Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls

The June selection for my book club was The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani. The story revolves around Thea Atwell, her twin brother Sam, and her cousin Georgie who are raised in the lap of luxury on a secluded plantation in Florida during the Great Depression. Their lives are incredibly insular and they have no other interactions besides their own close-knit family. As the three of them grow up and mature, their relationship changes and the incident occurs. Because of the incident, Thea is shipped off to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in North Carolina where she is completely overwhelmed by her interactions with the other girls, the instructors, and, particularly, the headmaster. Thea does not know how to have appropriate relationships with any one and, inevitably, another incident occurs. The narrative alternates between the events in Florida and the events at Yonahlossee, giving tiny little hints about what the mysterious incident might be.  (By the way, I figured it out long before it was finally revealed but I kept reading to make sure that I was right and it was strangely unsatisfying when I was.) In the end, Thea is chastised yet again and sent home in disgrace where we learn that her mother also has a scandalous past. This coming-of-age novel about family secrets set during an interesting historical period sounds like it would be right up my alley but I didn't entirely like it.  The action moves very slowly and it eventually got annoying every time Thea would reference the incident without explaining what happened. I suppose DiSclafani uses this device to heighten the tension but it is not altogether effective. Thea is an incredibly unsympathetic character. Part of me was angry because all three of the main characters in Florida are culpable in what happened (have you figured it out yet?) but only Thea is punished because she is a girl. The events at Yonahlossee are highly disturbing (surely you have figured it out) and in my opinion Thea is a victim, but she is the only one held responsible. However, by the time I made it through the novel, I didn't really care what happened to her. Certain scenes are quite salacious and I was a bit put off by them. What I did enjoy about this book is the writing.  DiSclafani uses beautiful and evocative prose, especially in the scenes involving horses (I think I liked the horses more than the main characters), and in the descriptions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I really wanted to like this book but, ultimately, I wouldn't recommend it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

My favorite film from Sundance this year was definitely Me and Earl and the Dying Girl so I was really excited to see it again last night!  It is a quirky and touching story about the power that friendship has to change your life and I loved it just as much as I did the first time.  Greg (Thomas Mann) is an awkward high school senior who is completely alienated from everyone in his life, including his wacky parents (I loved his father, a tenured Sociology professor who has so much time on his hands that he spends his days watching classics in foreign cinema and making exotic recipes such as cuttlefish).  Greg is isolated, ambivalent about his future, and suffers from a severe case of low self-esteem.  His goal is to survive high school without making a mortal enemy.  His only significant relationships are with Mr. McCarthy, his eccentric history teacher ("Respect the research"), and Earl (RJ Cyler), a childhood friend with whom he makes movies that parody classic films (my favorite is still 2:48 P.M. Cowboy, an homage to Midnight Cowboy).  He is so afraid of being close to anyone that he refers to Earl as his "co-worker" rather than his friend.  When Rachel (Olivia Cooke), the daughter of his mother's friend, is diagnosed with leukemia, his mother forces Greg (in an absolutely hilarious scene) to befriend her.  Even though neither of them want this friendship, they eventually become inseparable and Rachel ends up teaching Greg some invaluable life lessons.  To be sure, this movie is a tear-jerker but there are so many funny elements that I was laughing out loud, even the second time around.  All three of the lead actors give wonderful performances and I found Mann to be incredibly endearing.  The parodies are a hoot (A Sockwork Orange, Senior Citizen Kane) and classic film aficionados will love trying to figure out all of the references.  The depiction of high school culture is absolutely spot-on (I should know because I spend my days there) and I especially loved the theatre nerds.  Many of my students had the opportunity to see this film when it was screened at Sundance and they could not stop talking about it.  I feel like it has the potential to become a touchstone for this generation the way The Breakfast Club is for mine.  Do not miss it!

