Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prison on the Ocean

Rockapella Cruise
Day 8 -- Fun Day At Sea
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yet another day of me feeling lazy in the morning, so Liz went to the Fitness Center and then had some alone time with her reading material.  This is why I love rooming with Liz:  we don't feel the need to be together at all times, preferring to be on our own sometimes and not being offended if we need "me" time.  Love you, Roomie, pod or not!

Jenn, Stacey & Karla
I got dressed in the new black dress I bought at Chacchoben, and met up with the rest of the Posse for breakfast at the Platinum Dining Room, and had pancakes.  We walked around the ship for awhile, looking for more pictures until Jenn's Black Jack tournament time.  When I met up with Jenn a little later, she was on the board for the final round!  We worried that her tournament time would run into the cocktail party time, but she ended up being ousted by other players.  Awww.  



Jenn and I returned to the Platinum Dining Room for lunch, and we were seated with people from Nova Scotia (not the same people that we met before), as well as other people who talked politics, which reminded me of work, so it was not an enjoyable experience, and the burger I had was dry, so whatevs.  It is this one meal that makes me think that I'm going to ask to sit with my friends whenever I go on another cruise.  I'd rather that they drove me crazy after 7 days than have to sit with strangers that talk about crap I'd like to forget while on vacation.  Rant Off.

Yumminess
Dan delivered flyers to our rooms, stating that there were time changes in the day's activities, and he said that he liked my poster.  I told him that I was going to ask the guys to sign it that night.  We realized that it was time for the chocolate buffet!  Ooh, there was chocolate for days!  Of course, they also had a chocolate fountain so that you could choose what to dip into the chocolate, and I, of course, had chocolate-covered bananas.  This made me much happier than I was at lunch.


Ross & MJ
 I went ahead of the rest of the Posse to the cocktail party at White Heat, so that I could save some seats.  It turned out to be a shared cocktail party with people that were not in the Rockapella Group, so that was weird, and it ended up being difficult to find seats.  I know that you're supposed to mingle at cocktail parties, but I like sitting and talking to people.  The standing gets old...and dangerous when you're drinking alcohol on a moving ship.  I also needed a table so that the guys could sign my poster.  The drink that I chose (there were 3 or 4), a blue margarita, was yuck.  I said that it was too strong.  Christina said that it was probably too sour.  I said that it was "too I-don't-like-it."  Sher, the Queen of Grammar!  Christina laughed.  I asked the guys to sign my shirt and my poster.

John, Jenn & Christina

Like Father...
Now that half of us were drunk (and none of them were Sherry!), we brought our liquid courage over to Bar Blue for Karaoke Time.  I wasn't feeling well enough (or drunk enough) to sing as the West Coast Rep.  (Sorry, Posse).  You see, I had left my antibiotics at home and wasn't smart enough to go to the ship's doctor to get something to fight off whatever was giving me coughing fits.  So this was also probably the reason that I was so tired by the last couple of days on the cruise, and I needed to rest.  Steve's dad sang some Sinatra and Dean Martin.  Steve sang some country, and so did some of the gals from the East Coast.  Kyoko sang ABBA's "Dancing Queen".  Tim did really well with his song.  Perhaps he was auditioning to work on the cruise line, because he was making friends with so many of the cast members there.  Robert (Steve's cousin whom I don't believe because Costa Maya did NOT have the best shopping) sang, too.  The winner of the night was Mike, whom had brought his own Karaoke CD, so that it would be in his proper key.  He's a pro, folks!  
...Like Son

Adonis' was the last signature I needed for my shirt, and he said, "This is my drunken attempt at writing 'For Sherry'."  I asked him to sign my poster, telling him that it had been hanging on our stateroom door.  He asked, "Where is your room?"  Dude, you should have asked me that FOUR DAYS AGO!   I mean, how do you make money as a gigolo when you can't find your client's room? ;)  No, I did not say any of that.  I just told him which deck.  I told you that I wasn't feeling well.

Steve said that he would bring his cape to dinner for pictures with Wendy.  He told us the joke that he used in his Rockapella audition about the woman who stole a can of peaches.  He had APPARENTLY brought his cape to the beach at Costa Maya, but we're not sure why.  We just love that he liked it enough to do so, though.  Just say "cape" to me or Wendy now, and you'll see a grin on both our faces.  If we're together, we'll giggle.

Adonis in Jail
After getting kicked out of Blue Bar so that another group could have their activity, Liz and I talked for awhile to Adonis and the couple celebrating their wedding anniversary.  Adonis said that if they do another cruise, he'd like to see it through his kids' eyes.  He must have really missed his family, poor guy.  Earlier during Karaoke as he thanked all of us for coming, he had said that we have a beautiful view that some people take for granted.  "From this vantage point (there were vertical lines on the windows), it's like jail with a beautiful view."  I hope that he didn't actually feel trapped, but I wouldn't blame him if he did.  Anyway, I told Adonis that I wore a seasickness patch because I didn't want to throw up on The Pella.  He thanked me for that.  I started to have a coughing fit and needed to go back to the room to rest before dinner, so I left.  Then I remembered that I wanted Ross and MJ to sign my poster, so I called them up then went to their cabin to chat for a bit.

