Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chillin' On Mini Schmid Island

Entry coming soon about my packed weekend in San Francisco.

At the moment, I'm on stage at NBC, soundchecking for Leno. We tape at 4pm.

The stage is very small (it looks much bigger on TV), so they do have a drum riser for Stacy, but instead of being six feet tall, it's about two. and I do have a Schmid Island, but it's a cute little miniaturized version.

We're playing "Ready, Set, Don't Go" with Miley and Billy Ray. They are actually the main interview guests as well. Should be fun!

As I blog this from my phone, Stacy is checking drum sounds and the rest of us are standing around.

At 1 we have an on-camera rehearsal. Then it's off to hair and makeup (except not so much for me).

See you tonight. Wave at your TV's again!

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Predictions

The Oscars are my favorite awards ceremony. The Grammys have very little to do with actual art, and the Golden Globes are basically a popularity contest. So I get very excited when this time of year comes around.

Here are my predictions (for just the four major categories). Let's see how close I get.

Best Actor
Daniel Day Lewis - There Will Be Blood

Best Actress
Ellen Page - Juno

Best Director
The Coen Brothers - No Country for Old Men

Best Picture
No Country for Old Men

Of course, I would be pleasantly surprised if Juno just won everything. I can dream, can't I?

Unfortunately, I won't be able to see the Oscars for a few days. I've Tivo'd them and I'll see them when I get home. Have fun all y'all at your various parties tonight!

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jumping Through a Series of Fiery Hoops

Okay, here's what happened.

Wednesday

I lugged my (surprisingly heavy) MacPro into the Genius Bar. The Genius (in name only) looked through the error logs on my computer. He pointed out to me several lines that referred to the processor, and said, "Wow, see? It looks like your processors are the problem." He continued to scroll through lines and lines of errors.

Minutes later he showed this to another (much more knowledgable genius) who said, "Those aren't errors. Those just show that the processors are enabled."

Genius #1 said, "oh." And I started to see what I was in for.

They tested, poked and prodded my ailing machine until Genius #1 said, "Well, here's the thing. It looks like there are problems with the hardware", (absolute duh), "but we can't really figure out what those are."

I asked, "Can you just replace the whole machine then?" To which he replied, "No. Your machine is custom," (just because I added an AirPort, which is a very common part that comes in all their laptops, just not usually in the desktops), "so you'll have to take it home and mail it to AppleCare."

So I dragged the stupid heavy thing back out to the parking garage and called AppleCare from the car. After about 15 minutes on hold, I spoke with a kind man who thought it was so sad that I got such a troubled Mac. However, he couldn't help me. He had to transfer me to his supervisor. After another 35 minutes on hold, Mr. Supervisor Adam picked up.

He was not as nice. In fact, he was downright passive-aggressive, and actually seemed angry I was even inferring there was a problem with a Mac computer. Instead of trying to help me diagnose or fix the computer, he was extremely defensive throughout, and kept trying to convince me it was a "software error." I said, "so you're saying that every single program I run on this computer, all of which are made by Apple, are just randomly having errors? You're not willing to consider that it might be caused by an underlying hardware issue?" He gave me a diagnostic test to perform, and told me to email him the results in the morning. He was tired and was going home. So I did that.

Thursday

He woke me with a call me at 8am. The results? Guess what -- it was a hardware issue. After reviewing my email, he declared the machine an "out-of-the-box failure." I love this term. The car was doomed before it ever left the garage. All of a sudden, Adam was very apologetic. He knew I was leaving town for San Francisco on Friday. So he said they were going to email me shipping labels, and he guaranteed I'd get them in a few hours so I cold send that sick puppy out.

Well, after waiting all day, those shipping labels never arrived. Around 3pm, I decided to raise hell. I called Apple and spoke to an employee, who said that the labels need 24 hours to process. I said that Adam promised them to me today, and that I was headed out of town. So I had her transfer me to her manager, who told me the same and passed me off to another department. I spoke to an employee there, then his manager. This went on. Seven transfers and an hour and a half later, I was told flatly and definitively, "you will not get your shipping labels today. Adam must not be informed as to our policies here. It is an automated system and it takes 24 hours to process these labels."

So I went off, saying things about how I would never buy an Apple product again, how this is a terrible way to run a business, etc. It wasn't pretty and it didn't really get anything done. Or did it?

The phone call ended. I wanted to throw my new Treo at the wall and see it smash into pretty pieces (Don't kill the messenger!).

