Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm reading C.S. Lewis quotes. This one grabbed my attention:

"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."
— C.S. Lewis

But this is the one I was searching for:

"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
— C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)

And these also caught my attention:

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
— C.S. Lewis

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

I think I'll see if I can find my copy of Voyage of the Dawn Treader now.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Seeing Red and the Christmas Season Begins

November, 2010, was a busy time, although I admit some of the business was of my own making. There were a lot of concerts I really wanted to attend, but I was called back to work in October, and I hadn't been furloughed yet, and sometimes a girl does have to stay home once in a while. If time and money were no object, I would have certainly spend the first few weeks in November at a concert nearly every night sometimes more than one on the same night.

So, I found myself missing Circa Survive, Sara Bareilles, Lifehouse, and others that I would loved to have seen. I especially hated to miss Sara Bareilles on November
17, but I was working in catering/hospitality for the Red concert the following day, and I still had not been furloughed. I not so secretly hoped that I would be let go at the close of business on the 16th, but it wasn't to be. Instead, I was furloughed on the 17th, and was able to use leave to work only half the shift. This left me some time to prepare for Red. On the way home, I stopped at Wal Mart to pick up a few items I still needed to prepare the food. I also had to clean the kitchen thoroughly and make sure it was all ready. I fixed potatoes for potato salad, made huge fresh green salad and potato salad. I still had potato soup and chicken noodle soup to prepare. It was a long night, and I didn't make it to sleep until after 3:30 a.m. Somehow I managed to sqeeze in a full 3-1/2 hours of sleep before I had to finish up, load up the car and head for The Avalon to set up. I was running a bit late, but as frequently is the case, the timing all worked out and lunch was ready pretty much on time. I was still a little nervous about timing later in the day, though as I needed to leave around 3:30 p.m. to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 4 o'clock show. I had to leave, watch the show, drive back for the rest of the Red concert and hope not to miss too much and then help with clean-up, etc. It was enjoyable getting to meet everyone and make sure they were taken care of. Everyone I met on the tour was really nice and appreciative.

Soon, 3:30 came around and I took off to the Energy Solutions Arena to see TSO. This was the 5th or 6th time I have seen TSO's performance, but to me the Christmas season officially begins when TSO is here. I had a few small glitches getting to the venue, but made it in time. Once I got inside I found the merch vendor, purchased a program and then headed down to my Floor 3, Row 6 seat. Just as I was heading for the stairs, I saw a sign that said photography without flash was allowed. This was a first for TSO here, and since I'd been short on time I decided to leave my camera in the car. I tried, in vain to get permission run out to my car, but alas there was no re-entry allowed, so I ran down to my seat instead and sat down just as the show was starting. I really missed my camera, but I took a ton of bad cell phone pics, so at least I have something. As always, TSO was dazzling, moving, fun and beautiful all around. The first part of the show primarily centers around a storyline about a father praying for his girl to come home and an answer to that father's prayer. There is a portion where a bum sings and tells a part of the storyline. On the West coast tour, the bum is Bart Shatto, and he does an amazing job. He added a little humor in his portrayal this time and he did an moving and memorable job of the part. I always look forward to seeing him onstage.

The vocals were the best I've heard, and that's saying a lot. Then the story finally ends, and the concert continues with rock meeting the classical, and a light show complete with laser lights and fireworks. It's really impressive. The day after Thanksgiving used to mark the Christmas season for me. Now it is seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Usually I attend the later show, and wait in line for the meet and greet after the show. I love telling Bart how much I loved his portrayal of the bum, teasing Angus, and always love meeting Tommy Farese. I really did miss that this year. I would have loved to have met the new narrator this year, Phillip Brandon, and tell him what a fantastic job he did.

Too soon the show came to an end and I ran out to where my car was parked. I didn't see my car at first so it took me a bit to find it, but then I headed out on the road. Traffic wasn't at all bad which really surprised me, and I was back at the Avalon just after Silverline's set. I hated to miss Silverline, but I could't be 2 places at once. I went to check on the hospitality area and everything was fine. While I was there I took a photo of one of the guys in Head in his "V" mask, because he said I could. Then he got so close to the camera I wasn't sure it would turn out well, but it did.

I was curious about the upstairs window overlooking the stage since I attend a lot of concerts at The Avalon. I asked about it and was told as long as no one was up there I could check it out for a little bit. Jay went up with me and we watched a bit of Brian Welch and Head from the window and took a few photos. Then I grabbed all of my camera gear and headed out towards the front. Security escorted me to the balcony which was awesome. I didn't really think I would like Head much, but I liked them better than I thought I would.

Disciple set up to play next and I really liked their set a lot. They prayed before the played, and were pretty upfront about their beliefs even doing an appeal for Compassion International child sponsorships.