Fred, in his Pella Posse shirt!
We had our final dinner at the Platinum Dining Room, where Karla gave Jenn a Ship on a Stick for every award we could think of for her.  My favorite was the "Best Drowning Story" award.  Liz pretty much had to read the entire menu to me because I didn't have my reading glasses, and I had gone almost blind (I found out later that it was from the patch I was wearing).  The souffle that I had wasn't light enough for me.  It was too cakey.  My ideal souffle is mostly air in the middle.  I gave Sandra the copy of an awesome pic of George that I bought.  She asked me to keep in touch, giving me her e-mail address, which I haven't used.  I really should send her pictures.



Steve, Wendy and Cape
I gave Steve a copy of our picture together at Cruise Elegant dinner, and he asked me to sign it. So I did with "For Flirty, Flirty Eyes. -- Love, Sherry".  Steve and I (doesn't that sound cute?  "Steve and I"? -- ha!) explained my signature to his mom, Ginger (Achik!), but she was already familiar with the song.  He took pictures with Wendy and the awesome cape.






JT and Sher
JT had rushed off to Bingo again, but at least we got him to sign Jenn's shirt and take a couple of pictures before he left.
















We said our thanks and byes to everyone before going back to the room to finish packing.  We got our bags ready just in time for Luggage Express Pickup.  Phew!  

Exhausted, and a bit sad that it would soon be over, I went to bed.

Next up:  Back to Miami

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stone Temple Sailors

Rockapella Cruise
Day 7 -- Costa Maya
Friday, January 28, 2011

We arrived in Costa Maya, Mexico, and met Sergio, our tour guide.  We were given a brown bag lunch and boarded bus #710, where we met up with Stacey and Karla.  Sergio told us, "My job is to give you the whole 'blah blah blah'."  How perfect, since we're on a cruise with Rockapella!  

Sergio stayed true to his word and was very informative during our hour-long bus ride to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins.  He is from Yucatan Maya, where Spanish is learned by everyone in school.   He encouraged us to speak a little Spanish, too, so we said to the driver, "Buenos Dias, Nestor!"

Costa Maya is in Quintana Row, the last state of Mexico.  It is the place where the Mayans settled down.  The 3 biggest Mayan Ruins are 1) Tical in Central America (Guatemala), 2) Calakmul in Southern Mexico, and 3) Chichen Itza in Mexico.  

Sergio said that the word "chiclet" is a Mayan word:  "chic" = mouth, and "let" = chewing.  That made me want gum.  The sacred tree for the Mayans is La Grand Ceiba.  

We arrived at the site, and had a little bit of time before our tour started, so that we could use the facilities.  I bought a straw hat.  I didn't take any video of the place because they charged a fee of $5.00 for that, although you could take as many pictures as you like for free.  

Templo 24

Rocky Balboa Steps
The first stop was Templo 24, still having solid construction.  As we took pictures, I saw that somebody had a duck!  So I didn't feel bad that I was taking pictures with a banana.  We were led to Gran Basamento, I decided to go up the "Rocky Balboa Way", which had a lot of steps.  I made it!  I pretty much had to make it, because I didn't want to go back down the stairs and go around the other way.





View from Top of Steps
Karla, Bananaman, Sher and Monkey

Sher & Stacey
 There were 2 temples at the Gran Basamento, which were 100 meters across each side, and 35 meters high.  This is where the Mayans would perform their self-sacrifices of bloodletting and piercings.


Thachered Roof
We stood by something that was under a thatched roof.  I don't remember what was there, and the picture doesn't do it justice, but I learned that if a roof is properly done, it can last up to 20-25 years.  From then on, because we were on a Rockapella cruise, I called all of those "Thachered Roofs", because I'm silly.




Residential Area




Sergio pointed out what the natives call a "Tourist Tree", which turns red and starts to peel when it is exposed to the sun, just like the skin of white people.  The sap is actually healing to the skin.   He also picked a leaf for each of us, and asked us to smell it, asking what we thought it was.  He got a few different answers, like nutmeg and cinnamon.  It was actually an Allspice plant.  We walked to what was a residential area, where we saw places for sleeping, as well as a community activities plaza.  The white wall was the interior of the rooms.



BATS!!!
 I was immediately distracted as soon as Sergio told us that there were fruit bats in the trees.  I think bats are awesome.  I don't want them flying around me or anything, but I think they're pretty cool.  (I think it has something to do with my love for Batman since I was a child).  




In one of the trees, you could see hash marks, which is where sap was gathered.  Sergio showed us the tool they would use, made of obsidian.  I touched it, and it was really smooth and shiny.  Sergio told us a little bit about the Mayan calendar.  APPARENTLY, your career is destined by whatever year you're born.  I told Liz that Sergio was born in the Year of the Tour Guide.


Sergio and his calendar


After our tour of the ruins was over, we shopped a little before returning to the bus.  I bought a black dress with purple flowers embroidered on it.  I haggled a little bit, but only a little, because I'm shy like that.  For some reason, we got on the subject of Fun Ship Freddy.  Karla doesn't need one because, as she said, "I have my own Fun Ship Freddy."  ;)  Bus driver Nestor then handed out drinks to go with our snacks, including something that I thought we had agreed not to consume when we signed our waivers.  

