Carnival Cruise Hacks for 2018

Carnival cruises can be pretty incredible. You have a literal boatload of food available to you, full days of entertainment, 24 hours of ocean views available to you, and a crew that works their asses off for you. Once you’re on board for your second or third time, you start to realize some tricks and hacks that enhance the experience. Here is #HMPYG’s 2018 list of hacks for your next cruise with Carnival.

1. Packing shampoo flasks

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The security coming onto the boat is fairly tight. Over the years, Carnival has become quite keen on busting people who sneak booze onboard. It happens all the time, and the company can lose thousands on drink sales. One thing that has never failed me are shampoo flasks.

Carnival Cruise Hacks 2018
Click the pic to be linked to this product on Amazon.

 

Now you should never be thinking of bringing liquor onboard, of course. It’s strictly against policies. But, sometimes you need to get some special “shampoo” and “conditioner” that really nourishes the soul. The seals work really well, and as long as you keep the bottle clean, you should have no problem using them in your checked bag.

2. These things? They come out

Most of the time, the shower gel and shampoo are unlocked, allowing easy access for removing the attachment. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of the gel while in the shower, and it helps to make the dispenser portable so that you can get total coverage. Or maybe you want to bring it with you to the pool if you prefer baths (just kidding).

3. Bypass the no-candle/open flame policy.

2018 Carnival Cruise Hacks

If you want to set the mood, make things romantic, or just make your room smell good, purchase a set of scented flameless LED candles. They run the same price for a good wax candle (about $25), can be re-used over and over, and look just like the real thing.

Never try using real candles or incense on board. They will confiscate them, and it is a huge fire hazard.

4. Bypass the ATM fees.

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With overpriced drinks, taxes, gratuity charges, and other expenses, it’s stupid to pay an ATM fee on the ship. At some of the tourist spots on land, the ATM fees may be even more exorbitant than onboard. But, you need cash.

Here’s what to do: go to a slot machine, charge however much you need to your Sail & Sign card. Resist the temptation to blow it all on the machine. Take your card out, and head to the cashier. Request a payout, and bam, say hello to the cash.

5. Turn one plug into three.

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Many cruisers get to their stateroom surprised to find only one or two power outlets. Electricity is apparently a commodity on the ship (though that casino seems to be very well-powered).

If you need outlets for your phones, cameras, hair dryers, laptops, disco lights, then do yourself a favor and pick up this outlet adaptor.

Also, the TV’s have a USB plugin that may serve as an extra charger.

6. Take plenty of naps!

Enhance your cruising experience with plenty of napping, and then tweet us your vacation photos!

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P.S. If Carnival reads this, please don’t sue us.

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Camping in a Spiritual Vortex (Sedona)

Camping gets us in touch with our primitive self, connecting our present being to primordial ancestors of aeons ago. We lie under a vast array of stars, hyper-aware of surrounding energy. The words in our mind become less cluttered, and we are left with more feeling and intuition than we are with complicated thought.

Camp in Sedona, and you add an extra spiritual element to the equation.

Sedona is known for its mystical vortices, locations with a concentration of etheric energy. Psychics, occultists, and artists are all drawn to the Arizona town, and there is no shortage of overpriced crystal shops.

But what makes Sedona especially inspiring are views like these:

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Where to Camp in Sedona (with a tent)

You may either:

  • Select a developed campground such as Manzanita.
  • Go off the beaten path to the dispersed camping sites (Send us a message on Facebook to learn more).
  • Backpack West Fort trail and set up your tent 3+ miles in.

If You’re Looking For a Tent

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Pictured above is our Embark 2-person dome tent (click this link to get it for only $60).  We’ve used this tent over and over and over again. It’s a great one to have for casual camping and for a quick set up. It has 5 stars on Amazon, probably because of its durability and reliability.

Also check out our previous article, It Takes One Tent to Rule Them All for a review of three different tents (including the Embark).

