Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Dream: Meeting Chris Wolstenholme of Muse!

Okay, so I was in the bar of some restaurant (I'm assuming I was in Knoxville, my current place of residence). It was dimly lit and I was walking around looking for a place to sit. I looked up at one of the flat screen TVs to see Muse performing "Uprising" live on an awards show. Of course I geeked out a little on the inside. But then I turned to see the Wolstenbeast himself walking around the bar area. I went up to him and asked "If you're here, then who's playing bass [with the band]?" I thought he'd say "Morgan" but he said some name I didn't recognize. Apparently this instantly made us friends because he let me hang around him like a little puppy. We stood and talked a little bit and he also took pictures with a few other fans. Then I got my brother to take a picture of us with my camera. The other fans just kind of stood next to him but I pulled a Lisa "Bellamy" Smith :) and wrapped my arms around his neck. He was sweaty for some reason but I didn't care (okay, maybe I minded a little bit, but I got over it quickly because it was the WOLSTENBEAST). He leaned over a bit (he had to, or I wouldn't have been able to reach around his neck) and went "C'mon camera!" because my brother was having trouble taking the picture.

With the picture finally secured, we sat down at this table we'd been standing near. We talked about some other things, most of which I've forgotten now. But I know I confirmed that his and Dom's birthdays are in December and then asked him how old they were (even though I already knew all of this). I was remarking on how most of the bands I like have members way older than me or way younger, so I was glad I'm in the same age range as the members of Muse. I mentioned how I'd love to meet the rest of the band but they wouldn't be showing up here because the awards show was in a different city. Chris said "You should come to our show on Thursday." I asked where it was going to be, thinking he'd say Nashville or Atlanta. "Livin," he replied. [Those of you in real life know this is a fictional city; however, Dream Robyn knew that this was a city in the UK.] I was like "Chris, I can't afford to go all the way to the UK just to see you guys! I'm a poor teacher!!" Then I changed my tune and said something along the lines of "Unless I can be Dom's girlfriend and then he would probably pay my way...and then I'd definitely meet all the guys..." I don't remember Chris's response to that but soon after he had to go. I was thinking about asking if we could exchange phone numbers so we could text (I thought he might actually say yes), but I didn't get up the courage to do it. By this time my mouth had become full of some kind of white, crusty substance. I mean, literally, my mouth was full of it, and it was making it hard to talk. Oh yeah, and if I was talking to you, you could totally see the stuff. So of course Chris was all WTH and I'm trying to talk around it. But it just kept getting worse; it was like the more I talked the more stuff showed up. I quickly turned around and tried to spit a bunch of it out (gross, LOL) and then continue talking, but it didn't help much. Now Chris was walking away (he didn't even say goodbye) toward a back exit of some kind and I was chasing after him. He went through a set of swinging double doors (like he was entering the restaurant's kitchen) and I went through them as well. He had disappeared though. I yelled into the darkness of a long hallway "My name is Robyn, by the way!"

And that's how my dream ended. Oh, well. Chris was really nice up until that crusty stuff showed up. That's happened to me in dreams before but not in years. It was funny when I woke up but I was MAD in the dream!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Muse: Live at Olympic Stadium REVIEW

Since I don't own any official Muse tee shirts (yet) I donned my "#1 Dom Fan" shirt and headed to Franklin, TN (which is outside of Nashville).

First of all, I expected to see more people there. The show started at 8:00 and I got there at 7:15 in hopes of getting a good seat. When I walked in, there were four other people in the theater. The mother cheered "Yay, another Muse fan!" and I responded "Yay, Musers!" She said they'd been there since like, 5:00 because they expected a crowd, too. Eventually the theater filled up with more people. I'd say maybe 40-50 total?

Anyway, I chatted with the lady and the three younger people (I almost called them "kids" but I'm trying not to do that to every young person I see) for a while. They were at the Nashville show back in September like I was. They also saw the guys in Nashville a couple of years ago. When the woman asked me if I was there, I had to admit "I didn't know Muse existed then!" It feels like I've been a fan forever, but it's really only been a couple years.

Carmike designated the smallest theater with the smallest screen for the showing...losers. And the sound was not loud enough. Also, I couldn't tell you if it was in 4K or not. It looked really clear, but I have nothing to compare it to (haven't seen a movie in ages). Oh yeah, and I found out that tickets were only $8 when they first went on sale. When I bought my ticket Tuesday afternoon, it was $12.50. Not cool.

Okay, onto the show. Is there anything Morgan Nicholls can't do? He sang a lot (like in Madness--he's doing the "m-m-m-mad" part) and also played guitar, cabasa, drums, tambourine, and glockenspiel. And probably other things I didn't even see. I totally have a crush on that man sheerly because of his skills.

I finally know during which songs Dom comes out and plays drums on the thrust. I've asked several fans on their pictures and no one ever gets back to me. It's for Guiding Light and Undisclosed Desires.

