December 2023

Year In Review – 2023

Fun concert fact: in 2023 I sat in the rain at 3 concerts – all 3 happened to be to see 3 brother bands. 3 different 3 brother bands in 3 different states. (GA, CT, NY – Hanson, AJR, Jonas)

Most expensive show:
Other than Back To The Island which doesn’t quite count, Jonas Brothers at Yankee Stadium clocked in at $320, plus we already had another ticket on top of that before we got there.

Least (not free) expensive show:
Virtual were in the $10-20 range but for actual in person shows, Eric Hutchinson was $37

Free shows:
2 days of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Hanson’s Members Only Event (we’ll ignore I had to pay for membership), Darius Rucker

# artists seen: 88
# unique artists seen: 30
# shows seen in CT: 16
# of shows out of state: 25

Show farthest away: I think Jamaica wins this year
Closest show: Fairfield CT
$$ spent on tickets: About $5k
Miles traveled: 20,296

Top 6 shows of the year? The 2nd Hanson show at Escanaba for sure. I think there was a BTTI show I was really into as well. And I saw John Mayer 3x so let’s give him 3 spots… and Ruben & Clay can round out the 6th spot.

Total number of shows in 2023? 41 (2 virtual)

First show of the year? Hanson

First show with actual tickets:  I’m not sure any have “actual” tickets anymore. 🙁  (My Ridgefield and Fairfield shows most likely had actual tickets, and then Darius I had one too because it was a comped will call ticket but they are coming fewer and farther between sadly)

Last show of the year? Darren Criss (because Aerosmith got postponed)

Most surprising show? Maybe Jonas at  Yankee Stadium

Most disappointing? Aerosmith postponement

Farthest traveled? Jamaica

States attended shows in? CT, RI, NY, NJ, TN, GA, OK, IA, AR, PA, MI [no new states this year but AR was a new Hanson state]

Venue most visited? I think Ridgefield Playhouse wins this year

Band seen the most? Hanson

Best new discovery? Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? None that I know of

Friends made at shows? I don’t think I made any, though the girls next to us at Jonas were super nice and helpful but we didn’t keep in touch.

Band members met? Hanson, Joey McIntyre, Hunter Hayes, Fresh Kids of Bel Air, O-Town, BBMak, Chris Kirkpatrick, Darren Criss

Best souvenir from a show? I’m not sure. Nothing is jumping out at me as being really cool.

Longest time in line? I don’t think any were GA that I had to wait at all for… which is impressive.

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Matt Nathanson, Haley Reinhart, Hanson (IA, CT, PA, MI, MI), Fresh Kids of Bel Air, Lindsey Stirling, Jonas Brothers and I had quite a few from second row as well.

Most shows in one month? 

January – 6
February – 4
March – 6
April – 1
May – 5
June – 3
July – 7
August – 3
September – 1
October – 2
November – 2
December – 1

Most shows in one week? Back to the Island and then the CT/TN/GA stretch where I did 2 concerts, flew to TN, went to a Broadway show (didn’t see the end), and then did 3 more shows 1 in TN and 2 in GA.

Biggest crowd? Sound on Sound was maybe like 15-20k? Not totally sure but probably the biggest as it was a festival 

Any drunk encounters? There were 2 separate occasions in which drunk people were standing *on top of me* at concerts.  How drunk do you need to be to not realize you are standing on another human?

Missed shows:

Had to sell my tix to David Cook to get some sleep for an early flight
Aerosmith postponed and no new date has been announced yet

Book Review: The Haunted Mansion: Storm & Shade

The Haunted Mansion: Storm & Shade is from Disney and based loosely on their Haunted Mansion attraction.  This book is set in New Orleans, where Audrey has just moved to town and is trying to fit in and make friends.  She ends up finding 2 blocks away a mansion that is supposedly haunted and ends up visiting it with some friends.  A Category 3 Hurricane is also supposed to hit and her friends families as well as hers have to decide if they are going to evacuate or ride it out.  Audrey ends up making friends with someone at the Mansion named Stirling, and ends up realizing that it may be a ghost and a lot of the ghosts there can see and hear everything she and her friends have been doing and saying, even if they couldn’t see them at the time.  Some strange things start happening and Audrey and her friends are worried that if they can’t stop it, soon they too will end up as a happy haunt at the mansion.

