friday random elevenish: “that escalated quickly” edition

16
Nov

Winter came on like gangbusters, huh? No snow here in the RVA, but my friends in DC and environs farther north and west got spanked with snow, ice, and power outages. We just got tons of rain and a bunch of wind. One of the trees in my back yard fell down, though sadly, it didn’t land on the house and get me a new roof. Oh well.

The rest of this short week (which has felt really long, as they do), has been pretty uneventful. Work is work, the kitten remains cute (and may, in fact, have his own instagram account by now), I played a decent, if not my best, set at Isley on Wednesday night, and I may be feeling a little ‘bleh’ thanks to the flu shot I got on Tuesday afternoon, though I seem to have avoided being knocked totally on my ass by it (yes, I know “getting sick from a flu shot” is a myth, though I always get a few of the side effects for a couple of days); I just really hope this one works, unlike last year, which didn’t, and put me down for two weeks.

No huge plans for the weekend, beyond making the drive out to SBC to pick up the kid for fall break, running other kids to events elsewhere, and the usual laundry and shopping and whatnot. A trip out to Scott’s Addition if there are decent food trucks about is always a possibility, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Not the most amazing update, I know, but it’s been pretty chill (and chilly) week overall. We’re just going to have to live with that.

In terms of commentary on this week’s random playlist out of Pandora, as I write this, at least, the usual suspects have been left out (a nice surprise, actually), but the basic indie + vikings + 80s classics continuum is maintained, though the algorithms seem to have developed some holiday tags, given #6, but at least it’s not the standard FM radio holiday tunes; I’ll be avoiding those for a while longer if I can help it.

  1. “Shine” – Mondo Cosmo
  2. “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League
  3. “Kingslayer” – Grand Magus
  4. “Darling” – Real Estate
  5. “Santonian Shores” – Eluveitie
  6. “Ring Out Solstice Bells (2003 Remaster)” – Jethro Tull
  7. “Something Came Over Me” – Wild Flag
  8. “The Final Countdown” – Europe
  9. “Steps” – Leah Nobel
  10. “Dramamine” – Modest Mouse
  11. “Drive” – The Cars
  12. “We Belong” – Pat Benetar
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new additions and adventures

13
Nov

This was another weekend for putting a bunch of miles on the car, but as is usual, there’s some pretty cool stuff at the other end of the drive.

Friday night, we drove out to SBC for the fall dance concert, where Mary had a couple of performances, including a self-choreographed solo piece that was really very cool. My kid is a hell of a performer, and leaves it all on the stage (she even made the poster advertising the event, even if you can’t see her face), and she rocked it.

Saturday was both low-key and not. I did my usual morning errands, running out to grab fresh veggies from Jerry’s farm stand and the other usual weekend errands (managing to find fresh bottles of 2018 Hardywood GBS before the rest of Richmond starts following distributor trucks around to get hold of some) while the rest of the crew did cleanup around the house. In the early afternoon, we took a trip out together and came back with this:

Meet Lebowski, or the Little Dude, or El Duderito, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Our original plan, after losing two beloved pets this year, was to have Colleen and Catherine scope out potential candidates while volunteering at the RSPCA, and we’d adopt somebody over the Christmas break; kind of a family gift. Life, however, offers different options sometimes. A friend of Andrew’s had come upon a feral litter in their neighborhood, and this little guy needed a home, so we audititioned him on Saturday, and ended up bringing him home. He’s amazingly well socialized, already litter trained, and has a wonderful, laid-back, friendly temperment, just like his cinematic namesake. We’re guessing he might be three or four months old. We quite like him, and he really ties the room together.

Sunday, Colleen and I took a drive down to Cary NC for The Beer & BBQ Ball at Bond Brothers Beer Company, where the Humdingers played a set in the beer garden in support of the local Fireman’s community charity (the firemen were uniformly awesome and we really appreciated the support and being made to feel welcome). We played a pretty great 90 minute set (if I do say so myself), had some great BBQ and beer (Raspberry Vanilla Variant of their imperial stout? Amazing), and I got to hang with my friends a bit and make music, which is always a wonderful, life-affirming thing. I really, really needed it.

