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)

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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)

Paramount Plaques

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Facebook Memories reminded me that it’s been a year since my visit to the set of NCIS: Los Angeles. Walking around the lot doesn’t make for many great shots, with almost everything inside the stages, so I had to make fun by shooting the historical plaques that mentioned shows I loved, or at least actresses I enjoyed looking at.

 

;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)

Travel Thursday: A Walk in Temple City

Temple City is a town in the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown Los Angeles. Hadn’t been there in ages, but after visiting a friend I walked along the newly redone big street–they took out all the parking and made bike lanes–and on the sidewalk they put stuff like this.

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Not as old as a Roman mosaic, but nice to see this beautiful art form is still in use.

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And now you know how it was named. Isn’t history fun?

;o)

Wilshire is Telegraph Road

Saturday started on an inauspicious note when, as I’m waiting for the subway at Union Station, a SEA of Trojans surrounds me! Arrrgh, help me, I’m drowning! This cannot be good for anyone’s health. . .
Even though I’m enjoying my first country-fried steak in months, I’m pretty bored at Denny’s without my Kindle. . . or, you know, a date. They have a machine that checked if my $50 bill was real; kinda about time.
Once again I got it wrong, it was doors at 7, not concert. So back to Union Station, over to Olvera for ice cream; Creepy Day of the Dead stuff in full gear all over the plaza, soundtracked with Peruvian pipes, which only made it more creepy.
Stepping out of the subway, there’s the Wiltern Theater across the street, it’s huge marquee proclaiming what was up. Guy in his 80s taking the same shot with his cell phone, which to me was a much bigger surprise than him coming to see Mark Knopfler.
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Security only looking at bags, so I walk right into the old-looking place. Don’t remember a thing from the last time I was here, which was only a few years ago, but before that it had been in the late 80s. . . I think I lost my point. Anyhoo, at the Rush concert I bought my mom a tote bag for $10, but here they wanted $20, as well as $35 for a shirt. Luckily I will have my memories. . .

best part of the lobby

best part of the lobby

Way up in the boonies, about 3 rows from the very back, but at least I’m on the aisle seat, even though my right knee was painful by the end. I think the guys sitting next to me are Russian, though it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it talked so fast.
On the stage are two keyboard stations–one of them also played guitar at times–as well as a violinist/flutist, flutist/guitar, bass/upright bass, another guitarist, and of course Mark Knopfler.
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As I’m waiting for him to come out, it finally hits me: I’M FINALLY ABOUT TO SEE MY FAVE GUITARIST OF ALL TIME! The only other time I had a chance to see him, a girlfriend got me fourth row center on my birthday at the Greek, but he had a motorcycle accident and had to cancel his whole tour. I didn’t care that I was about fifty yards further away this time, this was still gonna be a bucket list checkmark night. . .
He started out with a song I like, What It Is, but not one of my faves; I think I like it much better live. I didn’t anticipate he’d be funny to the point of hilarious, at one point saying he was glad to still be vertical. He told someone to “Send an email or something,” though I never heard the original shout from up there.
There were plenty of new songs, since his double album just came out last month, so I didn’t know most of them, but it was easy to tell when he launched into the title track, Privateering. Yep, it’s about a pirate, albeit one sanctioned by British royalty; long story, read up on it. Starts with just him and another guitar, but soon everyone joins in, giving us moments of fast Irish jig; you can tell Mark, along with all the others, loves jamming.
Next came another newbie, Kingdom of Gold, which reminded me a lot of Sands of Nevada from Sailing to Philadelphia. A couple of times after applause he’d say, “You’re very sweet,” and I can’t imagine another artist putting it that way.
Before the next selection he introduced Nigel Hitchcock on sax, which for a moment made me think they might do Your Latest Trick, but no such luck.
Of course the audience was waiting for some beloved older songs, and we got one here, though with the sax start there was no way to recognize ROMEO AND JUILET! until the soft guitar started. I was far too into enjoying this to really think of anything during the sweet sounds, although I did notice the sax came out again while he changes guitars for the outro. . . I’d never seen that. . .
Some gal screams a song request, to which he replies, “Love to oblige, darlin’.” I hope that was adlibbed, though I imagine he gets so many requests he’s probably learned that. There were also plenty of long instrumental parts, sometimes solo, sometimes only drums and upright bass, sometimes all of them, and I can’t remember a time I’ve ever seen so many great musicians on one stage; I particularly loved the soft Celtic pipes. Then came the musician intros, starting with the drummer; as each is introed, they add to the song, and I can almost swear there’s a few seconds from Princess Bride until they go into Postcards from Paraguay, which included some pipes that reminded me of the ones at Olvera earlier.
Going even deeper into the bluegrass, I’m pretty sure the next piece was Marbletown, featuring some of the most awesome violin I’ve ever heard, with really high yet soft bowing and picking.
This is how you do it: you save the best for last, or nearly last: TELEGRAPH ROAD! The 14 minute version, too, just like I’ve been listening to all these years on my player. Granted there are other songs I would have loved to hear, but this made it all worthwhile; I am literally almost in tears.
I’ve never understood the reasoning for encores, unless it’s to let the audience scream for a while, but they came back to add Our Shangri-La and Coming Home, from the movie Local Hero. Standing ovation ensues, though I know there’s not going to be any more songs, and being on the aisle helps as I dash out, figuring if I can catch the next subway across the street I might get home at 11.
No such luck, but I wasn’t the only concertgoer on the train. A couple of guys and I passed the time with the Wish He’d Played game, with me going with Sailing to Philadelphia and Tunnel of Love, them adding Sultans of Swing and Brothers in Arms. A few minutes later some chick, who didn’t look all that wasted, throws up on her friend’s lap. Wonderful. . .
So I had about a 45 minute wait at Union Station, where I ran into some rather surreal stuff, like the fat black guy pushing a wheel chair while singing–loudly–in Italian, and a girl kneeling in an incomprehensible getup with an antique radio to her ear while also singing. More interesting were the two post-mod chippies who escaped from a Robert Palmer video strolling along holding a dirge-like note for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time, but kinda scary were the acrobats in the main passage, along with some emaciated-looking crawler. Better was the sign on the information booth that read “Please do not bother the nice person on the computer. She is part of an opera performance.”
Ah, I got it now: it’s that opera I read about, where you listen with special headphones that beam the music to you. Okay, but at least the visuals were free, though being a fan of Marco Polo and his trip to China did not help in figuring out the plot, if indeed there was one. Guess they had a good reason for calling it Invisible Cities. I’m gonna go find that book now. . .

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A black lab in the train station restroom gave me a wet kiss on knee. . .
So, looking at the calendar, this has to be the first time in my life I’d gone out seven Saturdays in a row! No wonder I’m so exhausted. Let’s see if I can remember them. . .
1 Natalie Gelman at Hotel Café
2 Marina V house concert
3 Gin Blossoms at Saban
4 Riddle the Sphinx at Decompression
5 NCIS: Los Angeles meetup
6 Shannon Curtis FrontYardFest
7 Mark Knopfler at Wiltern
(Nothing this Saturday, but there’s something on Sunday. . .)

;o)