Hunter Hayes at Ridgefield Playhouse

Wednesday I broke my no week nights show pact again to see Hunter Hayes at the Ridgefield Playhouse and I went VIP.

At 430 we were let in for VIP and were asked no photos/videos to stay in the moment and keep it intimate. Immediately I was annoyed I couldn’t get a photo of his awesome orange shoes! (Fortunately he ended up still having them on and they’re in my M&G photo lol it’s the little things)

Everyone was being a bit shy when he asked for questions so I asked my go to, “what song by another artists do you wish you wrote” which seemed to impress the crowd as a question and he said there really isn’t any because other artists don’t write about his life like he does so he couldn’t choose BUT he would be curious in knowing how/why some song writers got to the point of wanting to write those songs and that he was being very political in not choosing one – but he approved this message.   He answered several other questions (or did he? He joked he was kind of not really answering anything and just talking) and a highlight for me was when he was asked about re-recording old songs his label still owns. He said for some it is not an option and that wasn’t really thought about until recently and that anything WB had he has no control over and they will do what they want to do, but he wishes they were all on vinyl because when he is making his track lists he does think about how they’d lay out on vinyl.

I didn’t realize he had such a potty mouth and there were definitely lots if f-bombs flying in a totally fun and adorable way.  He also laughed about how we got to watch him learn how to play and sing his older songs right in front of him because he doesn’t do any preparation for the requests and they have to be his songs and songs not in the set (he did shoot down one request because it would be in the show.)

After the sound check experience we got to do a m&g. We went in one at a time and he was so sweet, he signed my laminate for me and I told him how I bought tickets 10 years ago in my sleep to see him since I had been on the fence about going and he laughed and said he must’ve manifested it in my dreams. I was excited to be up close in 2nd row tonight and he warned me it would be loud but I told him I was prepared and has my ear plugs!

After the VIP we were let outside before doors would open at 630 for the show.  It was lightly raining so I grabbed some snacks from my back seat and settled in my car since I’ve yet to find a fast food drive through anywhere nearby. It turned into pouring rain shortly after – but 3 kids on scooters wearing helmets still scooted by in the down pour.  When doors opened, the rain had lightened up so I was able to make it back in without totally getting soaked.

The opening act was Loren Gray and she said she was very sick and not even sure she was going to be able to perform.  She ended up singing along with a track and they couldn’t manage to actually sync it up, but after just getting over a cold myself, I will cut her some slack because if she had anything near like what I had, I wouldn’t have been singing at all!  Her last song was called “Anti Everything” and honestly it very well could have been MY answer for the questions I had asked Hunter earlier! (Which seemed to be a theme for the evening and I’m kind of bummed I hadn’t had a chance to listen to his new album yet because all the songs seemed to be about my life!)

Hunter had said he’d be playing his new album in its entirety as well as some older stuff, and it looks like he just about did end up playing all of Red Sky. He kind of split the songs up into different sections, some had names, some didn’t. Before the ‘Sad Shit’ part of the show he advised us it would be a nice time to go to the bathroom or play on our phone if we weren’t wanting to have feelings.  The women behind me decided this was permission to talk to through the songs *eye roll* He also had a self-care section of the show and openly talked about how he has been going to therapy since covid and it has helped him and if you need the help – reach out.  When mental health is such a big issue in this country and it has such a stigma attached, I’m always happy when someone speaks out about it – especially a male.

Before his last song, everyone started chanting for Wanted.  He thanked the crowd for shouting for it but also for not shouting for it the entire show. That is what he finished his set with.

Some highlights included – Loren joining him for his song Falling which is out NOW with the two of them singing on it (and I stood for a crowd photo they took only to realize once I stood them being on the stage was totally blocking me either way!)  And when his keyboard player took his solo, he threw in “A Thousand Miles” and Hunter fell to his knees laughing at the side of the stage.

Hunter was very emotional at the end of the show and sincerely seemed very happy that he was having people coming out to spend time with him at his show. He’s so sweet. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

Hanson Riverside Iowa

After getting home from Tulsa on Monday, and going to a baseball game on Wednesday night, I ended up getting a room at one of the airport hotels. I decided to stick with Hilton to try and get my status back and booked through their website using my work discount page. Upon my arrival the computers all went down at the front desk and then I was told that the manager didn’t know how I had booked an accessible room – but they were all out. I could either stay in a 2 queen regular room or I could cancel at no charge. It was nearly 11pm, I had a 6am flight. I asked to keep the room and get a shower chair – of which they apparently also had none left. Way to go Hilton, maybe I want to just boost my Marriott status instead… Thursday AM I left bright and early to go to Minneapolis. My friends met me at the airport so we could pick up a rental car for our road trip to Iowa.

