Sunday, July 30, 2006

Two of the people I swore to see before I die, in a one two punch!

So, late in posting this experience, but July 16th on top of a hill in the San Jose area wine country, one of my "must do" concert experiences occured, and the other opened its doors to me. July 16th was Blue Travler in concert and trust me, every positive thing that you have heard about them in concert is true, naysayers can bite me. They were rocking out until the city pulled the plug! That was a dule edged event to be sure, on one hand we were all pissed that the show was cut off -- on the other hand, we got to rebel against the man as we made as much noise as the concert for the next 10 minuets cheering for the guys.

Here is a shot of the hills around the venue! GREAT for someone cut off from "the wilds" of Missouri for so should see the homes.

How close were we to the stage? Well, Marie took this from our seats:

And here is John Popper and the Boys Rocking out!!

Key moments in the concert:

1. John Popper "Oh, you guys love the OLD shit, huh?" And switching the set list (saw it later) to NAIL a bunch of stuff from the first album (self title) and Traveler's and Thieves. Why is this amazing? Well, going from Dropping Some NYC, inset Optimistic Thought and I Have My Moments, and then finish the Jam on Dropping Some NYC. 18 mins of AWESOME.

2. What I like to call the "whoa-ly shit how is he still standing set!" Hook, Run Around, Brother John, All-In the Groove in one high speed mash-up set. His only breaks were to take a drag off what COULD have been a cigerette during the instrumental Jams that weren't him.

3. "No Woman No Cry" cover. Apparent he did this with Ziggy Marley at some point, but it sounded better solo, I can't describe the energy. Obviously, a bunch of 30-40 yr olds need something in common to jam on, this was it. I have the Marley-Popper track if anyone is interested.

So yeah, I was rocking out:

Loved the new stuff from 'Bastardos' (and the art too, check it out). Had an awesome time there with Piggy and it was cool from front to back. The cherry on this Awesome Pie came right after we arrived. I was looking through the concert event calender while we were milling around the front area and BAM, there was B.B. King heading there for the 80th Birthday tour! Sick cause I knew as close as we were, it had to be sold out, I tried my luck at the box-office. Turns out, he was about to free up four handicapped spaces that hadn't sold yet out of 8 available. I bought two. Now I'm 10th row center for the greatest living blues man's 80th birthday celbration/concert! I am sooooo pumped.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Did you know the zip code for United baggage claim is 60-666!? Well, I do now and I know why.

As I mentioned on my previous post, I flew into St. Louis for a visit and then was tuning up for a trip to NY to meet my team's boss and the rest of the network there. Let me point out that the show, the event and the subsequent meetings went great! I got to see my older brother, ate a terrific (if expensive) meal at Smith & Wolenski's in Manhattan and stayed in a pretty nice hotel. However, it wasn't the case for the whole flight. It all started with a conversation with a snippy united clerk that went something like this:

"You need to go now and get on an earlier plan, the next one might be delayed." Said Mr. Clerk, brusquely without eye contact.
"Oh great, thanks for the heads up," I cautiously state "this won't affect the baggage that you just check in under my original flight will it?"
"No. You are meeting the same flight so even if it goes on the wrong plane, it will get there." Said looking over my shoulder at the people behind me.
"OK, but won't that mean that the luggage would be late it the second plane was/" I seriously queried.
"No, you'll be fine but you have to go now." He bluntly stated.
"OK, if you are SURE my bag will make it, I will need everything first thing in the morning?"
"Yes. You are fine. Hurry along. Next Please." he said dismissively.

