Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Broadway at the Paramount 2009

The Paramount announced their 2009 Broadway Season last week, and it looks like it should be another interesting one:  

The Lion King (February/March) - I missed this last time it was in town.  By all accounts this will be a Broadway spectacle beyond all measure.  Looking forward to this one.  

Cats (April) - This is a one-week engagement, not part of the regular season.  Another I've never seen, but tempting to get tickets to this one since it is indeed a Broadway classic now.  

Frost/Nixon (May) - Every so often they throw a non-musical play into the mix, and this is the most recent.  From the synopsis:  "Direct from Broadway, Frost/Nixon tackles the question:  How did David Frost, a famous British talk show host with a playboy reputation, elicit the apology that the rest of the world was waiting to hear from former President Richard Nixon?"  Tony Award nominated, should be interesting, if also from a historical prespective.  

RENT (June) - Yet another return engagement, but this time Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, from the original Broadway cast, return to reprise their roles.  I always say this is a must see everytime it comes to town, and this is definitely no exception.  

Wicked (September/October) -  Returning again after just two seasons ago, but this time for an entire month.  This received an "unconditional 5 out of 5 stars" in my previous abbreviated review, and you absolutely must see this when it comes to town.  If you don't like it, there's something wrong with you.  

August: Osage County (October) - Highly praised, yet I've never heard of it.  Probably because once again, it's not a musical.  Read your own reviews.  

Fiddler on the Roof (November/December) - Numerous classic songs in this, from "Tradition" to "If I Were a Rich Man".  Hard to argue with this one as another great one.  

Should turn out to be a heck of a season, I'd say.  

Boring in Cambodia - Leg 5

When we last left the race, we were in New Zealand... 7 teams remain, who will be eliminated next?

I'm thinking we're reaching the point where we'll have a non-elimination leg to spice things up a bit.  Either way, I'm thinking some twist will happen on this leg... but I've been wrong before.  

6:03am - Ken and Tina kick off the leg heading to Cambodia.  
8:19am - Terrence and Sarah - over 2 hours behind to start the leg.  
9:32am - The Divorcees - another hour behind...
10:15am - Mom and Son depart...
11:34am - Nick and Starr depart, her arm is fine, despite the drama of the last leg.  
12:44pm - Frat Boys, 6+ hours behind the first team.  
3:04pm - Aja and Ty - 2:20 behind the next to last team.  

Quite a stretch between teams, but I'll expect that they'll all bunch up again before the next pitstop.  

Terrence and Sarah are pulled over by the cop in New Zealand, going 117km in a 100km zone.  Just hearing the cop say you were going 117 was oddly hilarious.  But they should be back to catch the 1st team on the same flight.  

And as expected, all but the last team will arrive in Cambodia at the same time.  This is going to be quite a stretch for Aja and Ty to catch up... but you never know.  

Boring boring boring... blah blah blah... OK, seriously, these ASU frat boys obviously did not choose Arizona State for the education, ehem.  

Detour:  Village Life or Village Work.  Pick up 3 items and deliver them to the dock.  Or find 2 fish traps and deliver the fish to the dock.  OK, this is an interesting cultural view of Cambodia, but still rather boring.  

Roadblock:  search the Angkor Wat temple for the chamber of echoes.  Wow, this would be fun, if only you knew where the heck you were going.  Very cool.  Now it's a race to find Phil.  

"Nick and Starr, you are team number one!"  As expected, they're right in the race.  I believe this was another case where the video editing made the race seem closer than it really was.  It looks like teams 1-4 were relatively bunched together.  5 close behind. The frat boys somehow managed team #6, and as expected, the deficit was unsurmountable and Aja and Ty are going to end up the last team to arrive.  And though I didn't expect it, they were indeed eliminated from the race.  

In the epilogue, we find that Terrence and Sarah will be assessed a 30-minute penalty to start off the next leg for their little speeding incident.  

I'll rate this leg of the race a C.  Seeing Cambodia was fascinating, it's not exactly a tourist destination you always hear about.  But the elements of the race itself... zzzzzzzzzzz.  

