News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

From Haven to Home

In our last episode, I had spent Sept. 1 biking down to New Haven, CT. After getting there, I checked into my lodging, showered, and put on non-bike clothes. I walked a few blocks to get dinner, and the place I stopped was really good: Mamoun’s Falafel. I had a falafel sandwich and a glass of mango juice.

The next morning, I went out to get breakfast, and as I was walking down the street, someone asked me if I was going to be in “the race”. I said “No”, not really sure what race that was, but I soon found that a number of streets were blocked off, and soon I saw some runners come by, so apparently there was a Labor Day road race going on.

After breakfast (which was a mini-quiche and a turnover at a coffeehouse), I put on cycling clothes, packed up my stuff, and started heading back north. I should mention that, earlier this year, I received a pair of large, waterproof pannier bags as a birthday present, and I was using them as my luggage for the trip. This was particularly important for the return trip, as there was a good chance of rain predicted for the afternoon.

Rather than wend my way back to the Yale campus on various one-way streets, I took a more direct route north that converged with the trail. After about a mile I was able to go a very short distance on a side street to get on the trail, and I headed north into Hamden. I stopped to photograph this mural on the side of a building (click to view larger photo):

Mural on the side of a building, depicting nine women of different ages, races, and ethnicities, each holding a burning torch aloft in one hand.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting five women of different ages, races, and ethnicities, each holding a burning torch aloft in one hand.

Heading on, in Hamden I passed under the Wilbur Cross Parkway, and eventually back up to Cheshire (where I stopped briefly by the scummy pond again). And then on to Southington. I passed by these butterfly shaped benches:

Iron benches shaped like butterflies, on a grassy area by paved recreation trail, with bushes and trees to the side.
Frontal view of a bench shaped like a butterfly, in front of some bushes.

And soon after those, there were a whole series of murals, one after another:

Mural on the siding of a building, depicting a blue sky and a hovering watering can, which is watering several flowers that look very different from each other.
Mural depicting eight joined train cars, with different items in each car.  The last one is carrying large letters spelling the name Ben.
Mural on the side of an industrial building, depicting the words "Rails to Trails", with painted trees between the words, and painted vines winding around the letters.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting a stormy sky and tornado, with various graffiti-style names.
Mural on a building depicting an old-style train depot, with a couple of waiting passengers, a dog, and an arriving steam train.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting different types of trail users (3 cyclists, a jogger, and a rollerblader).  There is some landscaping at the base of the wall.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting different types of trail users, including a child walking with a dog and balloon, an adult walking with a dog, a child on a bike with training wheels, and a skateboarder.

After heading through most of Southington, the trail came to an end, I rode on Routes 10 and 177 up through Plainville. I then got back on the trail and wheeled into Farmington just as a slight sprinkle of rain started. It was not enough to be bothersome, and the sprinkle came and went as I followed the Farmington Canal trail through the rest of Farmington and into the town of Avon. I stopped for lunch at a cafe in Avon, and it was good timing, as it rained in earnest while I was inside eating. That rain had stopped by the time I left and got back on the bike.

I continued to have reasonably dry conditions as I headed into, and through most of, Simsbury. However, in the northern part of the town, it started to rain steadily, and so I got out my rain jacket and rain pants, as well as changed my shoes into a pair that can be worn in water. I made the change under a tree that provided good rain cover, and then, sealing up the panniers again, I headed out into the rain. It rained consistently for the rest of the time I was in Connecticut, and was raining pretty hard when I crossed back into Southwick, Massachusetts. The first mile or two in Southwick is a nature preserve, and I saw a number of frogs and toads on the path, some which jumped out of the way as I came by, and others which sat stoically in the rain.

Halfway through that town, the rain let up, and soon after that the sun came out. It had rained for about 90 minutes. I changed my shoes back to ones that were a little better for pedaling, and then continued into Westfield. I kept the rain outfit on so that it could dry out as I rode, but I did unzip the jacket.

After reaching the northern end of the trail, I went through the rest of Westfield and back into Holyoke on Route 202. The total distance for that day was 73 miles – so about 150 for the whole trip.

