In the Category of Best Nights Ever, This Comes Close to #1

Hello everyone!  As promised, here is my post about the SERIOUSLY EPIC Tuesday I had last week.  I’ll begin with a few words to summarize:

Linkin Park Concert

Backstage Passes

Front Row Seats

FREE

Me, waiting outside the venue before the backstage tour started.

Now, even if you aren’t a Linkin Park fan, I think most people can agree that these words indicate a pretty awesome evening, yes?  And let me tell you: It was MIND-BLOWING (and ear-drum blowing).  One of the best things I ever done EVER.  SERIOUSLY.

So here’s the full story: I’ve mentioned before that I am a member of Grammy U, and that my brother is the Houston representative of Grammy U, which is how I had that other awesome experience of having dinner with some pretty big people in the music business.  Well, my membership to Grammy U has come to the rescue again!  SOMEONE in the higher-ups (and my brother and I are still trying to figure out who so we can thank them properly) ((UPDATE: We have confirmed it was Theresa Jenkins, Senior Executive Director of the Texas Chapter who arranged for the tickets)) arranged for a few backstages passes to be made available for the Linkin Park concert in Houston.  My brother, as the Houston rep, was sent the info and asked to find some other Grammy U members in the area who would like to go (of course, I was first on the list).

My brother, listening to the awesome conversations.

We ended up with seven people: my brother and myself, Sofia (who works my brother and is a manager at Sugarhill Studios), fellow UH student Danny (I’m not giving last names), two guys from Austin – Alex and Mark, and Eric Jarvis – the President of the Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy.

Behind/beneath the main stage. LOOK AT ALL THOSE GUITARS.

So, we’re thinking: backstage passes, that’s pretty awesome.  We’ll get a tour, maybe get to meet some of the road crew, etc.  And then we’ll see the concert.  And we assumed we’d get pretty good seats too, but nothing too extravagant.  WE HAD NO IDEA.  IT WAS SO MUCH BETTER.

The tour manager for Linkin Park, Cory, was the one who gave us the tour.  We got to see the set-up inside the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion, where the concert was held.  We not only got to meet, but actually had a lengthy discussion/question-and-answer session with Linkin Park’s sound guy, the head carpenter (which is a bit of misnomer, because he’s not JUST a carpenter, he’s in charge of all the set up for the entire freakin’ stage), and the director who does most of Linkin Park’s music videos (who has, by the way, also worked with Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera, just to do some name dropping). (And they were all so NICE!)

Looking out into the audience from backstage, in between openers.

We were taken on/behind/beneath the actual stage while the crew was taking down stuff from the first opener (Mutemath) and setting stuff up for the second opener (Incubus).

Then we were taken to catering, where they had an awesome buffet spread, and had dinner with the road crew.

And THEN we were taken out to wait for Linkin Park to show up.  There was a big group from the Linkin Park fan club (LP Underground) who had obviously paid a ton of extra money for a group photo/autograph session with the band.  Cory kept us to the side, and then the six of us were allowed OUR OWN group photo with Linkin Park.  We managed to get autographs from four of the six members (there was a small mix-up and we missed getting autographs from Joe Hahn and one other).  More importantly, however, is that when Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda (the two I REALLY REALLY wanted) came to the end of the line to give us autographs, they actually STAYED and TALKED to us.

I just really like this shot of the light coming through the slats beneath the stage. ^_^

Mark, with Chester and his crazy sprite-tea-pedialyte drink.

Chester stayed for about five minutes, and told us about his drink.  It looked like beer, but he assured us that it was in fact Sprite, Pedialyte, and Lipton tea (I think there was tea too…).  And seriously, even though I’ve seen interviews with Chester before, it still shocks me how quiet and unassuming he is in person, compared to the screaming BEAST he becomes on stage.  And then Mike Shinoda actually stood and talked to us for about FIFTEEN MINUTES.  Asked us about Grammy U and our interests and made cheesy jokes and was just generally really nice and really awesome.  My brother and I kinda sorta idolize him (as much for Fort Minor as for Linkin Park, and because we really identify with his songs about being Japanese-American, as my brother and I are as well), and we were a bit tongue-tied around him.  But, folks, it was SO AWESOME.  SO AWESOME.

