Travel Thursday Encore: Or as Michael Jordan calls it, the Louie, part 2

Archaeology edition.

Not wanting to face another embarrassment for a while, she led me toward the archaeology stuff. She knew I was far more expert at such things, but at least they weren’t open to as much interpretation as art.
She hoped.
We found ourselves in the Near Eastern Gallery after a while of wandering. It was rather dark in there, but when we approached a black stela in the middle of the hall, I recognized it instantly. I quickly left her behind and moved to it, the joy evident in my movements.
When she joined me again, she read the French explanation next to it. “Code of Hammurabi.” Then she looked up at the phallic-shaped piece of black basalt and said, “Not much to look at, is it?”
“I’m surprised you aren’t more excited to see it, considering how much of a feminist you are.”
Again she had her mouth open to speak, then decided not to provoke me and get the lecture over with. She moved her hands into position as if holding a pen and pad. “Go ahead; I’m all ears.”
Since I am always aware of my surroundings, I knew that at the moment we were alone and thus allowed my hand to land on the shapely hip encased in the blue dress. “Not ALL ears.”
She grinned and shook her head, but didn’t say what she obviously wanted to say.
“Hammurabi was an eighteenth century B.C. king of Babylonia–he’s the bearded one standing here with the god of justice–who wrote this code, which is one of the most significant legal documents in history. According to this code, women had many of the same rights as men: own property, have their own businesses, and work as scribes, which was a big thing back then, not like today when writers are treated like a lower life-form. It also stated that the strong should not subjugate the weak and gave protection to widows and orphans.”
The brunette grinned yet again. “Is that all, professor?”
I gave her a dark look, then continued at full speed so as to overwhelm her. “Most of the other laws were pretty harsh, although technically they weren’t laws at all. It was more the literary expression of his social responsibilities and his awareness of the disparity between the way things are and the way he wants them to be.”
Her eyes became either dreamy or bored, so after a quick pause for breath I kept going.
“The stela itself is written in cuneiform, in the Semitic language, covering 49 lines of writing. On the front is a prologue, 65 laws that are easily read–” She leaned forward. “–if you know cuneiform, of course.” She blushed and moved back to her original position. “There are another 40 laws on the front that are almost illegible.”
This time she saw my pause for breath and quickly got a word in. “If you can’t read them, how do you know what they say?”
I glared at her. “Next time raise your hand like a good girl.” She actually turned and looked around before remembering we weren’t in a classroom, but by that time I had continued. “This is not the only copy of the laws; others were found later in Nippur and Nineveh. On the back are 183 other laws and the epilogue.”
She suddenly looked intrigued. “Can you read this?”
“No.”
Which made her completely lose interest, typical model.

;o)

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Poetry Tuesday: Daytime Dream

By the marvelously simplistically named Tu Fu (China, 712-770).

In the second month, sleeping a lot, all sleepy and dazed,
Are the nights not shorter?—asleep at midday.
With warm air of plum blossoms, eyes grow drunk,
At sun’s set by the spring sandbar, dreams lead one away.
The gate and path to my old home lie beneath brambles and thorns,
Ruler and officials in the Central Plains lie by wolves and tigers.
When, when, may one attend to farming, the fighting ended,
And the whole world be without officials seeking money?

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 2

When last we tuned into this soap opera, I’d just left the Meet ‘n’ Greet tent to get into the actual Greek Theater through the VIP entrance. (By now the VIP “oooooh!” of it had vanished.) Had fun with the people at security, as I can always tell what kind of company it is by how loose the employees are. I thought they were going to run the magic. . . er, magnetic wand over me a few more times just to keep the fun going, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea, but instead I went in and climbed to the top of the seats, where I got this view:

But after that it was more waiting around. I don’t know at what time was the Meet ‘n’ Greet at other venues, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was earlier here so that Lindsey could spend time with her El Lay peeps. I didn’t know till the next day that iJustine and Superwoman were there, which would have gone a long way in my quest to take photos with all the princesses from Cassie’s Disney video. (Got Cassie’s a month ago, and obviously Lindsey. Where you at, Ro?) Also in attendance was Whitney Avalon, whom I regret missing even more, speaking of princesses and their rap battles.
Having seen the set schedule from a cheerful security guard, I knew how much time I had to kill before heading to my seat. The burrito was still doing its job of holding hunger at bay, but I was thirsty, so I got a $5 bottle of Sprite. . . the worst decision I’ve ever made, but more on that later. In addition to security guards and actual police, I spent a while chatting with the Mercedes-Benz guy, who once he learned I didn’t drive took off his salesman persona. As always I find it interesting what people visiting El Lay want to see while they’re in town; his choice was Malibu and Universal Studios. We talked about several other cities we’d both been to, but that didn’t waste nearly as much time as I’d hoped.
Eventually I could stall no longer and made it to my seat, but not before showing my ticket to prove I belonged in that section; apparently the VIP laminate on my chest wasn’t enough. The good news was obviously the view from the second row, but the bad news was that these weren’t permanent comfortable seats, but rather basically folding chairs. Hello, here I come, backache! To my amusement I found myself seated next to the boisterous guys from Utah whom I’d shared a table with at the Meet ‘n’ Greet, but any hilarity that might have ensued quickly vanished when I took that ($5) bottle of Sprite out of my backpack and twisted the cap. . .
Yep, you guessed it: the soda exploded. The sugary liquid did not get into my hair, but most of my arms, the bag, and especially my left boot got drenched. By the end I might have gotten $2 worth of that damned stuff. And it took a solid hour for janitorial staff to come over and help with the sticky floor, by which time it had all dried, of course.
Luckily the opening act, Cellogram, made me forget all that, at least for a while. My initial thought was that these musicians were a variation of The Piano Guys, but this cellist is even more crazy! (In a good way, of course.) And it was a wild man banging on the cajon rather than a sophisticated-looking individual behind a piano.

I hate spotlights.
I can’t remember a duo ever having this much energy, and fun. The highlight had to be the finale, part of which featured Zeppelin’s Kashmir, where they were joined by a lady I quickly figured out was the Evanescence guitarist. She was a bit of a ham but always willing to play along with the shenanigans, especially lying on her back along with Dave Eggar—the cellist—for some final jamming. Those of you who saw my blog about my favorite guitarists—yeah right, check that out in the archives—might remember I had a bunch of female shredders on the list, and just like that here’s another one.
So, what to do in between acts, other than cleaning up my seat, my arms, and my shorts? Wander around to see if I could spot anyone I knew. And did I ever! Hey, Phelba in the house! Luckily she’s a lot calmer and nicer when Lindsey’s not around.

Didn’t take long for Evanescence to come out, and I can’t describe much here because I was in the moment. I remember my faves—Bring Me To Life, My Heart Is Broken, My Immortal—but otherwise I just let Amy’s voice wash over me. Of course I couldn’t let the moment of Lindsey joining in for Hi-Lo pass by, though I was expecting her from the other side, so she managed to surprise me anyway.

Those of you who know me would not be surprised to find I instantly fell in love with Jen the guitarist. I found myself looking at her rather than Amy a lot of the time—hey, I already know how beautiful Amy is—and was really surprised to find her with her hands in the air, almost like she was conducting, but I knew better. Was she actually playing a Theremin? I couldn’t really hear it, but what else could she be doing? (Since then I’ve seen a video where she shows off her Theremin-playing skills, so yeah, although I’d never seen such a modern-looking instrument.)
So this was the best I could do as far as Amy is concerned. In case you didn’t see it the first time, I REALLY hate spotlights!

Eventually it was time for the encore, and I had the phone at the ready, because I knew that in the past Lindsey had joined in here. Not this time; instead Dave Eggar came down from the orchestra with his highly maneuverable cello to play the lead string part. Since I’d enjoyed his set, I did not stop recording.

So even though I came for Lindsey, and Evanescence was more of the cream icing on the cream cake, I still felt wrung out after that set. Hopefully the break in between would be bigger this time. Ended up talking to the guy at the VIP entrance, who remembered me because of the shirt I had on. . . remember that from the photo in the previous blog? As I said, you get a good feeling for a venue by the way the employees act with you; felt like we were long-time buds, and he didn’t laugh at my exploding soda too much.
Okay, finally we get to what you’ve all been waiting for. . . or rather, it’ll be on the next installment. I’m not really that cruel, but then Lindsey’s concert figures to have the most to write about, so it makes sense. . . really, I’m not cackling and evilly twiddling fingers or anything like that. . . swear!

