Posted in: Music

Freedom Tour 2022 with Journey and Toto

Before the concert to see Journey and Toto.

My wife and I had another chance to attend another concert on March 24th at the Vivint Arena. Two of the bands from the 80’s that I’ve been wanting to see, Journey and Toto. When we originally purchased the tickets in late 2021, Billy Idol was on the tour listing, however recent surgery prevented him from touring. So I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to see Billy Idol sometime in the future as my goal is to try to see the bands I missed while growing up. I remember wanting to go to a lot of concerts and was told “no” or things would come up that would prevent me from going. Music shaped a lot of my life from the radio and the days when MTV actually played music. It cheered me up when I was sad. It made me laugh with the antics of Weird Al Yankovick and Dr. Demento. It inspired me when used in various movies and television series. It relaxed me before going to sleep. While I can’t create music, I can enjoy music.

Toto takes the stage.

Toto was the first band on stage. They opened up with the song “Orphan” from their 2015 album “Toto XIV“. I was impressed enough with the song that I added it to my playlist on my music streaming service and I’ve been checking out the album while I’ve been writing this blog post. Most of the other songs played by the band were their classic hits like “Rosanna”, “Hold The Line” and a cover of The Beatles song “With A Little Help From My Friends”. I think I’ll never experience the greatness that is the entire arena all singing the song “Africa” together with the band.

I had a chance to hear all of their radio hits in their performance which made me happy. While I didn’t hear any songs from it, the Toto album that was my holy grail for the longest time was the 1984 Dune Soundtrack. In the days before buying a lot of stuff on the internet, this rare CD was usually out of my price range when I did find it at a con. When I finally scored a copy, I used it as my “go to sleep music” by turning on the CD and turning out the lights.

Journey wraps up the concert with confetti.

After an intermission that allowed the stage crew to swap out sets, Journey came up on the stage. They took this stage by storm immediately jumping into several classic songs such as “Only the Young”. During the first few songs I noticed how many of the people sitting around us had this confused look on their face. They must not had known that Steve Perry hadn’t been the lead singer for Journey for quite some time as they were pulling up their phones and doing quick google searches. The lead singer, Arnel Pieda, was very active jumping around the set and getting the fans involved in the songs. He knocked the songs out like he had been singing them all his life. The stage was also set up with a video backdrop which added to the concert. Sometimes they would show different video scenes, sometimes they would show what was happening on stage. This later view would sometimes create interesting pinwheel or hall of mirrors effect which was very kewl looking.

The first song I ever heard (actually watched on MTV) from Journey was “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” so it is probably the most memorable for me. They played this song, of course, along with all of their other well known hits like “Don’t Stop Believin”, “Wheel in the Sky”, “Stone in Love” and others. There were two songs that I really hoped that they would play but did not. The first was “Only Solutions” from the 1982 Tron soundtrack. The second was the song “Rubicon” from the 1983 Frontiers album. However this song was never released as a single so it isn’t as popular as other tracks from Journey.

I remember seeing kids in my school show up in Journey t-shirts after they had gone to the concert (again that I was not able to attend) and I also remember Journey having their own video game in the arcade. I’m really glad that I’ve been able to experience Journey and Toto in concert.

Oh, and before I forget, one last note about singer Arnel Pieda. While the band was walking off stage he turned his microphone back on and sang a couple of lines from “Tom Sawyer” by Rush. I thought it was a kewl tip of the hat to a legendary band.

The marquee outside the arena.
Posted in: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Cosplay, Doctor Who, Dune, Fan Club, Horror, Horror Hosts, Humor, James Bond, Movies, MST3K, Music, No One Lives Forever, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, TV Review, Video Game, Website

2021 is in the rear view, now onto 2022

So another year has come and gone and I am glad. While 2021 was not as bad as the year that shall not be named, it wasn’t the easiest. There are still some challenges in this world that I really hope that our society can come together to get past. I’m still trying to focus on the positives of the past year.

