We Used to Drive this Blue Ridge Laughing…

So, Carbon Leaf played in Vermont again last night. They must really like coming up here, because it’s the fifth time in two years that they’ve made the trip, and I’ve gone to each of their concerts. Last night’s set completely rocked, and really surprised me – They played more of their older stuff than from their newest album.

Set list:

The Crane Wife 3 (Song on the speakers, guys came on and played along with it while warming up for a minute)
Changeless
Blue Ridge Laughing
What About Everything?
Torn to Tattered
I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
Life Less Ordinary
Desperation Song
– Love Loss Hope Repeat
– American Tale
– Grey Sky Eyes
– Under the Wire
– This Is My Song
– Texas Stars
– Raise the Roof
– The Boxer
Encore
– Learn to Fly
– Let Your Troubles Roll By
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (Led Zepplin Cover)

This was a fantastic set list, and more older stuff than they usually play, which was really really cool. I’ve never heard American Tale or Blue Ridge Laughing live, and they sounded fantastic. I went with my friend Sam and his fiancee, Miranda, who are also big fans of the group, for their first concert with them. They also loved it. The speakers were playing the Decemberists’s newer song The Crane Wife 3, and to warm up, the band members came on stage and played along for a minute or two, before launching right into Changeless.
The band sounded like they got off to a bit of a rocky start, but they hit their sound early on and really went off. Carter had some fantastic guitar solos throughout, and I think they knocked over three mike stands. Blue Ridge Laughing, I‘m On Fire, Desperation Song, What About Everything, This Is My Song, Texas Stars, The Boxer, all fantastic songs. I was hoping that they’d play Comfort, but still – good set list.
One of the coolest things though, was that for their encore song, Learn to Fly, Barry, Terry and Carter grabbed their guitars and jumped into the crowd and went to the middle – TEN – TEN FEET FROM ME – and played Learn to Fly without mikes. Sounded incredible, and they got the entire crowd singing along. That was really cool, and I’ve never seen them do that before. My friend Eric from school was also there, and literally standing in front of them. Lucky him.

Really fun night.

Rest of the pictures are here: http://flickr.com/photos/jeditrilobite/

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Reunions

Graduation was Sunday. I missed it. I knew quite a few seniors, and it struck me earlier today that there’s a very good chance that I’ll never see some of them again, which is painful, because I never got the chance to say goodbye. I stopped by the other night to say goodbye to Kyle, who’s going off to Washington DC to work for the summer, and I got to find Karthik and Corey, two friends who just graduated. I’ll really miss Karthik, and I was glad that I was able to say bye to him.

Sam came home on the same day, and I finally got to see him and his girlfriend, Miranda today. We spent the afternoon and evening together, talking about our trips (Sam when to Japan), things for the summer. We got dinner and watched A History of Violence. Decent enough movie. The best part of the day was the miniature Abnaki reunion that typically happens any time anyone from the camp sets foot on Church Street. The three of us went to lunch at a sandwich shop where Billy and Shane both work, and because it was a slow point, we talked for about 20 minutes about comics and RPG campaigns and the upcoming summer, as well as life in general.

Work is dull. But it pays. I might actually increase my hours to get some more money and to fill the time. I guess that we’ll see.

Burlington

I spent the entire day up in Burlington today, visiting people. Went by very fast. I left the house at around nine this morning, and drove up, stopping by to visit my friend Sam for a little while. We walked around Church Street and Borders for about an hour, while I looked around for a final Christmas gift for my Father. (Didn’t find it) But I did find that there’s a new Worst Case Senerio Handbook out there, which is awesome. I love those books, and own the original and Travel editions, which will be in close reach while I’m overseas.
At around noon, I drove over to Rachel’s apartment, and hung out with her for a while. We talked for a while, and walked downtown to the Merril theater and watched the movie Syriana. I was totally blown away by everything in that movie. Outstanding story, characters, acting, camera work and score. I was completely fixated on it the entire time, and found it to be an extremely powerful, moving and terrifying story. I’m going to type up a full review tomorrow, but in a nutshell, it’s a number of intertwined stories that revolve around Oil, Terrorism, the CIA, Politics, Oil Companies, and a bunch of other related things. It’s written by the same guy who did Traffic, which I was also amazed at, and they do an even better job here.
Rachel enjoyed it. We talked about it over some food at the Red Onion, a small resturaunt at the base of Church Street, which I’d never eaten at before. They made some good sandwiches. After that, we went back to her apartment and talked about a number of things, as usual. I was a little frustrated with myself. There were a couple of things that I wanted to say and do, but I just can’t seem to get the right words into my mouth at all. :-\ . I wish that I was better with that. It didn’t help that the cold walk was really making it hard to talk anyway.
It was great to see her again.
After that, went by and met up with Sam at the U-Mall, hung out with him for a while longer at his house, talked about Syriana and politics with him for a while, then returned home. Long, fun and busy day.