Minutes later, I received an email with shipping labels.

I set up a home pickup with FedEx for the next morning (because I wasted the afternoon on that marathon phone call). They had a box to check for time of pickup, so I specified that they had to get here by 10:30am at the latest. We were leaving for San Francisco at 11:30, and I figured this was enough time in case they were late.

Friday

We were packing gear like madfolks. Once everything was ready, I checked my watch. FedEx never showed. 10:30 at the latest, and it was almost noon. Nothing.

I called my sweet parents, who live a few streets over, and asked them to take the computer to a drop off location, since we had to get out of town now if we were going to be on time for the Jonathan Coulton show. Lovely people that they are, they agreed.

We hit the road. Around 1:30pm, when we were in the middle of the desert on the 5 freeway, I received a phone call. It was the FedEx guy asking, "where are you? I'm here to pick up a package."

Are there competent employees? Or is that an oxymoron?

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Waiting for a Mac Miracle

The Apple situation has not been resolved yet. My blood is boiling. But I can't go into it right now. I have to get to bed. We're off to San Francisco tomorrow.

More to come.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Apple Apprehension

Well, I'm in the parking lot outside the Apple Store, ready to lug my big dumb new computer in to get looked at. This thing's got so many problems that I hope they just replace it.

Cross your fingers, say a prayer and wrinkle your foreheads. Here we go!

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One Of Those Prawn Salad Waiting Room Days

Today was a glitch day. First, my brand new MacPro erased my iPod and has been locking up every time it tries to sync it. So my 7,000+ songs on the iPod are gone.

Then, said brand new MacPro locked up in every conceivable way in every conceivable program. This is after I've already reinstalled my OS and reinstalled all the programs. This takes hours. And I've had this computer less than a week. You know what they say about how "Macs Just Work?" Not so much.

I have an appointment tomorrow with an Apple Genius. (Could they be any more full of themselves!?)

Then, I had Ben over again (he's leaving town soon and I'm trying to see him as much as possible) to watch a movie. After five minutes, the disc started skipping. It was a rental, and sometimes they're a little dirty or scratched. I pulled it out to clean it. It was literally THE dirtiest disc I've ever seen. Something was smeared all over it. I couldn't get it off.

So we abandoned the movie and started playing Bioshock. I wanted to show the game to Ben. After about a half hour we ran into a gamebreaking glitch. I have never found a bug in this game. Ever. Until today. Prawn Salad Waiting Room Day.

Ben showed me this video, which completely describes how I'm feeling.



Now I need to just go to bed and not touch anything. I'm a little afraid my bed might fall through the floor or something...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Love Hurts

This was sent to me by my friend Sarah. Hilarious...and true. Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Highlight of Your Week Is Coming Up!

Do you live in or near San Francisco? Well, lucky you! I'll be playing Paul Schreiber's house concert in San Francisco on Feb 23rd. Who's Paul Schreiber? Well, other being a programmer for Apple (which is pretty cool on its own), he happens to host the coolest house concert in San Francisco. He's previously had amazing artists like Adrianne, The Weepies and yes, even the fabulous Samantha Murphy.

Your mind will be blown. You'll eat tasty food. You'll hear old songs, new songs, maybe even crazy Willie Nelson cover songs performed blindfolded and drunk. But probably not the last one. If you'd like to attend, please RSVP at http://concerts.shrub.ca/

I hope to see you there.

Oh, and if you don't live in San Francisco...well, lucky you! I'll be playing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on February 27th. Some chick named Miley Cyrus. Never heard of 'er. Hope she's good.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Mediation That Wasn't

It didn't go well. Google Maps fed me bad directions, sending me off in the wrong direction through downtown L.A. in terrible traffic. I allowed plenty of time to get to the courthouse, as this appointment was very important to me (for obvious reasons). However, by the time I noticed I was going the wrong way, and turned around and slogged through traffic all the way back, I was 20 minutes late.

I ran at top speed into the courthouse building and up to the custody center, only to be greeted by a friendly but firm woman who told me that the mediator "was released by the court five minutes ago." I asked if there was any way we could contact her (she couldn't be too far away at that point, could she?). She said that there was no way. No options. That they were booked up till May.

She said our only option was to wait till the day of our court hearing, and come back together (Nicole and I) as a walk-in.

This is forty-five times more stressful.

I was notified later by my attorney that Nicole was indeed present on the phone (from Washington). I feel so bad that I wasted her time.