Note:  It was awarded both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance.  Good stuff, I tell you!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Utah Arts Festival 2015

Every year Tashena performs with CDT (Children's Dance Theatre which is the performing arm of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah) at the Utah Arts Festival and I always try to attend.  This year I decided not to go because it was going to be incredibly hot but then I had several agents schedule appointments to show my house (I've had quite a few showings but no offers yet) at the last minute yesterday so I changed my mind.  Even though it was so blasted hot, I'm really glad I went because I always love watching Tashena dance.  One must have a game plan for the festival because it can be overwhelming, especially with such large crowds.  I like to walk around for an hour looking at the artwork on display.  This year there was a 3D chalk artist who was amazing.  Then I like to head to the festival stage to claim a seat before it gets too crowded.  CDT performed Crumb and the Pirates once again and I really enjoyed it.  Tashena is in the dance "Fog" and I especially liked it when the dancers circled Crumb's boat.  They really moved like fog!  After CDT performs, I like to check out all of the food vendors and grab something to eat back at the festival stage to wait for Ballet West's performance.  Once again, I opted for the garlic burger and fresh cut fries.  For the past several years, Ballet West has followed CDT and it always amazes me that Tashena dances on the same stage as world-class dancers!  Four of the dancers from Ballet West performed three pieces: two choreographed by Christopher Ruud and one by his father, Tomm.  Ruud is definitely my favorite dancer with Ballet West and I always enjoy watching him on stage.  I think he is an incredibly athletic and intense dancer.  Even though I was a dripping and disheveled mess by the time I made it to my car, I saw two excellent performances and had one of the best burgers I've ever had.  Not too shabby!  The Utah Arts Festival concludes today at Library Square downtown and I recommend going (even in the heat) because there are lots of live performances, activities for the kids, great food, and row after row of booths featuring amazing art.  Go here for more information.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Utah Symphony at Sundance

What could be better than listening to the Utah Symphony?  Listening to the Utah Symphony in the mountains, that's what!  It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Utah Symphony and it's no secret that I love seeing outdoor performances during the summer so you can imagine what a lovely time I had last night listening to the orchestra play some patriotic favorites at the Sundance resort.  It was wonderful to be up in the mountains away from the heat in the valley and the fresh smell of the pine trees was almost intoxicating to me!  The concert featured classics from Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin (I especially loved "An American in Paris"), and John Philip Sousa.  The concert culminated, as these summer concerts often do, with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.  I absolutely love this piece and, no matter how many times I hear it, it never gets old.  I think it is incredibly stirring (although maybe not as stirring as when the Wasatch Cannoneers participate) and I get goosebumps every time that well-known theme is played at the end of the piece.  I also really love the chimes!  I enjoyed every minute of this wonderful experience and I am so glad that I can be in any number of mountain resorts in about 30 minutes and I'm also glad that I can see a world-class orchestra play all year long.  Go here for more summer events at Sundance (I'm particularly excited about The Wizard of Oz in August) and go here for tickets to see the Utah Symphony perform in various venues around the valley.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Illusionists

My house is now officially on the market.  It's scary, stressful, overwhelming, and exciting all at the same time.  Within an hour of being listed yesterday, I had multiple requests for showings, most of which took place last night.  Luckily, I had plans and just added dinner to the evening's festivities so I could be out of my house for several hours.  My plans involved seeing The Illusionists at the Capitol Theatre and it was definitely a lot of fun.  There are seven performers: The Trickster (Jeff Hobson), The Futurist (Adam Trent), The Anti-Conjurer (Dan Sperry), The Warrior (Aaron Crow), The Escapologist (Andrew Basso), The Inventor (Kevin James), and The Manipulator (Yu Ho-Jin).  They perform in a magic show that is a cross between an old-fashioned vaudeville program and a Las Vegas spectacle with special effects and choreography.  There are big production numbers (literally using smoke and mirrors), classic card tricks, sleights of hand, daring escapes, and plenty of audience participation all with The Trickster as a flamboyant master of ceremonies.  I loved it!  My favorites were The Warrior's trick with an arrow through an apple (with a twist), The Manipulator's sleight of hand tricks (there was a giant screen above the stage with cameras directed closely on his hands and I still couldn't figure out how he did some of his tricks), and The Anti-Conjurer's Russian Roulette trick (he was really charismatic in a dark, edgy, and scary sort of way).  However, the most dramatic trick of the night was when The Escapologist replicated Harry Houdini's Water Torture Cell trick.  He was handcuffed and lowered upside down into a glass case filled with water and then padlocked closed.  It took him almost three minutes to pick the locks using only a paper clip.  The crowd gasped in audible relief as he emerged from the case.  I tried to hold my breath with him and I made it about 45 seconds.  It is a great show and I highly recommend getting at ticket (you can purchase them here).  It runs through Sunday at the Capitol Theatre.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Inside Out

