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Madonna & Shania: A tale of two ticket purchases

rht-fbYesterday was the day that I dread most every time Madonna decides to tour – the day of the presale. It’s not that I won’t get tickets – that’s pretty much a guarantee since for your $20 to ICON, you get to order so much earlier than everyone else. Mostly, it’s a matter of how much money you want to spend, am you going to get the seats that you want and just how much are you going to have to sell your body in order to pay for the experience.

As I’m so fond of saying, being in Madonna’s Golden Snatch Triangle for the MDNA Tour was a once in a lifetime experience, but it has really ruined me on arena shows forever. Now, wherever I sit, it’s too far away. Jeff (my long-suffering Madonna partner-in-crime) and I had decided that we were going to try for floor seats this time because it’d be like being in the pit, but with chairs, not that we’d be sitting. His girlfriend Caryle was even going to take one for the team and agreed to floor seats even though she is shorter than Jeff and me so it might be harder for her to see.  As she put it, she “deferred to the true Madonna fans.” My friend Steve was trying to subtly steer me away from floor seats as it is a madhouse down there with crazy fans in costumes and pushing and shoving. I was not so easily dissuaded.

The added wrinkle this year was I was working the night shift on March 9th into the 10th, so I would have to stay awake until the tickets went on sale at 10AM on the 10th. This didn’t seem like it would be that hard but I seriously underestimated the tired. It got to be 9:30AM and I really didn’t think I was going to make it. But once 10AM rolled around, I put in my presale code and we were off to the races. The first weird thing I noticed is that everything was a VIP package. It wasn’t like that the last time, but whatever. The VIP fan package was the lowest level I could get, and sadly, it didn’t have the option for floor seats, only lower bowl and above. I tried the second level up – the VIP Tour Package – and sure enough, it had floor seats, but holy wow, they were prohibitively expensive, like $503 each expensive. We’d discussed floor seats but we never agreed to that price, so after toying with it briefly, I decided no, we’ll just stick to the lower bowl. I got almost all the way through the purchase process and then bailed, trying to get better seats.  For a heart-stopping moment, when I went back in to try again, my presale code didn’t work and I thought I was going to be stuck getting $503 tickets as the VIP fan package was locked to me. Eventually, it unlocked itself and all was fine. I bought the tickets – which at $278 were cheaper than our non-Golden Triangle MDNA tickets by about $100 each and the seats were about as good. It was no Drowned World tour “nothing above us but ceiling” that’s for damn sure.

Later that day, I went back in just to see how things were going and, lo and behold, there was the Icon Live Pass sale, which DID include floor seats. They were still prohibitively expensive at $393, but that was something we’d been prepared to pay. As it turns out, the VIP packages come with a bunch of complimentary stuff, commemorative tickets, a free piece of merchandise exclusive to VIP members, a Madonna gift bag, the whole nine yards. So our tickets are a little more expensive but we’re getting the VIP treatment – or at least the lowest level of it. No, we do not get to meet Madonna. Jeff and I are a little afraid to meet Madonna because we’re afraid she’ll be bitchy to us. Yet, a part of us secretly hopes she would be. It was definitely the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing purchase of Madonna concert tickets that I have ever had. Being addled by lack of sleep did not help in the slightest.

But wait…there’s more!

11026185_10152856752552655_8095660770752374568_nAbout a week back, I posted on Facebook that if I were not going to Madonna’s show, I would totally love to go see Shania Twain when her Rock This  Country Tour makes a stop in Des Moines on August 6th. I am not a massive Shania Twain fan by any stretch of the imagination, but my friend Jared tipped me off to her live CD recording of her Las Vegas show and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. Those who know me well know that I have a soft spot for 90s country – probably because it was about as close to pop as country has ever come – and Shania is practically the definition of late 90s country-pop. At the time, I admit to being kind of Twain-weary, but when I was listening to the songs of hers that I have in my iTunes library, I was surprised at how well they have aged – especially “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” from 2002’s Up! which is currently in heavy rotation on my iPod. Heidi was encouraging me to go anyway, but I kind of poo-poo’d it, saying I’d rather go to Belinda Carlisle at Des Moines Pride in June (YES STOP THE PRESSES BELINDA WILL BE IN DES MOINES.)