We hung out for a bit while a friend finished working before heading out for the 4-ish hour drive to Riverside, Iowa for our next Hanson adventure.  We weren’t sure we wanted to do the show with it being so close to Hanson Day, but after we managed to snag front row tickets in the pre-sale we couldn’t pass it up.

When we saw a road side sign for Iowa’s Largest Fryin’ Pan, we had to stop and take some pictures because is it really a road trip if you don’t stop at a tourist trap on the side of the road?

Because of a lot of events going on at the casino including a wedding, most of the hotel rooms were booked up so we ended up getting a Grand Master Suite which was all the way at the end of the (long) hallway so after checking in and dropping off our stuff we decided to wander the casino. We did see Isaac out and about but opted to get snacks in the cafe instead of spending any time in the (smoky) casino.

The next morning we had breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and ended up spotting all 3 Hansons wandering around, though only Zac stopped very briefly to say hi.

The cafe also had a cotton candy zephyr, which we decided was some sort of donut/creampuff combo and since I am nothing more than an overgrown 5 year old, I had to try it. It did not disappoint.

That night we went to the show and I was very happy to sit and be able to see everyone for most of the show. (It was a tight squeeze so occasionally a friend would block a view, but leaning forward or wiggling to the side usually brought all 3 brothers back into view.)  For this show their usual bass player, Andrew, was not there because he and his wife just welcomed a new baby (Congrats!) and they had a bass player named Aaron filling in, who I realized had also filled in back in 2016 at Hanson Day! (and played on Loud/Play)  The show was a ton of fun and I was very impressed when Zac’s snare needed to be replaced in the middle of a song and he absolutely handled it like a pro. (While singing lead!) Taylor’s harmonica case also went flying off the stage at one point as well, so no, every show is not the same and you never know what might end up happening.

The next morning we went to another tourist trap, the future birthplace of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk.  The story was that he was born in a small town in Iowa, but it wasn’t specified where.  A fan living in a small town in Iowa decided that it should be HIS small town and so he made it so.  I think it’s actually now been mentioned in one of the movies as well and they yearly have a fan festival in town for the past 30 or 40 years!

We stopped for lunch at a brewery in Cedar Rapids (and also another really good beer flight I was very happy with my choices on) and then dropped one off to fly home from Cedar Rapids before continuing our drive back to Minneapolis.

On the way back we were following a hearse with the license plate “after lyfe” and ended up passing it only to find out that a skeleton was driving the car.  WHAT?!

It was nice to attempt to get a decent night’s sleep on Saturday into Sunday, but even with sleeping in I still did not want to wake up to get to the airport for my 2pm flight.  We ended up being delayed 5-10 minutes to do something being fixed on the plane, but otherwise the flights were uneventful.  I made it home in time for the American Idol finale and still absolutely need to catch up on sleep after diving back into work on Monday!

Hanson Day 2023

This year I had an early flight to Chicago, followed by a flight to Tulsa for Hanson Day 2023.  My friend had landed about 20 mins before me so she waited for me so we could uber to the hotel together.  Upon putting her suitcase in the trunk we realized it had been absolutely torn apart at the zipper and upon arrival at the hotel we found that the handle on mine was damaged!  Cue us comparing notes on how absolutely differently Southwest handled both of our situations for the rest of the weekend. (I ended up getting a $75 refund on the bag that had cost me $77 and I will see if the manufacturer can fix the handle or if I have to buy a new bag entirely)

After checking in to our hotel room we ordered some drinks for the weekend from instacart and then headed out to an event Taylor was having for Food on the Move to talk about some new pods they were growing produce in.  The area the event was at was very rocky and gravely and even with my walker to steady me I ended up falling – right in front of Taylor.  He came right over and asked if I was ok and him and my friend helped me back up which I don’t think could have been any more embarrassing, but it did answer the question my friends and I would often ask – if I fell and a Hanson was around, would he help me up? So I am glad that the answer was yes.   Taylor then ended up announcing a pop-up registration at the Fairfield happening at 3, so my friends and I left a bit early so that we could help out.

