Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CND Shellac Grape Gum

I came back from my cruise with ultra long nails. Yesterday, I had Mandi trim them down and picked Grape Gum to cover the nails.



There's a layer of purple glitter over it, to add a bit more shimmer.

Alas, I knew it was too good to last. I'd gone far too long without a nail breaking. This was three hours later:



Wouldn't be so bad, but I have an interview tomorrow afternoon...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Too Good to Be True Contests on Facebook

A guide to whether you should 'like' that contest post from Walt Disney World, McDonalds, or whatever big name is running a 'contest'.

The real deal:


A scam one:


Many of these pages are there to build likes, then later change the name to something else and sell it to others with ready likes built in.

If you've liked a page to win free Disney tickets, a cruise, or anything else that just seems too good to be true, I suggest you go into your Activity Log, click on 'Likes, then "Pages and Interests', then scroll through to make sure what you've liked is actually stuff you're interested in the page. Remove yourself from anything that doesn't interest you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lifesigns

Our first night aboard the Cruise to the Edge, as pink badge attendees (more details on that later), we had a relatively light schedule. We attended the Saga Sailaway show, enjoyed some time aft on Deck 15, watching Miami fade into the distance, had a nice dinner in the Black Crab dining room, then attended a show by Italian Proggers PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi), as both of these shows did not require a pink or blue badge.

Afterwards, we wandered around. I'd had some video recording duties, but the venue I was going to after the PFM show was way too crowded for me to get in amidst all those attending to set up tripods and gear and sit on the scooter, so we headed to the Golden Lounge.

Within moments of arriving, Ed had the surreal moment of witnessing Eddie Jobson introduce Gary Green to Patrick Moraz. Yes, I understand that means nothing to you, but here is the moment.



While this was going on, there were many other performers in the lounge, and we hung out for a while. I took a short video scanning the room, in part to share for my travel agent friends to see what the ship would be like. Looking at it now, I see Jon Poole at one end of the bar with Lifesigns manager, and Ed several feet away.

About a half hour later, we decided to go see what else was going on aboard ship, and as we approach the quite animated Jon, I ask when we'll get to see his band perform. Understand that even without the lanyards around necks, some of the performers just exude 'musician'-Jon is one of them.

We fell into conversation with Jon and manager Barbara. He told us that Lifesigns would be performing the next day in the afternoon. At some point, two other fans join in and we all are having a grand old time, chatting. Seems Jon's musical tastes and general sense of humor is similar to ours (and our fellow fans), and the time flew. We didn't get back to our room until nearly 4 a.m.

We'd had Lifesigns on the list of 'want to see', but the schedule conflicted-until weather postponed the Patrick Moraz show on the Pool Stage. As soon as we heard Jon Kirkman's announcement and I heard 'rescheduled' twice in the British pronunciation, I sought out confirmation-it was quite windy and hard to hear. Ed and I hightailed it down 7 decks and from the front of the ship to the very back, to the Black and White Lounge. We were going to see Lifesigns, after all.

The venue was packed. For those interested in sailing on MSC Divina, this is easily the largest lounge on the ship, and could probably hold 500 people sitting comfortably. There were probably 1,000 of us in there. We got there about 10 minutes before the show began and were in the very rear of the room.

This show was high energy, with very catchy, melodic progressive rock songs. The four musicians, John, Jon, Martin "Frosty", and Niko, are a cohesive unit and one wouldn't know that this wasn't the original lineup of the band. (John Young and Frosty Beedle started this project with Nick Beggs and Steve Rispin).

They were clearly enjoying themselves, with huge smiles and lots of bouncing around the stage, and the audience all were into this performance. Before they started the third song, Ed and I commented to each other that we WILL be buying this CD.

Alas, I didn't have my monopod for this show, so the video isn't the best, but this is one of two songs I taped, Carousel, the last track on the album:


Here in the US, we probably never would have seen Lifesigns live. The red tape involved with a fledgling foreign band makes it too expensive to come to this side of the pond. Heck, even our favorites, Marillion, only venture over here once a decade.

As a result, John Young told me about their efforts to raise money to come here. Taking a page from Marillion and their 1997 tour fund, Lifesigns is on Gig Pledge in the hopes that there can be a grass-roots effort to get the fans to bring them here. Hey, it has worked since 1997 for Marillion-they now self produce and distribute their own stuff, and handle all their own touring.

We feel very fortunate that a cruise liner, in international waters, made the visa situation a non-issue, so that we could see all the musicians and exposed us to some new music, too. Now in contrast to my crappy video, here are some links to Lifesigns on YouTube.

This is probably some of the most approachable prog for someone new to the genre. I ordered the CD the day we got off the ship, it arrived Saturday, and has had more listens than I care to admit in a very short time. It is THAT good. :)

First, my favorite, Fridge Full of Stars:


At the End of the World, the happiest song you'll hear about the end of time.


