less than optimal

19
Apr

Today has not been particularly awesome.

I woke up quite sore from seemingly overdoing the exercise. Oh well. After the morning ablutions, I checked the messages, learned that the wife of a dear friend in the fandom/music community passed away on Thursday evening.

Kinda went downhill from there, with all kinds of little things tripping off anxiety and general ill feelings.

Anyway, hope your day was better; I think I’m just going to take the rest of the evening, and perhaps quite a bit of tomorrow off.

See you on the other side.

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friday random elevenish: “gonna be measuring my retirement against the go live date” edition

19
Apr

This week, all told, hasn’t been too bad, at least from where I sit on Thursday night. The weather’s been absolutely gorgeous, allowing me to knock out a good thirty miles on the bike (my usual stretch of the Virginia Capital Trail) over three days, though Thursday’s ten miles hurt something fierce. I’m not sure I’ve overdone it, but I know that I’m not in peak condition just yet; but I’ll sort myself out in time. I could, I think, use a day off to recover (other than my usual 200 push ups a day in the office to keep from murdering someone through the phone line) and rest; this works because it’s supposed to rain and such Friday.

Today’s post title ties into the fact that the project I’ve been working for two years and change, it seems, is getting bumped to the right again…already. I still don’t have a go-live date, but it’s probably going to blow out my contract year at this point. Oh well. My biggest problem is that the other project I got started (with help from some folks up in DC) is probably going to be finished before this one is, which is potentially going to hose up all sorts of things, because this project was originally supposed to go live back in October…it’s almost a year late, and it’s really damaging my calm, since none of the delays are my fault (hell, I’m done at this point, and have been for a while)…argh, anyway.

That last paragraph came to light this afternoon, which did a lot to kill the high spirits I woke up with after another successful Open Mic hosting gig at Castleburg. The usual crowd brought their usual “A” game, and we had a bunch of new faces show to do their thing, including some poetry, a talented songwriter (with a song about digging up Elvis, which was a ton of fun), and a guy who picked up the bass just a few months ago to come up with something to do for retirement, and came out to share his progress, an he was damned good. I’m ridiculously proud of the community I’ve had a part in fostering; we have a ton of fun, people tell me how much they dig the friendly and encouraging atmosphere, and the management likes me, because the folks who show (on what would normally be a pretty quiet night) buy lots of food and beer. This is always one of the highlights of my month, and they pay me a little bit for my trouble (and cover my bar tab), which is always nice.

I guess that makes me a professional? I dunno.

Anyway, for the Easter weekend, I’m hoping to take it easy. I’ve got a bunch of paperwork to do on Friday at work (though I expect they’ll cut us loose early), although the kids are off of school tomorrow. The big event is that thanks to my WNRN membership, I scored a couple of free tickets to the Elle King show in town on Saturday. I really dug her first record (“Exes and Ohs” was ubiquitious, and pretty great), and her new one, Shake the Spirit is pretty damned good too. I’m looking forward to getting out with the lovely wife for date night.

In any case, that’s about it, except for the music – kind of appropriately full of modern indie women; I’ll take it.

  1. “Lavaroth” – Valentine Wolfe
  2. “C is for Corpse Camp” – Mikey Mason
  3. “What Do You Hear in these Sounds” – Dar Williams
  4. “DMZ” – Leslie Hudson
  5. “Wasted Years” – Iron Maiden
  6. “On The Sea” – Efenwealth Wystle
  7. “Hang on Me” – St. Vincent
  8. “That Train” – The Badlees
  9. “Never Land” – The Long Losts
  10. “The Speeding Ticket Song” – Danny Birt
  11. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” – Florence + The Machine
  12. “Shane” – Liz Phair
  13. “Phree Burd” – Beth Patterson
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friday random elevenish: “70 percent people I’ve shared a stage with” edition

12
Apr

So…I spent most of Thursday waiting for my office phone to get fixed. A problem I reported to the trouble ticket gods three weeks ago. Now, I have a dial tone, but no phone that works. It seems my organization is on the cusp of changing over to a new Voice over IP system, but when they started changing things, everybody forgot that my building was there, and killed my line. I say “they forgot”, but that doesn’t entirely explain the eight pallet loads of new phones to be deployed at a later date currently residing in the storage side of my building.