Next: a short ride exploring more non-roads

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2019 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking, Travel with 0 Comments

Leaving London

On my last day in London I got to spend half the day in the city.  I left the apartment I’d been staying in and took the bus up to King’s Cross station again, and stored my luggage there.  I then walked to the British Museum again to go through more of its galleries (stopping on the way for one more full English breakfast – the first one I got that included toast).

I went through a few Asian galleries, the remaining Greek ones, and Assyrian ones.  I also went through a large library that had display cases summarizing the history of the types of collecting done for the museum and what was learned from various categories of collected objects.

I left the museum, having been through pretty much every gallery, around 4pm, and took a quick subway ride back to King’s Cross.  I picked up my bags and got on the Underground’s Picadilly line, which goes all the way to Heathrow.

Once at the airport, I had a bit of a walk to get to the check-in counter, but I got through there and security fairly quickly, and then had some food while waiting for my flight.  Heathrow has an unusual way of handling departure gates – they have all the passengers wait in one central area, and only announce which gate your flight will leave from about 40 minutes before departure.

The flight was full, but comfy, and I watched one more Icelandic film – this one a documentary called Ash, about the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 and the consequences that 3 farm families suffered from all the ash that fell.

I got into Keflavik around 11:30pm, and had an overnight layover ahead of me before my flight to the US.  Was it a pleasant night?  Stay tuned tomorrow…


Posted by seaking on 11-20-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Travel with 0 Comments

Day of Back and Forth

On Friday, 9/12, I headed for Picadilly in the morning, to go by a small art gallery.  The gallery had a showing of photographs of Kate Bush by 2 different photographers (showing that month because of the concerts).  Before stopping in to the gallery, I found a somewhat fancy restaurant in which to have breakfast, and ended up ordering kedgeree.  The version I was served is mostly as described in the wiki, except that it had a single poached egg on top instead of boiled eggs, and it contained salmon as well as haddock.  It was pretty good.

I looked over the gallery show pretty quickly, as there weren’t a huge number of photos.  Some of them were interesting, but not enough for me to want to buy the KB art books by either artist.

After that I headed to the Institute of Contemporary Arts.  I was interested in looking at exhibits they had, as well as seeing a movie in their theater in the afternoon.  I bought the film ticket, and proceeded to start going through exhibits – which there weren’t many of.  It did not take me long to go through the place, so I had a couple of hours free before the movie was to start.

I ended up walking over to Trafalgar Square.  Here is the famous column topped by Admiral Horatio Nelson:


and one of the lions around the base of the column:


The National Gallery, on the far side of the square:


One of the fountains in the square had a worker wading through and cleaning it:


And here is the Fourth Plinth, which apparently has often-changing art installations:


Blue chicken currently on show.


After taking these pics, I went into the National Gallery and looked at all sorts of paintings for an hour or so.  I then headed back to the ICA for the film.  I was seeing an Iranian film – Manuscripts Don’t Burn.  It was a well done movie, though quite bleak.

After the movie I went in search of dinner, and chose an Indian restaurant near the West End theater district.  I had vegetarian thali (always a good thing to order if you want to try a number of dishes).  Afterward, I walked around some of the West End, before heading to the National Gallery a second time and going through just about the rest of it before they closed at 9pm.

From there I walked to the Thames, crossed over the Jubilee Bridge, and headed along the south bank toward Westminster bridge.  I caught the bus near the bridge and headed back to sleep my final night in London.


Posted by seaking on 11-19-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Travel with 0 Comments

The Old to the New to the Old

On Thursday of my visit to London, I headed up to the Tower of London.  Before entering the place, I went looking for some food, and got a mediocre partial English breakfast at a pub.  The person who served me did not seem to be experienced at serving breakfast, as she had to consult with someone to figure out what was in the different breakfast offerings on the menu.  She also gave me tea in a cup that didn’t match its saucer (it barely balanced on the saucer).

While heading to the Tower entrance, I saw a big field of poppies around it:




Here’s a close-up (click to make bigger):


They’re made of porcelain, and attached to wires.  They’re a commemoration of World War I – more info can be found here.