I'm so glad (but also jealous) that they played Animals! I've never heard it live and it's one of my favorite songs. I thought the visuals were really cool, and the guy throwing money around was cool, too. But it was weird when he fell on the floor and pretended to be dead, and then Chris walked up and played Man with a Harmonica.* It was just awkward. I also wonder when the guy got up and left (of course they didn't show that).

During Guiding Light, an acrobat was dancing around while hanging from a light bulb. The dancing was awesome. The light bulb was a bit cheesy in my opinion. Oooh, Guiding Light bulb. *ba-dum-ching*

I was glad they did Feeling Good, but the dramatization with the lady drinking gasoline at the end seemed out of place. Was it supposed to be ironic?

After the first barrier run in Undisclosed Desires, Matt went under the stage and sang to the Animals man and the Feeling Good woman, who were lying in coffins propped up. Um...weird?

I looked for the infamous Lisa (Muser who's been to over 100 shows!) but I never spotted her. I've heard she made an appearance in Starlight, so I'll be sure to look for it when I get the DVD.

I totally didn't know that Matt used a 7-string guitar for Supremacy and Survival. Sooooo cool. Oh, and in Survival he sang the octave at the very end (the high note from the album)! I had to contain a squeal of delight...

Even though I saw it live in Nashville, it was still so awesome to see the armies of Matt, Chris, and Dom during Uprising. I wonder how long it took Tom Kirk to put all that together? Oh, and speaking of the visuals, seeing President Obama and the Pope dancing to Panic Station was great. I was cackling the whole time, as was the lady next to me.

Back to Morgan for a bit--he played several parts that I thought Matt would play. For example, the guitar in Starlight. At the end of Uprising, Matt handed his guitar to a stage hand and I expected him to get another one in return. When he didn't, I started wracking my brain trying to think what other songs there were where he doesn't play guitar (since they'd already done Undisclosed Desires and Follow Me). So when Starlight began, I was a little confused. I was thinking, "Are they not going to have guitar on it at all?"

I thought it was so cute at the end when Dom took pictures of the crowd with his iPhone. And that's my remembrance! Hope you enjoyed it.

*Does anyone else get bored during Man with a Harmonica? What is the big deal? Chris plays two whole notes. Whoop-de-doo. Am I missing something??

Sunday, October 6, 2013

MUSE in Nashville

Alrighty, it's finally time for the recap of my amazing night with the best band in the world! I put the setlist near the bottom of the post. For a complete photo album, check out my Facebook photos.

As soon as Muse made their new Southeast US tour dates public I marked my calendar for the day the Nashville tickets went on sale (April) and snatched them up as soon as the fan pre-sale began. It's a little over a couple hours away for me, and the show was on a Friday night, so it worked really well. I also entered the contest (with that stupid orb game--some of you know what I'm talking about) to win a chance to meet the guys and whatnot in Atlanta, which would've been the Wednesday before. Obviously I didn't win. But there's always next time!

So I drove over to Nashville Friday afternoon, as soon as I was done teaching for the day. I got really confused because I was leaving at 3:00 and my GPS said that I would arrive at 4:15. Okay, maybe Google Maps was off a little bit in the time estimate, I thought to myself. But once I got on I-40, it said I'd be on it for 153 miles. I can't go that far in an hour and 15 minutes! What is going ON? Then it occurred to me. Nashville is in Central Time. My GPS was telling me my arrival time in the tie zone of my destination. Finally convinced that I wasn't going crazy, my brain resumed its normal chatter as I drove west to Nashville.

When I got to my hotel (Double Tree--yay, cookies!) I got settled in and waited for my friend Julia (my bestie who was driving in from Virginia) to arrive. After she arrived we both took showers and then did some taxi research. Now, for those of you who don't know, we had terrible luck with the taxi company we chose when we went to see Justin Timberlake and Jay Z in Baltimore. Well, things weren't much better this time. The dispatcher didn't cut us off and hang up on us (twice) like in Baltimore, but the cab driver got really exasperated when we told him we were paying by credit card. We specifically asked for a cab which took credit cards when we made the reservation but this guy's credit card reader wasn't working. So he's complaining and going "Are you sure you don't have any cash?" I did have cash, but I wasn't about to use it because he should've had a working card reader. If your reader isn't working, you tell your supervisor so they don't send you to a customer who wants to pay by credit card. Isn't that a simple concept? Anyway, he got a very low tip because he practically treated us like it was all our fault.

We finally got to the Bridgestone Arena. I took a few pictures while outside, because downtown Nashville is so bright!

Julia and I had VIP tickets that I purchased through the MUSE website. The "VIP" label meant that we got primo seats in the first few rows of the lower bowl, we had access to a pre-show party with special merchandise and dinner, and we got some freebies (water bottle, tote bag, limited edition poster). Will I be using that tote bag and water bottle every day for work? You betcha!

Getting our actual tickets was a bit confusing. My paperwork said to go to Will Call, then go check in at the VIP table. Well, Will Call didn't have our tickets; the VIP table did. So why did the paper say to go to Will Call? Anyway, we went to the VIP table (which we passed to go to Will Call), got our goodies, and then attempted to find the VIP party. More confusion ensued.

