Zombies!

I went to take photos of a Zombie Crawl in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district yesterday. It was a fundraiser for North Dallas Food Bank and the organizers were hoping to set a world record for most zombies. I don’t know if they made the numbers or not.

There were plenty of zombies all over the place.


Cowgirl Zombie


My favorite zombie


Ruh Roh, where’s Scooby?


Zombie Dogs, best actors of the day. No, those eyes are not Photoshopped, click on photo to enlarge.


Getting Married Zombies?

Oooo they were everywhere. Even in the restaurants:

But the scariest thing I saw all day was this one. He was so creepy, I almost didn’t post this photo.


Gives me chills every time I look at this.

Make sure to check under your bed before you go to sleep tonight.

Vans Warped Tour 2008 (Dallas)

Okay, time flies in the summer when there is so much to do. Just wanted to write a little about Van’s Warped Tour, what it is, what to expect if you are interested in going.

We went last year and while I didn’t write anything about it, maybe I should have. I guess it was the same thing. Summertime, not enough cycles.

A measly thirty two bucks gets you a ticket which give you access to about fifty bands. In some cities there have been as many as a hundred. It’s a one day thing so we’re talking about multiple stages with bands playing at the same time.

You may have to pay to park, we paid $15 in Dallas. There were some people in nearby homes offering cheaper parking in their yards, but I really wouldn’t do that since there might be no one watching the car.

We were allowed to bring our own water bottles this year for the first time. You will want one of those and keep refilling it at the water fountain so you don’t dehydrate and have to be brought out of the concert on a stretcher. That could be quite embarrassing unless you are a drama queen. They sell drinks for $5, even beer ($7), if that’s your thing.

This tour usually has shows at outdoor amphitheaters. That’s one stage, but there are two setups on that stage since it is so big. Stage left plays while stage right sets up instruments. As soon as stage left finishes, stage right starts up.

The rest of the stages (we had six, set list is here) set up on the adjoining grounds and in the parking lots. Bands play for about 30 minutes each. At any given time there are three bands playing. No problems with one band drowning out the sound of another on a nearby stage.

At ours, there was no reserved seating in the amphitheater. Since most people want to be in the pit, the front rows are clear you can almost always find a seat in there. We sat in the front row. 

But you know me and my camera. I move around a lot. That’s what I like best about going to concerts, taking photos. I had no idea they allowed SLRs and wanted to kick myself when I saw a guy with one. I talked to him and he said he had no trouble getting it in there.

My Panasonic point and shoot does pretty well, though. What you think?

That is 3Oh!3, a couple of guys who sing to prerecorded music. Garage bandish. Some of it a little techno, some a little hip-hop. Don’t know how to classify them.

What? You thought this was a skater punk thing? Not entirely. There are all sorts of genres, mostly metal though. Mostly starter, unknown type bands trying to break into the big time.

Some are up and comers with recent radio hits. Like Katy Perry (pop).

Others are somewhat established, or have been in popular bands before.

That is Tom DeLonge with his band, Angels and Airwaves, a band I am not ashamed to admit I like. He used to be in Blink-182.

If you play the game Rock Band and know all the levels, he is at the tour bus stage. A little bird who got to hang out behind the scenes told me he doesn’t mix with people, just hangs out in his bus all day. I think the guy is married and has kids. I’d do the same.

But a majority of the bands are at the run-down, small rv stage. We passed a row of them in the parking lot and there were many. It must have been wash day for one band, they had all of their clothing spread out on the hot cement to dry. I thought about taking a photo of that but didn’t because it seemed a little invasive. Underwear and all, you know.

So, what sort of people will you see at a thing like this?

Mostly normal ones.

Lots of 15 to 20 year olds, but people of all ages, even a few little kids. It’s a bit loud for those little ears, so it’s not a bad idea to get some of those foam ear plugs if you are bringing one. There is nothing uncool about earplugs. I’ve seen tattooed people wearing them. Hey, you want to still be hearing music when you’re older, right?

If you want to see some punks, there’s that too.

I haven’t seen any of them cause any problems. I never was a punk, but I love taking photos of their hair. When my kids were babies I would always punk out their hair while shampooing it. See?

That was Spanky after I found a can of foam soap for kids.