==Role Playing Games==

2021 started out with the first #CharacterCreationChallenge. Amazingly enough I was able to knock out 31 characters in 31 days. I loved reading all of the different responses that the other participants and even made a few new friends along the way. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Character Creation Challenge.

There was also the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge during the month of August. I really had a struggle with this one, but I was glad that I had participated in it.

I also had a chance to finally play an online Star Trek Adventures game. We have a second session in our “one-shot” planned very soon. The kewl thing is, the game was announced with less than a 24 hour start time. I was able to use my Star Trek Adventures entry in the Character Creation Challenge to quickly drop into the game. Playing on just Zoom is difficult, but doable.

I also had some friends get me into an online Starfinder game that lasted several months (with 1-2 sessions per month). It was interesting, but it really turned me off using Fantasy Grounds as an online platform. It’s an app instead of a browser based system and it is a resource hog like nothing else. Even the players with high end computers were having issues. Unfortunately real life caused the game to end after a few months. The Starfinder system is ok, but a bit crunchy to what I’m use to. The Pathfinder in space mentality didn’t really appeal to me either. I know I was gaming more for the company than I was for the system and universe.

I still want to get into a D&D 5th edition game or a regular Star Trek Adventure game. I’d also prefer to get back together with gaming in person, but with the way the variants are running wild, I’m not certain that will happen any time soon. I’m open to an online game if the schedules can be worked out (the same old problems).

There were several new additions to my role-playing game collection. Between purchases and donations from friends I’ve been able to add to my gaming shelf. I also took advantage of several PDF sales. Instead of listing them all here, I’m planning to save them for my Character Creation Challenge entries. I also added to my dice collection including a special die.

==Video Games==

I’m still playing my old standbys of No One Lives Forever and Tron 2.0. However thanks to a gift card for GameStop (actually ThinkGeek) I was able to pick up a few other video games that I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve been playing Balder’s Gate and it’s been… interesting. I think I might be playing it wrong.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order has been good so far, but I think my daughter is enjoying it more than I am.

==Movies==

Even though it came out the year before, I had the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 and I enjoyed it. I wished I could have seen it in the theater. 2021 was also the 25th Anniversary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Through streaming I was able to enjoy Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong (wish I could have seen this in the theater).

Finally getting back into the theater I was able to enjoy watching the latest James Bond movie. We finally saw the sci-fi epic Dune and loved watching the new Ghostbusters film. I still want to watch the latest Matrix movie, Spiderman movie and The King’s Man while they are in the theaters.

I’ve also watched a ton of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy and horror films on streaming services. Some were good, some were not so good.

==Television==

Creature Features held it’s 50th Anniversary. During the summer I had my photo aired on a segment of Svengoolie and my kid’s artwork promoted on Creature Features.

Netflix’s Army of the Dead was a good adventure. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War was interesting to watch. Ice Road was also interesting, but probably not a repeat watch. The Wheel of Time didn’t catch my attention at first, but slowly got a little better. I never read the books so I don’t know how it compares. I really enjoyed Foundation after I was worried how the books were going to translate to the screen. Invasion was an interesting concept, but starts out really slow. I’m glad I stuck with it. I need to finish Y: The Last Man and I’m really disappointed that we will only get one season of Cowboy Bebop.

Thank you What We Do In The Shadows, Archer and South Park for being funny. Crossed Swords was a challenge, but I was able to get into it. I’ve really enjoyed the animated Disenchantment series on Netflix. It was also good to see Animaniacs again.

On the Star Trek front, Star Trek: Prodigy has been interesting. I’ve also been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery as well. I really think that Star Trek: Lower Decks has knocked it out of the park. I am really looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I wish there was more Short Treks. Wil Wheaton’s after show “The Ready Room” has been very enjoyable and informative.

Disney+ brought us several good entries for 2021. The Muppet’s Haunted Mansion was really, really good. I really wish that they would give us more Muppets Now. WandaVision and Loki were really good from the Marvel entries. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was ok. I haven’t seen the Hawkeye series yet but plan to sit down and watch it. I really liked the What If!?! series. On the Star Wars side, The Mandalorian continued to be great. Visions was ok, but I wish I hadn’t binged it since it probably would have been better in smaller doses. The Bad Batch was also enjoyable. There has only been one episode of The Book of Boba Fett so I’ll be watching to see where this goes.

