10 April 2013

Make Way for Ducklings

Boston Common
A few months ago, I concocted this crazy, wild plan to see Frightened Rabbit in Boston and Providence with Jeri Smith-Ready - she who is responsible for all of my Frightened Rabbit obsessiveness. Well, she's at least responsible for introducing me to the band; their music is what's turned me into such an obsessed (in a totally good way, of course) fan. The concerts were on back to back nights and Boston and Providence were only an hour away by train so it wasn't any big deal. Right?


Until I started turning this into a real vacation.  All these years of going up to Cape Cod, I've never actually played tourist in Boston and I wanted to do that. Plus, being so close to the Cape, I had to make time to go there and visit my beach, my favorite potter, get cranberry walnut pancakes, etc. Before I knew it, this had turned into a week long adventure, which - though very expensive - was totally and completely worth it.


Make Way for Ducklings
I arrived in Boston mid-afternoon. I was so tired after getting up at 4am to make my flight that I really wanted to lie down and take a nap, but knew if I slept right then (3pm) I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. So I went out exploring.

Boston Common was just a block away and it was a gorgeous New England spring day so I went for a walk, along with just about everyone else. Beautiful park and HUGE. It's like a little oasis in the middle of the city. There is a sculpture dedicated to Robert McCloskey in Boston Common. The ducks were all dressed up for Easter. :)

Ended up walking through the park and around the Beacon Hill neighborhood, which had some absolutely gorgeous architecture. It was just as I imagined Boston to look. If I ever moved to Boston (which would only be if I won the lottery) I'd want to live there (winning the lottery would be the only way I could afford to do that).

Then, in what would turn out to not be a very wise decision (I say this because I paid on Sunday for having walked so much on Saturday), I walked down to Back Bay.


Sunday (another gorgeous New England spring day: sunny, mid-50s with a light wind) I walked The Freedom Trail. (Note: If you're thinking about exploring The Freedom Trail, I highly recommend buying a trolley tour ticket. I did not do this and consequently, could barely move Monday morning because my feet and legs were so sore from all the walking. 2.5 miles doesn't seem so bad, but that's just from Boston Common to Bunker Hill - then you have to get back - all the while traipsing over brick and cobblestone streets.  For the record, it is REALLY easy to follow the trail - it's marked by a red brick line on the sidewalks and there are signs everywhere, which is also part of the reason I didn't think I needed a trolley tour.) It was Easter Sunday so I had no expectations that any of the sites would be open, but to my surprise they all were, except for the Massachusetts State House.

I started my tour in the morning at Boston Common so when I got to Park Street Church and King's Chapel, church services were still going on so I wasn't able to go inside. But how amazing is it that a church built in 1688 is still being used for services?

I spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around Granary Burying Ground. I love old cemeteries anyway ... add in the fact that Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Mother Goose are buried there? Love.
Old Corner Bookstore
King's Chapel Burying Ground was just as fascinating, even without all of the famous people buried there. So incongruous to be walking around an old graveyard with modern buildings built up right next to them. A strange juxtaposition of old and new that somehow works, while at the same time makes me sad.Right next to King's Chapel is the Boston Latin School, a/k/a Old City Hall, which apparently also houses Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Seemed strange to me, but then the Old Corner Bookstore is now a Chipotle. Heartbreaking.

Old South Meeting House

In the Old South Meeting House, I met Brian, who was in town from Miami for a law school interview. We talked for a little while exploring the Meeting House and were going to be tour buddies, but he'd started his tour at the other end so we were going in opposite directions. Sad face. It would have been cool to have someone to walk around with.

Old State House

Onward to the Old State House, just outside of which is the site of the Boston Massacre. But what's also cool? Is that inside the museum is a display with a small vial of actual tea from the Boston Tea Party, that was in someone's boot afterwards.

And then there's this really awesome spiral staircase.

Next was the Paul Revere House.  I wish I could've taken photos inside, but photos weren't allowed. So here's the outside:

Paul Revere House

From there it was off to Old North Church, walking through Boston's version of Little Italy along the way. I kept seeing people with this little blue & white boxes tied with string from Mike's Pastry. Turns out that Mike's Pastry is a fairly well-known pastry shop in the North End specializing in cannolis. I decided to stop on my way back to the hotel. I'm not a huge fan of cannolis, but the one I got was delicious!

