Rainy Ren Fest

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I went out to the Sterling Renaissance Festival with my sister on Sunday despite the threat of rain we were under.

I must say though, that it ended up being a fairly nice (although
pretty humid) day. And what’s better, the threat of rain kept the crowd
size down so we could actually move around easily and didn’t have to
wait in line for very long which was good.

On the drive out there I had a bit of a “man, I’m getting old…”
moment. My sister just got a new job and we spent a decent amount of
time talking about health insurance coverage and, from her perspective
as somebody who’s working in the health care industry, the differences
between the various companies and how good they are about authorizing

The festival was a lot of fun this year. We did a little more
wandering around and browsing shops than we usually do because a lot of
the shows we had seen a number of times in the past and they don’t
really change all that much over the years. But we hit a couple of
newer shows which were quite good.

The first show we went to after the opening ceremony was Zilch the
Torrysteller which is a guy who tells classic fairy tales but with
letters reversed in certain words (see “Torrysteller”) which can create
some unintended words and add whole new shades of meaning to the story.
It sounds a little stupid, but first of all, it’s impressive how he can
keep everything straight in his head and he pulls it off really well
and keeps the audience involved. Especially funny were the tangents he
got on.

After that we headed over to one of my favorite shows, the DaVinci
Brothers. The premise of this one is the DaVinci Brothers had another
brother (Bob) and he stages comedy operas. The twist is that audience
members get pulled out to be the actors in the opera. It can be hit or
miss, but if you get a good group of people, it’s simply awesome. And
this time out we got the best group of people I had ever seen. These
folks had no shame and they even had the guy running the show doubled
over laughing at certain points.

After this we had a couple hours of downtime before the next show we
wanted to see so we did some wandering. I went out and did the whole
wine tasting thing and found an apple wine that I really liked (I
bought a bottle on the way out so I think I will enjoy a glass of that
this evening). I almost bought a bottle of cranberry mead too, but I
ended up passing because I was trying to be a little frugal with my
money spending.

We also did some wandering and I found a gigantic dragon
statue/fountain that I always said I wanted to own…and this year we
found a price on it. $14,000. I think that’s reasonable. Should be able
to fit in the living room… Now I just need to take out a loan. There’s
a picture of it, but it’s currently on my phone and I can’t get it off
here…so if I remember to do it I’ll throw it up here.

This is where the rain hit us though. After threatening all day, it
started to sprinkle while we were browsing some shops early afternoon
and quickly turned into an all out downpour. Thankfully we brought
umbrellas just in case (I finally got to use the $25 umbrella I
purchased on one of my trips down to Washington DC) and it stopped
pretty quickly. We heard a couple rumbles of thunder, but nothing too

Every year that my sister and I go, we have a little competition at
the archery game they have there. We assign point values to the various
rings on the target and keep score. This year we were both kinda crap
archers but I ended up winning two of the times we went and losing the
third one horribly. In my defense though, the third one was after I had
some mead and did the wine tasting…

Before we wandered back up the hill for the final shows I grabbed a
couple of items that my friends had requested I bring back. Got a
couple of bags of the roasted nuts that they sell which are awesome.
The other item was a bit more difficult to grab and required some prior
planning. Wassy wanted me to bring her back a turkey leg, slathered in
BBQ sauce. Of course, this isn’t exactly portable, but I ended up
bringing a big piece of aluminum foil and wrapping it up to go. Got a
few strange looks when I was doing that…

After that we made our way up hill to see Danny, Lord of Mischief
which is basically a silent comedy show. Kinda like a mime on steroids
with various props and a lot of audience participation. It was kinda
hit or miss and the best parts of the show were usually when he was
accosting various audience members who either arrived late or were
getting up to leave for various reasons. It was a solid 40 minute show

After that we got our viewing of Don Juan and Miguel which are
pretty much the marquee performers at the festival. This year we went
to one of their actual shows instead of the weird show at the end since
we wanted something a little different. They didn’t disappoint and a
couple of times were having so much fun they broke down laughing too.

Good festival this year, and looking forward to going back again
next year to see what new stuff they add in the meantime. Getting sold
to a new owner has been one of the best things to ever happened to the
festival, I think. It really saved them from fading out of existence.
The mood is revitalized and all the performers are having so much fun.
If you ever get a chance to check it out, you really should.

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August 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

Here Goes Nothing!

Well, I'm going to probably regret this later, but, even though the weather says 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms tomorrow, my sister and I are still going to the Rennisance Festival.

It's supposed to be concentrated in the morning, and then more scattered in the afternoon, and since we'll be out there mostly in the afternoon…it works out. We just might need to duck under cover at points. And I'm going to be bringing my umbrellas so that means it definitely won't rain at all!

Of course we'll make the final call tomorrow morning in case it looks rainy all day…but as of right now, we're prepping to go. Hope we can, since next weekend is going to be so busy, it would be a little too much to do the ren fest plus the family gathering all in one weekend. And we'd still be left wondering about the weather for another week.

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August 9, 2009 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

August 7, 2009 at 7:33 pm 1 comment

QotD: Locked Out

What's the worst story about a time you locked yourself out?

I think we did this one before.

Yep, here it is! I haven't had anything happen to me worse than that yet.

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August 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm 4 comments

Progressive Nation 2009

Progressive Nation 2009 was VERY awesome. As I mentioned before Wassy and I went off to Albany to catch one of our most anticipated concerts of the year. The bands were Scale the Summit, Bigelf, Zappa Plays Zappa and, of course, Dream Theater.

