hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

Posts Tagged ‘concerts’

Pet Shop Boys Tickets!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 13, 2016

Wednesday, my favorite DJ, Richard Blade, on my favorite radio station, SeriusXM’s First Wave, announced one of my very favorite groups would be going on a world tour and it had just been announced the day before. He read off some of the cities for where the Pet Shop Boys will be playing: four cities in the UK, followed by 11 cities in America, a few in Canada, a few in Europe, and Moscow. And he mentioned Nashville! God, my ears perked up when I heard that. The Pet Shop Boys just released a new album on April 1st and it went to the #1 album on Billboard’s Dance Charts, where it stayed for at least a month, and it was their 11th #1 album. I know it’s hard for a lot of people to believe, because many people think of them as an ’80s band, but seriously, they’re a hard working, successful band with a lot of hits to their credit.

I went to my computer and went to the band’s website. I found the tour page. There was Nashville. Friday, November 4th. I decided I had to go. Had to. Must. Once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re only going to four southern cities — two in Florida, Atlanta, and Nashville. It’s a must see show. Could I get tickets? That’s the question.

As I said, the Pet Shop Boys announced their new world tour, which went on sale Wednesday with VIP tickets, yesterday with pre-sale tickets, and today with tickets to the general public. With their new #1 album, the 11th of their career, they’re big time and I have virtually all of their albums and am excited as hell to see them. And even though they’re only coming to 11 American cities, Nashville is one of them, in November, as I said. So, yesterday, I camped out at my computer, determined to get pre-sale tickets. I wanted VIP tickets, but found out too late. Now ticket prices have really gone up over the years. Duran Duran, who I’m seeing by myself in July (because Gretchen hates them — LOL!) had their top tickets priced for resale on sites like StubHub at $900. That’s a lot. So, since Pet Shop Boys are technically more successful, I expected tickets to possibly be even more expensive than that, and was willing to pay a small fortune for good seats. For the record, Gretchen’s not a big fan of this band either, but since I went to see Barry Manilow with her, I guess she’d be returning the favor with this concert with me, or perhaps that’s how she sees it. So, I logged on yesterday morning and found my section, Orchestra Front, and looked at the prices and I was stunned! They were shockingly low. Like 20 years too low. No one sells concert tickets for that low anymore and certainly not big time artists with #1 albums. Stunned, I ordered two tickets and walked away with two good tickets in the fourth row, center, for under $200!!! OK, I literally thought I’d be asked to pay about $2600 for those kinds of tickets. Not that I would necessarily pay that, mind you. Just, that’s what I expected to see. So, now we’re going to see a great band with dozens of fantastic dance hits from tons of great albums for next to nothing and I’m so excited, I can barely stand it! I just want to go dancing in the streets, or at least jumping around. Gretchen will probably sulk, and I can’t blame her cause God knows I make her listen to a lot of that band, but she’s a gamer and I appreciate the sacrifice she’ll be making. I really do. True love.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

End of the Year Post 2015

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2015

I wrote this blog post quite early this morning and didn’t post it. I wasn’t sure about it. Since then, I’ve reread it twice and have had second thoughts about posting it. I usually post an End of Year post on the last day of the year, but this one is too depressing, too negative. I don’t think I want to be a downer for my readers. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to post it after all, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea. It does, however, describe my year, which is my intent. If you’re not interested in reading a depressing or negative post, feel free to skip this one. No hard feelings. If you’re interested at all, feel free to read it though. Hopefully 2016 will be better for me/us and hopefully all of you will have a good 2016. Happy New Year!

 

On the last day of each year, I write a year in review post. Here are the links to the 2014 Year in Review blog post and the 2012 End of the Year blog post. I had a lot going on in both years. If you read them, you’ll note I had some health problems, particularly last year. Well, I’m about to write an abbreviated post for 2015. It’s abbreviated because this year was largely a personal disaster due to hideous, nightmarish health and pain problems and I/we didn’t really get to do very much at all.

In January, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday. Although she’s had a couple of bad falls this year with broken bones, she still is relatively good health and living alone in a condo in Knoxville, TN.

In February, I developed severe back pain to accompany my head and facial pain, out of the blue. It took time, but over the course of the year, I sought treatment from my orthopedist and a rheumatologist, as well as physical therapists. It seems I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, massive osteo-arthritis throughout my entire body, and a broken tailbone. They’re recommending surgery to remove my tailbone, probable spinal fusion surgery, and down the road, two hip replacement surgeries. My pain has been at about a 9.6 out of 10 level every day this year and virtually no pain medication helps.

