The Right Stuff

I swear, Kelly’s heart leaped a little just reading that title.

Here’s why. (Of course, being me, I have to tell the WHOLE detailed story).

As many of you know, Kelly and I are childhood friends. That friendship was long rooted in a equal love of New Kids on the Block. We loved them with a passion that only pre-pubescent girls can achieve. As we grew, they faded…mostly. Several of the Kids went on to pursue their own solo dreams. You may not know this about me, but I am NOT a fan of solo acts. I can’t think of one solo act that I like–having liked them in their band first. Generally speaking, if I loved your band, I’m not going to be happy about you leaving, and there is something so thin sounding about a solo act, like they are forever altered in a bad way.

I suppose a noticeable exception would be if they completely changed their musical style, but they don’t usually do that. One assumes that the music the band performed is the music they like so that is usually the style they stick with when going solo.

Kelly, being a far more dedicated fan than yours truly, has actually followed the solo careers of all band members. I have not. When she and I saw them in concert in 2008 they sang a couple of the solo songs during the show and she knew them all. I did not. We saw them at that concert, we saw a mini-show at MOA to get their new CD (you should read that link, it tells the story of how Donnie Wahlberg kissed me. Yep, you read that right, NKOTB member and actor, Donnie Wahlberg, once kissed me.) and we traveled to Chicago to see them tour with the Backstreet Boys, of whom I was never a fan. After the NKOTBSB concert, which was less than impressive, I said I was done. No more NKOTB for me. It’s not my kind of music, nor my style of show, if I’m going to blow $100 on a concert ticket, I want it to be someone that I LOVE. You know? So, when we got back from Chicago, Kelly got tickets to see them again, in Minneapolis. I didn’t go. She did and touched Donnie’s leg. (Read about that here and watch the video of her touching Donnie, here).

Flash forward to present day (well, technically last Thursday) and let’s talk about Jordan Knight.

All of that is to say this. About a month ago, Kelly called me and said that Jordan Knight is touring for his new solo album and he was coming to Minneapolis at the end of January. I declined to go. She replied. “I already bought the tickets!” Truly, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was go to a concert for someone I don’t like. (**sidenote** Jordan used to be my favorite New Kid, when I was a 12 and had zero taste in men, just admired a pretty face. He’s still pretty, but when I met him, he was an ass–and Donnie {who was always #2} became my new favorite. Then he kissed me–cementing the position, got all that?) So, being unimpressed with the man, and not knowing his music at all, I really did not want to go. I had only ever heard one of his solo songs, during the 2008 concert and didn’t recognize it and couldn’t pick it out of a lineup AND this was for a new album, so there was no guarantee he’d sing that song I couldn’t recognize.

But, even with all those good reasons, I still said I’d go. Why? Well, because Kelly wanted me to and I’m her friend. I know that for HER it is important to share these experiences and I also know that whether I like them or not, she associates NKOTB with me. This was her first time seeing Jordan perform solo (he still IS her favorite) and she was extremely excited to go. I weighed it in my mind and realized that it was MORE important to her that I be there then it was to me to not be there. (That was so clear in my head–)

Of course, being less-than-thrilled, I didn’t tell anyone I was going, I really hardly gave it a thought. I never listened to any of his songs to prep, I just didn’t really care. I would go and spend my time taking pictures (which I do enjoy) and just enjoy Kelly’s excitement while capturing some awesome photos for her.

The day of, I took vacation to leave work early and picked her up. We drove in rush hour to get to Minneapolis. We stopped for dinner at Whiskey Junction, and I realized I had been there before, I even have a photograph, somewhere, with me and my friends there. I’ll try and find it for later. At any rate. We ordered the sampler platter to share for dinner and a couple of beers. Kelly was getting agitated by this point. The website had said that the show starts at 7pm and the doors open at 6pm. (Oh, the show was at the Cabooze, forgot to mention that). It was getting close to 6pm when our food arrived and I know she wanted in the second the doors opened.

During dinner she said she’d wished she took a picture of the marquee during twilight, because it would look better than in full dark. Being the photographer, I ran outside to do that.
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Pretty good, hm? Well, when we got in line, it was full dark and I took another.
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I’m a lot closer for this one, but they both turned out well.

