Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Turkey Day in Southern California...all of it.

This year's Thanksgiving was a little bit different. Instead of spending it here in Utah with the extendeds I decided to bum around southern California. Well worth it!

The weekend started with a change in plans. So I was left with a rental car and a completely open schedule. I found my way to Pacific Beach and got a breakfast burrito at Kono's and enjoyed the clearing skies over the ocean. Beautiful! From there I headed to downtown San Diego, which turns out is pretty dead on the Wednesday before a major holiday. I remembered a friend from Encinitas was already home for the weekend so I called her and she had me up to here house. After chatting and relaxing for a bit we headed over to Escondido to see Wild Animal Park. It was really cool! I really liked all the animals. Favorites would be these crazy birds below and the Rhinos. Rhinos are big and big.

After the Zoo we headed back towards the coast and got some pizza and salad at Lucadia Pizza and took a peak at Moonlight beach. It was a drizzly night so there wasn't much to see. However, I do highly recommend the Thai salad and BBQ pizza.

After dinner I headed over to San Marcos and got the holiday part of the holiday weekend off to a start.

My old mission buddy Ben and his wife live in San Marcos. They are great hosts and always accommodate a wandering North Dakotan in big 'ol Southern Cal. We met up at his brother's place and there was already holiday classics blaring and apples being sliced. I helped Ben make a pie. Granted my efforts were minimal, I feel like I really made that pie special...for no real reason other than I was apart of it. Is that pretentious?

I spent Thanksgiving day with the Hoy/States families at Erin's parents house. Who I might also add are the most generous people ever! They put me up everytime I come through San Diego. A huge Thanks goes to them this past Thanksgiving! You can see pics and the play by play here on my friend Erin's blog. I must say the highlight was that Ben and I fried a Turkey. All I can say is, DO IT!" It's so delicious. Here was how it all transpired:

It was a lot of fun, and did I mention that fried turkeys are really really tasty?

Fortunately I was able to sleep of the gluttony from the day before and about mid-afternoon I headed up to Orange County to see some friends. They weren't available until later that evening so I took the chance to cruise the PCH from Dana Point up to Newport Beach. It was chic, beautiful, and made me want to own a German automobile. Here is a pic from Aliso Beach where I stopped to watch the sunset (one of my favorite things ever).

Later that evening I met up with my wonderful friend Robyn who's family was gracious enough to let me join them for dinner. Afterwards we cruised down to Fashion Island to take a look at the ginormous Christmas tree. It was real and it was big. Robyn was a little obsessed with it, and for good reason. After our festive retreat at the mall we drove down to Balboa Island and bummed around the neighborhoods, along the boardwalks, and through the downtown area. Now that is a cool little place! It was a chill and fun night! Nothing like a tour by a local! After some relaxation and games with her cousins I wandered over to my friend Patrice's for a few more games and a good nights rest.

In the morning (we're on to Saturday now) Patrice's mom took us to thier favorite breakfast place in Orange called Watsons. It was a lot of fun and really good. The major event of the day was the jont up to Santa Monica to meet our old friends Dave and Adam (con GF's) for a day at the Getty. I've wanted to go to the Getty for a couple years now, so I'm really glad we made it happen. Here are a few pics of the landscapen and sunset (naturally) below. We only had time for a few exhibits but it was well worth it.

Adam, David, Patrice, Matt.

Sunset behind the Getty w/ low ceiling.

Crazy landscaping.

Rad sunset in Santa Monica.

After the Getty we drove back to Orange County and Patrice and I grabbed dinner in Huntington Beach, then some hot chocolate with the same crew we were at the Getty with. I have great friends and it was fun just to be able to chill with them there.

So remember how at the beginning of the post I mentioned that there was a change in plans? Well, this also included not having a way back to Utah since I only purchased a one way ticket. Enter Patrice again... She came to the rescue by offering me and my friend Jess (the friend I went to the Wild Animal Park with) a ride home. So... After Huntington I drove back down to Encinitas and spent the night at Jess' parents house. In the morning she took me down to the SD Airport to return the rental car. Then her Mom took us to our friend Danny's house in Carlsbad. He was also riding with Patrice. Danny's Mom then drive us all up to Orange to Patrice's house so we could hitch a ride with her. So after a little time on CA-91 and a lot of time on I-15 we made it back to Utah on Sunday night.

Overall it was a blast of a weekend. I felt a bit like a nomad. Most of all I am grateful for my friends who not only gave me a place to lie my head, but are also some of the best and most fun people I have ever met.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Speaking of live music...

Here are the shows I found myself at in the past few months. I'm more proud of one than the others. Can you guess which?

Girl Talk
Girl Talk is a mash-up DJ. So what that means is that he mixes tracks from a number of song all in to one cohesive...well, mash-up. It's way cooler than sampling, and it's way cooler than a random transition from song to song at a club. It's actually pretty incredible that he takes such a range of sounds from such a range of artists and blends them like they were meant to go together. Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, is an Engineer from Ohio. He tours in is free time and is the DJ of choice at a lot of big parties. When he came to SLC a bunch of us wanted to see for ourselves.

