I returned home from a doin's at phil_bond a little while ago but the way I write it will be a big while ago by the time this is actually posted.
It must be said that a great weekend was had be all, as long as "all" is used in the context of "exclusively me." That isn't to say that no one else had a great weekend, but I an the only person who can account for the quality of the time I had.
Shortly after awakening late Saturday Morning I received a call from my friend Anjean in Illinois with an update on our plans to get together this weekend. I didn't dally much, but I did need to dilly before I was finally out the door. I didn't feel very good about the fact that the Evilmobevil was leaking engine coolant before a long interstate trip but it didn't seem too severe so I promised my car to take it to the doctor as soon as I could when we got back.
Naturally, the first place I stopped in Arlington Heights was Mitsuwa. It's only been four months since my last visit but there have been some significant changes, namely: the disappearance of the Yuki Discount Store & the dish & teacup shop just inside & to the left of the main entrance. This saddens me because I always find something of either practical use, novelty or both at Yuki & it's always so much fun to just look around & read the Engrish. The dish store had such classy & pretty dinnerware, teacups & other items & I always felt under pressure to throw out all my hand-me-downs at home & replace everything with a complete matching set. Only prices held me back. Still, over the years I've collected a number of wonderful little teacups, very few of which have seen actual tea.
With the talk of curry at the recent party I missed I had been craving such & ordered up a heaping helping with teriyaki chicken along with an avocado smoothie with black pearl (earlier taste-tested by sacredspud.) This was followed by some quick shopping in the bookstore where I found a THICK book containing what looks like complete storyboards for FLCL & the latest untranslated volume (15) of Excel Saga. Time was passing so I forewent further shopping & traveled yonward to my host's home.
Anjean was not there, but she did leave instructions with her younger sister to invite me in & show me to my room. The family has a large house with many rooms & an interesting layout that was fun to traverse. I was lodged in the lavender room. The walls were washed with a lovely shade of purple paint speckled with gold. The pillows were purple, the coverlet was purple, the sheets were purple, there was metal sculpture of purple flowers on the bureau, a large violet scented candle and... and. The ceiling was completely covered with mirrored tiles, doubling the size, light & colour of the room.
After depositing my belongings in the purple room I returned to the living room where all the action was. "Action" being Melinda watching TV with her friend whilst I attempted to read my new FLCL book. Anjean later returned, then left again, then returned again with the full intent of staying until it was time for all of us to leave.
There were seven of us all together, & tho' we all made an effort to dress for the occasion most of the guests at the Rosemont Theatre were were casual, which was fine for the crowd but out of place for the venue with its vaulted vestibule ceiling, enormous chandeliers, & decorative fixtures & woodwork everywhere. The interior of the theatre itself was much more plain painted in simple blues, with a flat ceiling & very little ornamentation. All of our seats were together & in the second row, giving us an excellent view of the orchestra. . . even tho' it was the second row from the back of the upper balcony. But what do you really need to see when you come for the music? Still, there were three large screens above the orchestra & several cameras so even we could see conductor & music director Arnie Roth's thin moustache.
This, of course, was Play! A Video Game Symphony. An evening of video game music performed live by the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra & choir. Anjean invited me months ago before tickets were available but due to my foreboding job situation & uncertain future I had to decline. Then, only a couple weeks away she invited me again. Steve, a friend, was unable to attend due to a family obligation making a ticket available. I jumped at the second opportunity & regret nothing of it, despite the expense.
The evening was fantastic. I'd never attended a live performance of this sort before & relished every moment. There was music from Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Chrono Trigger, World of Warcraft, Halo, Morrowind, Blue Dragon, lots of Final Fantasy & many others. Some of these games already have music that is fully orchestrated but my favourites were the older selections that had until recently only been heard in the games themselves or through various remixes. Not being familiar with the newer games I didn't recognize many of the selections but I enjoyed every minute of it, despite the heavy favouritism for FF. (I believe they played No Wing Angel twice.)
My favourite part of the eving came early on. Being the premiere performance of the tour there were many special guests seated in the audience. These were the composers of the music we came to hear. Imagine writing a song twenty years ago to be heard in simple beeps & boops for the background of some game that could easily have been forgotten within a year. Writing it & being told that "it shouldn't be too distracting from the game." Now imagine your simple yet catchy little tune getting a presentation normally reserved for the classical greats or motion picture scores. What a thrill that must be. The part I remember most fondly was when Koji Kondo was introduced. He stood from his seat amongst fans in the expensive seats to accept applause, then climbed on stage to perform a piano solo of music from the new Super Mario Brothers game. Then the symphony started into its medley of Mario music spanning its entire history. What nostalgia that brought back. I almost wished I'd brought my GBA along.
The evening was great & I believe I've made that clear enough now. The only detraction was a few people that didn't understand that audience manners with orchestral concerts differ greatly from rock concerts. There was a fellow near us in the balcony who, whenever the conductor would pause for dramatic effect before announcing the next selection, would call out "ZELDA!" He was also probably the one who shouted "YOU GUYS ARE THE SHIT!" when they paused to recognize the Chicagoland Pops orchestra. I would have pummeled him had he been nearer, but my focus was on the music. There were others but this guy was the loudest & became more obnoxious until they finally played selections from Zelda, nearer the finale. I didn't think to spot him as the crowd was leaving, but I suspect he would have been easy to find being the one person drenched with spit from all the shushing directed at him.
After the show we checked out the overpriced swag available then headed out for L.S.D., the infamous Lake Street Denny's for a bite & to meet with Steve who was finally through with his obligations. We talked, we had fun, Joe spilled milk on Jun-Mei, & we finally left past most of our bedtimes. Still, back at her place Anjean & I stayed up 'til nearly five while we talked & she showed me her collection of animation cells & promotional movie paraphernalia. Then came sleep, but only fitfully as the lavender room had no air conditioning & the night was very warm.
Her family had plans for Sunday in the form of a big barbecue to celebrate her sister's wedding but we still had time to explore the area & give me a brief tour of notable landmarks. Namely, Gameworks & the Wok 'N Roll Chinese restaurant. Back at her place we investigated various Internet oddities & she introduced me to the legendary Dr. Tran. I left shortly thereafter wanting to have plenty of daylight for the trip home & she had to return to her family gathering.
I made the obligatory Mitsuwa stop & stocked up on various goodies. Pocky was on sale so I bought more than usual. I'm looking forward to the sweet potato flavour I found. Home was later reached safely enough despite having listened to The Dunwich Horror all the way back. Some may remember my previous offer for supper in exchange for a long back rub but there were no takers. It's a shame, the curry was quite good.
This pretty much brings us to the present. (Well ok, maybe not since I'm finishing this entry just after midnite on June 1rd.) There is still more to add to this post but it will take a little time to prepare. At the concert they handed out a small selection of free promotional items: a small Chinese take-out box containing candy, a fortune cookie & magnet advertising an upcomming Asian film festival, fliers for Anime Central & a postcard with information on how to obtain a free download of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion official soundtrack. I'll make these available but first I need to convert it to a format that will actually play on most music programs. I'll edit this post & link back to it when it's ready.
Now I'm all ready for Video games Live! in August.
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