Free Prayer Flags

Into the Mystic

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It doesn’t take much to have a spiritually uplifting time. A few candles, incense, and a meditation bowl may be all you need. The most important factor, of course, is your state of mind. Here are a few techniques to try:

  1. With your eyes closed and while you’re sitting, scan your body. You may actually imagine a light from a computerized scanner passing up and down your body. As the light passes each section of your limbs, abdomen, chest, head, etc., bring your awareness fully to each of those sections. Changing your point of consciousness is incredibly grounding, and take time to do so carefully.
  2. Recite a prayer. One great one is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. It reads as follows:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; 

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

       3. Practice this Loving Kindness Meditation from Sylvia Boorstein.

A Final Note

Be sure to check out Huckaby Trail. This is one of our favorites. It’s a moderate hike, about 2.5 miles in (and then 2.5 miles out). It has a rich diversity that makes Sedona so great; fantastic views of red rock formations, the creekside forest, towering ocotillos, an abundance of prickly pear cacti, snakes, lizards, blue jays, quails.

Here is a shot taken on the trail:

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Dogs are welcome, though be sure to pack lots of extra water! A hydration bladder will help in this endeavor. Click here for one that rocks and is inexpensive.

Many blessings from #HMPYG and from Django, our most handsomest mascot.

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The Future of Tourism

Courtesy of ESA

There are many incredible sights on Earth. I’ve seen the pyramids at Chichen Itza, the Sistine Chapel, la Sagrada Familìa, the Grand Canyon, the bays of Jamaica, the most magnificent sea cliff in Europe, the Parthenon, and many other wonders. I can assure you, you don’t need to leave this Earth to experience sublimeness. Yet tourism is ever-changing and transgressing. Space tourism is entering the lexicon of journalism. Deep sea tourism is becoming “a thing.” People are also ironically seeking out tours to do non-tourist experiences. Some people are seeking out virtual reality experiences to overcome the financial and physical barriers of actual reality.

We are going to look at three phenomena that are increasing in popularity and interest. One is the concept of “Moon Village,” a European Space Agency project that aims to create tourist experiences on the moon. The next is virtual reality tourism. The last is “not-a-tourist” travel experiences.

Holiday on the Moon

Courtesy of ESA
The Moon Village Multi Dome will be designed to protect travelers from radiation and micrometeoroids.

First off, I want to know your thoughts on the advent of space tourism. Tweet us with an answer to one of these questions…

  1. How much money would you spend to have a 10-night vacation on the moon? (Use the hashtag #MoonVacation)
  2. Does the idea of space tourism excite or frighten you? (Use the hashtag #SpaceTourism)
  3. Why travel to space at all? (Use the hashtag #WhySpace)

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General Johann Woerner is seriously committed to building Moon Village, a community of people working and living together on the moon. When asked about the importance of space exploration, Woerner states that it is an agent for international cooperation and collaboration. In other words, Moon Village is a way to promote peace and solidarity between various countries.

Moon Village wouldn’t just be a base or a lab. Woerner directly indicates that the project could extend to tourist-related business ventures. People (with a lot of money presumably) may very well be planning a future family adventure across space towards Moon Village. Bumper stickers will read “I♥MOON.VILLG.” Children will possibly be buying freeze-dried ice cream from a space shuttle vending machine.

Is this something to expect soon? Maybe, maybe not. Moon Village isn’t a specified plan of action. It is rather just a concept that functions to bring people together in building ventures on the moon. There are, however, scholars that are pointing to the 2020s as a likely decade for moon tourism.

VR Tourism

The future of virtual reality tourism.

Meet the Oculus Rift.

Imagine putting on a device and then being able to see into the jungles of Peru. You take a step forward, and hear a wild macaw to the left of you. The macaw is real, and has made a real sound. You, however, are in your living room.

Will you be taking vacations with this thing? No. But it is an optimal way to test out an experience, or build up a voracious excitement for your next adventure. You may access a scene in downtown Tokyo, peruse the streets, and determine if you really want to go there. Or, you can look down Mount St. Helens and be filled with the motivation you need to complete your pre-excursion physical conditioning.

After using VR technology for a consumer case study, researchers found a 190% increase in New York excursion revenue. Not only are these devices boosting people’s interest in visiting particular destinations, they are also being offered as an accessory in some hotels.