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 1

As I’m on the bus heading for downtown Los Angeles, I realize how different I feel this time as opposed to my first Lindsey Stirling concert, when I was basically a nervous wreck knowing I was going to meet her, even though I’d only known about her for approximately six months. Now, a full two years after that, my fifth time seeing her live, and having spoken to her in a more casual setting a few months ago, I figured things would be far different. . . or at least I hoped. I wasn’t sure at all.
First stop: Juanita’s of Olvera Street for a giant bean and cheese burrito, fueling up for a long day and night. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get hungry till late, and I was right; I didn’t eat again till I got home at two in the morning. . . and that was cereal. The owner’s son is a Lindsey fan, but he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t boast about my second row seats (not that I would have). From there it was a quick stop at Kitty’s for the usual post-burrito vanilla soft serve before heading back to Union Station and the subway ride to East Hollywood.
Second stop: Vermont/Sunset, waiting for the DASH observatory bus to take me to the venue, along with a bunch of people who worked there at the Greek Theater, tonight’s venue. Amazing they had to be there a good five hours before the show! Other people were going to that beautiful lump of white up on the horizon. . .


Thanks to concise instructions in the email, I knew exactly where to go for the VIP Meet ‘n’ Greet tent. Had to take a photo, because the background of brown hills and shady trees made the setting look like anything but Los Angeles.

After a wait, then a security search, we were allowed into the tent, where people lined up for free food and drink—which was mostly bags of popcorn and lemonade, so typical Lindsey—and getting their faces painted. (I saw a video where the Evanescence Meet ‘n’ Greet featured champagne, so I definitely made the right choice, despite not getting to meet Jen the guitarist.) Having been through such events before, I grabbed a seat at a table near the stage first, which might have been the best move I made all day. Besides, I’d just eaten a giant bean and cheese burrito, so it’s not like I was hungry. On the other hand, free popcorn. . .
At a couple of tables there were giant versions of Connect 4 and Jenga, which nobody was playing, probably a good thing, as I dropped a circle in the Connect 4 later and it was LOUD! Instead there was really small talk as we waited to get in line to get our photos take with the diva of the hour. When that finally occurred, we were herded back outside for a small security speech: no lifting, no heavy squeezing, don’t even take your cell phones out. That was disappointing, as I’d wanted to do a Dancing With the Stars pose with her, but couldn’t show the photo to her. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though, as there was no cell service in this canyon of Griffith Park! WHAT?
I jumped out of line to say Hi to Kit and show him some photos I’d taken of him at his show a few months before—more on that later. Also there was Andy, who’s the lighting guy on tour. Managed to talk to him about some lighting stuff I’d seen at a few Rush concerts, which was fun for a while until I could see he was getting bored. Yeah, I frequently overstay my welcome, but then we guys don’t understand hints, right, ladies?
So remember how at the start I said this time was going to be different? It wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to Lindsey; I don’t even remember if there was a hug. If they hadn’t sent me a link to the photo I probably would have forgotten that happened too. It was different in that it was much shorter, as in hello photo next. Part of it was due to her having signed the posters beforehand, but there was no time for conversation here, which would have been a bummer had I been able to remember what I’d hypothetically said.


Like my shirt?
Then it was back into the tent for a wheel of fortune-type game and a two-song concert; I can’t even remember which order they took place in. A couple of people won selfies, but mostly it was ask Lindsey questions. Since I was seated so close to the stage I tried to get a photo of Lindsey, but I’m a professional photographer, not a cellphone one. Oddly enough, I got a decent shot of Kit, whom at this pace I’ll be shooting a lot more times than Lindsey. (See previous blog of Moonlit Kit concert photos.)

Lindsey, Kit, and Andy the Lighting Guy on cajon played “Something Wild” and the mashup of “Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade.” I very much want a full instrumental version of the latter song, which I am simply putting here on the one in a billion chance Lindsey reads this.

Once that was done and Lindsey paid off the selfies, the party broke up and we were invited to stick around or go into the venue. I did a little of both, talking to a few people, especially the guy I was supposed to go to the Holocaust museum with last week, but who was so late I had to leave for another appointment. He had a huge brag book of his photos, and luckily he grew a bigger audience, allowing me to slip away.
In the tent were some posters from Lindsey’s past shows, including an image I love: Steve-o carrying her around on his shoulder during Master of Tides. Since he’s playing a pirate here, and she’s on his shoulder. . . doesn’t that make her the parrot?

After a while I got bored and went into the venue, where I would be bored even more, but that’s for next time. . .

;o)

Travel Thursday Encore: Or as Michael Jordan calls it, the Louie, part 1

Bosch edition.

