October 25, 2012
Today was the big day! Jonny and I had tickets to Chicago to go watch The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. I’d discovered the show months back, but for financial reasons, we decided we could go next year. Then, a couple weeks back, I discovered the symphony is on tour for this year only. I scrambled to buy tickets, buy Amtrak tickets, and we found a hotel to book. The sad thing is, with it being an unexpected trip, we could only afford to stay overnight, so it would be a rushed trip! But, maybe next year, we can stay longer.
So, we rose at 3:30 am. Already packed, we donned our matching Link and Zelda t-shirts. It was nice warm day, really. Stopped at the Motomart to get Jonny a year’s supply of energy drinks, and then headed to SWIC to board the Metrolink. We were riding to St. Louis to board the Amtrak there; it was my first experience riding a train anywhere.
At the train station, I was starving, so Jonny got me a highly over-priced apple. It was good apple though. I also found some nifty coupons for Meramec Cavern tours, and their zipline tours too. That’s an adventure for NEXT year….
Our train left on time, and I will say that riding the train was one of the funnest parts of the whole experience. I wasn’t feeling well that day, but Jonny kept me distracted. We passed some nice towns and forest scenery along the way. We spent a large part of our time hanging out in the dining car, playing games. Jonny is still in school for web development, and he’s helping this group of people who are designing a game called “Sun and Moon.” It’s mythos is based on the newest “My Little Pony” show, and it’s built a lot like chess. There are earth ponies, unicorns, Pegasus, and the Princess. They each have their own ways of movement. The real game will be online once finished, but we had a print-out of the playing board and used paper to draw and tear out playing pieces. Honestly, I thought it would be an easy game, but it was harder for me than chess. After being tortured for about an hour, Jonny finally won and ended my suffering.
After “Sun and Moon,” it was my pick of games. I decided to play “Hang-Link,” which of course is hang-man, but, you know, considering the trip, we had to do all things Zelda. If you check out my picture gallery, you’ll find that the games will a “J” next to them are puzzles Jonny had to solve, while I had to solve the puzzles marked with a star. Honestly, this was pretty funny, because for the first three puzzles Jonny came up with for me, I took a look, thought about it a moment, and solved the puzzle without even asking for a single letter. He finally stumped me with “moblin” though; those one-worders are a toughie.
About 12:30, we arrived in Chicago. The first order of business was finding food. Stepping out into the city for the first time was a little overwhelming, and I was glad Jonny was there, with his street-smart confidence. Street after street of towering buildings. So much culture surrounded us, various restaurants and stores and people, the classic sight of a man playing a saxophone on a street corner. Everyone seemed to dress with their own artistic flare.
We would have gotten lost a lot, but everyone we spoke with was very friendly and helpful. We were directed to a food court that had an Arby’s. I know, not that exciting, but I was determined to eat only “safe food;” I’m allergic to milk and sugar and didn’t want to get sick before the show. The Arby’s really did taste better than at home, if that counts for anything…then again, we were both famished by that point.
While at the food court, Jonny had me sample my first Indian food. The spices were good, but overwhelming, and I would only eat a small pinch. He said we’d have to find a good Indian restaurant when we got home; he’s always wanting to take me to one.
After eating, it was time to catch the bus and check out our hotel—not that we’d be spending much time there. But Jonny had found coupons for a place called “The Willows,” so off to find it.
On the bus, we passed beautiful lakes and parks, and made a mental note of the zoo, nature conservatory, Shedd’s Aquarium, and other places I’d like to visit when we have time to plan a REAL trip to Chicago, maybe in a couple of years.
After a time, the busy city quieted to a place lined with more elegant, historical-looking apartments, hotels, and other buildings. The Willows itself was a quaint place, small but elegant, and comfortable. We spent an hour or so there resting before we made our way to the theatre.
We had some time to kill, so we walked around, observed the shops. They had a Disney store which was awesome, but alas, none of the Rapunzel shirts were big enough for me. I was hungry at that point, so we stopped at one of the million Walgreens and CVS stores and bought some strawberries and pretzels.
When we stepped out of the store, it was all of a sudden POURING down rain. Now, we’d already discovered that Chicago truly was the “windy city,” because the wind had been nearly knocking me off my feet all day, and back at the Arby’s, it had been essential for Jonny to braid my hair and get it out of my way. However, rain plus wind? Well, that was an interesting combo. We stood outside on an overhang for a while. Then, when the rain lessened a little, we made a break for it.