After asking for directions, we finally found the "party." It was in a small, dimly lit room near the entrance to the floor seats (well, not seats, because it was standing only on the floor...but you know what I mean). There was a huge backdrop with "MUSE" on it, with lights all around and different images showing in the word MUSE. Here's a slightly fuzzy picture of it:

The room had blown up professional photos of the guys from earlier on the tour. There was no seating; only tables made for standing at. There were also TV screens showing live footage of the band (it later occurred to me that this was from H.A.A.R.P.). As we walked in they were playing Take a Bow, then the video started over.

The "dinner" was nachos and an assortment of toppings (salsas, guacamole, a big vat of queso, sour cream, and a big vat of chili). There was no VIP shopping area with special merchandise that I could see, but that's okay. I didn't really plan on spending any more money than I'd already spent anyway!

Julia got us drinks with double shots so I quickly ate some nachos and chili to absorb some of the alcohol! ;-) While we were standing around feeling underwhelmed by the "party," this tall guy came over and remarked on how odd it was to be showing live footage of the band at a pre-concert party. We agreed and he asked what we'd prefer. Actually, he asked me, kind of ignoring Julia. I couldn't think of anything besides music videos. Julia suggested interviews with the guys, which I think is a great idea. We chatted a bit more and then he left us to go back to his group of friends. It was sort of weird because I felt like we were being interviewed by a member of the media or something. He had a VIP wristband like we did but he was also wearing some kind of lanyard.

Anyway, I ate a little more and then we headed out. As we left, a nice gentleman who worked there told us how to get to our seats. Once we got to our seats (front row of Section 105) we met a young girl who had a custom tee shirt like mine--it said "I ♥ MUSE" and had the show location and date and whatnot. She said her dad brought her. I marveled at this because my dad would not take me to a Muse show! :-D We struck up a conversation with the girl and found out that her name was also Julia. Her dad came back from wherever he had gone and we told him how cool he was for bringing his daughter to the show. He said if he wasn't also a fan, he probably wouldn't have done it!

Throughout the show I told Julia (bestie) what some of the songs were, since she only owns the two most recent albums. I also filled Julia (teen) in on a couple (Agitated and Neutron Star Collision) because they were from albums she didn't have.

They had the pyramid and showed ninja Dom but he didn't change into his red suit. I was disappointed... But I'm so glad they played Agitated, since I'd heard that Charlotte and Atlanta got it. I was hoping for New Born, Animals, or Undisclosed Desires but alas, none of them were played. I did get some other faves, though--Panic Station and Supermassive Black Hole. I stood almost the entire time, which is a big deal for my tired, old feet. I only sat down twice! And before I went to bed Julia (bestie) made me take Advil so my feet wouldn't hate me the next day. Thanks, Julia!

So about 4-5 songs into the show I realized I hadn't been keeping track of the set list. Thankfully Julia (teen) was. I gave her my email so she could send it to me. Also, it was posted on one of my Facebook Muser groups so I could double check everything. Glad it all worked out!

The show was AMAZING, as if we would expect anything less from our boys. :-) The show started out with the pyramid on the floor, and they showed video as Isolated System played. Then the pyramid went dark, turned red, then began to rise. The band played Supremacy as this all took place. During the show the pyramid changed shapes and whatnot, showing different images depending on the song. For Madness Matt put on the word glasses and the lyrics also showed up on the pyramid. For Survival the faces singing "So I...told you..." and "You were warned and didn't listen" showed up.

There were no guitar-throwing or amp-destroying antics at this show unfortunately. The most we got was Matt spinning the amp around and causing a mini light show during one song (can't remember which one it was, sorry).

When Matt went to the piano I got really excited. I love it when he plays piano! Then I was so shocked when they played Neutron Star Collision. Some fans don't like it because it was used for one of the Twilight movies, but it's still a beautiful song. And Matt didn't write it for Twilight as some people think. According to the article about the song on MuseWiki, Matt wrote it about a girl he'd broken up with a few months prior.

Anyway, back to the music. Here's the setlist:
Isolated System
Supermassive Black Hole
The Star-Spangled Banner + Hysteria
Panic Station
Man with a Harmonica + Knights of Cydonia
Montpellier Jam + Feeling Good
Follow Me
Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)
Liquid State
Time Is Running Out
Unnatural Selection
Agitated + Freedom outro
Other interesting tidbits: There was this guy sitting behind us who totally hit on Julia (bestie), which is weird because he was sitting with his girlfriend. At least, we assume it was his girlfriend because apparently he had his arms around her the whole show...

Before the show Julia (bestie) was remarking how cute this guy was who was on the floor in front of us. She tried to inconspicuously take his picture (from behind) with her phone but the flash went off. He actually turned around and said something like "Did you get a good shot?" I nearly died laughing.

