Monday, December 05, 2005

"I have a problem with my sandwich" - the BNL Weekend In Review

I really don't know where to begin with summarizing the weekend experience, but I'll take a whack at it. If you care not for my BNL related adventures, you'll really want to just skip this entry and come back another time. But bear with me -- it has a dream-fulfilling ending and I explain the meaning of the title. You really want to know that part, don't you? Yes you do.

Many of you know I won a guitar from a local radio station this summer. It was autographed by Steven Page. And I knew that I wanted it to be complete with all five members of BNL signing it, not just our boy SP.

Friday I went to work and left a little before 3. I had my guitar with me because I'd gotten email from BNL's record company letting me know they'd notify Fin, the tour manager, that it would be there. And then I could get it signed. I hit a ton of traffic and ended up getting to my hotel room at 5:30 when I wanted to be at the arena at 5:30.

My sister, Ronnie and K's parents were already there. We all met for a quick chat and a figure out as to how we would proceed over to the hall. I grabbed my guitar, my confirmation will-call info (the last 3 times I've done will call they've screwed it up, so having the confirmation number is essential) and we dashed over to the arena.

Security wouldn't allow me to bring the guitar into the concert hall but had a safe and secure place to check it. The director of security for the arena radioed Fin and told me that yes, Fin is expecting to see me but it'll have to wait until after the show because it was already 7:15 and I should have come earlier. I said that I fully understood and tried my best to get there -- and all was agreed, hands were shaken and the guitar was safe in storage for the show.

We proceeded to the arena with drinks in hand and smiles on face. Ed and Steve were on the floor in the aisles signing autographs and taking pictures. We got online (K's mom and I) and I got to talk to Ed for a minute about the guitar and told him that after the show I'd give it to security to send backstage if that was okay with him. He said "Wow! cool! I can't wait to see it!" and then the stage guy pulled him away so I couldn't get a picture of me and his royal hotness. He did sign my ticket quickly and that was cool. I may or may not give it to Jessica.

The LeeVees opened yet again. They were awesome. If you're not familiar with them, they do semi-novelty style songs about Hanukkah, but they're cleverly written and very catchy. After their set K's mom and I went out to meet them -- and I got to talk with David "LeeVee" and told him that his song "Hockey Monkey" which he does with his other band, The Zambonis, was the greatest song EVER written. He laughed hard and thanked me, and gave me a Zambonis sticker. Nice.

The second opening act for the show was a school choir. Last year it was high school kids. This year it looks like they're reaching for the younger crowd and getting them involved.

At Portland the night before they had the Maine Boy's Choir, and they were polished and perfect and sounded wonderful. This choir was from an elementary school in Salem CT, and they were less polished but no less adorable. They really had a lot of gorgeous kids, including a beautiful little Asian girl right up front who preened and posed and had a great time performing. They had a little boy with CP and he stood a little ways off from the rest of the group and moved around a lot. He threw his arms in the air in victory when they finished songs and I think the entire audience fell in love with him, even though most of us were thinking "Timmy!" from South Park. When the audience cheered he covered his ears which everyone of course found amusing. The little girl behind him consoled him and encouraged him, and he really seemed to enjoy himself.

The audience went nuts when BNL came out, and they performed with the kids, and it was just so fun and magical. I've never heard so many grownups cheer for little kids. Kickass.

The show was fantastic, and it was a lot more rowdy and high-energy than the night before. The crowd was nuts, and I think the guys fed off that and really got into it.

At one point, they started up doing "Too little, too late" and Steve jumped up in the air with his guitar the way he ALWAYS does at the beginning of this song, only this time...

he landed on his ass.

Splat! wipeout! And the audience went nuts laughing... it was hard not to laugh at him, because with the guitar on, dude could not get up. Oh my gord, it was funny. They stopped playing and Jim Creegan came over and lifted him up. Ed asked what happened and Steve explained that he jumps the way he always does only tonight he gave just a little more because the energy was so great and... boom. Everyone cheered him and he sheepishly laughed it all off. I hope he didn't bruise his ass too bad.

