Best birthday gift ever

Okay, well maybe not better than my very first bicycle, but it was definitely near the top of the list.

For my birthday this year, Desi surprised me with tickets to see Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. We were a little late getting there so we missed Cheap Trick, but from what I am told, we didn’t miss much.

The concert was really quite good, we were thoroughly rocked. Desi had gotten us some of the best seats in the concert, about 20-30 feet from the stage and perfectly center. We only had Desi’s cell phone camera to share the experience, so here’s a small taste:

All of the hits were played, and we really enjoyed the performances. The members of Def Leppard are all around 50 years old, but their age certainly doesn’t show on stage.

Desi and I really enjoyed ourselves, and I’d like to thank her here for the wonderful birthday surprise. Thanks so much! 🙂

Happy Canada Day

So Canada Day has come and gone again, and once again I am reminded what a wonderful country it is that we live in. We have more freedoms than most, safe and healthy living conditions and so much more. Its far from a utopia, but its the best place in the world to live.

I went to see the fireworks display at the Barrie lakeshore tonight. It was raining up to a half hour before the show was supposed to start so it almost didn’t happen. Things cleared up quickly, and the show started exactly on time at 10pm. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were many great pics, its very hard to choose a favourite. Here is a gallery of my favourite 9 shots from tonight. Happy Canada Day everyone!

Gift from Video Games Live

I had posted previously about my adventures in video game music, through the touring concert by the name of Video Games Live. I’ve volunteered at many of their shows, and had a blast every time. One of the co-founders of the concert (also a TV personality and video game composer), Tommy Tallarico, offered to send me an autographed poster from their very first show in 2005. It was sent to me by Mike (his brother) to whom I’m eternally grateful. This is an amazing piece; I framed it the moment I got it home from the post office.

Signatures include:

• Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Metroid Prime, Advent Rising)
• Jack Wall (Myst III, Myst IV, Splinter Cell, Jade Empire)
• Hideo Kojima (Creator of Metal Gear Solid)
• Yuji Naka (Creator of Sonic the Hedgehog)
• Elijah Wood (Actor, Lord of the Rings, Sin City)
• Marty O’Donnell (Halo, Halo 2)
• Nolan Bushnell (Pong, Atari, Chuck E. Cheese)
• Toby Gard (Creator of Lara Croft & Tomb Raider)
• Bill Roper (Warcraft)
• Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia)
• David Jaffe (God of War)
• Dweezil Zappa (Guitarist)
• Doug Tennaple (Earthworm Jim, The Neverhood)
• David Perry (Earthworm Jim, Aladdin, Enter the Matrix)
• Chris Stone (Dragon’s Lair)
• Richard Jacques (Headhunter, Outrun)
• Lorne Lanning (Oddworld Inhabitants)
• Bill Brown (Rainbow Six)
• Michael Giacchino (Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, The Incredibles)
• Nathan McCree (Tomb Raider)
• Gary Coleman (Actor)
• Laura Karpman (Everquest II)
• Christophe Heral (Beyond Good and Evil)
• Tom Salta (Ghost Recon 2)
• Vince Desi (Postal, Postal 2)
• Jason Hayes (Warcraft III, World of Warcraft)
• Gerard Marino (God of War)
• Tim Larkin (Myst)
• Laurie Robinson (Advent Rising, Video Games Live Vocal Soloist / Performer)
• Benoit Grey (Jaws, Video Games Live Orchestrator)

There are some big names in there for sure. Although I’m sure many people reading this are not as into video games as I am, imagine many of your favourite artists getting together to sign a poster, and then giving it to you. Thats how I feel when I look at it, now hanging on the wall in my room.

Thanks VGL! This is probably the best part of my video game collection to date, whcih is saying quite a bit!

Video Games Live: Kitchener

Many people know I’m a fan of video games. A few people know that I am a fan of video game music. Many games include completely original orchestra scores these days, some of which are extremely captivating. Other older game music has been remixed into very pleasant compositions as well. Video Games Live is a group of people who use local orchestras to perform some of the most popular music featured in video games over the past two decades. Everything from Mario Bros to Halo 3 and everything in between.

I’ve attended every performance they have done in Ontario so far.

Actually, more than that. I’ve volunteered to help out at every performance in Ontario. On March 13th and 14th they performed in Kitchener, where I helped out by running their costume contest and worked as a photographer. This grants me full backstage access and the ability to sit anywhere in the concert hall I’d like, which is simply amazing. So I spent my evenings last weekend taking photos of something I was passionate about, and filled my 16GB memory card twice. Here’s one of my favourite photos from the show:

Needless to say, it was a sold-out show both days.

The conductor, Jack Wall, is a video game composer himself. His recent success was with the Xbox 360 and PC game Mass Effect, one of my favourites from last year. He also did a lot of the music in the Myst series of games, among many, many others.

Tommy Tallarico, the main guitarist, is quite accomplished as well. He’s done a lot of composing himself (Earthworm Jim, Advent Rising to name a few) but also was a co-host on the G4/TechTV show Electric Playground.

The music was performed by Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. One of the best performances I’ve been to! They always use the local orchestra to do the performance.

Splitting Adam was touring with the group this time. They work for Electronic Arts and had a song featured in the game Need For Speed: Undercover. Great tunes from these guys as well, I wish them the best of luck!

All in all, it was a great show. There were a few new segments I hadn’t seen before, but even the older ones were great to hear again. Each show they always play a different set from their list of 30-40 different segments so it’s always something different. You’ll find a larger selection of photos below, and if you want the whole set of “keepers”, you can grab ’em here (warning: a lot of photos). I’m not sure when they’ll play next in the area, but I’ll be sure to help out. Always a blast!

P.S. Almost all of the concert photos were taken at ISO 3200 or ISO 6400. I am extremely impressed with my cameras performance at these settings!

They were right, I was thoroughly rocked.

Yesterday was a special day. Thanks to my cousin James, Both Desi and I went to see the Queen musical, “We Will Rock You” in Toronto at the Panasonic Theatre.

I’ve got to say that it was far above my expectations. You could really connect with the performers and many of the songs were quite moving. Sometimes funny and sometimes emotional, my first experience going to a musical was amazing. I recommend anyone looking for an afternoon or night out (they have shows at 2pm and 8pm) to definitely check it out. Thanks so much James! James got some free tickets that he couldn’t use, so we put them to good use.

Afterwards, we drove a block or two away to The Keg Mansion, where they served me the biggest steak I have ever eaten. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of this, but I do have a photo of Desi and I after dinner in the lounge upstairs. Cute couple, eh? 😉

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