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birthday Recap

Well, yesterday was my birthday, which most people know means very little to me.  Everyone's excuse is "but you're one year older," to which I respond "everyday I'm a year older than I was a year ago."  

But that's not to say I don't appreciate all of the birthday greetings I received.  It's always nice to see everyone come out of the woodwork who you rarely hear from otherwise.  

In other news, my company gave me a birthday present yesterday too... a 5% salary cut.  In an effort to cut costs and prevent layoffs, they decided to cut the entire company's salaries 5%.  This actually was a reasonable solution, and they handled it well, but it still sucks.  In addition, they are going to be raising our health insurance rates, and the office will be shutting down the week between Christmas and New Year's, forcing all employees to take 4 days of vacation.  I guess that's not so bad, I've got a lot of vacation I didn't have major plans for anyway, so it's not such a big deal, and it might be nice having December 24-January 4 off as a sort of winter break.  I haven't had one of those since college!  Maybe I should make some fun plans that week.  

Last night to celebrate my birthday, I went curling as usual.  Had a good time though.  All does seem to be well in the world.  

But so far my Friday has been less than stellar.  I hope it improves.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To the Land of Phil - Leg 4

8 teams remain... who will be eliminated next?  Time to leave La Paz, Bolivia.  

More drama between between the Divorcees and the Siblings during the pit stop.  Seriously folks, spare me.  And we're off to Auckland, New Zealand... now that's a long trip from Bolivia... and one that's sure to put all 8 teams essentially even to start out the leg.  

I immediately sense that this is going to be a rather boring leg... because there's a lot of wasted time just getting to the airport.  Aja & Ty exhibited the first "relationship breakdown" we saw so far, but looked just like a little sleep-deprived frustration.  Nothing too bad.  If the producers had to squeeze every ounce of drama out of that, things must have been pretty peaceful around. What it must be like to be one of the cameramen whose only job is to videotape every teams most dramatic conversations.  Must be quite the experience.

And wow, that flight to New Zealand took all of about 5 seconds.  Impressive video editing. Ah, and we're back in rental cars with the teams driving around and getting lost... oh, and the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, nice.  Aja and Ty got a flat tire... too bad.  

Untie the Gordian Knot to find the next clue... the summit of Mount Eden... AND we have a Fast Forward option:  go to the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere and climb this maintenance ladder from the top to the VERY top of it.  Nice.  I'd totally go for that... as long as I was in first place.  

Roadblock to find the warrior with the tattoo that matches the picture.  Ha.  Not as easy as it looks.  But not so hard.  

Has anyone else noticed how many times the teams have to get their clue from someone who pulls it out of their pants?  

Is it just me or are the roadblocks not nearly as difficult as they've been in the past?  Usually there's at least one that's physically demanding or a scary challenge, but we've just had some pretty bizarre mental challenges for the most part.  

THE GNOME RETURNS.  In its first appearance of the season, Travelocity's product placement of the Roaming Gnome becomes the next challenge.  Use binoculars from the top of a building to find a roaming gnome somewhere in view, and THEN go and get it.  This is a big challenge.  One of the better ones using the gnome.  I think we'll call this a new route challenge, the Gnome Hunt.  Because really, that's almost always what you have to do... find the gnome in some bizarre way or other.  It's like a lifesize Where's Waldo? puzzle.  

Oh yeah, the blondes are STILL trying to find the Gordian Knot and untangle it.  So, when the rest of the teams were doing this challenge, it was the middle of the night, and now the blondes are doing it in the day.  I'm pretty sure they're a LONG way back.  It's these other teams' race to lose now.  

Ken and Tina successfully captured the Fast Forward, and got to take a helicopter to the pit stop... not bad for transportation!  :)  And there's Phil on the magic carpet... and only appropriate with Phil in his homeland of New Zealand that joining him as the local ambassador is... Phil's Dad! Hilarious!  

Back to the rest of the racers, who did not fast forward:

DETOUR:  Matter of Time or Matter of Skill.  Stomp kiwis, make juice, and then drink a glass.  Hmmm, can't say I've ever had the honor of enjoying a glass of kiwi juice.  Matter of Skill has to assemble a blowcart and ride it... whatever.  Giant lifesize puzzle.  Who cares, let's go back to watching the teams meet Phil's dad, that's more fun. 