She has started updating me on Noah's progress, sending me pictures and describing his latest adventures -- which I greatly appreciate. He's able to sit up on his own, and he's walking now!

I leave you with these:

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Pretending It's July

It's 2:15am. Other than lunch with my friend Jan, I've spent the entire day working. Yes, I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day this year by flat-out ignoring it.

I've finished upgrading my studio to be fully Mac, and now I'm learning Final Cut and Logic and the other eight or so programs in their respective suites. That's a lot of learning, which equates to a lot of hours staring at a screen.

My parents were sweet and dropped by with a salad, some fruit and a little heart full of chocolates. So I took a five minute break and ate. Treating myself.

But this is probably for the best. I have my custody mediation downtown tomorrow, with Nicole joining us on the phone. It's stressful, and depressing, and absolutely ironic in its scheduling.

So I'll just keep working and try not to think about that.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Octopi

Putting this show together is a bit like being an octupus. There are tons of different segments: interviews, live performances, host interludes, behind-the-scenes pieces -- and we're working on them all simultaneously. So we'll shoot a segment, and then edit one that we shot a week ago, and then put the finishing touches on another, and then capture footage for yet another.

I'm someone who thinks very linearly. I like to take a project from start to finish, and focus solely on that one project. So this drives me crazy. I have to constantly re-focus my energy on a new subject, and just when I'm "in the zone," it's time to move on to another segment. Unfortunately, this is the only way to ensure that we'll have everything finished by the time SXSW rolls around.

Today, I edited footage of the incredible Elvis Perkins, finished the Inara George piece, mixed theme music, and captured footage of our host segments.

Oh also, I got my chest xray. I should get my results tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Re-assimilating

It's been really hard to settle back into a routine since I've been home. I was all excited to be in one place, waking up in the same bed, that I just sort of assumed I'd be able to get back on a schedule. But I've been working a lot, and not sleeping much.

I did feel a little better today, because Samantha forced me to drink a nasty warm maple syrup tea with lots of spicy cayenne pepper and lemon. Disgusting, but just as she said, it picked me right up and took away my congestion. Good thing, too, cause we had a lot to get done today.

We spent the day shooting some host segments for the TV show. We'll be going live with our very first episode at South By Southwest next month, so we've got a limited time to create and edit the pre-taped segments.

I have a nice yard in the back of my house that doubles as a park, an alley, a zen garden, an orchard and a patio. It will be heavily featured.

Tonight, I spent several hours editing interview footage we shot last August of Inara George (The Bird and the Bee) and Mike Andrews (Donnie Darko), at the Bessie Smith tribute. Good stuff, and you'll see it soon.

But right now, I'm exhausted. I need to rest up for my bright and early appointment with the doctor.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How Many Of You Have Seen the Movie?

The results are in. After 687 votes:

I've already seen it!
349 (50%)
I'm definitely going.
138 (20%)
I can't get tickets. Boo.
76 (11%)
I'll catch it on video...at some point
99 (14%)
Umm...no. I'm NOT into tween music.
25 (3%)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Geeks Speak

We're working away like elves on The Samantha Murphy Show. I'm so excited for you all to see what we're doing.

One of the segments, "Geeks Speak," features Samantha and I answering questions about all things tech, including websites, computers, gadgets, software, the junction of music and technology, etc. This is where you come in.

Got any questions? Any comparisons you'd like to see? Anything you'd like to ask a couple of huge geeks?

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Fair To Middling, IMO

The show at Genghis went well enough. A bunch of folks from the tour showed up, including Jaco, Candice and Gabi. We had a great time, and my voice held up fairly well, despite the fact that I was totally stuffed up and feeling pretty icky.

However...I just spoke with my cousin, who is a doctor. He says he thinks from my symptoms that I might have walking pneumonia. This is not as surprising as I wish it was, as Kay has this, and Jason from Mileyworld had to leave the tour because of walking pneumonia.

I'm going to see a doctor this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ben and the Three Day Birthday

I realize I've been a little lax about blogging lately. But I have an excuse. My good buddy Ben Pedersen's birthday was this week. And I'm a firm believer in celebrating birthdays at length.

Day Before the Birthday

Ben and I were hanging out, watching a terrible old horror movie called "Popcorn," which I highly recommend to lovers of bad movies. The movie ended and it was 11pm. We were thinking of what to do next? Should we play a video game? Watch another movie?