The show was a total blast! He is just this wirey awkward guy with a laptop on a table with some monitors. There is a body guard on either side of him, and the entire venue, stage included, just turns into a huge dance party. My friend Laura, picture below, is a huge GT fan. So when the stage was openned up to the crowd she was gone! I followed and was able to get up there myself. Serioulsy, it was just a big random dance party. They had random stage hands blowing TP into the air with leaf blowers, as well as all other kinds of decorations. Here are a few pics below.

GT doin his thing. Taken from Laura's iPhone.

Me, GT, Laura.


So as the story goes... I heard from a friend that New Kids was coming to SLC and there was a 20 dollar special on Ticketmaster. I thought about it for a bit and couldn't bring myself to pass on the novelty of seeing these guys. And I'll give you the ending at the beginning, it was worth about 20 bucks.

I was home in Fargo the week preceding the concert. So from there I called my friend Emily and asked her if she'd like to go with me. Naturally, I bought two tickets... Emily came and picked me up from the airport and we headed to my fav burger joint in West Valley, Ab's Drive In. After pounding a Fat Boy (eating their classic burger), we headed to the E Center. The cost of the show was increased by 50% when we had to pay 10 bucks for parking. I felt taken advantage of. We got into the building and got in line to buy some souvineers. No no, I didn't get anything for myself. Just a shirt for my friend who cuts my hair. I paid for my next hair cut with that shirt...

We then proceeded to our seats. Out comes this little lady and some backup dancers. Kind of wierd at first...but then I realized who it was. Lady GaGa! Why an exclaimation point? Well, I kind of maybe really like the song Just Dance (not posting the video here since it is of questionable content). Disclaimer: I don't endorse her lyrics or lifestyle, but it sure is fun to dance to. Apparently "Miss GaGa" studied piano performance at Julliard or something... Then got in as one of Paris' cronies. When Paris started doing drugs, GaGa got out. The point is I had to listen to this song from the opposite end of the lower bowl. Not good enough. It then became my mission to find a way on to the floor. I hate being far away at shows.

After a series of text messages I was able to link up with Joslyn, who was a saint and brought us some of her ticket stubs we used to get past security and onto the floor. She was joining some friends in the 11th row, so Emily and I used her seats in the 25th row. It wasn't super close, but it was a lot better than where we were before! So a big thanks to Joslyn! Lady GaGa finished her set, which was mildly entertaining. Then, to my surprise, out comes Natasha Bedingfield! I don't own any of her music, but have enjoyed the occational listen when it comes on wherever I may be. Well, I was very very impressed. She really loves her music and the opportunity she has to share it. She was so sincere and it was apparent that she has a real passion for what she does. She also really wants her music to do something for people. I can repect that. On top of it all, she was really good live. Way better than Lady GuGu, or whatever... Here's a poor quality pic from my phone.

Natasha. I may or may not have had a small crush while she sang.

New Kids On The Block came on the stage and everyone went nuts! Mostly high pitched screams combined with the subtle applause of the dudes who brought their, now almost menopausal, NKOTB loving significant others. It was insane.

There really isn't much to say other than it was really entertaining. I found myself half singing along, half laughing at myself and the entire experience.

NKOTB comes out on stage.

So about half way through the show the group leaves the stage. Then Emily and I see some lights flicker from behind us. We turn around and see this stage lift from the ground. Then comes the group again and they do a few songs from here. I'm not supposed to say anything, but Emily may or may not have gotten a little emotional at this pleasant surprise. Apparently even MBA women melt at the up close sight of a boy band...

Post-emotional reaction.

"I love Mormom girls" shirt thrown from the crowd.
Who knew?

Step by Step

Hangin Tough

The best for last... COLDPLAY!
So I knew the big show was coming, but the price tag was a little too rich for my blood. The day of the show I was at a friends wedding in SLC. A couple friends mentioned that it was the Coldplay show that night and how they would love to go. This got me thinking...I really wanted to go too. I haven't been to a big headlining show like that in a while (NKOTB doesn't count). I remembered a friend had an extra ticket, so I sent a text. He responded that his was being used but that another friend had just bought a couple tickets that day. Enter Brian Henderson. I gave Brian a jingle. He answered the phone singing one of Coldplay's songs and asked if I was in. I replied that if he had a ticket for me then I was! We talked logistics and it was a plan! I met him at the Delta Center (I refuse to call it ESA) and we proceeded to will call. Now Brian is an expert at music, shows, and all things related. He was able to work it with some broker who had extra tickets and saved us about $50! Stick with Brian and you'll do alright.

We had great seats near some friends and had an awesome view. We were on the side just out from the stage. We could see everything. And Coldplay has a way of making everyseat seem good. They had screens and video work, lights and catwalk stages. They even had a satallite stage up in the stands, IN THE STANDS! Very cool.

Not only is thier music amazing, but their production is top notch! Needless to say it was totally worth it. I'd see 'em again in a heartbeat.


Chris on the catwalk.

There were these rad giant bulbs that would lift and drop throughout the show. At times they would project images of the band playing from within the bulb. So cool!

The end of the catwalk on our side of the stadium lit up. They played a few songs from here.

Me and BH.

At the end of the show shiny butterflies dropped from everywhere. Way cool effect.

Viva la Vida