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_After the highpoint of wrapping up the Billy Joel show, I had to come back down to reality and work on my physics problem set when I got back around 12:30am. Well I didn’t necessarily have to do it then – but it was due at 1:30pm today, so I either had to sleep and wake up early, or just do it then – I decided to do the latter. I figured it’d be safer to stay up and finish the problem set in case I woke up late – and by 3:45am, I was finished. Then was the decision to either turn it in then, or go to sleep and turn it in the today. Now I’m pretty sure most sensible people would have slept. I on the otherhand…

It wasn’t that bad going up at 4am. I did pass a guy with a backpack going down the slope when I went up. I think I passed 4-5 people in total, and I think only 1 was intoxicated. The half mile or so up to Clark wasn’t too bad, but I will say it is creepy to see buildings completely empty and quiet. PSB and Clark were lit up, but coming back through Rockefeller was pretty creepy since half the lights there are turned off at night. I rushed out of there back into the 24 degree weather. I didn’t make much of the cold on the way up – 24 degrees is the coldest weather I’ve been outside in all year, but I had my jacket, hat, and gloves. Until I got to the steps between Uris and Morril that go down Libe slope – there was a little bit of ice on the stairs, and nothing had been salted. So as soon as I got to the end of the dozen or so stairs, I switched over to the grass the rest of the way. I was in bed by 4:30 but wasn’t able to sleep for a while.

I didn’t end up waking until almost 1 – probably a good thing I turned in the problem set last night, otherwise I’d have some fun running up the slope to do. Today I took a break from studying (I’ve got a couple days still, and I thought it’d be good mentally to take a break). So I went to the mall to see The Muppets this afternoon. (Possible minor spoilers!)
Lighting outside the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard in Jan 2011 for filming The Muppets
Filming in Jan 2011 outside the El Capitan, I think this is the part at the end of the film when they come out of the theater.
_Now I thought I wouldn’t have a picture for this entry, but I have 2 – from January 17 last winter, when I was in Hollywood for a Cornell alumni panel event, a lot of streets were blocked off for filming – The Muppets! (I guess it feels cool to think I have a connection to the film, even if rather insignificant). I actually completely forgot about this entire thing until tonight when I was looking at somebody's YouTube video from their viewpoint watching the filming, and I remembered - I drove by when it happened! From a quick search, the Jan 17 date was one of the nights they were doing filming in Hollywood. We were in front of the Disney El Capitan, which I believe stood in for the Muppet Theater at the end of the film. Lots of lanes were blocked off on Hollywood Boulevard where they filmed, and in the pictures you can see some of the lighting for the street – I remember seeing the giant searchlights too. Though we weren’t driving by when the big song and dance number happened, there certainly was a lot of traffic congestion caused by the filming. Though I’d guess if you’re a Hollywood native, that’s rather normal.
_Anyways, the film itself was greatly entertaining and absolutely fun (and pulling at my heartstrings!). It was a fun 2 hour ride of nostalgia – including the Toy Story short beforehand about a Buzz Lightyear Happy Meal like toy – I remember those things! I do like that the kinds of shorts that precede Pixar films are including in Disney films. As for the movie itself, I suppose the decline and comeback of the Muppets is a novel, if not somewhat exaggerated, metaphor for Disney’s handling of the Muppet brand up until now. But I thought it was a great movie in spirit with the films and shows preceding. Though I do feel a lot of the jokes went over the kids’ heads (there was a little girl’s birthday party in attendance), quite a few times I heard a lot of adult laughter, though at the same time the kids in the theater seemed to enjoy it.  I’ll admit I got quite teary eyed near the end – to the extent where showing any emotion would probably have made me cry so I kind of sat there with as still a face as possible looking at the screen. Thus, I didn’t get the full emotional impact of the last 15 minutes, and require seeing it again while it’s still in theaters. (See what I did there?) Maybe a rewatch when it’s in Cornell Cinema (hopefully next semester). The songs are stuck in my head too – had to pay a visit to the piano when I got back to get down some of the chords! Though for me, I think the film struck me in a very Toy Story 3 sense, especially in its value for an older audience, reminding you of friends and joys together from the past. And while perhaps in the age of Facebook recreating the sense of high school or college friendships is just a post away, the joy of the Muppets can truly feel timeless.

Crew shirts
_Today was the last day of classes. And Billy Joel!! CCC and CUPB coproduction. I don’t have any pictures of my own from the event, but I’ll do my best to do the event justice in words. (Not counting the caption, this blog entry should have about 1000 words – so I have my “picture is worth 1000 words” quota.) I arrived at Bailey a little early, around 5:15 or 5:20. After a while, everyone started filtering in as we gathered in the dressing room to get shirts, sign in, and get ready to break up into crews.

