Every year, I like to examine my music tastes from the previous year. The image above was generated a couple weeks into 2020, so the actual data from 2019 is slightly different.
Here are my top 10 artists from 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2019. It has a lot of good stuff on it – but of course I’d think that, right? And in case images break in the future:
The Orion Experience – 111 scrobbles (1st place in 2018 too)
Lin-Manuel Miranda – 105 scrobbles
Leslie Odom Jr. – 98 scrobbles
Tally Hall – 54 scrobbles
Ariana Grande – 45 scrobbles
It Boys! – 35 scrobbles
Phillipa Soo – 35 scrobbles
Queen – 32 scrobbles
Keke Palmer – 29 scrobbles
Regina Spektor – 24 scrobbles
The Orion Experience was number 1 last year also, and It Boys! and Regina Spektor have been on my top 10 previously. The rest appear new!
In the image above, you can see my top albums of the past year; again, it’s a little inaccurate given that it was generated a couple weeks into 2020.
Here’s the actual top 10 album list for 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2019. Hamilton won, by a ton. I didn’t want to listen to it much before seeing it live. I waited until I had my ticket, listened to the album once, watched the show, and then listened to the album a ton. And to ensure I have it written in case the image breaks:
Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) – 350 scrobbles
Cosmicandy by The Orion Experience – 110 scrobbles (down from 1st place in 2018)
Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum by Tally Hall – 53 scrobbles
So Uncool by Keke Palmer – 29 scrobbles
My Everything (Deluxe) by Ariana Grande – 28 scrobbles
Guys Don’t Like Me – Single by It Boys! – 25 scrobbles
Soviet Kitsch (U.S. Version) by Regina Spektor – 23 scrobbles
Absolute Music 64 by Ariana Grande – 17 scrobbles
Лучшие by Звери – 15 scrobbles (down from 2nd place in 2018)
Steven Universe, Vol. 1 (Original Soundtrack) – 13 scrobbles
And here are my top 10 tracks:
Right Hand Man by Lin-Manuel Miranda – 66 scrobbles
The Cult of Dionysus by The Orion Experience – 45 scrobbles
The Queen of White Lies by The Orion Experience – 43 scrobbles (down from 1st place in 2018)
A Winter’s Ball by Leslie Odom Jr. – 38 scrobbles
Guys Don’t Like Me by It Boys! – 35 scrobbles
Break Free (feat. Zedd) by Ariana Grande – 33 scrobbles (not present in 2018 but 10th in 2017)
Bottoms Up by keke Palmer – 29 scrobbles
Helpess by Phillipa Soo – 21 scrobbles
Eye to Eye from A Goofy Movie – 18 scrobbles
Your Obedient Servant by Leslie Odom Jr. – 15 scrobbles
Overall, a lot more Hamilton and a lot less ska. And a surprise showing by A Goofy Movie, which really amuses me.
And I saw some live shows as well:
Sweeney Todd at South Coast Repertory
Heathers: The Musical at Cal State Fullerton
The Little Mermaid: Live-to-Film Concert Experience at the Hollywood Bowl
Anamanaguchi concert at SDCC
Shrek: The Musical at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center
Half Past Two in Anaheim
Codename: Rocky, Skapeche Mode, Suburban Legends, Voodoo Glow Skulls, “Save Ferris”, and The Aquabats at OC Brew Ha Ha
We Will Rock You at the Microsoft Theater
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps: Phantom of the Auditorium: The Musical at the Chance Theater
Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway
Anastasia at Segerstrom Hall
Suburban Legends in Downtown Disney twice
Frozen: The Musical at the Pantages
The Aquabats with PPL MVR and Dirt Farm at the Fonda Theatre
This post has been half-complete for about two years now, so it’s about time I finish it and get it posted! Bach in May of 2017, gem and I were both attending a friend’s wedding in Portland. Neither of us had been there, so we decided to take some extra time and explore the surrounding areas.
After flying to Portland, we checked into our AirBNB that was, in my opinion, practically in a forest. Okay, not really, but Portland definitely has a different feel than Southern California. Where as at home, I get the impression we flattened nature and paved it over, it felt like in Oregon people decided to actually live with nature.
We had dinner at Cartopia, a collection of food trucks/carts with a nice place to sit and eat. The palak paneer fries from Potato Champion were delicious.
These are the PB&J fries, which were also quite tasty.
And this is the Girl Next Door from Pyro Pizza with a ricotta goat cheese blend, oregano, rhubarb, Parmesan, Romano, basil, oil, and pepper.
I started the next day with coffee from Never Coffee. I had a Holy Grail and Nutella Puff, about which I wrote “meh” in my travel log, so I guess something didn’t do it for me. gem had a drink called the Hug along with zucchini bread.
After getting our caffeine, we started driving toward our hiking destination, Ape Cave, but we made a detour at Yale Park Recreation Area. It was really beautiful!
