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Just a quick post to let you know I’m home safe. Now I’m going to sleep some more (24 hours awake isn’t fun).

More tomorrow,

Alex

Farewell Minnesota

Today is my final day in the US…where has the time gone? *sigh* In a few hours we’ll be heading to Minneapolis, and by 7:30pm I should (hopefully) be on the plane. Here are the details if you wish to follow my journey:

Minneapolis = Amsterdam

7:30pm, KLM 6064, arrives at Schipol 10:40am (Monday).

Amsterdam = Newcastle

12:15pm, KLM959, arrives at Newcastle 12:35pm.

Not too bad. I might plug in at Schipol to give an update. Or I might doze because I can’t sleep on planes. We’ll see.

Right then…I’ll see you all on the other side.

Alex

Pequot Lakes Pictures

Originally posted on Photography On The Citadel:

Yesterday Vanna, Sierra (Vanna’s sister) and Marley (Sierra’s daughter) and I went for a walk around Pequot Lakes. The weather was beautiful, and as I’ve said before, typical that I leave just when it starts to get nice. Bah! Enjoy the pictures.

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Two Years And One Week

So yesterday (but I only learned today) was the two-year anniversary of this blog’s registration. Isn’t that exciting? And yesterday was also the beginning of my final week in Minnesota. Isn’t that…not so exciting?

Yeah, we are both pretty bummed out by that. With the bad weather and Vanna’s busy schedule, we’ve not really had any opportunities to go places like we have in the past (we haven’t went to Duluth this trip, for example) so it doesn’t really feel like we’ve had four months together. But at the same time, having this long stretch together (longest we’ve had by a month) has shown us what being together permanently feels like, and going back now is even more depressing than usual. Especially now as it is starting to get nice out; the snow is melting at last, and it’s becoming warm enough to not need a coat (yesterday I walked down the road in just my t-shirt and jeans!). Typically really.

Anyway, though I have a lot to blog (there’s some stuff I’ve yet to mention, plus all those things I have mentioned but didn’t talk about, then said I would talk about them, only to then not talk about them again…), you can understand why I’m probably going to put it off for another week or so. Sorry, people. I know I’ve said this before. I just thought it was worth mentioning again.

But other than all that, Vanna and I are doing okay. We’re even thinking of having a picnic today. Exciting, eh?

Alex

 

Band T-Shirt Pics!

Hey,

Here are a few pictures of the two band t-shirts I bought at the gig on Tuesday. We were planning to take more (Vanna and I posing together in our matching tops etc) but we’re in a little bit of a rush this morning because Vanna is giving blood! Obviously I would join her but foot and mouth, y’know, can’t do it. Ah well. I’ll just have to take pictures instead. Oh darn…

Heh. Anyway, here’s the Starset t-shirt. Isn’t it awesome?

And now for Trivium. First the front…

….And there’s the back. Look at the first name on that tour!

 

Alex

Emergent, Starset and TRIVIUM!

So we’re home and back to normalcy from our trip to the cities. You’ll be glad to hear (by jove I’m hilarious) my ears are fine again. The ringing stopped sometime yesterday afternoon so that’s certainly a relief. Mind you, not being able to hear too great had its advantages…hmm.

Anyway, the gig! Here’s a rough account of what happened Tuesday night.

Opening Impression

We were at Mill City Lights in downtown Minneapolis. Got into the venue without a problem, which was good considering it was cold and I was only wearing a t-shirt. It was a narrow but tall place; downstairs was the bar and merchandise area, ground floor was the performing area (or whatever you want to call it…not an arena but it was fairly big) and upstairs was the gallery overlooking the stage. I was quite impressed with it until I noticed…there were no seats!

You see, because I’m an old man I was hoping to sit down and watch, but the rectangular area by the stage was all standing and the gallery didn’t have chairs either; just metal bars to lean against. Except for at the back by the bar, where you wouldn’t be able to see anything, there were no seats whatsoever. Oh man, not a good start for me. Where am I supposed to sit?

With that undecided and with time to kill, we got ourselves a can of cider each. Want to guess the price for the two cans? I was thinking no more than ten dollars…nope, wrong! Fifteen! Woo! So we sat at the bar (not what I had in mind) and drank that while we waited for the first of our three bands…Emergent.

Emergent

Emergent, a local band, was really good (note: I’m probably going to use the wrong grammar a lot during this post. I know it is wrong, but I’m adamant it sounds better…so there we go. Just a heads up). We started watched from the gallery, but decided to go downstairs for a better view. Vanna and I liked them (I wasn’t expecting to like anyone except Trivium, so I was pleasantly surprised), and they were popular with everyone else too. The singer interacted with the crowd well, riling us up for Trivium and getting us to move, so they were definitely a good opening band.

