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Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Which I Complete A Bucket List Trifecta

Okay, so there are a number of events/activities/happenings on my bucket list, which is code for shit-I-want-to-do-before-I-croak. And by "number of events", I mean a crapton. Some bullet points need to be thinned, like sky diving, getting a tattoo on my hip, licking Paul Rudd's face. Those ships have sailed, a mere speck on the horizon of the deep blue sea of youth. At this age, I can't fathom surrendering to the pull of gravity, plummeting towards the earth at warp speed and trusting a flimsy parachute will open to prevent me from splattering all over the earth. Not to mention soiling my drawers high above the tree line.  And as for the tattoo, ain't nobody got time for a wrinkly-ass tag on a saggy backside.

Anywho, going to Mardi Gras, The Conch Rebellion in Key West and searching for five-time Strong Man winner, Magnus Ver Magnusson in Iceland are still high on the list.

Who am I kidding, so is licking Paul Rudd's face. Some day I will meet you, adorable Sir!


However, I'm happy to say I did get to cross off three items during the last month of 2014.

Bucket List #1: Pens vs Rangers at MSG

Geo and I have always talked about doing a Penguins' hockey arena tour, sporting our colors of support in other cities. As is our annual tradition, we spend the second week of December visiting my sister in northern New Jersey. As luck would have it, the luscious Sid and company were playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden during our vacation.

Can you say STOKED??!?

Geo, fearing retribution from a perceived unsavory New York contingent, respectfully declined, leaving the path open for my sister to walk the gauntlet with me.

Side note: Another tradition of our annual pilgrimage east is watching the Steelers play at a local sports bar. For the past three years, we have occupied the long side of the bar with the same group of ex-pats and Jersey black and gold fans. Together we eat free popcorn, drink tall boys and cheer on (or scream at) our collective favorite team. Okay, full disclosure, I'm not a football fan at all, (I know, right? WTF??!? Sacrilege, especially in the Burgh) but I look forward to this outing every year. It's so much fun being loud and obnoxious with these people. The camaraderie makes the sport bearable.

But I digress...

When I told our NJ compadres about going to MSG the next night, they all kinda stopped and said, "Yeah, good luck with that." I gotta tell you, their reactions rattled me enough to contemplate not wearing my Crosby jersey...

Yeah, well fuck that noise. I wore my baby blue Crosby shirt loud and proud.

My sister and I had dinner at a burger joint in Penn Station, deep in enemy territory, where the entire wait staff wore Rangers t-shirts and 80% of the diners donned Rangers red, white and blue.

Cue the dramatic music... Da Da DAAAAAAA...

Sitting down, I said to the Ranger-clad fan across from me that I hoped he could still enjoy his dinner with me sitting next to him. He feigned disgust, then laughed. Turns out his son is a Pens fan. All in all, there was a lot of good natured ribbing back and forth between us and other patrons.

pens and rangers fans getting along
there's hope for humanity yet

So far, so good.

I was never in MSG before. It's all bright, sparkling white and clean. When I showed my ticket to the usher, he leaned over and suggested I might want to go into the gift shop and buy a proper shirt. "No, really. It's right over there." Very funny, wise ass. But the joke was on me, because this was the give-away.

as Geo said, it'll make a great rag to wash the car

The game was exciting and fun and frustrating as hockey games can be. We lead initially, then got behind by two with seven minutes left to go in the 3rd period. My sister was ready to write the game off as a loss after the Rangers' third goal.

Wha??!? C'mon! This is hockey, MOFO. In the time it took for me to slowly look at her in disbelief and tell her there was a ton of time left to score, the Pens stuffed one past King Heinrik into the net. Less than a minute later, we tied the game.

And that's why I love hockey. The fate of the game can change in a heartbeat.

Anywho, we lost in overtime, which stung a little being as I HATE TO LOSE TO NY TEAMS, but we still came away with a point. Despite the loss, I thought it was a great experience. We had a terrific time.

Some notes:
A) Being New York, there were celebrity sightings in the audience posted on the JumboTron. That night it was Matthew Brodderick and Catherine Keener.

B) Their scoreboard is genius! The bottom half of the board lists who's on the ice throughout the game. Something ALL scoreboards should adopt.

C) Win or lose, the Rangers gather at center ice and salute the fans at the end of every game. Classy.

And, as much as I hate myself for saying this, their goal song ROCKS!!!

Watching the Pens battle the Rangers in Madison Square Garden... CHECK!

Bucket List #2: Ingrid Michaelson's Holiday Hop

Every December, pop singer Ingrid Michaelson puts on what she calls a Holiday Hop, exclusive to New York City. It's held at different venues each year and sells out quickly. This past December, she held her 8th Hop at Webster Hall in the middle of our vacation.

How fortuitous.