#NotATourist Experiences

Courtesy of MYrago

Some people don’t want to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The thought of cramming into a building with other sweaty people in the summer months turns them off. People are increasingly turning to alternative experiences that are fulfilling, but go against the grain.

Take, for example, the experience of meditating with a monk in Japan. Or instead of heading straight to the Statue of Liberty, going on a Harlem Jazz Crawl instead. This is exactly what services like MYrago are doing.

There are millions upon millions of unique experiences one can have in a foreign country. There are sights and scenes that the typical tourist will never see, and may regret missing. The Louvre will be there for a long time, but a chance to do a glacier hike in Chile may slip away.

 

Strange Occurrences at Black Sabbath’s Performance (2004)

Being a child raised on heavy metal, the opportunity to see Black Sabbath in their full original form was extraordinary. They resurrected their magic and musico-chemical components specially for Ozzfest in 2004. Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and of course, Ozzy Osbourne, all took the stage to play some of the greatest songs ever made in the history of rock.

The band was infamous in the 70’s for dealing with occult themes and black magick. The (solo) Ozzy Osbourne song, “Mr. Crowley,” was an ode to one of the most notorious dark mystics in history, Aleister Crowley. Crowley was thought to be a Satanist by some, and he outwardly expressed allegiance to the devil multiple times. The Black Sabbath song “N.I.B.” includes the infamous line, “my name is Lucifer/please take my hand.” The album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath includes images of 666, demonic figures, and death. (We must mention that this album cover was created by Drew Struzan, famous for movie posters that include E.T., Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, Blade Runner, the Goonies,  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and dozens more.)

Courtesy of BlackSabbath.com

It’s no secret that Black Sabbath indulged in the folklore of witchcraft and dark magic. What happened on July 14, however, went way beyond rock and roll contrivances.

Ozzfest took place at Jones Beach Auditorium in Wantagh, NY. This is an open venue with no walls, ceiling or dome. It’s a beautiful auditorium that sits on the Long Island Sound coast. The forecast for the day was clear skies and 0% chance precipitation.

The crowd was a heterogeneous mixture of old classic rock hippies, young metal-heads, 80’s-era headbangers then losing their hair, and Gothic misfits. Some fans were seriously devoted to the art of witchcraft, wearing amulets and exhibiting mudras (cosmic hand signals) while on the line for the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, stoned eccentrics were tattooed with pentagrams. Many dismissed this as signs of crazy burnouts who took enthusiasm for metal a little too far.

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As Black Sabbath took to the stage, the scent of cannabis filled the air. They played fan favorites including “Sweet Leaf,” and “Fairies Wear Boots.” Then came the time for one of the darkest compositions in their catalog, the self-titled song “Black Sabbath.”

The song “Black Sabbath” functions on a repeating diminished chord. The diminished chord is built by stacking two tritones (diminished perfect fifths). The tritone is also known as the “devil’s chord,” and thought to summon the image of Baphomet (Satan) himself. The lyrics of the song deal with a individual performing a black magick ritual, summoning the devil, and damning his own soul. The composition is saturated with tension and dissonance.

As the band broke into this number, something odd happened. Drops of rain began to fall all around us. The sky was already dark by the coming of nightfall. The crack of thunder broke out above the bay. A light storm formed directly over Jones Beach Auditorium.

Ozzy seemed unfazed by this, as if it were an expected part of the performance routine. He did acknowledge it, however, as a way to get the crowd going wild. The rainfall never progressed to anything other than a mild shower. The song ended, concluding its lyrical screams and hard-hitting guitar solos. The crowd jeered in amazement.

It’s at this point that some of you may say, “Okay it rained. So what?” If you don’t believe in dark magic or witchcraft, here’s why it’s significant: no other band would have made this a memory. It can rain at any concert, and the typical reaction would be “oh shit, it’s raining.” But Black Sabbath is strikingly unique and evocative. The allure of horror and magical occurrences are both elements that affect nearly all human beings. Black Sabbath harnessed this in a way that is unspeakable and ineffable. When it storms at the exact same time the song “Black Sabbath” begins to sound, you are taken in to a rock and roll experience that may never be re-created.

Aleister Crowley Biography
Click the photo be taken to one if the greatest Crowley biographies available.