After Disciple finished playing, it was time for Red to set up. I got a kick out of the fact that they taped things down with red tape. I had one of the best spots in the place and it felt odd, but wonderful. While there were no barricades, people were not right at the stage, so I had plenty of room to walk around and take photos. Oh, I still did plenty of clapping, cheering and moving to the music in between photo shots. The lighting was difficult because it rotated and changed so frequently and drastically, but I did get a few decent shots.

After Red completed their set(and after their Encore) I went back to work on cleaning up a bit, getting my things in order, and making myself a cup of hot tea while I was at it. There was a lot of left over potato salad, and some leftover green salad among other things. The soup disappeared long before. I started talking to one of the guys from Silverline and tried to help him out with something. I ended up talking to the Silverline guys a lot in the back of the venue and outside. I bought their cd and we got pics together.

Then I stopped goofing off and went back to work, counting and hunting down towels, sweeping the stage, and eventually loading my car. It was freezing outside so loading wasn't my favorite part. LOL While I was sweeping the stage, I pulled up some red tap to find an All Time Low Guitar pick (the played The Avalon on May 4.) There is a gal at work that loves All Time Low, so I think I will give it to her when I return to work.

Finally, Eleanor and I both drove out of the parking lot in our respective vehicles and headed for home. I was very, very tired, but the drive home went well over all, except for me stopping fast to avoid running a yellow light with a cop behind me. I was definitely ready for a good night's sleep and I would definitely do it over again.

God bless..

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hello Utah, Goodbye Mae

November 4th and 5th had come and gone. In case the significance of those dates escapes you, they were the dates of the two Utah concerts on Mae's final tour. On November 4, I was privileged to be at the Electric Theater in St. George and be a part of that experience. It was a long drive, but I made it in pretty good time and checked into my room at the Best Western, once I discovered at which of the two Best Westerns I had reserved a room.

Once I was checked in, it was only a short walk to the venue. I arrived insanely early. Face it, what else was I planning to do anyway? So I walked over to the venue and waited for a little bit before I decided to go next door to a small thrift store run by the local pregancy care center. I found two pair of jeans for my granddaughter and stuck them in my bag.

Then I went back and waited a little more.

And I took a few pics here and there to kill time:

At some point (the time frame escapes me), Mae arrived. I went next door and grabbed something to eat, and then got nervous because it took quite a while, and I couldn't see if anyone else was showing up. I was nervous for nothing. I am frequently nervous for nothing so I guess that makes me a slow learner. I sat down and ate my food. It was a French Dip with some really unusual cole slaw that was quite delicious. After a while, a young couple showed up and then they left again to get something to eat. At some point, Mark came out and said "hello" and chatted really briefly. I was there to hear sound check, and for most of it the doors were open. I took photos of things to kill time, and listened to dave sing one line out of the song "Bloom" over and over, occasionally changing a few words in a humorous fashion. He sang the rest of the song once or twice, so it felt like I was getting a bonus. I wish I could recall what he said. People did eventually start to arrive for the show, but most came pretty close to door time. John Allred was the opener, and I was looking forward to hearing him play again. During set up I talked to Trenton a good long while about camera-related issues, mostly. John sang and played, and I thoroughly enjoyed his set. I talked to a few people in line who had mainly come just to see John, though most liked Mae.

I had looked forward to hearing Windsor Drive who was to play next, having only just listened to a song or two once or twice, but they had to cancel out due to a death in the drummer's family. Terrible Things followed John, and I absolutely loved their set which was energetic and fun - but then I really like Fred Mascherino so that was no surprise, and I was able to snag the set list.

Then, it was time for Mae. I watched them tape the set list to the stage and vowed to keep my eye on it. I collect set lists. Mae's set lists have often been rather elusive for me. I am pretty sure that Mae played all of the songs I most wanted to hear with the exception of A Memory, The Melody. The venue was small and intimate and so was the concert. No one was pushing, or shoving, but people were engaged and singing every word. I almost felt guilty snagging the set list between the last song and the encore, but the encore wasn't on the list, so I went ahead. The encore was amazing. A good group of us in the front were chanting for The Fisherman song, and they played it. I think it was on their set list for the end all along, but we didn't know that at the time nor did I really care. It was just incredible to hear it all live.

The show ended and I talked to Fred, and purchased his cd. I talked to John and some of the band. I talked to Jacob, then to Dave, and pretty much everyone in Mae at least once, had photos taken, and signed Jacob's book. Then I eventually wandered back to the hotel room taking photos along the way. A few turned out. Some didn't. So the 4th had come to an end. But it wasn't over yet. I had plans to get up early and make the drive back to The Avalon in Salt Lake City for the second (and last) Utah stop on Mae's Goodbye Goodnight tour.