Me, my brother, and Mike Shinoda

Mike Shinoda in the checkered shirt. Then, from left to right: Alex, Mark, Eric Jarvis, Sofia, Danny, and my brother.

Danny, my brother, and me, with Mike Shinoda

Finally, when the band had to go inside to get ready to perform, we said goodbye to Cory and went to find our seats.  Only to discover that our seats were, in fact, FRONT ROW SEATS.  There was a small pit area, an empty space, with room for handicapped seating, and then US.  We were also off to the right slightly, so were practically RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SPEAKERS.  IT WAS MIND-BLOWING.  (And ear-drum bursting).

Danny, Sofia, Mark, my brother, and me in our front row seats.

Chester, on stage.

And to say the performance itself was fantastic would be a seriously criminal understatement.  My brother and I have seen Linkin Park in concert before, when they came to Houston in 2011, and (while I cannot speak for my brother) I think they were even better this time around.  For one thing, last time Chester seemed to be having a bit of trouble, and was often flat.  Now this happens in live performances, and I didn’t much care, but it was still nice that he didn’t seem to have any problems at all this time.  His pitch was pretty damn spot-on, especially considering it was an outdoor stage, live performances are RARELY perfectly on-pitch, and his screaming was even more INSANE than usual.

Mike Shinoda

The next day, my ears were still ringing, and I could barely speak because I had done so much screaming and cheering.  And then I had to go to my first grad class of the week that afternoon, and my professor is on my facebook so she’d seen that I’d been at a concert until like midnight, and she laughed when I croaked a lot when we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves.

My autographs from Mike Shinoda, Chester Bennington, Dave Farrell, and (I think) Rob Bourdon. And not on just ANYTHING, but a SET LIST from that night’s performance!

So there you have it, folks.  ONE OF THE BEST NIGHTS EVER.  Once again thanks to my membership with Grammy U.  Best $50 I’ve ever spent.

Update #2: And somehow in the middle of all that photobombing, I managed to forget to include the official group photo we got with the whole band. So here’s that one:

GROUP PHOTO!

Writer vs Reader Mode

I think I’ve said this before, but I’m the kind of person who has trouble being both a writer and a reader at the same time.  Usually, I switch between the two roles in a cycle.  For a few months I’m a writer, and I can’t concentrate enough to read ANYTHING because my brain is so full of my stories and characters and all I want to do for 20 hours of every day is sit at my computer and write.  And then, suddenly, I get total brain-block, and I can’t write a thing, and I start reading non-stop.

For the last couple months I’ve been pretty securely in writer-mode.  I got a decent amount of work done on two different WIPs, which makes me very happy, but I was really hoping I could keep it up right to the beginning of the Fall semester.  But for the past week and a half I haven’t been able to write much of anything.  Sometimes if I push and push and push, I could stay in writer-mode a little longer.  But I think writer-mode is now officially over.  Unfortunately.

So, I guess we’re on to reader-mode.  I read A Work In Progress in like a day and a half.  And now I’ve started Open Heart by Emlyn Chand (which I’d PLANNED to read and review near the beginning of the summer, but like I said, I was in WRITER-mode).  I guess it’s good to be in reader-mode since I’ll be doing so much reading for my Fall courses, although it’ll be frustrating that I won’t be reading all my fun stuff, but school-related stuff instead.  And, of course, I know from too much experience that I won’t be getting ANY writing done once the semester starts either.  But oh well.