Okay, so back to the story. Kelly left the restaurant at a few minutes after six to get in line to get in for will-call. I paid the tab using Kelly’s card (she was kind enough to buy dinner) and boxed up the leftovers and brought them to the car. Then I joined her in line.

Now, it was about 25° outside, which is balmy for January. But it was windy. We didn’t wear coats because who wants to be in a heavy coat inside? Waiting, waiting, waiting. Until about 6:20 when they finally lined up the VIPs and brought them in. We were all together, so it helped us move up a bit. And we waited.

They didn’t open the doors to GA until 7pm. An hour after the website said. We stood in line, in the cold, in no coats for an hour. Obviously, this wasn’t going as planned. Of course, my role was to make sure Kelly had fun. I was yukking it up in line, while she seemed a little…cranky. She wasn’t, she was just nervous and excited (and cold!) and wanted in. I also made some girls in line take our picture in front of the marquee.
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Isnt’ that so cute? Aside from the fact that my hands are in my pockets, because they were cold.

When we finally got in, we grabbed standing room and we were close to the stage. Not up front, as the VIPs were already parked there, but still, very close.
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My excited friend. You can see the stage behind her. It’s misleading via camera, as the actual stage was roughly 10-15 feet in front of us. Super close.

It also wasn’t until arriving that we learned there was an opener. Tim Mahoney. I had never heard of him, he’s a local boy. It was an interesting choice for an opening act to a Jordan Knight show. Jordan is high energy, pop music, and choreographed dancing. Tim Mahoney is himself on an acoustic guitar–singer/songwriter style. Still, listening to Tim Mahoney I liked his style. It’s far more what I listen to.
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I actually remembered thinking “is it bad that I will like the opener I’ve never heard of more than the act?” But I said nothing to Kelly, because she did NOT like him–not because of him–but because she wanted him off the stage so she could see Jordan. But, I enjoyed him. During his part, he was handing out free CDs of his music. Due to a lawsuit, he no longer throws them into a crowd, but gives them to the front row and asks them to pass them out. I was so far back I figured there was no way I’d get one. But I wanted one, I liked him AND I love free stuff. Suddenly, a hand (a few people in front of me) reached up with an extra copy. Quick as a blink, I leaped forward and snatched it from her. And I had a new CD. I am listening to it as I type this, I like it a lot.

Finally, around 9pm, Jordan came on the stage.

Here’s a few shots:
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Obviously, we’re close. I’m getting amazing photos and Kelly is recording. I wanted him to take off the damn sunglasses, though, how annoying.
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Hm, can he hear my thoughts? (By the way, that is one of my favorites–it’s just so in the moment and really captures the feeling just then).

I’m think it is a better photo than this next one, but this one is pretty great. It’s the only one where I caught him looking directly into my camera AND smiling.
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Right? (He’s 41 years old and I can admit, this is still a good looking guy)

He did a couple songs and I realized, I really appreciate a man who can dance. It’s sexy. Dancing is not well prized by my local culture and society–which is too bad. This guy can move. I mean move. He dances while he sings and it’s incredible. I could have actually just stood there to watch him dance.

Of course, I don’t have photo of that, because it doesn’t translate. But I do have a video. Wait for it.

The worst part was in the middle when he felt the need to prove he’s a musician by sitting down at the keyboards and playing a song while singing. A ballad. Which would have been bad enough but then he followed it up with two more. Three non-stop ballads in the middle of the show. Not. Good.

Once he started singing and dancing again, things really picked up. My goal was to get a picture of Kelly with him in the back ground. That didn’t work. But then, a different girl offered to do us both. After a slight mishap, she got this:

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Isn’t that terrific? Plus, he’s somehow centered right between us both.

For the next one, I zoomed all the way out and got a shot of the room at large.
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So you can clearly see we are standing about sixth row (of bodies, not chairs, so it is closer).

Of course, one can only take so many shots of this
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before it becomes tedious. So I had to mix things up a bit. I decided to take more pics of Kelly enjoying the show.
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That’s her, the gold head, and her filming him singing and dancing this song (Up and Down–for the curious). I thought that was cute, so I did more.
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I really like that one, because “actual” Jordan is blurry and in the background, while Kelly watches “recorded” Jordan on her camera.