About the same time, my head pain increased and got worse. My Trigeminal Neuralgia was joined by at least one, perhaps two, other types of head pain, which I have been trying to have diagnosed and treated all year, with little help. My two types of head and facial pain have been at a 9.6 out of 10 level every day, virtually all day all year long with virtually no relief from any pain medication. Any pain medication that used to be helpful is no longer useful. I now have three new diagnoses for additional types of head pain disorders, all three of which can be extremely painful, one of which is supposed to be the most painful condition known to mankind. I don’t know. My wife and I are convinced there’s another undiagnosed condition that has yet to be treated, since I’m responding to no treatment.

Since this spring, my longtime insomnia has worsened. I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night and am now, in fact, waking up and getting up between 11 PM and 12:30 AM. It sounds insane, but it’s true. That means I go to bed early, but I still get only two to three hours of sleep. I also can no longer successfully nap. I started falling asleep at red lights while out driving, and in chairs sitting up, and at doctor’s offices, and at church dinners, and my wife and I suspect I may have narcolepsy so I have an appointment with my sleep doctor in a few weeks to discuss this.

During the spring, somehow I was able to get to some of the concerts I was able to buy tickets for 2014 Christmas for my wife. Because of my health problems, we unfortunately had to blow some off and waste that money, but we did get to see Lewis Black, Weird Al Yankovic, The Who (which was awesome), and Barry Manilow, which was pretty much the highlight of my wife’s life. We blew tickets to Chicago and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Oh well. We had good times.

In April, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It was pretty low key. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than that. We have a wonderful relationship and I’m very lucky to have Gretchen for a wife and best friend. April is also Gretchen’s birthday and so that was pleasant, although she’s not thrilled about getting older. I keep telling her she looks and acts infinitely younger than she is, looks at least 10 years younger than other women her age. I think she knows that intellectually, but still is annoyed with aging. I think she’s still sexy as hell. She always will be.

In July, I started going to a new neurologist who I didn’t like personally very much, but who, to his credit, did try some new things. He’s an egomaniac, but then many doctors are, I suppose. He’s given me a couple of Botox injection treatments so far and has tried a number of new medications on me, none of which have helped, but at least he’s trying.

Also, in July my head pain got even worse, if possible. Since I’m up 21 hours a day on average, it became 21 hours of pain a day, every day, without break. At a near 10 out of 10 scale, which combined with my back pain made life nearly unendurable. I applied to get into Vanderbilt’s Neurology Headache Clinic, which has a good reputation, thinking that after nearly six years of treatment in Chattanooga and only getting worse, I need to go elsewhere if I’m going to get better. July was also the second anniversary of my father’s death. It was a sad occasion.

I had my birthday in September. I suppose it was low key, as I remember nothing about it. This fall has been largely a blur, due to my pain status. I’ve been super focused, while also at the same time, largely oblivious. If that makes any sense. I particularly enjoy September and October because of sports. You have college football, the NFL, baseball, hockey just starting, college basketball just around the corner. It’s pretty awesome. I enjoyed watching my Pirates make the playoffs for the third straight year, watching my Tennessee Vols have a frustrating but ultimately successful 8-4 bowl year and my UCLA team have a winning bowl year, my Steelers have a injury-plagued year in which they still have a minor chance of making the playoffs and the hockey season, in which we paid for a year of NHL Gamecenter Live, in which you can watch any game you want – not on national TV – live for a one time set price. So I get to watch my Penguins quite often. If only they were playing up to their expectations and potential. It’s been disappointing so far. Of course, the UT Lady Vols are doing well so far, but they’ve had so many injuries, they’ve only been able to dress seven players lately, so it’s only a matter of time until they start losing many games and the men’s Vols basketball team has a great new coach, but not much talent while my Long Beach State team is having a rough year getting beat up by major teams like Duke.

In October, I finally got to go to Vandy. I was instructed to bring my medical records, so I spent two weeks and hundreds of my own dollars getting them, Gretchen took a vacation day, we drove six hours two ways, went to Nashville and met with a doctor who didn’t even want to look at my records, said they weren’t important, didn’t want to discuss my background with me, spent perhaps 15-20 minutes with me, prescribed a useless migraine medication for me, said I needed Botox immediately (so they scheduled me for three and a half months away) and, when Gretchen asked if we couldn’t just get this done in Chattanooga, reacted angrily and said it had to be done there. We left pretty ticked off at what waste of time and effort that was. I haven’t canceled my next appointment there yet, but I will. There’s no point in going. Meanwhile, my mom has stepped up to the plate and said she’ll pay for me to go anywhere to help get me fixed, cured, whatever. So, I’ve been researching Mayo, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, etc. So far, Johns Hopkins would be convenient because that’s where Gretchen’s family lives, but Mayo seems most impressive by far. I’m not going to pursue it just yet though. Want to exhaust things here in town first.