What else?

Moshing. It’s not allowed.

 

But they do it anyway.

I’ve seen wise guys rule these mosh pits. I don’t know how they do it but they create an empty space in the middle of the tightest crowds and maintain it for an entire show. Everyone around knows not to step foot in that space. Until it is time to mosh. That is running around and slamming into each other.

If you want to see more of my photos of Warped, I have them in an album on Flickr.

We did not see as many bands as we would have liked. It was scorching hot. Miserably so. Being in the crowds made it worse. We visited a lot of the merch booths because they were in shady areas and there were a lot of other starter band barkers playing music samples. I love talking to these guys and asking them, “Why should I listen to your band?” See what they say.

Because one day these guys might be at the jet airplane level.

Warped Tour 2008 Set List (Dallas Show)

:::Click Here::: to enlarge.

Always great to have one of these before a show. If you are going to Warped Tour in a city near you, keep in mind the bands and set times change with each date, so think of this as a rough guide.

Just wanted to get this up here as it is quite useful to some people. I’ll write more about this later and post some photos along with it.

Here’s a list of all the bands on the tour and the dates they will play. Note that not all bands play on all dates. Some do.

Also note that there is a Hurley Stage (that would be the bigger one) and a Hurley.com Stage (small stage). A lot of people got these two mixed up.

I’ve added more photos and a few tips about Warped Tour :::here:::

Honda Civic Tour 2008 (Concert-Dallas)

One of Sweetpea’s friends came over last week saying she had to offload two Honda Civic Tour (Dallas concert) tickets due to a scheduling conflict.

Spanky and I just looked at each other, quite surprised at our good fortune. Headlining that tour was Panic At The Disco, one of her favorite bands. I never liked them until a few weeks ago, with the release of their “Pretty. Odd.” CD. 

Spank and I dropped everything and went, of course.  She says she feels she must to do a review of the show so people will open their minds to this band. I don’t know if she’ll get to it though, she has a pretty bad cold right now.

I’ll give you a run down of what it was like for me.

First, the cool factor. There is nothing about being at a concert that makes me feel cool or hip, especially one such as this where most of the fans are teenaged girls and I am one of the oldest persons in the place. I keep in mind that all the teenagers at these concerts probably don’t feel cool, either (it comes with being that age), AND I don’t think a single person notices me, anyway.

Is it horrifying? Maybe for a hip music reviewer who can’t stop thinking about how out of place he/she is for being there at the age of over 25. I find it taints their work and the reviews are not usually well thought out but a hit job on the talent because of who their audience is. They should actually pay attention to these acts because they grow with their audiences and change styles as these kids get older.

Panic At The Disco (PATD) is a perfect example of this. Spanky started listening to them when she was about twelve. I wasn’t too crazy about their music then, it was a bit on the whiney side. Three years later, this band has a new CD, “Pretty. Odd.” and it is exceptional. I’d think if one likes the Beatles, they’d like some of these songs. Maybe. Beatles fans can be a bit possessive about a music style and shout, “That’s a rip-off!” I don’t feel this way since I’m not happy with a finite set of tunes.

Now, about the show.

Starter bands usually suck because they’re new and trying to make a name for themselves. We were downright shocked with the first band, Phantom Planet (here’s their MySpace page). They’re not new, but I think they’ve recently become “quite good.” I don’t even know how to categorize them, it’s like classic and new rock rolled into one package. Their live performance was spectacular and missing their set because they are the first band would be a big mistake for anyone with a Honda Civic Tour ticket. Trust me on that. It’s forty-five minutes of pure music bliss.

The second band, The Hush Sound was excellent, if you like breeezy California rock. The front-woman, Greta Salpeter’s voice is pristine, but sounds a bit too much like other popular front women vocalists such as  Hayley Williams of Paramore, Avril Lavigne, and Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf. After about three songs, Spank and I were hoping they’d hush their sound as it got into Brady Bunch territory.

Third in the lineup, Motion City Soundtrack, another of Spanky’s favorite pop-rock bands. I don’t like their music, but they performed well. I was fixated on Jesse Johnson’s (synthesizer) dramatic emo bang. One of the things I like to do at these concerts is get at least one great photo of something unusual. That was my challenge of the night, to capture this thing. The guy has this chunk of hair in the front that is about a foot long while the rest of his hair is buzz cut length. The entire time he plays, he rocks his head back and forth really fast and this hair thing is an act of its own.

