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Back To The Island 2019

Back to the Island 2019 was off to a stressful start.  We were supposed to get some rain turning to snow Tuesday into Wednesday, and my flight was at 5:45am Wednesday morning.  Southwest issued a waiver so I could change it for free but the forecast couldn’t be pinned down and the airport was supposed to be getting anywhere from a coating to 6 inches.  I became obsessed with using FlightAware to track what planes were going to become my flights and ultimately decided to get a cheap hotel room up the street from the airport the night before. (Which ended up being the same one we stayed at when we stayed up at the casino way too late to try andmeet Joey Fatone… the hotel of bad decisions.)  Turns out it was a good decision because despite having to clear off my car while in snow up to my ankles, the highway I need to take to get to the airport was a mess and was shut down due to an accident and I probably would have gotten stuck.  My flight from Hartford to Baltimore went off without a hitch and Baltimore seemed to have no snow at all, or it had stopped early enough that they were able to clear it all out before I arrived.  On our shuttle bus to Jamaica, the sky seemed to be getting darker and as we approached our resort it was raining.  We made it to the resort, checked into our room, and got a golf cart ride to the door.  As we were settling in, it just started to downpour so we decided rather than try to go get food somewhere we would order room service.  We were quoted 45 minutes until it came.  2 hours later… our feast arrived.

At 10pm it was time for the first show of the trip – themed “Rock All Night”.  The setlist was basically the same as 2017s Middle of Everywhere tour with a few Members Only songs thrown in and a few made up on the spot songs for good measure – neither of which I recorded or really remember anymore but with all the phones that were in the air at the time I am sure there are videos somewhere.  Looking at the setlists there aren’t any real standouts but I did like that they played You Never Know. We also got 2 songs we knew would be repeats – This Time Around and Where’s the Love since the next night’s theme was “Surprise Me” which ended up as String Theory aka the setlist that has NO surprises because it is the same every show. *shrug*

Day 2 we got up and went to the beach for a bit, grabbed some lunch at the super slow Level only grill, then got ready for the String Theory Q&A.  The guys admitted that when they were planning the event we didn’t know much about String Theory and they thought that the Q&A would be a good idea but that now that they toured the US with it we knew what it was.  A mic was set up in the middle aisle and allowed for fans to stand up and ask their questions and I was actually really impressed with the questions asked – relevant to the topic of String Theory and some pretty decent stumpers for the guys. Not the usual ones that I can answer or don’t care to even know an answer to.

That evening the shows kicked off with Zac’s solo set.  It was a great set and may be tied with Taylor’s for my favorite – he did The Ballad of Seymour Better Times which he had debuted last year at the event and mentioned that it would be on the Members Only EP.  He also finished his set with a new song called Reading Your Mind that he said was beach boys inspired that would also be on the new EP.  (So I guess we know we are getting at least 2 Zac leads in May!)

The concert that night as I had already mentioned was String Theory – except rather than playing with an orchestra they played with the instrumental CD as a backing track.  It was kind of cool to hear some of those arrangements without the orchestra really being there – but this set choice kind of left me confused.  Also the behavior of some fans in the ADA section that didn’t belong there before the show left me kind of bitter before the show even started and I had even considered leaving the area half way through the set but decided that I shouldn’t have my show ruined because of them.

 

After the show Zac set up in the main street to play some Super Smash Bros with fans who lined up to play.  We watched for a little bit and then headed back to the room to sleep.

The next day started off with group photos – a little switch to the schedule we are used to due to the excursion the next day.  We lined up pretty early because I wanted to try and stay out of the sun after getting burned the first day.  I also was worried about the waterfall excursion and was having FOMO if I didn’t go, but was worried I may injure myself if I did.  When I approached them for the photo I was like “Soooo… this waterfall… are you guys going to be there?” and Taylor said there was something but he didn’t want it to get out. [The event has passed now so I think I can tell the rest] I said “I promise I won’t tell anyone but I just want to make an informed decision.”  We were told to pose for the photo and then Taylor said, “It is up to you, but I’ll be waiting for you at the end. But I will be here like 3 hours later!” and Isaac chimed in and said “it is a lot of walking”   Well, yeah, but that’s not so much the problem as CLIMBING A WATERFALL is lol  When Maribeth got up to Zac and I hadn’t quite left yet, Zac turned to her and said something about how we were “telling secrets”  Taylor told me to “pinky promise” and I left even more conflicted than when I had walked up to him. (But my main concern was them ALL being there and me missing a song)

Then it was time for Isaac’s solo show – I feel like Isaac finds something that worked in the past – and just sticks with it.  Usually his solo sets are my favorite but this year he didn’t hit the spot for me.  He didn’t do any new songs – he did A Life Without You AGAIN… (it was fun the first time…) and he continues to throw Smile into his set but we only liked that the first time because he thought he was singing something completely different… and allowed for some requests as well but shot down anything that was too old/rare because he didn’t know the lyrics.  He also started with his David Garza cover again because he said it didn’t work that well last year so he was going to keep doing it until it worked out.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the set, but I guess I am just looking for more variety in setlists from him over the years. (Or I’m spoiled.)