Lighthouse (and yes, I'm giving you the album completely out of order)


Telephone


Yes, it is only a five track album, but that's nearly an album full of good music. If you like, maybe you should get a copy of the CD, too. If you want to see them in the US, go visit Gig Pledge and help the guys out.

Ed and I are both lobbying for Lifesigns to return to Cruise to the Edge next year, and apparently, we're not alone. Many others agree that this was the happy surprise of CTTE. Heck, if GigPledge works out, perhaps they can do a show or two in the US after getting off the ship? I can hope.

We ran into Jon and John over and over throughout the week, and they both were genuinely nice (and funny) guys. It was a pleasure to get to know artists beyond the songs on the CD.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Images From the Cruise

View of Miami-lunchtime, aft Deck 14

View of Miami-Saga Sail Away on Deck 14

Just exiting the channel from the Port of Miami-aft, Deck 15

Look the water is blue! 1 mile off South Beach, aft, Deck 15

Pilot boat dismissed, returning to Miami, aft, Deck 15

Moored in Cozumel, from Deck 14

Moored in Cozumel, from Deck 14

The MSC Divina, from Cozumel

Coconut palms, in Cozumel's only mall

Sunset over Mexico, Wednesday night

Setting sun, leaving Cozumel, Thursday night

Understanding why people enjoy cruising so much, Thursday night

I think I took too many pictures,but I don't care

Best Vacation EVER, Thursday night

Detour on the way home, Saturday morning


Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 Cruise to the Edge - Performers

Honesty first: This will be a brief overview that will eventually link to more in-depth posts about some of the bands that performed on the 2014 Cruise to the Edge. Just figured I'd get that out there first, okay?

If you look at this 'poster' for the event:



You might recognize one or two bands that performed. Recognize five or more, then hello there, fellow prog fan! Yeah, so this means that it was not going to be your ordinary cruise and it was not going to be populated with those who have a preferred station on the radio that plays all their favorites, all the time.

Nope, prog fans are used to not seeing their favorite bands play sellout crowds in arenas, or hell, even getting to see their favorite bands perform live. As a result, this cruise was like Mecca-the opportunity to have all prog, all the time. On the DEFCON scale, Ed would be one of those solid 5's-he is well versed, keeps up on the new releases, who is playing with what band nowadays. He even had given me the heads up that Dave Kerzner had left Sound of Contact about 2 months before we embarked, something the average person would say 'who?'. Me, I'm a solid 2.5: I know far more than the average person, love the genre as a whole, but I don't have the time to keep up with the ins and outs of who is in which band. That said, I really do love the genre.

Which is why as soon as Marillion was announced as the second bill act, I knew we had to go. Back in 2012, we had tickets to see them play in DC, but had to pass on going. If there was a 'do-over', this cruise was certainly going to fit the bill. Thankfully, my friend Allen offered to stay with boys and even was the one who said to 'go book that cruise already', and we're damn grateful for that insistence that we go.

Five days, 26 acts, Roger Dean, and host Jon Kirkman. I don't think there are enough hours in the day to see them all. We talked about two weeks before going and made a mental list of 'I'm not going to be upset if we miss...' and came up with a list of five that were definite passes. There just wasn't enough time. Another act got moved into the 'definitely skipping' after the act's manager bombarded a FB group for the cruise with 'you have to see this show!' multiple times a day, but the corker was 'this band doesn't bore you with 7/8 music'. Um, hello? We're all coming FOR the 7/8 music! We made a list of must see shows and kept that short.

The reality of our health issues is that if we push ourselves too much, it takes several days to get back to some semblance of normal. I brought the scooter in the hopes that it would keep pain and fatigue at bay. (It did a respectable job, but I'm still recovering). Still, my goal was to see about 15 of the acts, Ed's about 18. We both came close-I ended up with 11 acts (13 performances), Ed saw 13 acts (15 performances).

The ones I got to see:

Yes

Marillion (twice)

Steve Hackett (twice)

UK

Saga

Patrick Moraz

Renaissance

Lifesigns

Stickmen

Sound of Contact

Electric Asturias

If you do a breakdown by cost, I spent under $100 per show. When you live in central Florida, to see a show typically involves a drive to Tampa or Orlando-so there's $25 in gas. Add parking at a venue and a meal, and you're already close to $100 for one show, even if the tickets were free. That $86 per show also included our food-so I am comfortable with saying we shelled out $50 per show-and there was NOT ONE dud performance.

Over the next few days, I'll probably do reviews by day-and add pictures or videos as possible.

I think it's safe to call this experience, the Woodstock of prog, without the mud, and the crowds, and long lines for food and bathrooms...