There was a picture of a carousel in the lobby.  It's too bad that there wasn't a picture of a ferris wheel as well, so that I could show the guys the difference.  I talked to Fred, and he asked why I was there.  I told him that it's a state that starts with a "C", so I had to be there.  Fred said that the guys were only a little bit late.  The show started late because there was a problem with the electronic ticket readers at the door. 

I couldn't tell which way the line was going, and neither did anyone else.  I went to the table where L'Shir was selling their CDs, bought one for myself and complimented them.  Yes, they love Glee and schedule their rehearsals around it.  :)  One woman was telling a L'Shir member that she should go on American Idol, and I told her to just audition for Glee.  

I met Pamela, whom had driven in from Ohio.  She was very nice, and we took pictures of each other with Rockapella.  For some reason, she doesn't think I'm psycho.  Perhaps she will after she reads this.  

The guys were surprised and pleased to see me, even JT!  I told them that I'd be in Boston tomorrow.  I asked the guys if they could please sing CSEG for Kev's last show in CA, and especially asked Kevin.  They all said yes, and Scott said, "Of course!"  John wondered why they wouldn't be singing it anyway, and Scott informed him that it would be a holiday show.  I told them that I had seen the Temptations, and they asked how it was.  JT had seen the show, too, and said it was great.  I told them that they don't do enough of the rolling-arms motion, and John said that it would be difficult while holding microphones. I told them all that I just met Pamela and  that I like her.  They said that Pamela is cool and they like her, too.  I totally forgot to rub their bellies and kiss them, but maybe then Pamela would think I was psycho, so perhaps that was a good thing that it didn't happen.  As IF I'd have the nerve to do that!  :)   They were already in picture-taking formation, so here we are.

JT's family was in town, and they were going to go to The Cheesecake Factory afterward.  Scott said that he was too full to go.  I said, "Full?  Of what?  Potato chips and Diet Mountain Dew?"  He said yes.  I told him that I wanted to shove a cake down his throat, but knew that it wouldn't go anywhere.  He laughed.  See his happy smile?

Sher & Scott  ... and some guy

I told Scott that he missed the memo on the suit colors.  He said that during the shows in the summer, John called him a snowman because he was wearing a white linen suit with a pink shirt, and all of the others were wearing black.  

I told Kevin that I'm crying already, but I'm happy for him.  I talked to him about his website, and the pictures of his straight hair.  He said that it was actually a wig, but perhaps his hair would have looked like that because it was long.  I pictured Kevin using a hair straightener for hours before each show.

Pamela and I chatted for a long time, and exchanged numbers so that we could keep in touch.  We were mostly chatting for a long time because Pella was taking pictures in the lobby with L'Shir, and we couldn't leave. She's going to tomorrow's show, so I hoped that I would see her then.

Helen somehow got me home in the dark, but not without a little bit of yelling again.  I swear, she hates me.

Rather than end this post with negativity, here is a happy moment for you to see.

Awww...Sher & Kev

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Frozen No Longer

For Posterity:

A month or so ago, I got to get dressed up all pretty.

I was able to briefly see this guy in person, and tell him, "I love you!!!" quite emphatically.  He said, "Thank you very much!"

I was happy for the rest of the day.  A few years ago, when he passed by me, I just froze.  Not many people can make me do that.  But this time was different.  I only wish that I had time to tell him about Gloomy Bear. :)

Absolutely MJ

I didn't feel like doing the passing-out-candy thing this year, so Mox, Linda and I spent Hallowe'en together at the mall. We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, where I ordered my favorite, the Luau Salad.  When I arrived, one of the employees quickly pushed open the big door, almost hitting me in the face.  She ended up being our server, and said the word "Absolutely" at the end of every stop at our table. 
Her: "Is everything tasting OK?" 
Us: "Yes." 
Her:  "Absolutely."
I asked my friends to say the word to her sometime during the evening, and Linda quickly said it to her as the last word of our dinner time.  She, of course, was oblivious and probably didn't hear Linda because she was rushing around so much.  Thanks anyway, Linda!