Here I’m about to descend into Ape Cave, one of the longest lava tubes in North America.
gem had lights and headlamps for both of us, so we were well equipped!
Ape Cave had two trails, a lower cave and an upper cave.
Lower cave was basically a stroll to a dead end, and then you return to the start.
Upper cave was a great hike in pitch black for the majority of it. This is a hike unlike the ones I usually do at home. Some of it is walking, some of it is climbing over “breakdowns,” large piles of rocks from ceiling collapses, and some of it is crawling under or between rocks. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve practiced a bit of bouldering! This was definitely a cool experience. My Runkeeper tracked it as 4 hours and 25 minutes, but I can’t remember if I was tracking the whole thing. Plus, a lot of the tracking was inaccurate underground.
We survived and made it out alive. I think gem thought we were going to be stuck down there forever.
After leaving the cave, I met this cool little guy! He came up on my fingers. Sorry, I know I shouldn’t have let him. Not shown: the snake I almost stepped on that made me yelp.
After getting cleaned up, we headed to our friends’ Kristine and Justin’s place. Kristine and Justin were the couple getting married just a few days later. gem and I met them in World of Warcraft, which is how they met as well. Kristine is out guild leader, and the two of them are our main tanks for the majority of the guild’s raiding time. Our friends Marc, Matt, Katie, Adrian, and Nate were also there, who we know from the guild as well.
Did I take any photos with my friends? No, of course not. I focused on the cat. gem goes by Mooglegem in WoW, and when Kristine and Justin got this cat, gem suggested the name “Moogle.” So, this is Moogle!
Seriously, I get a good chuckle out of the fact that I don’t have any photos of anyone else at the house that night. I do remember eating pizza, lots of talking, and learning about how Justin destroyed a bidet… twice.
This is a photo of our AirBNB we took the next day before heading out for morning coffee!
We started the day at Heart Coffee Roasters. I had a 12 oz mocha with Scandinavian cinnamon roll with cardamom. gem had an “Ick” coffee according to my notes, whatever that was, haha.
After coffee, we drove down to Koriander in Corvallis to meet our friends Hal and Mary Margaret for lunch! This was great because I hadn’t seen them recently and on top of that… they’re my friend Alex’s parents, and we didn’t tell Alex we were planning this. I texted him this photo and told him I was just grabbing lunch with some friends!
Next it was time for goat yoga!
What’s not to like? Goats? Good. Yoga? Good.
I think the goat enjoyed eating gem’s hair.
Look how cute this little goat is!
Next we headed back to Portland for dessert at Salt & Straw! I suppose it was appropriate that my first time at Salt & Straw was in Portland, as it’s based there. There are a lot of locations in Southern California now though. We got wildflower honey with ricotta walnut lace cookies, pear with blue cheese, almond brittle with salted ganache, and strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper. Yum!
We ended the day at Ground Kontrol, an awesome arcade and bar in downtown Portland. I tried the Falcon Punch (orange Stoli vodka, cranberry juice, and a splash of pineapple juice) and the Green Turtle Shell (Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin, muddled cucumber, and Cock N Bull Ginger Beer). I also ate a chili dog (shout out to Sonic) and a Luigi (pesto pizza). We played a variety of games, including some Pac-Man and The Walking Dead pinball.
This was the highlight of the night. As I walked past the machine, someone asked me to join him and some others in playing Killer Queen. He told me he already paid and I could play for free. I felt like there was a catch, but I soon learned the truth. This amazing game is for two teams of five players. While it can be played with AI controller characters, it’s much better with people. Because you pay per game and not per person, they were just looking for more players. It was a such a fun strategy game! I really love games that encourage socialization, which Killer Queen definitely does. By the end of the night, I was the one asking strangers to join and offering to teach them to play.
Here’s the guy who played most of the evening with us!
Did I mention that our AirBNB came equipped with a kitty? Heck yeah.
The next day we checked out Multnomah Falls, which was beautiful!
After checking out the gorgeous waterfall, we went to a place called Crafty Wonderland before deciding to have lunch at Pok Pok, an amazing Thai restaurant. We had spicy peanuts, spicy fish sauce wings, half chicken with dipping sauces, papaya salad, and drinking vinegars (one mint, lime, and cucumber and one strawberry and Thai basil).
Now it’s time to talk about the whole reason for the trip! This is me and Kristine at her wedding!
Look at Kristine and Justin, the happy couple! The wedding was awesome and subtly comic book themed. There were stacks of comics with Funko vinyl figures as table centerpieces, and the wedding (including the ceremony) used some great Guardians of the Galaxy music.
Here’s one of me, gem, and Kristine.
We can’t forget to use Snapchat and involve the cats 🙂
The photobooth was a ton of fun, and here’s the one photobooth picture that didn’t look sloppy drunk haha. I love that seven people in this photo were part of our raid team in WoW, and we were at the wedding of two others. I had already met everyone except one significant other previously, and I think it’s great that such real friendships could have started thanks to playing World of Warcraft together. Even though most of us don’t play together anymore, the friendships continue.