We got back to the shopping village, and I wasn't very impressed with what they had to offer, so from then on, I didn't believe Robert because he claimed that this was the best place to shop.  I bought a little tambourine for the niece, and a ball-string-cup game thing for the nephew.  We saw Sandra and George, and I told her that I needed her back at the ruins so that she could have haggled much better for the dress I bought.  We went to Diamonds Int'l for our charm, but we already had the one that they offered.  I totally would have considered buying some tequila if the employees hadn't hovered over me from the moment I stepped into the store.  That happened in other shops as well, and it made me uncomfortable, so I didn't buy anymore stuff.  As we were leaving the shopping center to walk to our boat, there was a guy holding a beautiful yellow snake on its neck.  I pictured my friend Cindy running away if she had been there.  

As we walked on the pier, I saw a very pretty view of the beach.  I reached for my camera, and a kind man asked if we wanted a picture of both of us.  Liz uncharacteristically said "yes".  I thought, "Really?!" and got excited (and also scared that someone had replaced my roommate with a pod being).  Then my new straw hat flew off my head and into the ocean.  Bummer!  But I guess it was a blessing, because then I didn't have to worry about packing the thing.
Sher and Pod Liz

We met up with Karla for lunch at Red Sail so that we could have more of the awesome Grilled Ahi on Watermelon.  Jenn wrote on all of our white boards: "Costa Maya sucked for Jenn!"  Aw, poor Jenn.  It turns out that she replied "yes" on the form when they asked if she had allergies, and they wouldn't let her go scuba diving or on the ATVs.  We walked all over the ship to look for her, and in our search, found Sandra and Geo at the internet cafe instead of Jenn.  We found out that Jenn had gone to a spa appointment which had been booked before we left California.  Thank goodness she did that, because by that time, she was feeling much cheerier.  I took a nap before getting ready for Cruise Elegant night.

For this night, I wore the navy blue dress that I had worn to this past year's Emmy Awards ceremony, and Liz looked quite lovely as The Lady In Red.  We met up with the rest of the Posse for photos and I took some solos while we waited for the whole group to arrive.  Since we had already sat with each of the Rockapella guys, it wasn't a big deal to us that a couple of them had dinner at the Steakhouse instead of in the Platinum Dining Room.  I did feel bad for those that didn't get to eat dinner with all of them, though.  I ordered a Baked Alaska, hopeful that I'd get to see my dessert on fire.  But there was no flame or anything, so that was a disappointment.  When "Showtime" came (with the waiters dancing and being crazy), I looked over at Adonis and saw his eyes widen with surprise, and realized that this was his first time to see it.  I was amused by his reaction.

Wendy, Jeff and Jenn


Some of the gals wanted to change out of their formalwear, but I was still comfortable, so I didn't.  We looked for our pictures and ordered whatever, then went to the Ebony Cabaret room to see the stand-up comedian.  There weren't any actual seats left, so we stood in the back.  I wasn't that impressed with the guy, and I was tired, so I left and went to bed.  Aw, a dinosaur!


Gloria and Bananaman Taking a Ride
Next up:  Fun Day At Sea

Saturday, June 25, 2011

24601

Les Miserables
Friday, June 24, 2011
Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles


It's hard to believe that it has already been 25 years since Les Miserables first opened on stage, but it's true.  The musical is my very favorite one above all of the others, so when I saw that the tour was returning to L.A., I bought my pre-sale ticket and was happy to see that I could get a seat in the second row of the orchestra section.  Hells, yeah!  


So I drove down to the Ahmanson Theater at the Music Center a bit early, thinking that I would encounter Dodger Stadium traffic, which I did not.  So I sat around for a while before finally going upstairs.  I believe that I was following one of the performers up the escalator, because she had a rental car key in her hand, and she wasn't dressed to attend theater, and I saw her go around the crowds to the stage door.  I wondered if I'd recognize her on stage, but since I didn't get a really good glimpse of her, I wasn't sure.  Besides, the people on stage don't all have the same color as in the headshots in the program, so I don't know.  No, I wasn't stalking her.  ;)


As I watched whomever-she-was walk around, I saw that an a cappella group was performing next to the theatre, named the Street Katz.  They were singing "Dock of the Bay", and also sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", which are pretty much a/c standards.  Their sound was quite good, but I wanted to get inside, so I didn't stay for much more than that.  


I went to my seat, and couldn't believe how close I was to the orchestra pit.  I don't think that I've ever sat that close to the stage at the Ahmanson before, and I was near the center, so my view was amazing, especially because the 2 seats in front of me were empty until Intermission.  Oh, I was happy!  I knew that there would be no turntable on stage, and that there would be some sort of projections used for this tour.  So let's start, already!


Well, it didn't take more than one musical phrase before I started getting tears in my eyes.  Mind you, there's not really an overture for this show, so I was tearing up during the *introduction* to the prologue.  I think that I was just really overwhelmed that I was about to see my favoritest show up close.  I smiled at myself, thinking at what a sap I am sometimes.  