Starr thinks she broke her arm after crashing her blowcart... ow, that looks painful. 

It all comes down to Aja & Ty, and the Blondes... both of which must be at least 5 hours behind the other teams, based on my assessment of the amount of daylight left (which by now is zero).  Aja and Ty are shocked to come in 7th.  As Marisa and Brooke arrive on the magic carpet crying, Phil's dad looks like he has tears in his eyes too.  And they get a hug from Phil's dad.  How cute.  But alas, they are eliminated.  

I admit it, I was wrong.  This actually was a really good leg, probably the best of the season so far.  Now I'm kinda excited for next week.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Didn't I Say "Remember the Clues"? - Leg 3

When we last left off, we were in Fortaleza, Brazil.  

Apparently some pit stop drama kept the excitement going in the meantime.  Rarely do they show anything that happens from the time the teams hit the mat to when they start the next leg, but apparently some drama between the divorcees and the siblings was too good to pass up.  This could get ugly.  But that's what the race is all about, I think.

Off to La Paz, Bolivia.  Once they arrive, they have to find the morning paper to find their next clue hidden in the classified ads.  Well that sounds like it would be easier said than done.  :)  

Terence and Sarah just realized that all the other teams are out for themselves, and that this isn't a popularity contest and they need to compete against the other teams.  HELLO?!  If you're just now realizing this, you have NO right to be in this race.  Seriously?   What did you expect, the Miss Universe pageant? 

La Paz is high altitude, so the endurance factor may be important here.  Though how will that affect the airhead blondes?  Only negatively, no doubt.

OK, so the classified ad says they need to go to a hat store and buy a hat.   They also have made it very clear that you must hold on to your hat.  (I presume this will be required at the pit stop or before.)  I will guess with certainty that some team loses a hat and get some sort of penalty for it.  Let's see.

Detour:  Musical March or Bumpy Ride.  Collect musicians and form a band, or ride a wooden bicycle and go down the cobblestone streets where you need to.  U-Turn ahead, forcing a team to go back and do the other detour.  Oh the advantage of being first here.  Though if these teams are smart, they won't use the U-Turn.  With this many teams, if you're in first you have no need to.  One team took a cab when the rules specifically stated they couldn't.  I sense another potential 30-minute penalty enforced at the magic carpet. Oops, they figured it out, and they're heading back to the start to do it on foot.  They might have been better taking whatever penalty they were assessed.  

Collecting a marching band along the way, awesome.  If I were in this race, I'd have a hard time not choosing the musical march, even if I thought the bumpy ride were faster, which I think it is. But maybe not so much.  That was a funny detour.  The Divorcees are having a bumpy road on the bumpy ride, if only because they can't seem to ride a bike.  

And the U-Turn, Starr wants to U-Turn the Divorcees, which by my estimation would effectively guarantee their elimination.  But Nick disagrees, and they avoid it.  

Mom and son managed to pass the divorcees in last place.  Oh, but it's a roadblock.  Fight a girl.  HA.  This is a stretch and kinda stupid.  I don't care if it's cultural or whatever, it's dumb.  ...  I take that back, that was funny... once, but not any more than that.  

Pit stop... Ken and Tina arrive first!  This isn't much of an exciting finish.  Except that I must have missed the fact that one of the other teams also took an illegal taxi to the detour.  Mark and Bill incurred a 30-minute penalty, they were the second-to-last team to arrive, and due to the penalty they were eliminated from the race.  I have to say, there have been a fair share of time penalties throughout the seasons of the race, often resulting in a loss of position, but I can't recall a previous time where the penalty directly resulted in elimination.  

Next week should be interesting.  