I ended up working registration to give out raffle tickets for the record player that two lucky attendees would be able to win. I also got a golden ticket to the store, so between 4-6 I was able to go in and order the items I wanted (but hadn’t had any time to pick out what I wanted! Yay impulse buys!) and worked the door of the store for a bit as well hole punching the tickets so they couldn’t be used again.

Thursday we did the HTP recording which had Isaac in rare form and making himself laugh so hard he cried over fart jokes?  While the whole thing was a bit unorganized and no one really seemed to know what they were doing it was a lot of fun and my friends got to be the reporters for the event so it was fun to see them on stage too!

After HTP was our 2nd pizza stop of the weekend and then we got ready for Karaoke.  When we arrived there already was a pretty long line, so we just waited on the corner for everyone to go inside.  Isaac kicked off the evening by singing Two Princes by the Spin Doctors and joined a lot more groups to sing with than usual, which made it for an interesting night.  We ended up being a bit too tired to make it all the way to to the end this year and it seemed like it ended up going longer than scheduled. (Though it did start a bit late)

Our big event for the next day was the Underneath Acoustic Revisited concert which was done in a horseshoe with the guys on a riser on the floor.  I thought this setlist was pretty much perfect – they did the entirety of Underneath Acoustic – including my first time ever hearing ‘Love Somebody to Know’ full band as well as picked some nice ‘extras’.  If I was in charge of the setlist I probably would have skipped This Time Around for Every Word I Say and added in some solos since that was the tour they started doing them on, but honestly as it was, was pretty great.

After we had the Street Team Leaders dinner, which was a good time but the guys couldn’t stay very long due to an early sound check the next morning for the main show.

After the dinner, I got “kidnapped” by some friends to check in on for more pins and to do the in-person scavenger hunt. My other friends had scooted to the locations as the furthest was a mile out and I couldn’t walk that far and I can’t scoot, so it was fun to see the locations and do the hunt again by car.

The next day was time for Isaac’s Grace Unknown lecture which was very interesting and helpful in helping you process events in your life and not at all what I was actually expecting it to be.

The main show was …good? But not the setlist I would have chosen for it at all.  I would have gone for more Members EP songs that hadn’t been played – especially since they skipped the entire EP last year due to it being the unofficial kick off for the RGB tour and their selection of Anthem tracks for the anniversary weren’t quite what I would have picked either. (Already Home? Screen and Be Free? LOST WITHOUT YOU?!) After the great setlist selection they did at BTTI and even the show the day before, it was a bit disappointing, but I’d still rather be at a Hanson concert than anywhere else, I was just hoping for something a bit more special for their fanclub event.

After the show we went and got a quick dinner at The Tavern, my friend who I was staying with all weekend told me to get back in the elevator because I wasn’t supposed to get off at her floor (cue giggle fit), and then changed into as much NEON as we possibly could for the Dance Party.  I was happy to see some black lights included, a balloon wall for photo ops and everyone absolutely buzzing like neon, neon.  We had a lot of fun dancing around – until the end when I almost got stampeded when Taylor decided to jump off the stage and walk through the crowd.  Nothing like getting your heart rate up to end the night.

Sunday we ended up making a stop at Nothing’s Left Brewery for lunch and trying the new Hanson collab – it was an IPA so I didn’t think I would like it (I am a sour and stouts girl) but wasn’t expecting to dislike it as much as I did.  However the other 3 beers I chose for my flight were excellent. You win some, you lose some.

Monday it was time to leave and I was hoping that my luggage would make it home and I could fix the handle once I got home, but unfortunately it seemed like everyone decided to hold it by the half broken handle which broke the metal piece and rendered it useless by the time I got home.  Fortunately my trips for the foreseeable future appear to only need a carry on so I have some time to see if it can be fixed by the manufacturer before having to buy a new one entirely. (That being said any brands of checked bags you recommend that can last more than, oh, 4? trips? Would be appreciated!)

Book Review: Fancy Bear Goes Phishing

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing is about the Dark History of the Information Age and tells it by documenting 5 extraordinary hacks.  Since hacking and cybersecurity are of interest to me, I was excited to read about these hacks.  Some of which were eve before my time – starting with a grad student who accidentally crashed the internet creating one of the first worm viruses.  Also interesting was how things got names – viruses, worms, Fancy Bear, etc. All of which is documented in this book.

I was also quite pleased with myself after reading about a hack to T-Mobile that ended up getting Paris Hilton’s data that my website is now better secured than T-Mobile’s was at the time and how easy it was for anyone to get into their database and get the user data stored there. (I’m assuming they know a lot more now than they did in 2005 or thereabouts when the hack was.)