I loved that this book was set in New Orleans – it really lent itself to the spooky haunted and voodoo vibe.  It’s about 400 pages long so a bit of a longer read, but a lot of fun and takes you right into the action in the mansion with the friends yourself.  If you enjoy the Haunted Mansion ride and all things Disney, you’ll likely enjoy this book!

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

About the Book

Welcome, foolish mortals, to an original and eerie novel inspired by the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disney Parks!

When high school student Audrey Perez moves to a town that’s supposedly home to a haunted mansion, she and a few of her new friends decide to investigate. Audrey is quickly swept up in a macabre mystery and eerie adventure that holds the fate of the Haunted Mansion’s 999 happy haunts in the balance. A storm is coming—both literally and figuratively—and it’ll be up to Audrey and her friends to save the Mansion—and its ghosts—before it’s too late. But can Audrey do so while dealing with her own anxieties and while caught in a love triangle between her boyfriend and the enigmatic Sterling—who just might be a ghost?

Read on, foolish mortal, if you dare . . .

Book Review: The AI Metaverse Unveiled – Working, Playing, Living and the Convergence of Artificial Intelligence in the New World


The AI Metaverse Unveiled is a very detailed book about Working, Playing, Living and the Convergence of Artificial Intelligence in the New World.  This is a world where technology meets imagination.  You’ll learn about web3, the blockchain, NFTs, and all the industries that AI is making an impact on.  Want to learn more about how AR can be used to help athletes train? How your avatar can have some sweet Nike kicks? What the ethics involved are and what you should be aware of if you or your business starts to go down the path of including AI and the digital universe?  All of this and so, so, so much more will be answered if you read this book.

If you have any interest whatsoever in AI – then this is the book for you.  It will fill you in on all the various ways it has been utilized already – such as NFTs, with music releases and concerts, and even in the fashion world.  I knew that AI and the metaverse were growing all around me, but I didn’t realize just how many different areas of my life it was already in place and how it has been evolving since it first came out.  This book taught me a lot – I never really thought of AI in terms of retail and marketing – but the thought of not having to go to a mall but being able to see how certain clothing or accessories might fit on me without even needing to leave the house to try them on and then to purchase them seems incredibly appealing!  Since Cybersecurity is an area I have interest in I paid the most attention to those areas of the book – but there is really something for everyone no matter what your industry or interest might be!

I give this book 3.5 stars, simply because it had just SO much content it was overwhelming at times, but it was very informational and interesting.

I received a free copy of this book to read from Reedsy Discovery

About the Book

“A Short AI Metaverse Story Wrapped in a Big Book About Technology” Step into the captivating realm of “The AI Metaverse Unveiled,” where technology meets imagination, and the future unfolds through the lens of artificial intelligence and the Metaverse. This groundbreaking book, weaves a narrative that transcends traditional tech literature, offering a unique blend of storytelling and technical exploration. In this visionary work, the reader is introduced to Arthur, the AI Avatar, a digital protagonist who guides us through the intricacies of the metaverse. Each chapter unfolds with a theatrical scene, bringing complex concepts to life through vivid examples and real-world scenarios. It’s more than just a book; it’s an immersive journey and glimpse into a future where AI and humanity stand hand in hand. From the dawn of the metaverse to the convergence of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and web3, “The AI Metaverse Unveiled” meticulously charts the evolution of our digital universe. The book details the impact of AI on industries such as Retail, Marketing, Science, Gaming, Healthcare, Sports, the Workplace, Skill Acquisition, Law, Ethics, Cybersecurity, Investing, Space Exploration and culminates with a grand finale of 22 bold AI Metaverse predictions.



Book Review: Hope Fights Back: Fifty Marathons and a Life or Death Race Against ALS

Hope Fights Back: Fifty Marathons and a Life or Death Race Against ALS Hope Fights Back is the story of Andrea Lytle Peet.  When she was 33 years old she was diagnosed with ALS.  Most people with ALS die within 5 years.  Once Andrea got over the initial shock of all of this, she decided that since she could no longer run marathons she would race them on a trike.  She also decided that she was going to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states, hoping to finish with the Boston Marathon.  She also started getting tattoos – a swallow bird on her arm for every year she lived past her “expiration date”.

This book was very emotional.  You go through all the doctors appointments with Andrea as her mobility begins to decline and she is looking for answers.  When things seemed hopeless, you find out that Hope Fights Back and Andrea always seems to pick herself back up and find something to fight for with the help of her very supportive husband, friends and family.  When Covid hits in the middle of her quest to get these marathons done you feel for her – because you know she doesn’t have all that much life ahead of her.  I teared up several times – but her perseverance also put a huge smile on my face even more times. The hurdles she had to jump to get some of these races to allow her to join them, sometimes seemed worse than some of the hills she had to bike during her races but Andrea either found a way or found a way to pivot.  You’ll see when you read about what happened with Boston.