Instead of the prison setting that I'm used to seeing for the show, the men were seated and rowing or something like that instead of digging or whatever they were doing in their chain gang before.  Then I started tearing up again when the bishop gave Valjean the silver candlesticks, knowing that this is what changes Valjean to become a better person.  "I have bought your soul for God."  


Then came Valjean's soliloquy.  Oh my goodness, J. Mark McVey has an INCREDIBLE voice.  He got a huge cheer after this song, and the screen came down with a projection of the show title.  What an amazing beginning!


I noticed that the conductor was taking the tempo quicker than usual.  This must be the trend on Broadway now, because I felt like they were rushing Beauty and the Beast, too.  Or maybe it's just for the touring companies.  Whatevs.  Since Les Miz is such a long show in its original version, I understand the need to quicken the pace a little bit.  But sometimes it doesn't work for me, because I tend to be a purist.  For instance, "I Dreamed A Dream" went a little too quickly, and I wondered how Betsy Morgan was going to catch her breath and emote at the same time.  But she was wonderful.  I liked her interpretation in the phrasing, because it made more sense to me her way for some reason.  


OK, so I never realized that Fantine's first john is actually the Foreman.  I just checked the book from The Complete Symphonic Recording, and it's a sailor.  The Foreman actually provides more impact, seeing as he wanted her when she was working at the factory.   Yes, I cried when Fantine died, especially because there was Valjean, making a promise to take care of a child he'd never met before.  Wow, I was seated so close that I could actually see part of the brand on Valjean's chest when he revealed himself in court.


Oh, the Thenardiers.  How can you not love their boorish behavior?  He spits on a table to clean it, spits in a mug to clean it, picks his nose before shaking a guest's hand, and steals everything he can.  Then there's the Mrs., whom was hilarious in her lyrics of "Master of the House", especially my favorite line of hers, "Thinks he's quite a lover but there's not much there", and demonstrating this visually with a (limp) baguette and chopping it up.  The crowd loved it.  I loved it.  What's not to love about these two, besides the fact that they're actually awful people?  ;)  Michael Kostroff and Shawna M. Hamic were thoroughly entertaining.


Enjolras looked like Peter Frampton to me, because of his long, blond curly hair and his thin stature.  Seriously, I think he should be in "Rock of Ages" or something.  He's got a great voice, though, better than P.F.'s.  


I wasn't really a fan of the people playing Cosette tonight, young and old, but at least their voices matched each other, so that the aging was seamless.  I've always been more of an Eponine fan, anyway, because I relate more to her character than to Cosette's.  So in the two trios they sang, I felt much more for Eponine.  I can't remember which line it was, but she added a bluesy grace note in one phrase, and I smiled, thinking that Sarah Shahinian, understudy for the role, was making it her own.  And she was wonderful.  


For "One Day More", they had the marching choreography, with the projections on the screen behind the actors making it look like they were actually walking down the street.  It was pretty cool.  The characters with the individual solos in this song sang from the sides of the stage, from their buildings.


At intermission, I intermissed, and then got my tissues ready for Eponine to sing my favorite torch song.  I was a little annoyed, though, that the couple that had not been sitting in front of me had finally decided to sit down in their seats, because they weren't short enough to not block my view of center stage.


Yup, "On My Own" is my favoritest musical theatre song of all.  Yup, I cried.  It did not take that long for me to get there, either.  Ms. Shahinian's soulful and beautiful voice just got to me.  Thanks, Sarah!  So when she died in Marius' arms, I could hear the pain in her voice, partly because I could not see her due to her lying down on the stage floor and the man in front of me not having shrunken his head before the song started.  Not that I could have seen well through all of the tears anyway.


Oh, yeah, Marius!  Justin Scott Brown has a beautiful voice, but because I'm me, I kept thinking of Kevin Wright whenever he sang.  I wish that I could have seen Kev do that on stage.  Aw, I miss him again.  So, yeah, that went through my mind a few times.  Sorry, Justin.  It's not your fault that I'm obsessed with Rockapella.  


Then came the quintessential moment of Les Miz:  Valjean singing "Bring Him Home".  I think I cried from the 3rd word into the entire fricking song.  You see, during the introduction, Mr. McVey looks up to the sky, then bows his head in prayer, then sings "God on high" in that beautiful tenor, and has the audience mesmerized.  I thought of the plan that President Obama had announced this week to have the troops come home from Afghanistan, and could feel the relief of the families of the soldiers, especially Liz's.  No, the people on stage weren't depicting any kind of American battle, but the sacrifices still hit me.  I wanted to give a standing ovation right after this song, but refrained from doing so.  It was sung with such emotion and so beautifully that I wanted it to go on forever, but I don't think my heart could take it, because I was on the verge of audibly sobbing. 


Aw, they cut out a bunch of Gavroche's lines in "Little People"!  You know, the whole "Little People" stanza.  The only time he sings those lines in this production is when he's gathering the bullets and getting shot.   Because there is no turntable, we didn't actually get to see him die.  We also didn't get to see Enjolras actually die, but they are shown after the battle in the back of a cart.  I cried without the turntable anyway.  ;)


So then Valjean dragged Marius threw the sewers, and the projections were really, really cool.  He would turn right into one tunnel, and the projection would change, and so forth.  Neato.  An echo was also added during "Dog Eat Dog" so that it actually sounded like Thenardier was in a tunnel.


