Posts Tagged ‘vacations’

Dead Morty opened their only sold-out show with a cover of the Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat”. Interesting choice for a trio whose only female member was a drummer who could neither sing nor drum, although she enthusiastically did both for the entire set. The keyboard player was one-handed; he was stubborn, not disabled, and had to be coerced to perform. The guitar player was a veteran rocker who head banged with the neck-cracking precision of a Pez dispenser. The crowd roared as Dead Morty rocked the stage for nearly three minutes at the end of which the drummer thrust her sticks skyward and screamed, “We love you, Seattle!”

Experience Music Project (EMP) made me a rock god. It can make you one, too.

Swept up from the minute you walk in.

Swept up from the minute you walk in.

EMP is three floors of pure pop culture awesomeness with a two-story tornado of stringed instruments, the massive Sky Church with its 70-foot tall ceiling, and galleries featuring everything from Jimi Hendrix’s smashed guitar to Data’s uniform from Star Trek to special effects props from classic horror movies.

I like museums where you can touch things. This summer a museum guard chastised me for touching the glass over a painting. This fall a museum volunteer pointed me toward a room full of instruments and said “Play!”

EMP’s third floor is home to the Sound Lab and On Stage. The museum’s organizers understood that the best way to experience music is to actually make it. The Sound Lab introduces you to the physical creation of music through interactive displays with electric guitars, keyboards, and mixing consoles. On Stage takes it a step further and invites you to not only create music but to do it under hot spotlights in front of a cheering crowd. The only way it gets more real is if you join an actual band.

Sky Church, where you can worship everything music and movies.

Sky Church, where you can worship everything music and movies.

We wandered over to On Stage with curiosity, not intent. Neal, who has shoulder-length grey hair and started his own rock band after the age of 50, opened the door. “Come check it out,” he invited.

My husband, smiling, shook his head. “We could at least look,” I said.

The door shut behind us. The room was soundproofed and had a stage, spotlights, curtain, instruments, amps and simulated screaming fans. It was a concert waiting to happen, waiting for us to make it happen. Neal gave us the spiel: pick a band name, pick a song, pick an instrument, perform. Be as crazy as you want; nobody can see or hear you.

My husband was not ready to make an ass of himself. I was already sidling over to the drum set while Neal was still convincing Jay that it would be quick, painless and potentially fun. He even offered to sit in and play guitar with us. By then, I had dropped my coat on the floor in the corner and was sitting with my foot on the bass pedal and the drumsticks in my hands.

“What’s your band name?” Neal asked, as he fired up the equipment.

“Dead Morty.” Jay shook his head at me again. Morty is the custom mini-bike he built. It doesn’t run right now. Hence, Dead Morty.

“Right on, I like it,” said Neal. He ran down the short list of songs we could choose from. “We Got The Beat” was the newest addition and also the shortest. Jay acquiesced that two minutes forty seconds probably wouldn’t kill him. Then the lights came up, the music played, and we friggin’ rocked it.

Dead Morty: Live at EMP

Dead Morty: Live at EMP

Neal declined to mention that a video of your On Stage performance plays on two large flatscreens as you exit the room. A family of four was laughing at our footage before they stepped inside for their own three minutes of fame. I consider them groupies.

Our place in rock history was immortalized in a poster of Dead Morty live at EMP and two concert tickets from our one and only sold-out show. Those were crazy times, on stage, living the life. Yeah, I’m thinking reunion tour.

If you had the chance to play rock god, would you take it?

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Amtrak allows each passenger to bring two carry-on bags. I am not wasting one on technology.

I almost did. I had to have some way to carry our two cell phones, my work Blackberry, my digital camera, two chargers, and potentially one of our two laptops to Seattle, didn’t I?

Next week, we leave for our first vacation in four years. To be fair, the trip in 2009 was actually a work conference for me with a couple of extra days tacked on for sightseeing. Which makes our last real vacation a trip to Vegas in 2001. My husband was there to play in the International 8-Ball Pool Championships. I went along to celebrate my 35th birthday at the largest margarita bar on the Strip.

I have trouble both relaxing and disconnecting. Between my two jobs, I’m plugged in nearly all the time with voice-tracking my show, answering email, working on projects, maintaining a website, and monitoring half a dozen social media sites. I’m rarely sans technology.

The train trip from Minot to Seattle will take 27 hours.  Plenty of time to get caught up on work and if I did manage to snap a picture or two, with all that hardware, I’d have the technological means to post them instantly and update my status and tweet about how great it is to take a break from it all.

That’s what I was thinking. Right up until my friend Kathy said, “Take lots of pictures so you can show me when you get back.”

That’s how vacations used to be, before cell phones and digital cameras and social media. You spent the time seeing new places, trying new things and enjoying the company of the people you were with. Then you’d come home, drop off six rolls of film and wait a week to see if you caught that perfect sunset over the ocean or a frame-worthy picture of the family by the Disneyland sign, with all eyes open and everybody smiling. Or something even better, a memory you didn’t even know you were capturing. It was the anticipation, the waiting, that made the excitement of the trip linger even after it was over.

We’ll be boarding the train with one cell phone each, a digital camera and the universal charger. What will I do with all the quiet? Scribble in my travel journal, talk face to face with people, and snap a picture or two. Who knows? Maybe if it works out, I won’t have to wait so many years to do it again.

Here are my favorite “surprise catch” photos from the years when I took regular vacations:

Sunrise over the bay in Corpus Christi

Sunrise over the bay in Corpus Christi

Giant ants at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Giant ants at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Steam clock in Vancouver, which for some reason always makes me think of Dr. Who.

Steam clock in Vancouver, which for some reason always makes me think of Dr. Who.

 

Sunrise silhouette in Santa Fe

Sunrise silhouette in Santa Fe

And the obligatory "family posing by the sign" shot. Apparently, I wasn't very patient back in those days, either.

And the obligatory “family posing by the sign” shot. Apparently, I wasn’t very patient back in those days, either.

What’s your favorite vacation memory and did you capture it on film?