The Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Mellon Arena (Review)


You may have read my earlier posts about the seats for Star Wars: In Concert, and how complaining about them eventually translated into two free seats for yesterday afternoon’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra show.

Our seats were in the EI-2 section, row L.  We were ridiculously close to the stage and not so far up & to the side that we couldn’t appreciate the view.  I need to write to Mr. Scalzott again for providing the free tickets and hospitality of the arena.

I’ve got to say, this was an excellent show… and I’d love to go back if I can afford to next time they’re in town.  The TSO really knows how to put on an event.  The Star Wars: In Concert crew could learn a lesson from them in lighting, lasers, fog machines,  floating remote stages, hydraulics, and pyrotechnics.  Actually, they could learn a few lessons.  I can imagine a hybrid of the two that would be absolutely ridiculous.  Maybe I need to write to the TSO, John Williams, and George Lucas.  Ha ha ha.

A few things surprised me about the show…  I had no idea that there were vocals & power-ballady type songs, and that there  was a cohesive story for the most part.  I feel like it kept it entertaining for all types of people.  The narrator & vocalists were awesome.  Sadly my prior knowledge of the TSO consisted of an mp3 with an incorrect ID3 tag, mislabeling “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” for “Carol of the Bells” (which it arguably is… along with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”).

I had no idea that Alex Skolnick or the other guys from Savatage were associated with this.  Skolnick wrote articles for just about every guitar magazine that I ever picked up back when I was learning to play & read tab.  They made the show like a metal concert at times… I thought one guy in the front was going to have a heart attack and die when he threw metal with both hands as Alex was molesting the fretboard in front of him.  When the show reached it’s second half, they introduced some stuff from the new album, Night Castle.  I swear they snuck some Sabbath & Metallica riffs in there.  There was even an old-school 80’s-rock drum solo… and I think I loved the fact that old ladies were watching the solo in abject horror as much as I liked the spectacle itself.  They also had a girl playing the electric violin… I saw it more than I heard it… but it was visually pretty cool element, like the spinning keyboard.

I didn’t know that it had heavy religious overtones.  I mean, I knew it was a holiday concert… and I’m certainly not opposed to religious ideals.  I just didn’t know, and found it surprising… especially with tightly clothed women dancing like strippers in front of fire.  I think it’s cool that they can integrate the stuff, maybe some overzealous idiot out there got the message to loosen up a bit.  While they played a medley that included the melody of “Canon in D”, the girls were dancing scantily-clad on the stage… and I asked my wife Bethany if we had to call t “Canon in Double-D”.

Like I mentioned before, it being entertaining to everybody…  I mean everybody.  There were all kinds of people there… classes, ages, stereotypes, whatever group  you want to name, they were there (except maybe race… it was all crackers up in there).  I did see an extraordinarily high amount of mullets though.  I’m talking prize-winning specimens like the comb-over on top/hair down to my ass & the trimmed up top/pony tail in the back.

I can’t say anything negative about the show itself, the seats, or the arena… except (you knew it was coming) that I found the parking rate to be amusing.  By looking on the Arena website, it listed parking in the lot where we parked as $7, but it does note “Event parking rates differ for each Mellon Arena event. Check your event’s information page on this website for specific parking rates”.  The funny part is that it said nothing about parking on the event page other than the fact that no pre-sold parking would be available.  Parking was $15… more than double the normal rate, which is fine, but there was no prior indication.  I paid in mostly $1’s and even some quarters.

I hope the TSO and the Mellon Arena don’t mind if I share some crappy quality cell phone photos…












Think of the Kmart employees this holiday shopping season


Heh.  In yesterday’s pre-W(aL)D Wendy’s repost, it linked to a thread on PittsburghBeat.com which in turn linked to another old thread about Kmart which eventually came to a nice conclusion.  These weren’t listed in my older pre-W(aL)D post… so I thought I’d share them individually.

I filled out the survey noted on their receipts, at www.kmartfeedback.com. Apparently someone actually reads ’em!

