Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Norah Jones at Benaroya Hall

Norah Jones defies labels in genre-, career-spanning concert 

Jones ranged through a set that included songs from her new album as well as covers of Neil Young, Hank Williams and The Grateful Dead at Benaroya Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Norah Jones has always mixed jazz, country, folk and rock, but her concert at Benaroya Hall Wednesday (Oct. 19) demonstrated that she has become a master of them all.

Despite suffering from what she said was “a little cold” — nursing it with something from a red cup (not whiskey, she said) — Jones ranged with relaxed abandon through a career-spanning set that included eight of the 11 songs on her fine new album, “Day Breaks,” as well as tunes from “The Fall,” “Little Broken Hearts,” “Not Too Late” and “Come Away With Me.” Her set also included covers of Neil Young, Hank Williams, The Grateful Dead and jazz pianist Horace Silver.

Wearing a loose, full-length black print dress and red strappy heels, the 37-year-old chanteuse sang for more than an hour and a half and appeared to be having a wonderful time, often looking up from the piano or her guitar to flash a warm smile or to say, “‘You are awesome.”

As always, Jones created dark, atmospheric moods but managed to sound uncannily charming and optimistic. Worrisome songs like “Burn,” “Sinkin’ Soon,” “Tragedy,” “Stuck” and “Flipside” somehow yielded to the mood of her rousing closer, “Carry On.”

Jones also imbued the slightest turn in a word or phrase with musical meaning, especially in the way she changed inflections on the title word of "Tragedy". That she suddenly booted it up an octave and nailed every note was the icing on the cake.

Other highlights included the sweet country lilt of the Dead’s “It Must Have Been the Roses,” the ominously descending “Black” and Jones’ alluring whisper on her fetching new love song, “And Then There Was You.”

The third presidential debate had just ended and she got a laugh with “My Dear Country,” which included the slyly topical query, “Maybe he’s not deranged.” She also amused the crowd with her softly sarcastic piano ditty written for her dog, “Man of the Hour” (“He never cheats and he never lies”), playing both at the piano, alone.

When the band fired up the slow, deliberate groove of Young’s "Don't Be Denied" Benaroya Hall lit up like a rock hall.

After a standing ovation, Jones and her four-piece band stood downstage like a folk group — acoustic bass, guitars, drum held with shoulder strap — and sang three encores, including the irresistible
"whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo" chorus of "Sunrise" and Williams' "How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart".

It was wonderful show, though badly marred by quirky opening act Valerie June, who sang horribly out of tune on every song.

Senator Tim Scott at Microsoft

Tim Scott is the junior Senator for South Carolina. He was appointed as senator in 2013 after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley named him to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint.  Scott ran in a special election in 2014 for the final two years of DeMint's second term, and won the seat.  He now running for his first full Senate terms in 2016. 

In November 2010, Scott was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for South Carolina's 1st congressional district, and served from 2011 to 2013. Scott, a fiscal and cultural conservative, was endorsed for the Senate by Tea Party groups (DeMInt’s Senate Conservative Fund).  He served one term in the South Carolina General Assembly (2009–2011); prior to that, he had been on the Charleston County Council from 1996 to 2008.

Scott is one of two African Americans serving in the Senate. He is the first African-American senator from the state of South Carolina, the first black Republican elected to the Senate since the defeat of Edward Brooke in 1979, and the first elected from the South since 1881, four years after the end of Reconstruction. Due to long decades of disenfranchisement for African Americans in the South, he is the first Republican African American Congressman from South Carolina since 1897 and since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He is also the first African American to have been elected to both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Scott serves on the Small Business Committee, Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Commerce Science & Transportation Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.

He is unmarried and owns his own insurance agency.  

Opportunity Agenda: Senator Scott’s “Opportunity Agenda” has been his primary focus since being elected to Congress.  The Agenda is founded on the principle that all Americans should have the ‘opportunity’ to succeed.  He fundamentally believes people want to work, they want to get ahead and provide a better life for their families.  He has introduced four bills as part of the agenda: (1) The SKILLS Act – focuses on delivering technology job training skills; (2) The CHOICE Act – seeks to expand educational opportunities for individuals and communities by making federal IDEA dollars portable; (3) the Southern Energy Access Jobs Act or SEA Act focuses on expanding off-shore energy production; and (4) the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Program or LEAP Act which provides tax credits to employers to help increase the number of registered apprenticeships.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at Microsoft

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began his writing career before he became a basketball player. In his latest book, "Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White," Abdul-Jabbar shares his profound insight on the most socially relevant issues of our day, including politics, race, religion, gender, class struggle, sports, media, and seniors, and even some advice for future generations of Americans.  