That evening were the guest show.  We went to dinner at the steak restaurant and I was wanting to check out the guests performances.  Jacob Tovar was on first and a bit too country for my liking.  I did get a kick about him singing about Tulsa and me knowing what streets and stuff he was singing about.  Lewis Watson was up next and I watched a couple of his songs as well but spent most of the night listening from bed to rest up to watch Zac prepare to take on fans in Mario Kart for a bit that night.

The final day everyone in my group went to climb a waterfall while I opted to stay back and sleep in.  I read a bit on the back porch and wandered to one of the restaurants for lunch as people started getting back from the trip and letting me know that Taylor was there! (See, I was a good secret keeper!)  Then we went swimming for a bit and got ready for Taylor’s solo show.

Due to the setup of the ADA section and my assumption that Taylor would be at the piano for most of his set, I opted to watch the show from my porch. (I did pay extra for a stage view, after all!)  I was happy with his setlist and he was tied with Zac for favorite but after sleeping on it for a bit I think he is going to come out with the win for the solo sets this year, even though he did a lot of songs I am kind of over hearing.  Never Let Go used to be rare, not so much anymore. (*dodges tomatoes*) I did like the new sound to Runaway Run, which is one of my favorites and upon first listen (I’ll listen 100 more times over the weekend to figure out lyrics) I really enjoyed This Is Criminal and it would be criminal if it is indeed the “first and last” time he ever plays it.  Feeling Alive as a solo was a really nice way to close out his set as well.

After Taylor’s set was the banquet on the beach.  Aside from the steakhouse, I really felt like the food at this resort left something to desire.  I admit I am a bit of a picky eater, but even the things I did like to eat didn’t really taste all that great.

Then it was time for the last show of the trip – the member’s only show – which historically has been one of my favorites.  This set actually wasn’t terrible at all – but if you’re going to call it member’s only – stick to the theme.   I know I have complained a bit about the setlists and really they weren’t bad – if we went into this with no theme voting at all – I’d have been pleasantly surprised and happy with them.  The fact that we had themes that weren’t stuck to is what my problem is.  And voting on the same themes year after year has gotten old too.  Let’s mix things up. I want to hear some things that have never been played live. Some new things. Some rare things. (I know, I know you’re all complaining that I’m complaining because I’ve been able to go all 7 years.)   Somehow On and On was a stand out to me this year and it is a song I usually a not much of a fan of. Not sure why the switch there.  White Collar Crime was also a highlight and ending it (sort of) with Don’t Stop Believing made the entire trip worth it. (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating juuuust a bit there.)

 

On the way home,  I wasn’t sure if my 1.5 hour layover at BWI was going to be enough to clear customs/immigration and security again.  Once the government shut down had ended I thought I’d be in better shape but it turned out that 1.5 hours was PLENTY of time.  I was through Customs/Immigration in about 5 minutes (the guy pushing my wheelchair said that I was the fastest person to fill out the customs form he had ever seen – we weren’t given any on the plane because most people use the kiosks but wheelchairs go to an agent) and then security with pre-check took about 20 minutes because there was not a dedicated precheck line, we just got to cut in.  The TSA officers at BWI were also *amazing* and so, so helpful. Usually that is not the case but they didn’t have a cane for me to use and I was offered everyone’s arm or hand to hold as I needed to get through. I got to my gate just as the Super Bowl halftime show was starting.

Another highlight / fun story – The first night we decided to nap before the 10pm concert due to being up so early to travel.  We didn’t lock the door so housekeeping came in to offer turn down service but once they saw us sleeping, left. (I was only trying to sleep and failing miserably. Did not get much sleep the whole trip!)   I was a bit freaked out – so when the door was being knocked on AGAIN and the person on the other side said “housekeeping”, I ended up jumping up and locking all the extra locks on the door instead of opening it to see what they wanted.  It turned out that it was just my friends coming to surprise me as one friend I did not know was going to be attending and she surprised all of us at the last second! Once I explained why I didn’t answer the door and that I was freaked out that someone had come in the room we all had a good laugh at their choice to say “housekeeping” when they knocked!