Have you ever wondered what was going on inside someone's head?  Last night I went to the movie Inside Out and I got to see inside Riley's head as she, a normally happy eleven-year-old girl, deals with a move from Minnesota to San Francisco and the loss of her friends.  It is absolutely brilliant!  The story is told from the perspectives of Riley's emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).  The cast is perfect (I usually find Mindy Kaling to be incredibly annoying but I honestly didn't even know it was her until the end credits) and I especially loved Poehler as Joy and Smith as Sadness and, in particular, their interactions with each other as they battle for control over Riley.  The nerd in me absolutely loved the journey Joy and Sadness take through Riley's abstract thoughts, imagination, and subconscious (I blame all of the educational psychology classes I had to take) and their encounters with some really fun characters along the way, such as Riley's imaginary friend (Richard Kind) and her deepest fear which is a clown.  Isn't everybody afraid of clowns?  Also, it is so clever that there is a cast of actors on a sound stage with scripts who perform in Riley's dreams. As with many Disney animated movies, I think Inside Out is even better for adults than it is for children!  I laughed and laughed through most of it (when I wasn't actually crying).  The message that sometimes you just need to feel sad was very poignant for me because I've certainly learned over the years that it is better to feel sad than feel nothing at all.  The animation is visually appealing (very luminous) but it was definitely the story that drew me in.  I highly recommend that you go see this wonderful movie!

Note:  I think my very favorite part of this movie is that Riley plays hockey!  I'm sure I have a hockey island inside my head, too!

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Feel Like I'm on HGTV

I have made the monumental decision to sell my house and since then my life has been a whirlwind.  I do not make big decisions easily but two things converged to make this happen.  First, I found a town house that I fell in love with online.  I looked at it frequently but did nothing (my real estate agent can track these things and, apparently, I visited the site 13 times) and then, suddenly, it was off the market.  I was really mad at myself for not taking action.  That made me realize that I was unhappy living in my current house and that I have been for quite some time.  It is such a beautiful house but it is too big for me and it is quite overwhelming.  The yard work, especially, is daunting because it is very landscaped and I don't have the time (or the inclination, frankly) to keep up with it.  I am not handy and the myriad of maintenance projects that come with a house this size rendered me completely helpless.  My poor brother-in-law!  It is expensive to maintain such a big house.  My heating bill is astronomical and yet I always feel cold.  South Jordan is a very desirable area (so my real estate agent tells me) but I have never really liked it.  It feels so far away from everything I like to do.  My friend Adia put it best when she said that the suburbs are not the single girl's friend.  I want to be closer to my family and to downtown SLC.  I realized that living in this house is a choice and, if I am unhappy, I could choose to do something about it.  Then, just like that, the town house was back on the market because financing fell through for the buyer.  Uncharacteristically, I jumped at the opportunity and scheduled a showing.  I am pre-qualified for financing and am going through the motions of submitting an offer.  However, I have decided that I am selling my house regardless of whether or not I get the town house (although I hope I do).  I have a great agent and it is going to be listed tomorrow.  Yikes!  My favorite moment of this whole adventure so far is when she said that I don't need to do a thing because it is already staged beautifully!  I haven't watched HGTV all of these years for nothing!