Does anyone else do this?  Cycle through writer and reader modes?  Or is it just me?  Because it’s a little frustrating, and I’m more than a little jealous of people who can do both at the same time: write in the morning and read in the evening, etc.  I wish I could do that.  *sigh*

In other news, I’m playing with the idea of starting a Tumblr blog.  I had started to watch a lot of Tumblr blogs without having an account, and just collecting them in my browser bookmarks.  And over the last couple months I’ve started following even more, making it hard to keep track of them in bookmarks.  So I figured I might as well start a Tumblr account so that I could keep track of them all.  But now that I have the account, I’m thinking why not start a Tumblr blog?  It would be fun to have something where I can just post images or short comments and things like that, without worrying about making sure a post is long enough and well-written.  I’m playing around with Tumblr right now, trying to get a feel for how it works (it’s taking a little getting used to), but I’ll let you know if/when I get a Tumblr blog up and running.

Any opinions on Tumblr blogs?  Anyone have one?  Now that I have the account, I’m looking to add a ton to my Follow list!  They’re just so much fun!  😀

Okay, folks, that’s all for now.  I hope everyone has a good weekend, and I’ll see you all later!

Shake Things Up: A Work In Progress by Brad Cotton

Title: A Work In Progress

Author: Brad Cotton

Genre: Literary Fiction

Where I Got It: Free ebook copy in exchange for review

Score: 5 out of 5

So.  On Monday morning my internet stopped working.  Just DIED.  A technician came to fix it, and about three hours later was still flabbergasted as to why it wasn’t working.  He left.  I spent the night without internet (and those who know me know that that’s like  not breathing for twelve hours!).  The technician came back Tuesday, and it was two pm before he finally got the internet working again.  By then I had gone approximately thirty hours without internet, and I was definitely feeling the withdrawal symptoms.  The point of all this is, however, that this period of internetlessness left me with some free time.  During which I read all of A Work In Progress in two or three sittings.

And let me begin by saying: this is a good book.

A Work In Progress, by Brad Cotton, is about a writer named Danny Bayle.  Now, Danny Bayle’s life kind of sucks.  Four years ago he wrote a mediocre novel and hasn’t written much of anything since.  His girlfriend of five years, Carah, has left him and moved to France.  His grandfather, who was like a father to him, has died.  And he’s barely done anything in months but mope, and drink, and complain about his inability to write.

Then, one day, he decides its time to take control of his life, try new thing, meet new people, etc.  He starts a casual relationship with a woman.  Joins a support group for depression.  Makes friends with an artist named Katie.  And even decided to take drum lessons at one point.  Of course, none of this makes his life easier, exactly, especially when Carah starts calling from France out of the blue.  But it certainly makes his life a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

So, what I like about this novel… you know what, let’s start with what I didn’t like:

There are a couple summary exposition passages that feel a tad awkward and unnecessary to me, but this only happens a couple times, and doesn’t really hurt the story at all.  The other thing that bothers me is more of a problem, but still not enough to really hurt it:  I get the feeling that despite the fact that Carah dumped Danny and ran off to France we’re still supposed to like her, or at least sympathize with her to some extent.  One more than one occasion, in fact, Danny comment that the whole mess might have been his fault because he took her for granted.  But you never really get any sense for HOW Danny might have taken her for granted, whether this is a true assessment of their relationship, or why we the readers should have any sympathy for the woman who broke our “hero’s” heart.  We get some hints, and she seems nice enough in their phone conversations that its not completely out of the realm of possibility, but some more concrete evidence from their relationship would have helped me along here.

Now, on to what I liked:

Pretty much everything else.  The characters, all the characters including the many secondary characters, were well-written and well-rounded.  The best secondary characters: Casey – Danny’s best friend; Katie – the 19-year-old artist Danny befriends; and Mrs. Tierney – the owner of the sorta-kinda foster home where Katie lives.  These characters are interesting, fun, and eminently likable.

And then there’s the main character, Danny Bayle.  This is a character that I think many people, especially fellow writers, can relate to.  I know I certainly did.  And that’s not to say that I’m a guy, or that I’ve published a novel (mediocre or otherwise), or that I’ve ever been in a relationship for anything close to five years, or that I’m a drinker or have ever had weed (Danny does a lot in this book, whereas I thankfully skipped that lesson in my high school and college education).  But, I could very easily relate to the writer who is trying so hard to write and not getting anywhere, who is lonely and completely dissatisfied with his life, and who desperately needs to change things, find new outlets, meet new people, and really shake things up.  I feel like that all the damn time.