Their songs had a good blend to them too. Along with the heavy metal parts to head-bang to (if that’s what you are into), there were also parts where those who didn’t know the lyrics (like myself) could sing along too (not that I did). Vanna was worried that the vocals would be drowned out by the drums and guitars (that was a big problem at her last gig), but thankfully that didn’t really happen, so it was an enjoyable performance. Good job Mill City Nights audio crew.

Anyway, back to Emergent. They were on for thirty minutes or so, and finished to lots of cheers and applause (they took a picture of the crowd at one point, but sadly we were off to the left and out of shot). And though I wasn’t moshing or bouncing around like everyone else, Emergent did set the mood for me too. I still stood out like a sore thumb (probably), but less so than before. Slowly but surely I was becoming a “live gig person” (though with terms like that, I might not be).

Ahem. Our favourite song was probably Let It Fade.

Starset

Starset was a different band entirely, and sadly that didn’t go down great with the fans. An orchestral rock band (the genre on their Facebook page), Starset took about ten minutes setting up this touch screen/DJ thing (sorry, don’t know what exactly it was), which obviously didn’t go down well. They then performed in blue helmets and black spacesuits, which was a lot different from the good old rock/metal band we’d just seen. So sadly, the majority didn’t warm to them, and they left a few songs later in underwhelming fashion.

Now, this isn’t me hating on them. Actually I really liked Starset. At the time I thought Emergent had the more exciting performance, but I would be more likely to listen to Starset, a theory which was indeed proved after the gig (more on that shortly). I liked the concept, and the vocalist had a really good range. The songs were good, and I enjoyed it. My favourite was definitely My Demons. Even now I can’t get enough of it.

Why didn’t it work last night? Well, they didn’t really interact with the crowd (having all the equipment between us and them didn’t help), and the songs were slower, which after the previous upbeat act, wasn’t appealing to the people. The crowd wanted to jam, they wanted Trivium, and some heavy metal…thus Starset was greeted mostly with indifference. Not being local didn’t help either; there were no fans to kick-start the crowd, so nobody really knew what was going on. The poor reception was a shame because they had a pretty good performance. Had they opened the gig, and not followed the lively Emergent, they might have fared better. I don’t know. But I couldn’t dwell on it too much at the point…Trivium was up next!

Trivium

No offence to the other bands, but Trivium was on a different level. They were amazing, full stop. Singing, interactions with the crowd, guitars, drums…all of it was fantastic. I won’t go into it more because I’d be here all day, but yeah, it was very, very, very good. They played a few songs from each album, and each song was as good as the next, even the ones I wouldn’t put in my favourites. Just. Awesome. Trivium loved it (they’ve said in the past, and again that night, about how good the fans here are…not bad considering there was only a couple hundred there. And this isn’t just general platitudes either; this show wasn’t even planned in the original tour, but they had to come back), the fans loved it and I loved it too.

How much? Well I sang until my throat was hoarse, I jumped, I head-banged and I just rocked out. Loved every minute of it. Could have kept going on all night.

Merchandise Time!

Sadly it did end sometime after midnight, so Vanna and I headed downstairs to get some merchandise. Our initial plan was just to get a Trivium t-shirt each, but then I saw the Starset t-shirts, and wow, they were probably the coolest t-shirts I’ve ever seen in my life (even cooler than the Anchorman one I’ve got)…so I had to have one. And to make things even better, the band was there to sign stuff! As their live CD was reasonably priced, we bought it and got that signed by everyone but the drummer. Was pretty impressed at that.

Sadly, my only regret from the night happened at this moment. I really, really, really wanted to talk to Starset (more than Trivium in some ways), to say something good and you know, just converse, but of course, I was too shy and star-struck (ridiculous, right?) to say anything. I managed ‘I really enjoyed the performance, thank you’ but that was it. I shook their hand too, but man, I wanted to ask all about them and where they came up with their concept. Maybe next time Starset, maybe next time.

But wait! A chance of redemption! Emergent is over there! Let’s get their CD, get that signed too! Vanna and I went over and we had an actual conversation! Well…sort of. The guitarist talked, while we, being the socially awkward people that we are, nodded and smiled. Damn. But again, I got out some lame platitude and a handshake, so I didn’t completely fail. I tried.

So, with our hands full of goodies (I’ll upload pictures of the t-shirts tomorrow), we headed home. On the car journey we listened to Emergent’s CD and Starset’s CD. As I referred to before, I don’t think Emergent is really my kind of band but Vanna enjoyed them so no regrets there. Starset was definitely more to my taste, but sadly they have only released three, albeit very good, songs. Hopefully there will be more out soon…ideally a full album. I’ll buy it for sure, so get on it guys. I’m waiting.