So, I have an old-fashioned analog phone line at my desk, but no old-fashioned analog phone to plug into it. Oh yeah, new phone number too. Oh well.

Otherwise, the week’s been relatively quiet, beyond the adventure I posted about the other day. This weekend should be low impact; for me, anyway – less so for the children – the youngest is performing in a choir at the district fine arts festival on Saturday, and the middle one is going to the prom Friday night. I’ve been scrambling to buy corsages and such the last 24 hours. Oh well; it’ll be cool.

Oh, and the other night I proved that I probably should not have a beer and browse monoprice. I bought a mixer. I got a really good deal, but I probably shouldn’t do that.

Anyway….music. Lots of friends.

  1. “Looks Like Rain (demo)” – SJ Tucker
  2. “Waking Up In Vegas” – Katy Perry
  3. “Don’t Turn Your Back on South Dakota” – Jonah Knight
  4. “(Listen to) The Flower People” – Spinal Tap
  5. “Flutterbye” – Dirty Metal Lefty
  6. “Hot Cha” – TMBG
  7. “The Bells” – Valentine Wolfe
  8. “Drinking With Satan” – Mikey Mason
  9. “Carving Knife” Leslie Hudson
  10. “Dark Arts” – Errand of Mercy
  11. “Undertow” – Genesis
  12. “Supernova” – Liz Phair
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who let the….

10
Apr

So, I took a day off of work today and spent it at the elementary school volunteering as a “positive male role model” as part of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program. It’s the kind of thing I probably should have done sooner, as my youngest kid is but three months short of moving on from elementary school, and my oldest is in college, but hey, whatever. I’m not sure it’s even been around that long.

So, I gave an enthusiastic introduction the morning announcements as the strains of the titular Baha Men tune faded, gave a ton of high fives to the younger ones, and got kind of quizzical, amused looks from my youngest child’s friends. Oh well, she was proud I was there.

My duties according to the schedule they gave me had me helping out in 40 minute shifts in lots of, for whatever reason, 2nd grade classrooms. I ended up tutoring a bunch of math, worked out pretty well – I got a kid to understand “borrowing” in subtraction, so I nailed the good deed for the day. I also covered cafeteria duty, supervised recess, and helped out carrying some things.

Although I’ve been the father to three kids through elementary school (or nearly so) at this point, I shall never get used to the fact that I feel like a giant as I make my way through elementary school classrooms (the furniture is so small); and, I’d probably never have the patience to be a legit elementary school teacher; it’d be way to draining for not nearly the reward I get for managing adults working software projects, who are, honestly, not that different in terms of maturity or excessive dramatic license when it all comes down to it, but in the end, I’d rather make the low six figures that I do rather than a fifth that for what’s honestly more work.

Having spent some time on the teacher side of the “chalk line” myself, even if it was only a little less than a year, I have great respect for teachers, especially since I did it for just long enough to wash out. These folks are, frankly, heroes, for putting up with the crap they do for the little reward they do it for, and deserve our respect (I’m definitely buying a teacher a beer the next time I hit Castleburg) and appreciation. One of the second grade teachers I worked with today was having an extra hard day, and it was my pleasure and honor to spend a little while serving as a sympathetic ear for them this afternoon.

Anyway, that’s what I did today. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be back to dealing with the vagaries of program management.

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friday random elevenish – “viral coma” edition

05
Apr

As I posted on social media earlier today, I don’t know what those folks at Goblins and Growlers shared with me on Monday night, but it hit me really, really hard by Tuesday afternoon. I have spent the last 48 hours or so in a semi-comatose state, waking only to use the bathroom and cough up green mucus. It’s not been fun.

Unlike Goblins and Growlers at Strangeways, which was a blast, and I’m looking forward to sitting down at the table again to roll some dice and hammer some monsters via my dwarf cleric avatar, Darrak Hammerforge. ‘Twas nice to actually do D&D 5E as a player rather than a DM for once.

Since then, however, beginning with the 20 minute drive home from the brewery, the illness has taken me. I made it through the day at work on Tuesday, though I pretty much passed out in the titular viral coma from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday around noontime, and I still don’t feel great. I am going to fight through the relatively light workday Friday (once again, I’m posting this Thursday night – yay time manipulation!), because I’ve got to head out to SBC for the eldest’s semester dance concert, and bring the youngest home, since my lovely wife is staying out for the weekend for a girls’ weekend and cat settling in.

