Travel Thursday: Lindsey Stirling on Jimmy Kimmel

I always give myself 15 minutes to walk to the bus stop for the ride downtown, even though it takes less than ten. (If you’ve followed this blog for a while—yeah right, welcome—you’ll know my fave Shakespeare quote is “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”) But thanks to my favorite app, I see that the bus that runs on my street and takes me to the light-rail station is coming in 5, so I do that instead, and thankfully there was enough of a break in the traffic to let me run across while it was about a block away. I do so love living on the edge. . .
The great thing about the light-rail, besides everything, is that it has a perfectly moderated air conditioning setting, whereas most buses will put it on freezing in the mistaken impression this is the way to go when it’s searing outside. And no matter how many times I’ve told them they don’t need to do that, some people are just allergic to logic.
Since I took the rules spelled out on the Jimmy Kimmel ticket email a lot more seriously than most people, as I saw when I got there later, I took as little as possible with me: no backpack, no water bottle, and definitely no headphones, so no music on the long rides on the train and subway. And they said no shorts! In this 95-degree heat my legs were very confused. (And there were a lot of people in shorts that were allowed in, dammit!) Stopped off at Olvera Street for my usual bean and cheese burrito, followed by a softie vanilla; after that I was ready for anything, including the boring non-musical subway ride that left me at Hollywood and Highland.
The irony did not elude me that I was in the place where I first saw Lindsey Stirling—The Dolby Theater—and I’m about to watch her again right across the street. I hope she plays her Christmas show somewhere else, though not too far away.