Beforehand, you could hear Billy and some of his crew doing sound checks – when I was in the bathroom, I overheard someone on the piano singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas over the Bailey speaker system – I’d like to think it was him singing it!

We broke up into crews, I was on ushering tonight. The ushers and ticket takers had a meeting with George from Bailey Hall up in the main lobby, before we split into the two crews. Ushering went pretty smoothly. People got to their correct seats, and we were able to seat people pretty well who came in late. The show went pretty smoothly too (except when I had to go around to tell people to stop filming, but most people took that pretty well too). 

The show was called “Billy Joel: An Evening of Question & Answers…and a little music.” So it was driven mostly by people asking questions to Billy about his life and his music, and Billy answering and playing some songs or snippets on one of 2 pianos (a larger one, and a smaller one – with pianist envy, as he said. Read it aloud.). I really enjoyed the more intimate atmosphere, which both the venue and show format lent themselves to.  I was impressed with how down to earth Billy was, he came out in a Cornell sweatshirt, and the full house really enjoyed his performances and conversation. And he really knows his music – from classical, other artists, you name it – quite the piano man. His musical knowledge is quite extensive.

The night really went by in a blur, it was an amazing show – I really can’t describe the entirety of it in words – it was an incredible atmosphere in there, between the enthralled audience and the musical creativity and dare I say genius.  Not a rock concert, but again, I really enjoyed it just being him, the piano(s), and the audience all together.  I can’t exactly remember the progression of the show, but I’ll try to do it with a hail of bullet highlights from the show!
  • Piano man! He did it early on to get it “out of the way” – but great audience favorite. As were most of the songs.
  • He had his book of songs on the piano (with lyrics and/or chords? – he’s written 100s though, so give him a break!)
  • People get him confused with (Sir) Elton John. Or when he was first starting out, how people said he was copying Elton John. Because they both play piano.
  • The multitude of jobs he worked through, and some of the challenges he’s overcome in his life.
  • Uptown Girl is a response/parody to Franki Vallie and the Four Seasons (one of my favorite groups! Yes my tastes skew old…), and is in their style (got a few measures of him singing falsetto on Four Seasons songs).
  • Classical music – He played Bach, Beethoven, and others. To illustrate that throughout history, music has been a central form of getting to sleep with girls.
  • University President Skorton playing flute with Billy Joel. Has got to be one of the most surreal moments of the entire thing. President Skorton is a bit of a musician, and Billy Joel invited him up to play, upon which President Skorton jumped up on stage (literally – didn’t even look for the stairs!) and got right in.
  • Hearing some of the background stories to the songs. Gospel. Hymns. Folk songs. Beatles. Paul Simon.  And how songs changed and evolved from how they were first written to when they were published and recorded.
  • Got some rather interesting questions asked by the audience tonight as well….oh well, part of the format I suppose.
  • Playing Downeaster Alexa and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
  • He’s from an island. A very long island.
  • It was interesting to get a peek into his mind. Not writing songs to be hits, but songs that he likes. Would you really expect a Franki Vallie parody and a history lesson to be
  • Singing some snippets of Lady Gaga – she’s got musical talent and knowledge. (And so does Justin Bieber, to the dismay of a large part of the audience – but give him a chance!)
  • Did a James Brown Voice! And a Ray Charles one when he played Baby Grand.
  • Sung Louie, Louie – illustrating that the lyrics don’t matter as much as the music itself! (That’s when he did James Brown too).
  • Played a bit of We Didn’t Start the Fire – and pointing out how silly the piece is, the melody of the various verses composed of 3 notes. He said it sounds rather mosquito like, and can get quite annoying! (The audience still got him to play a few measures!)
  • He’s moving into some other styles – hymns, perhaps movie scores, symphonic music (wouldn’t it be great if he could write something for CU Winds?! Probably wouldn’t happen, but I can dream, right?)
_After the show, we cleaned up, went back down to the dressing rooms and hung out for a while (popcorn and cool gummy candies – planes, letters, dinosaurs and more!), before going to Mano’s (CCC tradition – though I think CUPB used to do it a while back too) which was fun filled with good ole fried food. It was nice to be able to spend some more time with everyone and have some fun.

This was an amazing way to end the semester, and this past semester with CUPB has been astounding, and I cannot wait to continue next semester!