In November, we traveled to Maryland to visit Gretchen’s parents, sons, and friends. It was a difficult trip for me health wise, but she had been wanting to go for months and we hadn’t been up there for a year and a half, so it was time. And we had a good time over Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone. We also celebrated our one year anniversary of getting our kitten, Ace, who has become Gretchen’s baby. He’s now about 16 months old, and Henry just turned 10 years old, which is unreal because I can remember when he was just a month old, but they get along much better now and Ace is calming down a little bit finally. But just a little bit. Ace is also the most social, codependent cat I’ve ever seen in my whole life! He needs to be with people like nothing I’ve ever seen. He needs to be held. When we went to Maryland, we hired petsitters to come to the house twice a day to help mostly Ace. Henry is pretty independent and I’ve left him by himself for a good three days or so, but Ace couldn’t take even one day, I’m sure. It’s kind of sad. Cute, but sad. Nonetheless, we love them both and they add to our lives tremendously.

This month, we celebrated our five year anniversary of when we started dating. That’s always an exciting occasion for us and fun to remember. We also had a very subdued Christmas, which was somewhat anticlimactic. My pain was so severe and I was on so much pain medication, it was virtually impossible for me to function at all. My mother drove down from Knoxville to be with us on Christmas day and we exchanged a few gifts, nothing like last year. We couldn’t put up our tree this year like we’ve done in the past because of Ace. He goes wild. We put up a mini-tree we bought, with some lights and ornaments. That was destroyed the first night. We put up an old ceramic tree with plastic lights I’ve had for decades, but Gretchen thought better of it, so she got a little wooden tree with a string of lights and that was our tree. We didn’t even put presents out until the night before because Ace would destroy them. We try to control him, but we really can’t.

One year-long note. Early this year I was forced to drop my Obamacare and start using my Medicare I got last year when I went on disability. I had no idea how that would change my life. It’s been a nightmare. Medicare Part D is a freaking nightmare from hell! With Obamacare and BCBS, my monthly medical bills came to roughly $400 a month. With Medicare, I was quickly paying up to as much as $2,800 a month in medical bills, almost all of it prescriptions. One of my prescriptions alone had a co-pay of $800! That’s fucking insane! That total is more than double my disability check. How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? And I have no choice. As long as I’m on disability – and there’s no way I can work – I have to be on Medicare and as long as I’m on Medicare, I’m stuck paying thousands a month for medical/prescription bills. It’s unfair and cruel and I resent it like hell. It’s practically ruined my life even more. Thanks for the added stress, government. Thanks for practically bankrupting me. Appreciate it.

Well, I guess that’s about it for 2015. It was truly a horrible year. Probably worse than 2011, perhaps. I don’t know that 2016 will be any better, but I’m hoping it will be because we intend to aggressively pursue medical treatments for my back and head and solutions and ways to diminish and end my pain. I don’t know if that’s possible or reasonable, but dammit, we’ve got to try. My wife, meanwhile, has her good job, although without insurance, and Obamacare just doubled her premium, so we can no longer afford it, so that’s just great. So she’s actually thinking about looking for a new job next year, which would mean leaving her nice, cushy job that’s so great otherwise. Pity. I hope anyone reading this has a pleasant New Year and a wonderful 2016. Cheers!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Weird Al Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 9, 2015

Friday night was the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Knoxville. Back at the beginning of the year, I found out about it and bought tickets because my wife, Gretchen, is a HUGE fan. She knows all of his songs and all of the lyrics. When I told her about it, she was so excited and was disappointed she’d have to wait so long to see him. Well, the day finally arrived. Bear in mind that, for months, I’ve been having to deal with significant head and back pain. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have any. So I was concerned. And in fact, I had some. A lot. Gretchen said we didn’t have to go, but I had to, we had to, she had to see her show. So we left Chattanooga at 4:30 and made the two hour drive to Knoxville and checked into our hotel and got a bite to eat.