I slept fitfully after buying those Madonna tickets, mostly because I was nervous that I had screwed up and we could have gotten floor seats if I had just been more patient, but seriously, the option for the ICON Live Pass presale did not show up, even at 10:30AM so I thought the VIP packages were my only options. Heidi woke me up at about 4:30PM with the words “I just did something really stupid” delivered into her hands which were covering her face. Uh-oh. This is gonna be good, I thought.

As it turns out, she was bound and determined to send me to Shania Twain come hell or high water. When she said that, I said “yeah, tickets go on sale Friday.” She did not know this. I need to preface the rest of this with the information that Heidi is not a live music type of person and doesn’t have nearly the experience ordering concert tickets that I do. So when she went online looking for them, she ended up at a secondary market seller. She got two tickets, but sadly, ended up paying about twice the face value, all before tickets officially go on sale tomorrow. They were fan pre-sale tickets, so they are legit, but she ended up spending a lot more than she really needed to.  They are not horrible seats but they aren’t rock star either. But remember, this is Shania Twain and not Madonna. I sat in the nosebleeds for Fleetwood Mac and had a perfectly wonderful time. Anna and I will be in the nosebleeds for Taylor Swift and guarantee we will have a good time. Fortunately, it’s not like she spent multiple hundreds of dollars, so as expensive errors go, this one is not going to tip us into financial insolvency.  Her heart was in the right place, she just needs to learn the difference between the primary and secondary markets for concert tickets.

But wait…there’s even more.

After she told me this, I picked up my phone and there was a text from my Mom saying that she saw my post on Facebook about wanting to go to Shania Twain and that they were in for up to 5 tickets. I told Heidi this and it just made her feel worse (not my intention.)  So now we had an offer on the table from my mom and dad to pay for us to go to the Shania Twain, plus we had two tickets that were purchased for over their face value. What were we to do?

I called my folks tonight and we decided that I would keep the tickets Heidi got and that Anna and I would go. Like I said, Heidi’s not really an arena show type of girl, although she did make an exception for Cher because she’s MF-ing CHER. Anna doesn’t know any Shania Twain songs but I figure if I start with “Any Man of Mine” and “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” she’ll be hooked. Plus we like going to concerts together. My mom and dad will buy tickets of their own, take us out to dinner before the show and we’ll just not sit together at the show. No big whoop.

I will admit that a part of me is nervous that I’ll get to the show and it’ll be like our friend Abby when she got tickets to Glee! Live in New York off of Craigslist and when they got to Radio City Music Hall, she was informed that the tickets were fake. I think the chances of that happening are remote at best, but you know me and worst case scenarios.

So there you have it. Two concert ticket purchases in a single day. I’m up to 5 live shows this year -Fleetwood Mac, Belinda Carlisle, Shania, Madonna, and Taylor Swift. Would you like to go for 6? We’ll just keep Heidi away from purchasing the tickets. (Love you honey!!)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in concerts, Madonna, Music, Shania Twain

 

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March Music, Part 1

While most of the world is gearing up for March Madness (you know, the college basketball thing), I’m bracing myself for an expensive month on the new music front.  There is so much new music coming out in March that I’m hoping it all staggers out enough that not too much comes out of any one paycheck.

First up is Tuxedo, a duo comprised of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One.  Readers of the blog know how fond I am of the multi-talented Hawthorne. I am so jealous of that man’s ability to sing in falsetto! It’s been a couple years since Mayer Hawthorne released a new album, but it hardly seems like it because he’s showing up everywhere these days.  But Tuxedo’s debut album appears to be the next big thing for Hawthorne and I’ve been on board since I heard the debut single “Do It” in late 2014.


This stuff is classy as shit. Influenced by the disco and funk of the late 70s and early 80s, this album is on track to be one of my favorites of the year and it hasn’t even been released yet.  All that changes on March 3rd when Tuxedo’s album drops although you can listen to it on NPR’s First Listen which I did this morning even though I was up at an ungodly hour. I didn’t get a chance to really digest it all that well, but it sounds fantastic. It fills the gap that was occupied very briefly for me by “Uptown Funk” which I can barely listen to any longer thanks to overplay on the the tuxedoradio at work. I swear if I hear “Don’t believe me just watch!” one more time I will not be responsible for my actions.

Mayer Hawthorne really is in his imperial phase right now. Everything he does turns to gold (at least for me.)  I think it’s because he is so clearly inspired by music and loves it so much. This creates a palpable energy in his music.  While this is not a new solo album and probably not as ambitious as Where Did This Door Go?, it’s always good to get new material from him, especially a whole album’s worth.