Because I missed a lot of Doctor Who episodes while I was studying for college, I spent part of the year catching up. Not only was I able to complete this task, I was able to watch the latest season as it aired. I’m looking forward to the New Years Day special.

2022 will finally get us the third season of The Orville and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

==Books and Comics==

I really enjoyed the Star Trek: Picard novel, Last Best Hope. There are several other books that I’ve been reading on my kindle and in dead tree format. I’ve been trying to read The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance as well but I haven’t completed them.

The War of the Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars comic series was good, but frustrating. I really wish that they had a better system to follow the flow of the story that spans across several publications. I felt like a few times I was re-treading over the same ground.

The Mirror Universe stories and Star Trek Year Five was really good from IDW Publishing. I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories.

Doctor Who, James Bond and The Orville was other comics I had been pulling from my local store.

==Cosplay and Conventions==

I was able to add the Admiral Picard uniform to my collection. I had a chance to wear this at FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. It was the only con I attended in the year. Hopefully 2022 will be better convention wise. I’d love to get an Admiral Vance uniform from Star Trek: Discovery or a Monster Maroon from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However those are long term goals.

==Live Events==

Thanks to 103.1 The Wave, we were able to take the family to Lagoon. With the vaccines helping out, we’ve been able to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance and the live Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time Bubble Tour. I’ve already got several concerts and events planned for 2022. The Beyond Van Gogh experience was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a holodeck experience. The Egyptian exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah was very enjoyable.

I was also interviewed on the radio for the Star Trek Day 2021. That was an interesting experience. But also not the first time I’ve been interviewed on the TV, Radio or even print.

Our Seventh Fleet and USS Ticonderoga meetings and events have been able to get back in person. This was a very good thing as we are a close knit Star Trek family. We’ve been able to grow and succeed because we get together and see each other’s smiling faces.

==Website==

I was able to get some photo albums online and I’ve added to them as I’ve found more photos. I’ve been able to keep to a regular schedule of several blog posts per week (counting the Star Trek Quotes listings). I should do more gaming articles and reviews of things I’ve watched/read/enjoyed. However, I still need to get some of the other sections of my website filled out. I’m a little upset with myself that I haven’t gotten more of the website completed. This will be a goal for 2022.

It’s good to have goals. I think I’m going to spend 2022 trying to achieve more of them.

Posted in: Music

Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2021

In another sign of returning to something resembling normalcy (what a boring word) I had the chance to take the family to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert this year. We’ve had a chance to go to several of these in the past and they have always been very entertaining.

Flames and lasers and rock music.
All lined up for one of the songs.
You can feel the heat even in the back of the arena.

If you ever get the chance to attend a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, I would highly recommend that you sit in the back part of the arena. TSO sets up their concerts with multi-media all over the arena. If you sit up front, there are several presentations that you’d have to turn around to experience. In past concerts, members of the band use to go down into the audience as part of the show. This concert had cranes that would move band members over several front rows. I remember one concert where they had this ramp that was lowered down and they had band members running up it (while singing or performing, one in high heels that you could use to kill a man with). The 2021 concert had a rotating block with TV screens on all four sides and flames shooting out the top. Again, sit in the back of the arena so you can see the entire show.

There were two safety measures taken by the arena. Unless it was a medial bag (like oxygen) or a diaper bag (and there was a lot of kids present at the concert) you were not allowed to take in a bag of any kind. This includes purses, fanny packs and backpacks. The other safety measure is that everyone had to show a vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test from the previous day or two. It actually made me feel safe to go to the concert. There was a lot of people in the arena. Knowing that they had all been screened before the event made me buy a ticket. Not only am I planning to attend another show very soon (the latest Mystery Science Theater 3000 live show) but I am looking at a few other concerts as well. I would not be considering these without the safety measures in place.