The next day included quite the adventure to get brunch from Screen Door. Our Uber had to make a lot of u-turns and detours because many streets were blocked off. There was some police search going on involving a crime of some sort, but I don’t remember the details now. But what’s important is the food. This huge brunch includes biscuits and meat gravy, beef brisket hash and eggs, praline bacon, and bacon pancakes with strawberry preserves.
Unfortunately, it was time to say good bye to kitty as we left the AirBNB and took a train to Seattle.
Luckily our AirBNB in Seattle came with these two good boys!
Hey baby I hear the blues a-callin’, tossed salads and scrambled eggs… Sorry, I just had to drop the Frasier theme song in here. Anyways, we visited the Space Needle! It was apparently the 46th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival – a cool little bonus!
Here’s the view from the Space Needle. It’s a much clearer view than the solid gray that the Eiffel Tower gave me in Paris!
Seattle Center, the location of the Space Needle and surrounding area, also featured this playground called Artists at Play! While meant for kids, gem convinced me to climb it as well. She had to coax a kid who made it to the top but was scared to climb into the chamber that you can see in the center of this photo. While I helped encourage kid, I was actually thinking “kids are allowed to do this? What if they fall?!” I was right behind the kid, so as I held on, I admit that I was also thinking “come on, hurry up kid because I’m getting tired!”
After leaving Seattle Center, we explored Seattle a bit.
And then we had dinner at Serious Pie! This appetizer was local beets, rhubarb yogurt, and pistachio butter.
We ordered two pizzas. This is yukon gold potato, rosemary, and pecorino romano.
This is soft eggs, smoked prosciutto, local greens, pecorino sardo.
The food was so good, gem left this feedback with pictures!
The next day we rented a car to drive to Treehouse Point. I’m pretty sure it was this car rental visit at which the vendor told us to pick any car from the lot… and then the lot contained one car. While we were out there, they brought a second car, and we ended up taking that new car. “Any car from the lot” isn’t much of a choice when there’s only a single car in the lot!
Treehouse Point had six amazing treehouses. The one above was Temple of the Blue Moon. They were basically like hotel rooms – furnished and with electricity. So cool.
How cool would it be to stay in a place like this?
This one was called Trillium. I love the staricase. I didn’t get a great photo of the next one, called Upper Pond.
This was Nest!
The Gazebo had a little landing underneath it. That seems like such a relaxing place to stay.
Lastly, this one was called Burl. While we only took a tour, people can also book a treehouse for an overnight stay!
Next up was a trip to Snoqualmie Falls!
Here you can see the waterfall from above. It was really pretty.
Here it is at the base. There’s a little hike down this way along with some signs that teach you about the Snoqualmie People, which consider the falls important to their spirituality.
Snoqualmie Falls has two power plants. Does this have anything to do with them? No idea. Probably?
This tunnel of rings looked very cool! Snoqualmie Falls was a pretty awesome sight, and of course, I had to stop by the gift shop on the way out for some honey and snacks. I think I picked up some postcards too.
After visiting the falls, we decided to hike Rattlesnake Mountain Trail to Stan’s Overlook.
Here are two panoramic shots from my phone. It was a little over 4 miles there and back, and it had some amazing views!
There was so much green!
A little bit of human infrastructure seeped into nature here.
This little guy at Stan’s Overlook wanted to say “hi” to me. Hiking to Stan’s Overlook and back to the parking lot was a bit over 4 miles and definitely worth it.
Here’s a bit of the trail on the way back.
All that hiking must have worked up an appetite, because we had an amazing dinner at The Black Duck Cask and Bottle in Issaquah. The photos didn’t come out great, but here they come anyways!
This is duck gravy poutine with duck added on top (for an extra cost if I recall correctly).
Look at this amazing dish! It’s mac n’ cheese with duck, cheddar, Gouda, cheese puffs, bacon, and pistachios. I can’t really remember what “cheese puffs” meant now. I can’t imagine there were something like Cheetos in it. I do remember that it was delicious.
This is the black duck pie, which I also showed above. It had duck, arugula, Worcestershire sauce, goat cheese, aioli, and pistachios.
For dessert, this is the house made cinnamon roll with blood orange glaze and white chocolate. Not shown: drinks – Uinta Cucumber Saison, Odin Strawberry Smash, and a Black Duck Mule (house infused ginger and jalapeño vodka with ginger beer).
LOOK AT THIS GOOD DOGGO THAT GREETED US WHEN WE GOT BACK TO THE AIRBNB!
The next morning, we explored Capitol Hill in Seattle
We stopped at a coffee shop called General Porpoise.
The coffee was delicious, and the sign was cute too! I had a mocha and rhubarb lemon jam donut. gem had the coconut cream donut!
Here’s gem with the sign in the door.