Note:  I have a lot of books to pack...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Laser U2

The last time I saw a laser show was many years ago at the old Hansen Planetarium downtown and, ironically, it featured the music of U2. I recently discovered that the U2 show is back at the Clark Planetarium for the summer so I decided to check it out last night because, as you know, I love U2. It is seriously awesome!  If you've never been to a laser show at the planetarium before, there are images, lasers, and other cool special effects projected on a giant domed screen above you while music, in this case the music of U2, plays from speakers all around you. The seats in the dome theater are slightly reclining so you are looking up at the giant screen and sometimes it feels as if you are spinning. The images and lasers are in sync with the music and I really loved all of the songs they played such as "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Pride (In The Name of Love)," "Beautiful Day," "With or Without You," "The Fly," "Mysterious Ways," and "Elevation."  My favorite sequence was in "Bullet the Blue Sky" because there were lasers shooting up almost continually.  So cool! The crowd talked our projectionist into an encore and he played "Vertigo" for us. I think there were quite a few of us who had a little bit of vertigo when we stood up after the show.  I'm telling you, it's a little bit trippy but it is such a fun night out. Go here for more information about the U2 show as well as the other laser shows featuring the music of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd (I want to see them, too) playing in the dome theater.  Tickets are very reasonably priced at $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children. While you are at the planetarium, there are lots of free exhibits to wander through as well as all of the star shows and movies in the IMAX theater.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Peter Pan

Do you need something fun to do with the kiddos?  Take the second star to the right and straight on 'till the Murray Park Amphitheater and you will find a delightful production of the musical Peter Pan.  I absolutely love seeing live performances outside during the summer and I find community theatre to be really fun and quirky so I took a little picnic to the park before the show and spent a lovely evening under the stars last night.  The musical tells the well-known story of a boy who refuses to grow up and his adventures in Neverland with the three Darling children.  Fred Lee is absolutely wonderful as Peter Pan!  He has a great voice with charisma to spare and his dancing (and flying) is so much fun to watch.  The children are absolutely adorable (the Lost Boys seem to have multiplied), the Indians are incredible dancers (the Indians have multiplied, too), especially Kellie Lawson as Tiger Lily, and the pirates are suitably boisterous (and so have the pirates).  I also really enjoyed Ned Searle as Smee and Jim Dale as Captain Hook.  They have really great chemistry and I particularly enjoyed it when Hook would use his hook to bop Smee on the head (with accompanying sound effects).  The costumes are quite elaborate, especially Captain Hook's ensemble.  I loved his lace jabot!  The crocodile (Andrew Walker) also has a really great costume.  This is a really technical show and I thought all of the flying effects and the Tinkerbell ("I believe! I believe!") effects were very well done, especially for an opening night!  I did think the scenes on Captain Hook's ship were a bit chaotic with all of the extra cast members (How did the maid get to Neverland?) but, as I said, community theatre is quirky.  It is a really fun show that children are sure to enjoy.  It runs at the Murray Park Amphitheater until June 25 at 8:00 every night (except Sunday).  Adult tickets are $10.00 and child tickets are $5.00.  See you in Neverland!

Note:  Go here for a complete schedule of entertainment at the Murray Park Amphitheater this summer.  I am quite excited for Camelot!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love & Mercy

