Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Go Nostalgic

One of my favorite ways to take a break from the grind is to go nostalgic! This could be something as simple (and economical) as having a friend over and discussing things you did in your younger years.

Not that I'm at all old - I'm only in my 40's - but I think everyone would agree that the things you did *before* real life became a major concern are memories you carry with you forever.

My buddy Cat Woman back in our 20's used to go to every rock concert. And if you do some quick math, you can probably surmise that those concerts were hair metal concerts. Or, as I prefer to think about it - the hard rock of the 80's. To this day, I still wonder where I got all the money to go to all those concerts, and then I remember: these were the days when the highest price ticket at the best arena was $35, and when Ticketbastard actually had some competition as a ticket outlet, and before I had a lot of other financial obligations.

Anyway, going to concerts was my very favorite thing to do. Getting dressed up, teasing my bangs up, slathering on the eyeliner, ripping my jeans just-so, doing a shoe-polish rendition of the band's logo on the car's rear window, yelling "Paul Gilbert!" at the top of my lungs, even though it was a Judas Priest concert, crawling home hoarse afterwards, you get the idea...

These days I still go to concerts from time-to-time, and it's still one of my favorite things to do. Although I do opt for the cheap seats mostly, due to financial constraints and the just flagrant price of tickets these days. But every once in a while a band comes to town that I just absolutely must muster up the funds to get the good seats. And among these is Def Leppard.

Def Leppard is my favorite band of all time. I've seen them a number of times, but I've never managed to get decent seats. Usually I'd end up in general admission lawn seating at the local amphitheater in the dead of summer, because for whatever reason Def Leppard always seemed to think that going to Texas when it's 102 degrees outside is a good idea...but that's another post. In any case, when I heard they were coming to town this year (again in August, again at the amphitheater) I decided this was the year I would be in the first five rows. I bought a fan club membership, I got online on the day of pre-sales and I got myself a seat in the THIRD ROW BABY!!

Unfortunately, I had to attend this show by myself, but that's OK. It's also fun to make friends that enjoy the same things you do, like a Def Leppard show. I still enjoyed the ramp up to the show: turning the music up loud, getting dressed up (OK, a denim skort and a black tank top - but that's downright dressy for 96 degrees out), slathered on the eyeliner, and even teased up my bangs in honor of that bygone decade of decadence. I drove to the show, grabbed a $12 beer, and the concert was ON! Sitting that close to my heroes was everything I expected - and more! They had built out the stage a little out in the audience, so I was pretty much third row on two sides! Yay! I rocked out, just like when I was 22. I sang along with all the words. I even yelled "Paul Gilbert!" even though he's not in Def Leppard, either. I partied with the other revelers, and enjoyed myself so much, that even though I swore I was retiring from large-scale production concerts in favor of live music in clubs and small venues, I can't wait for the next time those boys from Sheffield come through town so I can do it all over again!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Take a Game Break

Hey all you gamers out there! There's nothing like a little Virtual-Reality to help you escape the stress of the Real-Reality. But I bet you never find the amount of time you'd like to just sit with the XBOX or PS3 and play-play-play until your thumbs drop off. Well, me, neither. *Sigh*

But don't have wait until the next big Rock Band party to give yourself some play time. With the right game selection and some self-control (yes, those games are addicting, aren't they) you can have an Everyday Gaming Vacation - even on a weeknight!

Game selection is crucial, because unfortunately Real-Reality does rear its ugly head all-too-frequently, and (even more unfortunately) that means you probably have to wake up in the morning and head to your office or other place of work and be at least reasonably productive. So - pick something that has short rounds of gameplay that you can stop playing at a decent hour. But it has to also be a game that you really, really enjoy.

I like to look for a game that is not only a game, but lets me do something else I love. Actually, for me, it doesn't take much looking. I pull out SingStar for PS3 every time. With this game, not only do I get to compete, but I get to sing! It's heaven!

Basically, SingStar is a collection of music videos of all different genres. You select a video, and it plays on your screen, along with the lyrics karaoke-style, and what I call a "pitch meter." You earn points by attempting to hit the notes at the right pitch, at the right time, with the right words. The more correct you are, the more points you get. At the end of the video, your points are totalled up and it shows you the level you reached, along with some pretty cute graphics. The best thing of all is the videos are the original artists!!

You have to have the two-microphone set, but once you have that there are several different versions of the game that you can play, as well as buying individual songs and game packs at the SingStore.

I was having a really rough week at the office, so one Thursday night I invited by buddy Cat Woman over for a glass of wine, some pizza, and some SingStar. We played in the Battle mode, but since it was just friends, there was no "real" competition. We cheered each other when we reached Super Star level, and rolled laughing when we only made it to Wannabe. I spent most of my time at Lead Singer level, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me...LOL!! We both had an early call the next day, so we wrapped it up around 8:30. But still - we had almost 2 hours of pure Everyday Vacation! Recharged, and ready to face Real-Reality.