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Then I figured out that tilting the camera gave me a much better angle and cut out extraneous people. This one was my favorite. I liked it so much, I tried to figure out how to make it better.
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How’s that? Don’t you wish I was YOUR concert wingman?

I took many, many more of Jordan, (for Kelly, not to weigh down my blog) but a couple I really like?
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The silhouette. I wish I were a good enough photographer that I could say I tried to make that happen, but no, that’s just an accident of lighting. But I love it.
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I like the row of colored lights behind him, his closed eyes, and that I’m close enough you can see the sweat on his brow in that picture.
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And this one, because it’s an action shot, but also because of the stranger taking a photo with her iPhone, which is identical to MY iPhone, down to that rubber gel case in purple. It’s surreal, like watching myself photograph something. I know it isn’t me, but I still double take, every time I see it.

When he got down to the end, he finally, FINALLY sang a song I knew. I performed “The Right Stuff” all by himself. It was pretty damn good without the rest of them, and I was so happy to know one song.

I finally videoed at that point, but I used my iPhone. I recorded the whole song, but toward the end he used to do band intros, so I stopped recording. Also, it is longer than Flickr will upload. Luckily, then they did another round of the chorus and then a little musical riff where all he did was dance. That was what I wanted the whole show to be like, and I captured it. That’s what you’re seeing, below.

He just comes across as so darn happy when he’s dancing that it actually made me happy. 

When the concert ended, I was surprised to find that I had fun. Even not knowing the songs, Jordan was so fun and energetic on stage, he just draws you in. He was only on the stage for an hour-ish, but I would have been fine if it were twice that long. Kelly, too, had an amazing time. (***EDIT*** If you want to read Kelly’s version of the night, you can do that, here).I think she was most excited at how close we were to enjoy the show. We drove back to her house where we sat until the wee hours of the morning, uploading our pics and talking about the show and the media we got.

I guess it just goes to show that you should NOT close yourself off to new things. I would never have gone to that concert, but now that I did, I’m glad. It was fun and it made me like Jordan Knight a little bit more. At least on his own…

Twenty Two Years

If you read my blog, you’ve probably (once or twice) heard me mention Kelly. Kelly and I have been friends since the 5th grade. We were 10-years-old when we met, way back in 1989.

We’ve done and gone through a LOT together over the years. But, one thing we’ve never done? Travel together. Strange as it seems, we’ve never taken a trip, anywhere, by ourselves. ***Disclaimer*** This does not include the time we “roadtripped” to Forest Lake and met Jesus.*

That’s about to change. In two tiny little days, we’re off on an adventure. We are traveling to Chicago to see the NKOTBSB tour. Going back in time a bit, did I tell this story already?, for Kelly’s birthday, back in November, I was giving her a surprise of telling her they were going on tour together (World’s biggest NKOTB fan – and evidently she owns a BSB CD which is more than I can say, I keep thinking they’re the one’s with JT…) and that no matter where they were playing, we’d go see them.

Well, she found out about the tour four days before her birthday, when I’d known for WEEKS. I was so disappointed that the surprise was ruined that close to her birthday. When the tour dates were announced, there were only six dates. Small tour. One of them was Chicago. We chose that and got our tickets. Apparently, it’s been popular enough that they keep adding dates and now, they’re coming to Minneapolis. Good for them. We’re still going to Chicago to see them.

Our trip is this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t taken a vacation since Labor Day, 2009, when I traveled to Portland to see Christian Kane. Lucky for Kelly, he’s not anywhere near Chicago this weekend, so there’s no worry of me ditching out.

Kelly has never been to Chicago before, and the last time I was there was when Jason took me there for my 20th birthday. It was a blast. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to drink, then, so this will be exciting for both of us. I’ve been planning and preparing for this trip since last November. I have an entire document of things to see and do. I also asked for suggestions from someone I work with who grew up in Chicago and goes home once a month. But, his list was lame, mine is way better.

There will be no blogs after tomorrow…until we get back and then I’ll have some stories to tell. I assume.