Finally I find the right line on the sidewalk and stand between an older couple from Texas and a younger couple from North Carolina; kinda felt weird being the local. It was at this point that one of the employees came by and said we might not get in if enough of the “special” people in the other line came and filled up all the seats. My back was already hurting and I truly felt like giving up, but stuck through another half hour until they moved us up and in; many people after me made it, so thanks a lot for the drama, dude! I regret giving you that fist bump.
You don’t get to put your phone on silent or airplane mode; nope, if you don’t turn it completely off you don’t get in. Then we waited on the stairs leading into the studio, moving another step every time the people in front were slowly told where to sit, off in pairs like we were heading into Noah’s Ark. Turns out the only other person there not in a couple was a girl from China standing next to me, so after a cheery “Hello!” to me—I shoulda remembered to say “Ni Hao!”—she led the way as we were escorted to the very back row. I didn’t mind, though my knees would have preferred not to do all the stairs. The guy doing the talking, a rugged lumberjack type named Linc, then came to the front to run the rules by us, and did a pretty good job with the humor, enough that I thought he might be the warmup. When he said, “Don’t do the El Lay thing, where nothing impresses you,” I realized I’d have to act excited after all, dammit. After he was done everyone rushed to the restroom, which is downstairs—great, more stairs—and are right next to the green rooms. I looked for Kit or Drew for a quick hello, but the glaring security guards kept me from lingering.
Once I climbed the damned stairs back up to the studio, the actual warmup guy was there, a balding big guy who thought he was Rickles, and was almost as good. Being from Michigan, he couldn’t stop heckling the guy from Ohio, and was all gaga for the girl from Virginia who was in the clip about finding North Korea on a map; he named her Queen of the Day and gave her a crown, in fact.
On to the show. Since I don’t watch the series he’s in, had no idea who Milo Ventimiglia was. Have to disagree about his name winning Scrabble, as it has too many vowels. And I didn’t know he was a fellow Bruin until I just now looked up how to spell his name. BTW, after Kimmel’s monologue, while the crew was setting up the desk and chairs behind him, he talked to one guy in the audience who just moved here from Massachusetts to attend UCLA, so it was a beautiful non-Trojan day.
After him was another celeb stranger to me, Jenny Slate, who turned out to be a pretty funny comedian, in that offbeat-sorta-weird coocoo cloudlander kinda way; she’s like a wannabe Zoe Deschanel. Her love for chicken fingers and beer ruins any potential romance with this guy, though.
Okay, on to the important part. Because I was in the last row, I had to wait for everyone else to stream out back toward where we entered, because on the west side of the old lobby was the stage where Lindsey would play. Those in front got to stand right in front of the stage, whereas by the time I got there I was in the very back, behind a pillar, plus there was a camera rig in front of me. I got occasional glimpses of Lindsey and Rooty, could see Kit most of the time, but didn’t glimpse the drum set at all. I did spot Adina once, if that makes up for it.
So there goes “Love’s Just A Feeling,” with all the musicians playing extraordinarily well; they brought it, for sure. Unfortunately the audience didn’t seem to know what to make of it; they were faking it as well as they could, but seemed confused as to whether they liked it or not, or were possibly stunned to see a violinist dancing. Because the crowd energy wasn’t at the level needed, the stage manager informed everyone that the song would be done again, which was fine with me. And then we got the bonus of the full version of “The Arena,” with the same video stuff as the concert playing behind her, and that seemed to be a bigger crowd pleaser. For once I forgot to notice which violin she was using, though I was too far away to tell if it was Excalibur or Bushwhacker anyway.
There were two guys standing in front of me, and during the first try they just stood there like they’d rather be anywhere else, even though everyone around them was at least faking the enjoyment. But when “Love’s” played again they were feeling it, clapping along, tapping their feet. By the time “The Arena” came along they were fully into it, as was most of the crowd around me; whereas before they might have faked the woo-hoos for the camera, this time it was totally genuine. And with Kimmel’s close-to-two-million-viewers nightly average, it’ll be interesting to see if Lindsey gets an uptick in sales and social media follows.
I got to say hi to Drew after, but he was too busy breaking down the skins to hang out.
Looking back, I was surprised at how quickly and smoothly the show went, especially in comparison to other shows. Sitcoms that film in front of a live studio audience take at least four hours for 20 minutes of screen time, while dramas sometimes need eight days! We were done in less than two hours—no idea as to exact times, as my phone was off—almost real time, and it’s a testament that only a few hours later it was airing on the East Coast; they must have been editing as they went along. I know there’s a ton of work that needs to be done beforehand, but they made it look so easy, so kudos to everyone. It felt like we spent more time in line than in the actual show, which for all I know is entirely possible.
With all that done, I debated where to eat. The McD’s fries are always there, and In-N-Out isn’t far away, though always full. I haven’t eaten at Mel’s in a long time, mostly because the price doesn’t equal the flavor, but then I remembered how much I love the Orange Freeze there and set out eagerly. As is my wont in this place, I sat at the counter, ignoring the mini juke boxes while I caught up on the world via my phone. It took longer to be served than for them to make my delicious treat, and they added more whipped cream than I remember, but no complaints here. As usual I took the cherry off and placed it on the napkin, this time leaving it there, not daring to ask anyone if they wanted it, not since the infamous “taking my cherry” debacle of 2009.
Uneventful ride home, the best kind.
And now as I write this I’m watching the show on TV, and now I understand why they put me in the back row (on the other hand, the guy sitting next to me was much better looking). It’s pretty intriguing to see the differences. I remember everything that was shown, but there were also some parts that were edited out. The concert was actually better on TV; as I mentioned, I was stuck in the back behind a pillar. (I promised Drew I’d yell out his name, but he couldn’t hear me from back there.) So while it was nowhere near as good as a full concert, especially one where I sat in the fifth row, it was a pretty interesting experience to see Lindsey with my eyes instead of a TV or computer monitor. It was my day off, and nothing is sore or achy the next day, so no downsides at all.
Now point me to where I can get tickets for the Christmas show, Lindsey. . .