The 2LP vinyl version of Tuxedo’s album is on its way to me as we speak! I’m starting to think it might get here before next Tuesday, which would be pretty damn awesome. I preordered it back in January thinking it wouldn’t charge my credit card till it shipped. I was wrong about that but I’m still glad I bought it when I did.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Mayer Hawthorne, Music

 

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Horny Horns

Horns_Official_Movie_PosterLast week, I watched Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, directed by Alexandre Aja, the man at the helm of such cinematic masterpieces as Piranha 3D, and based on the book by Joe Hill.  I was eagerly anticipating this one, as I had heard pretty good things about it. I hadn’t read the book, but I’m not completely sold on Joe Hill, the son of horror maestro Stephen King, as the one book of his that I read (Heart-Shaped Box) was only ok.

As it turns out, that’s kind of my opinion on Horns as well – only ok.

Radcliffe, playing decidedly against type, stars as Ig Perrish, a young man suspected of brutally killing his girlfriend Merrin. He’s not been charged, but he’s already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion in the small town where he lives.  One night, after going on a bender and waking up horribly hung over, he looks in the mirror and sees that a pair of devilish horns are starting to grow out of his head. He quickly finds that the horns compel people to confess their darkest sins.

Honestly, I was only marginally interested in the whodunit aspect of the movie. I was more interested in what was going to come out of people’s mouths when they came into the general vicinity of Ig’s horns. Some of the confessions were heartbreaking, some hilarious. It reminded me of how good it is that people have filters that prevent them from saying whatever crazy thing pops into their heads.

Overall, the film is kind of clunky and oddly paced, mixing the story with flashbacks as the identity of Merrin’s killer is fleshed out.  The final third of the movie is very what-the-fuck, but whatever. We’re talking about a movie where a guy has horns growing out of his head. If you wanted realism, you probably shouldn’t have looked here.  But the shoddy story-telling was what ultimately caused this movie to get a 3-star rating from me.  Not having read the book, I’m not sure how it stacks up against its source material, but I’m not really inclined to read it either.

The failure to somehow incorporate Paula Abdul’s “Vibeology” and it’s “horny horns” refrain into the movie remains a missed opportunity, but this gif made the rounds shortly after I watched it.  It’s pretty much perfect.

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in horror flicks

 

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Six things I’ve learned about Rebel Heart

1035x1035-rebelheartI think all the little Dutch boys in the world with their fingers in the dam couldn’t have stemmed the Rebel Heart leaks. Madonna has not been able to keep this album under wraps for love nor money and it’s led to an extremely awkward album rollout. It all culminated yesterday in the leak of all 25 track from the deluxe version of the album in high quality. Poor Madge, she can’t catch a break.

Nonetheless, it’s still a new Madonna record, so naturally, I’ve been pretty excited about it. I resisted the temptation to listen to the album early for about 8 hours. I was asleep for about 6 of those hours so all in all, I think I did pretty well. So far, I’m not sure what I think of the record other than it seems very “kitchen sink” to me – not surprising considering the number of writers and producers that have been involved in this project. But it’s still early and I haven’t listened start-to-finish even one time. But here are six early observations.

  1. When “Rebel Heart” makes my favorite songs of 2015 list (it likely will), it’ll be the version that leaked in November of 2014 and not the album version. Stripped of its Avicii-ness, the song is more appropriate for American Life. It’s not a bad change, but I vastly preferred the production on what was allegedly the demo. My hunch is that the version that leaked was a close-to-finished version and once it leaked, Madonna reworked it into what it is now.
  2. “Holy Water” is the new champion of  Madonna’s least subtle double entendres, displacing its clear musical cousin “Where Life Begins.” It’s kind of hard to argue when the lyrics are “Baby you should get down low/And drink my precious alcohol” and “Kiss it better, make it wetter/Don’t it taste like holy water?”  And then, as if to remove all doubt she says “Yeezus loves my pu**y best.”  Wow, just wow.  Still, it’s not a bad song, one of those songs that I will love in spite of myself. It also marks the second time she’s sampled “Vogue” into one of her songs.
  3. “Joan of Arc” works much better as a midtempo number than the straight ballad it was in the demo version.  This morning my phone autocorrected the song to “Joan of Arcadia” which is how I think I’ll refer to this song from here on out.
  4. “Iconic” will be massive live.
  5. Madonna’s still mixing her metaphors, this time with “Body Shop.”  A body shop doesn’t do repairs to car engines. A cute song though.
  6. “Autotune Baby” is the first Madonna song in 30 years of being a fan that is completely and utterly unlistenable. Just awful. Words can express how awful it is.