Some may actually believe that this was the pleasing of a dark master who controls all weather and elements. Maybe the ink pentagrams and sun adorations caused a cosmic force to alter the events of July 14, 2004. Some attendees did seem to defy the laws of typical consciousness.

Whatever you believe in, the point stands that this was a remarkable experience. Black Sabbath is broken up now, and I am not putting odds on Ozzy Osbourne living much longer of a life (though he’s defied all expectations so far). If there ever is the chance to see them perform again, be sure to recite an incantation directed at the ancient Egyptian deities to summon you some money for a ticket.

Venturing into the Lava River Cave of Flagstaff, Arizona

The lava river cave of Flagstaff, or the “Lava Tubes,” is a remarkable formation. It was created by the will of fiery nature over 675,000 years ago. It stays the same temperature year-round, and has ripples and cracks throughout the pathway. The lava formation spans for 3/4 of a mile, and is the longest cave in all of Arizona.

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Is it a breath-taking beauty that should be seen by all human beings everywhere? Not at all. Though it’s climate-controlled and a wonderful relief for summer heat, the cave isn’t particularly remarkable. Thought bats and porcupines are known to inhabit the cave, you may not see any signs of natural wildlife for the entire journey. There are no stalactites, stalagmites, or prized cavern jewels within its bowels. There are some cool glittery ferrous stone features, however.

Inside the Flagstaff Lava River Cave

 

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 Flagship-X Phoenix Rechargeable Waterproof LED Headlamp →

 

 

 

 

It is fun to venture down into complete darkness like you’re Bruce friggin’ Wayne. And the city of Flagstaff is a terrific place to visit. Check out Charly’s pub, a historical eatery with great beer selections, only 20 miles away and in the heart of downtown.

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Also be sure to visit the Flagstaff soap company, one of our favorite small businesses.

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Visiting the Cave

The lava river cave is an amazing geological site dating back to prehistory. It isn’t anything like the Grand Canyon or the red rocks in Sedona, however. If you do have some time in Flagstaff to explore, and like caves, then go on in there!

Here’s what you must bring:

Headlamp – You may be using your hands to crawl through some tight spaces. Though flashlights help, it will be a lot more manageable with a headlamp.

Warm clothing – The cave is at a perpetual 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Though you do get warm moving around and squatting, be sure to wear something substantial

Water – You don’t want to venture down into a vacuous cavern without water. The entire experience may last 1-2 hours.

Additional non-neccesary items:

Whistle – Just in case. There are many opportunities to injure yourself, between hitting your head on low ceilings and a multitude of slippery rocks. It’s a safe bet to bring a whistle to signal others near the entrance.

Boots – You can complete this trip with cross trainer shoes, but it is a lot better with hiking boots/work boots. The thick sole will protect against jutting rock edges, and you want ankle support for the jagged terrain. Also, regular shoes will probably get torn up. I bought these boots just in time for the hike, and am really glad I did.

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DSLR camera – Most of the photos in this article were taken with my own Nikon D3100 (click this link to check it out).

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It’s a great, affordable beginner’s camera that will light up the pitch-black inside the cave. Set it to the aperture setting and lower the ISO. Shoot in RAW file format.

 

 

 

P.S. Beware of creepy monkey doll…

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What It’s Like to Meet Paul McCartney!

I love contests. I love the feeling of thrill that comes with imagining yourself as the winner. Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, trying to win a Gibson guitar (which is only $739 on Amazon by the way), or getting the chance to meet someone remarkable, the fantasy that comes along with entering is invigorating.

Earlier in the month, Omaze ran a campaign to fund the David Lynch Foundation, which we happily contributed to by donating 50% of site revenue. The prize was one of the most remarkable experiences any music fan could ever dream of: perform a soundcheck with Sir Paul McCartney.

Gregg Anderson from British Columbia, Canada was the lucky winner, and after speaking to him, I can tell you he fully deserved it. Omaze flew him out all the way from Spokane, put him up in a Brooklyn hotel, and gave him the experience of a lifetime. Did Gregg confront Sir Paul about Yoko Ono or demand a lock of hair as a keepsake? No. Instead, he genuinely thanked McCartney for the music that helped him through mourning and emotional stress.