I’m not really looking forward to the drive, but it’s gonna happen (and I’ll get a couple of episodes of The Adventure Zone in), and I’m looking forward to seeing the kid dance, of course, because she rocks it.

Like I said, it’s been a pretty quiet week, apart from the coughing and hacking. I am planning on hitting the twice-monthly Music Jam at my friend Whisky Dave’s Three Brothers Distillery (recently featured on Moonshiners: Whisky Business!) down the road in Disputanta on Saturday (I’ve been meaning to visit the distillery forever), and playing some tunes if the voice holds out.

Otherwise, I’m just going to try to make it through the weekend, and be healthy by Monday morning.

In any case, here are some tunes off of my hard drive. My buddy Jonah is going to hate that I’m pointing out tune number one on the list (from the forgotten first record), though the rest of it is pretty decent, including a few other friends (and people I wish were my friends):

  1. “Go First” – Jonah Knight
  2. “Expatriate” – Alison Crutchfield
  3. “Dark Horse” – Katy Perry
  4. “Not That Kind of Story” – SJ Tucker
  5. “Take Out The Trash” – They Might Be Giants
  6. “Mesmerizing” – Liz Phair
  7. “Madalaine (demo)” – Winger
  8. “Dream” – Imagine Dragons
  9. “Backyard” – Of Monsters and Men
  10. “Mtn Dew” – Madison “Metricula” Roberts
  11. “Modern Man” – Arcade Fire
  12. “I Bet It Stung” – Tegan & Sara
  13. “Howl At The Moon (Sha-La-La)” – The Ramones
  14. “New World Man” – Rush
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afk, or something

31
Mar

The six of you who look at this space regularly probably missed out on the usual random playlist on Friday, or much of anything lately. Occasionally I step away, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because the office got busy, and decided to block some php code that lets me update things around here from within that network. Oh well.

I did some stuff anyway. I played some tunes at Fantasci with the Humdingers in Raleigh, which was a nice little con with some very friendly staff, but absolutely dead in terms of merchandise sales. I did get to play with the full 5 piece band on Saturday night, though, which was cool, as the junior Humdingers are pretty talented. I did end up coming home from the con on Saturday night; missing karaoke, but otherwise did okay, getting to sleep in my own bed, and hang with the fam at the Church Hill Irish Festival in the city on Sunday. I also left my book of tunes at Humdinger Central, but I’ll grab it some other time, and I can mostly reconstitute from digital archives anyway.

The week at work was relatively uneventful. The usual project delay garbage, my office phone being down for some reason (which honestly isn’t a big problem for me), and whatnot. I also did the quarterly dog and pony show* with my various customers to give them the state of things and talk schedules, which went well enough, and I don’t really have to think much about it for a couple of months.

I did take the day off on Thursday to chaperone the 5th grade field trip to Washington DC, where we checked out museums and walked some of the memorials, including some I’d never actually been to before, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (“The Wall”) an the Korean War Memorial, which is kind of neat. The kids had fun, and I got a nice change of pace.

The weekend that just passed had some interesting events; I played the open mic at Väsen Brewing in town Friday night, knocking out a few tunes, seeing some open mic friends from other events, and enjoying the tunes from house band Weekend Plans. The room itself was a little cavernous, so I’m not sure exactly what folks heard what *any* of us were laying down, but it was fun, people (those who were paying attention, anyway, not that guy sitting front and center staring at the projected video on the opposite wall) said nice things, and I’ll probably do it again sometime.

Saturday was a new experience, tailgating and shouting along with the River City Red Army at the home opener for the Richmond Kickers Soccer Club with friends who are big fans. We had a blast, and we’ll likely do it again soon. After the game, we popped over to Castleburg for dinner and caught a set from Sweet Something, a great jazz combo.

Today I’m just taking it easy, doing laundry and helping the youngest put together a D&D adventure she plans on running with friends over spring break, and planning on making some vegetarian curry for dinner later.

The coming week should be uneventful, but as usual, one can really only hope for the best there.

_______________________

* – Sadly lacking any actual dogs and/or ponies.