Let me interject. The day before the show, I got a voicemail from someone from CID Entertainment telling me I had bought the VIP package and I’d have to pick up my tickets, not at Will Call, but in a different building entirely. Additionally, there’d be gift bags and a party. I called the next day, the day of the show, to confirm this and indeed I had bought VIP tickets. No wonder they were so damn expensive. I just thought they were cause they were in the third row. Oh well. Sadly, we couldn’t make the party. We hadn’t known about it in time and just couldn’t make it. But we got our gift bags and got the tickets and we went into the Tennessee Theater, which is a beautiful theater where we had seen comedians and concerts before. The show was sold out. We got Gretchen a concert t-shirt and she was excited. Then we found our seats. They were aisle seats, which I normally like, but in this case, they weren’t that great, even though they were close to the stage. There was a huge screen as the backdrop and I could only see part of it because I was simply cut off from seeing the whole thing. Oh well.

The show began promptly at 8 PM. On the screen, Weird Al appeared. He was outside somewhere singing his hit, “Tacky.” He was walking and singing. Soon it appeared as though he were actually outside in Knoxville near the theater. Soon it became apparent he WAS and he was walking toward the entrance, singing, and soon he entered the theater and made his way into the theater from the back and came down the aisle before going up onto the stage, all the while on the screen. It was a pretty awesome entrance.

He sang several songs from his new album, Mandatory Fun, and then spent the rest of his time singing old favorites. I knew the newer stuff, as I have the album, but as I’ve never been a real fan, I didn’t know a lot of the older stuff, although Gretchen had played some of it for me, so I did recognize some of it. He came out for one encore and it was pretty great. The crowd went wild for him all night. The crowd was interesting in that there were people our age, young people, old people, teens, and little kids. A lot of little kids. And every single person there was a nerd. I’ve never been around so many nerds in my life. It was hilarious. After the show, I was still feeling pretty wretched, so we would normally have a drink or two, but we just went back to our hotel room and I passed out. Still, it was a good night and I’m glad we did it and Gretchen was really happy, so that made me happy. Here are some pictures.

 

Weird Al singing "Tacky"

Weird Al singing “Tacky”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Dare To Be Stupid"

Weird Al singing “Dare To Be Stupid”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Fat"

Weird Al singing “Fat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "I Want To Be Your Lover"

Weird Al singing “I Want To Be Your Lover”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al going out into the crowd

Weird Al going out into the crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Amish Paradise"

Weird Al singing “Amish Paradise”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "The Sage Begins"

Weird Al singing “The Sage Begins”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Barry Manilow Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 5, 2015

Last night, we went to Atlanta to see Barry Manilow in concert. Yeah, not someone I would normally see, but my wife’s a lifelong fan and has never seen him, so I got her tickets for Christmas. It’s been agonizing waiting a half year to see him, but she said it was worth it.

We somehow made it through the crazy Atlanta traffic to the Gwinnett Center, where we saw The Who (another Christmas present) two months ago. We waited and let everyone else go in before entering. We went to the bathroom and bought drinks and then stood in line so Gretchen could get a tour t-shirt. And stood in line. And stood in line. It was horrible. Finally she got her t-shirt, put it on immediately, and we found our seats. I was a little nervous about how the seats would be. I got us great seats for The Who, but even though I tried to get pre-sale tickets for this show the minute they went on sale, I couldn’t get good seats and had to settle. So we were pleasantly surprised when we found we were in section 106, row AA. That meant we were against the wall on the bottom level. No one behind us to kick us in the back and spill stuff on us. And a walk way in front of us so we could stretch out our legs. And it was raised, so our sight line was awesome. It was a little higher than I would have preferred, but considering what I thought we would be getting, these were pretty awesome.

Let me tell you — I’ve never seen so many old people at a concert in my life before! It was hilarious. People in wheelchairs, using walkers and canes. White hair, if any at all. I felt young. In fairness, there were people of all ages there, but it was mostly an older crowd, and no surprise here, mostly a female crowd. Still, there were a lot of husbands there with their wives, so I didn’t feel like I stuck out too much.

The opener was a smooth jazz musician named Dave Koz. I’m not a big fan of smooth jazz, but he had a lot of energy and seemed pretty excited to be there, and he did a fine job, so it wasn’t too bad.

Then Barry came on. The crowd went apeshit nuts! I’ve never seen such a crowd so crazed over a performer before. I was wondering when the bras and panties were going to be flung up onto the stage. It was crazy. Everyone had glow sticks, which they had handed out, and they were waving everywhere. Gretchen was the first one standing, waving her glow sticks, cheering, singing, and dancing. She had a ball! That made me very happy. I didn’t know that many of the songs, but it was enjoyable. He was quite the showman. Really knows how to charm an audience. Seemed really authentic too. The crowd went nuts when he sang “Mandy.” Other songs were equally appreciated.