Also, the nice gentleman from VIP who told us how to find our seats showed up on the floor about halfway through the show. We talked to him afterward. He said once he was done at the VIP room he was able to come out and watch the rest of the show. He also said he had as much fun watching us as he did watching the band. It wasn't as creepy as it sounds, I promise... Anyway, we shook his hand and made our way out.

I then slept like a ROCK because I had jumped, sung, and screamed my heart out for those boys. Did I mention that I love Muse? Because I kind of do. I hope you do, too. :-)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hawaiian Vacation, Part 3

The seventh and final day, Friday, was a bit low key. It was our second day at port in Nawiliwili and Mom and I stayed on the ship. I went to the second art auction put on by Park West. This time I had more champagne and, perhaps because of the champagne, I actually purchased some art! :-) Here's what I should be receiving in a few weeks (anyone wanna help me choose frames for them?):
  • Regal I by Peter Nixon
  • Athena II by Peter Nixon
  • Dove in Flight by Zamy Steynovitz (sorry, the link was taken down from the website)
The auctioneer gave away prizes throughout the event. He also promised a piece of art and a bottle of champagne to the loudest/most enthusiastic participant (he did this at the first auction as well). I decided to try to win this time around and I clapped and yelled for everything. Unfortunately, the auctioneer thought it was the people next to me making that noise and they won the competition (they hardly made any sounds at all!). There is a happy ending to this story, though--I had befriended a young lady from that group and she told me when she won that she doesn't drink. I jokingly said "I'll gladly take the champagne off your hands!" So after she went to claim her prize, she walked over to me and handed me to huge bottle of champagne. How nice!

After the auction, the ship made a pass of Nā Pali; first on the port side and then on the starboard side. I got some good shots, fortunately.

I had a yellow notepad on which I'd been taking notes for the whole cruise. At the end of Friday, I wrote "Three glasses of champagne, 1 glass of wine, and 3 works of art." :-D

One other thing of note from the cruise: Our steward, Gerry, was a really helpful guy. He also made towel animals for us every day. Be sure to check out my photo album on Facebook to see them all!

On Saturday, we docked at Honolulu again and disembarked. I was sad to leave but happy to have had such a wonderful experience with my mom. Thankfully the fun wasn't all over just yet! We had to disembark that morning but our planes didn't leave until after 10 that night. So we took one last excursion--the Grand Circle Island Tour. It took us all the way around the island of Oahu. The picture to the left is a couple of volcanic rock islands off the coast. Here are some interesting things I learned on the tour:
  • Waikiki Beach is man-made. They bring in sand every 6 years.
  • Most of the palm trees are non-native (like these fishtail palm trees to the right).
  • When taking this tour, you should sit on the right side of the bus, so you can get pictures of the beautiful water and not just the mountains. :-p
  • Billboards are illegal and RVs are not allowed in parks.
At the end of that excursion we were taken to the airport. We arrived somewhere around 5:30. Then Mom and I had dinner and wasted time until it was time to go to our separate gates. This is where things got even more interesting (but not in a good way).

My flight was to depart at 10:15. We boarded around 9:50. We taxied to the runway and I thought we'd be leaving soon. Then the captian announced that there was a sensor on the front of the plane that wasn't working properly and that we had taxied back to the gate to have the problem looked at. A few moments later he said it would take about 40 minutes to look into and that we could leave the plane if we wanted to. Since it was only 40 minutes, I decided to stay put. Two hours later, the captain announced that the problem couldn't be fixed and that the flight was cancelled (sound familiar?). Then the gate agent told us that there was a convention in Honolulu and that all the hotels in town were full (also sound familiar?). So I got to spend the night in the Honolulu airport. Being stranded in Hawaii might not be such a bad thing, but being stuck in the airport makes it a bit less enjoyable.

I called the number they gave us to rebook my itinerary. The soonest they could get me off the island was 12:30 Sunday afternoon, and that's if I was willing to change airlines (which I'd vowed I'd never do again after the trip to Honolulu). I was desperate so I took it. Then I tried to figure out what I was going to do for the next 11 hours. I decided that sleep was a good start. I put my suitcase behind me and my new Hawaii bag under my head and attempted to sleep on the floor. It was cold and very hard. Eventually I gave up on the floor and went to a chair. The armrests were in the way and I couldn't get comfortable. Next I tried this weird-looking plastic chair on the end of the regular chairs:

I put my suitcase beside the chair, put my Hawaii bag on top of it for a pillow, and put my legs over the arm of the first black chair. Still not very comfortable, so I took some shirts out of my suitcase and used them as cushions under my head and my hipbone. I slept this way for about two hours, which is surprising considering that the airport was piping in Hawaiian music the whole time (nothing against Hawaiian music...hearing music ad nauseum will turn me off of anything, except Muse).