We also saw this sweet sign for a pizza place called Sizzle Pie!
Oh, and check out this sidewalk. Lysol rox? Uh, I guess it does actually. And the cat is cute!
Next up was Canada! We drove north across the border, stopping at Tim Horton’s for a Canadian maple donut and a double chocolate donut of course.
Next we drove over Lion’s Gate Bridge and used the Trans-Canada Highway to drive to Cypress Provincial Park, where it was suggested we could get above the city for a good view. We stopped at Barrett’s View, but thanks to the dreary day, the view wasn’t so epic. It was still fun!
Realizing I was somehow bleeding, I made a makeshift bandaid and then we headed back into the city. After a quick stop at 7-11 for bandaids, we had dinner at Peaceful Restaurant for Chinese food!
I’m not sure if we just decided to eat a lot or what, because the next thing in my notes was that we stopped at another restaurant. ANYWAYS! Check out this awesome sign for Ramen Gojiro! How could we not eat there, right? Look at the cute, chalk Godzilla!
The menu is cool looking too!
Now it’s possible that the atmosphere and theme of the restaurant is part of this, but I think this was my all time favorite ramen. We got a big plate of karaage as you can see.
And here’s the whole meal.
Before I stop talking about Ramen Gojiro, look at the art on the wall. It was awkward taking this photo since there were people, but oh well.
You’d think this travel log would involve something other than food for a second, but no. Next up was mango milk tea with boba from Sushi Home. Boba doesn’t count as more food though, right?
Now, on to something besides food! This is the Telus Garden, an office building that drew our attention due to its cool style.
Even the inside was classy. Yes, there’s water behind her. I’m sure I’d fall in if I sat there all day.
After we explored some more, we found where pizzas are grown. No, we didn’t eat there.
Anela somehow has me eating at McDonald’s in every country I visit thanks to our European vacation, so we stopped at a McDonald’s. I ordered the poutine as well as a beanie baby, which was the toy at the time, for Anela. Was it a moose? I can’t remember.
Our last noteworthy sighting in Canada was this John Fluevog store.
How wonderfully Canadian! I bet this is kind of annoying to the locals actually, but it made me smile.
So long, Canada! It was back to States for us.
During a chat with our AirBNB hosts, they recommended we look at the Space Needle from Kerry Park.
It was a great place to look at and photograph the Space Needle!
The next day was the last day of the trip, and we started it off with Starbucks at the 1st & Pike location at Pike Place Market.
It’s considered the first Starbucks store, although it’s the first store’s second location because it moved.
Here’s gem waiting for her coffee!
With our coffee, we were ready to explore the Pike Place Market. We ate at Piroshky Piroshky, bought some Johnson Berry Farm jams, saw the flying fish, and listened to a pianist named Jeffrey Circus (which could be spelled differently).
Here’s gem at the gum wall.
We had a bite to eat at Market Grill. I had Copper River Sockeye salmon. There was a map on the wall with pins signifying the hometowns of customers. We found our hometown!
There was a lot of fun chalk art outside of unicorns, each with an arrow pointing in the direction of the next one. We enjoyed following the directions and looking at them all.
I really liked the exterior of Red Cedar & Sage.
Finally, we explored the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park.
It was a nice garden and park with a variety of sculptures, benches, trees, and good views.
Here’s the Space Needle from the park!
Of course, the adventure ended with food! On the way to the airport, we stopped at The Crumpet Shop. Thanks for the fun, Seattle! That’s it for that adventure. So many great memories! 🙂
I think 2018 was a pretty great year. I moved to a new apartment, which I really like, and started a new job that is challenging and rewarding. I enjoyed spending time with many wonderful friends, went on lots of great adventures, and saw a lot of fun shows.
I went to San Diego Comic-Con again for the 8th year in a row. This year I attended with gem, Antonio, and Kaleigh.
I cosplayed Fix-It Felix, Jr. again. And here’s gem as Lilo!
gem and I took Antonio to Zion National Park in Utah and to Vegas for his bachelor party. We did lots of great hiking in Zion…
…visited the Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks…
…saw Cirque du Soleil in Vegas…
…went to Neon Museum of old signs…
…and went ax throwing in Vegas!
Antonio married Kaleigh! I was one of his two Best People. (He had one man and woman as his Best People).
Here’s Antonio Best Woman, Best Man, and groomsman.
My photo of Anela was shown in the OC Fair.
Here we are with the photo hanging in the gallery!
Christin’s photo of us was also shown!
I always knew that deep down I was a model.
My postcard collection was featured in the OC Fair as well. I entered it as a collection of foreign postcards. I’ve traded mail with 55 countries (up 3 in 2018) and 35 US states (up 8). Considering only postcards, I’ve traded with 50 countries (up 4) and 28 US states (up 8), having received from 41 countries (up 7) and 17 US states (up 5) and sent to 45 countries (up 2) and 25 US states (up 8).
I got rid of my mustache. Sometimes I miss it.