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things that surprisingly annoy me

  • People who pronounce "taco" like "TACK-o".
  • People who use "u" instead of "you," "r" instead of "are," and "thx" instead of "thanks" outside of a text message or IM.  
  • People who use "heart" as a verb.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vacation Wrapup and The Week Ahead

Without much trouble we made it back home from the islands, and never have I been more pleased to have 50 degree weather and a distinct lack of sun.  :)  Unfortunately, now I have a half dozen things to do in the next three days, not counting getting back up to speed with everything going on at work.  Running down the highlights of the calendar:  

  • Tonight I need to make my way over to the curling club to meet my Thursday night team who wants to get some practice time in so we might be able to win a few more games this year.  Should be fun, hopefully I'm still awake by then.  
  • Tomorrow I have a meeting for the Husky Band Foundation, followed by the customary pop culture trivia night at Jillian's.  That'll be fun and a nice break from work, but unfortunately, all these other things have to be done too.
  • Friday kicks off the curling season with, of course, the league I manage.  So as usual I've got the next two days to figure out who all is planning to curl on Fridays, get a rough idea of how the teams will be all organized, and hope that nothing falls through the cracks.  Looking at my recent registration lists, I can see that there'll be plenty of the usual last minute people who didn't see fit to register early, and I'll have to shoehorn them into the roster in some capacity.  Why can't everyone in the world be more organized?  Seriously...
  • Saturday I volunteered to help out with another curling open house, so I'll be back up there teaching folks how to curl again.  At least that'll be fun and fortunately with the Huskies bye this week, I don't have to worry about juggling that with a UW football game. :)
  • In things without an allotted time, I need to do laundry from my trip sometime.  
  • I need to figure out what Vancouver 2010 Olympics tickets I want to put into my order.  I've got about a month to figure that out, but I want to iron it out sooner than later, mainly because it's fun and it'll be cool to plan what I want to try to get tickets for.  How exciting.  And how ridiculously expensive can tickets to the Opening Ceremony be?  Oh, anywhere from $700-$1300 each.  Ouch! 
  • Any number of other things I've forgotten.  What a week, what a week...  

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Closing out the Week - Days 6 & 7

Sunday was a day of recovery.  We all had originally planned to get out and do things, but instead decided to spend the day around the house, playing in the ocean, and actually cooking and eating some of the food we had bought.  It ended up being a spectacular day.  

Monday Carley, Chad, Maija and myself made our way down to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.  Last year when I was down here, I was too lazy to wait around for 2 hours in order to do the film and trip out to the memorial, but today we arrived around 11am and got tickets for 1pm.  That gave us 2 hours to leave and go over to Hilo Hatties to procure some fine Hawaiian merchandise before grabbing lunch at McD's and making our way back in time for the 1pm entrance.  

By the time we made it out of Pearl Harbor it was about 3pm and we decided to just head back to the house, having accomplished everything we had planned for the day.  We picked up some last minute provisions at the store before getting home to relax a bit then start making dinner.  We managed to use most all of the food we had bought at Costco, and everyone seemed to enjoy it all.  

After dinner, and making some BBQ smores, we took some time to do some tidying up around the house before we leave tomorrow morning.  I still need to get some packing done tonight, but besides that I think we're pretty much ready to go.  A successful and restful week of vacation is nearly complete.  

I think my internal clock will be a bit askew for the rest of the week trying to get to work on time, but thankfully I tend to adjust better traveling east than west, so I may be OK afterall.  

Aloha and Mahalo.  

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Remember the Clues - Leg 2

[I'm writing this one as I'm on my own Amazing Race... well, with one destination: Hawaii.  I think I'm in the lead, but I haven't been able to find Phil and the magic carpet yet... ]

We're in Salvador, Brazil.  We're flying to Fortaleza, Brazil.  Brazil is big.  I think someone should have to take a train or something.  But apparently not.  

"I can't control everything and I want to control everything," says Starr... sounds like my sister too.

Terence... totally drama.  Rarely is the guy drama, but in this case it's definitely so.  Oh, I think Sarah is drama too, so maybe they're a good team.  

Wow, Ken and Tina made impressive work convincing the airline to switch the early flight to a bigger plane so there's more space.  I don't think I've seen that happen before.  But the airport drama is even bigger as now Tina believes that they should be first on the plane because they're the reason everyone's on the plane.  "What's fair is fair."  Hmmm, last time I checked, just because I check in first doesn't mean I board first... well, unless I'm flying Southwest.  "DING!  You are now free to race around the world."