Javert's soliloquy was the first moment that I actually liked Andrew Varela's performance.  Perhaps that's because it's the moment that he gets to show more emotion than the dutiful policeman.  I think it's also because his songs were the ones that I felt were the most rushed.  So I wondered at this point, "how are they going to have him fall?"  The bridge wasn't very high, and there wasn't any use of trap doors during the rest of the show.  Here is where the projections came in handy again.  As Javert jumps, he is hung on wires as the projection shows an abyss.  Cool again!


I really missed the turntable during "Turning".  It was weird to see the little girl try to twirl her mother around, when they were all so sad at the time.


J. Mark McVey is really, really good.  At the beginning of the show, he was a strong, young man, and by the end of the show, he is old and dying, and you could see how much he aged not so much with the makeup, but through his body movements.  By the time that Fantine and Eponine called him to heaven, I was an absolute wreck, with tears streaming down my face.


"To love another person is to see the face of God."


What a wonderful, wonderful show.  Oh, I'm going to cry again.


I bought a CD and a shirt after the show.  I also told the guy selling them that they should sell Les Miz Kleenex.  He told me that was a good idea.  Seriously, marketing people should ask me to think up stuff for their shows.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Greetings, Gracie!

Rockapella Cruise
Day 6 -- Isla Roatan
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Liz, still the trooper, went to Sunrise Stretch without me again, because I became a very lazy person somewhere along the way.  I met up with Jenn at the Platinum Dining Room, and we had breakfast with MJ, Ross, some guy named Tom, and three women from Nova Scotia -- Sherry, Silvy and Lisa.  Liz caught up to us after not being as lazy as me.

Sunken Ship
We arrived at Isla Roatan, Honduras.  There were some interesting things to see near the port, like a pirate ship, and some kind of sunken ship thing.  We had a little bit of time before meeting for our excursion, so we went to Effy for this stop's stone:  tanzanite. I got earrings.  They said that they would send the pendant to me for free, but I don't recall ever receiving that.  Well, it was free anyway.  We also went to Del Sol, where I bought stuff that changes color in the sun.  We also took some pictures while waiting, and I had this one taken, since we weren't going to Belize, and I wasn't going to go horseback riding.  :(


Yee-Haaa!


Happy Jenn, about to meet a dolphin
Jenn and I took the bus to Anthony Keys for the Dolphin Encounter.  I saw two boats at the dock, and wanted to take the bigger one, because it would be less choppy.  That boat wasn't available for our group, though, because it would be used for a scuba group.  We arrived at the island and placed our valuables in lockers, and read the signs about where it was and wasn't OK to touch the dolphins on their bodies.  



Gracie & Sher
Our trainer was Dante, and our dolphin was Gracie.  Each trainer had about 8-10 people per group, and there were about 3 groups present.  We waded into the water, about up to our waists.  Gracie passed by, and we were instructed to rub her back.  Dante taught us about dolphins, and cautioned us about where to touch Gracie as she passed by us a few more times for her back and tummy massages.  Gracie has an underbite.  We had to leave our cameras on the rocks, so a professional photographer took our pictures as we had a little personal time with Gracie.  Jenn and I took a couple of pictures with Gracie, one of which is us holding her up.  She's heavy!  We also were instructed to clasp our hands behind our backs so that Gracie would feel safe, and she kissed us on our cheeks for our individual pictures.  She even made a little kiss sound!  After Gracie met with everybody for their individual time, she and the other dolphins showed off for us, which is when we were allowed to use our cameras.  
Jenn, Gracie & Sher

After saying goodbye to Gracie, we took the boat back to shore, and met people from Germany, whom later took a picture of us at the Mahogany Bay sign at the port.  The gift shop at the Keys resort was lame.  They hardly had any dolphin stuff!  Isn't this a *dolphin* encounter?!  Stupid.  They had plenty of merchandise, but it wasn't dolphin-related.  I was disappointed about that, can you tell?  Jenn ordered a CD of our pictures, which was cheaper than buying individual ones, plus we got some professional shots of different dolphins doing their tricks.  

Bananaman chilling with Sher
Back at the port, Jenn bought silver.  I didn't find any good deals, so I didn't, although I really like silver jewelry.  The weather was very warm, so we returned to the ship.  We ate outside at Red Sail and watched "Toy Story 3", near John and Christina.  I then returned to the cabin to rest and take a shower before dinner.