I think at least one or two things about this character should appeal to most people.

As for the plot, well this is literary fiction, so of course its extremely character-driven.  In fact, it doesn’t feel so much like a plot with clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, as it does a momentary camera focus on a point in Danny’s life when a series of somewhat unrelated events and people all conspire to make Danny the person he was meant to be.  And this is a good thing.  Because real life is not like a well-planned clearly-defined plot.  It is, of course, verisimilitude and not fact, but this book does a very good job of mimicking real life.  It’s one of those stories that makes me want to ask how much of it is based on the author’s life, even though I know that from a craft perspective that’s not the kind of thing you’re supposed to ask.  You’re supposed to take a story on its own merits, not as some kind of extension of the author’s biography. Still, a story that feels this real kind of makes it impossible not to ask.

In other words, folks, this is a very good book, that you should definitely check out.  I really really enjoyed reading it, and I think you will too.

Here’s a link to Brad Cotton’s website, and here’s where you can buy the book on Amazon: A Work In Progress.

Review of Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle

Title: Dominant Race

Author: Elisa Nuckle

Genre: Fantasy/Scifi

Where I Got It: bought a Kindle copy

Score: 3 out of 5

Dominant Race is a novella by Elisa Nuckle, one of my blog and Twitter buddies and a fellow Houstonian.  It is the first in a series about a race of genetically modified humans who have been spliced with various animals.  Dominant Race focuses on Lilia, a wolf modified who leaves the safety of her family’s cabin hidden in the woods in order to help a modified militia that includes her love interest, Avari.  The modified militia faces enemies on two sides: the normal humans who fear and sometimes oppress the modified, and Sanders – a rogue modified who kills humans and modified alike in his crazed pursuit of war.

What I Liked:

The premise of this novella is intriguing and fun.  Genetic modification is a subject I find absolutely fascinating, and it can usually make for some cool stories and fun characters.  The dystopian setting was also interesting.  The way Elisa took American city names and deconstructed him (like Neyork, for instance), and also made mentions of “old” technologies and customs throughout the story was a nice touch.

The main character, Lilia, was likable and easy to relate to.  She’s feisty, stubborn, and intelligent.  I always like tough female characters, and Lilia fills the role nicely.  There is a point near the end where she behaves in a way that seems out of character to me, even given the extenuating circumstances of the scene, but for the most part she is a consistently-written and enjoyable character.  You’ll definitely be rooting for her.

What I Didn’t Like:

Okay, the basic idea of the plot works well for the most part, but I think it suffers from its length.  I really believe this story needed to be a full length novel rather than a novella.  There is too much going on too quickly, without enough exposition or description, and with too many character names floating around, attached to secondary characters that are sometimes fine and sometimes just don’t have enough description or importance attached to them for me to keep track of everyone.

I think the novella as a whole should definitely be decompressed, as it were, with a little more exposition and description here and there, a bit more space between events for the reader to sort through what’s happened and who’s been introduced and where its going next.  Still, the first two-thirds of the novella are manageable, and were certainly still interesting enough to keep me reading.  However, the last part of the novella, Chapter 14-18 to be exact, were very difficult for me to read.  I had to re-read a few sections several times to make sure I’d understood what had just happened.  And while SOME of that may simply have been my fault for reading too quickly or something, at least some of it could have been helped by slowing down the prose a bit.  Things sometimes jumped from one sentence to the next without enough concrete description.  And the appearance of at least two characters is so sudden and without any kind of foreshadowing that they felt a little too “dues ex machina” (or even non sequitur) for my taste.