     

Come on, emo bang, cooperate.

 

Yes, you.

 

It’s hard enough fighting the lights and fog.
 Don’t get all smug. you haven’t won, yet.

 

 Ha ha, Gotcha!

Now for the headliner, Panic At The Disco, which started at about 10 PM. Their lead vocalist, Brendon Urie pulled off his part with perfection. I usually find that about half the time at any given show of any given band the vocals are not en forme. All four bands on this tour did surprisingly well as far as vocals go. It could be that this is the first week of the tour and voices are still fresh.

Okay, Spanky just passed by and said to save her some space for her forthcoming review. Yay, Spank saved the day. It won’t be in this post as she hasn’t started it yet.

In the meantime, I’ve uploaded a few photos here, if you’re interested.

Here’s a YouTube I uploaded of one of my favorite songs from their current CD. What’s funny about this video is what’s happening at the beginning, left of screen. A security guard struggles to heave a kid out of the pit. Reminds me of birthing. From my perspective, a mom bringing her kid to a concert… well you get the metaphor.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can hear Spanky’s voice singing in there. Funny thing.

Oh, and about the venue. What’s odd is how the name of the venue changes with the type of music… They call it the Palladium Ballroom for rock concerts, but Gilley’s the rest of the time.

Gilley’s as in Urban Cowboy. Mechanical bulls. Country music. Small place. Small crowd.

This was a great show. Go see it if it comes to your city.

 

Smashing Pumpkins Review (Spanky Returns)

Spanky is my 14 year-old wonder child. Smart, witty, sarcastic. I love her concert reviews because of her unique perspective, too young to have seen it all. On the diving board from kid to adult, she takes a good long look around before jumping in. Here’s my Spanky’s review of the Smashing Pumpkins’ concert at the Nokia Theatre in Dallas.

Another concert, another review. Living the party life is terribly difficult for one such as myself, but I suffer it to bring to you, my dear readers, another fantastic account of the oddities of concert experience.

To begin from the amusing beginning, I will note that it seems that somehow, my timing is always off, from the small things to the large. This concert was no different.

I decided that I would dress up for the occasion for once, having a grand old time choosing my outfit to insane perfection.

Sadly, the concertgoers were not sporting any similar fashions.

This is to say, I stuck out like… a girl in neon blue and black striped knee socks in a crowd of “normal” people.

I did not have much of a problem with the more reserved, thus infinitely more mature mannerisms of the crowd until later in the evening.

As we’d gotten to the theatre early, we decided to listen to the opening band.

A mistake on our part.

The sole part of my musical experience on the behalf of What Made Milwaukee Famous that I enjoyed was the keyboard. I found it reminiscent of highly energetic techno, which is always good fun, no matter where or what you are.

After they played their last (agonizing) song, the lights flipped on and the excited murmurs began, even though the Smashing Pumpkins would not be out for quite some time. Instead of sitting around to hear people talk amongst one another for thirty minutes, my sister and I decided to watch the experience of another titan of the concert life.

Concert food.

I cannot claim to have tasted every food in this particular hemisphere, however, I can attest to the possibility that concert food is in the top ten worst of all of these foods.

It’s terribly unseasoned, not to mentioned often lukewarm and calling to one’s mind something to the effect of has this been cooked properly?

Needless to say, we passed on that prospect.

Seating ourselves once more, we waited with bated breath for the main act.

The Smashing Pumpkins, I must say, did not disappoint, not in the least.

They played amazingly well, and even the elongated guitar solos did not seem too embellished or unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, although I am still bewildered as to how they could see with the lights behind them that had, on several occasions, burned my eyeballs into a state of temporary blindness.

The most popular songs were the ones played off of the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” and, “Tonight, Tonight,” having enormous popularity with the crowd.

The most popular was “1979.”

With good reason.

“1979” was very likely the best-performed song of the evening.