I, on the other hand, would have had a prepared list of 20+ questions to direct at Sir McCartney, and then use the information selfishly to promote this site. Being that Gregg won, he was the one who has to endure my questioning and self-promotion.

Here’s what it’s like to meet Paul McCartney, the man who changed the course of music for centuries to come…

Steve/HMPYG: You had a hell of a week.

Gregg: It’s been crazy. It’s been absolutely crazy. I wasn’t prepared for the media attention afterwards.

Steve/HMPYG: Who’s been talking to you?

Gregg: A lot of local Canadian media (I’m from Canada). CTV, Major networks, the 60s radio…it’s been crazy.

Steve/HMPYG: Did they track you down on Facebook like I did?

Gregg: Yeah, you were one of the first guys, and then after you, it just exploded. I really like your blog by the way.

Steve/HMPYG: Thank you!

Gregg: I used to have a blog, I actually reposted one of my posts the day before I left to go see Paul McCartney in NY. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about it. I just reposted an old blog posting. There’s a British singer, Billy Bragg. Behind Paul McCartney, he’s my favorite singer. I actually got to meet him. He’s the only guy (I’ve met quite a few people) that I choked up and lost it with. I just started mumbling (laughs).

  He just went, “Yeah..um..ok..well thanks.” I think I came up with the words “pop sensibility.” To this day, my brother never lets me forget it, he’ll just say “pop sensibilities.”

Steve/HMPYG: (laughs) So you did this contest, and I forget, it’s one chance per dollar?

Gregg: I think it’s 50 entries per $10 or something like that.

Steve/HMPYG: Yeah, I forget how it breaks down, but did you donate thousands of dollars to get a higher chance or did you just get a lucky break?

Gregg: No! (laughs) I got the lucky break. I donated $50, and I was only going to do 20. I read about the foundation. I suffer from anxiety a little bit, so what they’re doing sounded really cool. David Lynch is cool, so I upped it to 50 and I’m glad I did.

Steve/HMPYG: Yeah it resonated with me because I’m a therapist, and I feel meditation is one of the most effect therapeutic tools one can use. I was all about that cause. You were flown out to Brooklyn right?

Gregg: Yeah, they flew us out on a Wednesday morning. We had a car meet us. It was awesome, the car had a piece of paper taped to the side with my name on it. They drove us out to Brooklyn and we spent two nights there. That’s when I first talked to you. The day of the concert, they had a whole itinerary made out for us. The itinerary said we’d meet a girl Emily at 3:30 in the lobby, so the first half of the day is all for you to travel around Brooklyn. I found a cool little record shop, and Brooklyn’s really, really cool.

Steve/HMPYG: Yeah it is!

Gregg: I wasn’t prepared for the density of New York City. I knew it was big, but you don’t realize how dense it is. It just spreads forever.

Steve/HMPYG: There’s no place like it. So you got to Brooklyn, and the big day comes…

Gregg: Yeah, when we got there–getting there was actually pretty cool–we just walked up and it literally said “VIP DOOR.” We just walked right through. Emily, the Omaze girl, who was awesome, dropped some name, and boom, it was like the doors of Oz opened up for us. And then we got to meet Paul’s stage manager, his road manager, and they were all great. Basically, they were all kind of winging it, because they just said “we’ll come and get you when Paul’s here.”

  Paul was late because Justin Trudeau was at the UN that day, which shut down the roads. So, my own prime minister almost caused me to miss meeting Paul McCartney (laughs).

  They had the VIP section, where people get the open bar, they get a meal, and they get to watch the soundcheck. You’re quite a ways away from the soundcheck. So, all these people paid to do that, but I got all that, and I had all of Paul McCartney’s guys coming to me.

  They said, “Okay, when we bring you into the soundcheck, you’re going to stand over to the far left, and when he starts playing ‘Lady Madonna,’ we’re going to come get you.”

  Then, a guy came up to me, a British guy with a camera, he goes, “Hey, I’m with Paul’s team, I wanna bring you over here and interview you.”

