greatbear: (gay men like rush too)
I know it's been a while since I posted anything, By request, I am reposting this from Facebook.


This weekend was Jeff's birthday weekend. I was hoping for decent weather among all the things we had planned. The weather did not disappoint, and the weekend, which included Friday afternoon, really couldn't have been better. We made a last-minute decision to go and watch the Orioles play. Unlike other time when we purchased tix beforehand, we took a shot to see what we could find at the ticket booth at the stadium. I splurged a bit and got us club level seating. The O's squeaked in a win at the last possible moment at the bottom of the 9th and everyone went home happy. We got an early start on Saturday, heading off to Home Depot for more garden supplies, bits to make one more grow frame and some other goodies. After a bit of a break, we headed down to Bristow, VA to see Rush on the R40 tour. 40 years! I was there nearly at the beginning too.

Seeing Rush is an experience unlike any other rock band I know of, and that experience begins well before getting close to the venue. Checking into the hotel 4 or so miles from the venue had people in the lobby in Rush clothing and swag. The TGIFriday's where we got our late lunch/early dinner had I would say 3/4 of the clientele going to the show. But, unlike any other fanbase, there were old greybeards like us, young couples, teens, old folks, grandparents, great-grandparents, you name it. A couple at the restaurant had two young boys, the oldest maybe six. They had Rush shirts on. The crowd entering the venue looked more like what you'd see heading into Disney World. My boys put on an amazing show, as always. We stayed overnight rather than taking a bleary-eyed trip home nearly at midnight. It was a good decision, we picked up late night grub at Wendy's to take back to the room. I slept mostly like a rock for a change.

We headed out early, and integrated our trip home with our weekly grocery grab. A cool bonus was getting there early, at the time when the Burtonsville cruise was in full spring. This little local event, held every Sunday in the spring and summer has grown quite a bit. We walked among the varied cars, trucks and rides. Jeff got his first glimpse of the Slingshot three-wheeler and immediately fell in full lust with it. After snapping lots of phone pics on top of the dozens from last night's show, we got our goodies for the week and headed home to a pair of very appreciative pooches. we took it easy for a change, then had steaks on the grill, big baked potatoes, veggies and an ice cream cake I picked up while Jeff was cooking dinner.

This was the most walking and activity I have had since last September, when my spine gave out again and left me immobile for the entire winter. I managed better than I expected, but dealt with a lot of pain due mostly to having to (try to) stand for the entire performance. I've got the walking part down pretty good. I can even do some not-so-light work if I am able to take numerous breaks. But the thing that is death to me still is standing motionless for more than a few minutes. I was nearly delirious from pain after the show, but I was too blown away from the concert to worry too much. Here's where the overnight stay helped a lot as well.

This was a great weekend, one not so full of work for a change, and one that we had deserved for the longest time.
greatbear: (mad rushin')
Last night was a chance at something different here at Mayhem Acres, especially for Jeff. He had tix to see Dream Theater in DC, playing at the Warner Theater. Jeff got home and napped a bit, we had a quick dinner and then headed into DC. After cussing the usual DC traffic lights and cabbies, a trip around the Obama's place, I popped into the parking garage, found the perfect Mini Cooper-sized parking spot no one else could use (the Smart ForTwo nearby was hogging a full-sized spot all to himself) and we headed in. From leaving the house to getting our butts into the seats we experienced probably the most hassle-free trip to see a show in, like, forever.

One has to consider that I had snatched Jeff from rural Pennsylvania almost 11 years ago, a shy, country music-loving, Republican-raised and exceedingly polite country boy, and I have, well, been corrupting him ever since. Now, I know what Jeff is most likely to enjoy outside of his usual tastes, and, truth be told, he's a little bit more rock-n-roll than he will let on at times. He likes Rush a lot, gets into a lot of the prog and metal stuff that wafts around these parts, and most of the Dream Theater stuff he's listened to he really liked. The only fly in this particular ointment was the opening act, a thrash outfit called "Trivium." Now, don't get me wrong, I loves me all kinds of metal, but the stuff that consists mostly of pissed-off Cookie Monster growling and blast beats does not rank that high. Jeff, on the other hand is like, "what are you getting me into here?" Anyway, the band got on stage, and once they got into their schtick, the two of us were laughing our asses off. I was showing Jeff how to make Dio Fingers and when to present them. We made it through the headbanger session and enjoyed Dream Theater, complete with their new drummer, Mike Mangini. Sadly, we cut out a little early to beat traffic because Jeff was spent from being on his feet since 4am and would have to repeat the same the next morning. A quick scoot home where I poured him into bed ended our diversion for the month. It would have been easier if the show was not running so late. I guess we are both getting old.

One thing for sure, I need to take in more metal concerts. My tinnitis, an often annoying condition that spoils my enjoyment of music (and sound in general) get not only blasted away, but in the peace and quit of Mayhem after Midnight, I could hear so many tiny sounds around the house normally masked by the racket. Completely counter-intuitive. I guess it's the same as taking an old musclecar out of the garage and blowing the carbon out while having some fun.