After that couple of hours of non-restful sleep, I decided I couldn't stand it anymore. I got up and chatted with another couple who'd been on the canceled flight. The wife said "I used to enjoy Hawaiian music. Now I think I hate it." I wholeheartedly agreed with her. She and her husband then went upstairs to try their luck with getting back into a gate. I played on my Kindle for a while, then decided I'd go upstairs as well. I put my bag through the agriculture screening (for a second time) and checked in at the United counter. Then I went to my gate. It took a while to get to the gate because the Honolulu airport is very spread out. I guess the one good thing about that is that since the food and shop areas were so far from the gate, it wasted time walking back and forth.

We were each given $20 in meal vouchers because of the canceled flight. As if that made up for it. We should've been given travel vouchers as well. But that's beside the point... Around 7 am I decided I'd use one of the vouchers to get some breakfast. I went to Starbucks (one of the few places open) and got a chai latte and a cinnamon twist. When I returned to the gate, I wasn't allowed to enter. There was an international flight coming in and because of customs or something, no one was allowed inside the gate. I was told the gate would open at 9. So I found a seat outside the gate, plugged my phone in to charge, and called my dad.

After 9, I went into the gate and played with my Kindle some more. It really helped the time to pass, thankfully. Somewhere around 10:30 or so I went to one of the lobby stores and tried to purchase a Sudoku book and some macadamia nuts with a voucher. The clerk told me that I couldn't use my voucher there, despite the fact that the gate agent told me I could use the vouchers "anywhere in the airport." I already had my heart set on the items, so I put them on my credit card. Then I went to Burger King and spent the rest of the vouchers on lunch. I got a kid's meal and a little Cinnabon even though I wasn't that hungry. I wanted to use as much of the voucher as possible, you know? I ate the hamburger and fries slowly and then had the Cinnabon closer to time to board.

I can thankfully say that there were no more catastrophes after that. We boarded the plane for the 12:30 flight and there were no instrument malfunctions. Even though I was now going to San Francisco instead of Phoenix for the first leg of my trip, I didn't get to see my mom (who had flown to San Francisco and then spent the night at a hotel before finishing her trip home). But I made it safely home on Monday morning instead of Sunday evening, and then immediately went back to bed. I spent the entire day catching up on sleep, resumed life on Tuesday, then went on another trip Wednesday (that's another story for another day!)...

Despite that adventure at the end, my overall Hawaiian trip was a success. I definitely want to go back to Hawaii, and maybe just visit one island this time. So, to the beautiful state of Hawaii, I say "Ahui ho!" (Until we meet again!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hawaiian Vacation, Part 2

Now to continue with my Hawaiian adventure!

The fourth day, Tuesday, was spent in Hilo (the north side of Hawaii, the Big Island). We didn't have an excursion planned but we wanted to get off the ship after a long day at sea the day before, so we took a bus to downtown Hilo. A young lady at Guest Services on the ship said there wasn't much to do, and she was right! We walked around a bit and stopped by a farmer's market, and then walked around some more.

Farmer's Market

We also stopped by a place called Cafe Pesto. Mom had lemonade and I had some passion fruit sorbet. It was soooo good. Later, while Mom was resting in the stateroom, I took a bus by myself to a more populated part of Hilo. I needed some astringent since the airport people had inspected mine and left it open for it to spill inside my suitcase (at least my suitcase smelled nice and was properly exfoliated). So I went to WalMart to get the astringent. I also bought a bathing suit, which I then proceeded to not wear for the rest of the cruise. I tried to get back to the ship for a Thomas Kinkade seminar given by Park West but I missed the 3:00 bus and had to wait 30 minutes for the next one (the seminar was at 4:00). I missed the seminar, but I did get to talk to a nice Australian couple while waiting for the 3:30 bus. Also, I heard about another auction on Friday so I decided to attend that.

On the fifth day, Wednesday, we arrived at Kona, Hawaii (the southern side of the Big Island). There was no dock this time, so they used tender boats to get us to and from the shore. They were wobbly to say the least...
Tender boat

Mom and I had an excursion planned--a bus tour. I felt it was a little disappointing because there were only three stops (Kona Coffee, the Painted Church, and Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park). But we got to see a lot of the island inbetween the stops. I was able to take lots of notes on this one (couldn't take notes while riding the Segway on Sunday). A few of the things I learned:
  • The Big Island has never had a hurricane or tropical storm because of protection from the two large mountains.
  • All the flowers and trees on the Big Island are non-native except for one pitiful looking tree (I didn't get the name).
  • There are no sand beaches on the Big Island.
I took a lot of photos at Puuhonua so be sure to check Facebook for all of those: Hawaiian Vacation Pics

One thing I've neglected to mention so far is that Mom and I had a bit of a problem with our stateroom. The bathroom started smelling like sewage after a couple of days, and it got worse every day. Our steward, Gerry, and one of the Guest Services workers, David, worked diligently to get it taken care of. By Wednesday it was gone, though it did get worse again. We just decided we'd have to live with it. Thankfully it wasn't as bad the second time through. But the head of Guest Services called Tuesday night and said that to make up for the inconvenience they were treating us to free dinner and a bottle of wine at any of the restaurants. So Wednesday night we went to Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian-style steakhouse (one of the specialty restaurants on the ship, which usually has a cover charge).

