August 21st, 2020

Just things, Music, Uncategorized

My first taste of Scotch was in the early 1980s when I was a stagehand at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City.

The Uptown was (and still is as far as I know) a beautiful old theatre. It was built in the 1920s and opened in 1928. It is adorned with balconies, columns, and a black ceiling with “stars” (lights) to emulate an outdoor nighttime setting. It was a movie house in the grand tradition and had a proscenium stage with big maroon velvet curtains. It was like many other theaters back then; some, like the many Fox Theatre venues still left in the country, were owned by the studios. It is a special place and holds a spot in my heart.

Back in those days the Uptown was a very busy place and was staging several shows a week. I had started there without any experience after losing my job in 1980 (given a job out of compassion by a big burly guy named Jimbo). I had earned my place as a regular on the crew through hard work and perseverance and worked many shows through both of my stints there (second run was in the late 80s in charge of the lighting rig and as house electrician).

The shows ran the spectrum – Toots and the Maytals, Johnny Rivers, Men at Work, A Flock of Seagulls, Nick Lowe, Steppenwolf, Jean Luc Ponty…and so many, many more. It was also the place I met and hung out briefly with Robin Williams. It was a great, intimate venue for a show.

One show in particular in the early 80s I got to have a conversation with a guy in one of the bands that came through. He was one of the nicest people I ever met when I was doing stage work. Between the years that have passed and, well, it WAS the 80s, I cannot remember the date or the two or maybe three acts that night; I narrowed it down to these bands: it could have been Dokken, Streets (Steve Walsh’s band after he left the band Kansas), or Strange Daze (a great Doors tribute band who I was asked to tour with in Europe but the tour unfortunately fell through), but I am thinking that it was Dio on his first solo tour after leaving Black Sabbath. Thinking back a little more in depth I think the other bands I mentioned were all together on another show there.

At sound check, the drummer for the opening act came up to me as I was standing off stage left near the monitor console and we started talking. Not like rock star talking, but as two guys just talking about topics now long forgotten (again, the 80s). I know from being around this type of work for several years and being on the road it’s nice to just have a conversation without the star struck condescension, and that’s what this was. Human interaction.

As a stagehand you pretty much know to be a wallflower. It’s unprofessional to be star struck; your job is to make the show happen and stay in the shadows. You would get a “how’s it going?” or an unsaid “thanks” sometimes via a nod or smile, but you don’t approach people. To have someone come up to you and strike up a conversation was very out of the norm. If you think about it they are surrounded by fame, drugs and people kissing their asses constantly – all leeches and posers. I would think just having a normal conversation with someone was not very common and something longed for those in the entertainment lifestyle.

He went onstage to do his sound check and came back by. We chatted a bit more and he asked me if I liked Chivas Regal. I said I don’t even know what that is. He said to me “It’s Scotch and when I come back for the show I’ll bring a bottle and we’ll have a toast!”. I said “Okay”, thinking it was “rock star talk”.

The doors open for the show and we are all putting on the final touches dressing the stage. I get back in position by the monitor console again, ready to run onstage during the concert to fix something if need be (as I had to do about 90 minutes later in the middle of the Dio show and during other shows).

The guy I was talking with earlier walks up to me, and sure as hell he had an unopened bottle of Chivas in hand. He cracks the seal and hands it to me. I give him a toast and a nod and take a big hit off of it. I hand it back to him. He gives me a toast and a nod and takes a big hit off of it, we smile and shake hands and he hits the stage with that bottle. They were on fire that night and had the crowd in their palms. They left and we passed each other, nodded and smiled and I told him “Great show!”. Since I was getting the stage ready for Dio I did not have time to talk.

The band was Quiet Riot. The guy’s name was Frankie Banali.

I write this story because Frankie lost his battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. I had read articles lately about him being sick and it made me think about that special moment all those years ago.

I have read many tributes to him and everyone says he was such a nice guy. He really was a nice guy that night to some lowly stagehand.

Rest peacefully, Frankie, and thanks for the Chivas and the memory.

February 8th/9th, 2020 – Day 1: Flights Over and Arrival!

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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Yeah there is!!!

After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!

I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.

The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.

I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.

We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.

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That’s Willie Lanier by the window!

I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.

We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.

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Oliver North on the airport train in Atlanta airport; he’s in the blue suit partially covered and not the one in red pants

The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).

Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!

Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.

To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!

The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.

From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!

At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.

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Our transportation – the Clio

We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.

It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.

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Thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.

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The Western Hotel in Galway, Ireland

Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!

We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.