I had thought of watching a Hallowe'en-ish movie, but sometime during the day, I realized that I wanted to see "Michael Jackson's This Is It" while it was still in theaters.  My companions graciously obliged. 
  • What an exciting moment for those auditioning to be the dancers for the show!  They flew in from around the world for the chance to dance on stage with Michael, and just to have the audition was mind-blowing to them.  I would have felt the same.  I can't even imagine what it would feel like to hear Michael saying to the others in the production company, "She's the one."  I mean, WOW.
  • The principal dancers were mostly male, and they were great.  I had seen them dancing on The Ellen Degeneres Show early this week, and enjoyed seeing them dance, doing the moves that were influenced by MJ.  I was not impressed by one of the gals, whom really just stood there and looked sexy, with rhythm.  I mean, *I* could have done that!  Move your feet, more!  She danced much more during the film, though. 
  • As good as all of those dancers were, when MJ was on the stage, he made everything look effortless.  The guys were noticeably working their butts off, and he, at twice their age, would just move like the music flowed through every inch of his body.  I mean, you can have a million people dancing "Thriller," but my eyes will always focus on Michael, because it's all him.  More amazing was the fact that we knew that MJ was saving his energy, what performers term "marking", because it was rehearsals that we were watching.  Even knowing that, he still out-danced everyone else.
  • I loved hearing him sing a cappella, in little bits and pieces of songs in order to demonstrate what he wanted from the musicians.  His voice was beautiful.  I wasn't crazy about his duet during "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" because my ear was telling me he was flat, but again, it was rehearsal, and he was marking at the time.  When he started jamming with the female vocalist, though, he got into the groove, then told Kenny Ortega not to let him do that, because he was supposed to be saving his voice.  Kenny told him that he knows MJ can't help it anyway.  It's hard to hold back when you're a performer and you know that people are watching you.
  • I had avoided a lot of the news coverage surrounding MJ's death, because I didn't want to deal with that sadness.  It started hitting me, though, when they were rehearsing the Jackson 5 segment of the show, and he sang "I'll Be There".  What an amazing talent we were able to witness, from when he was that little boy until now.  And now I'm finally crying about it as I type this.  Yes, his legacy will be marred by several things, but I prefer to remember him as that little boy with the angelic voice that blew me away when he did the Moonwalk on the Motown Anniversary Special.
  • I'll also remember him for those awesome videos that he produced.  And there he was, producing more videos for those same already-awesome ones as lead-ins to the live songs.  My favorite one was for "Smooth Criminal", which is a song I really like anyway, but the editing was great.  I also enjoyed the "Thriller" piece.  There's a big black widow spider that comes on stage, and MJ comes out from underneath it.  Neato.
  • I enjoyed seeing how MJ worked with the musicians, saying that the music needs to be what the fans are used to hearing from the records.  Because he's so hands-on with the production of everything, he remembers every note.  Not all artists can accomplish that, and certainly not all of those with a repertoire as big as Jackson's.  He knows what the fans want to hear, and he wants to give it to them. 
  • That female guitarist rocked the hell out of her axe.  I mean, Damn, Girl!
  • I liked seeing all of the different sets.  They were going to have ghosts flying above the audience for "Thriller"; they had a silhouette of NYC a la "West Side Story" for "The Way You Make Me Feel"; and they had dancers popping out from beneath the stage, like bread from a toaster, for a few songs. 
  • I loved it every time he said, "That's why we have rehearsal" whenever somebody didn't do whatever it was that he wanted.  That, and "It's all for the love."  So absolutely MJ.
  • My favorite part was "Billie Jean".  That man can dance.  I liked seeing the reaction from the dancers, the "extensions of Michael", as they watched from the audience.  They were all going crazy, as they watched their idol do his signature moves.  I mean, hello.  The man that you've been trying to dance like for all of your life is *practicing* those moves in front of you!  O.M.G. 
  • Whoever said that the man was frail during those days before his death needs to see this.  No frail man can do those dance moves.  Plenty of healthy people can't do them.  Nor would they have the energy to scream that signature "AAAAAHHHH!" as many times as he does, or do everything over and over again, to get it right.
  • The female vocalist said that her first performance in front of an audience was "Man in the Mirror" as a little girl, and now she gets to sing it with Michael Jackson himself.  What a wonderful feeling that must be!
  • I really enjoyed this film, because the musician in me loves to see the artistic process.  I love seeing stuff develop into whatever's going to be eventually performed for the audience.  I love seeing the wheels turn during the creative process.  It's mesmerizing to me.  Yeah, rehearsal can be a pain because of the repetition, but when done right, the results can be everything you wanted them to be.  I know that's why MJ is labeled as a Perfectionist.  You would be, too, if millions of people expected nothing less than brilliance.  That's what he would have given them.
We topped off our evening with a stop at Nubi, a self-serve yogurt place.  Linda and I got pumpkin flavor, so we were happy.  They didn't have candy corn topping, but that's OK.  The evening was fun enough without it.  Oh, and we did get to see some Hallowe'en in our movie:  "Thriller"!  I think that Gloomy and Diego (Skelanimal Bat dressed as a vampire) enjoyed the movie, too.

Thanks for the fun, guys.