Quote:
From: “SM3616, Store Manager” sm3616@searshc.com
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 6:12:41 AM
Subject: InquiryEric,I am the store manager of the below mentioned Kmart store. I would like to have an opportunity to speak with you directly. I do take pride in the store and would appreciate any and all feedback you can provide me to make your next shopping experience a pleasant one. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.JODIE M. STROTHER
Store Manager #3616
Greentree, PA 15220
(412)922-3803 store
(412)922-9268 fax
________________________________Store Number: 3616

Customer Name: Eric XXXXXXX

Customer Phone: contact by email

Customer Phone (alternate): n/a

Customer Email Address: XXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com

Department: Customer Service Desk

Category Code: Customer Service Experience

Reason Code: General Frontend Service Issue

Situation:
SC# 0361611250800352385

The electronics department looks like someone knocked everything off the shelves, then had a dog put it all back. Pretty difficult without opposable thumbs, eh? Yes. Yes indeed. And, the dog didn’t know the alphabet in order to arrange CD’s & DVD’s either.

The cashier did not say one word to me. ONE WORD. After waiting through the ridiculous line (no other registers were open, as I was being checked out another employee lazily sauntered over to her register), the woman rang me up did not say “hello”, “hi”, “good evening”, “credit or debt”, or even “Go #*%$ yourself!”. After all my items had gone through, and I paid. I even said “Thanks” and smiled… and got absolutely no indication that I had even been heard. My wife looked at me like we were in the Twilight Zone.

Holy cow, this is ridiculous. Sadly, it’s indicative of what happens pretty much every time I go to that store. There are some other great area Kmarts, like the one in Robinson, and even the one in Bridgeville… but this one is closest to my house… What the heck is wrong with everyone who works there? Don’t they take any sort of pride in the store? Don’t the managers see what’s going on, how the store looks, how the employees behave… and why don’t they care???

I just can’t even fathom being a cashier, and not greeting people… or even acknowledging their presence. And, I can’t fathom a shift, store, or regional manager that would a. hire someone like that (let alone dozens like that); and b. let that kind of behavior slide.

***I was unable to call the customer no phone number, I did sent notification.**

So, I wrote these…

I wrote:
From: Eric _______ XXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com
To: “SM3616, Store Manager” sm3616@searshc.com
Sent: Monday, December 1, 2008 9:10:52 AM
Subject: Re: InquiryHello Jodie,Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I’m not sure if there’s anything further to discuss. I pretty much expressed my issues below.I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to run a store… but it seems that your Kmart is slipping in comparison to stores like the aforementioned Robinson & Bridgeville locations.

Back when we were just dating, my wife used to work at the Kmart on Route 8 just outside of Shaler (not sure of the actual neighborhood there), and the managers were on them all the time to have multiple registers open, to have the shelves stocked neatly & orderly, and they always had a lot of registers open at the front.

I just see a general lack of “give a damn” in Parkway Center. Hopefully the trend is reversing though, as this e-mail has shown me that you do indeed care about your store.

Thank you for your time,
-Eric

I wrote:
From: Eric _______ XXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com
To: Customer Service Kmart.com help@customerservice.kmart.com
Sent: Monday, December 1, 2008 10:07:05 AM
Subject: Re: Store Manager SM3616 / JODIE M. STROTHERHello,I’d like to just pass on the e-mail below, & show my appreciation for this store manager taking the time to contact me regarding my comments made via kmartfeedback.com as noted on my store receipt. Can someone let her superiors know that her time and effort did not go unnoticed?Hopefully she can pass the message of store pride on to the employees.

Thank you,
-Eric

Hmm, I got a response…

JODIE M. STROTHER wrote:
From: “SM3616, Store Manager” sm3616@searshc.com
To: Eric _______ XXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com
Sent: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:05:00 AM
Subject: RE: InquiryEric,Stressful is a word that doesn’t even describe what retail is nowadays. However, I do take pride in the store and at times it does get out of control. I appreciate feedback any way it comes. We strive to do our best with the personnel in the store. It does fall apart at times and we are working hard at correcting those problems.
Just keep us on your shopping list this year and let us try to show you we are looking at alternative ways to improve your shopping experience.Happy holidays and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

JODIE M. STROTHER
Store Manager #3616
Greentree, PA 15220
(412)922-3803 store
(412)922-9268 fax

________________________________

I found this to be a fairly positive response.  I can’t imagine trying to manage a group of people who generally do not care.

This is the icing on the cake though…

AiXeLsyD13 wrote:
Remember my Kmart rant? Bethany was in there not too long ago, walked by the electronics section and said it’s all neat & orderly…..and the cashier greeted her. Laughing