At a pivotal time in our history and in the midst of a presidential race that threatens to divide us, Abdul-Jabbar explores the origins of bias and inequality that remain a stubborn part of America, 240 years after its founding document declared that all Americans are created equal. He contends that a prime cause is that many Americans, out of fear and sometimes ignorance, make too many false assumptions about fellow citizens who aren't like them. Abdul-Jabbar brings to these darker aspects of America a bright spotlight of reason and curiosity, illuminating the way to a more unified country.  

In his own words, Abdul-Jabbar is "an American, a father, a businessman, an education advocate, a journalist, a philanthropist, a history and jazz buff, a filmmaker, a novelist, a former global Cultural Ambassador for the United States, a political activist, and an active member of his community."  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Adele at Key Arena, Seattle 2016

Seeing Adele live in concert was quite high on my wish-list. Therefore, I was stoked to have an opportunity to do so!!


At KeyArena, Adele had them at ‘Hello’

Adele began her Seattle gig at KeyArena on Monday evening with a goddesslike entry, then "Hello” and “Hometown Glory.”

Adele, in a black, sequined floor-length gown, rose up into KeyArena from a dais at the north end of the hall like a goddess claiming her kingdom.

“Hello,” she sang, the first tune from her megahit 2015 album, “25,” then belted out that now-familiar descending hook about how sorry she was “for break-ing your heart.”

That quick-change shift from intimate revelation to full-throated hook was a template for an ecstatic, two-hour evening fans will not soon forget.  Adele knows how to wind up a crowd to almost unbearable levels of emotional tension, but her secret is that she also knows how to release them with a sigh — “It was just like a mo-vie,” she sang, on “When We Were Young.” “It was just like a song.”

Such calibrated emotion is the hallmark of historic divas like Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf and Amalia Rodrigues, and Adele is now in their league. Indeed, when her husky alto dipped low on “Million Years Ago” during a delicious acoustic set, she recalled the deep, sad soul of Dietrich herself.
With a 20-piece backup band, Adele offered a generous sampling from all three of her albums, emphasizing “25.”

The yearning “Someone Like You,” from “21,” was a highlight, as was her dramatic theme from the James Bond film, “Skyfall” and her signature song, “Rolling in the Deep.” She sang Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” with such conviction you thought she might have someone in mind.

Chatting at length between tunes, she said she had enjoyed her days off in Seattle. She looked quite fresh, even wholesome, avoiding her customarily colorful language, saying she was embarrassed about all her swearing at the Glastonbury Festival last month.

The crowd skewed female and adult, though there were plenty of mothers with daughters.

The two-stage setting was grand without being ostentatious. The show climaxed with “Set Fire to the Rain,” with an actual downpour around Adele on the smaller dais where she started the show.

At the end, she popped up on the main stage and said goodbye, a goddess of song who will no doubt come to visit this realm many times in the future.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A fun team morale event

A fun team morale event:

FLEE Escape Room Challenge - Egypt

Magician Mash Fung

An Urban Sprouts Terrarium Creation: My office finally has plants!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Andrea Bocelli at Key Arena, Seattle

For my birthday this year I wished for something memorable... something unique that I remember for the rest of my life.

Memorable it was - An Andrea Bocelli concert! It was no doubt the best orcestra and vocal performances I have witnessed live! Just outstanding! What a voice!

The tickets were very pricey... Well above that for average concerts. As a result there were still tickets available day-of on Ticketmaster. I gambled, hoping for the luck of the birthday. I showed up at the start of the concert ticketless. I lucked out getting tickets at a third of the face value from scalpers, with a bit of bargaining. Here's one for me vs the scalpers :)

Seattle is a unique concert destinations. Usually tours start or end in Seattle. In the start of the tours the performers are fresh and rearing to go. At the end of the tour, they are ready for one last hurrah and give it their all. It ends up being filled with passion in both cases. Today it was the start of the tour.

All performances were spectacular. Yet, I was over the moon when he performed my favorite piece from my all time favorite movie - "Nelle Tue Mani (Now we are free)"  from Gladiator!


Monday, May 30, 2016

Rainier National Park - May

It's amazing how the landscape of National Parks are transformed based on when you visit. In this late May trip, Rainier was still filled with plentiful snow. Reflection Lake was still frozen.

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