  So during the soundcheck I was interviewed by this guy. He talked to me for quite a while actually. He led me back to the sound check, and I’m standing there watching it, and there were some deep cuts on that soundcheck man. He played “Ram On” from my favorite Paul McCartney album Ram. He played some obscure ones.

Steve/HMPYG: Did he mess up at all?

Gregg: No! No, no, no. Those guys are amazing.

  So they were taking pictures of us, the cameras were following me around, he’s getting different shots of us watching the soundcheck. And then boom, “Lady Madonna” kicks in. I said to myself I should be a lot more nervous than I am.

  And Bob Ross, the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, puts his hand on my shoulder, and says, “No Greg, don’t be nervous. You know why? Because you’re a good person. And you do good things, and you’re going to be awesome up there.” Not that I was super nervous, but I was even more relaxed after he did that.

  I can see the stage manager walking down, this burly Scottish guy. I think his name was Charlie. He says, “Alright Gregg, it’s time. Let’s go.” [Editors note: Gregg pulled off a killer Scottish accent telling this story]

  He asked me, “How ya feelin’?”

  And I go, “I’m okay!”

  He says, “You’ll be great, you’ll be great.”

  He takes me up there, to the side of the stage. They had a huge mixing board on the side of the stage. The stage manager goes to the sound guy at the board and asks, “Do you know exactly what we’re doing?” (laughs)

  The sound guy goes, “I don’t know. I don’t know what we’re doing. Let’s rock and roll.”

  And at that point, Paul McCartney starts talking about me on stage.

  I don’t know exactly what he said, because I was talking to these two guys, but I realized he mentioned my name. They call me out, and Paul says, “Let’s hear it for Gregg!”

  I walk out there, and they say, “When Paul sings ‘get back,’ you say ‘get back.’ You just repeat what he says in the chorus.”

  Charlie, the Scottish stage manager moves to the side and just points to Paul.

  So I walk out there, I walk all the way to the middle of the stage, and there’s Paul. He shakes my hand, thanks me for my donation, and that’s where it gets a little blurry for me. I’m not sure what I said, or what he was saying. I know I talked to Brian, the guitarist. Paul asked me questions, like “where are you from?” on the mic, things like that. It comes into focus for me more when the music started.

  “Get Back” starts. (Gregg imitates the opening guitar line)

  As soon as “Jojo was a man” (the first line) kicked in, I started singing with Paul. And Paul looked a little taken aback that I was singing with him. You could see it on my face, I went Ohh shitI just screwed up. 

Steve/HMPYG: (laughs)

Gregg: I think he just expected me to sing along for the chorus. He saw my reaction, just shook his head, and his eyes just go keep going, keep going! And I did. I sounded like I was yelling, but everyone said I sounded okay. I sang it all with him, and he was right there, kept pulling me in, like get a little closer to me.

  There’s that one little point if you know the song where he sings “Get back, get back, get ba-aa-aack.” The little Paul McCartney thing. I did that out on stage, and he looked at me, gave me the big eyebrows, and went Yeah man! Yeah! (laughs)

  It was at that point we started the second verse, and I just started singing it, and he smiled, and he walked away and let me sing it all by myself.

Steve/HMPYG: Man, I would’ve fainted at “Lady Madonna.” I probably would’ve just passed out.

Gregg: Yeah, I don’t know why I wasn’t more nervous. I don’t know. I should’ve been, but I wasn’t. The day before I was tense, but it wasn’t a bad tense. It was a real amped-up, ready to go kind of thing.

  But yeah, we finished the song. Everybody applauded. That’s when I got to thank him.

  I said, “Thank you so much Paul. Thank you for all the great music.” Stuff he’s heard probably a million times. He probably heard it 50 times that day alone.

  I said, “I want to thank you for all the great music. You got me through some really bad times.”

  I had a really bad year, my dad passed away a few months ago. A really bad year. I didn’t mention that to him, but I told him it was a bad year, and that he got me through  some really tough times.

  “I can’t thank you enough.”

  And for a guy that’s heard this a billion times, he was humbled. He was genuinely thankful that I felt that way. And that’s when he shakes my hand and gives me a big hug.

Steve/HMPYG: That’s powerful.

