Monday, December 15, 2008

Stevie Wonder

This guy looks like the nicest man ever and based on this last weekend, I'd say looks are not deceiving.

There is a whole story as to how I got to see Stevie, but for the sake of this post I will concentrate on the concert and the man. When you see an artist like Stevie Wonder, there is bound to be disappointment. I knew that going into the concert. With other artists, you face the potential of not sounding like the record because they are only good in the studio, coming across like an arrogant jerk, being lost in the hype of an over zealous stage show. None of these were issues on Saturday Night when I saw Stevie Wonder's House full of Toys concert at the Nokia Live Theater. When I walked into the concert I remembered that it was also a toy drive and had a bit of fear..."what if they don't let me in because I don't have a wrapped gift." Well, things worked out just fine and I made my way into the new theater. It really is a great room. I was in the far far back but I still felt like I was right there. The sound quality was the best I'd ever heard in a venue of that size.

Before going into the room, I found out there would be no intermission and that the concert would go from 8:30 - 11:30. There was no opening act, the concert was actually a series of different artists performing with Stevie. The lights lowered and with no fanfare or announcement, Stevie walked on the simple stage and thanked everyone for coming out. I know this sounds lame, but when he addressed the crowd, it didn't feel like he was talking to the whole arena, it felt like he was talking to each of us as though we were right in front of us. Throughout the concert, he would chat with the crowd, he would call an audible and change the song in the middle. It was clear the band rehearsed a bunch of his songs and he would play an intro and the band would figure it out and dive in. It felt so personal, so fun. As a performer, Stevie still has it. Great voice, smooth upper register. He still has the talent and sounded amazing.

The disappointment I did experience was not hearing every song you love. A format like House full of Toys has a handful of guests making appearances and singing their own songs and Christmas classics alone and with Stevie. Then you throw in the fact that this is Stevie Wonder, who had dozens of hit songs. If they spent all 3 hours playing his best songs they'd maybe be able to work them all in. But what we'd miss is the personal times; interacting with the other artists, smiling and talking with the band, it endears you to this huge artist. It's what you expect out of the quintisential nice guy. As far as the Christmas Music, it put me right in the Holiday mood! I walked into the theater, not celebrating the season yet and left with a Christmas skip in my step. When Stevie started to perform Ave Maria, my friend turned to me and said "Wait until you hear this." She was right, I got teary. It was the highlight of the Christmas portion. As for the Stevie Wonder classics, I'd have to say Supersticious was my favorite song he played. I was clapping my hands and dancing (as much as I can) with joy. It was SO fun and really gave me the joy. I think the only way to reiterate how great of a concert it was and how much fun I had is the fact that I was shaking my groove thing. Enough Said. When it comes to amazing artists I've wanted to see live for the last 20 years...two down, one to go.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random: Don't mess with a stage manager

A recent Austrian production of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart featured a surprise ending: The prop knife for the final scene, in which a character stabs himself in the neck, was replaced with a real one. The audience applauded what it presumed to be a special effect as blood spurted from actor Daniel Hoevels’ neck. Only when Hoevels was lying prone during the ovation did the audience realize something was wrong. The knife was purchased at a local store and still had a price tag on it. Hoevels survived, and appeared on stage with a bandage on his neck the next night. No arrests have been made.


I am glad in improv, our props are invisible.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random: Arianna Huffington

Just watching The Daily Show and Arianna Huffington is the guest and talking about blogging. Now I don't loathe this woman because "the right" tells me how to feel. I've got to say though, when she goes on the show to talk about a book on blogging with her name on it. She said she wrote the forward and actually read it. When she said she read it, she made it sound like that was an accomplishment. She went on to say that she thinks people who have recently lost their jobs in this economic downturn should start blogging. They have time on their hands and they should be freed up to blog.

From one blogger to another, let me say this....Arianna, that is ridiculous. You shouldn't say everything you think.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blog: Vampires are interesting

Now, I am a manly man, but I would probably be up for getting a piggy back ride on the back of a vampire if we we're going to fly around the trees. Also, if he promised to not kill me.

"Vampire books, aren't we past that?" These were my initial thoughts when I first read about Stephenie Myers' books in Entertainment Weekly. They generated a lot of attention among teens and when I saw the cover I realized that I'd seen many people I know reading these books. I still haven't finished the Harry Potter books, so I am not about to get into another series. The phenomenon faded into the distance and then, a few weeks before the release there was a huge buzz about this little movie and people waiting in line days before to see it. The weekend of release, I didn't want to be near a theater but that next week I caught the movie with a friend.

Sure, I had ulterior motives to see it. (Working with teens, I want to know what is in their world.) But, I have to confess, I was interested in seeing this film even without considering it a write off. Besides the 30's classic Bela Lugosi, Vampire films are a disappointment. Even a film with two great actors like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was lame, so how will a film with no-name teen stars do better? Well the real difference is story. I found this movie to be interesting because its really a love story in a setting of vampires and teen age angst. I felt like I got the answers I wanted when it came to the mythology, but still felt focused on the connection of the lead characters. It had funny moments that made me laugh out loud in the theater even if they didn't mean for them to be funny. (Like, when I realized the vampires 'father' was in Can't Hardly Wait playing a teenager just a decade earlier.

I didn't find the story predictable and overall, give the movie a B- or C+. It felt a little bit too much like an Episode of One Tree Hill, or any other teen drama on the CW when it came to the look of the movie. Hopefully they will spend the money on production, now that they know they will make the money. It had the worst cameo ever from the author. Seriously, it was really bad. It made M. Night Shyamalan's lame appearances in his films look subtle. I felt the tension throughout the film and knew I was being set up for sequels, but I didn't mind that. Now, call me a logical romantic but I did have a slight problem with the whole fall in love with someone who is a human-killing monster. Don't get me wrong, I love a good love story, but love someone that drinks blood?!?

Don't get me wrong, I suspended both belief and logic to be entertained, and I was. I'd encourage you to give this movie a shot, if it sounds remotely interesting. If you loathe these kinds of teen movies, then save the money. Now, will I be rushing out to the theater to catch the next installment? No. But I will definitely look forward to seeing where the story goes, without having to read. With three more books that are sure to be made into movies, it's clear that Vampires are not just a thing of the past, but will certainly be a part of the future.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blog: I missed you too

lame picture representing my emotions

awesome song representing my emotions

Friends and Readers:

It has been a crazy few months and I have neglected my blog. For that I apologize and let me assure you that I am not giving up on this blogging thing. I have appreciated the emails asking where I've been. I have a new job as a youth pastor and I've been spending most of my free time dreaming and scheming. It's been a very fun and very busy 2 months. I got on a plane, went to Egypt for 2 weeks. Then I finished stuff up at my old job doing video editing stuff by working like mad for 2 weeks on a documentary. THEN I moved and started a new job. Well this last week I got out of boxes and so I guess that's the indication that it is time to blog again.

I had a great birthday, a great thanksgiving and some fun times with friends. I have formulated plenty of opinions and well thoughts that I'd like to blab on about. I am thankful that you read me blab. If you are stalking me, I am sure you especially happy to read what I've been up to.



Random: advantage to a failing economy

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