Morning came too early, but I wasn't sleeping anyway. I was up before my cell alarm even went off. I got cleaned up and dressed and went over to get a little of the complimentary breakfast. Then I loaded up my car, and headed down the road. I had a gift for Jacob (cloud photos) and which needed a three part frame. I hadn't found one at my local Wal Mart. I mentioned it to Dave the night before and he suggested I try Michaels. I had no idea where between St. George and Salt Lake I would spot a Michaels. I did see a Kohl's on the way, however, and thought perhaps I could stop there on the way out. I pulled off the exit and into Kohl's lot only to see that it was next door to Robert's. Robert's is a craft store, rather similar to Michael's.
I parked and went inside and looked for a frame. A sales associate helped me to find what I needed and then mentioned that one of the frames was actually on sale for 1/2 off. It had to be providence. I purchased the frame and headed for Salt Lake.

I think I arrived at The Avalon somewhere between 2 and 2:30 p.m. I put Jacob's gift together. Mae arrived very shortly after. I saw Jacob and said "hello", and I really wanted to give him his gift, but he was on the phone. I think he was on the phone the entire time. It ended up back in the car -- waiting. I was hungry by then so I finally went across the street to get something to eat. I spied a place that was something of a cross between Greek/Italian food. I ordered a sandwich, and then noticed they had a Rooibos/Cranberry drink and decided to give it a try. It was pretty good. I went back across the street and ate my food. I walked around, took pics of the marquee, tried to catch Jacob when he wasn't on the phone (to no avail) and waited for someone else to arrive.
A few did. I heard sound check again. I heard Bloom many times over the course of 2 days. I had an extra ticket I had promised to someone and occasionally I would text him to find out when he was coming. Eventually people arrived, and the doors opened. He still wasn't there, so I was able to get people to hold my spot long enough to leave the ticket at the entrance for him. I think it was then that I was able to pick up the Mae cd and a Bloom tee for a friend, but it could have been later.

This time around Windsor Drive was able to play the show, albeit with a substitute drummer (who was actually very good.) I really loved finally getting to hear them play, although I had some issues with their smoke machine. It was aimed straight at my face and a few times it made breathing difficult as I'm mildly allergic. You know it's bad when someone next to you complains about it as well. However, I liked them enough to determine then and there to pick up their cd's. I tried for the set list, but the gal next to me got it. She let me take a photo while Terrible Things set up.

Again I loved hearing Terrible Things play. Fred is also a lot of fun onstage. I even remembered a few of the words here and there - very few, but for me that's pretty good. LOL The crowd was starting to pull in closer in anticipation for Mae.
There was a lot of energy in the room, and it was growing every minute. I was able to get the set list for Terrible Things again.

It seemed an eternity waiting for Mae to set up, but I knew it would be over far too soon, they would pack up and I might not see them again. The lights went down and the crowd started chanting for Mae. Just a few more minutes and the took the stage. The audience went crazy. Song after song, people knew every word. People applauded, cheered, jumped, danced and created an incredible amount of energy. It was a rare time where everything seemed so connected -- the band and their fans.

Sadly, it came to an end (as all good things do) and the concert was over. The guys decided to stick around and meet everyone and people lined up. I went over to Windsor Drive's merch table, purchased their ep's and had a photo taken. They seemed like very nice guys. I saw Miss Corey and we chatted a few minutes. I was trying to figure out a way to get my gift for Jacob out of the car as reentry was not an option for me. Corey went out to my car and retrieved it for me, which I thought was very sweet. :)

I stopped at Mae's merch table and decided I really wanted the hoodie, so I asked to have one held until I could run down to the ATM. Then, gift in hand, I took my place towards the end of the line. Not long after I got in line, I was interviewed for the DVD. I was a little caught off guard, and I'm sure I sounded pretty lame. LOL Who knows if it will even make the cut anyway. ;) After a while, I came close to the end of the line and gave someone my camera to snap a photo for me. Rob smiled and said, "It's Melanie Ta" which made me laugh since that is just my online screen name on Facebook and Mae's community site. I had given Tyler some Hershey's kisses for Rob, and I asked him if Tyler gave him his kisses. Tyler proceeded to give him something other than chocolate kisses. I still don't know if he ever got them. There were hugs, and then I gave Jacob his gift. He seemed to really like it. :) That made my day. It was hard to tear myself away, but I did and then stopped to take a photo on the way out of people signing Jacob's book.

Then, I literally RAN to the bank a block or two away, used the drive up atm to get enough cash for a hoodie and ran back to the venue. I went to the alley where they were all loading up and chatted a bit until I was able to get someone to get me a hoodie. Success! Then I said my goodbyes again and got into my car. It was very late by that time. I was very tired, but happy and satisfied. It was bittersweet, in a way, but I wouldn't have been anywhere else.

Thanks Mae, for the memories. I will miss you.