Today on Travel Thursday, we have a semi-virtual tour of my favorite parts of the Louvre, that gigantic building in Paris that houses the coolest stuff in all of France, with commentary by a mysterious (in her own mind) dark-haired model.
I helped the supposed damsel out of the taxi and then handed the driver a bigger sum than he would have expected, tip included. The man returned part of it and said something in French, which made her blush and say “Merci.”
After the driver left, she turned to see me grinning. With her mouth open to answer, I shook my head. “Never mind, I understood perfectly.”
She blushed again.
Since she was a simple girl who made more money than she knew what to do with, I let her pay the entrance fee. Once inside she turned to me. “Do you want to wander like we did in the Hermitage, or go straight for the Mona Lisa?”
Grimace. “I want nothing to do with that pathetic work. I think we should just wander. . . after I check out Bosch’s Ship of Fools.”
She sighed. “Somehow I’m not surprised.” When I frowned, she hastened to add, “Because of Bosch, not because you’re a fool.”
I shook my head at her, as if not convinced.
As had been our custom in the other museums we’d seen together, we stared at a painting we both liked for a good while before discussing it. On the surface Ship of Fools was easy enough to look at, though you could never be sure at the deeper meanings Bosch intended. It consisted of a tiny boat on some body of water, obviously a small one because of the trees growing out of it. There were two naked men swimming alongside, one holding an empty bowl while the other seemingly tried to get aboard. There were eight people on the boat: one was lying at the front, trying to raise a flask cooling in the water, while another was either attempting to talk him out of it or telling him to hurry it up. {It’s hard to tell if that one’s male or fem, but since it was holding a cup in its hand and looking impatient for the flask, we assumed it was a guy.} There was another figure looking down over the edge of the stern, which consisted of an old tree branch as the rudder; in the center, to the back, was a fat man with an arm raised and mouth open as if doing opera. And the central part was dominated by four people bobbing for a piece of bread hanging before their faces. One of these was a monk, and another was a lute-playing nun.
There were two more figures in the painting: a small man dressed as a joker, drinking from a bowl while sitting in the upper branches of the rudder, and a man up in the tree the ship had bumped into, trying to liberate the plucked body of an unlucky fowl that had been strapped to the mast.
“Rather easy to figure out,” she smirked as we sat down where we could still see it and discuss it without being shushed. “Bosch is obviously telling everyone, including those in the church, to lighten up and enjoy life.”
I would have usually agreed with such a statement about Bosch, but this time logic did not fit. “Why did he title it Ship of Fools, then?”
She had her mouth ready for an answer, then shut it and frowned, obviously thinking about it. Soon enough she pouted, “Well, what other explanation is there?”
“It could be he was warning the people about such fools. For instance, he could be angry at the way certain members of the religious orders abuse their influence. Those people are supposed to be noble and in the service of their god, but they waste their time singing and goofing off and are just as much gluttons as the rest of the people. They might have been the televangelists of their day.”
She smiled, admitting it was possible. “But then he would have made them suffer a bit, like he did in the Hell of the Garden of Delights.”
“He did. Didn’t you see the guy at the rear of the boat, the one leaning over the side, throwing up?”
She frowned again–I hope she wasn’t worried about wrinkles–and got up to make sure I was telling the truth. When she came back she seemed very contrite. “Are you going to tell me I missed something else, or can I say it’s unusual to see a Bosch painting without animals or demons?”
“Ha! You missed the owl in the tree.”
She frowned again, got up again, and walked over to the painting again. This time she did not sit back down on her return, instead grabbing my arm and hauling me up before leading me out of the room and on to another part of the museum. Some of the onlookers chuckled at her antics, especially when I grabbed the doorjamb as if to avoid being led to the slaughter, but this only inspired one guy to say, “I would go anywhere that woman wanted to drag me to.”
She blushed again.
But of course I could never leave well enough alone. “I thought you were dragging me to the ladies’ room for a quickie.”
Thanks for the set-up! her smile beamed. “Pierre. . . cuz my bladder’s empty.”
I poked her in the stomach to see if this was indeed the case, causing her to yelp loud enough to grab the attention of everyone in the next room. Fortunately she was already through the doorway, and made a quick left into the hall. I followed at a more sedate pace, not caring what people I was never going to see again thought.

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: Epitaph for Cu Chuimne

Written 1300 years ago in Gaelic, by someone who preferred to remain anonymous. . .
BTW, I thought Cu meant dog; apparently not. And I can’t help but wonder how long it takes to get from the first stanza to the second. . .

Cu Chuimne in his youth
studied half the truth,
then turned from the second half
and studied women.

With the fullness of years
he developed wisdom,
and turned away from women
to complete his studies.