We got season passes to Universal and went a lot of times!
Sometimes I think about what could have been if I had purchased these sunglasses. The world would be blurry, but I’d look so fly.
Andy and Kaylin got married!
And more importantly, the bar served a variety of alcohol when it was supposed to be beer and wine only. Okay, the wedding itself was actually more important, but the drinks were still somewhat important.
The Imperial Sand Dunes made for a gorgeous (but hot) backdrop.
Christin, Anela, and gem were all beautiful models!
On the way home, we visited Salvation Mountain.
Tanaka Farms’ sunflower festival was fun and beautiful!
gem really loved the huge sunflowers!
Here’s Anela and me with Hello Kitty.
And here’s gem and me with Hello Kitty!
Anela and I visited the lavender festival, and she wore a Ukrainian outfit.
There were many photo shoots, although a lot of them aren’t ready to be posted yet. Here’s one of Angel Kawaii as Harley Quinn!
The Arts Alive and Street Painting Festival in Mission Viejo ended up being more fun than I expected, especially because there were over 50 fairy doors.
The Christmas treasure hunt was so fun. Look at the detail on the map Pete made!
2018 was the year of pop ups for me it seems. I visited Happy Place for the second time. Here I am with gem in the rubber ducky room! I still need to go through those photos…
gem and I went to San Francisco to visit the Museum of Ice Cream (and to visit our friends Matt and Katie).
The Sprinkle Pool was awesome!
gem took me to The Pizza Experience as a Christmas present. Photo ops and pizza?! Amazing!
This is how I work out now.
I had to see the Gudetama x Curry House collaboration with gem. Luckily the curry is delicious there!
And then there’s the Rilakkuma x Roasting Water collaboration too! I’ve been to two of their locations with gem for this collaboration, and I’ve visited the one near my house many times on my own.
And I can’t forget Aggretsuko’s DEN OF RAGE!!!
gem and I learned about ethics at The Good Place Experience.
gem took this photo of me as a luchador at Luzia. I really saw a ton of shows this year:
Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia under the Grand Chapiteau
The Book of Mormon at Segerstrom Center
Allegiance at the Aratani Theatre
The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park at the Rockwell: Table & Stage
David Sedaris speaking at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center
Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at New York-New York
Suburban Legends in Downtown Disney three times
Drag show at the Velvet Lounge
Goldfinger with The Suicide Machines, Buck-o-Nine, and Suburban Legends at the House of Blues, Anaheim
Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson Theatre
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at the Maverick Theater
Wicked at the Pantages
The Fury of the Aquabats 20th Anniversary show with The Aquabats featuring former Aquabats Catboy, Prince Adam, and Chainsaw and opener C.J. Ramone
Love Actually Live at The Wallis
…47 seasons of TV shows and 42 films (not counting repeated viewings)
What an action packed year! Can I cram as many cool things into 2019?
This Christmas my parents (I think mostly Pete) created a treasure hunt for the youngest generation – my brother, my two cousins, and me. It was super fun, and check out that awesome treasure map! I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
My Christmas card contained a note with the following message: A gift to divided not by millions or dozens, but rather between four Christmasey cousins… so, just work together and it will surely be a snap, all you need is a map and an app!
Below the message, as you can see, is a QR code. Scanning the QR code revealed the following: Consult the map and follow the lead, clues you will find to help with the deed. To discover the first step don’t scratch your head, just look for something big and…
When I texted it to gem, I got this reply:
Red! Go to the shed!
I told her that we were having Christmas Eve at my aunt’s and that the treasure was for Christmas day at my parents’. She said I should drive there right now, and then she said she was going to ride her bike there herself to find it, haha.
The next day, Christmas day, at my parents, we started our search and found this QR code on the side of the red barn in the backyard.
To find the next clue, don’t present a “Spaced Look”, to find what ye seek check the King’s _________________.
Now the last thing Pete posted to Facebook was a video of Rocky, their dog, walking in the front yard… right around the place on the treasure map labeled “Rocky the Fierce.” At first we looked around his computer thinking the clue had something to do with how he accesses Facebook, but then we went to the front yard to explore.
We found it – another QR code… and a compass!?
Now don’t get lazy, grumpy, strange and so forth, just proceed… 15 PACES DUE NORTH.
Using the compass, we aimed north and began walking.
Hidden in the flowerbed was this little container, and inside it was a note.
To decipher this clue fret no more, simply make your way through the castle door. The help you need couldn’t be any clearer. Just study this clue reflected in the…
Using the mirror in the entryway, we found our next clue.
This may be hard or it may be easy but don’t be vexed. Just use this number and ask in a… [phone number].
So I called the number, which was Pete’s. And then someone pointed out that I was clearly supposed to text.
In reply to my text, I received a QR code. James scanned it, and we got our next clue.
23 paces South, 19 paces West. Once you’ve arrived don’t be a silly goose. The clues reside under that which is…
Loose! It was under a loose part of the small wall at the edge of the property.