As a fan of the music of the 1960s, I have been looking forward to Love & Mercy, the new biopic about Brian Wilson.  I finally had the chance to see it Sunday night and it is brilliant.  There is a fine line between madness and genius and this film explores both aspects of Wilson's life.  The narrative alternates between the 1960s as Wilson (played by Paul Dano) creates the Beach Boys' seminal album Pet Sounds and the 1980s when Wilson (played by John Cusack) is a broken man under the complete control of his psychotherapist, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).  This technique is highly effective because, as I watched what the future Wilson had become, I became more and more interested in how the past Wilson got to that point.  I was absolutely blown away by Dano as the past Wilson and I particularly enjoyed the scenes in the studio as he tries to re-create the sounds that he hears in his head using unconventional instruments, such as sleigh bells, and even the sound of dogs barking.  Dano is able to convey energy and exuberance in the studio and hopelessness everywhere else (although the scenes of Wilson looking into the deep end of the pool became a little bit monotonous after a while) in an incredibly nuanced performance that is sure to be remembered during awards season.  He is mesmerizing!  Initially, I had difficulty with Cusack's portrayal of Wilson because he looks nothing like Dano but that mattered less and less as the movie progressed.  I think it is one of Cusack's best performances and I found all of his subtle mannerisms and speech patterns to be highly effective.  Giamatti is absolutely creepy as Dr. Landy, a man cashing in on his famous client's vulnerability, and Elizabeth Banks does an excellent job as Melinda Ledbetter, the woman who rescues Wilson from Landy's clutches (wearing one over the top 80s outfit after another).   The soundtrack is not just the music of the Beach Boys;  it includes an original score from Atticus Ross (a frequent collaborator with Trent Reznor on the scores of such films as The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl, all amazing) which incorporates the original Pet Sounds studio session recordings and it is very atmospheric.  This movie is not just a traditional biography about the life of an extraordinary musician but a deep exploration of one man's psyche.  I loved it and I highly recommend it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Let's Go Bees!

Saturday night I took Sean and Tashena to see the Bees play the Fresno Grizzlies.  It was extremely crowded, probably the biggest crowd I've ever seen at a Bees game (I do not like crowds).  It was a good game, however, with both teams scoring lots of runs.  The Bees scored five runs in the fifth inning and then there was a dramatic home run in the sixth.  At the bottom of the ninth the score was tied at 7 but the Bees scored a fantastic out-of-the-ballpark home run to win the game 8-7.
Sean just comes for the ice cream but this time he opted for a cone instead of the baseball helmet!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Drive-In Movie

Another summer tradition that I have with Sean is to see a drive-in movie.  We always go to the store and stock up on movie theatre candy and then pick a movie to see at the Redwood Drive-In.  This year I convinced Sean that we should see Jurassic World (with his parents' permission) and he was really excited about it but, as the movie progressed, he got a bit scared of the dinosaurs.  He even climbed to the back seat and hid his head during some of the battle scenes.  He spent the night at my house and it was a bit fun getting him to go to sleep!
Despite the scary dinosaurs and a major M&M spill in the back seat (I'm a little bit OCD), we had a lot of fun.  Drive-in movies always remind me of my childhood and I'm glad that the Redwood (one of the few remaining drive-ins still in operation) is available so Sean and Tashena can enjoy this summer ritual.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Ritual

It seems like summer doesn't officially start for me until I spend a day at the pool.  It is a summer tradition that started with Tashena and now continues with Sean.  Yesterday Sean and I spent five hours at our favorite pool at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center and we both had so much fun (even though Sean had a bloody nose and I am now sunburned)!
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Note:  Go here for the tutorial I used to make the cute swim bags out of beach towels (pictured above).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World