Overall I added 3 new songs to my count – 2 that had never been played before and 1 cover.  Only spotted one crab and it was dead and had been stepped on :*(  I bought a really nice wood sun with the Hanson symbol carved in the middle.  Totally overdid it swimming to the point that my legs still are not happy with me 4 days later (honestly probably a good problem to have and maybe I should swim some more this summer at home.)

I’m ready took book for year 8 but hoping we will either have new setlist themes or us voting will be thrown out the window. I just hope a trip with NO setlist voting doesn’t backfire even more…

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Anti-Bucket List 2018

Start off the year in a greenhouse plan b stage due to weather.  Finish the year off in a tent that is about to cave in due to weather.  Go to Vegas to see a residency show. Have my first kiss.  See All 5 *NSYNC Members together again.  See pretty much all the 90s/00s boybands in the year (*NSYNC, BSB, Hanson, O-Town, 98 degrees) Say goodbye to my favorite LFO member, Devin. See 8 shows with orchestra accompaniment. (And only 7 were Hanson!) Have a giggle fit mid slow-song in a concert. Visit 2 new states: Georgia and Tennessee.  Visit 2 new major league ballparks: PETCO Field and Coors Field.  Visit 4 new minor league ballparks: Dunkin Donuts Park, ONEOK Field, MCU Park, NYSEG Stadium.  Take a business trip to California and Oklahoma. Visit Disneyland. Not make my GoodReads goal of 100 books for the year (57/100). Start Grad School. Maintain a 4.0 GPA for the first semester of grad school. Be a year+ behind on scrapbooking to finish out the year.  Start to really realize who my true friends are and really cherish those that have been there for me all year when things got a little crazy.  Have 0 motivation to turn this into a fun graphic before heading out for a New Year’s Party.

2017 Anti Bucket List
2016 Anti Bucket List
2015 Anti Bucket List
2014 Anti Bucket List
2013 Anti Bucket List 

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Lance Bass at Sacred Heart

Monday October 15th Lance came to Sacred Heart University as part of their lecture series. While the lecture was geared towards the students there it was open to the public and we very well may have been some of the oldest fans that showed up… but ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! Lance ended up talking about various topics for almost an hour – his failed Russian space mission, growing up and not knowing he could be a musician, getting the call asking him to be in *NSYNC, the Brady Bunch house, being an actor, causes that he supports and that are near and dear to his heart, coming out as Gay and how growing up without any out role models affected him and how he wants to help be a role model for LBGT kids today…. The last 15 minutes or so were reserved for questions and I have to say that I’ve been to a few events like this and they were probably the best questions as a whole that I had ever heard asked. Definitely touched on some great subjects like what projects he has in the works (an *NSYNC broadway show? A documentary about Lou Pearlman? New *NSYNC merch coming out…) Afterwards we hung around and were able to catch Lance leaving and get pics with him and I chatted with his husband Michael a bit as well.

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Hanson at The Big E

Friday September 14th was the first day of the Big E and Hanson was the entertainment for the evening at the Court of Honor Stage.  After finding “handicapped” parking in a pile of mud, we rode a golf cart to the main entrance, took a bit of a walk around and realized 2nd row was up for grabs for the show.  We hit up one of the fried food stations for lunch (funnel cake and deep fried oreos – lunch of champions) and then snagged a spot in the 2nd row for the day, knowing we would be seeing Street Beat at 1pm and 6pm and Blessid Union of Souls at 3pm.  We also had a good laugh that you couldn’t bring any weapons inside – but wonder knifes and the like were readily available for purchase once you made it inside of the fair.

Street Beats first performance left something to be desired, but the second they used a lot of kids as their volunteers from the audience and that seemed to make things a lot more fun and exciting.  Blessid Union of Souls was a pleasant surprise – I had remembered “Hey Leonardo” from the 90s but had completely forgotten they also had a hit with “I Believe”  The lead singer wore a shiny shirt that had to have not been able to breathe at ALL… and he was covered in sweat by the end of their awesome 1 hour set.

Hanson came out for a soundcheck which drew in quite a crowd – many not realizing that it was not their actual set until after they left. (Are there really people out there that think they only play their songs only halfway through during concerts?)  The crowd got larger and larger until the show started at 8pm and I never did manage to turn around to see just how big the crowd got but was told by friends who were in the back that the crowd went allllll the way back.  (Maybe if the have Hanson back they will get to play the bigger stage next time!)  They did a set mixed of hits and other fan favorites and although I probably would have pulled a couple of songs out of the set if I was in charge of making the list, it was a pretty solid setlist.  Very high energy for about an hour and a half!