Until tomorrow…

February 7th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page – St. Augustine (maybe…it’s controversial)

Today I am in KC, but tomorrow I am off for another adventure – heading back to Europe again! This time two of my daughters, Chelsea and Angie, are along for the adventure! Unfortunately Meghan has too much going on to be able to get away this time but we’ll get to do a trip somewhere at some point.

I got the tickets back in October for this trip and it has been more than just a little challenging for the three of us to keep our excitement under any type of control. The last two weeks have gone by quick and the last few days it has really gone by even quicker!

There will be a lot of cool things we are planning to see and do, and a little time to freestyle it and just go where we end up. Be sure to check back here every day to see where our adventure takes us.

We have had to plan most of our trip since it will be nine days or so. We’ve been looking at not just the ol’ interwebs, but poring over guidebooks and maps as well in order to maximize our time. I do have to admit it is nice to have many things already figured out even though it is not how I usually travel on road trips. I have posted my thoughts on planning for trips before but I must say that it actually has been fun and enjoyable researching things and places to see and experience. So much so that I just may have to rethink my anti-planning methodology somewhat, especially for trips like this. It is going to be a fairly quick and busy trip so it had to be planned to make the most of our time but we will still have a lot of fun. A big thanks go out to their families for helping to work this trip into their busy lives.

One of the biggest things to figure out was where to fly out of. With all of us scattered about the western half of the country it was tricky trying to figure out where to leave from. After all the dust settled I decided it was easier and cheaper if I just went to KC and the three of us flew over together. A few hundred more airline miles earned and I will have enough for another (my third!) free ticket so it serves another purpose too. I was really hoping for a non-stop flight but Kansas City only has international flights to Canada and Mexico; there are no intercontinental flights that are non-stop.

That means I fly to KC, we leave KC, have two stops with layovers, then we are on a plane across the Atlantic to our first destination (which you will find out about tomorrow – pretty exciting!). Coming back our flights will be different and I’ll be posting about that when the time comes. Having a shorter flight across will be a good thing to start the adventure!

Traveling light and compact can be challenging, but it is easily done. I won’t go into details since there are plenty of “experts” on the internet about the subject. I started out with a good guidebook on my first trip over and learned quite a lot about what I needed to learn about packing for a trip like this. Having done a little backpacking in the mountains I know to travel light, and my previous trip was a good primer.

With the coronavirus outbreak we are definitely well aware of how it can impact our plans so we are keeping one eye on the news. We will be sanitizing everything we can where we are and not touch anything more than absolutely necessary.

Last minute checks are always nerve-wracking for trips like this, trying to make sure you have all the things you need that you cannot get elsewhere like your prescriptions, glasses and such. Yes, it’s true the rest of the world is civilized like we are so you can always find most everything you need.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Day 1!

(As usual, I am posting these entries on a delay for personal safety)

 

 

February 6th, 2020

Adventure

Man the weather around here has really sucked the last few months. I mean it’s probably just how most people imagine the PNW; it really isn’t usually like this normally. Fifty shades of gray beats you down after a while; add to that the rain, and now some cold weather with snow and rain and your last nerve is done. I think they said on the local news that since January 1st it has rained in Seattle every day but one.

I, like others I know, am over this shit. My granddaughter Alexis came over a few days ago and we were talking about it. She is fed up with it too.

I am ready to go someplace and see some damn sun.

February 21st, 2019

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

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I’m just not seeing this…or am I?

Been busy getting out and about lately. I went out with one group of friends and tried a new (to me) Italian restaurant and the pasta primavera was fantastic. To start it was delicious crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I went out to a bar and got pizza with some other people and had a great time that night, too. Checked out some live music and much fun was had.

I got my taxes done yesterday. I had paperwork burn-out from taking care of all of the estate things from my Dad. I really wasn’t in the mood to do it, but I bit the bullet and took care of it so that’s off my plate. It has to be done and there is no getting out of it. Next I have to work on his taxes and that should be all of his paperwork completed. It’s not been too daunting taking care of all of the paperwork; but the emotional aspect is tough.

It’s been good getting back to my version of normal. I have outside more, getting exercise in and am keeping it up eating better. Today was a little cool but sunny and that was good to be out in. Not a cloud in the sky to be seen.

Had to reload my WaterMinder app as I had slacked off on drinking water every day like I should be doing. It nags you to drink until you get to the level you should be drinking. It is a very useful app and has made a difference in getting my levels up and a little more energy and less hungry so I’m losing a pound or two. Another plus.

Still anxious to get the trailer out, and today’s weather really made me want to go somewhere even more. Got a few things in the works – I just got a ticket for one, another is almost taken care of (this weekend it will be) and one other adventure I’ve just started looking at and working on. Like always, when I do these things they will be posted so you’ll have to come back and see what it is if you’re interested. You know you are!