The decision for it to be played on acoustic guitar with no accompaniment whatsoever what a highly intelligent one, simplifying the song and allowing more of the raw emotion to come out of it. The comfortable familiarity radiated off of the crowd like a contagious heat, slowly soaking in until when Corgan stopped playing the guitar entirely and was left to only singing, there was nothing that could be called silence, the voices of the crowd filling the void left by the instrument.

When the band had picked up at a faster tempo once more, I noticed something highly troubling.

Namely, the lack of crowd-surfing.

I have previously stated that crowd-surfing is one of my favorite parts of attending concerts, and although I could understand the absence of such activity from such a well-behaved crowd, I was a little disheartened by it.

Thankfully, we had a teenager most likely off of his Ritalin for the weekend right in front of us, dancing like there was no Monday to come, for my own private entertainment.

There came a time nearing the end of the concert that called for a questioning of one’s surroundings.

This time was when the beginning riff of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” began to resonate from deep within the hearts of the speakers.

It was at such a time that one could be expected to lose all posterity and demand quite plainly, “Say what?”

Indeed, it was “Iron Man,” and a very good cover at that, definitely doing the original the justice it deserves.

Go see for yourself:

But the covers did not end there, oh no.

Next came “I Love Rock and Roll,” (yes, I typed that correctly) which was, to say the least, amusing when sung by Billy Corgan.

Then they played a few more songs and walked off, making it entirely not obvious that they were going to be coming back and playing two encores.

Terribly, horribly not obvious.

After clapping in the dark for ten minutes, the elusive Smashing Pumpkins were lured back onto the stage, playing two more songs before leaving again after another bout of Corgan’s priceless crowd banter.

The lights were flipped on once again as the last reverberations from the speakers died away and with them went the last tangible vestiges of the magical evening.

My family was surprised that they hadn’t played, “Zero.”

I’m surprised I had been too caught up to notice.

I have to say, though, my most favorite part of the concert was definitely…

The keytar.

Cinemagypsy Must Be Destroyed

Eventually, I suppose, that is what’s going to happen. Bloggers drop out like flies after just a few posts, some last a year, some a little longer. Few go on for years.

I never thought mine would last this long. At first, it was an uncomfortable thing, putting up things about my personal life for anyone to find. I knew people would judge me, my family. My writing. That’s what people do.

These days, I don’t even think about that anymore.

So many people out there say, “My life is not interesting enough to blog about,” when I encourage them to start one. I don’t believe this. Everyone’s life is interesting. Not every second of it, certainly not mine. Cut to the good part and share. Or the bad part. You don’t have to write just about your life, you could write about something you saw. The lives of people you know. Teach somebody out there something.

I try to stick to my own life here because friends and relatives read to keep in touch. Most of them have never left a comment, perhaps they are afraid they, too, will be judged. I get a lot of emails from them, and that’s cool. (Keep them coming)

Now for something interesting.

Tonight, Tonight. We are taking the girls to see a Smashing Pumpkins concert. It’s a show that was supposed to take place on Nov. 3rd but was rescheduled. It’s their last concert on this tour and I’ve read the Pumpkins do some special things at their final shows. We’re excited about it, have had the tickets for months. Either Spanky or I will tell you all about it in the next few days.

If I outgrow and decide to destroy this blog one day, there will be plenty of notice. It won’t be any time soon.

Rodeo Days

One thing I love about Texas is the rodeo. Yeehaw! My dad grew up in Texas and was a rodeo rider when he was a young man. Cowboy down to the bone. He didn’t own a single pair of shoes. All he ever wore were boots. Sometimes he’d wear his gigantic cowboy hat to town, something I hated because it was so out of place in Cajun Country. Even worse sometimes he would wear his spurs. I’d cringe when he’d walk and I’d hear those things zing.

One time he took us to the Angola State Prison Rodeo. Scared me half to death. I’d never seen a prisoner before and they were everywhere. Not just bullriding and wrangling, but selling jewelry and other items they had hand-crafted.

I was certain one of them was hiding in our trunk or under the car and would jump out at us as soon as we got home.

Living in Texas, there are rodeos every weekend. Last night we went to a special one, the Texas Stampede at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. This is a three day rodeo which also has a concert event at the end of each evening.

Here’s some tie down roping.

Some trick wagon training.

And check out this little dude!

