Three Months Later…

September 18, 2010

It’s been a crazy three months…

Shortly after my last post, I headed south for my annual summer pilgrimage to the US. Highlights included Arches National Park, a visit with a friend in New Mexico, day trips to Santa Fe, the old Crossroads Diner in Mount Olive, IL and a flying visit to Chicago before crossing the border to Toronto, Canada.

The two Rush concerts went off like frogs in socks, particularly the Molson Amphitheater gig. RushCon Toronto also went well and much fun was had. Being one of the organizers, there was a lot of running around to do both before and during the convention.

Somehow, I had the endurance to go north and west via Highway 1. On the way, I battled the torrential summer storm downpours in Ontario, stopped in at a friend’s for the night in Winnipeg, chased star trail and prairie shots in Saskatchewan and left my driver’s license behind in Canmore, Alberta (more details later).

Upon my return to Vancouver, I collapsed for a few days. Little wonder – driving over 10,000km (6,213 miles) over the course of a month does tend to tire one out.

Here’s a map of the entire route:

In August, I flew to Las Vegas for another Rush concert and RushCon Vegas. This was the first time we’d held the Con outside of Toronto. New city, new venue, a one-day only event…we were a little nervous about it! It turned out that we didn’t need to worry. The Con was a success! Many new faces, a lot of enthusiasm and so many attendees that we ran out of stars for our Charity Auction! 😀

The Rush concert at the MGM Grand that evening was deemed by many to be one of their best-ever shows. Another spectacular performance by the boys. Following the concert, a couple of Rush friends held a private party in their suite at the MGM Grand. Caught up with some old friends and (finally!) being able to put real-world faces to a couple of names in the virtual world. Good times. 🙂

Whilst the Sunday was a relatively chilled out day, I wasn’t able to sleep that night. As a result, I have it on very good authority that I looked like hell at McCarran Airport on Monday morning. Props to C for holding seats for my friend & I on the flight to Denver. I’d sat down in the plane and fell asleep almost immediately – I don’t even remember taking off.

My friend and I landed in Denver, proceeded to our hotel and had a nap before the Rush concert at Red Rocks that night. Despite a number of technical glitches, the boys went off, particularly Alex during  “Working Man”.

May I present the evidence:

Red Rocks itself is a spectacular outdoor venue. If you ever get the chance to see a show there, take it.

During all this Vegas/Denver madness, I’d also returned to college on a part-time basis for Digital Intermediate Photography. Unlike previous studies at Langara, this was an Accelerated summer course. Classes were held twice a week, rather than the standard one. My friend Cindi and I finally got the chance to take a class together!

Overall, I was quite disappointed with this particular unit. I didn’t really click with the lecturer, there was a lot of concepts repeated from the Basic levels and it ultimately turned photography into a chore for me.

During the Basic units, we’d gone shooting on location to places like Granville Island and Vanier Park. I had thought the Intermediate unit would be similar, but upping the ante. For instance, a late afternoon/evening shoot on location with models and lighting (set up by the instructor – can’t do our own lights until we’ve completed Practical Lighting).

Instead, we were stuck on the college campus. I can understand what the lecturer was trying to do, by forcing us to be creative in difficult situations. Such an approach, however, only dimmed my enthusiasm for the subject in general.

On top of that, I’d started full-time studies in Publishing in early September. The last two weeks of Photography clashed with Publishing classes, so I’d be at one class at 6pm, then bolting to Photography for 6.30pm. Yikes! It is not a scenario I recommend to anyone!

The Publishing Diploma is going to be a lot of work, given that it’s a 2 year course crammed into 12 months. Despite the intense workload that lies ahead, it’s going to be fun!

So, that’s the nutshell version of my life over the last 3 months. Much of my time is going to be taken up by college studies until August 2011, so travel will be limited at best. If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to catch up on posting photos of these journeys…


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage – A Review

June 18, 2010

(Note: If you have not had a chance to see the documentary yet, this review may contain spoilers!)

I made my way down to Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver at about 6.30pm, for the 7pm showing. Got my ticket and looked around for the RushCon/Rush promo table. Try as I might, I couldn’t find it anywhere, but a few people did have RushCon fliers in hand. 🙂

Speaking of RushCon, I bucked the trend of Rush t-shirts somewhat, preferring to don my “Rush fans do it in odd time signatures” t-shirt from RushCon 7. The shirt drew the curiosity of a few people, so I had the chance to tell them about the convention.

I wound up sitting next to a couple, T & J. He was a hardcore Rush fan, she not so much, but she definitely appreciated their musicianship. We had some really good conversation AND they’ll be going to RC in Vegas. Yay!

The lights went down and the screen lit up. What followed was two hours of solid Rush-y goodness and one of the best music documentaries I have ever seen.

Some of the highlights:

  • Seeing home movies and photos of the boys in their childhood & teen years.
  • The old photos, videos and audio recordings of early Rush performances. (Underwear party, anyone? ;))
  • Hearing the voice of John Rutsey for the first time.
  • Watching a young Alex arguing with his parents about his music career. Whilst their concerns about his education were certainly valid, one can only hazard a guess of what might have been if he hadn’t had the guts to follow his dream.
  • Amusement at hearing Alex’s & Geddy’s first impressions of Neil (although I think Neil is now well & truly beyond the ‘new guy’ stage).
  • The beautiful way that the Ghost Rider period was handled.
  • Various talking heads (Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, Gene Simmons and others expressing their admiration of Rush).
  • Seeing a couple of fellow RushCon peeps on the screen, including Christopher Schneberger (Rush roadtrip buddy of 2008)

The only two downsides were Jack Black’s interview and the scant attention paid to the 80’s/90’s period of Rush.

Whilst I have no doubt that Jack Black is a fan, his contributions came off as superfluous, almost nonsensical rambling. I’m also puzzled as to why very little attention was paid to the time between Signals and Vapor Trails. Why skip over almost two decades of the band’s history? If anything, it would have served to dispel the common (and ignorant) image of Rush as “a 70s band who wore kimonos and sang about elves.” Maybe more will be present in the DVD extras?

Overall, it’s a very well made documentary – many kudos to Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen.

Returning to Tinseltown Vancouver…

Throughout the movie, I listened to fellow patrons laughing in recognition at certain points during the interviews and upon seeing the old photos (complete with kitschy outfits and…interesting fashion sense). Whilst it wasn’t the same level of immediate connection and friendship as can often be found at RushCon, there was still a pervasive feeling of being in a room with people who ‘ged’ it. Those are rare and precious moments, even in the current resurgence of Rush’s popularity.

On the surface, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage gave me a little more insight into the history of the band and filled in more of the gaps. (The joys of being a younger, late-into-the-fold fan). Ultimately, it served to remind me why I love the music of Rush.

For more information on the documentary: http://www.rushbeyondthelightedstage.com/

For more information about RushCon: http://www.rushcon.org/