October 2009 Archives

U2 (x2)

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This isn't about how I came to be in London to see U2 at Wembley Stadium. Nor is it about why I saw a band twice in two months when I wasn't really even a big fan. Finally, this is not about Bono, RED, politics, religion, or the economy of the music industry.

It is simply my reaction to the concerts individually and my comparison of the two.

First, U2 at Wembley Stadium, August 17th, 2009.

I was tired today. My plan was to take it easy since I walked so much the day before but as it turned out I spent a lot of time walking and exploring, taking two breaks for an hour or so each. Since Katie worked during the day, we met at a train station on the way to Wembley. When we got to our destination we had a long walk and were missing the opening band so I was stressed. Our tickets were at Will Call which I generally prefer because it makes it impossible to lose or forget them. But with a large, unfamiliar venue it turned out to be a mistake. There were two ticket offices on opposite ends of the stadium and we had to find the right one (which took two tries). Fortunately, once we got there, the ticketmaster pickup window had a short line and was quick. Our tickets indicated that we should enter via the Bobby Moore gate. We consulted a map and didn't find any sign of the Bobby Moore gate, so we asked a security guard where it was. We were directed to the gate behind the giant statue of Bobby Moore. I guess if we had known who Bobby Moore was, it would have made a good landmark. Those silly Brits.

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Once we found our way to our section, we split up. I got on the beer/food line and Katie went to find the t-shirts. I did my best, buying meat pies and cups of beer. Katie did much better, buying an awesome red 360 tour shirt. We walked to the seats and marveled at the massiveness of Wembley Stadium. I looked over The Claw, wondering if it was there to entertain me or subjugate me.


Once it got dark, the Claw started smoking. The crowd recognized this as evidence that the show was about to start. Sure enough, the Bowie music immediately followed. Next came an intense 24-song set that was a a very good mix of old and new. My favorite was skipped, but having checked out the playlist from recent stops on the tour, I wasn't expecting it. The music was great. That really wasn't surprising - a band that can sellout a 90,000 seat venue two nights in a row is going to be great. The concert as a whole, however, was weird. When I saw signs warning people not to engage in anti-social behavior such a standing up, I thought it was amusing. But being at a stadium rock show and having everyone spend almost the entire time in their seats was not at all amusing. Personally, I prefer sitting down and enjoying the show. I never realized, however, how important it was to have people standing, dancing, singing, and cheering. Without that, it's kind of depressing. A handful of dedicated fans, including the beautiful one in the seat next to me, stood up, but the general mood was dull. Even the crowd walking back to the train station was quiet. No singing.




Flash forward to Giants Stadium, September 24th.

I left work an hour early and drove to NYC to meet Katie, then we took the subway to the train. The wait for NJ Transit tickets was about 45 minutes, but the trip was otherwise easy. We got to the stadium (tickets in hand this time), got a few beers and cheesesteak sandwiches, and found our seats. Once again, nighttime fell, the smoke started, and the speakers piped in some Bowie. Therein ends the similarities. Well, obviously it was the same band playing many of the same songs but it was a totally and completely different concert. The energy of the NY crowd was so exciting. That's what a live show is supposed to be like.


UK US Winner
Initial
Excitement
Holy Shit - I'm seeing U2 in London! I hope this isn't as lame as London UK
Transit Easy, cheap, clean Understaffed, but acceptable -
Beer Warm 12oz cups,
one brand only
Cold 16oz bottles,
many choices
US
Food Terrible meat pies Pretty good sandwiches US
Fans Quiet and calm Excited, but not rowdy US
Band Perfect Perfect -
Shirts Katie got a tour shirt Katie got me an Edge shirt -
Next Day Tour of Buckingham Palace
Tom Stoppard Play
Work UK

Replacing the Medicine Cabinet

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About a year ago, half of the electricity in my house stopped working (I'll save that for another post). As a result, my bathroom was kind of dim. There was a working outlet with a small lamp, but the ceiling light was dead and I was recently made aware of the importance of a well-lit mirror.

I have never liked the mirror/medicine cabinet. First of all, it was made by the previous owners and it shows. It's very crafty (rustic?) and very out of place in there. It wasn't even painted. Second, the mirror itself was too short. I'm 6'3" so I couldn't see myself without bending, and Teddy can't see himself without a stool. I think it was 15" tall. I decided to buy a new mirror, install a light above it, and fix the ceiling light. Silly to do all that and not paint, right? I hit the local paint store, chose a nice pale blue for the top of the walls and some white for the bead-board and ceiling.

Two months later I decided to actually do the job.

Step 1: Fix the lighting. My plan for this was to take the power from the working outlet and use it to rewire the switch and light fixture. This wasn't too hard except for the limited access to the topside of the ceiling fixture. There is a crawl space, but as I mentioned, I'm 6'3". I got the ceiling fixture powered and started to look for a way to access the wall over the mirror. It took me a few trips up and down the ladder to the crawl space to figure out why I couldn't find the wall to drop a wire into. The bathroom is in a dormer that was not part of the original house. As such, the part of the wall where the mirror is an exterior wall with no topside access. Directly behind the mirror is a 2x10 diagonal roof beam. Not something I could run a wire though, nor something I could access without going on the roof. I ended up cutting a horizontal strip across wall, a little bigger than one piece of lathe. I also had to drill a half-inch hole though a few studs, including the corner of the room, which was very tricky. Eventually I made my way to the new switch I added and powered it up.

Step 2: Repair the damage. Cutting a long hole in the wall means having to repair the wall. I had some leftover sheet rock and joint compound from my basement renovation a few years ago but I had to run to the hardware store to get tape. I don't like doing finish work. I am neither neat nor careful. I learned most of what I know about electrics, carpentry, and painting from working in scene shops and on stage crews. Small details aren't as important from 30 feet away. Also, when you're working on scenery, access to the top or back of walls is never a problem. I patched the holes and smoothed the spackle. Sort of.

Step 3: Painting. I primed the ceiling and walls with Zinser 1-2-3, then once they dried, painted them with Benjamin Moore Bathroom & Kitchen paint (mildew resistant). I don't like painting. Well, I guess the actual painting is okay. I don't like removing fixtures, covering appliances and floors, taping corners, or cleaning brushes.


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