Old North Church
Old North Church was amazing. I wish I'd been able to take an actual tour, but didn't have the time. Again, something for next time. Besides, this way I can get another cannoli from Mike's Pastry. :)

Copp's Hill Burying Ground was next. I didn't spend as much time there as in the other two cemeteries because by this point, I. Was. TIRED.

USS Constitution
The next two stops on the Freedom Trail are Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. I went to the USS Constitution first hoping that I would get there in time to tour it. I did not. Still, it was pretty cool even from the outside.
Bunker Hill Monument
Another long-ish walk through the Bunker Hill neighborhood (another architecturally cool neighborhood, but I didn't take pictures this time) to get to the Bunker Hill Monument. I opted NOT to climb up to the top. For one, my feet were killing me. For two, it was a wrought iron circular staircase with 294 steps. For three, I have a fear of heights. So yeah, that wasn't happening.

By this point I was practically dead on my feet and I still had to get back to the hotel 2.5 miles away. Even though I was almost dead on my feet, I stopped at Mike's Pastry and got a chocolate chip cannoli (recommended by the guy who took my order), and was almost back to Faneuil Hall when I decided I needed real food. I took a chance and went into The Green Dragon. Turns out this was the tavern where the plans for the British invasion of Lexington and Concorde were overheard. Also they have a wonderful vodka lemonade made with fresh cranberries. Delicious!

With food in my stomach I felt like I could tackle the longish walk back to the hotel. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to take the T ... I blame it on being so tired and unused to public transportation.

14 October 2012

Frightened Rabbit October 12, 2012 Minneapolis, MN

Amy, Lynna, Me, Nikki, Jen
I went to Minneapolis this past weekend to see Frightened Rabbit in concert. This was one of those things that I'd been looking forward to for so long that I was a little nervous it wouldn't be as good as I'd hoped.

Turns out there was no need to worry. The concert was everything I'd hoped it would be and more. They played all the songs I wanted to hear except "Keep Yourself Warm", but according to a review I read about the Chicago show the night before, Scott has a cold so he had to cut out some songs.

Modern Leper

After listening to an opening band that wasn't ... bad, per se, all their songs just sounded the same, it was finally time for Frightened Rabbit!!

Old Old Fashioned
I have their live album (songs from The Midnight Organ Fight) and I've watched videos of live performances so I knew they would give a brilliant performance. But nothing quite prepared me for actually being there: the atmosphere of the crowd; the energy of the band; hearing "Living in Colour", "Swim Until You Can't See Land", "The Loneliness and the Scream", and all the rest of the songs live; listening to Scott tell the story of how he wrote "Boxing Night" ... it was a surreal experience and one I won't forget anytime soon. 

Grant - Old Old Fashioned

There was a lot of bantering back and forth between Scott and the crowd - with a lot of people asking him to marry them. A couple of guys even asked Grant to marry them except they referred to him as "Scott's brother". Scott said something along the lines of "You should probably learn his name first."

Scott told a story about how he and his older brother used to gang up on Grant when they were younger. I wish I could remember the story because it was really funny.

Anyway, after telling us all how he used to pick on Grant, Gordon suggested that Scott might not want to turn his back on Grant. So, for The Twist, Scott turned the microphone around and faced Grant.  As Jen put it: "... he did sing a good portion of The Twist with his arse in my face. :)" Yes, that's right, we were front row, center! I don't care how much my feet hurt by the end of the night (I was wearing my "sexy" boots), it was worth it to get there an hour before the doors opened!

The Twist
If I had to pick a favorite part of the show, it would be the encore. The encore opened with Scott playing "Scottish Winds" on his acoustic guitar.  "Scottish Winds" holds a special place in my heart ever since I saw a video of him playing it acoustically. But to see and hear it live was something else. I could watch this man play the guitar for hours on end and never tire of it. He followed it with "Poke", which is an incredibly beautiful song. Jen said it perfectly:  "Best show ever. There might have been tears." 