John and Christina sat with us this time, and it was such a delight to get to know John a little better, and Christina was absolutely lovely.  They talked to Jenn about a future Mayan Ruins trip that they'll be taking.  Jeff and Wendy had some beach time with their cabana waiter.  Their cabana was named "Banana Cabana"!  And it was Cabana #5!  Whoa.  Fred was back at our table, which made Karla happy.  He asked her, "What are smooshed pennies?"  and I explained to him.  He thinks that's got to be illegal because it's defacing U.S. currency.  It's possible that Fred is going to lead a shakedown at the Disney resorts for this someday.  ;)

John said that he can't watch the Carnival shows because of the angry dancing (there must be some crumping going on in there), because "when you dance, it should be a celebration."  He's so genuinely spiritual.  Speaking of spiritual, Christina had some wine that was portioned out of a carafe, and Karla felt like we were at Church Communion.  I gave my extra PellaPosse shirt to Christina, since she's the most deserving of being in the Pella Posse, and she IS a Pella wife, and almost stole John's shirt.  :)
Christina and John

Jenn and I talked about our Dolphin Encounter.  Liz informed us that she went cameo shopping and the cab ride around the whole island was $5.00.  She ended up in downtown, where it "didn't feel quite safe."  I'm glad she made it back!  Her cameo, BTW, is very pretty.  She also got her passport stamped while she was at it.

We looked for our pictures and ordered more.  We just look so great!  Jenn brought her CD to the picture place and printed out one of them for me, and gave me electronic copies later on.  Thanks, Jenn!  I was exhausted and didn't feel like doing anything.  I wish that we didn't have to wait to see our pics from our underwater cameras.  Hmmm...I need to get those developed soon.

I started to cough a lot that day, so I paid attention to my body and went to bed, after staring at the weird-looking towel animal that was in our room.

Next up:  Costa Maya

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sing Mein Leid, Bitte

Rockapella On A Boat
Carnival Glory: Ebony Cabaret Room
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

While we were all line to enter the Ebony Cabaret Room, we were asked to look at the songs listed and place a tally mark beside 3 of them (or all 3 on one song, whatever).  All of the songs that were listed were those that Steve knew, which protected the guys from having to remember some old school stuff.  It also included Christmas songs and some song that I had never seen or heard before.  I don't actually remember what I chose, but I do know that I tend to request old songs when I  have the opportunity to do so, because I miss those.  We chose seats that were closer to the stage this time.

We heard some announcements, which included schedule changes for Karaoke and the cocktail party, which would both take place on Saturday afternoon.  Stacey won a prize of champagne for booking the first cruise.  (Yay, Stacey!).  Someone else (Laura) got a bottle of wine, and my notes state that she was celebrating her 185th "store".  I don't know if that should be "show", but congrats on whatever, Laura.  JT stated that he tried to instill casual dress, but it didn't work.  So they were all in their suits again.  This was also a private show for the Rockapella Group.  They brought the easel with the song list onto the stage. 

A Punk
Scott said that this is a one of a kind show, all by request.  "The key to Rockapella is this: (he held up a pitch pipe).  If the key is too low, the Bass Man can't reach his notes.  If the key is too high, Blondy can't sing the high notes."

Dance With Me
Scott tried to get us to sing "Diggity Don Pow Dm Dm", saying that the orchestra usually does it.  The boat was rocking a lot during the chorus.  Whoa!  Rockin' the Boat! 

Scott said, "Who has the Sharpie?"  He needed to check off the songs as they went along.  Karla offered hers.  
Scott:  "Karla's prepared..and it's in red...just like a teacher."

Shambala 
Scott:  "If we don't stand in the right place, we can't sing."  (explaining why they were all confused about their formation between songs, since this is not their regular set list).

Scott then said that they had a new song for us:  "It's ready."  He looked at Steve.
Steve:  "I'm ready."  (I hope so!  He wrote the thing).

Malibu Grand Prix
SD:  "It was originally a country song and I rolled it up good."
Scott did the jig at one point.
Scott and JT almost fell down due to the boat rocking.
He turned around and I said to JT, "Hi!"  

Ellie My Love
Something got messed up, but I can't read my notes.  No, I was not drunk this time.  There was just too much going on!

Wochenend und Sonnenschein
This is the song that I didn't know that was listed on the board.  Although it didn't get the most votes, the guys did it for us because most of us don't get to see them in Germany.  Anyway, in the 1930s, the Comedian Harmonists adapted "Happy Days Are Here Again".  Rockapella decided that if they did this song in Germany, it would "endear us to them, we could pander to the German way," according to Scott. Yes, they sang in German!  Steve needed the lyrics, and Scott was having trouble with the key change and the German.  I like the oompahs during Geo's solo.  The title of the song translates to "Weekend in Sunshine" in English.  At one point, they sing "Meine Kleiner Gruner Kaktus", which means "My little green cactus."  Scott said that they worried that the Germans would say, "These ugly Americans are singing my song (mein leid)!"  But, of course, the German fans loved it.  And now I do, too.

Here Comes The Sun
Scott: "When George joined the group, we did a record called "Smilin'.  I arranged it for George.  Isn't it perfect for him?"  

Scott informed us that the Boston Pops tunes at frequency A441, and the pitch pipe is at 338/339, so it's an adjustment when they sing with them.