It felt good to go to events again. It felt good to take the family out to make memories. I’m looking forward to making many more.

Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Music, Sports, Star Trek

Why I collect autographs

I was thinking about this subject the other day and realized that it would make for a good blog post. I’ve been collecting autographs ever since I first met several members of the Utah Jazz at a mall in downtown Salt Lake City in the 80’s. The team was trying to drum up interest in fans and they had several of the players at a table signing autographs for anyone who happened to be there. I was able to get four of the five players who were present (the fifth had just run out of photos to sign). I still have memories of going through the mall to that chance encounter. It was one of the many of my teenage times when I would just go wandering off on my own not knowing what I would find while exploring.

Mark Eaton

As I started going to Star Trek conventions I had the opportunity to meet several different actors. Some I’ve been able to get photos with that I’ve added to my Star Trek Actor’s Photo Gallery. From these conventions I’ve been able to get autographs from several of the actors that I’ve seen on television and movies. To get an autograph, especially when you can see them sign it yourself, is to have something that they have interacted with. I will never forget meeting with James Doohan. Especially since he was staying in the hotel I was working in at the time. I was able to interact with him on the phone after the convention.

Jimmy Doohan

Not all encounters were pleasant ones. Sometimes you have to plan to attend conventions out-of-state, make arrangements to get something to sign, think about what you are going to say to the celebrity since you only get a few seconds with them (if you are lucky it could be a few minutes). At a convention in Los Angels I had the opportunity to get an autograph from Dwight Schultz. While he is famous for his role as Howling Mad Man Murdock in the 1980’s television series, The A-Team. I wanted to get a signed photo of Lt. Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went by his table before he arrived and noticed all of the A-Team photos, but there were no Trek photos. I enjoyed watching the A-Team. But I knew what I wanted. In the dealers room I found a vendor who had a stack of Lt. Barclay photos for sale and snatched one up. I remember being in the first dozen people in line at the appropriate time for autograph signings. Several people had commented that they liked my Barclay picture. When you get to the table, you hand the assistant your money along with the photo. My photo was the first Star Trek picture of the day for Mr. Schultz to sign and he said “oh” and reached down with his pen to sign the photo. Suddenly from behind him, a hand reached out and yanked the picture away from him. Shocked I looked up to see some woman shaking the picture at me and screaming “Where did you get this picture? This is an illegal picture!” As I started arguing with the woman that I had already paid my money and that I was owed an autograph on the item I selected, Mr. Schultz’s face went back and forth between me and the woman as we yelled at each other. I think she was his agent or something and she wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t budge either as I had already paid for my product and stated so. Suddenly she whirled around and grabbed one of his photos, slapped it down in front of him and yelled “Sign it!” The poor actor quickly made it out to me an not wanting to fight any more, I thanked him for the autograph. Then the woman grabbed me and stated “You’re going to show me where you got this in the dealers room.” As I was being dragged past the line, I noticed how many other fans with the same photo I had quickly hiding them. I knew that while she was away, they would be trying to get them signed as quickly as possible. Not wanting to get the dealer mad at me, the moment we got into the room, I waived my hand in the general direction and said “he’s down that way.” and I walked in the opposite direction. I couldn’t have been more than a minute later before I heard the harpy scream of this person yelling at the vendor. Every time I see the photo below, I think about that encounter. To this day, I wonder what Mr Schultz thought of what happened. I don’t blame him for it, but I could tell that he was embarrassed by it.

Dwight Schultz

I wish I could say that I’ve met everyone that I’ve got an autograph from. I’ve had several friends, knowing of my hobby to collect and of my interests, provide me with autographs that they have come across on their own. I’ve enjoyed several “Weird Al” Yankovick concerts, but I’ve never had a chance to meet the artist in person. Two different friends procured an autograph for me at different meet-and-greets that they participated in. I am very thankful to these friends. And yes, someday I’ll get a chance to meet Weird Al in person. Until then I’ll continue to enjoy his music and his sense of humor.