Ed did yet another whole dissertation about Barbecue. Whe we saw them over the summer he talked about Virgil's in Times square and how he ate 3 meals in 2 days there. At Mohegan Sun he ate at Big Bubbas and stated that he ate the entire Big Bubbaque, which is a platter of meat and nothing but meat. For like 24 bucks. "I shoulda stopped at the links" he groaned.

They did a great job, throwing in "King of Bedside Manor" and "Trust Me" both of which I've never heard live. King of Bedside Manor is a crazy out of control song, and I think that the people in the audience who didn't know it were sucked into it by the energy because the crowd was nuts when they were done. It was a hell of an offering. Hats off to the guys for that one.

And, I got to hear "Break your heart" live for the first time -- sorry Jessica missed it. In all the shows we've been to, we've never heard it. We've heard some drunk assed jackass screaming the request every 4 seconds (Jones Beach, summer 2005) but haven't heard the song.

Finally, Steve pointed out a special guest of honor in the form of the Christmas Farter. Last year at the Orpheum Theatre, there was a guy a few rows ahead of us who farted through the whole show. At the end of that show, Steve thanked him for making the evening just a little more enjoyable as he stood up on stage watching everyone behind the guy try to deal with the stink. Well, Christmas Farter has embraced the label, and the band introduced him to the crowd. Everyone who was there last December died laughing...

And there was the end of the show. I ran up and got my guitar out of security. I went to bring it back in and a security woman stopped me. I explained my tale. She didn't believe me. She radioed her boss. Long wait. Got clearance. Went to go in, got stopped again. Stopped a third time. Finally, enough people were walking out that I was able to get into the floor area again. The usher who sat right by us looked at me funny but didn't stop me. I went up front and Mohegan security told me to leave. I explained, they turned to a guy and said "who is Fin?" One of the touring guys said "The big boss, the big cheese, the big kahuna. The man. why?" I explained again what I needed, and someone radioed for him.

There was a long wait, they had us (Linda, Ronnie, K's mom and me) wait in the first row up from the floor to be out of the way. After a while, security was getting pissy, and I was told to leave but someone yelled out "No! Tell her to wait a bit hang on hang on!"

Mark from BNL security came out and verified my story. Steven Page guitar, signed in the summer, record label told me to ask for Fin yadda yadda. "I don't want to be a pain in the ass, I'll leave if you want, I totally understand... I don't want to bother the guys, I don't need to meet them. It's just that the guitar is incomplete without the other four, ya know?"

He was all smiles and "Nah! It's okay. Fin's busy so he's sorry he couldn't come out here and get it. Lots of backstage paperwork, he's holed up in a room. I'll take the guitar. Sorry we kept you waiting."

And there it went. Dude was apologizing to me. That blew me away. Again -- this band and their management are top notch in my book, experiencing this and having people be nice to me was far more than I ever expected.

Oh dear. Wow. It's going, going, gone. And we waited, watching the crew break set and pack up. They were fast, they were thorough, they were impressive. Security from the casino was a little snitty with me but we ignored them (except K's mom and Linda who were all like "Settle Down Mattlock!" when he got on the radio to get all official like.

After quite a wait, I told the other three that they didn't need to wait with me. I think they were all hoping (as was I, secretly and deeply, that one of the guys would come out. But I knew they wouldn't and that I'd be lucky if I got 3 of the 4 signatures.

Once Linda, Ronnie and K's mom were gone, a few more minutes passed. And Mark reemerged with the guitar. "Got all four for ya. Thanks for waiting." He smiled and shook my hand.

29 the BNL autographed guitarI had it. In my hands. Signed. Sealed. Zipped up in its case.

Giddy as a school girl, I exited the arena. The head of stadium security was there at the exit and asked if I was all set, if Fin was able to meet me. I explained how Mark saved the day and he apologized to me (people can be so nice) that it took so long and people were confused or may have been rude to me.

I told him that it was all okay. In the end, it all works out. I told him his staff was thorough, professional, and even though at times confused they were kind while performing their duties. I got to the gingerbread house where K's parents, Linda and Ronnie were waiting for me. We whipped open the case and all of us gazed upon the wild wonder of the joy that we had found. It was beautiful and complete. The Steven Page Guitar was now the BNL guitar. Hallelujah, Amen.