My one regret was giving up waiting for the guys to come out after the show – when we left and just ended up in stand-still traffic on the highway anyway due to an accident.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20

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Hanson String Theory Denver

When the Denver, CO date was initially announced I said I was *not* going even though I could have pulled off going for the weekend using NO vacation days at all.  Once I saw the layout of the venue, I ended up getting myself a ticket and started planning the trip.  Initially I decided to fly in on Saturday and out on Sunday, but realized with it being a Friday off from work and the Rockies were in town (For 90s night, no less) it was worth it to cross off hitting up Coors Field for a game from the Bucket List.

The Rockies played the Los Angeles Dodgers and oddly enough, two of the members of the team have a bit of a Hanson connection.  Yasiel Puig was in an ESPN Sports Center commercial that featured “MMMBop” as an “at-bat song” and Joc Pederson had his at-bat music high jacked a few years back to “MMMBop” which resulted in him hitting a grand slam.  The Hanson connection must have worked in the Dodgers favor as they ended up beating the Rockies 4-2. (And sadly, my Rockies fave, Charlie Blackmon, went 0-5 on the night.)

 

Saturday we ended up hitting up the 16th Street Mall for a bit as well as taking a trek out to Red Rocks to see the Amphitheater and the surrounding area.  I was the only one of the group that had been there before so I got to play a bit of “tour guide” and point out where Hanson’s name was on the wall under 1998 – and we were happy to see that it was added for the 2015 show I had attended there as well!

Saturday evening it was time for my 2nd String Theory show.  The venue was just as exciting as I had hoped and the sound was 100x better than I had imagined it would be.  In Pittsburgh, a lot of the songs seemed to be drowned out by Hanson and I wasn’t sure if they were just playing too loudly and the orchestra too softly or if the sound mix wasn’t quite on par or if that’s just how everything was going to end up sounding.  In Denver I had none of those questions and everything sounded completely amazing.  The conductor/maestro Christopher Dragon was also a pleasure to watch as he absolutely got into it the whole show.  Honestly, I think I was watching him more than Hanson for the majority of the show.  From my view he definitely stole the show!  I wish that he could just join the entire tour, he was that great.

The problem with writing this review a week removed from the show is now I can’t remember any of the highlights I had wanted to mention.  This show seemed to go by much, much quicker than the Pittsburgh show, I am not sure if it is because I knew what was coming or because it sounded so amazing and I just didn’t want it to ever end.  Much like Pittsburgh, there seemed to be a natural progression with people deciding to stand up near the end of the show during I Was Born.  Me Myself and I was the song that made me tear up (but not Broken Angel like last show) and there may have been one in the 2nd part as well but I can’t remember now.  It’s kind of funny how the same setlist can hit you in an entirely different way based on what lyrics you are intently paying attention to and what might be going on in your life at that moment.  I’m glad I have Hanson concerts and weekends with my Hanson friends to run away to.

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Book Review: Grump

Snow White is my favorite Disney Princess and has been since i was a kid and Grumpy has recently become my favorite dwarf, since a great interaction with him at Disney World!  So I was pretty pumped when I saw this book that seemed to be about Grumpy.

This book is told from the dwarves perspective – they are usually born way, way underground but this dwarf in particular was born close to the surface absolutely hated being down far in the ground.  So then he was NOT happy when he was added as the “seventh” dwarf – the one that everyone can boss around – working down almost as far as you can go.

But somehow, the crew ended up at the surface and interacting with the Queen and her step-daughter, Snow White.  He and the Queen are fast friends because they are both outcasts, but he also has a special spot for Snow White – and ends up saving her life.  This is all the story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves from “Grump’s” perspective – but years later after Snow White passed away, humans continued to tell the story and forgot/decided that the dwarves all didn’t have real names – and more and more of the story got changed to be more about the humans, because humans always need to be the center of attention!

This is a really nice and different perspective on a story you’ve probably heard over and over again.  My favorite quote from the book was: “I just wish I’d known that getting your wish comes with its own load of rubble”

I received a free e-copy of  this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rump, comes the true story behind another unlikely hero: a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.

Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.
At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.