You’ve made it this far which is a formidable feat, for ancient kin of she what doesn’t eat meat. To uncover the next clue, go to that which is neither stoic nor slanted but rather in the spot that is truly _____________.
We made our way to back yard, where the map was labeled “enchanted forest,” and found this clue.
Ready your devices at this moment of crisis… to receive the next clue you must play the odds, sing out loud this song as a call to the gods… Practice it just once and please stay in tune. If it’s treasure you seek it may happy soon… “I’ll take my Christmas goat on a banana boat or Continental Trailways bus!”
This was a Christmas-altered version of a song we used to sing from… something? Or maybe it was an inside joke? I have no idea, but we belted out our song. And get this – with four people watching us, no one thought to film us singing loudly in the backyard on Christmas about a Christmas goat.
Haley received our next clue.
If continuing this quest is actually your desire, you may want to look beneath the Funeral Pyre… 16 paces 196 degrees SSW.
Using our trusty map, we found the funeral pyre. I tried to pick up the whole thing, somehow thinking it was all glued together. It was actually just stacked, and the clue was under one of the top pieces. Oops.
Go back to the Castle, where the King mainly does dwell. Your clues lies not with a Knight or with a fighter but in an old texting machine called a _____________________.
Off to Pete’s office to look in his typewriter!
You may think the map maker a goofy buffoon, but to find the next clue look deep into the _____________. Solving the riddle is but part of this diddle. Upon arrival, curiosity to quench, perhaps you’ll need help from a magical Food ___________.
The first blank was sending us to the pool. The second one was obviously a reference to a term James uses for Mom – food wench!
And the QR code gets us this:
Like the rest who have done a quest, or maybe more like a dog without a bone, you’ll probably wanna use: Speakerphone! [phone number]
We also got this note:
Take heed of nearby surroundings and don’t play the fool… to help with this one you may want a tool…
Now I can’t quite remember if we called Mom first or if James and Haley fished the next clue out of the pool first. We saw it earlier in the hunt but knew it wasn’t time for it yet! I know at some point we called Mom, and I know we got the clue from the pool. I think she guided us to look in the pool perhaps.
Mitch grabbed and it and looked inside.
Hint: Just pull out the clue & take it w/u!Strange clues, or items to weight down the clue?
Hoist your freak flag high on the mast! Treat this request just like the last… [phone number]
The number was Uncle Chuck’s, but I don’t think we called. I know we went over to him, so maybe we called and he told us to come to him.
His clue was like one from a wise sage, and it probably even rhymed. Unfortunately, it was lost to time. But I know where it sent us.
Inside the frog were some gloves and a QR code with the final clue! We actually found this clue earlier when we were searching the Enchanted Forest, but the good King let us know we weren’t supposed to find it yet 😀
There really is a treasure, this is no trap, so do the right thing and look on the map. Just remember this last clue is not to be forgotten, your treasure likes beneath that which is rotten…
The flies on the map led us the compost, in which Haley found something…
A Wi-Fi range extender box… with a QR code on the side?!
Open “tp-link.com” in Safari
Okay, okay. I’m kidding. That QR code wasn’t actually a clue.
The box contained our treasure! One hundred dollars for us to split between the four of us! What a fun adventure! 🙂
Let’s take a look at my Last.fm account for last year, which I enjoy doing at the start of each year. The Orion Experience took the top spot. They weren’t even in my top 10 artists of 2017. Suburban Legends and The Aquabats also broke into the top 10 after not being in it in 2017. Звери dropped from number 1 to number 3, but Hayley Kiyoko went from number 10 to number 4.
Here’s my full top 11 (since 10 and 11 were tied).
Cosmicandy by The Orion Experience takes the top album spot, which isn’t a surprise to me because I’ve been listening to The Queen of White Lies, Obsessed With You, and The Cult of Dionysus off that album a ton.
Here’s the top 10 albums.
These were the top 10 tracks of 2018 for me. Only one song isn’t in English, just like 2017.
Spotifywrapped.com gives some interesting highlights from Spotify:
I started 2018 by listening to Для тебя by Звери.
The first artist I discovered was Big Black Delta… and I have no idea who they are right now.
I listened to 10,675 minutes listening to Spotify.
I spent 7 hours listening to The Orion Experience, my top artist.
My top artists were The Orion Experience, Camila Cabello, Suburban Legends, Звери, and Let’s Get It. I wonder how Last.fm doesn’t have Camila Cabello higher? I listened to her a lot. Sometimes Last.fm tracks artists with different names. For example, if a song features another artists, it might be considers “Artist A featuring Artist B,” separate from both A and B.
Top songs were We Don’t Care, Carnivore, Hit Me Up, Into It, and The Queen of White Lies.
Top genres were pop, indie, rock, punk, and hip hop.
My top 100 playlist was generated and can be found here or below.