Late last night (early this morning?) I went to the first screening of Jurassic World.  I loved Jurassic Park but I hated The Lost World so much that I didn't even see the third installment.  This latest addition to the franchise had me intrigued and you know how much I enjoy late night screenings (especially during the summer when I don't have to get up several hours later to go to school).  Twenty years after the incident on Isla Nublar, the dinosaur theme park is a success but profits are slowing down because the public is no longer awe-struck by the dinosaurs.  The owner of the park (Irrfan Khan) wants a dinosaur that is bigger, faster, and scarier to impress the public so Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong) genetically engineers the Indominus Rex.  Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the director of operations at the park, invites her nephews Zach and Gray (Ty Simkins and Nick Robinson, respectively) for a weekend at the park but doesn't have time for them and they eventually take off on their own.  The owner of the park is concerned about the safety of the Indominus Rex's enclosure and asks Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Velociraptor expert, to inspect it.  Grady is horrified because the genetically modified dinosaur is an unknown factor and its behavior can't be predicted.  As expected, the Indominus Rex escapes and goes after Zach and Gray.  Eventually, the head of security (Vincent D'Onofrio), who wants to militarize the dinosaurs, sends the Velociraptors to attack and an epic battle ensues!  This movie is pretty good, definitely much better than its two predecessors if not as magical as the first one.  The special effects involving the dinosaurs are incredible and the chase scenes are foreboding and menacing.  There were times when the crowd in the theater gasped in unison and that was a lot of fun.  This movie explores quite a few interesting themes such as corporate greed, the ethics of science (just because we can do somethings doesn't mean we should), and the humane treatment of animals.  There is a particularly touching scene where Claire, who thinks of the dinosaurs as "assets," watches one of them die.  Pratt and Howard give good performances, but I felt that their romance was a little bit contrived and I thought it was beyond ridiculous that Claire runs through the jungle in high heels (Grady refers to her shoes as "ridiculous").  The real stars of the show are the dinosaurs and they make this movie worth seeing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Little Mermaid

Last year I had the opportunity to see the stage musical The Little Mermaid at Tuacahn Amphitheatre with my student body officers.  It was absolutely magical and I loved experiencing it with my students, who loved it as well.  When Hale Theatre announced their 2015 season, I couldn't imagine that their production would be as good as Tuacahn's.  However, I saw the HCT version last night and let me tell you that it is amazing!  It just might be the best thing HCT has done in years!  I was completely enchanted by everything!  In fact, if you have children, stop reading right now and go here for tickets because they are going quickly, with good reason!  The musical tells the well-known story of Ariel, a mermaid who just wants to be where the people are.  Everyone in the cast is phenomenal!  Bre Welch is absolutely perfect as Ariel.  In my opinion, this particular role is much better suited to her voice than some of the other roles she's played at Hale (see here and here).  She has a look of wide-eyed wonder that makes the songs "Part of Your World" and "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" so much fun to watch.  Jon Rose is endearing as Prince Eric, especially in the "Kiss the Girl" scene.  Brooklynn Pulver Kohler is a lot of fun as Ursula and I loved watching the antics of Flotsam (Jeremy David Egan) and Jetsam (Ben Buttars) as they slithered around the stage on roller blades, especially when they high-fived each other!  The costumes in this show are a dazzling array of color and texture and I particularly loved all of the sea creatures in the "Under the Sea" number and I loved the sizzling lights on Flotsam and Jetsam's costumes.  Ursula's costume is so much fun (those tentacles) and all of the mermaids are covered from head to fin in sparkles!  Geoffrey Reynolds, who is new to HCT as a choreographer, certainly outdid himself with the staging of the big production numbers! There are incredible aerialists in "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" and I laughed and laughed during the absolute chaos of "Les Poissons."  Kacey Udy, once again, worked his magic with the set.  There are clear glass bulbs suspended from the ceiling which give the effect of bubbles in the ocean and I loved Prince Eric's ship.  The entire theatre has the appearance of being under the sea with layers of seaweed and strings of pearls covering every surface.  The whole production is simply wonderful and I highly recommend getting tickets, especially if you have children!  You definitely don't want to miss this delightful show!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Colorado Rockies

I am not a huge baseball fan (I don't even follow my hometown team, the Toronto Blue Jays, that much) but whenever I am in an MLB city I like to catch a game and cheer for the home team.  Since I was in Denver for the weekend, I decided to see a Rockies game against the Miami Marlins and it was so much fun.  I really like Coors Field and I had great seats near home plate!  The game was really slow at the beginning but then it got really exciting in the bottom of the fourth inning.  All of the bases were loaded and then Arenado came up to bat.  The crowd went absolutely crazy!  He was able to bring Blackmon home for our first run of the game!  So exciting!  Things got really loud again in the bottom of the seventh when Gonzalez scored a home run to tie the game.  It went to extra innings but the Rockies ended up losing 3-2.