Final Impressions

So that was that. Would I go to a live gig again? Definitely. Without hesitation. I loved it.

Alex

Trivium!

Last night was amazing! I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy live music (I don’t like jumping around and I like sitting…) but I’m very happy that Vanna got the tickets. We didn’t get back to Vanna’s grandparents until 1am, and I’ve only just woke up now (12pm) with my ears still ringing. Hmm. Hopefully that’ll end soon otherwise I’ll be shouting at everyone all day. Still…it was worth it.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’ll blog about the full experience when I’m home tomorrow (it was an eventful night; I even shook hands with the other performing bands!)…at the moment my priorities are eating (hungrrryyyyy) and watching the football (come on Chelsea!). Obviously.

Speak to you later,

Alex

P.S Here’s a picture (technically two, but it is the same image) of me (and Vanna) at the gig. Just in case you needed proof!

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Farewell Beard

Because Vanna wanted to see what my new shaver could do, I let her style my beard. Bad idea. She got carried away and now my lovely* facial hair is gone. I don’t have a “before” picture (the St Paddy’s Day Parade blog has the most recent of me with a beard), but this is what it looks like today…

Urgh. Not impressed (as you can probably tell from my dazed expression). The dirty moustache doesn’t help either, but I don’t have it in me to shave again. At least not today.

Happy Monday Everyone…

Alex

Where Is Spring?!

Okay Minnesota, I’m starting to get tired with you. I could handle the bitter cold winds, the several feet of snow and the necessity of wearing two pairs of socks every day (even to bed sometimes), but I cannot handle all this false hope you keep giving me. Throughout March, you’ve went from minus temperatures and snow to sunny skies and “hey look, everything is melting! I can see green…well, brown!” only to then return with more snow and more minus temperatures. STOP IT! Every time we have a few nice days I get excited, start to think that maybe Vanna and I can go for a walk, or maybe I can get my bike out the garage and do a few miles along the Breezy Point road. But of course the weather decides to renege on the deal, and I’m left disappointed again.

This week is a perfect example of unpredictability. It was beautiful yesterday (a bit windy, but by Jove, it was almost a warm wind), and the day before that. It’s supposed to get over 50 degrees this weekend, whatever that means (I think it is good). So Vanna and I made plans to do something today; perhaps explore Pequot (though we checked out all the shops in Nisswa last summer, we’ve yet to give Pequot the same treatment) or downtown Brainerd. You know, walk around and see what is about. Vanna and I were looking forward to doing that. But then, when I woke up this morning, I was greeted with this:

So, Minnesota, I’m beginning to fall out with you. In future, have two, even three months of awful winter, get it out of your system…then let Spring take over. No more snow, no more arctic winds. Stop the three days nice, three days bad nonsense. It isn’t funny. And if you continue to toy with me? I’ll move to a warmer state where this doesn’t happen. And who will blog about you then, eh? Exactly. So, uh, buck your ideas up, Minnesota.

Take care,

Alex

 

Bad Timing

Sorry about the blog quietness folks. I’m aware that I’ve only just returned from my hiatus (I like using that word, makes it sound important when really it, well, wasn’t) but I’m coming into my final few weeks in Minnesota (2 weeks, 5 days… :( ) and my focus, understandably, is on making the most of my time with Vanna before we have to separate once more (hopefully for the last time). Having said that, I will continue to blog as much as possible. There are past events that I will talk about eventually (like all those things I mention yet never get round to…I haven’t forgotten!), plus we have some exciting plans coming up:

Trivium:

On April 1st, we will be heading down to Minneapolis to see Trivium (our favourite metal band) perform. Vanna has seen them twice already, while it will be my first live gig, not just Trivium, but bands/artists in general. I’ve never been interested in going to a live performance (I bought a ticket once, but that was as far as I got with it), so this is a completely new experience for me. No idea what to expect, but I’ll looking forward to it.

London:

A week after I get back to the UK, I’m heading down to London for a medical examination; the next step in my application to get into the US permanently. Not excited about being examined, obviously, but the sooner we get it sorted, the sooner I can come back here (providing everything else goes through, of course) without fear of a deadline.  I can’t say I’ll enjoy it, but again, it’s a new experience for me. I’ve bought my train tickets, and to save money I plan to walk from the station to the surgery (a 40 minute walk according to google). I’ll bring my camera, and hopefully it’ll be a nice day. Gotta make the most of it, right?

And that’s about it, really. There might be other things going on (Anchorman 2 comes out on DVD in April…I will be first in the queue for that), but I’ll let you know in due course.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

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