We can rack up the Warner Theater as another good venue to see various shows. Small place, classical theater architecture, wonderful staff. Tomorrow they play host to Weird Al Yankovic. There's someone that's probably a blast to see live.
greatbear: (Default)
Okay, after an extended period of radio silence, I guess I should post something.

Life here at Mayhem Acres has been busy for both of us. And this is not such a good thing for Jeff. Unfortunately, it seems his work has turned into non-stop 12+ hour days of doing the work of four or more people at a time. A new facility with mostly all-new staff who don't value work ethic and call out or fail to perform as required leaves Jeff as well as the general manager juggling too many tasks as well as terminating the malcontents, making the short-staffed situation even worse. The result? I end up with a totally exhausted mound of cubbage who comes home and often collapses into a short nap before anything else. Remember, this is a guy who had a severe heart attack in December, right before Xmas. You now know why I am worried sick myself, and try to do as much as I can to make his evenings a bit easier.

I am back on meds meant to help with my spinal nerve reconstruction and rehab. I almost forgot how dazed and loopy this makes me feel at times. I walk around like Captain Jack Sparrow in all those Pirates of the Caribbean movies and sometimes feel like a spinning top with insufficient rotational momentum to remain solidly upright. Give me a bump and I will stumble and stagger like a hopeless drunkard.

Despite all of this, our weekends have been productive and sometimes quite fun. We've been finally taking on the yard in all of its overgrown bluster, trimming and cutting down wayward and damaged trees thanks to the bad weather of the last couple winters. Prior to restarting the nerve meds I managed to climb up ladders to cut branches, work on the buildings and install the pile of various LED outdoor light fixtures that have been sitting around the house for the last couple years. Things are starting to shape up, and we can admire our handiwork for a change. There are lots of plants to go in the gardens as well. I still have to do summer maintenance on vehicles as well as pull all the wheels off the travel trailer to check brakes and repack bearings, not to mention de-winterizing all the plumbing and minor fixes and cleanup before vacation season. Kodi had a Saturday trip to the groomer for his out-of-control hair, and came back rocking his new summer 'do. It's a new look for him, and all of us like it.

As a reward to all our hard work and resulting piles of wood chips, last night we had tix to see Sugarland with Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson here at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Jeff was unsure about going, since it was going to end late on a Sunday night and he had to go to work super-early the next morning. He actually tried to sell our tickets but the deal had fallen through, and we pondered leaving early from the show if we actually did go at all. Well, the event came, and we had a blast. This unknown (to us) new guy Matt Nathanson was really good, more indie folk than "country." He is touring with Sugarland because of their cooperation in Matt's upcoming CD. He opened up for Little Big Town, who rocked the house. Their high-energy set was spot on, but their most country-fied piece was an unplugged, accordion with big bass fiddle version of... "Born This Way." Yeah, Lady Gaga is everywhere, and LBT's "G" was a foot-stompin' romp that had everyone moving. Sugarland took the stage and expanded their "Incredible Machine" tour set we saw last year. Jeff was sad "(Why Don't You) Stay" was missing from the set list last year, this time, when I heard the opening notes I nudged Jeff in the side as his face lit up. I also passed him a napkin, knowing Jennifer Nettles' emotional delivery would have an impact. Sugarland kept up the entire set with tons of energy and a roaring good time. For an encore, in honor of the (failed) Rapture nonsense of a day before, they closed with REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" with Matt Nathanson on lead vocals, and Little Big Town on stage joining in. As you noticed, every band/performer did at least one song not of their own. Sugarland nailed Madonna's "Like a Prayer" and C-Lo Green's "F You" among others, and even Matt Nathanson's set closer was Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." Unlike last year, we managed to get off the parking lot in record time (only about 5 minutes), getting home to pour Jeff into bed for a couple hours sleep before his big Monday hell. As I have been told, this Hell was not as bad as expected, so, cool bonus and happy cubbage this evening! I'm glad we did not miss out on this show.

I've got more time on my hands and hope to make use of it finishing up some much needed work on the house as long as my nerves allow it. I hope that does not impact our rather small vacation plans for PTown in July.

So, how has your days been?
greatbear: (mad rushin')
Yesterday evening Jeff and I headed down to Nissan Pavilion Jiffy Lube Live to see my boys, Rush. We had the tickets for several months, and now was finally the time to see my favorite band perform their "Time Machine Tour" which, among other older songs, the entirety of Moving Pictures album was the highlight. I had purposely avoided reading the setlist on fan pages, blogs and the like. Doing so kept the songs a complete surprise as each one opened. And damn what a setlist! I swear this band has only gotten better over the years.

rush1


As I said previously, we had these tickets for quite a while and that was before I started having serious issues with my lower spine. As this day approached I was worried and sometimes downright upset that I might not be able to make it to the show, since there's more than a fair amount of standing and walking involved. Still, I made it my mission to ignore all that, after all, this is my band we're talking about. But make it I did. After finding my way to the seats, the band was spot-on, they played most of my favorites, with lots of surprises to boot.