Note: Apparently I really like wearing my Beatles shirt to baseball games.  Here I am at a Rockies game in 2012!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

U2 in Denver

After graduation Friday night, I packed up my car and left at the crack of dawn on Saturday for the drive to Denver to see U2's Innocence and Experience Tour.  I have driven to Denver with my friend Tony and with my Dad countless times but this was the first time going solo.  Several years ago when Tony and I were driving to a Broncos game, I missed the junction to I-25 and we were in Pine Bluffs, Nebraska before Tony realized what I had done!  He was so mad at me because it was over an hour out of our way but I maintain that it was really his fault because he was the navigator!  Now everybody teases me about it whenever I go to Denver.  Happily, I did not miss it this time (it is really well marked!) and I even got to my hotel in Denver with enough time to take a nap before the concert!  It was an amazing show, one that I will never forget!  I love U2.  I have been a huge fan since the album War came out when I was in eighth grade.  I suppose that the Beatles will always be my sentimental favorite but they broke up before I was born and I never got a chance to see them live.  U2 is a contemporary band with a lead singer who sings about peace and social justice and they definitely fueled both my earnestness and my idealism when I was young.  I practically worshiped Bono when I was in high school and college and, apparently, not much has changed since then because I was incredibly close to him for much of the concert (he even made eye contact with me several times) and I was beside myself, almost like a thirteen year old girl!  The stage was configured with a rectangle at one end of the Pepsi Center and a circle at the other end with a long runway connecting them.  Above the runway were huge screens with a catwalk between them.  My seat was on the second row near the circular stage and I would say that Bono (and occasionally the whole band) spent about half of the concert there.  During the first half, the majority of the songs came from their latest album, Songs of Innocence, which I absolutely love, interspersed with really early songs, such as "The Electric Co." and "I Will Follow," and "Sunday Bloody Sunday."  The concert began with "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" which is about when Bono first realized that he wanted to be in a rock and roll band.  During "Iris," a beautiful song about Bono's mother, his old home videos were shown on the giant screens.  During "Cedarwood Road," an image of the actual street was projected on the screens while Bono walked across the catwalk in between them.  It looked like he was walking up and down the street where he grew up and it was so cool.  I especially loved the effect of the blowing cherry blossoms.  During "Song for Someone," my favorite song from the album, Bono stood on the circular stage with a single spotlight.  He gave an incredibly passionate performance and it was one of my favorite moments of the concert.  The whole band performed "Raised by Wolves" suspended on the catwalk and then Bono sang "Every Breaking Wave" on the circular stage with just the Edge accompanying him on a piano that came up from the floor.  Bono can still belt out those high notes and it was another favorite moment for me.  After the intermission, they played the old favorites (Songs of Experience?) including "Until the End of the World," "Invisible," "Even Better than the Real Thing," "Mysterious Ways," "Desire," "Angel of Harlem," a powerful version of "Bullet the Blue Sky," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and "Beautiful Day."  They finished the set with Bono singing "With or Without You" on the circular stage with a spotlight.  Sigh!  For the encore, they sang "City of Blinding Lights," "Where the Streets Have No Name," and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."  I have now seen U2 perform five times (I'm hoping that the tour eventually makes it to SLC so I can see them again) and every show has been an unbelievable experience!  This concert was definitely worth the eight hour drive!

Note:  This is not the first time I've gone to Denver just to see a concert.  I flew there to see Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center and Tony and I drove to Red Rocks Amphitheatre twice to see Journey and Sting!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Changing of the Guard

Yesterday was the Farewell Assembly at Hunter High School.  I can't believe that another year has come and gone!  In addition to some final performances, presentations, and the annual slide show, the current SBOs always administer the oath of office to the new officers.  This time of year is so bittersweet for me.  I have had such a great year with the 2014-2015 officers (Go here, here, and here for some of their adventures) and I am going to miss them!
However, I am also really looking forward to working with the new 2015-2016 officers.  They seem like such a fun group and we are already starting to plan for leadership camp!
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