Lol, but as we were crossing this street, there was another sudden downpour, and it was hilarious to watch everyone scatter to the nearest overhang. I mean, it was humorous, but everyone acted like it was the natural way of life in Chicago. Kudos also to the loads of people carrying umbrellas; how they’d predicted the rain and cold when it had been so warm minutes before, I don’t know, but good for them.
So, it was getting late and we decided just to run for it. By the time we reached the theatre overhang, we were both soaked, and the water on our glasses had pretty much blinded us. We tried to clean them off, and then we stood with the many gathered in line, munching strawberries and pretzels.
As we stood waiting, I observed the many fellow Zelda fans surrounding us. These were MY people. I’d taken Jonny to a Final Fantasy symphony in the spring for his birthday, and while I enjoyed the music well enough, I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game. He was in his element then, but now, I was totally in mine. I saw some awesome Zelda shirts; there were a few Zeldas, including a Goth Zelda. There were Links of all colors—red, blue, green, purple—and most of them girls, interestingly enough. Though I will say that girls DO make very good Links. There was even someone dressed as Groose, which was awesome. Also, several Sarias whom I’m sure were very cold considering the abrupt change of events in the weather…whom everyone proceeded to blame on people wearing “Song of Storms” tee-shirts.
Then, a little after seven, everyone cheered wildly. The doors had opened, and everyone began pushing forward. Now, I have to say that the events that followed honestly reminded me of a WW2 concentration camp experience. All those people, pressing forward with excitement and hope. But then, as soon as we get inside, there are these people with sticks rudely demanding we open our bags and purses, searching for food and drink. I have never been to a theatre that did this. Thankfully, we’d eaten all the strawberries, but we were forced to throw away a full bag of pretzels. AND my water bottle. Jonny tried to ask if he could just empty the water and keep my bottle, but we were just shoved aside and told to empty our food and get back in line when ready. Meanwhile, one of the other gentlemen checking bags was announcing, “No food or drink allowed inside—and that includes water, and water…not sure how funny he was trying to be with that, but the whole experience was far from amusing….
The madness didn’t end once we were inside either. There was this long line where you could buy souvenirs. The souvenir choices were only t-shirts or posters, but they didn’t give you time to know this. I left Jonny in line, thinking I had time to use the bathroom and then come rejoin him. Now, this was a LONG line, and it never takes me long to use the bathroom. But when I returned, Jonny was nowhere in sight. I scoured that line, but he had vanished. How had he gotten through so quickly? I was sort of in a panic; there were loads of people bumping and pressing against me. I got out my phone and tried to call him, hoping he’d think to call me, because there was no way he’d actually hear his phone in all that craziness. After several calls, we connected and met up. He said he’d been pushed fast through the line, but when he got to the front, he didn’t know what they had or what I had wanted and got pushed out of line for taking too long.
We rejoined the line, and, after a surprisingly short time, bought each of us a t-shirt and a poster. Then, at last, we entered the theatre and took our seats. Once sitting in the theatre, we could have some peace.
The symphony began with the classic Zelda theme; mingled in with several singular pieces was the actual symphony of the show. There were four movements, each correlating to one of four Zelda games: Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and a Link to the Past. It was cool the way they did it, because they showed clips from the game that took you from the beginning of each story to the very end. Ocarina is of course one of my favorites, so of course I was more critical and it’s movement was actually my least favorite. However, that’s just because I’d really been hoping they’d do the creation of Hyrule, the end of Ocarina, or both.
However, my desires were largely satiated by the encore…or should I say, the TRIPLE encore. Yeah, so, the producer guy walks out, announces an encore. They play “Ballad of the Wind Fish” from “Link’s Awakening,” a game I’ve never actually played. It was a nice song…but I suspected it wasn’t the end. Then, the guy comes out a second time, and it’s ode to the Gerudos! YES! They played one of my favorites, the Gerudo Valley theme, and I mean, people cheered wildly for that, so it must be the favorite of many.
However, we all cheered most wildly for the third and final encore which was well worth the wait: A Majora’s Mask movement. I wish I could have recorded it, but my batteries had died, and I didn’t want to get thrown out changing them. I mean, if they don’t even let pretzels into the building, who knows what they would do if they catch you recording something. Anyway, the MM music was AMAZING. That game’s story is full of emotion, especially at the end. Some of the temples are just awful to get to (particularly everything proceeding the Ikana temple), but if you can get that far, the game really has a beautiful story and message behind it. I’m not gonna lie, I got teary for that one. Though, I also got teary for Twilight Princess, because the ending of THAT story, well, for those who know what I’m talking about, I know you understand. Same with Wind Waker—though I haven’t quite finished playing the game, and now, after watching the clips they showed at the symphony, I NEED to know why Link sails away from his sister and grandmother at the end!! It was also cool because the conductor, who was this adorable English woman, actually had a Wind Waker baton that she conducted with for the Wind Waker movement.