I went in and waited for a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tour to start.  While waiting, I noticed interesting looking buildings across the river:



Soon, this Warder, named Moira, showed up to start the tour:


Here is the entrance through the outer wall:


Some shots inside:








Moira talked about a number of executions and other bloody stuff that happened in centuries past in the Tower (which is actually a big fortress with multiple towers in it).  The tour did not actually go inside any of the buildings – we were left to do that on our own after the tour.  At the tour’s conclusion, she took questions, and there were some interesting ones.  For one, the Scottish independence vote was still a week in the future at that point, so she was asked her opinion (as she is Scottish).  She demurred.  She was also asked about the first female Yeoman Warder, to which she answered, “Yes.”  The questioner then said, “When was that?” and she replied, “I started in 2007.”  I later learned that not only is she the first woman to serve in the position, she is still the only one to have done so.

This portcullis is in the bottom of the “Bloody Tower”:


and here is the top of it, inside:


In another building, graffiti carved by people held prisoner there:


A guard outside the residence used by the royal family, if they are ever staying at the Tower:


and this guard is outside the building which houses the Crown Jewels:


The White Tower, at the center of the complex:


A narrow window:


There are ravens kept at the tower:


You can tell they’re used to people, as you can get quite close to them:


This is the Traitor’s Gate, where prisoners were brought in directly from the Thames (safer than bringing them in by land):



A cannon decorated with dragons:


Some grotesques:



I exited the Tower on the river side, and was able to see the sort of moat there:


as well as the other side of the Traitor’s Gate:


And here is the Tower Bridge:


From there, I took a bus west, and got off by St. Paul’s Cathedral:


I then walked south, to head over the river on the Millennium Bridge:


The view from the bridge:


Looking back toward St. Paul’s:


The bridge as seen from the south bank:


I was headed for the Tate Modern museum, which is pictured here from the bridge:


I spent a few hours there, especially interested in their surrealist exhibit (they had at least one Dali).  It’s also generally fun to see cubism and other 20th century stuff.

After the Tate, I went to a pub just downriver, and got takeaway fish and chips (with mushy peas).  It was quite good, and included a big slab of fish.

After dinner, I headed into Shakespeare’s Globe, a recreation of the original 16th century theater, to see The Comedy of Errors.

I had bought a ticket to stand in the yard, as it was cheap, and why not be right up by the stage?  My feet were a bit sore from days of walking, but I got in early enough that I was able to get a spot right at the stage and could lean on it.

Here’s the interior of the place:




and the exterior when I left later:


The play was quite funny.  I had never seen it before, but this is the Shakespeare play that involves a huge misunderstanding, and mistaken identity…   😉

The Millennium Bridge was lit up after dark:


I walked upriver to Blackfriar’s Bridge, and just south of there I was able to catch a bus back to my lodging.

Posted by seaking on 11-18-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Food, Travel with 0 Comments

Buses, Breakfast, Bloomsbury, and Bush

I arrived in London by train from Didcot in the early evening of September 8, disembarking at Paddington Station.  I was feeling hungry, but wanted to get my luggage to the place I’d be staying before seeking food.

It took a little bit of time to find the correct bus stop, but I did manage to fit myself and my 3 bags onto a bus, rode it a ways south and east, and transferred to another bus to go a bit further.  I had booked a room in an apartment for 5 nights, again through airbnb, and I got there a bit after 8:00.  The couple who lived there were very nice, offering me some leftover stir-fry that they had made for dinner, so I had no need to go out for a late meal.

The next morning, I took a bus north up to King’s Cross Station, and then walked southwest toward some museums I planned to visit.  The bus system in London seems to run pretty well, as there are frequent buses, and most of them are double-decker, so there’s often plenty of capacity.

I had been told I should try a full English breakfast, so I stopped in at at a pub, but it turned out to be an Irish pub.  I got their “Irish Breakfast,” which involved most of the same foods.  It contained:

  • 1 fried egg
  • 2 pork and leek sausages
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • a piece of potato bread
  • baked beans
  • grilled tomato
  • grilled mushroom
  • 1 slice of black pudding
  • 1 slice of white pudding

I had not even heard of white pudding before, but it and the black pudding were not bad.  The other items were pretty good.

From there I headed through the Bloomsbury neighborhood of the city, where I happened upon a little park called Tavistock Square.  The place seemed somewhat dedicated to peace, as at the center of the park there is a statue of Ghandi:



and in the north end of the park was a monument to conscientious objectors (click on any image to see it bigger):


The park also had a monument to a famous literary figure of Bloomsbury’s past:


From there I headed to the Cartoon Museum.  It’s a small place, so I expected to spend only an hour or so – maybe 2 hours there.  I ended up being there for about 3.5 hours, as I wanted to read most of the cartoons and comic pages that were on exhibit.  This being 2014, the museum had a large exhibit of World War I art, which was very absorbing.