Jingle Medley (Scott calls this "Commercials")
Scott asked if we wanted him to do the banter.  But a bunch of people just wanted to hear the songs.  "Well, you've all seen this, so let's do it."  He dedicated the medley to the couple celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Scott:  I remember these commercials...well I don't remember them, but we did it. 
Scott did some gangsta rap dancing.  I don't remember that being part of the show, but it was funny.  
JT informed us that he heard "Mounds" while on the road.  He also said that he heard Rockapella singing "It's A Small World" during the trailer for "Gnomeo and Juliet" when he was in his stateroom.  Scott said, "Rockapella can only be handled in 15-second intervals."
Then Scott couldn't remember what came next in the lineup, because he wasn't saying his script.  "Oh.  NBC Today Show!"  
Scott regarding "Where in the World":  It used to be Matt Lauer's song everywhere, and he asked for a cooler song than that.  Al's song, they don't play that anymore, but it has a good intro.
Scott stared at Geo for the last NBC notes.
Scott then talked about the different conferences that they would play.  At medical conferences, they would wear lab coats and say "4 out of 5 doctors recommend...(and Barry would spit out jargon."  He asked, "Where did you get Neosporin?  Not in the butt?  Then what did I have?!"  The ringworm was actually sung for a feminine hygiene product.  (O.M.G.!)  
They would write the lyrics by changing the real words and they'd read the teleprompter.

Silver Bells.
Scott dedicated the song for Kathleen and Jonathan's anniversary.  (If I got your names wrong, I'm sorry!).  

Scott shared that he is impressed by all that Steve has learned, and he corrects them sometimes.  "He keeps us on our...you know."  They ended the song with a "Happy Anniversary, Kathleen and Jonathan."  Nice!

Rockapella will be doing 7 shows with the Boston Pops during the Pops' Christmas Tour.  I wish they'd do that out west, but that's not happening.

Zombie Jamboree
Steve doesn't know the choreography.  They stopped the song because Steve was in a different key.  
Steve:  "My key is A-flat.  All of my songs are written in that key."
"Scott-o-san" worried about his sciatica during the high note.  
George and John jumped around in a circle during the back-to-back part.  

People Change
They started, then they stopped.  Scott can't stand in the right place.  The boat rocked during the song, which they did end up finishing.

Ooh, there is a new DVD in the works!  

Rockapella was asked to name their favorite songs.

Scott:  The newest song, so "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time", as well as "Paper Doll."
John:  "This Christmas Day"
Steve:  "Merry Christmas Darling"
Why didn't I write down Jeff's and Geo's?  Did they not say?

I'll Hear Your Voice
The song was dedicated to Carol, whom had recently lost someone.  Scott almost fell down.  Lots of people were crying (not at Scott's falling).

Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Awesome, awesome vocal percussion section!

That was way cool, and very much worth taking this trip.  Thank you, Rockapella, for giving us this special show!
  



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DCI 2011: It begins!

DCI 2011 Tour Premiere
Alhambra Renaissance Theater (Fathom Events)
Monday, June 20, 2011
Round Rock, TX (06/19/11)

It's drum corps time!  This year, Drum Corps International has decided to start off its season by pitting all 8 of the top-finishing corps from 2010 during the first weekend of Summer Music Games.  This means that the corps have to step up their games at a quicker pace so that they'd be ready for their rivals.  The scores from the first two shows would not be announced until the second show  would be seen onscreen nationwide in movie theaters.  They did post them on Facebook after the East Coast showings, but that's what I get for looking at FB during intermission.  ;)

For this showing, the corps played in order of placement in 2010, from 1st through 8th, which is the reverse of what usually happens.  The show's commentators were Steve Rondinaro and Dennis DeLucia, as usual, which made me smile.  Michael Cesario was there at the end to talk about his new role as Artistic Director of DCI.  We were told that it was very windy in Round Rock. 

BLUE DEVILS
Repertoire: "The Beat My Heart Skipped" -- A House Is Not A Home, Summer of 77, Walk On By, One Less Bell to Answer, Woman, I Say A Little Prayer, Wives and Lovers, God Give Me Strength by B. Bacharach

We were advised by the visual director to watch the cubes.  How am I supposed to do that when I'm so distracted by the uniforms?  Yes, I've returned to not liking BD's color guard uniforms.  They're too busy, and the corps' uniforms are quite busy as well.  The 5 lines on the jacket signify the 5 lines of a music staff.  There's just too much on there for me.  They build a house with their props.  I would have never envisioned Bacharach's music as a basis for a drum corps show, but OK.  I'm wondering if it will grow on me.  Maybe I'll like the recorded singing someday, but I kinda doubt that.  It's weird to see BD play while it's still light outside.

CAVALIERS
Repertoire: "XtraordinarY" -- Nature Boy by E. Ahbez, Fugue in G Minor by J.S. Bach, Footprints by W. Shorter, Jungle Tango  by Jazz Mandolin Project

Oh, the title, with the X and Y capitalized, represents the XY chromosome of the all-male Cavaliers.  OK, I really like this show.  The green drums look like they're something out of a forest, as do the CG uniforms.  The CG walks on stilts for part of the time.  At one point, some of the tenors are playing their drums UPSIDE DOWN.  You read that right.  One guy is standing normally while the other guy has his legs on the first guy's shoulder, with his head to the ground, playing a drum that has been turned over.  UPSIDE DOWN, I tell you!  The tenors showed the director what they could do, and the staff decided to put it into the show.  It's nice to have creative input!  I love the music, the craziness, everything.  Well, everything except the little bit of recorded singing of Nature Boy.

