Let’s Just Step Back and Relax, Shall We?

From today’s Shark Tank (daily true absurdities from the IT world):
User pilot fish sits next to police department’s IT help desk and overhears a call: “Help Desk, may I help you? … Can you open that program? … Are you getting an error? … Could you e-mail me a screenshot of the error? … No, you don’t need your gun.”

Duran Duran better than Tori?

So two concerts this past week: Duran Duran last night, and Tori on Wednesday.

This was the first time I’ve ever seen Tori solo, so that’s why I wanted really good seats. We got there around 8:05, only to find they didn’t open the doors until 8, and the line to get in was around the block. By the time we got in, we only saw a song and a half from Matt Nathanson (a shame, because we really like him).

Then it was another 30 minutes for Tori to come on (odd, because Matt played in front of the curtain so there was nothing to break down and set up between acts). There were parts of Tori’s show I liked a lot: her cover of “Like A Prayer”, “Take To The Sky”, “China”, “The Power Of Orange Knickers”, and the premiere of “Snow Cherries From France” (setlist and reviews here). The show was very good, but it wasn’t great for me, which didn’t become clear until last night.

Last night I went solo to Duran Duran. Now I hadn’t seen them before, while I’d seen Tori 5 times previously, but I came out of their show wired like I hadn’t at Tori’s. Part of it was my right ear was bothering me at Tori’s but I think it was mostly a hit free show. By that I mean she played 3 songs of her greatest hits CD, and only one of them (“Jackie’s Strength) was a single – the other two were new to that CD. Duran Duran played every possible song I wanted to hear (“The Reflex” was non-negotiable), while there were so many I’d like to have seen Tori done that she didn’t (“Cornflake Girl”, “Past The Mission”, “Silent All These Years”, “Caught A Lite Sneeze”, “A Sorta Fairytale”, “1000 Oceans”, “Happy Phantom”, “Hey Jupiter”, “Sleeps With Butterflies”, “Winter”, “Taxi Ride”, etc).

Sure, she has no obligation to play songs and will be successful playing whatever she wants, but I like what Sarah McLachlan said in this article: “I have the songs that I love to play and I have the songs I would be happy to never do again. I have to be honest to myself but also take into consideration what the fans are going to want to hear.” And the bottom line is I didn’t hear at the Tori show many of the songs I wanted to hear, while at the Duran Duran show I did, so it felt like a superior one. I still enjoyed both shows (and I’ll go to see her again when she has the band later this year), but I felt let down a bit. Maybe I have too high expectations for her shows.

Tori tix arrived!

And just in time – the show’s tomorrow. 6th row for $320 with shipping – not too bad. I’ve been listening to “The Beekeeper” all week, and I’m liking it more and more. I think I’m most looking forward too the two cover songs she’s throwing in in the middle of the show (I voted for “Vincent”).

What happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot

We’re back from our whirlwind trip to NYC, and barring any more power outages (like the one that killed the first draft of this entry), this is how it went:

Wednesday we got up early to get a cab to the airport. We flew Independence Air to JFK, and were right on schedule, checking in to the Avalon Hotel on 32nd Street by 1PM. Travel karma isn’t transferable, so our friends Chris and Jess were late due to traffic. We went to their hotel and waited while they parked their car and checked luggage. We got to Spamalot by 1:45 for the 2PM matinee, so Jill and I knocked back a diet coke and whiskey, then headed for our seats. The show is fantastic. The new songs are very funny and fit perfectly with the ones you know by heart. The cast is amazing and not to be missed. If you’re a Python fan, beg, borrow or steal to get some tickets for this.

Afterwards, we waited for Jess to get some photos and autographs, then we wandered around Times Square. We stopped for dinner at Ruby Foo’s, a pan asian restaurant. I had some fine duck spring rolls, sushi, and a wok seared filet with aspargus, spinach, and ponzu sauce. Jill had some sushi and filet mignon stir fried with a black bean sauce in noodles. Good, although we had to eat at the sushi bar because we didn’t have reservations. We picked up cheesecakes at a bakery and ate them back in Chris and Jess’s room. We were all wiped from the day, and we went to our hotel. We did stay up for “Lost”, but skipped “Alias” for bed.

Thursday we were out at Rockefeller Center by 8:30 to try and get Conan O’Brien standby tickets. Jill and I went to get coffee and saw Pamela Anderson signing autographs at the Today Show. We got standby tix a little after 9, and wandered down 51st Street towards Times Square. We saw a line of people at David Letterman’s theater, and joined only to find it was for future shows. We had some breakfast at the deli across the street, then Jess and Jill went to The Museum of Modern Art. Chris and I wandered through Times Square, into the Virgin store, trying to call the Letterman standby phone number (and failing), before going back to the hotel.