As for the love sub-plot: it was… okay.  There was some effort to develop the relationship between Lilia and Avari in a natural way, rather than having them fall into instant lust.  But I don’t feel like I know enough about Avari and why Lilia would love him, for it to completely work for me.  He’s also out of the picture for a good chunk of the story, and their reunion is just a touch too easy to be entirely believable.  But, again, I think much of this is a problem of the length.

I know the “What I Don’t Like “ section is a quite a bit longer than the “What I Like” section is, but I really do think most of the problems with this story could have been solved by simply making it longer and more detailed.  With more time/space to develop the characters and relationships, to bring in more description and more transition from one plot element to the next, the interesting premise could have been a much stronger story.  However, I think the intriguing premise and the likable main character are able carry a lot of the weight of the problems.  Dominant Race is an admirable first effort, and the world-building is interesting enough that I will be back to read the next installment in the series.  I’m really looking forward to watching Elisa Nuckle grow.

Please check out Elisa Nuckles’ blog, and the page for Dominant Race, with all the options for buying.

A Work In Progress Blog Tour

*NOTE: My apologies!  I was supposed to post this blog tour post for Brad Cotton’s novel A Work In Progress yesterday, but I’ve been having some serious internet issues lately, and it didn’t happen.  I was also hoping to have finished the novel to write my own review of it some time this weekend, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen either.  I WILL review it.  It’s just taking me longer than expected.

For the moment, please take the time to read about this novel and its author, and check out the links! Thanks!

— Amanda

A Unique Lit Fiction Novel with Moving Dialogue!

A Work in Progress is a new literary fiction novel by author Brad Cotton. The book has received great reviews and is on sale from July 23rd to August 3rd! Download your copy here.

In addition, Brad is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon and signed copies of his book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

Get your copy of A Work in Progress today! On sale on Amazon only.

About A Work in Progress

Writer Danny Bayle’s life is in shambles. His true love has left him and his grandfather — the last and most important influence in his life — has just passed away. Danny has spent the last few months languishing, unable to write a single word, but at the urging of a friend ventures out into the world in an attempt to jumpstart a new life, befriending in the process an interesting assortment of characters including an author, a musician, an artist, and an elderly retired nurse. Garnering the attention of more than one woman, Danny sees his new friends unwittingly begin to shape what could just be the story of his life. But will he ever let go of the girl that got away?

About the author


Born and raised in Toronto, Brad Cotton has been writing professionally for over a decade. An average guitarist, a subpar painter, and a horrible juggler of anything larger than a tangerine, he is currently married to a woman, but does not have a cat, a drum set or any children. A Work in Progress is his first novel.

Learn more about the author and his work at: http://www.bradcotton.com/

Busy Summer Is Busy

As you all may have been able to guess by now, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy this summer.  But you guys don’t even know the half of it!  Between taking vacation at Yellowstone for five days, going to three concerts (Snow Patrol in May, Legend of Zelda Symphony, and then the Chicago/Doobie Brothers concert in July), and having dinner with famous people, and reading as much as I can manage, I’ve also been hard at work.

School never completely ends for those in graduate school.  There are always things you need to do (or at least SHOULD do) during the summer.  For me, this has included mainly getting more involved with extracurricular/service activities.  I’ve mentioned on this blog before that the English graduate students at UH have been in the process of developing and promoting both a yearly Graduate Student Conference and an academic literature journal called Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature.  While I did some work this past school year to help out with both, I decided that this upcoming year I wanted to be even more involved.  And I managed to get myself nominated as an Assistant Editor to the journal as well as Head of the Publicity Committee for the Conference.  And the work has already begun, especially for the latter.  I’ve spent the last few weeks creating contact lists for every Humanities/Liberal Arts College Dean, English Dept Chair, and Graduate Director/Advisor, for every university in Texas so that we can start sending out personalized invites to both present at and attend the conference.  I still need to make a list for all the community colleges in the Houston area.  And THEN I need to move on to the universities in Louisiana.  In the meantime, the Chief Editor of Plaza is working on the CFP for the journal, and I’m helping out with that.