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friday random elevenish – “face the music” edition

22
Mar

So as I write this, it’s Thursday night (I stage these posts for publishing later sometimes!), I’ve just paid the bills, which, as sometimes happens, isn’t all that fun, particularly when things get staggered to the point that all kinds of stuff hits at the same time. Oh well; I shall just have to focus on the positive: That I had a tune published by the FuMP this week, that I had an absolutely *kick-ass* open mic last night where I got to debut a couple of original tunes that went over well, and I get to go play rock star this weekend at FantaSci with a bunch of my musical friends.

That’s gotta be enough to get past the badly staggered bills, the ten pages of bullshit memo my boss and I have to help another department address, and the fact that the weather’s still swinging wildly between the 20°s and the 70°s and screwing with my sinuses.

Not much else to report, I guess; tomorrow is work and then driving to North Carolina, finding my bandmates, and playing a show. Then doing the same thing more or less on Saturday. Oh, if you happen to be around Durham and want to catch a show, here’s where I know I’m playing:

  • Friday, 8pm – Magnolia Room
  • Saturday, 6pm – Magnolia Room (full band, featuring the junior Humdingers!)

Otherwise, we’ll be vending all weekend, and figuring out the way thi first-year con operates.

So anyway: tunes. Not a bad list pulled off the damned hard drive while I type, including a few friends. Enjoy:

  1. “Flood I” – Sisters of Mercy
  2. “Day and Night” – The Jim Carroll Band
  3. “Lame Claim to Fame” – “Weird” Al Yankovic
  4. “Take Your Time” – The Clarks
  5. “Why I Had To Go” – Bishop Allen
  6. “Skin Tight” – Winger
  7. “Kenesaw Mountain Landis (live)” – Jonathan Coulton
  8. “Harry Pottter’s Three” – Danny Birt
  9. “Poem of War” – SJ Tucker
  10. “Little Red Button” – Foot Pound Force
  11. “Black Mirror” – Arcade Fire
  12. “Girl with One Eye” – Florence + The Machine
  13. “Love Shack” – The B-52s
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that thing I mentioned yesterday – “heroes who died”

20
Mar

As I mentioned yesterday, while out at BFGCon last weekend, I shared a couple of songwriting exercises with Comedy Rock Star Mikey Mason over a couple of beers. One of the things I played for him was a little ditty I knocked out last summer, not long after Avengers: Infinity War came out; a parody of the Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died”, about all the heroes who got dusted in The Snappening™. Mikey dug it, and suggested I submit it to The Funny Music Project, currently run by nerdcore rapper Devo Spice (and originally created by my buddy Rob Balder back in the day); full of funny tunes that end up on the Doctor Demento Show and all that.

Well, I wasn’t entirely happy with the recording (I don’t have a punk voice, for one, but the guitar solo is pretty dope), and I lost the drum track in the great laptop-pissed-on-by-a-cat incident a few months back anyway, so I couldn’t just re-do the vocal track even if I wanted to. Also, I’m not really a professional musician, even if I do get paid to play occasionally, so I didn’t submit to the main site or anything. The FuMP does, however, do a kind of minor league thing, known as The Sideshow, so I thought, what the hell, I’ll toss my MP3 at them and see what happens.

In any case, it got posted this morning, and people are saying nice things about it on social media. I would be remiss if I didn’t share it here (go ahead and click the logo):

Anyway, that was kind of a cool thing, certainly something I can brag about from the stage tonight at open mic.

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interval of mundanity between bouts of coolness

19
Mar

Today I went back to work after my four day weekend, which included a weekend of gigs at BFGCon, which, in spite of apprehension of how the Humdingers (and the merchandise of Camelot Treasures) would go over at a gaming convention, went pretty darned well. The trip was worth the effort, and we played a couple of good, if weird (especially Saturday night) sets, which people seemed to enjoy, even if the originally planned performance venue didn’t pan out. The staff treated us well, we had plenty of fun with our friend and fellow performer Mikey Mason, got a little bit of gaming in, and I got a hold of some of the coolest dice ever.

I took Monday off to rest, recover, and get some laundry done, and it was enjoyable and productive. Today I went back to work, and found myself instantly frustrated, but it’s what I have for now, and they pay me pretty well to put up with this garbage.