HFStival tickets had a presale at noon, and we wanted the club seats. After finding his hotel didn’t have free internet, we went to mine with his laptop and got the tix. Then we went down to Union Square to check out Forbidden Planet, then ate a couple dogs in the square.

We met up back at the hotel and went back to Rockefeller Center by 3:45. By 4:15, they let us know that too many people with advance tix had shown, and people where we we were in line wouldn’t get in. So we headed back down 51st Street to Heartland Brewery, where we enjoyed some good appetizers and some fabulous beers. My discovery was the beers with liquor – I had a wheat beer with a shot of banana liquer, and a stout with a shot of Amaretto. Something new to try when I get to the liquor store again.

It was 7:30 when we got to Avenue Q. Chris and Jess were newbies, but we had bought and listened to the cast recording. No worries, as all of us greatly enjoyed it. Great songs, and very funny puppets. My favorite song has to be “The Internet Is For Porn”. We figured out only one cast member had changed since they premiered, so that was nice, too. Great show, but don’t go if you’re offended by puppets having sex. Afterwards, we went one block south to John’s Pizzeria for a big hot crisp pepperoni pie, which definitely lived up to its reputation.

Friday we took a different route to the subway and found Jim Hanley’s Universe, a comic book store I’d heard of. We only had time for a quick peek, as we were off to the Museum of Television & Radio for The IN-complete History of Monty Python, which had rare pre-Python footage. Chris and Jess had to leave, so we stopped by Maui Tacos, a Hawaiian Mexican fast food place (who knew?) before they left.

Jill had dressed for style, not comfort, when we arrived on Wednesday, and by now her feet were really hurting. I returned to Jim Hanley’s Universe and picked up somre comics and magazines (and heard about a comics convention) , then joined her in reading for the late afternoon and early evening. She still didn’t want to go far, so we went two doors down to Minado, a Japanese buffet with an extensive amount of sushi and some good hot dishes (although my favorite thing was the fresh crepes).

Saturday was a soggy day. The rest of the week had been cool, but dry. I had found out the comics convention was 3 blocks away, so went down to check it out (after I bought an umbrella). The first thing I saw was that Jim Lee, one of my favorite contemporary artists, was there. I’d never had the chance to meet him (he was in Baltimore last September, but I felt Jill wouldn’t approve of me skipping our wedding for it), so I went and snagged a couple of his X-Men (my favorite) and got in line. Of couse it was only then I found out he wasn’t siging until 1, so I got a ticket and left.

Jill had made plans to meet her friend Paula for lunch in Greenwich Village, so we went there early. I left Jill in a mystery bookstore and dashed around in the rain to several record stores, including Bleecker Street Records (so now I’ve been from Broadway to Bleecker). Jill had moved to a coffee shop, and I picked her up there, then we went to North Square next to Washington Square. We both had good eggs benedict, and I had a tasty blood orange mimosa. Their bread bowl rivaled Sweetwater’s, which is saying something. I went back to the convention while Jill went to Macy’s. I got my autographs (Jim looked bored out of his mind), picked up a couple of Rush DVDs, an Alan Moore hardcover, and a couple of magazines with Neil Gaiman short stories.

Later that evening we went to the Knitting Factory to their small venue, the Tap Bar, in TriBeCa. A nice small room that maybe 50 people could fit in, it was hosting a CD release show for Jenni Alpert. We started a tab and got some beers, then got a table. Tessa Perry started the show, since Liz Clark was late, but it was a good thing, since Jill really liked Tessa, and I really liked Liz. The reason we were there, though, was Joseph Parsons, from the late and lamented 4 Way Street (and likely a distant relative of Jill’s on her mom’s side). He played a good (but short) set, mostly new material (I requested “Ceremony” or “Sister Moon”, and he played “Ceremony”). I took a couple pictures on my phone. He sat in on a couple songs by Jenni Alpert, who played both piano and guitar, and came across as a mix of Fiona Apple and Ani DiFranco filtered through Chris Whitley. After the show, we took a quick cab ride to the Odeon, a french style bistro, where we split a salad, then each got a steak. It was getting late, so we hopped in another cab for a ride back to the hotel.

This morning we checked out and faced the most dangerous part of our week – the trip home. We got a cab to JFK and checked in, only to find our plane’d been dealyed an hour due to gusts at Dulles. We didn’t worry about it until we were on approach to Dulles, spending a bumpy 25 minutes making a long banking turn to come around to the south and the only open runway. Jill thought she might lose it but didn’t. Now we’re home, and wish we had another couple days just to rest.