At the same time, I had made plans last semester to make some serious changes to my syllabus for the coming semester, which I have now started work on.  After having done a lot of research on the benefits and practical applications for using blogging in a First-Year Writing course, I’ve decided to implement it in my classroom.  So I’m trying to work out a concrete plan for how and why I want my students to use blogging as a learning tool and as a way to open the classroom out into a more public space.  I’ve also submitted an abstract for a presentation based on all this research to the Conference on College Composition and Communication, along with two fellow grad students I’m doing a panel with.  It’ll be late August before we find out if our panel abstract was accepted to the conference (which isn’t until next March), at which point we’ll have to get hard to work actually writing the presentations.

AND THEN, throughout the whole summer, in between everything else, I’ve been writing.  A lot.  I started out writing the second draft of Midnight’s Knife, which I made some decent progress on until about three or four weeks ago, when I was hijacked by a new story idea that has completely consumed my brain lately.  It’s going to be a strange one, I can tell…  I actually have the basic premise for an entire series of stories, but this first one is a sort of science fiction detective story.  It’s a kind of mix of X-Files, X-Men, and Sherlock Holmes, with a large helping of human drama about a veteran with PTSD laced through it.  Yeah, if that sounds insane to you, you’re not alone.  It sounds insane to me too, and I’m so excited about it!  I’ve been living inside my main character’s head practically non-stop for two weeks now.

I have a month left until the Fall semester starts, so I’m trying very hard not to waste a minute of it.  We’ll see how much more writing I can get done before school-work takes over.

Also, I’m trying to finish reading Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle – it’s a novella, and it really wouldn’t take me that long to read, except that I’ve been so busy the last week or so I just haven’t had the opportunity to sit down a finish it! – but hopefully you can expect a review on that on Friday.  And then I’ve agreed to review another novel, a literary fiction called A Work in Progress, which I’m planning (cross your fingers) to post on Aug 3rd.

Okay, folks, that’s all from me for now.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll catch you all on Friday.

I Had Dinner With Famous People

So, a hip-hop artist, a recording studio engineer, a former VP of ASCAP, and a graduate student walk into a bar… 

Okay, that’s not entirely how it goes, but this is pretty much what my Thursday night looked like.  I met some pretty famous people, folks.  Even had dinner with a few of them.  And it’s pretty much all thanks to my brother (don’t gloat, Mike).

So, here’s the whole story: 

We all know The Recording Academy, yes?  In charge of the Grammy Awards, that thing that most musicians, recording artists, song-writers, music publishers, etc. are members of, yes?  Well, there’s also this thing called Grammy U.  It’s a college student organization affiliated with The Recording Academy, which is open to any full-time college student interested in the music industry (and you don’t have to be majoring in music or anything to qualify).  Grammy U is about promoting education on issues dealing with the music industry, and about networking with various full members of The Recording Academy.

My brother is the Grammy U representative for the entire Greater-Houston area.  Early this year he convinced me to join Grammy U as well (its more for undergrads rather then graduate students, but I still technically qualify because I’m a full-time student, and I’ve always been interested in the music industry).  Mainly, my brother just wanted to someone he could trust to help him out with running events on the UH campus.

Now, my brother’s pretty much got this whole networking thing down pat.  He’s a film student, and he’s interning at a local Houston production company called Zen Films (which happens to be a pretty big deal); he’s done some work over at SugarHill Studios (the oldest still-running recording studio in the United States, folks!) and knows the chief engineer/co-owner Dan Workman; etc, etc, etc.

So, on Thursday night, The Recording Academy was hosting one of its GPS Summer Lecture Series at the House of Blues in Houston.  It consisted of a lecture from Tod Brabec, former Vice President of ASCAP (Association of Songwriters, Composers, Authors, and Publishers) on the topic of Performance Royalties, and then a short networking mixer afterwards.  My brother had to go because he was helping to set up the event.  I decided to go because a) it’s free for Grammy U members, b) it sounded interesting, and c) it’s a little-known fact that I have a secret desire to be a songwriter.  I was nervous about the whole mixer thing because the only person I knew was my brother and I don’t do well with the whole “just start introducing yourself to random strangers who might be famous people” thing.