I guess due to the older nature of the audience members, the show ended fairly early (it started early), and we made it back to our hotel in good time. We went to a nearby tavern for a nightcap and so that Gretchen could calm down. She was psyched.  She’s wearing her concert t-shirt again today. Heh. Will probably be wearing it for a week. So, we’re back from Atlanta now, having braved the damn traffic once more and we’re happy to be home. We missed the kitties. But we had a good time and Gretchen was very happy and those are the things that count. Some pics:

 

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arena glow sticks

Arena glow sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights

Lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Joan Jett and The Who Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 25, 2015

Two nights ago, we traveled from Chattanooga to Atlanta to see Joan Jett and The Who in concert and we had a blast! They were actually playing north of Atlanta in Duluth, in a place called the Gwinnett Center, where I’d been before. It’s pretty nice. It’s The Who’s 50th anniversary tour and we’d never seen them before, so it was pretty special.

We left at 1:45 PM to avoid Atlanta’s notorious rush hour traffic and got stuck in rush hour traffic. It was horrible. There’s a beltway called I-285 which is an absolute nightmare. Congestion at all hours of the day. Dead stop all the time. We got there mid-afternoon and found ourselves stopped. I couldn’t believe it. I thought surely we’d beat the after work crowd. It was a Thursday afternoon! We eventually made it to I-85 N and it didn’t get any better. We crawled along. It took us an hour and a half just to crawl a few miles. When we finally got to our hotel, we were frazzled. But it was a nice hotel, so that was cool.

Since we arrived so much later than we expected to, we had to start thinking about dinner. There were several restaurants in the area, but Carraba’s (sp?) was just across the street and neither of us had been to one in decades, so we went there. We’re both on diets, but we found items we could have without busting our diets. We had a pleasant server who had an exotic name that began with a “Z” and who looked a little exotic — we tried in vain to figure out her ethnicity. Fortunately, we arrived just in time because there was a big wait when we left.

Gretchen had a quick beer back at the hotel and then we marched off. We were literally within walking distance of the arena. That was very cool. When we got there, there was a big line, but they were just starting to let people in, so we got in pretty quickly. Gretchen wanted a concert t-shirt, but she’s pretty cheap, so I knew she wouldn’t want to pay for what they charge these days for those things, so I had brought some cash with me, so I could get her one. And we got her the perfect one. She looked really good with it on. Then we found our seats. And we had really good seats. We were up by the stage, literally looking down on the stage from the side. We could see everything! It was awesome.

Eventually Joan Jett came on and the show started. And she rocked the place! I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting with her, but she surpassed my expectations. She started out with “Bad Reputation.” She played about 35 minutes or so and it was a very energetic show. They had big screens on the walls of the arena, so you could see everything and everyone close up. She looked pretty good for her age, I thought. And she’s tiny! Gretchen and I couldn’t figure out who was smaller — her or Roger Daltry. LOL!

After her show, the intermission lasted forever. A lot of people were still coming in. Weird. In fact, people were still arriving 45, 50 minutes after the show started. I don’t know if that’s cause of bad traffic or if that’s just cause they’re rude. One thing. The staff was pretty polite, but people started taking videos with their phones and the staff went all Nazi on them. They starting running around telling them they couldn’t do that and insisting they delete the video in front of them. They did this to Gretchen. She wasn’t pleased. It’s not like she was going to make money off of it! Still, we got lots of pictures.

Finally, The Who came on. They were awesome! Of course, the only original members left are Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend, but there were I think about eight men on stage. The drummer looked like he was maybe 18, like he was just out of high school. Gretchen looked him up online, though, and apparently — though this is hard to believe — he’s Ringo Starr’s son and is 49. Bizarre. He was damn good though. They played for a few hours. They played a lot of favorites. One of my early favorites was “My Generation.” They played some older stuff in the middle. They played some of their rock opera stuff toward the end. I particularly liked “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Baba O’Riley,” and “Eminence Front.” Pete did his windmills. I tried to get pictures of that, but failed. It was disappointing. Still, great show. My only real surprise and disappointment is that they didn’t do any encore. I have never been to a concert where they didn’t do at least one encore. Never. Ever. Not possible. I’m still shocked. But whatever. It was a hell of a show.