Maine

As I mentioned the other night, I was in Maine for the weekend, visiting my friend Sam, who I work with at camp. I had a really good time – Sam’s a really good friend of mine, and it was good to see him for the first time in a while. I got to check out his campus, probably a little larger than Norwich, and with a larger town around it with some good things to have. Like a book store and movie theater.
I also got to see how they ran their games club, from which I’ll probably take some pointers to our own club here at Norwich. There’s some big size differences, but I got some things that I can begin to impliment. I guess we’ll see how that goes in the coming week. Plus, Sam picked up the newest Age of Empires game, which is amazing. I just got the demo on my computer and I’m thinking that I’ll have to find my own copy, because it works on my computer. Woohoo!
The drive over wasn’t bad at all. It was a bit long, four hours each way, but it was a fairly easy ride. I basically stayed on the same route, and the only complicated part was driving through a couple of cities/large towns, navigating through some of the side streets. Mapquest was handy for that part, but downright useless for everything else. Their directions were annoying. I just used the printout map that came with it to get to Farmington.
Picked up a couple of comics while I was at it – got the first and third issues of the new Spiderman run: Evolve or Die. Still need to pick up #2. It’s a long, 12 issue crossover with three Spiderman comics out there. Interested to see how it turns out. I also picked up the latest issue of B.P.R.D., following the Frog Wars storyline, that’s turning out interestingly. And I picked up the second issue of Rogue Squadron, which is becoming a slightly disapointing story arc…
Now, sleep, hopefully to finish the World Before so I can get moving on 1776 and St. Alban’s Fire.

Jarhead

I finally got around to seeing Jarhead tonight, with my friend Sam and his Girlfriend. It seems like a fairly appropriate choice for Veteran’s day. I’m currently writing from Maine, at Farmington. I’m here for the weekend, visiting Sam and just getting out of Vermont for a little while. I need the change, because I’m feeling that I’m falling into an emotional rut once again. Gah.

So, Jarhead. I read the book a while ago, and found it to be fairly readable, engaging and annoying. It wasn’t written terribly well, but it had a fairly interesting story. So I was interested to learn that it was being made into a movie, and even more interested when I heard the cast for the project. Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard, all actors whom I’ve seen before and liked their works.

The oil fields of Kuwait in Universal Pictures' Jarhead

I wasn’t disappointed by the movie at all. On the contrary, I felt that it was much better than the book. The story follows a twenty year old marine, Anthony Swoffard, a third generation Marine, who enlists in 1989. While in the service, he trained as a marine sniper, and then was deployed with his platoon to Iraq for Operation Desert Shield, which later became Desert Storm.

The film goes deep into ‘Swoff’s’ and some of his platoon mate’s minds when they’re deployed in the middle east. The director, Sam Medes, does an amazing job showing the dispair, boredom, anger and frustration of the two leads, when they’re out in the desert, with years of training and nothing to shoot at. In a sense, they’re fighting themselves. We see them when they’re bored – his platoon mates shoot camels for fun, mutilate charred bodies, fight with each other, swear, yell, cry and sit looking out into the desert.

Medes uses the camera wonderfully, and I’ve not seen anything else by him to compare, but there is some outstanding imagery used here. A couple scenes, such as the first mortar attack, when the soldiers see the burning oil fields, when they’re rejoining their platoon after recon, all outstandingly shot and filmed.

This is not a Black Hawk Down type of movie – very much different. There’s not nearly as much action, save for the mortar attack and a couple of random bombings that we see here and there throughout their time in the desert. Instead, the movie focuses on the soldiers, and what their deployment means for their own minds.

In a way, it’s depressingly too familiar to me. I’m not enlisted, don’t plan on it any time soon. But I know some of those Jarheads. I could pick them out in the background and knew that some of my friends now at Norwich could be one of those guys. And I hope that they’ll make it through okay.

Post-Camp Recuperation

I always hate the transition to real-life after camp. My sleep schedule is still out of whack, as is my food intake and daily schedule. It’s tough trying to find ways to occupy my time. At camp, there are over a hundred people in fairly close proximety, where I’m able to talk with someone about something. Not so much here. However, I’ve been doing okay to be occupied. I took a good walk in the woods the other day, got some thinking cleared in my head and was treated to a beautiful view of the forest and a rain storm. It was refreashing. Went out with Blackwell, Sam and Eric last night to Pizza Putt, a pizza joint with miniature golf and lazer tag in the building. Together, Sam, Blackwell and I are known as the Geek Squad on camp. Eric is our off site member, and we all got together before we all go off to college for the year. Blackwell’s leaving today and I’m off next week, as is Sam. Eric’s going to work as a working stiff. (Sucker:-p ) . We ended up playing against another team of four guys who were there. We really screwed up the first time that we played, but did slightly better the second time around. I rode home with Eric, and we did some catching up on everything that happened over the summer.
I’m now working on an essay for Lexia, a study abroad option that my school is offering. I’m seriously thinking of studying in London, England for the Spring semester, if my finances allow for it. Let’s hope…

Back At Home

Camp’s now over for the year. The ten weeks that I spent there were quick, fun, sad, hilarious, fantastic, amazing, confusing, happy, stressful, adventurous, intimate, dark, light hearted, serious, relaxing, technologically inverted, loud, serene, and completely kick ass.
I’m sad to have left Abnaki, as I am every year. Me and my friend Sam were talking and something like this came up: Camp is just a location. Abnaki is us, and we take it with us where ever we go. I don’t know if I’ll ever see some of those people again, but I know that I will stay in touch with a good number of them in the future. This summer was definently life changing, as the others have been in the years before.
However, it is nice to have a reliable computer and internet to work with again.