Moderno was beautiful and the food was excellent. They give you a menu full of meats but you don't choose just one. Once you turn over your place card from red to green, a passador comes to your table with the different meats on huge skewers, and cuts off whatever you want. When you're done with the main course and ready for dessert, you turn the place card back over to red.

My favorite food was the grilled pineapple with cinnamon and something else. I got two servings of that, even though I'm slightly allergic to pineapple. O:-) It was too good to pass up--it smelled amazing and tasted even better!

Unfortunately the boat was high-tailing it to Kauai that evening and was rocking quite a bit. It caused both Mom and me to lose our appetites. So we turned our place card back to red after only a few rounds of meat. Our passador came to the table and lamented "Red? Red!!" Mom was so queasy that she ordered some Ginger Ale, which helped thankfully. We got a couple of desserts to go and headed back to the room. Oh, and I chose my favorite wine--Chateau St. Michelle Riesling. I didn't finish it all that evening, so I nursed it for the next couple of days (Mom doesn't drink so it was all mine).

Thursday (day six) is the day I'd been looking forward to all week. We were docked in Nawiliwili, Kauai and our excursion was a plantation train ride and a luau (also at the plantation)! Mom said she couldn't go to Hawaii without experiencing a luau. The luau was that evening so during the day we took a trip to the UPS store to mail some things that wouldn't fit in our suitcases.

At Kilohana Plantation we got to see a lot of plants. I took a ton of pictures, but didn't get to write down what each one was! So if anyone knows the plants in my FB photos, please comment and fill me in. :-)

The luau was AMAZING. The food was okay; I did not try poi but I did try a couple of new drinks: the Mai Tai and the Blue Hawaii. Both were good, despite the fact that I don't really like rum or coconut. I also tried papaya (it was okay, nothing stellar) and purple sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes were good but had a strange aftertaste. Here's my dinner plate (yes, I had rice and noodles):

The entertainment They had storytelling, then regular dancing and Samoan fire dancing. I didn't get many good pictures but my new friend Jennifer (we met Jennifer and her husband Cameron at the luau, as they were sitting next to us) might have. Check Facebook. Here are a couple decent shots of the dancers from before the sun went down:

That's all for this part of the trip. Tune in soon for the final installment of my Hawaiian vacation retelling!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hawaiian Vacation, Part 1

Well, here we go! It's time to recount the tale of my week-long Hawaiian cruise with my mom. I will post some pictures here on the blog but for all the pics, check out my Facebook page: Hawaiian Pics Preview and Hawaiian Vacation Pics

First things first. I had to fly to Hawaii, and then the cruise was around the Hawaiian islands. We stopped at four of the main islands: Oahu, Maui, The Big Island, and Kauai:

Getting to Hawaii took quite a long time since I was coming from the East Coast of the US. I began my trip on Friday. I flew Chicago-Phoenix-Honolulu. The flights got progressively longer...ugh. Once I got to Honolulu I spent the night at the Miramar at Waikiki. My mom was supposed to join me that evening... Unfortunately the plane for her flight from San Francisco to Honolulu (she had a slightly different route from mine) had some kind of mechanical failure and, after they took a while to realize that it couldn't be fixed, the flight was canceled. While I was sleeping comfortably in the hotel room, my poor mother was sleeping in an uncomfortable chair in the San Francisco airport because all the hotels were full.

Thankfully we finally met up the following day, Saturday, at the dock. I got there first, however. We (separately) went through security, got our free leis, and had our photos taken with some good-looking Hawaiians...

Once together, we then stood in a long line to check in and embark. I think the first thing we did once we got on the ship and into our stateroom was sleep. Poor mom was exhausted after not getting much sleep in the airport the night before and I was still adjusting to the time zone difference (Hawaii is 6 hours behind Eastern Daylight Time).

After resting, we went to eat at the Aloha Cafe, one of the complimentary restaurants on the ship. Then there was a mandatory, ship-wide safety drill. Everyone had to evacuate their staterooms and report to their designated areas to listen to safety instructions in the case of an emergency. It was a thrill a minute, lemme tell you.

So our first day, at the Honolulu port, was uneventful. Our second day (Sunday) was in Maui (port at Kahului). Mom and I went on our first of four excursions, a Segway tour of Lahaina. The tickets said that we must wear closed-toe shoes and Mom hadn't packed we bought some funny-looking water shoes at one of the ship gift stores the day before. Then the morning of the tour, Mom couldn't find her drivers license (which you need any time you re-board the ship). We made ourselves late looking for it and were afraid we'd missed the bus, but once the license was found we rushed down to the gangway. "Segway tour?" an excited women shouted to us. "Yes!" we answered emphatically. She quickly ushered us to the bus, which was still waiting for us (thank God)!