Scottish Winds
"Good Arms vs Bad Arms" started with just Scott playing and then one by one the band members joined in. Except for Grant, who was giving Scott a hard time for his earlier story, and standing just off stage. Scott finally stopped playing and told Grant to stop fucking with him and Grant made his way on stage. Scott picked back up where he'd left off and they finished the song. Hands down my favorite version of that song I've heard yet.

All too soon the concert was over. I could have stayed and listened to them the rest of the night (though I might have taken my boots off). Scott threw his guitar pick and it landed right in front of us. I didn't see where it landed, but Lynna did and she grabbed it for me. Eeeep! So, yeah, I have Scott's guitar pick - signed, even. :)

Simon from Olympic Swimmers
We hung around for a little bit after the lights came back on. Lynna got Gordon's set list from the cute roadie, who turns out isn't really a roadie at all, but a guitarist for Olympic Swimmers (another band from Glasgow) and he also tunes guitars for Frightened Rabbit.

Gordon came out to help take down the stage, and Lynna asked him to sign her set list. I had purchased the Sing the Greys CD to complete my collection so I had him sign that. Amy got him to sign her shirt - except that the shirt was wrinkled so his signature ended up looking like "Gorky". LOL

Then Scott came out and we asked him to sign our stuff too (that's when he signed his guitar pick). We chatted with him for a little bit. He told us that they'd be back in the spring touring for their new album which comes out in February. YAY!! Somehow I ended up telling him that I'd driven from Missouri for the concert - 9 hours one way. At hearing that he held out his hand and we shook hands. We talked a little longer, and I think I told him that he should come to The Blue Note here in Columbia if they do come to Missouri next year.  There were other people waiting to get Scott's autograph and pictures though so we left. Grant had come back to help take down his drum set so we got his attention and had him sign our things as well.

Grant had hash marks on his jeans and when Amy asked him about them he said there was one for every hour they spent in a room at Customs the day before. They'd gotten held up for 5 or 6 hours coming back into the US from Toronto because they'd not declared their money correctly or some such thing. I guess US Customs seized over $20k of their money.  They were understandably pissed.

Me and Scott 
We were about to leave when I decided that I wanted my picture taken with Scott so we walked back over to him. When I asked if I could take a picture with him he said something along the lines of, "For 9 hours, of course you can have a picture".

After that it was time to leave. :( I will see them again next time they come to the States. If they make it to Missouri I'll see them here, otherwise, I'll be going back to Minneapolis! This is one show that I will not miss!

This was truly one of the best nights of my life and I'm so lucky to have shared it with Jen, Nikki, Lynna and Amy! Love you guys!

Must give a shout-out to Jeri Smith-Ready because without her this night would not have been possible. She's the reason I know Lynna, Jen, Nikki & Amy, and the reason I know who Frightened Rabbit are.

Set List:
Modern Leper
Old Old Fashioned
The Twist
State Hospital
Fast Blood
Music Now
Head Rolls Off
Swim Until You Can't See Land
Boxing Night
Backwards Walk
Square Nine

Scottish Winds (solo acoustic)
Poke (solo acoustic)
Good Arms vs Bad Arms (acoustic, w/ band joining in one by one as they came back on stage)
Living in Colour
The Loneliness and the Scream

13 March 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Darkness Unbound

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Kissing another Aedh is like flirting with the sun.  There isn't another sensation quite like it."

~ p. 108 Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur

11 March 2012

Thoughts on My Soul to Save

Finished my re-read of My Soul to Save a few days ago.  I didn't have as much trouble keeping out of my head the knowledge of what happens in future books as I did with the first one.  While re-reading My Soul to Take I kept thinking about how much Nash changed (and not for the better) in the later books and that kind of took away some of my ability to enjoy it.  Not so with this one.  Some random thoughts I had while reading:

  • Tod has a much bigger role, which I liked. Because one can never have too much Tod! :)
  • I'd forgotten that Tod could be ... for lack of a better word, dangerous and vengeful.  I mean, he took that Dekker guy and just handed him over to Avari and didn't regret it.
  • I'd forgotten the scene where Nash had his first taste of Demon's Breath.  
  • I like how Kaylee and her dad are still figuring out their relationship.  It's written so realistically.  
  • It made me laugh when Tod interrupted Nash and Kaylee. I hadn't remembered him doing that quite so early in their relationship.
  • I finished reading and wanted to dive into the next book right away. 
  • Rachel Vincent does a fantastic job of really sucking you into the characters - their lives, their feelings - so that you feel like you're there with them when they're trying to make their decisions.  You can feel their internal struggles.  
All in all I'm enjoying my re-read of this series.  I'm discovering new things that I missed the first time around, falling in love with the characters all over again (yes, even Nash and yes, even knowing what he does to Kaylee), and falling in love again with the world that Ms. Vincent has created.

