Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kite Festival > Coachella

So I didn't make it to Coachella this year, but we did spend a good portion of our time (and money, patience, sunscreen, and other resources) at the Kite Festival, which was nearly as good.

Here's why it was awesome:
  • Tons of food! And since it was all overpriced fair food, we didn't feel the need to overindulge.

  • We even had vegan options this year (if by "vegan" you mean "kettle corn" and "cotton candy").

  • Music from the stage drifted over the crowd the entire time.

  • We even got a Michael Buble cover! Granted, it was from a youthful a capella sextet and not Muse, but it was still Buble.

  • No Vampire Weekend here, but I saw at least two young girls wearing t-shirts of that vampire movie. (And it WAS the weekend.)

  • Entry was free instead of $300.

  • The cost of water at the Kite Festival was half as much as it costs at Coachella!

  • Kites, instead of people, were flying high.

  • There were tons of jump houses. Tons!!

Really, we had a blast. I don't miss not going to Coachella at all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Oryx and Crake" Review

Book 12 of 20 for the Dystopian Challenge

I think I hated this book.

It was a lot like a tightly-coiled flower bud that opens very, very slowly, one tiny petal at a time, and just when you think that you might have a better view of the flower, it's wilted and died and you wonder what it would have looked like in full bloom. You'll just never know.

The plot unfolded so slowly that only by the very end of the book did I understand what was happening and why. And by then I wasn't sure I cared very much.

Even finding out who Oryx and Crake are takes most of the book.

I remember seeing other people describe this book as one of the classics of dystopian literature. "No one writes dystopian like Margaret Atwood," they said.

Well, thank goodness for that. My eyes will heal from where I scratched at them in deep frustration and I can go on reading more books in this genre without fear of becoming as annoyed again.

Basically, we follow our main narrator, Snowman (aka "Jimmy" (yes, I'm serious)) as he wanders through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, never answering questions about what happened. Occasionally we get flashbacks to another time, presumably when Jimmy was younger, eating pizza and living in a house, but it's detached from the present; it's meaningless until the events add up to the grand picture, which, again, comes by the very end. It's like two different stories, neither of which are particularly meaningful, and the fine thread that binds them together and makes them interesting is a sort of punchline that you have to be very patient to discover.

I imagine that this book would be better upon rereading, because then the dual stories would actually mean something. Frankly, though, I'd rather scratch out my eyes than go through this again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"The Dead and the Gone" Review

Book 11 of 20 for the Dystopian Challenge

This is a companion book to Life as We Knew It, the post-apocalyptic natural-disaster book that I remember now as being ultimately disappointing in its over-protection of the characters. After all, if you have a world gone completely awry, there are a lot worse things that would realistically happen than the book dared to illustrate. It was too clean.

I understood that this book would be considerably darker, with more deaths and not quite as happy of an ending.

Sort of. It was certainly darker, but it was still far too optimistic.

Instead of taking place in a suburb, we witness the events from the same disaster as they unfold in New York City. Utter chaos, right? As in, those who survive have the most locks on their doors, the most ammunition, and the biggest stockpile of food, right? And everyone else is fair game for the scores of crazy and immoral people that would flourish in the mobocracy, right?

Ah, but we have schools providing lunches and transportation everywhere and weekly food distribution points. We have safe places to travel to, and extremely resourceful friends who are willing to help even though they gain absolutely nothing from their efforts. Too much protection.

What I imagine having happened is that the author began writing this series, it went well at first, and then she realized that if it played out in a realistic manner, it would have been a lot shorter. There's no way these kids could have survived for as long as they did in their circumstances. So she added safeguards and plenty of them.

What I like about dystopian fiction is the study of what people do in difficult circumstances. It's very simple. If you don't let your characters struggle, then there's not enough tension.

Also, the author seems to have a beef with religion. I don't mind a difference of opinion, but there are no normal religious people in her books. They're all over-the-top freaks about it, and it's wearying. All faith is both blind and unrewarded.

I am not certain I will continue with this series. If the author gains a little more courage and lets her characters actually face their obstacles, I will consider it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 10, 2010

Las Vegas!!

I was so far away that my pictures are largely blurry. But I got a better sense of the stage setup and the entire show. And I still had a blast. Still too excited to sleep or think or do anything productive. Amazing evening.


Matt at the piano:

Singing into the megaphone, during Feeling Good (there's a setlist on his right):

"TRYYY to RIIIDE out the storm..." Utterly intense:

Plug In Baby

Eyeball balloons!

The encore, Exogenesis Part 1, which is so lovely that I'm thinking it needs its own concert:

More Exo 1:

Colored smoke for the finale:

Over, but not finished. I WILL see them again.

These are not mine but they're from the same show and I love them:

Directing the reflection off the amp:

Last note on the Glitterati, just before walking off the stage:

Yeahhh, it's going to be an expensive autumn.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 5, 2010


Front row, on the barrier, just to the left of the stage, nothing between me and Muse except a row of burly security guards and about 15 feet of empty space.

Pictures (the circles indicate approximately where I was standing):

Finale, with eyeball balloons filled with confetti (didn't manage to bump a balloon, but I got some of the confetti):
Being on the barrier was not bad at all. I can't imagine experiencing a show like this any other way. It was a concert in the truest sense of the term, a performance, and the music was fantastic. Every song was better live than its recorded version.

Oh, and there's this:

I am fairly certain that's me on the screen behind Matt. This is during Time is Running Out, which, against my expectations, was one of the very best parts of the evening. That song is incredible live. Unfortunately, the video clip this is taken from has terrible quality. If I find something better, I will definitely post it here.

Highlights from the show in this great montage (another one here, longer, and with a better view of the stage effects and the three pillars).

New Born (LOVE this song)

Plug in Baby (with eyeball balloons and a fascinating guitar solo (how does he do that??))

Watching these makes me feel two things: first, I want to do it again! It was so much fun. I'd love to see them as much as I possibly can.

The second thing is how intense it looks from a distance. It looks like you'd certainly get harmed being in that crowd. But no one pushed me or even stepped on my feet. It was crowded, but that simply made it easier when we all jumped in unison to the beat of the songs. The energy level was intense, but no one around me was interested in being a punk; we all seemed to be there for the same reason, to enjoy the music. We sang and danced and clapped and pumped our fists.

After the encore, after having a blast in the 110-degree heat of the E Center (that's how it felt during the last 2 songs, anyway), we walked outside to at least 3 inches of snow. It was falling in thick sheets. But we were glad to be able to cool off a bit.

It was exhilarating. Absolutely incredible. And I can't wait to do it again in Vegas this weekend.

Review and more pictures from the SL Tribune.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dinosaur Museum

Muscle Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point, with our friends Rusty and Levi:


Water table (the hardest part was getting them away from here):

I told them to roar like a dinosaur and this is what they did:

Digging in the sand:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Springtime in the desert

Soon the water park will be our only refuge from the heat; until then, it's a nice distraction when it's over 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful out:

Fish dresses (you can't see here how scaly these things are):

Elizabeth came in from playing outside looking like THIS:

You can't really tell how smudged her face is, too. And her clothes are filthy. It was awesome.