Weird Al Yankovick

I’ve got a quite a few autographs. Not just photos in an album but on artwork, books, action figures, hats, comics, games and other collectibles. And while some have gone up in value, especially with the celebrity passing on from this life, I’ve never thought about selling these items. These are memories for me. Memories of efforts to collect the autograph. Memories from meeting these human beings who have done extraordinary things. Memories of friends who have gone out of their way to help me with my collection. I’m sad that large scale events and online auctions have pushed autograph prices higher and higher. But I am also grateful for the opportunities to meet these people. I still get a smile on my face when I look over my autographed items.

Posted in: Music

Thank you 103.1 The Wave

103.1 The Wave
At the 103.1 The Wave KLO-FM offices.

One of the standard marketing techniques that radio stations use to attract listeners is to run promotional give-a-ways. Last week I was lucky to win one of these promotions. KLO-FM, aka 103.1 The Wave, was running a contest for listeners who heard an audible clue to call in an be lucky caller number seven.

The week before the prize was a $100 gift card and the chance to win a Las Vegas trip (that would have been nice). On the Thursday before the contest ended, I was caller number six in one of the entries. At first I was excited because usually when you try to call in on one of these promotions, so many people are calling in that all you get is a busy signal. So when it started ringing I got excited. The person answering the phone (it wasn’t Andrea even though the audio clip happened during her show) said “I’m sorry you are caller number six.” Dang it.

The next week 103.1 The Wave was running a contest for Mother’s Day at Lagoon, an amusement park in Utah that first opened in 1886. If you heard the audio clue of every mom ever (she was threatening to turn the car around if the kids didn’t settle down) and was caller number seven, you could win a family pack of four tickets. This prize had a higher value than $100 by far plus taking my family to an amusement park was something we badly needed. So I listened for the annoyed mother. Surprisingly enough, on the second day of the contest the I was actually able to make it through. The phone rang and Chet Tap (the morning DJ) asked me who I was. After responding (and we follow each other on Facebook so he knows about my attempt to win the week prior) he told me that I was once again caller number six. Gah!!! At least he played the recording on the radio before talking to the lucky winner.

Wednesday work duties prevented me from calling in. But Thursday I waited for the audio clues again and made my attempt. Busy signal, busy signal, busy signal. What the heck, let’s give it one more try. Ring. What? Ringing? Chet Tap comes on the phone again and I’m expecting to hear, “caller number six”, but instead he said “Finally. You made it as caller number seven.” Woot!!!!! After taking my information I dragged my wife downstairs so she could hear me win on the air. She’s excited because we haven’t been to Lagoon in a few years so this was a great Mother’s Day gift for her. The photo above is when I went down to the offices to pick up the passes. Yes I asked for permission to remove my mask and no one was near me while I was taking the photo.

I listen to the radio for a good chunk of the day, about 8-10 hours. In the car while driving or when working. In fact I’m listening to 103.1 The Wave while I’m writing this blog post. The music can play in the background without dragging my attention from what I’m working on. I also like the randomness of the music plus the structure of the regular shows (80’s at 8, Sets with Andrea, Mister’s Theme Park and especially the punk/industrial/goth themed Unrest on the Seventh Day). I found 103.1 The Wave just after it launched in 2016 and loved that they focused on just playing the music. I had felt abandoned by the local alternative radio stations. Either the format was dropped by their management or the DJs became so annoying that I had to stop listening. Sure, there were the local rock stations that were good, but they just didn’t scratch the itch of the alternative music from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. I’ve estimated that about 98% of the songs played on The Wave don’t give me the urge to reach over and change the radio station. If they could drop “The Reason” by Hoobastank that number would probably rise to 99.9%. That song is like nails on the chalkboard. The rest of the time I’m listening to an old favorite, a song I hadn’t heard in a long time, or music that I just won’t hear on the other stations.

So thank you 103.1 The Wave, not only for the Lagoon tickets for Mother’s Day, but just being a soundtrack in my life. The music is great and the DJs make the station enjoyable. Keep it going.

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