Things to remember as I pack:

Tickets to concert

Iphone Wall Jack

Sharpie

Autographed meet and greet pass

Jordan Knight doll

It may have taken more than two decades of friendship, but we’re finally going on a trip together. No husbands, no kids. Just two friends and a lifelong love of New Kids on the Block. Chi-town, here we come!

 

**Edit** One of my faculty just came in and asked about my weekend plans. I blithely start telling the above story. Loved em since we were kids, blah blah blah, New Kids on the Block…

Several student were in the library at the time. I wasn’t really paying attention, but, suddenly, there was some quiet snickering. I glanced up and they caught my eye and burst into laughter. “I thought you were cooler than that” one of them said.

I like to think so, too, but this is a nostalgia thing. I was excited to hear they think I’m cool. Less excited that NKOTBSB has cost me some hard-earned cool points.

I told them that I was taking names of those who laughed and I’d buy them buttons and force them to wear them before I gave them any more help. That shut them up pretty quick. But their eyes were still dancing with humor. Ah well, can’t win ’em all!

First Sleepover

On November 6th, I had Kelly over to be my first sleepover in my new house. I kind of feel like she’s been waiting 20 years for me to have a place for her to come and sleep over. She LOVES to spend the night. Loves it–like an addiction with her. As that was her birthday weekend (Happy Birthday Kel!–for your neverending day) it seemed an appropriate time.

I had a super special present all picked out for her–something that she would love and that no one else on earth could give her. And then, she found out about it two days before. Damn it!

The present was that New Kids on the Block were touring again! Since that’s our thing, it seemed appropriate. So, I was giving her the gift of promising that we’d go, no matter where they were. (Which is a good thing, because the closest they’re coming is Chicago). Of course, on November 4th, she saw that they were going on tour and called me to tell me about it. I’d already known for over two weeks and had a surprise worked out for her. I should have known I couldn’t fool a rabid fan like her! But, I still gave her the gift, I just missed the joy of seeing how shocked she was and hearing her say “are you serious? is this a joke?” when she saw my present.

She came over while my mom was still there, painting. When mom finished up, we talked her into a glass of wine (or two) and some girl talk. It was fun. Then, after mom left, Kelly and I just sat around talking and then I pulled out a random box of unpacked stuff. It turned out to be terrific as it contained memories from high school and our days as the craziest bff girls around. There was even an old newspaper article about NKOTB!

We also drank and I let Kelly burn pizza rolls in my oven. I find myself relieved that I was NOT the first person to burn something in my house! Kelly claims she is a wizard at making pizza rolls and can smell when they’re done. Since we’ve made them together before, I know this to be true. However, something (and I’m not blaming the Mich Golden Light–much) went a little wonky in my house and we ended up with this:

To a Crisp

These got trashed. We also sang and laughed and danced around my kitchen. At one point, we put on Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl” which is a song with a very long history for us (story for another time) and we ended up laying on my cold tile on my kitchen floor and singing along at the top of our lungs. We also took photos of ourselves doing this:

Sleeping During Don't Take the Girl

(We’re pretending we’re asleep and then we’d start singing at the top of our lungs again, don’t ask me why!?!)

I also have video, which I’ll spare you. It ain’t pretty, I promise. And Kelly will thank me for not sharing the video of her dancing to BEP’s “Boom Boom Pow”, which I’m telling her, is funnier than the lost video of her doing “Dirty Dancing” in the BW3s parking lot a couple winter’s ago. But I will save it for future blackmail purposes.

And I’m probably going to show Mark, because he’ll think it’s hilarious.

Friends

That was the last pic we took of us both. And it’s pretty cute considering its 1 am and several beers into the night!

Then we were sitting on my couch and she was asking me to save a picture to her phone. So I was helping with that and talking and the next time I looked up at her…sound asleep. Seriously, in the middle of the conversation.

Like any good friend, I gave her a pillow, tucked her in, and then took funny pictures of her. Isn’t that tradition? Never be the first one to fall asleep at a slumber party. I think it is a golden rule.

Jordan Loves Kelly

And, yeah, I got permission to post this. It’s pretty tame…but that is my Jordan Knight doll cavorting on her chest as she slumbers. It sure made me laugh!

And that is the tale of my very first slumber party at my new house!