;o)

Book Reviews: Nine More Kiddie Tomes

Cutie Saves Miss Bunny
In the latest installment featuring the Chihuahua that loves to explore the desert, we see a flashback of how she’s rescued from the shelter, then back in the present goes outside in time to help a bunny escape a bobcat.
There’s a hilarious shot of a drunk-looking Cutie on her back, though instead of alcohol she’s gorged on food. She doesn’t look any better when excited, though it would help if she didn’t appear cross-eyed.
As one would expect when bunnies are concerned, there’s carrots. There’s innovative use of carrots. And carrot cake. And who knew rabbits liked music so much?
Fun enough for the little ones, especially if they have a tiny dog.
3.5/5

Poof 123: Touch & Learn Numbers
The kid astronaut faces a crisis when the numbers he’s working with don’t like each other any more. Through rhyme and chemistry, he gets them back together.
This is for really small kids, as in those just barely learning numbers and reading. It’s as simplistic as possible, but I guess that’s a good thing. There is a risk of slightly older kids rejecting it, with cries of “I’m not a baby!”
3/5

Anne Frank
In keeping with the “Little People, Big Dreams” series, this is a small children’s book on one of history’s most tragic figures.
Right away there’s facts most people don’t know; for example, she was born in Germany and had a sister, two facts I was unaware of.
The shot of her looking up at the “camera” was disconcerting, but then this isn’t supposed to be roses and unicorns. There’s a bird motif that comes off as both sweet and sinister.
After the story is over there’s a timeline, repeating the text but this time with photos instead of drawings.
Especially poignant if you’ve ever been to the museum in Amsterdam.
4/5

Jane Austen
This edition of the “Little People, Big Dreams” series features one of England’s most famous authors.
As always in these books, I learn things too, for example that she came from a family of 8. Don’t know why I find that surprising, but I do. Luckily her father, who was a tutor, let her and her sister attend the classes, something rare for girls in those days.
Big new fact: Pride and Prejudice came from a real incident in her life.
Even though I’ve never been a fan of her works, this served to humanize her a bit.
As always, the book ends with a timeline and repeated text, with photos instead of artwork.
3.5/5

Mother Teresa
Another book in the “Little People Big Dreams” series.
I wonder if most people ever thought of Mother Teresa as anything but a religious and social figure. Who was she before that? This little book for little kids provides some answers.
For one, she was from Macedonia, though I don’t know if back then it was one independent country or part of Greece and others. When a new priest came to town, who’d worked in India, it inspired her to become a nun and help people. First she went to a convent in Ireland, then off to India; wonder how different things would be had she stayed on the Emerald Isle.
There’s one illustration that features many of the clichés of India, like the snake charmer, with her in the middle, dressed as a nun and smiling.
As you can imagine, this is mostly about her helping the poor.
Like all of these books, there’s a timeline that repeats the text but is accompanied by photos instead of artwork. This time, for whatever reason, I enjoyed the photos here more than in other books.
3.5/5

Jane Goodall
In this interesting entry of the “Little People Big Dreams” series, we see how the famous scientist became fascinated by animals and went off to Africa instead of college, where she was in the right place at the right time to meet a famous scientist and launch her career.
This is my favorite in the series, even though I’ve never had an affinity for animal science. This one’s more inspirational, and will probably get a lot of little girls interested in the environment and saving the animals.
4/5

Lucy Maud Montgomery
In yet another entry of the “Little People Big Dreams” series, we get the first one about a historical person I didn’t know.
Right away she’s adorable with her redheaded pigtails.
Considering what a rough life she had—mother dying, father abandoning her, grumpy grandparents—she somehow managed to have a happy childhood, which seems like a bigger lesson than her career as a writer.
4/5

I Spy the 50 States
A bald eagle guides the reader over all 50 states and DC. Each page features people, places, and things endemic to the state, as well as three things starting with the same letter, just like the game referenced in the title. Thankfully a lot of them are captioned.
Can’t help but wonder why New Hampshire got a ladybug, and no other state did, but then I suppose it’s easy to run out of ideas with the tiny states.
The eagle appears in every state. Football and baseball players appear in many, provided there’s a team there. Tennessee gets a porcupine.
Some are obvious, a few are funny, but without context it’s hard to see what the author’s getting at with the more obscure drawings.
3/5

The Skies Above My Eyes
The cover made me think this would be about astronomy, but it stays on Earth, at least in the beginning, urging the reader to look up whenever they’re outside. From there it indeed goes higher and higher, all the way to the edge of the solar system, before literally returning to Earth, checking out things like clouds and birds that were missed on the way out.
Educational in a fun way, well-written, but the background is incredibly full and distracting. It seems to all be in shades of blue. It brings an artsy side to science, but it might be too much at once.
3.5/5

;o)