I listened to non-mainstream artists 80% more than the average Spotify listener.
My oldest song played was “Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.
I listened to more Pisces artists, which Spotifywrapped notes includes Camila Cabello and Kesha, than any other sign. Hm, and I’m a Pisces too.
Using Last.fm makes it easy for me to check what I listen to most, and every year I like to look back at the previous year. Звери took the number one slot, beating out Distemper by a single play. Sia was my number one in 2016, and she dropped to number three in 2017.
The only artist from 2016’s top ten that made it to this year’s is Taylor Swift, who jumped from number ten to number five.
I always find it interesting that some I listen to some songs a lot but not many other songs by that artist. A lot of songs in my top ten most played tracks are by artists that didn’t make the top ten.
I actually only went to one concert in 2017, which is kind of crazy. I finally got to see Regina Spektor, who absolutely amazing and so cute live. She might have forgot the words to a song once or twice, and I don’t mind a bit!
SDCC was last month, and despite not getting tickets in the first round, I did manage to get a ticket again this year! I debuted a new full cosplay and a new pseudo-cosplay, which was very fun.
Antonio, gem, and I drove down Wednesday after work and had Berkeley Pizza for dinner. It was a short night, because we didn’t get down there early.
Thursday was the first time I wore my Tamatoa (the crab from Moana) cosplay. It was way too hot for it, but I enjoyed wearing it.
We met up with Tram and her friend Christian, and we spent most of the day with them. Maybe they’re good luck, because we got into Hall H for the first time. For reference, usually people line up overnight to get into Hall H. We heard an announcement that Will Smith would be in Hall H, which I just found silly. So what? It’s too late now. Antonio pointed out that maybe they announced it because it wasn’t full. He was exactly right. We walked right into the Netflix panel about Bright and Death Note. Will Smith was on the first half of the panel for Bright, and the whole thing was moderated by Terry Crews. It was pretty cool to be in there with them!
After Hall H, it was time for the Lick King’s Ice Cream Citadel! We got some tasty ice cream and posed with the Lich King! By then I was tired of my Tamatoa costume, so I changed into normal clothes because it was so hot. We had Greek fusion for dinner at Meze, at which we ate the last two years as well.
On Friday I wore my Magikarp Jump cosplay. It wasn’t 100% authentic at all, but it was fun. gem had the idea to use Boomerang for the video. Nice suggestion! We met up with our friends Krista, Kaitlyn, and David. I always run into Krista and Kaitlyn at the coolest places!
This was a day mostly for panels. I saw Robin Hobb: Beyond the Page first followed by Dare to Be Dynamite: Creative Vision with Pierce Brown, an author that gem loves. In the evening we watched a Mega64 panel and the Super Geeked Up Improv show, which was fun, although I wish there was more improv.
My favorite panel was Superstars in Children’s Fiction with Greg Grunberg, Lucas Turnbloom, R. L. Stine, Jarrett J. Krosocka, Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, and Molly Ostertag. We went because we thought it would be fun to see R. L. Stine, but we had no idea that Greg Grunberg, Parkman from Heroes and Wexley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would be there and is now a children’s fiction author. He was super nice! We chatted with him after the panel, and when I asked to take a photo of him and gem, his son (I think) offered to take one of the three of us.
My favorite part of the panel was when Greg asked R. L. Stine about the future of Goosebumps TV shows or films. R. L. Stine said he couldn’t comment. Greg told him that he’d trade him information about the next Star Wars movies. Too awesome.
gem wore her Woody costume, which was modified since last year. Previously she tried to keep it authenticate. This year it was more interpretive with a dress. I think she rocked it!
On Saturday, Antonio and I snuck in as professionals to skip the line. Yay. gem took some cool photos of me by the water in my Tamatoa costume.
I had to fight Maui of course. Why wasn’t he transforming? “Well, well, well. Little Maui’s having trouble with his look…”
There were a lot of great Moana cosplayers! Thanks to gem for taking so many wonderful photographs 🙂 There are more on my cosplay page.
We went to another tokidoki signing as always where Simone signed my tokidoki x Overwatch notebook. We also chatted with Jaycee, who worked for tokidoki. She remembered us from previous years, and we followed each other on Instagram.
Let’s not talk about waiting in line over an hour for a Star Trek panel but not getting inside. At least I got to chat with some cool people in line!
Kaleigh joined us that night, although we split up for a bit. gem and I hung out while Antonio met with her at the train station. We all met up briefly, but then that evening gem, Antonio, and I went to see the best brothers around, the McElroys! We watched My Brother, My Brother, and Me live in San Diego! It was really fun to see them in person. Too bad we didn’t get to talk to them. I had a question ready to ask, but there weren’t microphones on the balcony where we were sitting unfortunately.
On Sunday I wore a tried-and-true cosplay, Fix-it Felix Jr.! During a panel, I ran into Erin, a Vanelope von Schweetz cosplayer! We took some photos together after the panel. Her car was super amazing!