It occurred to Ben that he only had one more hour in his twenties. So I asked him, "what's something crazy you've never done before?"

All he could think of was "streaking." "But," he said, "nobody would even care if I did that in L.A."

So I asked him, "is there a place you've always wanted to go, but never gone?"

He thought for awhile, and said, "The Bonaventure Hotel downtown has a revolving restaurant with a view of the whole city."

So we hopped in the car and drove downtown, hoping to get a drink in his hand by midnight.

The Starbucks in the lobby was pretty packed for late at night.

We took the elevator up to the 53rd floor.

Ben got a drink just in time, and we celebrated the 30 year milestone in style, spinning around L.A. At this point, I was actually pretty sick, and was feeling a little spacy and weightless, so the fact that we were spinning (albeit at a slow speed) made me feel much more drunk than Ben.

Day of the Birthday


Ben invited several of his closest friends to the Gaucho Grill in Brentwood. It was wonderful to catch up with people he and I both haven't seen in ages.

He introduced me to Moe and Starla, with whom he's currently working on the film "Deadland Dreaming." He knew that Moe was Mr. Hollywood Film and that I am Mr. Indie Film. He knew that worlds would collide. He knew that we're both opinionated people.

But he didn't know what he was getting into.

Ben was hoping we would just talk about Oscar politics. Instead, we got into a big discussion about "I Am Legend," "Crash," and "Gladiator," all movies I don't really like, but Moe loves. Granted, no punches were thrown, and it wasn't really even heated, but Ben was really hoping we would talk about anything other than "Crash" (sensitive subject). Hey, I didn't bring it up.

After the meal, we had a last late night round of drinks at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey.

L. to R. - Josh Lai, Ryan Linehan, Ben, me, Jan Stolpe, Andrea Stolpe


Day After the Birthday

I had set up a big surprise evening for Ben. All I told him was that he had to bring a photo ID, he couldn't wear flip flops, a hat, or light colors, and that it was a very exclusive invitation-only event.

He was very curious.

We drove downtown, and he was narrowing things down. "It's probably not a movie if it's downtown...", etc. We got into a line outside of a cathedral. I told the people in front of and behind us in the line not to say anything about what we were seeing.

Then we waited out in the cold for nearly an hour. That part...not so great.

We got into the cathedral, and Ben could see cameras on big cranes, and of course, the big Grey-Goose-Vodka-sponsored bar. I told him, "We might end up on film." Now he was really confused.

I bumped into my friend Bobby, AKA incredible singer/songwriter Big Phony. Small world. I also saw G4 host and writer for Film Threat, Chris Gore.

After another hour of waiting in the bar, they herded us into the main hall of the cathedral, which was all lit up with orange and green lights, with a marquee over the top that said "Artists' Den."

Ben was still in the dark. And I was amazed that no one had ruined the surprise yet.

And out came Aimee Mann. Ben was thrilled. She performed about five or six songs from her upcoming album, "Smilers," which is due out in April. Great stuff. And she also played "You're With Stupid Now," "Amateur," "Goodbye Caroline," "Save Me," "Wise Up," and "Today's The Day."

She had a little bit of a cold, and had to stop in the middle of a song a couple times. This made me feel a little better. If Aimee could do it, than I wouldn't feel so bad at my show if I had to stop.

It was a brilliant night, and Ben was completely surprised. They were filming it for the new Artists' Den show on the Ovation network, which debuted that same night with a Crowded House episode. The Aimee Mann episode will premiere March 23rd. Look for us in the audience.

Oh also, "Smilers" is gonna be great.

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When Life Gives You Lemons...Don't Drink The Water!!!

Oh boy. First hotel glasses, now this.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Will There Be Liftoff?

Tomorrow night is my Genghis Cohen gig. But so far, I have no voice. My doctor put me on antibiotics, and I definitely feel like I'm getting better. No voice yet, though.

Will I be able to sing tomorrow? I've got a bunch of people coming, and I don't want to disappoint them. This is stressful.

I guess I'll chug tea all day and night.

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The Grand Finale

video

The end.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Vashon Scares The World

During soundcheck in New Orleans, Vashon shows a little creepy Mardi Gras spirit:

video

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Falling Down

Well, as you all know, I got sick again near the end of the tour. In continuing the perfect symmetry with the beginning of the tour, this sick has blown into a full-fledged sinus infection, just like it did before.

