Saturday, June 16, 2007

Weekend Shopping Adventures

So, for the past two weekends, my friends and I have been going shopping. It's the weekend, and the weather is nice and toasty. The mall provides free air-conditioning to cool down during summer. I have the best of intentions when I go shopping: to spend less money than my friends. I feel like I'm a pretty frugal person. I'm not particular about brand names or latest trends. I mean, c'mon, I'm sitting in front of the computer all day studying. Is my Perl programming going to be nicer to me if I came in wearing a Polo shirt instead of a Wal-mart brand shirt? None of the women at work are worthy dressing up either for because they are already taken.......and old(er).

Alas, I can resist anything except a good bargain. Last weekend, my friends and I went to shop at the Factory Outlet in Albertville. The goal of the trip was for one of my friends to pick out some presents for his trip back home to China. I was there to offer sound advice: Buy, buy, buy! What ended up happening was that I came home with a winter jacket from Nike and a hoodie from Guess. Guess! The one store whose fashion is usually everything I don't wear. Hmmmm.....maybe it's time for a wardrobe makeover.

Today, I needed an excuse to leave the house to pick out something for Father's day. I had really no idea what to get my dad. Mom's are usually easier. They are easily satisfied by shiny things, like diamonds and other jewellery. Men's accessories are far and few. The watch, the belt, and maybe an earring in one ear if you're phat. My friend got her dad the boxed set DVD of Planet Earth by the BBC. Her father and family are very antsy. They can't really stay still in their house. He spends his days sitting in the garage, reading National Geographic, and planning his next vacation. Anything travel related was a good gift idea. But my dad doesn't like to travel (that much).....and the books I buy him I end up reading myself anyway. He's got a watch, and a belt, and I doubt I can convince to get his ears pierced. Hmmmmmmm......conundrum.......

Well, I forgot one last accessory....the brief case. My dad isn't a travelling salesman, so that ruled 90% of the brief case population. I didn't want to get him a bag that made him seem like he'll be walking door to door, selling can-openers. No, it has to something casual, yet sophisticated. Something an engineer would carry. The Mall of America (MOA) provides is an abundant terrain for gift hunting. All I had to was to wade through the jungle and find my prey. I found my prey inside Wilson's Leather. A leather messenger bag. Casual sophistication.....ka-ching! So there's goes my paycheck. Sigh. I really should return the Kingdom Hearts II game I bought for myself. But its price seems so inconsequential to the bag I got for my dad. Naaaahhhh, I think I'll keep it =0)

So after two rounds of weekend shopping. It's me in the lead with a grand total of $200, Cheng with $120, and Yezi with $65. Yay! I'm winning!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Fray

A life time can be highlighted with a lot of first. A child's first step. The first birthday present. A family's first Christmas in a new house. What these firsts have in common is that they tend to leave a strong first impression. Well, after twenty years, I attended my first ever concert. The Fray, an alternative rock band, came to play at the Target Center in Minneapolis. I hadn't really heard of The Fray before this concert, but when my friends were interested in going, I began to listen to their music. I was surprised to find that I was already familiar with some of their songs, especially their hit singles "How To Save a Life" and "Over My Head (Cable Car)". Thus, in preparation for the concert, I borrowed my dad's earphones and was listening non-stop to their music. I've got to say I really like alternative rock. From Keane to Switchfoot to The Fray, I'm attracted to their strong ballads along with original lyrics. I also fancy the piano being used in a rock band.

The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30pm. I left work around 5:00pm and congregated at my friend's house. We left for the concert around 6:30pm. Usually, it doesn't take an hour to get to Minneapolis, but we were cautious of traffic. Thankfully it wasn't too congested and we got there by 7:35pm. As with any other concert, being tardy isn't the end of the world since there are always warm up bands. However, because we were a bit late, we missed the name of the first warm up band. After performing for about an hour, the band bid adieu. We were anxiously expecting The Fray to take center stage only to be greeted by another warm up band. It turned out the second band was OK go. The band is most famous for their innovative music video on treadmills. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to check them out on youtube.

Finally, at 9:30pm, the lights dimmed. The video screen in the back streamed a singular green line. The air was heavy with eager anticipation, as everyone held their breathe. The green line started to stream faster. Then, a small pulse rose from the line. More peaks started rising, and everyone's heart began to beat in unison with the video pulse. Then, a singular resonant stroke of the piano reverberated throughout the entire stadium. The heavy silence was shattered by the piercing screams of all the crazy fan girls and myself.

The whole night was a wonderful experience. The lighting created a very effective mood. Sometimes solemn, other times pensive, the lighting provided wonderful visual stimuli. The music itself was incredible. There was no discernable differences between their live performance and their album, which was an incredible achievement. I was singing in public for the first time as I hummed along to their songs. Thankfully there were enough high school girls to drown out my voice. The band mixed the night with songs from their album and some new material. My favorite was their cover of Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, which The Fray sang in honor of the band's new bassist, who was celebrating his first tour with the band and his birthday. The concert came to a conclusion around 11:30. Even though we had just been sitting for 4 hours, our stomach announced that they were hungry. So, we made a small detour to Wendy's before heading home.

So, first impressions: The Fray is awesome, concerts have such an unique atmosphere, binoculars are useful when sitting in the rafters, and life is good with friends!

Anyone up for another concert this summer?