;o)

Travel Thursday Snapshot: La Plaza Mexican-American Museum

Today’s travel only took me an hour from home, but since I went after visiting my mother at the nursing home, it felt like a lot longer.
This museum is located across the street from the Plaza in downtown Los Angeles—itself across the street from Union Station—which is most famous for containing Olvera Street. If any of you bothered to read my one and only food review, you’d know that place was Juanita’s, right here on Olvera Street, so that had to be the first stop. It’s easy to tell when you’ve been to a restaurant a lot when the moment they see you they yell to the kitchen, “Bean and cheese burrito!” I had to straighten them out: “That’s just my nickname, not my real name.”
After some talk with the owner about missing Comic-Con, I set off for my usual after-burrito soft serve, then on to the museum, which is across the street from the gazebo, almost next to the church, if you count the open area between them. The first thing I found out was that it’s free, though there is a donation box. The young lady behind the desk smiled and told me what I could expect and to make sure not to use a flash if I took photos. Sounded a little rehearsed, but I wasn’t going to hold that against her.
So on to the many displays on the first floor, reminiscent of the museum style of the Autry Museum of the West in Griffith Park. The first part deals with social issues, like racism in the 40s and school segregation.

After that it’s more about the history of the area, including videos and sound bites. Also on the ground floor is a space for art exhibits, the current one concerning art works from those who refer to themselves as Latinx artists, which is a term I’m unfamiliar with but apparently stands as either gender-neutral form of “Latin” or LGBT for Hispanics. . . or possibly both. There were a couple of particularly intriguing works, as well as quotes; the one that really made me laugh was the guy calling Frieda Kahlo the original Queen of Selfies.


On the second floor is a space, again reminiscent of the Autry, made up of store fronts, the most popular for me of course being the photo studio; now I know what my professional life would have been like 100 years ago. The other favorite was the book store—remember, kiddies, in Spanish Liberia does not mean Library; that’s Biblioteca—which also sold music. The grocery store was fun too, as I looked for things I might like and had to settle for vanilla—spelled differently here—chamomile, and cinnamon.


So, overall not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, especially in the heat of summer. I might have to cross the street and get another soft serve from the lady that’s always reading. . .

;o)

Could Be Worse, Could Be Better

So last night the microwave conked out.
This morning, really early, a tube behind the toilet burst, so that you don’t have to get into the tub to take a shower.
And for the last few days I’ve had a thumbnail going the wrong way, only to wake with a bump of red and white above the nail.
Gonna be one of those days, huh?
Luckily the apartment handyman turned up early, though it did take a while for the bathroom floor to dry enough for him to replace the tube. Then it turned out the microwave wasn’t to blame, it was the electrical outlet. That got fixed quickly too.
So feeling good about that, I walked for 45 minutes to CVS, only to find a long line at the Minute Clinic, and over two hours of waiting because of the doctor’s lunch break. Should have followed my instincts and taken the bus to Pasadena Community, but eventually did get out there—the JPL bus takes a long detour through the charming old-fashioned downtown of Sierra Madre, then another long walk—and in less than 15 minutes after arriving I’m in a room waiting for a doctor. I won’t tell you about how she sliced my thumb open to remove the bad fluids—mostly because I didn’t watch—but it hurt a lot less than I expected, and then I caught a bus right in front of the clinic that left me two blocks from home. And wow did this clinic look clean and modern, even having free coffee and a futuristic vending machine that had red vines!
So now I’m at the desk hoping the roof doesn’t leak, but feeling a lot better than I did that morning, when I was drenched from having to reach into the spray to shut off the valve. Sure, it’s basically first world problems, but when they come in bunches. . .

;o)

Food Review: Juanita’s

A lot of people kid me for not liking Mexican food. Others playfully harass me for not being a foodie, which is harder for me to understand, even when they mention my tastes in literature, music, movies, and so on.
The truth is I’m a man of simple tastes (that includes women, before you ask). I order my burgers plain with cheese only, my country fried steak without sauce, my bacon and eggs without anything else. I could tell you about my hypersensitivity to spices and such, but I don’t want to give you any more easy jokes.
So with all that, Juanita’s on Olvera Street makes the best bean and cheese burritos. Whenever I’m at Union Station with time to spare before going somewhere else, I’ll walk over there and talk to Edward about Firefly or cosplay or something else geeky while savoring the easy smooth flavor the only two ingredients mix into. . . three, if you count the tortilla. This is especially important ever since my favorite downtown eatery, the Yorkshire, closed down, and Clifton’s changed for the much worse.
You may now expect my next food review sometime in the next decade.