Gregg: Yeah. And then I asked if I could touch his bass. The Hofner bass. And he just throws it on me. Gives me the strap and just tells me to put it on.

Steve/HMPYG: That’s amazing!

Gregg: Yeah. That thing is insured for something like four million dollars. And he just throws it on me like it was nothing! He’s used that since 1964. It’s not the original one he had, that was stolen. But he’s used this one on tour since 1964.

Steve/HMPYG: Well here’s a question: Are you sure that this is the real Paul, and not an imposter that took the place of Paul back in Abbey Road years?

Gregg: (laughs) Yes, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is indeed not–what’s his name? William Campbell? This is the real Paul McCartney.

Steve/HMPYG: And he’s 75 years old. Did he show it?

Gregg: No. I definitely got the grandfather-ly vibe from him, but my dad was 75 and he didn’t look half as young as Paul McCartney. He put on a three-and-a-half hour show almost. No intermission. He goes flat out. It’s impressive. Really impressive.

Steve/HMPYG: When you have a catalog like that, there are 50 must-plays.

Gregg: You got so many songs, you’re not going to play all of them. I actually got to see him before in 2012. I actually used my rent money. I paid a whole month’s rent for my ticket in Vancouver.

Steve/HMPYG: Whoa! Did he play “Oh Darling!” at this show?

Gregg: No, he didn’t do “Oh Darling!” He did do my all-time favorite Paul McCartney song, “Maybe I’m Amazed.” He also did “I Gotta Feeling.” Another all-time favorite of mine.

Steve/HMPYG: So was it mostly Wings songs or was it a mix?

Gregg: No, he does a really good mix. I’d say it was a 60-40 mix Beatles/solo songs. Maybe even closer to 50-50. He hits the highlights, “Hey Jude,” and wraps up the show with “The End.” They do the whole drum solo/guitar battle.

Steve/HMPYG: Were there any surprises?

Gregg: The surprise for me was how much contact I had. I didn’t know he was going to be so personable. “Fantastic” and “amazing” are the only two words I could use to describe the whole experience.

   I don’t hold stars up on a pedestal. I don’t think they’re better than us, they’re just talented people. But, Paul McCartney, I will say he has some sort of–aura is the wrong word–but he just has a calming influence. It made you chill. He’s just a great man, comes off as down-to-earth.

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Gregg hasn’t been contacted for the next tour yet. But who knows?

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The Top 10 Sushi Restaurants in Phoenix

#HMPYG Presents the 10 Greatest Phoenix-Area Sushi Restaurants

When I first moved to Arizona, I was full of excitement, eager to explore, and in love with the desert environment. I had become surrounded by amazing mountain views, majestic saguaro cactuses, and perpetual sunshine. One thing I was unsure of, however, was how I was going to get my sushi fix. Sushi is my favorite food in the world, and it wasn’t hard to find good sushi back in New York.

My first experience was with Sushi 101 near the ASU campus. This was pretty underwhelming. They resorted to deep-frying some of their rolls, and the crab they used was artificial “krab” substance. I did not give up, though. My mission became to find the best sushi restaurants in the Phoenix area. I set a lifetime goal of trying every single one. Out of the 30 or so I’ve tried, here are the top 10…

#10: Big Eye Sushi

Courtesy of Groupon.com

This is referring to the North Scottsdale location in particular. The Chandler location was pretty underwhelming. Look out for Groupon deals for this place!

#9: SakeBomber

Courtesy of Foodio54.com

Consider this a happy little “sushi pub” in Tempe. It’s located by ASU and has plenty of seating.

#8: Teharu

Courtesy of Yelp.com

By far the best rotating sushi joint in the Phoenix area. Be sure to make reservations, as it’s wildly popular.

#7: Sushi Brokers

Courtesy of SushiBrokers.com

A great spot in Arcadia (Northeast Phoenix area). They have a reverse happy hour 10p-close every Monday through Saturday (in addition to the standard 3-6:30 p.m. happy hour).

#6: Bei 

Courtesy of Yelp.com

Located just south of Old Town Scottsdale. The ambience isn’t much, but the food makes up for it. This place can get busy on weekend nights.