We got back to our hotel and hit the sack. I got three hours of sleep. Following three hours of sleep the night before. Actually I had had about six hours of sleep in 58 hours. I was tired. So Gretchen graciously did all of the driving, including all of the grueling Atlanta city driving. Very generous and brave of her. We arrived home yesterday morning and were glad to see the cats. This was Gretchen’s first major Christmas present. The second one is this coming week when we go see Chicago. Yay! Here are some pictures:

 

Gretchen in her Who concert t-shirt

Gretchen in her Who concert t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Us at The Who concert

Us at The Who concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Jett rocking the house!

Joan Jett rocking the house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Who

The Who

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daltry and Townsend

Daltry and Townsend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Christmas 2014

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 26, 2014

Hi All! Well, Christmas is over and I’m sad. We’ve had a great holiday season. I got the Christmas spirit early this year. I sent out all of our Christmas cards by the end of November. And we got quite a few ourselves, but not as many as in years past, so I’m guessing we’re either no longer popular or people aren’t sending them out like they used to. LOL! I’ve heard some relatives aren’t sending them out anymore, so I understand.

I started buying Christmas gifts in October and I got some good ones for my wife. I’ve been so excited that I could barely contain myself. I just wanted to give them to her early.

We’ve been listening to Christmas music every morning while sitting in the glow of the lights from our Christmas tree which we put up after Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely tree, but we’ve had to put a big and tall fence/cat guard up around it to keep Henry and Ace away from it. Oh well. At least the tree and its ornaments have been saved. So, I’ve been playing traditional Christmas music, not contemporary pop Christmas music. I don’t like that. It’s been great to sit there drinking coffee and just enjoying the sounds.

We went to our church a few weeks ago for a dinner and a program. Afterwards, we went to the sanctuary with Chrismon ornaments to hang on the big tree. It was nice.

So yesterday was the big day. We’re having Mom come down from Knoxville to be with us, but today, not yesterday. We just wanted to exchange presents and be together by ourselves. We got up early and had our coffee. Then we opened our stockings. We got some pretty great stuff. One of my annual favorites is getting chocolate covered cherries. I just love those and Gretchen came through for me in a big way.

After we opened our stockings, we had breakfast. Gretchen fixed us scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and a pastry. Now you have to understand — I don’t eat eggs. I HATE eggs! I haven’t touched them since I was a teenager. But I was in a good mood, so I volunteered and I did it. I took six bites before giving up, but Gretchen was proud of me for going that far and I am too. It would take a lot for me to develop a liking for them, but at least I tried.

After we ate breakfast, we got ready for the day. I put on my Pittsburgh Penguins sweatshirt and cap. Gretchen dressed comfortably. Then we returned to the living room for gift giving!

I have an unfair advantage when it comes to getting gifts. Gretchen’s parents always get me things, which is darn nice of them, and my awesome friend Marcy gets me gifts, as do I for her. So I usually open those first. However, first of all Gretchen opened her first gift from me. It was a Weird Al CD. Heh. I got her three. She’s a huge fan. She was very excited. Meanwhile, her parents got me a great book on Steve Jobs and some great clothes, so that was very nice of them. Marcy got me a DVD and some books, including one on Queen and another on the inventors of the digital revolution, which ironically Gretchen got for me too, so one will have to be exchanged. Still, darn nice of Marcy. During this time, Gretchen was opening presents from her parents to her, which included a cool purse, some jewelry, and some clothes. They always get her nice things. Among the things I got her were some sweaters, a coat, several Hitchcock DVDs (she’s a huge fan), and a computer game. Gretchen got me some t-shirts and socks, which I need, and a couple of books I’ve really been wanting. Sweet. I got her a Ravens travel mug and an Orioles t-shirt. Sweet. Then it was time for the big stuff. She gave me a beautiful Fossil watch which I had actually picked out, and I gave her a nice watch as well, so it was a good trade. Then I opened a box and inside was an authentic Sidney Crosby jersey. I was very excited. I’ve been wanting Penguins jerseys. She opened a box and found some very cool cowboy boots, which she had been wanting. Unfortunately, they were a little too small for her, so we’ll have to exchange them for a larger size. I’m going to UPS this morning to send them back. I then opened my last box and was shocked. Inside was an authentic Mario Lemieux jersey! I had been wanting one for years. I’ve never been able to find many, and none in my size. Now here’s the story. She told me weeks ago that she had found one overseas and ordered it. But it never arrived. And she couldn’t get the company to respond to her calls or emails. She had been charged, but got nothing. So she was disappointed and got the Crosby jersey. In the meantime, it did arrive! Late, but it got here. So she gave me both. That was very sweet of her and I was very excited. Meanwhile, she had two last boxes to open. One held a digital camera with a case. She had been wanting one for a long time, so this was a good gift. The last one was the one I’ve been most excited about. Inside the box were three envelopes, to be opened in order. The first one held tickets to a Chicago concert. The next one held tickets to a concert by The Who. The final one held tickets to a Barry Manilow concert. He’s one of her all time favorites, so I knew she’d be excited. And she was. For all three. She’s always wanted to see all of them and now she’ll get to, so it’s pretty awesome. Joan Jett is going to open for The Who. All of these tickets are for next spring and summer, so she’ll have to wait awhile before she can go, but it’s still very exciting and I was just thrilled to be able to give them to her.