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Chrissy Metz This is Me book tour

Chrissy Metz, better known as Kate from This is Us, recently released a book aptly titled “This is Me” and one of her tour stops on the book tour was in Clinton, CT!  We bought tickets right away and they quickly sold out.  Due to the demand, the book store found a larger venue to hold the event at and released even more tickets, which again promptly sold out.  When I arrived at the school the event was being held at, I was not surprised to see very few men in line.  The event, set to start at 7pm started more like 7:30PM with Chrissy chatting a bit about the book and her life and getting the role of Kate with one of our local newscasters.  After the chat, around 8pm, they began lining us up row by row to go meet Chrissy.  We couldn’t get photos with her (posed) but we did get a chance to chat with her briefly which was really nice.  She signed the books and off we went.  There were about 700 people there so the poor girl was there hours singing – but seemed genuine and grateful to everyone for coming out to see her.  I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, but expect a review once I do end up getting around to it! (As you can probably tell, I am working through the backlog of a lot of other books that I have to read!)

 

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Advantages of Having Your Child Study Music

Your child might be at a crossroads. Perhaps he or she might not have any special interests in school. If this is the case, you might want to consider encouraging your son or daughter to begin studying music if your child’s school offers a music program. There are many reasons why this is a good idea. Unfortunately, there are many schools that are looking for ways to cut their budget and the music program is usually one of the first things to go. Here are a few of the key reasons why your child can definitely benefit from starting to learn music at an early age.

1. Reading music is something that will be simpler to learn for children when they are at an early age.

There are many things which young minds can more easily absorb than adults. This is because the development of a child’s brain has not finished yet. Therefore, doing something like learning a foreign language is easier for children than adults. Learning to read music is a lot like learning a new language. There is a great deal of memorization involved. Getting an early start on learning all of the various aspects that are involved in reading music will help to make your child a better musician.

2. Your child will find it easier to make friends if he or she plays music.

Playing music is a social activity. It is certainly not something that a person can easily do alone. There are many children who are socially awkward and do not make friends easily. If this is the case, getting your child involved in his or her school’s music program will allow him or her so associate with other children. These interactions might lead to friendships that will last for many years.

3. Music will allow your child to be creative.

Your child might develop a passion for music that leads him or her to begin writing original songs. The process of writing a song is no different than painting a picture. The same level of creativity is involved. You start with nothing and end up with a unique creation. It is always good to encourage creativity in young children.

4. Playing in a school band is a good extracurricular activity to have on a college application.

There are many things that colleges look at when they are trying to decide if they should admit an applicant. All of these schools have different criteria that they use. One of the key things they look at involves which extracurricular activities that the applicants were involved in at their high school. Colleges tend to like applicants who have a musical background. Therefore, having played in the school band could help your child get accepted into various colleges.

5. Your son or daughter might decide to make a living playing music.

Your child might discover that he or she has a natural gift where music is concerned. This might lead your child to determine that music is something he or she wants to pursue as a career. Coran Capshaw has managed numerous professional musicians. Business leader Coran Capshaw has spent many years helping some of the biggest names in music achieve greatness. Your child might become the next superstar by studying music in school.

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Rhode Island Comic Con

I’ve done a couple days of Comic Cons before but never a full fledged weekend. But when Rhode Island Comic Con kept adding more and more of my favorites, a couple of my house elves and I decided we had to do it.  Friday afternoon the show kicked off and we started it off by meeting Elijah Wood and Sean Astin and then heading over to the LOTR panel.  The next morning I got up bright and early to make sure that we got there in time for me to get my photo with Sean Astin and Elijah Wood.  We also met Jason Isaacs of Harry Potter (and many other things) and then my friends opted to go to Jason Isaacs panel while I somehow got myself in the middle of all the Stranger Things insanity trying to get into that panel.  They had chosen the smaller of the two rooms for the panel, and last second decided to switch into the larger one because there was just so, so, so many people that wanted in – the whole upstairs area was just jam packed.  I ended up making it in and it was so hilarious and so much fun – aside from the grown ass woman that fell on my lap trying to rush into the seat next to me… really?  We closed out the night with our Jason Isaacs photo-ops and were ready to head back again for day 3. My friend and I fell in love with Sean Astin so we added a photo op with him for our last day and went through his autograph line again.  My NSYNC girls met me to meet Joey Fatone (although I will admit I walked past his booth and giggled many, many times before actually going over to talk to him Sunday)  I finally made it to the line for Gaten Matarazzo when it wasn’t completely shut off for way too many people wanting to meet him and not enough room… we had our photo ops with Joey (probably my fave op, ever) and closed out the weekend watching the cosplay costume contest.  The weekend was a ton of fun and we are looking forward to seeing what guests will be there next year!

 

 

 

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