Upon arriving at Segway Maui Tours, we signed our lives away (stating that SMT would not be held responsible if we hurt ourselves/died while operating a Segway) and then watched a terrifying safety video which showed us all the ways we could hurt ourselves/die while operating a Segway. Despite all of that, Mom and I decided we still wanted to continue with the tour. We were given helmets and neon "Don't Hit Me" vests, then we went outside to practice driving our Segways. It was a little weird at first, but we quickly got the hang of it. Teresa, our tour guide, mused that Mom and I had the most priceless looks on our faces as we watched the safety video. She then later remarked that we seemed to have the most fun of everyone on the tour (which was true). While training to drive the Segways, Mom was going around and around the parking area and Teresa exclaimed "Look at your mom go!" When we were done, I decided that one day I will have a Segway. My feet were killing me from all the maneuvering, but it was a TON of fun. Here we are underneath a beautiful banyan tree:

After our Segway fun was over, we decided it was time to eat. We wanted to go somewhere that wasn't too far from Hilo Hattie's, which is where the bus would be picking us up to take us back to the ship. Teresa, being the awesome person that she was, gave us a ride to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Good food, and I got a cool glass that lights up (if you're nice, I might let you play with it)!

That evening I heard about an art auction that was going on. I'd never been to one, so I decided to check it out. Also, there was free champagne and everyone who stayed to the end would get a free piece of art. Everybody wins, right? The auction was hosted by Park West. It was a lot of fun and I learned a little bit about some old and new artists (old: Picasso, new: Peter Max). I didn't bid on anything, though I was tempted to bid on some works featuring the Peanuts characters. They were only $80!! I was so shocked at the price (most things were from $2000 to over $90,000) that I assumed I'd heard the auctioneer incorrectly and didn't bid.

Another artist I discovered and fell in love with was Emile Bellet. He has a beautiful style and some of his works featured musicians (a woman playing the violin, a woman standing by a piano). I can't display the works here because of copyright, but I've linked the descriptions to the paintings' pages on West Park's website. Please check them out! Also, if you'd like to purchase one for me, my birthday is this month...they're only $2450 each. :-)

I stayed all the way to the end so I got my free piece of art. I actually ended up with two somehow. They were both the same print so I gave one to Mom. And guess what? It was a work by Bellet! It's titled Delicatesse:

So that was the second day. The third day, Monday, was a bit uneventful because of Hurricane/Tropical Depression Flossie. We were supposed to be at port in Maui two days but the captain said it was safer to be at sea when Flossie hit. So we spent Wednesday at sea. Mom and I didn't do much that day besides eat and explore the ship a bit.

That's all for the first part of the trip! Tune in soon for the second part.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dream: Meeting rock legends

I know it's been a while since I've blogged...sorry! I've been busy working and also writing my first novel. Maybe I'll post an excerpt from the novel soon, if y'all are interested. :)

So I dreamt that I got to watch bands rehearse for some kind of concert. First the Rolling Stones, then Muse. I got to the place (which just looked like a church gymnasium or something) and then the Stones arrived one by one. It was a brightly lit room and I believe there was a bulletin board with light blue construction paper tacked onto it. I was the only person there when the band arrived, so I chatted them up and took pictures. It randomly occurred to me that in the song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" Mick Jagger totally has enough time to sing "I can't get any satisfaction." I made a mental note to tweet that later.

When it came time for Muse to rehearse, they were in a different room. It was darker than the room the Stones were in and there were many more people there. I was bummed because the battery on my phone was too low to take pictures or video. I turned to my mom (who's apparently now with me) and said I'd have to run home and get my phone charger. I was not going to miss a chance to document the experience, especially since I was so close to Matt, the lead singer!

For Muse's rehearsal I was in the orchestra pit with the band and the other musicians (and other fans). They were rehearsing "Uprising." I was jealous because there was a young girl playing violin (it should've been me, of course!). They were using students to play in the orchestra and I was not happy. Also, Chris wasn't there so some girl was playing bass. The violinist looked familiar and I planned on asking her if we'd played together at a gig. Of course I wanted this to happen in front of the band, so they'd know I play as well...

At one point they were discussing which instruments to use for the song and the students couldn't decide who was playing what. Penny whistle was brought up and I was trying to get the guy next to me to tell me if he didn't want to play it because 1) he didn't like it or 2) because he couldn't play it well. If it was the latter I was going to offer to play. I had to get involved in this performance somehow! I also tried to get the guy to tell me what key the whistle was in because that would determine whether I could play it or not. Unfortunately Matt squelched my plans by interrupting the bickering kids and telling one of them that he (the student) would do it.

The end. I didn't get to talk to Muse. I don't think I even saw Dom, the drummer. And no Chris. Very disappointing dream overall. Ever had a dream where you wanted to change the ending? What happened, and what did you want to happen?

Monday, April 8, 2013

My First Muse Show EVAR

To my regular readers: This post is mainly for my fellow Musers. If you're not a fan of Muse, or don't enjoy reading concert reviews, you have my permission to skip this entry. :)

Some of my readers may know that I'm a bit of a Muse fan. In case you didn't know, I love Muse with all of my being. They can do no musical wrong in my mind. And that's a lot coming from me, because the list of bands who have yet to write a bad song in my book is a short list indeed...