Once I was finished at the Cartoon Museum, I walked a couple of blocks north to the British Museum.  At this point I only had a bit over 2 hours to spend there, and it’s a big place, but it’s free admission, and I could always come back later in the week to see more.

Here is the front of the place:


Which is bordered by this ornate fence:


And then the interior courtyard, looking back toward the entrance hall:


This area was in the past open to the air, but now has this interesting roof:


This is the center section of the courtyard, with stairways going upward around both sides of it:


I managed to see a number of Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman artifacts, as well as an exhibit of clocks and watches, and early Anglo-Saxon items.

Upon leaving there, I took the Underground for the first time, heading out to Hammersmith.  There I got a quick dinner at a falafel place (and cheap for London – a sandwich and drink were only £4 total), and then went to the Apollo theater for the Kate Bush concert (the motivation for this whole trip).

The place was quite crowded, but that’s not surprising for a sold out concert.  I visited one of the merchandise booths to get a couple of things, and then made my way to my seat, way up in the balcony.  Photography was strongly discouraged, as this was supposed to be treated more like a theatrical show than a rock concert.  I did take a picture of the venue before the show started, though:


And here’s one at intermission (the feather on the curtain was related to the second act content):


After that performance, I saw an announcement that some of the nights would be recorded for a DVD release, so I don’t want to say too much about the content of the show, as some folks reading this might watch the video of it at some point.  The show was mostly made up of 2 themed song sets from her albums (one of these sets in each half of the concert), and those involved dramatic content, neat costuming, and even special effects.  But there were several songs performed in a more straightforward manner, as well.  I had a great time, and still find it a bit hard to believe that I actually got to see her perform live after all these years.

Leaving the venue at the end, I noticed it was lit with color-changing lights:



It had still been light out when I went in, 4 hours or so earlier (the show itself was about 3 hours long).

A combination of subway and bus got me back to my lodging, and I headed to bed soon after.

Next: government, science, and more waterfowl.

Posted by seaking on 11-16-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Comics, Travel with 0 Comments

Plane, Train, Buses, and Bike

On my last morning in Iceland I got up somewhat early so I could return my rented bike (Óli Stef).  I headed for the Reykjavik waterfront along the city’s bike paths, and partway there, I noticed geese in the median strip of the road (click photo to embiggen):


I also encountered this little bird at the waterfront:


I believe it’s a starling.  In this photo it’s poking into a seawall, presumably trying to get some food.

After dropping the bike off, I walked back toward my lodging, taking in some more of the city on my way, as I did not have to hurry.

A couple of days earlier, I had visited the home of the original Althing, the gathering of the country’s leaders to make law.  The Althing still exists, but it meets in a building in Reykjavik – this building, to be exact:



It’s labeled on this side section:


As are the spaces on the street in front of it:


That third letter is the letter thorn, by the way, which has a soft ‘th’ sound.  I’ve been transliterating it to ‘th’ in Althing and Thingvellir, among other words.

I thought this fountain was neat looking:


And yes, that is a hot dog stand in the background – it’s supposedly quite popular.

I came across some interesting sculptures on my way east through the city:





Not sure what to make of these folks:



or these polar bears:


I saw similar stuffed bears in chains in front of other stores.  It’s some kind of thing…

At the far end of the street was one sight I wanted to make sure to go by:


It is Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, and of unusual architecture:



There is a statue out front of Leif Ericsson out front:


This inscription is above the door:


The side view:


I did not go inside, but I did encounter another friendly cat outside the church before I moved on:



I got back to the apartment and packed up my stuff, then took a city bus to the bus station.  There I had some lunch (more lamb) and waited for the bus to the airport.

It had been dry that morning, and for a couple of days before, but it started raining by the time I got to the airport, just as it had been raining when I arrived in the country.

Getting my bags checked required waiting a while in line, because the luggage conveyer belt at the check-in counter had broken down.  Eventually some carts were brought to move the luggage through, and I was able to head for the gate.

On the flight to London, I watched an Icelandic documentary called Electric Reykjavik, about the electronic music scene there.