This book was very emotional but also brought me so much joy and now I have to figure out how I can see the documentary about Andrea and her marathons that was filmed throughout the book, especially after hearing about some of the things that happened behind the scenes!

I received a free e-copy of this book to read on Readsy Discovery.

About the Book

Andrea Lytle Peet was thirty-three years old when she received the death sentence of her diagnosis. Grappling with the fact that she will likely become paralyzed and die within two to five years, Andrea experienced an unexpected spark that evolves into a seemingly impossible goal: to become the first person with ALS to complete a marathon in all fifty U.S. states on her recumbent trike. In her mission, she recaptures the freedom of racing and inspires others to appreciate their bodies.

HOPE FIGHTS BACK chronicles what happens when we choose to live instead of waiting to die. Andrea’s words are awe-inspiring for athletes and non-athletes alike. The reader intimately witnesses her tenacity, determination and bravery, not only in taking on her goal, but in her day-to-day life. In a world where “hope” sometimes feels quiet and aspirational, Andrea reveals that hope is, instead, a valiant warrior that changes everything when it fights back.

A Very Darren Crissmas

Going to concerts during the week can be difficult with my work situation, and this week was extra complicated as I was in the middle of some training all week – but I managed to slip away a bit early to head to Ridgefield for Darren’s Crissmas show.  I had purchased a VIP pass which allowed me to meet Darren before the show as well as got me some merch – an adorable gift bag

featuring a hippopotamus on it containing an ornament, Santa had and signed booklet.  We were told to wear our VIP laminate from that point forward and then were able to line up for merch or just hang out.  The merch line was quite long so I opted to wait and try and buy things after – I found out that the booth was having issues with WiFi and card readers and that’s why the line was so long.  Then they had us line up and sent us into the M&G room 5 at a time.  Darren was very sweet and taking his time chatting with everyone, which I absolutely loved.  He saw my *NSYNC shirt as soon as I walked in and we started chatting about their Christmas album and Hanson’s and harmonies and song arrangements – and his handler was taking photos the entire time.  I was absolutely shocked when I left the room and was ready to post our photo together on instagram only to see that there were 30+ photos on my phone from our interaction.  Honestly, one of the best M&Gs I have done – and it really wasn’t that expensive! My concert ticket cost more than the VIP did ($120 and $144!)

We then were allowed to stay inside if we wanted, but if we went out to our car we couldn’t come back in until doors at 6:30, I didn’t want to sit in my cold car so I opted to stay inside in the lobby before theater doors opened.  I took my seat in the 2nd row and immediately noticed the “No photos or video” signs that were up.  The woman next to me was saying how she was going to break the rules and I told her I might just have to join her, but would probably wait until the end so if they were going to try and kick me out I wouldn’t miss much.  She opted to take photos  throughout from her lap but I was a bit too anxious to try that and didn’t want to bring more attention if both of us were doing it.

I had previously seen this show last year, but he did mix things up a bit.  A few of his stories about the songs were the same, but I didn’t really remember most of them anyway so it was fine!  He started by coming through the aisles singing Happy Holidays and The Holiday Season and trying to get us to do a bit of a call and response.  I remember last year the crowd being WAY more into sing a longs and it seemed like for this show the crowd was a bit more timid.  He talked a bit about how Christmas music is special and there’s nothing else where we have a specific time frame to listen to it.  March isn’t Sargent Pepper’s month, we can listen to it year round, but Christmas music we typically only listen to in December and Burl Ives kicks Taylor Swift’s ass on the charts every December.  I also still absolutely love his rendition of John Mayer’s St. Patrick’s Day. (He also mentioned that John is from about 11 miles from where we were. He knows his stuff. Why are we not best friends?)   After I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas he had his drummer help show us how he came up with the arrangement and put a hip hop spin on it – hip hoppotamus… which is another arrangement of his I love.  He also said that there are some areas that people don’t know that song and he gets asked often if he wrote it – and he wishes he did because he’d be living in a castle in the sky off that royalties money.