OK, point of order... in Brazil, they speak Portuguese, not Spanish!  Save the three words of Spanish you know for a country where they might actually understand you.  I'm sure you'll hit one sooner or later.  "RAPIDO! RAPIDO!"  Seriously?  Every season I think I make my Rapido rant, and this is the first, and probably not the last.  

Doom Buggies across the sand... then detour..Beach It or Docket.  Maneuver a heavy boat across the beach, or search a shipyard for a specific container you're looking for.  In this case, I think Beach It is probably going to be faster usually, but I'd totally do Docket because it sounds far more fun.  The Southern Belles meant to do Docket, but went to the Beach It because they apparently couldn't follow the GIANT signs that said "Beach It" or "Docket".  Too bad for them.  And the other blondes attempted to do Beach It using the Docket instructions.  Wow, the producers have outdone themselves this season.  

Mark and Bill are total geeks.  Anyone who can speak Yoda better than Yoda himself... 'nuff said.  However they ARE the only team to choose Docket.  

As we reach another commercial break, and I'm watching live so I can't fast forward, I reflect on the amount of team drama this season.  Maybe that's just because the other teams aren't featured much yet, because they aren't doing anything stupid. :)  I tell you, friends, especially in the early legs, the Amazing Race is NOT WON BY SPEED.  It's won by NOT DOING STUPID THINGS!

And the first road block of the race...  find the name of your next destination on the giant wall.  This one's just plain tricky.  But smarts and creativity prevails, as the nerds write down every name on the wall in hopes one is right.  Success!  Other teams think too hard.  This is brilliant work by the producers, because everyone is starting the race thinking that these puzzles will be complicated and tricky, and this one's nothing more than simply reading off the wall until you get it right.  

Ken and Tina are separated... seriously Ken should run as far away from Tina as he can... but that's for after they get eliminated.  Despite it all, they find the magic carpet first and are team number 1.  The geeks come in right behind.  

What a mess.  Phil seems to be enjoying the mayhem.   Teams 3 4 and 5 arrive at practically the same time.  5 teams remain.  "I don't mind playing dirty as long as I'm the one who benefits from it," says Nick, but successfully the siblings come in #6.  Yeah, remember that when one of the other teams benefits from it.  :)  

Finally we reach... Anthony and Stephanie... who were as unmemorable as their elimination is.  We'll see you at the finish line with the rest of the losers.

It's odd that these first couple of episodes have been much more focused on team drama than having many actual race elements.  I guess that's expected considering the teams are still new and we have much to learn before we completely start hating them.  Hopefully they get the race moving before too long or I might get uninterested like I did last season.  For now I'm still entertained.  

The Wedding Day - Day 5

Saturday finally brought about the reason we all came here, Nick and Christie's Wedding.  Those of us spectators enjoyed a nice morning at home, and managed to catch the first quarter of the Huskies terrible performance before heading down the street to the wedding.  

I have to admit, this is the first beach wedding I've ever been to.  The weather cooperated, as we were just out on the beach behind the house Christie's family had rented, and it was slightly breezy with occasional clouds shading us from the sun.  The ceremony was rather quick, and quite nice, but I think we were all glad to get out of the hot sun once it was over and made the drive down the island to the reception.  

The reception was at Ko'olau Golf Course, which also has a large conference center/ballrooms connected to it.  Everything went perfectly (at least as far as I could tell) and everyone had a great time.  

They say a picture says 1,000 words, so go look at the pictures and I'll space you rest of the words.  

What has become a tradition at most of the Husky Band-related weddings I've been to in recent memory, as the evening wears on and the glasses compound on the table, my attempt to fashion a musical interlude was once again successful.  This time though we managed to get it on video for everyone's enjoyment.  

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Leisurely Friday - Day 4

Friday was pretty uneventful, by design.  For once we didn't make any big trips down to the south end of the island, and just took some time to relax and do things around the house.  This is what a vacation needs to feel like sometimes.  

For lunch, I took the opportunity to visit one of my mom's friends from college who happens to live less than 5 minutes from the house we're staying at here in Laie.  They have a beautiful house right on the water.  I remember visiting them probably 15 years ago when my family was down here, and haven't really seen them since.  But we had a good lunch and it was nice visiting with them for a couple of hours.  