The plane flew southward over the British Isles, and I was able to glimpse some thin white things in Scotland or Northern England.  I took as best a picture as I could with my phone:


They’re right in the center of the image.  I was able to figure out pretty quickly what they were, because I could see blades turning.  Apparently, windmills are visible from tens of thousands of feet in the air.

I arrived fine in Heathrow airport, and took a bus from there to Reading train station.  From there it was a short train ride to Didcot, where I was staying with a friend for a couple of nights.  The next day, she’d be showing me around Oxford.


Posted by seaking on 11-11-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking, Cats, Travel, Wildlife with 0 Comments

Bearing East

On July 4th I went biking in a big loop.  I first headed south through the town of South Hadley, then west through Holyoke.  I passed through Anniversary Hill Park, where I had biked a few years ago, only this time I did not come out the way I had entered the park, I passed the tower and walked my bike through the woods on a dirt path, emerging on a side street further west.  I then continued on to Easthampton.

Easthampton was once again this year doing a Bearfest, with bear statues decorated by different artists displayed in front of businesses and in some parks.  Here’s a sampling of the bears I saw:

This one by the municipal building did not use the standard statue:

This one’s a bit creepy (mainly because of the size of the bees):

A few were interesting alternatives to painting the statue, like the Steel Clad Bear:

and the Luminous Bear:

that one came with a warning:

This one seems to be partly carved out of a stone block:

That one was located in front of the old town hall building, which now houses a few arts organizations (and which I think is neat looking):

This one (called The Bear Truth) was the most overtly political message, and the saddest bear I saw:


I left downtown and headed for the Acadia Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the line between Easthampton and Northampton.  I had thought that one could bike through the refuge, but that’s not the case.  They do have a bunch of walking trails, though, so I spent some time walking them.  Soon after I entered the woods, I encountered this elevated viewing platform up in the trees:

The partly enclosed platform stands on top of a few wooden pilings, and is mostly stabilized by several guy wires.  Despite being stabilized, it (and the metal spiral staircase that leads up to it) sways back and forth a bit.  The motion was a little disconcerting.

Nevertheless, it does offer a nice view of the Mill River and related wetlands:

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much wildlife while I was hiking around.  I saw the occasional chipmunk, and encountered quite a number of mosquitoes.  Some of the paths were almost overgrown, as well, so my legs got a bit scratched up.  I left the place a little over an hour after I’d gotten there and rode on toward Noho.

On the way, I passed along the northern edge of the Connecticut River oxbow, and went over the mouth of the Mill River on this little bridge:

Here is the oxbow itself, with Mt. Nonotuck in the background (to the south):

From there I headed up into Northampton, and then home via the usual trails.


Posted by seaking on 09-06-2012 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking with 0 Comments

MGM Grand Illusion

The conference I was attending had useful presentations and discussions during the days, but on the Tuesday evening, there was to be something called the “Client Event”.  There had been no information published in advance about what went on there, and when I asked some people about it, I found that the content of this event is normally kept secret each year at the conference.  What I was told was about some of the past ones, many of which had been concerts with surprise performers.  The conference materials did indicate that it would be a concert, and that there would be 2 headlining acts, plus a house band.

News did leak out about the bands, though.  Just a few hours before the concert event, I was talking to a trainer (who shall remain nameless), who told me that supposedly the acts would be Styx and Sammy Haggar.  I was excited to see the former (not so much for the latter).

I got to the concert during the house band’s first set.  This was a group called Liquid Blue (note: a video will start to play automatically when you load their website) who do covers of all sorts.  They were pretty decent, though not super interesting.  I eventually made my way near the stage, hoping to be close by in case Styx were the next act.  Here’s a pic of LB just as they had finished a song:

When they finished their set, the video screens, had the Styx logo appear on them, and the crowd moved over to the larger stage near this small one.  I ended up in the front, but over on one side, as the band came out.

Here’s the crowd, just as excited as me, I think:

Eventually, I discovered that the current incarnation of the band only contains 2 of the members I know from the ’80s.  Here they are – Tommy Shaw (left) and James Young (right):

More pics:

Flailing away on the drums is Todd Sucherman:

This is current bassist Ricky Phillips:

Better picture of Tommy:

On the left below is the keyboardist, Lawrence Gowan:

He sang lead on several of the songs, with others led by Shaw.