After chatting with her, we went to a Disneybound panel with Leslie Kay, Kit Leitmeyer, Loni Clark, Neil A. Williams II, and Sara Katz-Scher. It was pretty interesting to hear about how they come up with their outfits.
I ended the convention at the Disney group shoot! It was organized by Robert T Photography, who also took the photo above. You can see more of his photos from the event here on Facebook.
One videographer took video of us for the end of his cosplay music video. I’m in it briefly at the end as I dance around 4:51, but I’m right in front so you can see me clearly, haha!
Look how amazing this little Dopey cosplayer was! He seemed to have a great time with the other Disney cosplayers.
Antonio took this photo of me and gem in her Steven Universe cosplay! I think she did a great job with this. A lot of Steven Universe cosplayers carry a ukulele just as a prop, but this cosplayer can actually play it! Yeah!
There are plenty more photos of my Fix-it Felix Jr. cosplay here.
On our way out of San Diego, we stopped at Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate for Russian dinner. This is the khachapuri, which was filled with delicious cheese. Oh my god, I definitely need to eat this again. I also had chanakhi (lamb stew) as my entree.
And for dessert, I had sweet vatrushka with sour cherry and farmer’s cheese. Yum!
Sweden was the last country on my vacation, and I was only there for a single night. It was weird knowing that it was ending!
Everything seemed designed so beautifully in Stockholm. Check out this gorgeous bench!
We took a train from the airport to our hotel, but our first actual stop was to get McDonald’s. Anela might not have been with us, but we kept her tradition alive!
We stayed in the Långholmen Hotell, a former prison that’s now a hotel.
Out front, you can see what was once a guard tower!
Looks welcoming, doesn’t it?
Despite once being a prison, the rooms were cute and quite comfortable.
After checking in, we decided to walk to the downtown area. It was a fairly long walk, and it was freezing – a big change from Roma. It started raining too. You can see us on our walk at the top of this post. There were lots of cool boats to see as we walked, like Thor here.
There were nice views of the city as well. Stockholm was a beautiful city.
Despite the weather, gem looked very happy to be exploring Sweden!
I’m pretty sure this was a church, but I guess I can’t remember for sure. This was one of the first interesting sights once we reached the busier area.
I know your mother told you dessert would spoil your appetite, but we went ahead and got ice cream at Stikki Nikki before dinner. The owners were there and were super nice too.
We had dinner at a tapas restaurant called Café Tabac after we searched for traditional Swedish food and failed. Luckily everything was delicious here. We had a few drinks in honor of Yeffe, a super drunk Swedish man gem and I met back in 2007 in Vegas. (I might be misspelling his name.) We used to joke about how Yeffe loves to drink. “What do you think Yeffe’s doing right now? I bet he’s partying and having a drink.” Was he downing shots while we had dinner? It was ten years later. Maybe he was sipping a cocktail – an older, more respectable Yeffe.
These places are crazy. Does it even get dark in Stockholm?
We took some photos in front of Riksdagshuset, the Swedish parliament house, as we walked back to our hotel.
What a terrific view! Again, I’d like to point out that it’s midnight in this photo.
Here’s another shot of gem like the one from the previous evening. It was such a nice window 🙂
I tried to leave in the morning, but Antonio tried to keep me in prison!
All three of us sat separately on the plane back to LAX, which was disappointing. I watched Pan and Anastasia, both entertaining movies, and got some sleep too.
Getting back into the States was much more of a hassle than getting into Europe. Security took forever. Here’s gem with her security photo. The security photographs don’t seem too flattering!
gem’s dad picked us up from the airport with my car that I left with him. At his house, he shared with us a delicious lunch! He’s a great chef!
After three of the best weeks of my life and eight countries (10 if you include the Vatican or count UK member countries individually), we were back in the United States. I missed traveling immediately, but it was nice to relax.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably know me well enough to know I like tracking data and keeping spreadsheets. I walked 447 thousand steps while in Europe – close to 184 miles. That’s an average of 20k steps and 8.4 miles per day. Dang!
It’s a good we did that much walking too, because I’ll leave off with this photo. These are all the pizza we ate in Europe. Now of course I didn’t eat it all alone, but we certainly did a lot of eating! That walking balanced things nicely, because I had actually lost weight on the trip.
I enjoyed all the countries I visited. I know I didn’t stay a long time in any one country, but it gave me the chance to get a feel for many different places. More than any particular sight, I just enjoyed learning what each country was like. I can’t wait for the next time I get to travel internationally!
Thank you to gem for deciding to go to Europe and getting the ball rolling, my other wonderful travel companions, Anela and Antonio, and my European friends, Jessica and Andrew. You all made the trip what it was. Jessica, Andrew, gem, Anela, Antonio – you’re wonderful people. The trip would have been nothing without you. I’m so glad I got to spend that time with you. And need some help to your travel financing check this out online Payday Loan.