Anyway, Muse is currently on tour, but they have yet to come near my town. So when they announced that they were playing a show in Atlanta (which is only three hours away from me) and that it was FREE, I jumped on that. I made plans, secured a hotel room (yay Expedia for great deals), tried unsuccessfully to find a traveling companion or two (it wasn't for lack of interest, just lack of funds or time), and designed my own tee shirt on the off chance I might actually meet the guys (it happened before with Bryan Adams!).

On Saturday morning, I drove down to Atlanta. The drive went by fairly quickly, thanks to the Muse CDs I played in the stereo.

Long story of pre-Muse stuff short: I got really bored and seriously considered driving back home, since I went alone I had no one to talk to. I ran into a few Muse fans in passing, but none of the friends I'd made on Facebook. :-( Also there was very limited seating and my feet get tired fairly quickly. But I toughed it out, sitting on benches or raised concrete slabs whenever I found space. At one point I went back to my car to eat a snack I'd brought, to avoid spending $$ on concessions. Oh, and I used a port-a-potty for the first time. The joy of all-day, outdoor concerts!

One more thing--I did meet up with a couple of friends who live in the area later in the evening, so I got to watch the concert with people I knew! :-)

So now onto Muse. Here's the set list:

  1. Supremacy
  2. Madness
  3. Supermassive Black Hole
  4. Panic Station
  5. Resistance
  6. Star-Spangled Banner
  7. Hysteria
  8. Some kind of jam...?
  9. Survival
  10. Follow Me
  11. Time Is Running Out
  12. Liquid State
  13. Uprising
  14. Man with a Harmonica
  15. Knights of Cydonia
I'm really glad they didn't just do an hour set like I thought they'd do (something on the NCAA website made me think that). I would've liked an encore, but I understand that this wasn't part of their regular tour and things work differently.

Highlights from the show:
  • The first time Matt sang the word "Supremacy" I screamed it right along with him. Later, the dude in front of me went "I could tell you were a huge fan when you hit that high note!" He could also tell because of my shirt. 
  • Whenever they showed Dom on the big screen, he always looked like he was having such a good time! Except for during the Star-Spangled Banner. He looked totally bored as Matt shredded away, haha!
  • When they started "Supermassive Black Hole" I got all giddy and turned to my friends and said "This was my ringtone!" (Right now it's the chorus from "Resistance.") Then they went straight into Panic Station, which made me uber-happy because those are two of my FAVORITE Muse songs!
  • It looked like Morgan was singing during "Survival," but it was hard to tell. Is there anything that man can't do?
  • Also during "Survival," Chris's bass sounded flat. I was just standing there thinking "Will someone please tune that thing?"
  • I don't know if Matt was under the weather or just not feeling like hitting high notes, but he changed the very last note of "Survival." (For those of you who are musically inclined, instead of singing that final octave he only sang a fifth.)
  • The graphics on the back screen of the stage were awesome. At one point during "Survival," the image from the 2nd Law's cover art kind of disintegrated from bottom to top. It was so cool!
  • I finally know now that the 2nd Law booklet is wrong in the lyrics for "Follow Me." Matt is definitely singing "I won't let them harm you" and not "hurt/they're hurting you."
  • Second craziest part of the show: Many of you have already heard about this, but the power went out during "Follow Me." They were about halfway through and Matt was pouring his heart and soul into it and suddenly there's no sound! Matt made some faces and tried talking into the mic. No luck. So they left the stage while the tech people worked their magic. My friend Tim joked that the power went out because "They didn't have a British plug." He also said he wanted a reimbursement, but since the concert was free...yeah. ;-)
  • When they performed "Liquid State" (yay, Chris!) I got really giddy because it occurred to me that this was my first time hearing this song live. I mean, yes, it was my first time seeing Muse in person, but I've watched many videos from this tour on the internet. Unfortunately they always did "Save Me." I'm glad for the switch because I feel like "Save Me" is a bit too slow for a rock concert.
  • During "Starlight" I noticed that Chris' bass was red with red lights on the fretboard. I've seen the one with blue lights before but don't remember having seen the red one before. Does anyone know if that's new?
  • Craziest part of the show: At the end of "Uprising," Matt decided to go all rock star and start trashing his equipment. First he knocked over an amp (which looked like it was about to push back and fall on top of him at one point) and then stood on top of it to play. Then he decided to throw his guitar toward the back screen multiple times. I'm just glad he didn't throw it toward poor Dom, like he usually does! I took video of parts of "Starlight" and "Uprising" and will add those to this post once they're done being edited by YouTube (gotta take out the shakiness from my excited hand, haha).
And that's it for the concert! I wanted to go in search of the band's tour bus so I could profess my undying love to Dom, but instead I went out to eat with my friends. At the very end of the show, Matt said "See you in September!" so maybe I'll try to meet them then... *starts planning*