    20 February 2012

    My thoughts on Undone Deeds

    I finished the latest Connor Grey novel Undone Deeds by Mark del Franco tonight.  And I loved it though I'm still trying to come to terms with the ending.  So many questions were answered and there was a definite feeling of finality to Connor's story.

    And that's the part that I'm having trouble with.  I love Connor and I love his world.  And I'm not ready to be done with him or it.  According to what Mark posted on his blog, there could be more books set in the Convergent World, but if there is, will those books be more of Connor's story or be told from the point of view of someone else?

    There is already another series set in the same world, but starring a different set of characters.  I've read the two books in that series and while the stories are good and the characters are interesting, I prefer Connor and his story and characters.

    So I'm left with a feeling of satisfaction overall, but it's tempered by the knowledge that this might be the last Connor Grey book.  I really hope it's not.

    5 of 5 stars ... even if this isn't a proper review.

    15 February 2012

    Thoughts about "My Soul to Take"

    Instead of writing an actual review (because I basically suck at them) I decided to go with just putting down some thoughts I had while re-reading My Soul to Take.

    • It was very interesting to go back and see Kaylee and Nash's story from the very beginning knowing what I know about how their relationship changes over the course of the books.  I found myself questioning everything Nash did or said, trying to find hidden meaning or some indication of his addictive nature.  
    • I'd forgotten just how snarky Tod is in this book.  I remember thinking he was a cool minor character during my first read, but I was definitely all about Nash then.  
    • Knowing what I now know about Nash and Tod and their relationships with Kaylee, colored how I looked at each of them.  This is not a bad thing, but I almost wish that I'd re-read My Soul to Take before Nash got addicted to frost and before the events that happened in If I Die. Because I will never again be able to read about Kaylee and Nash's relationship with the innocence of that first read.  
    • I remember how much I loved Nash and how he was the only person who was truthful with Kaylee.  And how much he loved her and would have done anything for her.  It almost killed me to remember how horrible he was to her when he was addicted to frost.  
    • I've re-read book series before (too many to count) and I don't remember the consequences of each character's decisions in later books in the series having such a profound effect on how I felt when re-reading the first book.
    • Even knowing what what happens in later books affecting how I saw the characters didn't make me love this book any less the second time around.
    And ... that's all I can think of right now.  (Note to self: write this post sooner than three weeks after finishing the book!)

      26 January 2012

      Change of plans

      Yeah, so, as it turns out, I suck at writing reviews.  I've tried.  I really have.  But every review I've tried to write comes out sounding ... well, less than stellar.  Even the ones where I absolutely, positively loved the book *THIS* much (pretend I'm holding my arms out as far as they can go here).  I don't know why this is.  I can be articulate when I want to be.  So why not when I want to tell people how awesome (or not awesome) a book is?  I dunno.  It's one of life's mysteries.  And I'm done beating myself up about it.  After all, there are a TON of book blogs out there so I'm just going to stick with what I do best:  random musings.

      Yep, I've decided to just start writing down my thoughts on books.  Which is kind of like a review, but much more informal.  Should be easier, right?  Right.  And if my random musings happen to be incoherent, well, that's the beauty of randomness.  It doesn't have to make sense.  (Just go with me here, k?)

      Since I'm participating in the Soul Screamers Reading Challenge, I thought that I'd tackle My Soul to Take for my first attempt at a random musing.  Hopefully I'll be able to get something written up this weekend.  Why not now, you ask?  Well, because it's late and I need my beauty rest, that's why.  And I need time to get my thoughts in order.  Er, I mean, time to think about what I want to randomly muse about.