James Young closer up:

Lawrence at the keyboard (which he was able to spin completely around on its stand):

For a few songs, the band brought out its original bass player, Chuck Panozzo, who doesn’t perform with the band too much because of his health:

I had a lot of fun seeing them, as I’ve liked their music since I was a kid, but never saw them in concert before.  Songs they played included:

  • Come Sail Away
  • The Grand Illusion
  • Paradise Theater
  • Miss America
  • Renegade
  • Lady
  • Too Much Time on My Hands
  • Foolin’ Yourself
  • Blue Collar Man

After Styx left, Liquid Blue came back for another set, and I made my way to the seating area farther from the stage, as my feet were still hurting from walking the Strip the night before.  During this LB set, there were various odd (and kind of lame) computer animations playing on the video screens in the arena:

I stayed in my seat when Sammy Haggar came on stage, as I’ve never been a really big fan of his.  Mostly the only music I know by him is from his years with Van Halen.  He did do a few VH songs, unsurprising since his stage band included Michael Anthony, the bassist from VH.

One interesting thing about the stage setup was a platform on which several fans from the crowd got to stand during the performance:

You can see them in the center of the stage.  The musicians are in the spotlights below that. Since I was so far from the stage, I mainly watched the screens, which usually were showing Sammy.

I stayed until the end, only somewhat appreciating the Haggar set.  He finished up just after midnight, and I headed back to my room to get some sleep before the last (half) day of the conference.


Posted by seaking on 11-20-2011 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Travel with 0 Comments

To Mahaiwe Balcony, Grumbling

Earlier this year, I signed up for a new offer from They Might Be Giants called the Instant Fan Club.  One of the benefits of the membership fee was 2 free tickets to any show on the band’s then upcoming tour.  Once the tour dates for 2011 were announced, I saw that the band would be performing not too far from where I live – they had a concert scheduled in September in Great Barrington, Mass.

In June I wrote to the fanclub address to request tix to that show (for me and my TMBG-liking partner), and asked where in the theater the seats would be.  The response I got said my tickets would be waiting for me at will call, but they couldn’t give me exact locations – though they try to reserve a block of seats in the center of the main floor.

Eventually, the day of the show arrived.  Great Barrington is a little over an hour’s drive away, so it’s fortunate that the show was on a Friday night, and I didn’t have to work the next day.  We headed out just after dinner, and found the venue (the Mahaiwe theater) about 15 minutes or so before showtime.  We found parking and started walking over there.

We had to cross the main downtown street on the way, and I noticed this set of instructions at each end of the crosswalk:

I don’t think I’ve seen this in other towns, and certainly never thought of waving to drivers as being an official thing.  I guess it is now.

We got to the theater and went to the will call table.  They did not have tickets in my name, and when I mentioned the fan club they said I needed to get in the line for the regular ticket booth to pick those up.  So, we waited in line for 5 more minutes or so (there weren’t that many people in line, but each one seemed to be taking a while).  I asked the guy in front of us if he was getting fan club tickets, and he said no, that he was just buying a ticket for the first time that night.  Eventually we got to the window, and I mentioned the fan club and my name.  The ticket seller consulted a list, then printed out 2 tickets.

While we waited in line, we heard the opening act (Jonathan Coulton) start playing, and it looked like the ushers were not going to allow audience members to enter the theater during the first song.  That is a policy I’ve never seen at a rock concert, and I didn’t know what to think.  Eventually, though, the staff seemed to relent, so by the time I got our tickets, the doors were staying open.

Before going in, we stopped at the merchandise table, because my club membership also entitled me to a free goodie bag.  Once I secured the bag, we headed to the first usher – who immediately questioned what I had in the bag (even though the merch table was in full view of her – about 10 feet away).  Once we assured her that we weren’t bringing food in, we were pointed to our seats by a set of ushers.  Those seats turned out to be in the balcony, several rows back, and way over on the right side.  They were not good seats in the least.  What’s more, the guy who we had talked to in line, who was just buying his ticket then, was in the row in front of us.  It seemed clear that the fan club had merely provided a list to the venue of people who would get free tickets, but there was no reserved block of seats involved.  Once we showed up, they gave us the next available seats in the place.

