Goldstar, Music, and Bedazzled Suspenders

Living in one place for a while, it’s easy to get into a routine.  You visit the same coffee shops, go to the same restaurant, take the same walk, work on that butt imprint in your couch.  You find favorites and stop messing with a good thing. I’ll admit, in the winter months, that is 100% ok with me.  I’m not up for exploring or trying new things when it’s 5 degrees and icy.  No thanks. But come Spring and Summer, I’m itching for a change of scenery and fun excursions.

(Get ready, I’m about to plug my own work)

(Here it comes)

This is part of the reason why I started contributing over at The Boston Day Book. Have you checked it out? Get on it! By committing to sharing my favorite cheap date ideas, I’ve actually had to, you know, go on those dates. (You don’t need a Dr. Fiance or Significant Other to enjoy any of the dates I share, though.  They’re all enjoyable with friends or even alone!)

It’s also why I started looking for Boston experiences that I haven’t…experienced…yet. (I’m only one sip into my ice coffee right now, bare with my lack of vocabulary).

I had heard of Goldstar for a while but hadn’t ever used the service, which sells tickets online for events, shows, and attractions at a discount. I liked to keep my eye on the emails from Goldstar to see what was going on and a few weeks ago a show caught my eye – Great Gatsby Night with the Boston Pops.  I’ve only seen the Boston Pops perform during their Christmas season and was eager to see one of their summertime shows (except not the concert on the 4th. You would need to pay me a large sum to sit out on the Esplanade all dang day with a bunch of patriotic hooligans. I mean…I’m sure it’s a lovely event…)

I got tickets for the way-back of Symphony Hall for $12 each (half off the regular price).

SymphonyHall 600x450 Goldstar, Music, and Bedazzled Suspenders

The first half was what I expected, with the Pops playing pieces from the 1920s and Keith Lockhart being adorbs.

But then! The second half! New York based band The Hot Sardines shared the stage with the Pops.  They describe themselves as “Liquor-Drinking Jazz” and it’s appropriate.  They’re boozey and blustery and SO MUCH FUN. The set started with “Paris In The Springtime” and the energy during the break down was infectious. Mine weren’t the only toes a-tapping – part of their rhythm section is a tap dancer! I repeat, SO MUCH FUN.

This is what can happen when you decide to do something just-slightly-different.  You can pay $12 to watch a world class orchestra play with an amazing jazz band that makes you want to wear bejeweled suspenders (did I mention the singer, Miz Elizabeth wore bejeweled suspenders?) and learn to tap dance.

By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post and I’m not working with Goldstar (or the Pops…or the Hot Sardines….BUT I WOULD).

ScoreBig or Stay Home – Review

Last week, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was invited to try out ScoreBig.com, an online ticketing platform that has been around for a couple years but was new to me. I was offered credit to the site in exchange for a blog post. Credit that could be used towards Red Sox tickets. Credit that ultimately got me FREE Red Sox tickets. Count me in.

I’ll be completely honest, there were a few times when I thought about not using the credit and not blogging about the website because I was frustrated. But in the end, I wanted to be able to give a review of this service if it could be a viable resource for discounted tickets. And I wanted to go to a Red Sox game, lets be real.

ScoreBig moves unsold ticket inventory to sports games, concerts, theater, and other attractions. In the Boston area, most of the listings are for Sox games but there are some big name concerts on there as well (Beyonce, for instance. I thought about it, trust me.) There are no fees and ticket delivery (whether electronic or by mail) is free.

Here’s how it works: You choose an event, choose the seating area you’d like, then make an offer for how much you want to pay for those seats. You get an answer instantly whether your offer was accepted or not. If not, you can accept their counter offer or try again on that seating area in 24 hours.

ScoreBig EnterPrice1 ScoreBig or Stay Home   Review

The tagline for ScoreBig is “Save on every ticket. Guaranteed.”

As I mentioned, I got frustrated a couple times. The first was some mix up with login information that seems to have been resolved. The site would say I was logged in when I wasn’t, and would ask me for my login information multiple times. Maybe it says something about my patience level when I was ready to walk away just from that, but there you have it. A call to customer service (A very polite human! Right away! No number pushing! Thanks Daniel…or David….D-Man!) got me on the right track.

I’ve been to two COLD Sox games this season, so I chose a date in July when temperatures might actually be above 60. Then I chose the “Two-Star Seating Area”. For those of you Fenway Faithful, this gets you anywhere in the Grandstand or Right Field Boxes.

Here’s where things get a bit hinky for me. On the ScoreBig site, there’s a listed “Full Price” of $66.16 per ticket. However, if you go onto the Red Sox website, the price listed for these seating areas at the same game is $52. With convenience and processing fees, the total per e-ticket you’d pay on RedSox.com is $60. I assume there’s a delivery fee if having the tickets sent in the mail but getting them electronically is a free option. At the bottom of the ScoreBig page it states “Full Price is the max value of the ticket plus service and delivery fees.” Where they got $66.16 is a bit of a mystery and I find it misleading. If you didn’t do the research and just assumed that full price was correct, you feel like you’re getting a bigger deal than you are.