This book is written by a Yale University professor and he has a class at Yale that goes through some of this information as well ( think they’ll let me take it?) and while it is long and there’s a decent amount of tech jargon I didn’t feel lost at all when reading it and found it really broke things down in an interesting and informative way.

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

About the Book

An entertaining account of the philosophy and technology of hacking—and why we all need to understand it.

It’s a signal paradox of our times that we live in an information society but do not know how it works. And without understanding how our information is stored, used, and protected, we are vulnerable to having it exploited. In Fancy Bear Goes Phishing, Scott J. Shapiro draws on his popular Yale University class about hacking to expose the secrets of the digital age. With lucidity and wit, he establishes that cybercrime has less to do with defective programming than with the faulty wiring of our psyches and society. And because hacking is a human-interest story, he tells the fascinating tales of perpetrators, including Robert Morris Jr., the graduate student who accidentally crashed the internet in the 1980s, and the Bulgarian “Dark Avenger,” who invented the first mutating computer-virus engine. We also meet a sixteen-year-old from South Boston who took control of Paris Hilton’s cell phone, the Russian intelligence officers who sought to take control of a US election, and others.

In telling their stories, Shapiro exposes the hackers’ tool kits and gives fresh answers to vital questions: Why is the internet so vulnerable? What can we do in response? Combining the philosophical adventure of Gödel, Escher, Bach with dramatic true-crime narrative, the result is a lively and original account of the future of hacking, espionage, and war, and of how to live in an era of cybercrime.

Book Review: The Secret To Getting Along

The Secret To Getting Along (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think) breaks down relationships with others into 3 steps to life-changing conflict resolution. While the book makes it seem pretty easy, I’m not sure it’s quite as easy as they make it seem, but there are definitely a lot of  techniques in how to approach those in your life you are having conflict with to resolve things in a healthy way and not in such a way that the conflict doesn’t end up resolved and the relationship is broken.  I am trying to think positively though and have been working on some of the suggested techniques with practice exercises that were provided in the book.  We’ll see how it goes…

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

About the Book

It is possible to get along better, with 3 simple steps for conflict resolution!

Conflict is everywhere—in our homes, at work, on our social media feeds. But conflict isn’t inherently bad… in fact, it’s a normal and healthy part of human relationships. In The Secret to Getting Along (And Why it’s Easier Than You Think!), attorney Gabrielle Hartley brings more than two decades of divorce mediation experience to helping you learn how to resolve conflict in ways that strengthen your relationships, reflect your values, and lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved. This practical and accessible guide to everyday conflict resolution will help you:

  • Reframe your approach to conflict
  • Harness the power of storytelling
  • Identify three simple steps to resolve any conflict or disagreement in your life
  • Practice the suggested techniques through written and verbal exercises
  • And more!

Whether you’re fighting with your partner about housework, struggling to set boundaries with a difficult family member, or dealing with a toxic coworker, The Secret to Getting Along (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think!) is your best resource for navigating difficult conversations and situations—and finding the solutions that will help you create a peaceful, happy life.

Ruben and Clay Twenty Tour

Lately I have been trying to avoid shows that don’t fall during the weekend because it can be difficult to make work with my work schedule, however when the chance to see Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken from American Idol Season 2 on a Monday night arose, I took it.  As luck would have it, work was pretty hectic and I had to actually go into the office for most of the morning but we ended up making it to the show with time to spare to grab some dinner (at the appropriately named El Idolo).

The show ended up being the most fun I’ve had at a show maybe all year so far! They did a lot of the song that they had sung on the show and talked about some of their experiences while on the show and pointed out that Julia DeMato who was also in the top with them and from CT was in attendance.  (And Clay commented that the seats they got her were not so great and told her she could move up closer if she wanted as there were some open seats up front)

The best surprise of the night was when Ruben was making fun of Clay’s dancing (mimicking a woman in the crowd) and had him sing wake me up before you go go as that is the song his dancing is best suited for, which ended up going into a boyband medley!

Even though the show seemed to be quite scripted and teleprompters were in use, it was so much fun and I am glad that I was able to make it work.  I just wish that trying to find the setlist the next day didn’t result in the death of my computer (which is part of the reason why this ended up being so late and so short)

Clay Aiken Setlist Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT, USA 2023, Twenty

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