Okay, well, needless to say, the show was phenomenal. I wish I’d been a little more awake for it, but it been a long journey, to be certain.
Afterwards, we returned to the hotel for what few hours of measly sleep we could muster.
Slept a lot on the train. Had to be up at 5 am after, like, only three hours of sleep!!
Five hours later…
Back home in Missouri! It was nice to see the Arch again as the train, now gliding slowly along as we entered city borders, crop up over the hills. Jonny is right; compared to Chicago, St. Louis seems an itty-bitty city now, though that's fine with me. We don't even live in St. Louis, we just like to visit often. But I don't think I'd like to live in St. Louis, so living in Chicago would definitely be, well, it's just too busy. Jonny enjoys modern things, while I like nature and ancient things better. Jonny also said that St. Louis is a lot more ghetto, while everyone in Chicago was very artsy and liberal, very nice and friendly and helpful. I told him we probably just never got around to seeing the ghetto parts of Chicago; we’ll work on that next trip. ^_^
It was good to get home, but we weren’t quite ready for our ventures to end. Perhaps we couldn’t afford to stay in Chicago more than we had, with it being such an unexpected trip, but we still wanted to finish out the day together properly. So, we made for the movie theatre to watch “Cloud Atlas,” which had just come out. We saw new trailers for “The Hobbit” and “Breaking Dawn 2” that looked AMAZING. Then, our film began.
Now, I’ll be honest: for the first half of the movie, I was sitting there not sure if I was going to like it at all—except for following the oriental girl’s story, which is totally like an idea for a book I’ve had in my head for some time now. However, at some point, something just “clicked.” The pieces fell together, and it was beautiful to see at last how some of the story threads connected and what messages they were meant to portray. My favorite line is when this one character is yelling at his daughter and son-in-law who are wanting to move east to become Abolitionists. He makes this big speech about how there is a natural order to things, and what good will their work really come to? After all, what they try to accomplish will be but a single drop in a giant ocean. And then the son-in-law looks at him and says one thing: “What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?” Ha! In your face, Hugo Weaving….
Honestly, it’s one of those movies you’d have to probably watch a million times to figure out how each person’s past life connects to their future lives, and so on, because some characters had as many as five or six reincarnations. One thing I did truly like though, from a Christian’s perspective, was the story’s view of time and eternity. God sees all time stretched out before him; He sees everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, as though it already is; for Him, time doesn’t really exist. On that note, it was interesting to see how what some of the characters did in the future actually affected their lives in the past, not just the other way around. Almost like time didn’t really matter in this story.
As the credits rolled, I do have to say one thing that cracked me up: One of the six story threads in this movie followed a group of elderly folk. One of the old men was named “Mr. Meeks.” Apparently, he had a “stunt double.” I was just sitting there laughing, but now I’ll have to go back and rewatch the movie, because I honestly can’t remember why this little old man would have need for a stunt double….
Well, so after the film, we had a nice, romantic little dinner at India’s Oven. It was both mine and Jonny’s first time going there. He loves Indian food and has been wanting me to try it for ages. Since I’d sampled some in Chicago and liked it, I agreed for him to take me out. The place was small but beautiful; I love Indian art work, and the atmosphere was quiet, peaceful, and warm. I tried some kind of flatbread with seeds, mango juice, garlic nan, and chicken curry. It was nice, because they could tell us which dishes had no sugar or dairy, which I’m allergic to. The food was good, but the spices are strong and strange to me. I think after eating Indian a few times, I may grow to quite like it; my taste buds will need some time to adjust, because the tastes, while good, are stronger than I’m used to.
Well, that concludes my Zelda Symphony ventures. If you’re reading this on Facebook, feel free to check out my photos of the experience. If you’re on one of my blogs, you can reach the pictures here:
Also, I was able to record audio only for two of the symphony pieces. Take a listen here:
Ocarina of Time Movement:
Ocarina and Majora’s Mask Medley:
Thanks so much for sharing the experience with me! If you’d like the chance to still see the symphony yourself before the year’s end, here are the remaining symphony times and places:
And with that, I bid you tingle, tingle, koo-loo limpah!
~ Christine E. Schulze