Welllll...good news is, I got on the early plane. Bad news is, they kept loading possible "delay" passengers on it until it was 45 minutes late and then we had a lovely half hour sit on the tarmac waiting to take off. Not to be deterred from going farther off course, we make it to Chicago. I hustle down to my connection and after convincing the gate agent she can't give away my seat as I am, in fact, standing in front of her I board up and...after a 30 minute delay. We are ready to take off. Here comes the fun part. Apparently, there is a big storm over the NY-Newark area and we and we need to land at Washington Dull-ass due to the fact that...and here is the kicker...we DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FULE TO CIRCLE IN THE HOLDING PATTERN IN NJ! Great, wonderful, fun. We are assured they will try to turn it around as fast as possible. Note, that right now, I'm looking at getting in after midnight and to my hotel an hour to an hour and a half later. Of course, hurray, this is not quick 20-30 minute turn around...oh, no, an hour and a half sit down on the tarmac as they try to find someone to get the FULE HOSE un-stuck from the wing. (Imagine my confidence level at this point folks.) Well, it happens and after a nice stand in line (apparently we aren't the only re-routes in the United army) we are off to Newark. Landing in new was, of course, a conga line to the terminal, but hey -- NOTHING -- compared to the trip so far. Until, of course, the baggage conveyor stops and I'm one of 3 people standing there waiting. I quickly assume the worst and stop in to the claims office and, yep, my bag is still in Chicago. At 2 am with a trade show and embassy meeting the next morning, I'm told that they'll "do their best" to get the bag on the 9:30am flight out to NYC. Oh joy, oh glee, oh happy day. One thing to mention here. The constant in-and-out of A/C and new climate set off my sinuses and had me kicked around and apparently the germ tube air circulation of the flights did not help. At 2:30 am in New Jersey, I know that I am sick and that my voice and head and on the verge of breaking down. Well, I missed the last train into the city thanks to our lovely baggage delay and now I hop a $90 cab right into the city and right to my hotel. Huzzah, I have arrive, sans baggage, but I am here in one piece. It is pushing 4 am, United tells me I am eligible for reimbursement for the lost luggage and cost to me to get things to live on but that means hopping right out of bed at about 7 am, getting a shower, getting out to have a suit fitted ASAP and then off to my trade show. "Screw it" I think "if that is how it has to be, oh well, adapt and overcome."

7 am comes way, way, WAY too early and I beat the snooze mercilessly but eventually submit and wander to the shower. Long story short, a safety device was stuck and no hot water in the shower. They send someone up quickly to fix it, I rinse my fat ass down and I'm out into the streets of Manhattan in yesterday's clothes heading to the nearest Men's Warehouse. I love these guys, really I do. Not only had the team in San Francisco hooked my up with a great light weight set of suits for the summer trip to New York, they had turned it around fast and got me a great deal on just what I wanted. Albeit, the suits are in Chicago, but I know where to go when I need some help. So, in I go and I tell the salesman I need the fastest suit up and turn around in history. One hour later, I have been suited up from Florshiem shoes to "no worry" shirt and it has been altered and I am OUT the door and on my way to the trade show. Score again for Men's the will alter the suit if I loose the weight I'm working on, for free. Score two, hell, gold stars all around.

As I mentioned, show/event went great, no news is good news there. My older brother worked the event like a champ even though he was a guest on short notice and I am again amazed on who the guy I grew up with turned out to be. Waldo Sr. on Wall Street...who would have guessed?

And now...the trip home. Welll, of course, stormy weather is approaching and I'm hoping to beat it out of the airport, but the crew at United decides to screw around and delay the baggage load and jetway pull back and 10 minuets after we are supposed to be in the air, they announce that LIGHTNING has been spotted and due to union regs NO ONE will be getting anywhere near the plane to take off the jet way or finish the last THREE bags that need to be loaded. So, there we sit for two hours all in from that delay and the cattle line to take off. Note: I didn’t get the worst of it, a co-worker leaving to visit San Francisco sat on that tarmac for FIVE HOURS waiting to leave and did not make it to her destination until 6 am Pacific time, so this next part is a little more irony that whine. We leave, hit Denver, and since I was able to call United from the plane before we took off, I'm set for the 9:50 flight heading to San Jose. Philly Piggy is hopping to pick me up at around 11 and whisk me home. We take off on time, no delays, beautiful! Gonna finally have a leg make it on time. Nope. Mid-flight it is announced that we will be routing to Salt Lake City for a medical situation. Seems that someone it ill. Turns out it was a panic attack that induced severe hyper-ventilation. Awwww. Anyway, another hour and a half turn around on the refuelling and bag pull-off for our nervous wheezer (what is with these turn around times) and I am heading the San Jose. I get in after midnight, I get home in a half hour, I get to bed by 1:30 am. I'm in to work the next day. I am sick as a dog!