BLUECOATS
Repertoire: "Brave New World" -- Creep by Radiohead, Harvest: Concerto for Trombone by J. Mackey, Deus Ex Machina by M. Daugherty

Creep!  It's my favorite RockBand song to sing!   OK, one of them.  I really like "Maps", too.   No, there was no actual singing or recorded singing; it was just coooool.  There was a "What The Hell Am I Doing Here" phrase stated over and over, but that was OK with me.  The drums were awesome.  I really like this show, which is about what it's like when you join a drum corps:  you pick up a mellophone, you're a mellophone player.  Something like that.

CAROLINA CROWN
 Repertoire: "Rach Star" -- We Will Rock You by B. May (Queen), Symphonic Dances by S. Rachmaninoff, Iron Man by Black Sabbath, Paint it Black by K. Richards & M. Jagger (Rolling Stones), Bohemian Rhapsody by F. Mercury (Queen), Piano Concerto No. 2 by S. Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 1 by K. Emerson (ELP)

They start with a star formation, and, of course, they have their crown formation in there, too.  Wow, it's windy, and the camera made me dizzy.  I think it fell or something.  The corps has short sleeves now, and the pit members get to wear t-shirts.  That's rock and roll, man!  I like the mix of the music.  Fun show.  I'm torn, though, because the keyboard player figures so prominently in a show that's taking place on the field.

--Intermission--

THE CADETS
Repertoire: "Between Angels and Demons" -- Angels in the Architecture by F. Ticheli, 160 BPM (from Angels and Demons)  by H. Zimmer, Doxology by L. Bourgeois & T. Ken, Amazing Grace by F. Ticheli

I like this show.  It's about, well, Angels.  And Demons.  Half of the corps is wearing the cardinal red uniform, and half is wearing the cream color.  I see that wing formation!  Hopkins stated that they're marching at 176 in some points, but end at 220.  That's fast.  Hopkins also stated that it was too windy for the corps to be wearing their shakos tonight, as it would be dangerous.  Really?  Is that why all of the other corps were wearing their shakos/aussies/helmets?  They all have feathers, Mr. H.  Then he chastised the people that don't hydrate enough while on tour, saying that's their problem.  OK, whatever.  Nice percussion feature in this show, both from the battery and the pit.  The dissonance of the Doxology is interesting, and I'm really glad that the chord finally resolves at the end, because that would make me crazy.

Next, we got to hear from a member of the corps:  Nathan Medina of Bluecoats.  A bunch of people in our audience cheered, because he's from So Cal.  Remember when I met a drum corps mom on the plane last year?  That's Nathan's mom!  So I cheered, too, thinking to myself, "I met your mom!"

PHANTOM REGIMENT
Repertoire: "Juliet" -- East of Eden by L. Holdridge, Requiem by G. Verdi, Requiem by W.A. Mozart, Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet (A Time For Us) by N. Rota, Romeo & Juliet by S. Prokofiev, Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral (from Lohengrin) by R. Wagner


You read that right:  Elsa!  So awesome to hear their theme song in their actual show.  This show focuses on Juliet's experience in the love story, with the corps uniforms donning a Montague crest, showing that they are the Romeos.  The music is really pretty, and the show is beautiful.  I think that somebody might cry on July 3.  I'm just saying.  I really like the purple and gold double flags. I'm really looking forward to seeing this show a lot of times this year.  :)


SANTA CLARA VANGUARD
Repertoire:  "The Devil's Staircase" -- First Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12 by S. Barber, Piano Sonata No. 2 by A. Dorman, Eternal Knot by K. Jenkins, Etudes for Piano, No. 13 (The Devil's Staircase)  by G. Ligeti


Corps director Jeff Fiedler described the show as "You're in hell, and you want to get out."  There is a lot of running around on the field by individual corps members.  The drum major didn't take off his aussie, not that I even saw him salute.  Are they going to keep those on this year?  Or was it a wind thing?  I'm digging this show!  Are you surprised?  It's Vanguard!  Total Vanguard.


BLUE STARS
Repertoire: "REBOURNE" -- Main Titles from The Bourne Identity by J. Powell, Burly Brawl from The Matrix by D. Davis, Bourne Gets Well from The Bourne Identity by J. Powell, Trinity Definitely from The Matrix by D. Davis, Treadstone Assassins from The Bourne Identity by J. Powell, Bullet Time from The Matrix by D. Davis


They have a catwalk in the middle of the field.  DeLucia thinks they should move it back so that the corps has more room to move.  Yeah, it's pretty big.  As usual, they'll have images on the scaffolding later in the season.  There's a ramp to go up to the catwalk, upon which a CG guy threw up his rifle, walked down the ramp, and caught it.  I like the music for the show, but that catwalk is distracting.


Encore:  SCV
They played a piece from the show, as well as "Send In The Clowns", which made me happy.  


Scores:
66.200 Blue Stars
67.500 SCV
69.100 Phregiment
70.150 Bluecoats
70.600 Crown
72.550 BD
72.600 Cadets
74.350 Cavaliers


BD's undefeated streak finally ended on Saturday in Austin.  It was a great run, BD.


I hope that this becomes a tradition.  It was cool to see the top corps at the beginning of the season, so that I can see how they've progressed when we get to Finals Week.