Casino security wouldn't let me walk around with it. So we put it in the car and spent the next three or four hours running around the casino like goofballs... enjoying every minute. We were about to leave when we saw Tyler and Kevin re-entering the arena and I yelled to them "Love you guys! You rock! Thank you Ty and Kev!" but I should have added "For signing my guitar!!!"

They waved back and left. And I didn't stalk them. Because I'd done more than my share of stalking in form of guitar signing action that day.

Best night ever.

I slept like the dead until hospitality pounded on our door like the hotel was on fire at 9:30am "You want your room clean?"

No, I want to SLEEP!

Well, we were up then.

We decided, Doug and I, to go up to Willimantic to this brew pub he'd read about. The Willimantic Brewing Company is housed in an old post office, built in 1909. Seeing as we're all about brew pubs, we thought we'd give it a whirl.


The food, the beer -- the 60 ft mahogany bar. The place is awesome. We were there close to two hours. The guy at the table next to us was a riot. He was there with two friends, and throughout the afternoon we talked with him, learned all about the big glass sculpture in the middle of Mohegan Sun (he did iron work on the casino) and just generally had a ton of laughs. K's mom once said to me "You could talk to a light post," meaning I'm the type of person who can just have a meaningful, friendly conversation with just about anyone. Tis True. I am that way. This guy was ten fold.

At the end of his meal, the waitress came over and asked how everything was. His plate was spotless... almost like he'd licked it clean.

"I had a problem with my sandwich," he says to her, completely straightfaced and honest... very serious. She looked at the completely clean plate, and then looked at him, and all of us started cracking up.

"You had a problem setting it down long enough to do anything else," said his friend. He was just messing with her.

"I have a problem in that it's gone and it was really good." She laughed too, but for a second you could cut the air. He left her a big tip, and we did too. Now I wish I lived in Willimantic so I could go there all the time. The wings were fabulous, the beer was awesome.

The thing about Willimantic is they have a frog fetish. There is a local legend that tells of a night when settlers heard horrible noises and everyone believed they were under attack, but in the morning found that hundreds of bullfrogs fought to death in a dried out pond during mating season. So they referred to the event as "The Battle of the Frogs" and the frog became the town mascot.

They've got frogs on EVERYTHING. Doug pointed out that most places would have been ashamed of their settlers being scared of frog noises and they'd hope the story would die, but Willimantic embraces the legend and they have fetished frogs every three inches in this town... including a big honkin' bridge with four guardian frogs atop thread spools spanning the river.

We were drunk so I took 110 pictures of the frogs. They're all up in flickr. Of course.

We then drove down to Stonington to a cider mill we'd seen on the TV show "The Thirsty Traveler." We got wine and cookies and looked around the apple press, and enjoyed a nice visit there where there were no frogs.

In the evening, we met K's parents and went back to the casino because we wanted to go to Big Bubba's after Ed's glowing endorsement of the place the night before. We walked around the casino for a while, played penny slots because 10 dollars goes a hell of a lot farther in penny slots than it does in quarters. We had some margaritas, we people watched. We had an 11:15 shuttle back to the hotel and so at 9 we went to eat.

The food was fantastic, I loved it... and Doug and I shared a gianormous margarita with the silliest long assed straws ever. No one had the Big Bubbaque though. Ed would have. He would have had it twice. I'm sure. We shared the "I have a problem with my sandwich" story and we decided we'd use it on the waitress here. She didn't fall for it. She zinged us before she could be taken for a ride, even a brief one. We laughed our asses off. It was so much fun.

We got the shuttle back, and I think I was out cold by 11:35. Very tired.

The following morning Doug took off to go home, I took off to go get the kids at my folks'... I stopped at Aaron's parents' to pick up the container for our defunct Geocache which we had to remove from its hiding spot in Maine. I had a nice visit with them, sorry to have missed Aaron, and then I went and got the kids.

All told, it was the best weekend in a long time. There were parts of it I would have liked to share with my daughter, the big fan of BNL that she is, but all in all it was nice to have a kid free weekend. I think K's parents had fun too. It was fun to see Linda and Ronnie again. And I need a vacation from my weekend.

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