We left for Albany around 3:30 and aside from one small hitch (some local construction had closed one of the lanes of a 2 lane road for 2 freaking miles why the paved it. Totally unnecessary…) we arrived at the parking garage on schedule. We grabbed some sandwiches and headed over to the venue a few blocks away.

Wassy grabbed a ridiculously overpriced t-shirt (seriously…$40 for very thin shirt?? Add $5 if you're XXL)  and we settled in for the show.

First up was Scale The Summit which I liked well enough. They were a pretty dorky looking band, honestly. One of the guitarists wore his guitar so high it looked like a necklace. They had good music but it was a little same-y for doing a setlist like that. There's definitely instrumental bands that I like better. After they had their set, we decided to go see what beers they had on tap. They happened to have newcastle which was one of the ones we like (we're kinda picky about beer) and so off we went.

Bigelf started soon after we got back to our seats and man, they blew me away. I liked their studio CD but seeing them live really made the whole thing "click" for me. Very high energy show and their main vocalists is…scary looking. Complete with top hat and a coat with a long beard. I am definitely going to have to pick up more of their stuff.

Zappa Plays Zappa…eh. I had high hopes for this band as it's the sort of music I might enjoy. And sure enough the first couple songs were really good. But then it got…weird. Too weird for me. I need a little song structure in my songs. So instead I spent an hour and 15 minutes being bored.

However, about halfway through the ZPZ set, two obviously huge older Zappa fans came and sat in front of us in matching tshirts and one pair of binoculars. It should be noted at this point that we were sitting in the 9th row. Binoculars at this point seem a bit unnecessary. But use them they did. In fact they sometimes fought over them so they could watch the individual fingerings of the flute/sax player I guess. Anyway, despite being huge zappa fans and practically bouncing up and down through the entire set, they got up and left before ZPZ was finished. They confused the crap out of me…but it gave me something to watch.

After Zappa Plays Zappa, the main wait for DT arrived and, man was it worth it. They have a totally badass way of opening the show this year. Their stage setup is also really cool with a new upgraded video show and some neat stuff that Jordan does with a HDTV behind his setup that has a computer animation of him playing that's synced with the song as he's playing it.

The setlist was A Nightmare to Remember, A Rite Of Passage, Hollow Years, Erotomania, Voices, Prophets of War, The Count of Tuscany and with an encore of Metropolis pt 1. Pretty much the perfect setlist.

Wassy and I were praying that we were going to get Voices this time as it's one of our favorite Dream Theater songs and we thought we'd get it in Washington DC last year, but ended up not getting it. So the moment the first note of Erotomania was played, we went kinda crazy. My throat hurts this morning… But it was so worth it. Voices! It still feels a little like maybe I imagined it. Those were all the songs that I was expecting to hear and even the extended soloing bits in Metropolis pt 1 were pretty cool. Sometimes they can go on too long, but the band was interacting and having a lot of fun which kept things interesting.

James LaBrie was good last night, but I've heard him better. I've also heard him much worse. He hit all the right notes but had a little trouble in Metropolis which is a hard song to sing at the end of the night anyway. He was totally on in the showmanship department. Interacting with the crowd…lots of energy and it looks like he's in better physical shape than he has been in the past few tours too. I was particularly impressed by Jordan and John Petrucci during the introduction to Hollow Years where they had a really neat extended introduction solo that was just the right mix of technical and melodic stuff.

I'd put this as one of the best DT shows that I've gone to (this is my 8th DT show). I do enjoy going to concerts with Wassy as it seems like she has some sort of concert karma that makes the show extra awesome. And going with a friend who's as into it as you are is much more fun than going alone.

After the show got done, a quick walk back over to the parking garage and an easy drive out completed the evening. We ended up making an emergency stop at a McDonalds in Herkimer since we were both pretty hungry after the show and couldn't find anything good on the thruway.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening and well deserving of the anticipation

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August 5, 2009 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

QotD: The Qualities of a Good Friend

What qualities must a good friend have?
Submitted by Alexandra.

To me there's two basic levels of friendship. "Friend" would be the people who you like spending time with and have some shared interests and stuff to talk about, but it doesn't really go beyond that. You can go a while without talking or doing anything and you don't necessarily get together to just…hang out.

When it crosses into "good friend" territory though, we're talking about somebody who will stick by you no matter what happens and who's willing to go out of their way to help you out of a jam if there's any possible way that they can. Somebody who doesn't mind listening to problems and somebody with whom I'm comfortable sharing stuff about me that nobody else knows. It goes the other way too, obviously. It's not all about what another person can do for you. It's about you wanting to help that person out too, no matter what.

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August 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Longest. Morning. Ever.

This morning is one of the longest mornings ever because in an hour I get to leave work. And then 3 hours after that, my friend Wassy and I leave for Albany to catch a show on the Progressive Nation 2009 tour. As I mentioned earlier.

It felt a little weird last night since it didn't really seem like we were going to be going to a concert today, but here we are. I've got my ear plugs ready and the GPS all programmed and I'm ready to go. Just need to get out of work so I can run my errands and get everything all set for the trip out.

Didn't report much on the goings on of this weekend because it was a lot of relaxation. It was double XP weekend in City of Heroes so Wassy and I (Jay's been really tired recently so he excused himself from the festivities) did some CoH-ing. It got me more interested in playing the game so I've been dabbling back in from time to time since. We also did some Rock Band/Guitar Hero which has been a long time in coming. Nothing much interesting to the outside observer I suspect, but some much needed relaxation for me.

I hope to post again tomorrow with a ProgNation update.

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August 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

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