I've been getting increasingly sick this week, and it all came to a head last night when I woke around 3am and had to go the bathroom, and I blacked out. But it happened very slowly so I was able to put myself on the floor before I fell on the floor. No Kay Hanley incident here.

Anyway, after completely losing my voice, I was getting nervous that I wasn't going to be able to sing at my show this Friday, so I called my doctor and got some antibiotics prescribed. Hopefully, we'll get this thing knocked out in the next two days. I already feel quite a bit better.

The moral of the story: sometimes, drugs are awesome.

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Workin' Up the Crowdy

During the show, Hannah, Candice and Kay work the crowd into a frenzy. Well technically, they were already in a frenzy, but it's fun to help it along a bit.

video

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pumpin' Up the Party

Here's some video I took during the show, while playing with one hand.

video

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Monday, February 4, 2008

WOOHOOOOOO!

Our little 3D movie grossed approximately $29 million over the weekend, in only 683 theatres! This is insane. We were the #1 movie in America. It is already reported to be the highest-grossing 3D film ever released!

Disney is now rolling the movie out into even more theatres.

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Non sequiters

More video on the way. I've been having lots of fun going through the pics and videos I took on the tour, and it's nice to know that you guys are enjoying them too.

In completely unrelated news, I was stunned to hear that a big-screen version of the cancelled TV show, "Arrested Development," is currently in the works. I could cry. Story here.

Tonight, I went to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater here in Hollywood with Ben and Samantha. The hilarious Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) does stand-up there every Sunday for $1! It doesn't get any better than that. Jeff and friends Nicole Parker and Mark Marin workshopped new material and we laughed our little lungs out.

It's so good to be home. I feel so calm and rested and on my way to finally shaking this weird flu/cold/bronchitis thing.

Lest I forget their creepy omnipresence in my neighborhood, a coyote slunk down the sidewalk as I got home tonight. It glared at me. Like a warning. Oh yeah, I forgot. They own this place.

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The Walk

After the Circle of Power, we made the walk to the stage. Here is a first-person-view of what we experienced every day before the show. (I apologize for how dark the video is, but it was dark back there!)

video

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Circle of Power

Every day before the show, we joined up for the Circle of Power. It might sound a bit creepy or culty, but really it was just the cast holding hands in a circle, doing the wave. The point was to energize us.

Here we are assembling for the Circle on the last day:

video

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Miley's Last Day Song

Yes, it was no secret that Miley was excited about the tour ending. Here's a little song she made up for the occasion (on the way to soundcheck):

video

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Photo Op

Revisiting the last day of the tour now.

It was hard to get to our soundcheck, as everybody wanted pictures.

video

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Just A Sec...

Wow. It's strange. The tour already feels like a weird dream I had. It did happen, didn't it?

It's nice to be home. I'll be taking a day off from blogging. But then I'll be back with all the remaining photos and videos from our tour. See you back here on Sunday!

While you're waiting, how about filling out the movie poll on the right?

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Bye Bye Neon

I'm calling it right now: Miami -- Worst Airport Ever. We got here two hours before check-in, but a cruise just let out and all the lines were really long. After waiting in three different lines and being misdirected by the completely unpleasant staff, I got the "random security check." It's not random. I look a little Arabic, and I get it nearly every time. Ah, racial profiling. How 1965.

Also, why is everyone in this airport so pushy? Kay and I both nearly got knocked down or mowed over several times.

Though we arrived two hours early, we still almost missed our flight.

And now, as always, I'm seated on the plane, right in front of the loudest children in the world.

Praying for sleep.

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Homesick for the Bus

Here I am again, awake at four in the morning. Mostly because I'm so stuffed up I can't breathe. Makes me long for yesterday (literally), when the buses were parked outside and I could just walk out and sleep in my bunk. I know it seems odd to leave a comfy hotel bed for a hard bunk, but something about the hum of the generator was strangely comforting. I did this only two or three times in the duration of the tour.

But the buses left for Nashville after the show tonight. Now I've only got four hours till I have to be awake again. Not pro.

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12:49 am

The karaoke ended quickly when the DJ had to go home. But not before Kay jauntily sang "This Thing Called Love," and Candice expertly belted "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." The DJ took one look at Kay and referred to her from then on as Hannah Montana. Little did she know how close she was.

We had a nice last supper. Our flights leave early in the morning. We're all flying back to LA together, except for Vashon, who will be flying to New York to join the band for The Lion King on Broadway.

But we'll all see each other in a month for the rodeo in Houston.

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