Not knowing the real “full price” of the tickets, I put in an offer of $50 per, which was accepted. But how do I know I couldn’t have gotten them for cheaper had I tried? I don’t. Because of the lack of transparency (which protects the ticket sellers, understandably), you never really know what their bottom line is. This leads to some back and forth and fiddling when all you really want to do is buy the darn tickets already.

Checking other ticket vendors made me feel a bit better about the price difference. Tickets for the same area for the same game were being sold for $62.50 and $68 on Ace Ticket and Stub Hub respectively. If I had just these three options ahead of me, the fiddling with offers indeed saved me money making ScoreBig a slight headache but maybe a worthy headache if you do your research.

I made my offer and received a confirmation for the tickets on June 1. I was informed that I would be receiveing e-tickets. As yesterday, June 4, and I hadn’t received an email with the tickets yet and on my account it still said “processing.” Since I used my credit for these, I wasn’t worried but if I had used Real Life Money I would’ve been freaking out that it was gone. I sent an email to their help address and within minutes, the e-tickets were in my email inbox.  I don’t know why it took an extra email to get them.

This may be my first less-than-stellar review on the blog and I feel…conflicted. Do I feel guilty about using the credit and then writing a “meh” blog post? Yep. But it would be a disservice to you, my lovely lovely readers, to write a glowing everything-was-perfect review if that’s not how I felt about my experience. As I like to say, this blog is about “keeping it real, and real cheap.” Do I think you should check out ScoreBig? Definitely, check it out the next time you’re looking for tickets. You could really get a good deal. I just want you to go into it well-aware. Will the Red Sox win when I go on July 10? Yes. Of course. Obviously.

Writing Process Blog Tour

I was invited by Emily over at The Great Wide Open to take part in this “Writing Process Blog Tour” and figured it was a good way to get back in the writing game and do a little explaining of what’s going on over here. I met Emily at one of the Boston Bloggers events and even made a guest appearance on her blog last year when I taught her a few massage tricks.

1) What am I working on?

So at this point I’m rethinking my Great 2014 Blogging Project.  If you’ve been around the first half of this year, you may know the one.  A new theme every month, trying to dive deep into every theme.  I liked doing it for a while.  It was a way to structure everything and keep my ideas organized.  But then, of course, life got in the way and there just wasn’t enough time to plan everything out because – surprise! – something like that is time consuming. Who knew?

Having themed months was also limiting.  I’d get offers to write things and I’d have to turn it down because it didn’t work with the theme, which was frustrating.  The thought of planning out the next month on my list, which was supposed to be Performing Arts, got to be so daunting that I kept putting it off.

This blog doesn’t bring in the big bucks. Or, you know, any bucks. But I do feel an odd responsibility to deliver. And deliver I shall! But not with a monthly theme. Freestyle. All the fun, free, making-the-most-out-of-Boston type stuff as it comes to me.  Opera one week, food festivals the next. It’s gonna get ca-razy up in herrrrre.

I’m also working on adapting to this new schedule which is harder than I thought it would be (considering my “Free Time” almost doubled) but I’ll get there.

Oh and the wedding, still planning that.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think my writing has a good amount of my personality in it.  I want readers to know that there’s a human behind this keyboard and not a Boston Tourism Robot.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write about Boston because, and this may come as a surprise, I really love Boston. Always have. I grew up an hour north and visited often as I was growing up, finally moving here for college.

I also know it’s easy to get in a rut of doing the same old stuff and not really getting out there to explore. I want to inspire fellow Bostonians to get out there, seek out something fun, play tourist for the day, and learn something new.

4) How does your writing process work?

I keep Post-It in business.  I have sticky notes on sticky notes.  They’re color coded.  They’re on the wall and on my monitor.  Basically, if I don’t physically write something down it will leave my brain forever never to be found again.  So the first step in my blog process, culminating ideas, all happens on Post-It notes and notebooks.

Then, I do a bit of research using the ol’ Google box. I schedule, and then comes the tough part – actually getting off the couch and doing stuff.  I know, that’s my whole mantra of the blog – get up and do something.  But it can be difficult! It involves changing out of pajamas and brushing my hair.  Who wants to do that? Nobody.  But it’s worth it.

I rarely take notes when I’m out and about doing stuff, as I have a pretty good memory for details. I do try to write about things as soon as possible while the experience is still fresh.  The writing part generally comes easy to me once I have caffeine in my system. Once the post is written, I let it decanter like a fine wine (really, its because I won’t notice typos and huge grammar issues right away and I have to come back and reread later if I want to actually edit).

Now I’m passing the process tour torch to three lovely ladies I’ve met through the Boston Bloggers network.

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Alex of Literally, Everything just got married and ran the Boston Marathon within two weeks so I’ll never complain of being busy again.
Ana of Scavengenius came to Boston from Brazil (by way of New Jersey and Georgia) and has the most precious accent in the world.
Janee of Yellow Bird, Yellow Beard is following her passion by going back to school in order to make me piles of delicious gluten free, dairy free baked goods.