After Drunk on Christmas he mentioned how a father and daughter had left and gave him a wave and he hoped that it wasn’t too much for her to handle (as he swears and had just gone on about drinking – which he did say getting drunk didn’t have to be alcohol and it could just be having more chocolate or pie or watching TV or whatever else you might want to indulge in.)  And then was the time when I thought he was going to do a song he had just taught himself like he did last year – but he ended up doing Granger Danger from A Verry Potter Musical and spoke about how he doesn’t credit Glee with getting him where he’s at now, it was absolutely this musical.

He then sat on the bench on stage and asked a few people in the audience about Christmas songs they’d like to hear.  When voices started yelling out he teased about how the voices in his head must be back and then got the band to start up the song to not spend too much time letting everyone yell out.   He did a few more songs before heading out before the encore.

When he came back out, he sat at the piano and asked for a few artists from people in the audience which ended up getting us a medley of Fly Me To The Moon, Against All Odds (which the lyrics he didn’t quite know, but he tried!) and Cough Syrup.  Then he did Christmas Dance and asked us to stand and dance but told us we could sit and do it, too (Thank you.  I sat, but I twisted, shook and iced with the best of them) and ended up putting into the medley the songs that he had asked for earlier that he told us he absolutely wasn’t going to sing – and it was a Christmas miracle!

This show was so much fun – and I almost forgot – at one point he called out a woman who was on her phone saying that it was fine that she was and we could do whatever we wanted during the show – but that everything was dark except her beautiful glowing face.  Then he felt bad that he called her out and kept mentioning how guilty he felt throughout the whole show.

If this show is coming near you – definitely check it out – and if not – take a listen to the CD!

Book Review: You Surround Me

Trigger warning: This book contains explicit content and difficult topics.

You Surround Me tells the story of a school year from the perspective of 2 of the kids in a pretty tight knit group of friends, Kenna, who is a junior and Logan who is a senior.  Kenna’s best friend is Logan’s sister and Logan’s best friend is Kenna’s brother.  Their Mom’s also are best friends from back in their college days. Kenna has had a crush on Logan since she was three years old and Logan has been oblivious, although at the beginning of the school year he started seeing her as more than just his best friend’s little sister. Most of the book is spent with Kenna trying to figure out if Logan likes her back, and then once they decide there might be something there, they try to keep it from Kenna’s brother Matt.  Also with such a large friend group as well as their families, there are a lot of different sub plots throughout, not all of them revolving around Kenna and Logan.  I don’t want to give too much away though, as there are many twists and turns and this book was nothing short of a roller coaster.

This book was long – it was almost 700 pages and it took me quite some time to get through, even though I enjoyed almost all of reading it. (Some of the topics are a bit deep and harsh, so while overall I did enjoy the book, there were some spots that were tough for me to read.)  Like I said, it was an absolute roller coaster and I was so happy that Kenna and Logan had such a wonderful friend group.  It seemed that everyone in the group had some sort of challenge in their life that they had to overcome – parents who had passed away, parents who were abusive or addicted to drugs and may or may not be in their lives, some were getting bullied at school, etc – but their friends didn’t care and were there for them and supported them no matter what.  I was a bit jealous of how close they all seemed to be, even if they were fictional.

I would give this book 4.5 stars! This is the first book in a series, and I am looking forward to reading the rest, as I imagine that they will follow the rest of the friend group – but even if it continues to follow Kenna and Logan and their families – the ending did leave some things open. (Though there was enough closure for me, for those of you who might be worried that you’ll be left hanging!)  Now I’m not sure how to bring myself back into the real world after spending so much time with this group.

I received a free ARC from Reedsy.

About the Book

My best friend’s brother? My brother’s best friend?

It doesn’t get any more cliché, yet…I can’t help but want him.

Kenna Ayken is a junior in high school, and she’s been crushing on a boy forever. Too bad he’s never shown a similar interest in her. But when his home life goes from bad to worse, they find themselves growing closer. Suddenly their friendship is becoming more tangible and true, something separate from her brother, a new bond that is just for them.
All these years he has never once glanced at her in a meaningful way…
Until he does.

I’ve known Kenna my whole life and she’s always felt like another little sister to me.

Until now.

Logan West is a senior in high school, and for the first time since he’s known her, he can’t keep his eyes off of his best friend’s little sister. Matt has never liked seeing any guy with her, and he sure as hell would have an issue with Logan pursuing her, and now things at home are getting…harder. When Kenna walks in one day, she sees just how bad it’s become, and reacts in a way Logan never would have expected.

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