Well, gift giving was over and there was carnage. The cats were getting into everything, of course, but that was okay. We cleaned up a bit and then got ready for lunch. After lunch, I took a nap because I had been up since 2 AM. I have severe insomnia and have been up since 1 AM this morning. During my nap, Gretchen went downtown and went for a brisk walk. Later, during the afternoon, we read and relaxed and then had some meatloaf for dinner. That may not sound exciting, but my wife makes the best meatloaf in the world and I love it, so it was pretty awesome. We read some more, played with the cats, watched a little TV and went to bed. It was a damn good Christmas!

Here are some pictures.

 

2014 Christmas tree complete with cat guard fence.

2014 Christmas tree complete with cat guard fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steelers socks!

Steelers socks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orioles t-shirt

Orioles t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fossil watch

Fossil watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen's new winter coat

Gretchen’s new winter coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidney Crosby jersey

Sidney Crosby jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mario Lemieux jersey

Mario Lemieux jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen's concert tickets

Gretchen’s concert tickets

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dead Can Dance: In Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 21, 2013

If you’ve been reading me for awhile, you know that Dead Can Dance is my favorite band and has been for many years. You’ll also remember that I finally got to see them in concert last September in Atlanta, where I lucked into (expensive!) second row middle seats and had an awesome experience. It’s one I’ll never forget. Well, now they’ve just released a live CD called “In Concert” and it’s the show they’ve been touring the world with, the one I saw. Since I have everything they’ve ever put out, I naturally had to get it. First, I put it on my Amazon Wish List, but as no one ever buys me anything from it, I had second thoughts. I had additional thoughts when I read the Amazon reviews. Apparently the CD is an abridged version! WTF? You can get the complete version on vinyl and digital download. 16 songs. Otherwise, the CD has 11 and is missing some important songs. Now why would they do that? That makes utterly no sense to me at all. So I went to iTunes and downloaded it, for a reasonable fee, and have been listening to it ever since, enjoying reliving my concert experience. If you’re unfamiliar with Dead Can Dance, well, they’re hard to categorize. They have a big goth following because their first album back in 1981 was pretty goth. But they got away from that pretty quickly and started playing medieval, Celtic, Middle Eastern tunes, and more. I guess you could say they’re “world music” now, and that’s about right. I have a link to them on my blog under the music section. I encourage you to go check them out. They’ve produced some amazing stuff over the years. In Concert is a good album. I just wish the CD was complete. That’s very odd….

DCD: In Concert

DCD: In Concert

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trent Reznor Confirms New Nine Inch Nails Lineup, Tour

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 25, 2013

Trent Reznor Confirms New Nine Inch Nails Lineup, Tour – Yahoo! Music.

Rock on!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“Sanvean” Live

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 25, 2013

Here is a video of Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance singing her mesmerizing “Sanvean” live in Atlanta at the concert I went to last year. The person who filmed it was sitting right beside us in the second row. There are nine DCD videos from that show he uploaded. Check them out!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Dead Can Dance Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 6, 2012

[Caveat — I can’t get the darn pictures to line up correctly with the type, so I’m sorry for the jumbled page.]

Last night was the big Dead Can Dance concert in Atlanta and it was amazing! My buddy Chris D, who drove down from Virginia, hooked up with me here in Chattanooga and we went down to our hotel in Atlanta late yesterday afternoon. After checking into our suite, we went to a local Italian place recommended by the hotel staff. It wasn’t bad. I had lasagna and I would give it a solid B grade. After dinner, we went back and changed into our Dead Can Dance t-shirts we’d gotten with the purchase of our tickets. Looking like concert twins, we left for the venue.

The concert was held in the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, where the Atlanta Symphony plays. It’s a three story marvel, very tall and high. Fortunately, we were in the orchestra section, down front. When we entered the center, Chris insisted on buying us DCD concert t-shirts, even though we were already wearing DCD t-shirts. I relented, cause he was as excited as a little kid. T-shirts in hand, we hit the bar, where Chris got a beer and I got a pinot grigio.