It’s fun to get this many songs from Madonna all at once, but my friend P.H. Davies has a really good take on what might have resulted had Madonna had anyone around her that is capable of saying “no” to her.

Regardless, it’s a new Madonna era! Let the games begin. Also, start saving your pennies for the tour.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Madonna, Music

 

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On being non-sporty on a holy sports day

A friend of mine posted this xkcd comic to Facebook. It’s probably made the rounds, but I’m posting it here too because it really made me think.

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As a non-sporty guy, it’s easy for me to mock the passion that many people feel for professional sports. The fact that so many men love sports and I don’t still makes me feel, even in my early 40s, like maybe I’m not as much of a man as they might be – like I’m missing something important in my own genetic makeup that renders me an inferior man. That kind of stuff has deep roots for me.  For a time in college, I pretended to be interested in softball so that I could play in the annual pharmacy school softball tournament.  My roommate spent a ton of time basically teaching me how to throw and catch so that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.  When it came time for the tournament, we were snowed out – on the first weekend in May, believe it or not. Sometimes I think a higher power was looking after me.

Living in a college town, lack of interest in sports is usually met with disbelief. I’ve certainly been in the situation where I’ve been defensive and vocal about not following sports. Most of the people I work with know I don’t and that’s kind of something that makes me Dan. But the thing I’ve learned over the years is that the way people feel the day of the Super Bowl, during the World Series or the Olympics, or in the Final Four is not all that dissimilar to how I feel when I’m anticipating a new Madonna record or going to her show. And Lord knows people put up with me going on and on about that. Even if they don’t quite connect with how excited I am, I have to give them props for listening. Talking about something I feel so passionately about does make me vulnerable. As an introvert, being vulnerable around someone is perhaps one of the biggest compliments I can give. It means I trust you and that’s not something I give away easily.

So today, on this holiest of holy sports days, let’s all us non-sporty people vow to try to understand the feeling that sporty people get from watching the Super Bowl and try to figure out what about us would make us feel that way, and how we would feel if someone called it dumb or silly. Remember – the sporty people did let a Madonna concert interrupt their football game a few years ago.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Mirrors

I watched two horror movies last night in which mirrors play a prominent role. One was really good and one was mostly shit, but just mostly.

oculus_ver2_xlg-oculus-movie-review-no-spoilersThe first is yet another movie on the list of the 15 best horror films of 2014 that I’m chipping away at. The film stars Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame, who is really carving out a nice post-Who career for herself. Eleven years after Kaylie and Tim Russell watched their father gun down their mother and only escaped after Tim shot their father, they attempt to kill an evil that dwells in an antique mirror that once adorned the walls of their father’s office.  The premise sounds ridiculous, but when you think about it, the premise of most horror movies sound ridiculous. Trust me, by the time you finish Oculus, you won’t think it ridiculous and you just might find yourself wanting to remove all the mirrors from your house.

The execution of this film is nearly flawless, the pacing perfect. Kaylie’s best laid plan appears foolproof, and you know it won’t be going into it, but how the movie unspools is half the fun. (Once again, the trailer gives away way too much so don’t watch it.) This is one smart horror film, one that keeps you guessing the entire time, but never leaves you confused and scratching your head wondering what the hell is going on. If it does, it’s in a “pleasantly confused” way.  The end was truly a shocker, one that I didn’t really see coming at all, and one that leaves the door open for a ton of inferior sequels, I presume.

yYIMENwSbHM6mt3pSkoAV5RqSHRI always say the smartest horror films scare with ideas and not with gore. Gore is just gross and not necessarily scary. I found this to be the case with the original Candyman movie that was released in 1992, one of my favorite horror movies. Sure, it’s plenty gory. How can it not be when the main scariness comes from a guy with a hook for a hand that eviscerates his victims? But I remember thinking at the time how judiciously the gore was used, choosing instead to scare with the idea of the Candyman. Is he real? Is he a figment of the imagination? This was decidedly not the case with the 1995 sequel, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. It also suffered from having a weaker story, a lot of info dump and no Virginia Madsen.