Due to a work overload and this trip, I can't just suck it up and stay home but have gone in diligently the whole time since arriving back. I've probably infected the whole office. But, I am alive, and I know why the zip code for United ends in 666.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

St. Louis this weekend and CARS!

So, I'm on my way to New York and was lucky enough to drop in and get a visit with my "little otter" and thanks to the kindness of Mike and Christie (whom I apparently forgot to finalize my travel plans with--aren't I special? I mean short bus kind of special.) had a great HQ to have a good time. Outside of being the captains of the local park playgrounds, we went to see Car's. As much as I originally thought this would be a first for a failure for Disney/Pixar, I was wrong. First off, the artwork is stunning and the use of CGI for reflective lighting and detail effects is unparralelled. In a huge crop of animated features coming out this year (finally making that Oscar catagory a race) I originally thought this would fall flat, but it turns out it will most likely be the juggernaught of the catagory. Great soundtrack, great voicacting, superior story and visuals. YEAH!

So, I'm in the airport posting this, so it will be short. On the way to NY to see my brother (first time in a while) and of course do my thing for work and meet all the heads of the network. A little nervous about keeping up with my workload while doing this, but I think we can make it -- especially with all the work getting done on the plane (kinda).

I'll spellcheck this later, untill then, here is something to make you smile. I call it the Blue Pig of Happiness.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Art and the transformation:

Had a thought that was close to an epiphany today. Might have just been a brain fart, but tell me what you think. It concerns art and the freedom it produces in the mind and how that, in the end, effects the person. By art, as you'll note, I don't just mean squiggly lines with paint and pencil, but also music, theater and dance, etc.

The theme revolves around the outsider's question of "why are artists so weird?" that often comes to mind when we see a green mohawk, off-beat clothes, funky lifestyles, etc. I would put it to this. It comes from the freedom loosed in the subconscious and an artist's want to return there. When you are "in the zone" artistically, you are creating that which does not exist. You are molding reality to fit your format, not the other way around. Your line determines the reality, your interpretation shows the true intention and your poetry or lyrics create the emotional center of thought. In the real world, the thoughts of the masses and harsh realities of life define this and people hide in their small (or large) boxes and create personas that won't attract undue attention or get them "in trouble" in the real world.

However, the artist has tasted this opiate created in his or her own mind. Like an addiction it rewires neural synapses and creates a preferred method of interpreting input and creating output. The euphoria of creation, especially a magnum opus but even a prideful doodle, is like a hit off that pipe or candy from the needle and, after a while, you don't know how to function without it. The day-to-day desk job gets grey and colorless and you long to express yourself, taste that internal drug and show it to the world. You want it to color everyday choices, you want it to flow from you because that connects you with it and lets you know its there. Its comfort when the box closes in and the "fake" persona you wear feels like a straight-jacket. You disregard social norms to wear it on your sleeve so to speak, or incorporate it into your life. So, how does this make an artist "weird?"

You may see it in the green mohawk, the unique indie/vintage clothes, obscure political stances, tics and habits that seem outside of anything remotely necessary for survival, or even in a peaceful, passive mode that inspires people to talk or listen. Isn't that weird? Isn't that STRANGE to go outside the norm, walk uphill, swim upstream, play with Calvin-ball like rules inside a very black & white world? Yes. Yes it is. But when you look at it from this angle, when you see from inside the creation junkie out onto the world, you can understand it. You can appreciate it. You may even take the ultimate real world stance and pass currency off on them for a capitalistic "hell yeah" shout of agreement. And then long to be that weird guy. And wish you could touch that vein of creativity. Remember when you took a dose way back when. Remember when the world turned cold when you turned your back on the creative and chose the stoic, grey, necessary reality of life. When you became normal, and they became weird.Do you understand it now? Or do you feel weird for giving it up?