Me, at the Dead Can Dance concert

Chris and I at the DCD concert

After a drink, we headed for our seats. We were elated when we were taken by the usher down to the second row, where our seats were practically dead center. It was virtually impossible to have had better seats! We giggled like school girls, knowing how close to the band we’d be.

Second row seats

An opening act came on at 8 PM, doing instrumentals to Arabic tambourines and Swiss drum-like instruments. Good world music. Finally, after a break, Dead Can Dance came on. Brendan Perry has aged, but looked great. He’s shaving his hair and his goatee is white now, but he sounds fantastic. And Lisa Gerrard was stunning! She wore a black outfit with a gold cape and she looked regal as she gazed out over the crowded audience, smiling the whole time. There was a backing band of three keyboard players, two percussionists, and a bass player, while Brendan played the guitar and Lisa played her odd instrument, the name of which escapes me — I think it’s a dulcimer. Since they’re supporting a new album — which is fantastic, and their first since 1996 — they did a lot of new songs. All told, I believe they did six songs from the new album and three other new songs I’d never heard before, one a Moorish song that was 800 years old and another a Greek tune from the 1930s. They opened with “Children of the Sun” from their new album, Anastasis, and it was pretty powerful. Here is a picture of the band.

Dead Can Dance, Atlanta 2012

DCD played several new songs to start the show off before going to one of their old ones, “Rakim.” Here’s a picture of Lisa singing “Anabasis.”

Lisa Gerrard

Here’s a picture of Brendan doing “Amnesia.”

Brendan Perry

The band continued mixing new and old songs, but they didn’t play many of my favorite old Dead Can Dance songs, like “Cantara,” “American Dreaming,” “Salterello,” and “Carnival Is Over.” Oh well. Here’s a picture of them doing “Yulunga.”

Dead Can Dance

One of the big highlights was of Lisa doing her classic, “Sanvean.” It always brings tears to my eyes, it’s so beautiful. It was an awe inspiring performance and I recorded it on my iPhone so I can always play it.

Lisa Gerrard performing “Sanvean”

Brendan & Lisa collaborating

DCD ended their show with another song from the new album, it’s closing song, “All In Good Time.” They then left the stage. The crowded roared to its feet and exploded. The ovation lasted a long time before they came out for an encore. They played a rousing version of “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” and another before leaving again. They got another standing O before returning for a second encore. This happened again, for a third encore, before the band gathered onstage to say their goodbyes and wave at us. Lisa blew the crowd kisses.

Goodbye DCD

It was a glorious concert and Chris and I were elated that we had gone, that we had such good seats, and I was particularly thrilled because I had waited some 25 years to see them live. Kick that off the bucket list, I guess.  I’ve seen a lot of good concerts, some very good. Morrissey was great, The Cure played until 1 AM, I saw the Bauhaus 15 year reunion tour concert in Los Angeles, Nine Inch Nails was amazing, but this one was perhaps the best show I’ve ever seen. I’m only sorry my beloved Gretchen didn’t get to make the trip with us. Perhaps another year.

Speaking of Gretchen, there was a sobering note to the evening. She called me while I was in the venue waiting for the show to begin, distraught. Her car window had been smashed out and her purse stolen, with everything in it. It was terrible, and we’ve spent the bulk of the day making the bank, DMV, credit card, and new car window rounds. What a hassle, and it was very worrisome. Chris and I contemplated going back to Chattanooga early in the morning, about 1 AM, but Gretchen went over to my parents’ house to stay, so instead we left around 6 AM today and got back at 8. It’s been a full 24 hours. It was an amazing show.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Simple Living Over 50

Defining Life's Changes

The Book Review Directory

Over 150 Book Reviewer Bloggers Listed

Chaos Inc.

The Strange Happenings of a submissive "little"

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

In My Words

Life in my own words, my thoughts, my daily happenings, whatever....

Ravings of a Madman

(and other assorted things)

Crumpled Paper Cranes

Fumbling by Leisure, Singing to Cake

My Blog News And Blues Reviews

WHATEVER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.

Piece of Mind

Everything in my blog is sprinkled with wizard dust.

Kiss My Glass Boston

Wine, cocktails, whatever.

My Preconceived Life

trying to add another person to the planet

bluchickenninja.com

graphic designer, bibliophile, spoonie

Drunken Dragon Reviews

A Fantasy Blog Gone Horribly Wrong.

Lynette Noni

Embrace The Wonder

Megan Has OCD

About Mental Health, Daily Struggles, and Whatever Else Pops in My Head

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...