Geo took a pass on this opportunity, so once again, my awesome sister, Laura stepped in as proxy. Double shout out to her because she had no idea who Ingrid was.

ingrid in her holiday garb and uke
cuteness overload

Normally it's safe to get to a show during the opener because the floor isn't packed until right before the main act, thus enabling one to stake out a good position near the front. Not so with this show. We got there roughly 10 minutes after the start and the place was PACKED!! Having never been to her Holiday Hop before, I didn't realize the opener was actually Ingrid and her band dressed as seniors performing twisted carols under the name Ethel and friends.

They were pretty damn amusing. Heads up, mofos: if you ever find yourself in possession of tickets to the Hop, get there early to stake your claim near the front.

ukeleles are serious bidnez

When Ingrid finally took the stage as herself, she charmed her fans with her crystal clear voice, wee ukelele and her bawdy banter as she flounced around in an adorable short green dress with bright red bow. Good thing she wore red shorts underneath. Just sayin'.

You and I is one of my favorite songs of hers. Helloooo...ukelele. Anyway, they always have fun with this one. I say it all the time, how great is it to hear the masses singing your words back at you?

She ended her master set with this rousing Christmas Medley. She's a delight!

Go to Ingrid's Holiday Hop... CHECK!

Bucket List #3: Ringing in the new year with Old 97's

photo courtesy of kristie gripp

Anyone who knows me or has read this bloggity blog blah, knows I adore all things Rhett Miller and Old 97's. I can't help it. They satisfy every pore of my music-loving being. It's safe to say they are MY band. Forever and always.

the most hard working, hard-charging band of awesome

Usually they book a multi-date year-end gig in their native Dallas. Oh yeah, seeing them bust it out in Texas is HIGH on my list, too. Like top shelf, I-can-die-happy-now placement.

But I digress...

As the gods would have it, my favorite foursome booked a two-night stand in Washington, DC for New Year's Eve.


seriously long legs on the Murry man

even in a blur, that mane is magnificent

The Hamilton is a dinner theater space holding about 700. The tables sit on a succession of increasingly higher risers with a shallow standing area in front of the knee-high stage. Naturally, Cindy and I planted ourselves down front, right of center (Murry side) alongside our New York fan friends. That's the cool thing about traveling for Rhett or 97's shows, there is always at least one person I know sharing the front row.

no caption required

This was an interesting set up. The band played from 10:15-11pm, at which time there was a half hour break for the club to deliver ball jars of gumbo, glasses of champagne and party hats/noise makers. Then my favorite Texans returned at 11:30 to ring in 2015 at midnight, bust out the champagne and play us out until 1am.

Oh my God! So so so very much fun!! It was like getting two concerts in one. Each bit performed at full throttle. I can't express enough how amazing they are live. They never disappoint.


At midnight, Rhett popped a bottle of champagne, clinked glasses with some fans in the front and grabbed my friend, Suzanne's homemade Old 97's hat to wear during a rawking version of Auld Lang Syne.

happy new year!

post midnight fervor
props to the hamilton for the trippy lighting

Then they just got more cranked up from there, working everyone into a frenzy through the final lingering, bittersweet note of Time Bomb. The euphoria lasting long afterwards like a Charismatic's revival meeting. Standing before them, anointed in a spray of Rhett sweat...they are my church.

love his shadow
soaking up the adoration from his kick drum perch

time bomb jump

Speaking of Time Bomb, perched precariously atop Philip's kick drum, occasionally even the magnificent Mr. Miller is not impervious to the laws of gravity and champagne covered flooring. The consummate professional Rock God didn't let a tumble stop that train a-rollin'. 100% all in. ALWAYS.

I love him and them with every fiber of my pointy heart. This will go down as one of the best New Year's Eves I've ever spent in all my copious trips around the sun. The only thing that would have made it perfect is if Geo was at my side.

the holy spirit of rock and roll shooting forth from his musical scepter
that's church, baby

another triumph of rock

AND I still got to uphold our annual tradition of flipping off the old year. With this kind of greeting, 2015 has gotta be a good one, right?

Ring in the new year with Old 97's... CHECK!

NYE Setlist
Champagne, IL
Give it Time
Crash on the Barrelhead
Lonely Holiday
This is the Ballad
W TX Teardrops
Every Night Is Friday Night
Big Brown Eyes
Over the Cliff
(now is the time when we consumed quantities of gumbo and champagne)
(it is also the time for rhett to change from blue shirt/dark jeans
to dark shirt/light jeans. well, played, mr. miller. you didn't think i noticed, but i did.)
Longer Than You've Been Alive
Melt Show
Mama Tried
Dance With Me
Wheels Off
Miss Molly
Old 97's Theme
countdown: Auld Lang Syne
Most Messed UP
Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin'
Barrier Reef
Let's Get Drunk and Get It On
4 Leaf Clover
Roller Skate Skinny
King of All the World (request)
Going Going Gone
Eyes for You
Time Bomb


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