Candyman 2 takes the action from the Chicago projects to New Orleans, in which a series of killings that look like the work of the Candyman. Naturally, the cops think it’s the work of some psycho that is obsessed with the Candyman, and there’s no shortage of those people. Enter Annie Tarrant, who teaches in an underprivileged New Orleans school and whose father was killed by the Candyman (or at least in Candyman fashion.) What follows is a confusing gobbledy-gook of weird family ties, not knowing what’s real, unnecessary gore and the origins of the Candyman.

I’m not sorry that I watched it – Tony Todd still kills it as The Candyman and it was interesting to see him play the slave who would eventually become Candyman. But it is definitely an inferior sequel to the original in every way. It didn’t even really deliver any good scares, mostly just jump scares and gross-out sequences..

Every time I watch Candyman, I always think of my brother who postulates how different the movie would have been had Sammy Davis, Jr., who had a #1 hit in 1972 with “The Candy Man”, cast in the role. The world may never know, and it wasn’t even a possibility since he passed away in 1990.  But watching these two as a double feature did make me wonder what would happen if you said “Candyman” 5 times in front of the mirror featured in Oculus. That would probably release a veritable shitstorm and it’d be hard to say what would get you first.

Watch Oculus, skip Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, but watch Candyman and read the Clive Barker story Candyman is based on called “The Forbidden.” You won’t be sorry.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in horror flicks, Movies

 

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Tusk

tusk-poster1I’m working my way through this list of the 15 best horror films of 2014. It started a few weeks back with The Taking of Deborah Logan, which got an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  Second on the list was Afflicted – more about that in an upcoming post – and today, it was Kevin Smith’s Tusk. I wasn’t sure what to think about Tusk going into it. I’m not a huge Kevin Smith fan, but I did like Red State (perhaps “like” is kind of a strong word for such a disturbing film.) I had heard decidedly mixed reviews, with some horror fans declaring it the worst film of the year. I was also familiar with how it bombed at the box office when it was released. After watching Tusk, I can see why – but that wasn’t because I didn’t like it.

Like The Taking of Deborah Logan, it’s best if you go into Tusk knowing as little as possible about what’s going to happen.  Even watching the trailer gives away too much, so don’t watch it! That’s more or less how I did it and let me tell you, not knowing anything made the experience so much better. What I will tell you is that Tusk is the story of a podcaster who interviews strange people with interesting stories to tell. When an interview that he travelled to Canada to do falls through, he responds to an ad posted by a retired seaman who promises that he has stories to tell.

And wow, does he ever.

Revealing any more than this really threatens to spoil the film, but rest assured, as the poster at right insinuates, walruses play a role.

Some random thoughts about Tusk:

  • There were some points in it that I was very much grossed out. It’s not for the weak of stomach. Wikipedia describes it as a comic body horror film. I didn’t even know body horror was a thing.
  • It was actually pretty funny too, when it wasn’t busy grossing me out. Justin Lang is perfect as the douchey podcaster Wallace Bryton. I think it was the mustache that pushed it over the edge.
  • Haley Joel Osment has not really lived up to the promise of that Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, but it was fun to see him in the role as Bryton’s fellow podcaster.
  • The movie was an hour and 45 minutes long, and honestly, it probably could have been a good 20 minutes shorter.  Let’s face it – that’s a long time to tell a story that probably could have been told by Rod Serling in 22 minutes on an episode of The Twilight Zone.

I mentioned that I could see why Tusk bombed at the box office. The reason I say this has nothing to do with how much I personally enjoyed the film. Despite the gross factor, it was not a bad way to spend my morning. What I think happened is that people went in expecting something that was funnier than it was and were turned off by the grossness.  If late night TV weren’t sold to the highest bidding informercials, Tusk would be playing as the late movie for years and years to come. It probably should have gone the road of a video-on-demand release and had only a limited theatrical run. Expectations would have been lowered and it could have dodged the label of “box office bomb”, especially bad since there are two more films starring the cast of Tusk in the works.

And for those wondering, yes, it uses Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” to great effect.  Honestly, even if the rest of the movie had been utter shit, that scene would have redeemed it for me.

Next up for me is probably Oculus since it’s streaming on Netflix, but Horns is supposed to be coming from Netflix. I’m excited for both.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Movies

 

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