But I don’t want to talk about that; it’s not interesting. Another thing I did Monday was take action on a suggestion Mikey made to me at the con, while we sat down for one of several beers and to compare notes and creative endeavors. If all goes well, it should come to fruition tomorrow. It’s not a huge thing or anything, but it’s kind of cool and will get something neat I made in front of some people…more to come.

Tomorrow after work I get to do another cool creative thing, being the third Wednesday of the month, I’ll be hosting the Open Mic at Castleburg Brewery and Taproom again, and I’m looking forward to debuting a new tune or two on stage, and trying out some interesting musical experiments, and really, really hoping we have at least as good a turnout as we had back in February (it seems like we might get there).

Get past Thursday and Friday at work, and I jump into the cool alternate universe again, playing shows all weekend with the Humdingers at FantaSci in Raleigh, again with a bunch of musical friends. Here’s to hoping it goes well.

Honestly, it’s these neat fun things I get to do with with my musical friends that make all the crap I put up with on a daily basis worth it sometimes…

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friday thursday random elevenish: “a wealth of gigs” edition

14
Mar

Once again, Thursday is my Friday. Gotta treat myself now and then. It’s funny, though, that my body/brain *knows* these sorts of things, as although this week’s been rather low-imact in terms of work (my projects are on schedule and my guys are doing all the right things – the worst I’ve dealt with was this morning, where I discovered that they’d made a bunch of changes to the timekeeping system and I fought with my timecard for twenty minutes until I found a valid labor code); I’ve been dealing with weird, unfocused anxiety (which is probably totally tied into the stuff I talked about last week, even if it’s not quite so easy to point to anything), which has made things feel long.

The big reason I’m treating myself to another long weekend (Fri/Mon off) is that tomorrow I’m heading off the first of several music gigs coming up. This weekend I’ll be with the Blibbering Humdingers at BFGCon in Maryland, playing shows and engaging in all sorts of tomfoolery, along with our dear friend Mikey Mason.

This Wednesday, being the third Wednesday, is Open Mic at Castleburg, hosted by Yours Truly, starting around 6pm or so. I’d be happy with a turnout half as good as last month, but I really hope we’re able to grow this thing, and I have some new tunes to try out that I wrote last month.

And next weekend, I’m with the Humdingers once again at FantaSCI, a new convention in NC that’s geting started up this year by some con scene acquantances. We’ll be sharing the stage all weekend with Mikey again, as well as Metricula and White Plectrum. It’s looking to be a good time.

And given that St. Patrick’s Day is on Sunday*, the girls are going to be busy dancing all over the damned place with Heart of Ireland, working to both put on a great show, and protect their gorgeous solo dresses from getting Guiness spilled all over them.

That’s the promo business out of the way – otherwise this week, I’ve been rehearsing (obviously – Scott’s got some tunes on the setlist we haven’t dug out in a while), reading a bit, and yesterday making a big 70s cookbook style Bisquick burrito casserole, inspired by this post over at The Takeout. It was awesome, and I’ll be having it again for lunch today. Also, the weather looks to be pretty great today, so the bike is hanging off the back of my car, and will hopefully get some use this afternoon.

In the meantime, here are some tunes. Nice list today, decent mix without a lot of the usual stuff – also, I really dig that Record Company tune:

  1. “Embrace of the Endless Ocean” – Amon Amarth
  2. “Life Is Like A Song” – Jethro Tull
  3. “Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At The Seams” – Cinderella
  4. “Take On Me” – A-Ha
  5. “Pictures of Girls” – Wallows
  6. “Night Time” – Superorganism
  7. “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” – Journey
  8. “Old Man” – Stella Donnelly
  9. “Black Tiles” – Wild Flag
  10. “Een Geldersch Lied” – Heidevolk
  11. “Life To Fix” – The Record Company
  12. “Alison” – Swimming Tapes
  13. “Lucretia My Reflection (vinyl version)” – The Sisters of Mercy
  14. “Charlotte Sometimes” – The Cure

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* – I shall be very curious to see what Mikey does with this tune this weekend, as St. Patrick’s Day actually falls on Sunday this year, so “the Sunday after the Saturday immediately following the actual calendar day…” doesn’t happen until next week; perhaps “the Sunday after the Saturday immediately preceding the actual calendar day of…”? I dunno. I shall be sure to report back, though I’m sure we’ll have fun with it and hoist a few to celebrate.

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