Okay that is so not a dude, that is Whiplash, a little monkey who rides a dog.

Check out these cool (and real) cowboy names we saw last night:

Blair Burk

Cody Wright

Colter Todd

Josh Peek

Trent Creager

Joseph Parsons

Sounds like a cowboy movie, doesn’t it?

Haunted Out of My Freaking Mind

Halloween is the best time of the year. Costumes, candy, and h-h-h-haunted houses. Not real ones. The attractions you pay to go see. I love those places. Imagine the glee when Sweetpea told me she would be one of the actresses at one of these things.

Last night Spanky and I had to go take a ride out there to bring something to her. We didn’t think we’d get to go see the attraction, we had plans to go next week, on family night. When we got there, however, different story.

We HAD to go in there. It being a Sunday night and close to closing, seemed perfect, we would have Phantom’s Haunted Ranch all to ourselves.

Now you know I love these things. I don’t scare or get grossed out easily. These places are usually filled up with gory things and people banging on the walls, screaming, sneaking up on you. I was expecting the same old same old. Like the movie Hostel. That sort of scary.

This was different. Really different. More like the movie 1408. The person who planned this thing as well as the “actors” were absolutely brilliant. It is like no other haunted house I’ve ever been. I got the crap scared out of me. Like mental-mess-with-your head scary.

The ghouls and ghosties are improvisational actors. I admit, I laughed at first when they spouted the rules at the door, “The actors will not touch you, do not touch the actors.”

Now if you plan on going out to Phantom’s Haunted Ranch and Hayride in McKinney, Texas (near Dallas) do not read any further. There are spoilers here. Come back and read this later.

If you make it back.

The inside of this place is a dark maze. The hallways are lurking with dark characters. Not so much at first. It’s dead empty and you are not sure where to go after going through the entrance.

The first one to greet us led us around a few turns. He had a plastic hatchet in his hand and face paint, wore a dark robe. Spanky and I had our arms locked together.

He seemed nice and helpful, though, telling us how to work the maze. Other ghouls came around and hissed. I guess it was some sort of good cop/ bad cop con they were playing on us, because we came to depend on this guy with the hatchet. He asked if we are friends, all sorts of questions to figure out our relationship. I told the nice hatchet murderer I was Spanky’s mother.

That is when he said, “You must be separated.” We laughed, said it wouldn’t happen…

Next thing you know we are in a dark corridor with about six closed doors. We can’t even tell where we came from. Creeps are telling us to choose a door. I open one door and a monster comes out, the next, another freak. And so on, until the last door. This nice looking nerdy guy comes out. No makeup, nothing. I tell Spanky it is probably the scariest room. There has to be a trick. She goes into that one and does not come out. I get bombarded with ghouls and am so disoriented I don’t know which direction she went.

My thinking is any minute now, Spanky will rejoin me. But nooooooooooo, and choose what must have been the wrong door.

The freaks bombard me with lights, loud noises… I don’t know what else. All I know is I was lost as all shit in the dark and there were monsters coming at me from the ceiling, the floors, in front of me, behind me, everywhere. I’m worried to death about Spanky, surely she is getting the shit scared out of her, too. Somewhere. This is what messes with my head. Drives me insane.

There is a crazy bridge thing with a tunnel, this huge barrel that spins around. I’ve done that thing a million times before and have never gotten dizzy. The trick is to just run through it fast. These guys did what they had to do to make sure I went through it sloooooowly and I swear, I thought the room was really spinning. There were lots of other optical illusions which blew my mind. Like the room of dots. And the people in there with dot costumes that blended into the walls perfectly. Until the started moving.

Finally, Spanky joins me for the rest of the haunted house. I didn’t find out until we got to the car that they did not try to scare the living daylights out of her when we were separated. All she had was that one nerdy guy “acting” like he was trying to find her mother but failing to do so. She couldn’t believe that they worked me over like they did.

There is also a haunted hayride which is the part where Sweetpea works. It goes through a dark forest and is so creepy because the woods are full of actors, too. Some of the people on the hayride are actors and get “attacked” by creatures on that dark path. There are even ghosts on real horses out there.

A total freakout experience and no doubt a fun family outing. Especially if you have teenaged kids. Muhahahahahaha.