The lecture itself was really interesting.  It was hard to follow because Tod Brabec threw a TON of information at the audience, quite a lot of it dealing with legal issues that I just can’t quite wrap my head around, but it was all very useful information.  But the best part was, of course, the mixer.  Here’s most of the people I met (I can’t quite remember everyone’s names, but these are the big ones):

Dan Workman (the co-owner and chief engineer of SugarHill Studios) who was one of the coolest guys I’ve met;

Tod Brabec, who is a very big deal but who talked to me for a minute and then asked me to take a picture of him and a friend of his;

Theresa Jenkins, the Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy (who kindly treated my brother and I to dinner along with all the big-wigs);

Eric Jarvis, who is a BIG musician, a UH alumnus, and the President of the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy (and also hilarious at dinner);

David Acosta, a CPA for musicians who’s starting his own music publishing company here in Houston, and who gave me his card when I mentioned my interested in writing lyrics;

and Karen Aptekar, an indie-film maker here in Houston who was very friendly, told my brother that he was interning with one of the best film-makers around at Zen Films, and offered to talk to both me and my brother sometime about doing some work with her.

All of this happened during the Mixer after the lecture, at which there were about 70-80 people, plenty of whom were little nobodies and interested parties like myself, mixed in with all the big-names.  The mixer broke up around 9:30 or so, at which point the original plan was for my brother and I to head home while the big names went off to dinner in the House of Blues restaurant downstairs.  But then we were invited to dinner – or rather, my brother was invited because he’s the Houston Rep, and I was allowed to tag along because my brother was my ride home.  But that’s okay, because I got to sit down and have dinner with Dan Workman, Tod Brabec, Theresa Jenkins, Eric Jarvis, and Paul Wall – a rather well-known hip-hop artist, who I did not actually get to speak with as he was clear at the other end of the table – and a few others whose names elude me now.  The five big names were all seated in a row across the table from me, and I was a little floored by it.  I sat directly across from Dan Workman and Eric Jarvis, and they were hilarious.  Though, so was Tod Brabec, who spent some time talking to my brother about having been the one who signed METALLICA (along with many MANY other very well known bands).

My brother has already promised to take me by SugarHill Studios next time he goes, which Dan Workman was very okay with.  When he found out I was a literature student, he got all excited and said that books were his next favorite thing to music, and that we’d have to sit down and have a nice talk about books sometimes.  Well, hell, that sounds good to me!  And music is my next favorite thing to books, so it evens out nicely.  (Also, he wore those cheap Target brand One Star Converse shoes, which I thought was absolutely HILARIOUS.)

The point of all this is that I had an absolute blast last Thursday night, and I hope I have a similar opportunity again in the future.  It was so much fun!

Point of fact, most of the last few days have been pretty awesome: the mixer on Thursday, seeing Dark Knight Rises on Saturday, and then I went to the Chicago & Doobie Brothers concert on Sunday night.  Which was ASTOUNDINGLY AWESOME.  Those guys may be getting on in years, but they still know how to rock.  The BEST PART was the encore/finale.  The Doobie Bros had been the opener for Chicago, but at the end, Chicago brought all of the Doobie Bros on stage to play with them.  All the members of both bands were on stage at the same time, including four drummers on FOUR SEPARATE DRUMSETS, more guitars than seems possible, practically the whole brass section out of a marching band, two keyboardists, and all the singers taking turns. There were EIGHTEEN PEOPLE on that stage at once.  They sang a few Doobie Bros hit and a few Chicago hits, including “Listen to the Music” and “25 or 6 o 4.”  It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen at a concert.  And it was seriously EPIC.  Definitely the best part of the night.

Okay, this post is getting pretty damn long, so I’ll call it quits for now.  See ya’ll later!