But why was I disappointed? )

A few more photos from the concert are in this Flickr set.

We have tix for Cirque du Soliel next Saturday. I think I'll try the best I can to get to that show too. After that, I'll have to wait and see. We gave up tickets for a Penn State football game we had for a while, since there was no way in hell I could do that amount of walking, even if I were to be dropped off right at the stadium doors. We do have tickets for the final game at the end of November. With luck I'll be healed up enough. If not, maybe he can take a friend. I don't want him to miss out on his guys.
greatbear: (ha ha!)
Some serious developments in the music industry in recent days. If it's not long-standing players in the industry dying off or facing other dire situations, it's greed and monopolistic practices destined to kill the remaining bits.

First off, the oft-derided Muzak Corporation is filing for bankruptcy. Now, some out there might think this is not such a bad thing, preferring instead to take their elevator rides sans cheerful generic pop music done entirely in strings. But their reach goes beyond lifts, and the music spans the spectrum from headbanging to nodding off. Those of you who subscribe to Dish Network satellite television in the days before they carried the Sirius music channels were treated to several dozen channels of varied, totally uninterrupted music of every genre. These channels came courtesy of the Muzak Co. The thrash metal and thug rap might not have found a home in your average dentist's office, but if it had anything to do with music, Muzak would handle it. Also, the company was not without it's sense of humor. Known mostly for cheesy remakes of pop standards into instrumental string arrangements, they would occasionally slip remade versions of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like into the music streams feeding shops and stores. This would completely fly over the heads of everyone, except for those who know the originals and 'get' the joke. If Muzak dies, a lot of Eastern Bloc radio orchestras will be down on work.

Speaking of Sirius, it seems that the newly-minted SiriusXM satellite radio conglomerate is also facing some serious financial dire straits. Let me be the first to say 'I told you so'. Take two competing companies, neither one able to operate in the black since their inception, and merge them into a single anti competitive entity. You end up with one company with twice the troubles. The satellite radio industry is buoyed by the sales of new cars and continuing subscriptions, neither of which is happening in this recessionary (depressionary) period. Sirius made the big mistake of hauling Howard Stern on board for the ridiculous sum of a half billion dollars. While this caused an initial uptake of subscribers, the math was not there. Stern, like so many people these days should take a pay cut in order to stay employed. I honestly feel that it's too late in the game for the satellite radio giant, since their combined force resulted in a lot of upset customers, and the increased price of subscriptions will drive off existing customers and keep new ones away. You just dont go around raising prices and cutting service on what is essentially a 'luxury' item during periods of slow economy. It's a sure-fire way of losing customers, both potential and existing.

Dish Network, a major holder of SiriusXM, has in the past put it's sights on Sirius. This can be a formidable threat in the near future as SiriusXM looks for any way out of the mess. But I feel the satellite TV industry is going to soon be hit with it's own desire to merge, if for all the wrong reasons.

We've all read about (and I have written about) how the major music labels are dodging coffins amongst decreased sales and alleged music piracy. The one bright spot held up by music fans, artists and promoters is the sales of concert tickets and live performances. This is about to take a hideous turn for the worst, at least in the U.S. as the two purveyors of live music, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, prepare to merge. This is some terrible news for music fans, since the combined conglomerate, to be called Live Nation Entertainment, will be the sole source for concert tickets to major venues and acts nationwide. The combined entity will be a vertically integrated business controlling venues, promotion, ticket sales and even recording deals with artists. How did this happen? Live Nation, once part of Clear Channel Communications (aka The Company That Ruined Radio) was primarily a concert venue owner and promoter. Ticketmaster, that company everyone loved to hate because of their penchant for tacking on exorbitant 'convenience fees' and other dubious charges onto ticket prices, was often the sole source for tickets to major (and not-so-major) live events. At one time, the two companies had begun 'competing' in ticket sales, but that was short lived. Turns out it was machinations leading towards this eventual merger.

Ticketmaster had in recent years began their own mass-scalping operation by redirecting people looking for popular shows to their wholly-owned ticket 'auction' site, TicketsNow, mere minutes after tickets would go on sale and were supposedly sold out. Tickets for sale at TicketsNow would often be three to ten times the face values of the original or box office tickets. Canadians have brought aboot their own half-billion dollar class action lawsuit as a result.

With all the financial and business shenanigans these two companies engaged in, it does not take much to know what the end result will be. Forget going to live shows of any major acts unless you do some serious saving, go into debt or are independently wealthy. This will only serve to take an already teetering music industry and send it over a cliff. Of course, it will all be blamed on file sharing. The only real solace will be found in the independent, small acts and clubs. Much like it was before music became an 'industry'.

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Phil

December 2016

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