The ushers were actively policing people with cameras, so I could not take flash pictures.  The unfortunate thing with my camera is that if I turn off the flash, and don’t have a lot of light, I get blurry pictures.  So this is the best picture of Coulton (and his 2 backup musicians) I managed to get:

Coulton’s set was okay.  I have heard and enjoyed a few of his songs before, but I’m not a fan, and he seems kind of lackluster live.  It’s possible that I would have enjoyed his set more if I hadn’t been annoyed about the crappy seats, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t have found it much more enjoyable.

The Coulton set was fairly short – about 7 or 8 songs, I think.  After a not-too-long intermission, TMBG took the stage.  It was just the 5 regular band members that evening – John Flansburgh, John Linnell, Dan Miller, Danny Weinkaupf, and Marty Beller.  No horn players were there, as had been the case the last few times I’d seen them.  Still, TMBG always manages to be fun, and even being far away didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

Here is the best image I was able to capture of the band:

They had projections going on behind them during most of the show.

Here is the setlist (songs from the new album “Join Us” are marked with an asterisk):

  • Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head
  • When Will You Die*
  • Your Racist Friend
  • Cloisonné*

During Cloisonné, Flans accidentally backed into Linnell in his fervor.

  • The Mesopotamians
  • Ana Ng
  • We Live in a Dump
  • Whistling in the Dark

The next 2 songs were performed by the Avatars of They (i.e. the hand puppets, held up to a small camcorder and projected)

  • Spoiler Alert*
  • Shoehorn with Teeth
  • Never Knew Love*
  • Old Pine Box*
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul
  • Withered Hope

Flans then divided the crowd into left and right halves for an Apes vs. People shouting contest.  The band played music and alternately had the sides of the audience chanting “Apes! Apes! Apes!” or “People! People! People!” as appropriate (we were on the People side, but the Apes were judged to have won by the band).

  • Drink
  • Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love
  • Celebration*
  • Alphabet of Nations
  • You Probably Get that a Lot*
  • Careful What You Pack
  • Clap Your Hands
  • Judy Is Your Vietnam*
  • Can’t Keep Johnny Down*

They went off the stage at this point, then came back for an encore:

  • Don’t Let’s Start
  • Particle Man
  • Damn Good Times

Another exit, and then a second encore:

  • Lie Still, Little Bottle
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople
  • Dead

This was the first time in many years that I’d heard them play Lie Still…  In the past, Flans had played a midi-enabled stick that he banged on the stage as percussion, while Linnell played a baritone sax.  In this case, Flans had a little synth/effects box of some kind, as Linnell played a bass clarinet (which was also L’s instrument in Cloisonné).  Another notable thing about the show is the large number of songs from the album Flood that were played.  7 of them, compared with 9 from Join Us.  I suppose that they’re used to playing Flood songs since they’ve done a number of Flood shows in recent years, playing that whole album in order.  Nevertheless, it’s a shame to have no songs from several of their albums (this concert, for instance, had no songs from Apollo 18, John Henry, or Factory Showroom).

By the time we left, I did think it had been a fun evening, but I still was somewhat miffed about the seating.  I e-mailed the fan club to ask about it, and if this is what was planned to happen, or if the band hadn’t had control over it, or what.  I didn’t receive an answer.

As for the contents of the goodie bag, I got an Instant Fan Club t-shirt, a button to pin on, 2 window decals, and a piece of paper that was stamped and then signed by all of the band members.  Pretty neat stuff:


Since that concert, TMBG has announced tour dates for the early part of 2012.  It turns out that they’ll be playing in Northampton in March, so I expect that I’ll buy a ticket for that, and enjoy better placement in the crowd.


Posted by seaking on 11-06-2011 at 10:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 0 Comments

Music Books

This morning I heard a report on our local public radio station, WFCR, about a music group called The Books.  I’d never heard of them before, but they sound pretty cool.  It’s a duo who use various found audio sources and mix it with original guitar and cello compositions.  The few tracks they played in the report were neat, such as a piece that uses audio from several different self-help tapes, or a tape of an argument between some kids paired with very strident music.  I’d link to the radio story, but it doesn’t seem to be online as yet.  If it gets posted over the weekend, I’ll update here with the link.

It’s definitely a group I’ll be looking more into.

Posted by seaking on 11-12-2010 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 0 Comments

« Previous Entries