I came back home and those of us around decided to head out to the beach.  The surf was quite a bit better than the other days, so the boogie boards were far more functional.  We played in the waves, and got plenty of white sand all over us.  After we were tired, tanned, or toasted, we came back in and later in the afternoon all of the wedding party-related folks were off to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, leaving Annie, Adam and myself to relax and find dinner on our own.  

We decided to go down the street to a local drive-in place with "Hawaiian Barbeque"?  I think what we had was "Chinese food" but it was still good.  There aren't a lot of dining options in Laie, other than making good food yourself.  We stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and then pretty much relaxed the rest of the evening.  It was nice not being quite so busy.  

Today is the reason we all came... the wedding.  Once again, the wedding-related folks are all gone to get ready, and the rest of us are just hanging around until later.  There's plenty of college football on TV that's keeping us entertained, and we all hope to catch the start of the Husky game (around 1pm here) before the 3pm wedding.  

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's starting to feel like vacation - Day 3

Someone told me it was Friday today.  I'm not entirely sure.  

Whatever it is, yesterday was another eventful day.  Once again, we all seem to get up whenever it gets light out, which usually means sometime around 6:30-7am.  Yesterday was a bit more humid than the few before it, with frequent bouts of rain passing through and a noticible lack of wind.  Today fortunately the wind is back and flushing out the humidity a bit, which makes it much more tolerable.  

After getting everyone ready to go, Christie the bride came by and joined us to go up to Waimea Falls, which after getting to we decided not to pay the $10 to walk up to the actual falls, but went around the outer grounds and enjoyed the grenery of the Waimea Valley a bit.  Then we continued around the island to the obligatory stop at the Dole Plantation.  We rode the Pineapple Express through the pineapple fields, and of course I had the obligatory cup of Dole Whip.  Beyond that thouse, this place has gone from being a creative tourist promotion of Dole and pineapples, to being a total tourist trap trying to sell you everything from the food you eat to the massive amounts of Dole-related and pineapple-themed merchandise.  Not impressed.  

After the plantation, we headed back to the house for a brief moment in the afternoon.  =\\\\\\\-'


Sorry for that interruption, baby Maija decided to inspect my keyboard to make sure the keys still worked.  She has now decided to go inspect the TV remotes on the table instead.  :)

Later in the evening, Nick's bachelor party required Chad, Adam, and I to drive down to Waikiki for dinner at Sam Choy's followed by hitting some bars downtown.  Dinner was good, but we didn't do much on the bar front before I was not feeling well from the long running days, and the three of us decided it was time to head back before it was too late, considering we had another hour drive to the north end of the island.  We made it back in around 1am and the night was over.  

Friday leaves a much less busy day, yet should have plenty of stories.  More on that tomorrow.  

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Aloha and Mahalo - Day 2

Aloha. This will probably be a rather quick post because I'm tired, and it's been a long day. I guess that means it should be longer, but I'm lazy.

This morning I managed to wake up at, oh, about 6:30am. Or rather, at that point I couldn't really sleep any longer and decided to get up. I wasn't the first up, nor was I the last. But everyone managed to make it up by around 7:30 or so.

We interrupt this blog for a late-breaking observation: when it starts raining and it blows inside halfway across the room to where I'm sitting, it's time to close the windows.

So after having breakfast and everyone decided to get ready, about 9:00 we made our way out and back to the south side of the island (a trip we will likely be repeating several more times on this trip). We went to Diamond Head crater and made the 0.8-mile, up-560-feet hike to the top. Took some great pictures you can check out in the album here.

After Diamond Head a few of us went over to Waikiki for lunch and to wander around a bit, then eventually we all managed to make our way back up the island to the house. After regrouping, we headed over to the Polynesian Cultural Center for an evening luau and their night show. We all had a good time, ate good food, and the show was pretty good too.

Of course, I write these blogs in my head throughout the day, then completely forget about them by the time like now when I write them down. Seriously, there was some pretty funny stuff in my head at one point. Oh well, time to lock up and find some sleep. Tomorrow I've heard a plethora of different "what's happening" ideas, so we'll see what materializes.