pictures pop culture

MDNA + Crate&Barrel + ETC = Awesome

Pictures Pictures Pictures!!!!!  That is such an easier way to talk about what’s happened in the past month (!) than trying to write it all out.  But you know, I think I’ll try anyway. Rather, I’ll hit some of the highlights, as since the last time I dwelled on something here, not that much has happened.

Adventures at Crate & Barrel

So first – our couch is gone! I posted an ad for it on Craigslist a few Monday nights ago and immediately there were responses. On Tuesday, I ended up selling the couch to a current UCLA student and her roommates. They picked it up that night and Larry & I were couchless! A trip to Crate & Barrel was in order, so we went the next night to the location at The Grove, ordered our new couch (and new bed) and found out that damn, you can go through some cash at Crate & Barrel very quickly. Unfortunately, we had to wait (!) until the Thursday of the following week (which is actually this past Thursday now) for delivery. We found out that it’s very difficult to relax in IKEA dining room chairs while trying to watch TV. But we suffered through our firstworldproblems like champs and eventually got our stuff.

In addition to the couch, Larry had his eye on ridding us of the bed I’ve had for the last 10 years or so. I had to say, it hasn’t held up that well in the course of all the moves I’ve made since I got the set in Las Vegas. Even then it was basically an outlet sale, so this wasn’t brand new when I got it either. I loved having something grown up though and it served me well in all the time since. Yet it was clear that this last move was definitely that…it’s last. Larry had his eye on a Crate & Barrel bed set that he had seen while back east, and when he came back and we saw it in person together locally, I was in. So yeah, we got a new bed. All in all, a very nice investment in our conversion to having an amazing Mid-Century style place. Check it out for yourself in these assorted galleries:

No Couches Here

08-Oct-2012 21:44, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
08-Oct-2012 21:44, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
08-Oct-2012 21:56, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 2.18mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
08-Oct-2012 21:57, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 2.18mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400

The New Couch and the New Bed

2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 80
2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 64

Catching Up With Madge at Her MDNA Concert

Oh, Madge? She may be better known to everyone else as Madonna. Okay, I don’t know her personally. But I have now seen her three times in person. Once at the Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008 (spoiler alert: that 2008 concert was better than the 2012 effort), again at the SNL rehearsal Larry & I went to when Ryan Reynolds (so hot) was hosting and Lady Gaga was the musical guest and Madonna made a surprise cameo in a Deep House Dish skit (so freaking surprising), and finally again last week at the Staples Center when the MDNA concert swept through Los Angeles. I made Larry buy tickets for this concert back in February, when I went back east for Jeff’s wedding. One of the first things we did was buy tickets since there was a pre-sale via his Citibank credit card connection. Expensive? Uh, yeah. But still, always worth it. Flash forward 8 months, and now the concert finally came. Yay! The Staples Center is right off of the Expo Line, so I thought we should use that as a means to get downtown. Easy enough. We OpenTable’d a reservation at Soleto, a swanky Italian place a few blocks away and apparently a popular place with the after work crowd. Also, just fantastic food. Neither of us go to too many concerts though, so we think it’s the smart thing to do and get there at least by the time the concert is supposed to start, at least according to the ticket. Yeah….well, that is really not what all the cool kids do. You see, even if the show ticket says it starts at 8:00, well, that’s not when anything starts.

First, the opening act, Martin Solveig (a great DJ who I just happened to have bought his CD since he had a great song used in the end credits of Pitch Perfect (go see it)) didn’t even come on until 9:00pm. It was a fantastic set of DJ music though, and much better than the opening act we saw for Sticky & Sweet back in 2008. I don’t even know WHAT that was in 2008. A lot of fun with Martin Solveig, and what was really cool was that Madonna’s adopted son David was out there with Martin at the DJ deck. And can I say? The Funkytown music (yes, the disco song) is still freakin’ amazing and Martin played it in the arena and it was awesome. That is all. Okay, no it isn’t. Alright, Martin Solveig started at 9, and ended his set at 9:45. We then overheard that Madonna wasn’t starting until 10:30. TEN THIRTY!!!! Hello, some of us have jobs the next day! And aren’t 23 anymore! Le sigh….but we paid some REALLY good money for these, and it wasn’t like we were going anywhere. I came to see some Material Girl goodness and dammit I was gonna see it!

So we waited until 10:30 (mind you, that’s 2.5 hours after the tickets stated the concert would start – I think in 2008 the concert was only 1.5 hours after the ticket start) and like that, the concert started! yay! Much like my writeup from 2008, here’s my thoughts about the whole thing:

  • The concert starts off very dark and moody, as it’s monks chanting and then there’s this whole Catholic thing going on and there’s a swinging lit flame that ominously portends your doom. Hell, I don’t know. But it was a cool way to start the show. Apparently the concert was broken up into 4 parts and this was the Transgression portion. There was a very clear line in the show that it starts off dark and proceeds up and up, eventually ending in the “light”.
  • Girl Gone Wild was the opening song and it’s a good dance song from Madonna’s newest album, MDNA. This led into “Gang Bang” and that’s when things got a little more dark….as this when she’s in a roving motel stage and executes all the men coming after her. Every time a shot is fired, the huge video screen behind her is emblazoned with the graphic display of “brains” getting blown out across the screen. So yeah, it’s kinda easy to see why recently Denver got a bit upset with her. Although, there is a point to showing the real effects of guns…but damn, welcome to the show!
  • After this, there is a nice segue-way into some old-school Madonna as she sings Papa Don’t Preach but she’s also getting tied up and stripped. A favorite of mine, Hung Up, is song while there’s some of that bouncing-on-cables stuff you saw during her Super Bowl Halftime show from earlier this year. Finally there’s I Don’t Give A and we get some Nicki Minaj video along with this. It was definitely interesting and the songs are upbeat, but this was by far a very dark way to open the concert….where’s the love, girl?
  • A video interlude of a guy walking through a tombstone-filled graveyard is next, with a mash-up of MDNA’s Best Friend and Hard Candy’s Heartbeat guiding us through it as Madonna got ready for the next section, titled Prophecy.
  • I personally loved this section the best, as it probably was the most up-beat and most fun portion of the concert. I was blown away by the staging of Express Yourself as it involved the whole cheerleader/bandleader aspect you saw in the video for Give Me All Your Luvin’. At the end, she mixes Lady Gaga’s Born This Way into the song as a direct reference to everyone’s realization that the songs sound quite alike. Even if they do, they both have fantastic messages and they sound great together.
  • Madonna then goes into Give Me All Your Luvin’ and it is very reminiscent of how she performed it during the Super Bowl. She utilizes the whole band theme and there’s even some band members floating in the air. It was an awesome part of the show and the particular remix of the song was fantastic.
  • The next video interlude occurs as a lead-in to the next song, with a bunch of clips from her well-known videos being sampled as if being scrolled through on a radio dial. Finally this leads to her MDNA song, Turn Up the Radio. It’s a catchy song for sure and one of the strongest from the album.
  • Open Your Heart and Holiday are next, with Madonna yelling at the audience a lot to sing along with her for Holiday. LA didn’t seem to satisfy her. Ah well…we’re a bunch of jaded bastards.
  • Her ballad Masterpiece ends this segment, with her singing while clips from the movie W.E. show behind her. I love this ballad and I think it serves her well to do some more mature songs. That’s probably my biggest complaint about MDNA – she is singing about things as if she’s a 20-year-old still. Not that she should be singing about menopause and such, but c’mon – some maturity from her probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Just sayin’.
  • Justify My Love is the following video interlude, with Madonna getting pursued while on a train. This section leads into Vogue, which was also a fantastic number as it was very Art Deco and a lot like what you saw in the Super Bowl show. Reminded me a bit of the Express Yourself video, to be honest.
  • Then the show gets a little more sensual as Madonna starts to slow things down and make the stage a lot like a bordello. First she mixes Candy Shop and Erotica together, then goes into Human Nature, finally working her way to Like a Virgin. During Like a Virgin, it’s her singing just with a piano and seemingly breaking down completely. It’s a strange moment.
  • Love Spent closes this segment and it’s another of the stronger songs from MDNA. It’s cool that Madonna is able to play acoustic guitar and do these songs like this.
  • The final video interlude is to American Life’s Nobody Knows Me, and it really puts you through the ringer, as the video is focused on bullying and all those who’ve committed suicide due to it. It definitely gives that song a whole new meaning.
  • I’m Addicted and then I’m A Sinner open up the last segment of the show – these are probably my two favorite songs from MDNA, but it was clear to me that the audience really hadn’t embraced the album yet. Not many people were singing along like they were to the old favorites. But then, yes, but then, Madonna gave us what we all wanted…
  • LIKE A PRAYER!!!!! Yep, I was a happy camper. This is definitely my favorite Madonna song….across all albums….and it is always a spectacle. Sticky & Sweet’s rendition was fantastic and futuristic and probably still my favorite. But this took it more old-school while still having a modern version of the song, including an entire choir as backup. I could have been content if this was the last song of the concert as she brought the house DOWN.
  • At this point, I was rapidly glancing at my watch – we had taken the Expo Line in for this and on a Wednesday night, the last train from the station nearest the Staples Center is at 12:34. I swear, the time after Like A Prayer was like 12:25. I hate hoping for a concert to actually end, but I totally was. Yet she wasn’t done and she sang Celebration as the closer, and well….let’s just say that while she was definitely upbeat about the song, it’s just not a “closing” song. Music, Hung Up, Give It To Me, Holiday….THOSE are closing songs. Celebration is a fine song..just not a concert ender. Ah well. At least it didn’t go on forever.

We had conveniently located seats and were able to get out of the Staples Center quite easily and probably made the last train by about 2 minutes. Talk about stressful. Overall though, I definitely enjoyed the hell out of the show. I only have two shows to use as evidence, but Sticky & Sweet 2008 beats MDNA 2012 by a LONG SHOT. In my estimation, at least. The Sticky & Sweet tour had such a great optimism about it and it was a lot of fun. There’s some anger in MDNA’s tour…palpable anger. But what can you do? I’ll be interested to see if Madonna ends up doing another arena-style tour or tones it down the next time. If it’s another 5 years from now, she’ll be close to 60. Holy hell, that’s crazy.

Here are my pics from the concert – I admit, they’re not that great. But still, we had fantastic seats.


I’m kind of done with typing, so here’s my random pics from other things that have been happening.

Atop a Santa Monica Parking Lot one October evening:

13-Oct-2012 18:41, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
13-Oct-2012 18:41, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 800
13-Oct-2012 18:42, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 500

My New Office Area at Universal:

19-Oct-2012 10:20, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 250
19-Oct-2012 10:36, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 80
19-Oct-2012 10:36, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 100
19-Oct-2012 10:37, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 400
19-Oct-2012 11:52, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 80
19-Oct-2012 11:52, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 160
19-Oct-2012 14:27, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 125
19-Oct-2012 14:27, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 64
19-Oct-2012 14:27, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 64
19-Oct-2012 14:27, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 125
19-Oct-2012 14:27, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 64
19-Oct-2012 14:29, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 125
19-Oct-2012 14:29, Apple iPhone 5, 2.4, 4.13mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 80

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