;o)

Two Disparate Music Experiences

Thursday
First up was a movie theater viewing of “Rush: Time Stand Still” which feels like a sequel to their “Beyond the Lighted Stage” documentary. This one ostensively covers their R40 tour, billed as their last one ever, but includes plenty of reminiscing about the old days, such as their time on the road with Kiss in the 70s, as well as the various vehicles they used to get around the country when they were playing 250 gigs a year.
Behind the scenes videos of people you like—not just their music, but as human beings—are always fun because they come across as “just like us.” Alex in particular is his usual hilarious self, but Geddy and Neil both get to show their funny side too. The best part for me was the first-person video from Neil’s motorcycle; over the years there’s been plenty of photographs, but never vids.
So while this wasn’t nearly as in-depth as “Lighted Stage,” that’s okay, it wasn’t meant to be. Think of it as an author adding a surprise chapter at the end of a book you loved.
Topped it off with a half hour walk home in the dark, something I haven’t been able to enjoy in a while. Just cool enough to feel like autumn. . .

Saturday
Going full disparate from Rush, Saturday featured a live performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, bookended by Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. This being my second time at this Pasadena Symphony series—the first time I didn’t know where the Ambassador Auditorium and got there way early—I wasn’t expecting anything as good as that first one, with the lovely Elena Urioste soloing on what’s probably my fave classical work, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, but on the other hand I’ll listen to the Rhapsody anytime anywhere. As a matter of fact I tweeted: “If someone challenged me to listen to Rhapsody In Blue for 24 hours straight, I would take them up on it.” I also tweeted: “The start of Appalachian Spring always reminds me of sunrise on a misty morn,” which pretty much encapsulates how I feel about that work. Scheherazade didn’t do as much for me this time, other than the familiar parts, of course, but this day was about Rhapsody anyway.
I hadn’t given much thought as to who would be the piano soloist, so I was a bit surprised when conductor David Lockington introduced him as a fifteen-year-old who was as good on the violin as the piano. Ray Ushikubo indeed proved he was talented as well as a teen, for he brought a lot of drama and bombastic movement to the piano. . . although a lot of pianists older than him overdo it as well.
The fun part about this piece is in identifying the parts Gershwin mentioned inspired him, like being on a train or the bustle of traffic. The clarinet glissando that starts things off didn’t give me chills like it usually does, but the horns were extra rude to make up for it. This is the third time I’ve seen Rhapsody live in the past couple of years, but it’s tough to say which is better or more fun. This was the smallest orchestra I’ve seen performing it, but then Gershwin originally wrote it that way, and it didn’t suffer from lack of sound. The point is, this was well worth the walk in the surprisingly hot sun and the price of admission, though the fact that I have to take the elevator to get to the restrooms and water fountain got old in a hurry. . . though I did get to flirt with a pretty rainbow-dress-wearing frizzy redhead in the lobby beforehand, so all good. . .

Coming up:
Continuing the disparate theme, this Thursday gives us—me—what I’ve been waiting for ever since I treated myself to fifth row tickets and the meet-and-greet special: Lindsey Stirling!

;o)

Jetting to JPL

Finally got to do the Jet Propulsion Laboratory tour! Considering I’ve been to Houston, Kennedy, and SpaceCamp, why did it take this long to get to the one so close to me?

Here’s a few images from the almost three-hour tour. . . try not to sing along to that one. . .

!IMG_3148 Cassini !IMG_3150 Voyager !IMG_3164 thermal selfie !IMG_3169 deep space dish menu !IMG_3175 where we at !IMG_3178 control room 1 !IMG_3179 control room 2 !IMG_3180 rover crossing !IMG_3187 scardey

 

;o)