Monday I had off for Veteran’s Day. The kids still had school, so I got to spend another day with my wife, which was nice. We did a little shopping, got some quality kitten time in, and I made a pretty decent sweet potato, spinach, and butter bean stew using fresh ingredients from the market (I’m hoping it’s even better for lunch today), and we closed out the evening drinking a toast to Stan Lee, and watching The Big Lebowski with the Little Lebowski.

Not a bad way to spend a day.

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“keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time”

13
Nov

So yesterday, we lost Stan Lee.

We all know who he is (well, I hope we do, if you’re reading this): the guy who had a hand, along with other prolific storytellers like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, in creating so many of the iconic superhero characters we see today pretty much everywhere – movie posters, lunchboxes, t-shirts, all over the walls of my office – but probably more importantly, he was the tireless pitchman, using his iconic voice and bombast to become the face of Marvel comics and the Marvel Universe (even if his love of the spotlight sometimes irked his other, more introverted co-creators), becoming a hero himself to so many of us; giving us, the often disaffected, socially awkward youth someone to look up to, who made us feel like part of the exclusive cool kids’ club.

I could repeat all the stuff you’ll read in the obituary pieces that are everywhere today, but I won’t, beyond what I’ve written above, though Stan’s passing, as expected as it was (he hasn’t been in good health the last few years), still feels personal, to me, and to so many of us. Stan gave me Spider-Man to read when I was a youngster (and who I still revisit today), he gave me Doctor Strange, who’s psychadelic adventures (so vividly illustrated by Ditko) captivated me. He was the face of the company that published the 80s GI:JOE comics Larry Hama wrote that got me into comics collecting and culture, visiting with me and thousands of other readers every month in the “Stan’s Soapbox” column in Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins in each issue. He made us feel welcome and appreciated; he gave us a place and a community, and made it feel, on some level, like he was speaking to us personally.

I never got to meet Stan. I saw him from afar once or twice; we’d been guests at the same conventions a couple of times in the last few years (not that the “Chuck Parker, convention guest” experience even slightly compares to that of “Stan Lee, Convention Guest”!); As most con performers, my time is often spoken for for most of an event, certainly not leaving me enough time to stand in line for a couple of hours to get a few seconds interaction and an autograph, though if I had run into him and had a chance to speak to him for a while, my story wouldn’t be much different than that of so many other friends, acquantances, and fellow nerds who have gotten that opportunity over the years…

I’d just say “Thank You.”

‘Nuff Said.

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my friends make things

09
Nov

I make no secret of the fact that I have a *ton* of talented friends (I mean, I’ve never weighed them or anything, but…); today, of all days, a whole slew of them released, or started up crowdfunding efforts in support of, new projects that are really all very good and exciting. It’s only fair I do my part to share their efforts, mostly because their stuff is really good, and also because they’ve been uniformly supportive of my meager creative efforts over the years as well!

All of these projects are totally worth supporting; why not take a look and maybe throw your support behind them as well?

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friday random elevenish – “I bless (and alternately curse) the rains…” edition

09
Nov

A week. Yes it was.

The most exciting thing I did besides voting was buy tires. Otherwise it was conference calls, plugged up sinuses, a little cooking, a little music rehearsal, some push-ups, and just getting through it. Yep.

Tonight I’ll take a drive out to SBC for the fall dance concert, Saturday I’ll push through laundry and hit the farmer’s market, and if I get around to it, a group ride sponsored by my local bike shop. On Sunday, I’ve got a gig down in Cary NC, playing tunes with the Humdingers at The Beer & BBQ Ball, a charity event at Bond Brothers Beer Company. We got on at 5pm, though I expect I’ll be hanging out for a bit during the day, for it’s a brewery, and I can’t really visit one of those without trying a few of the local specialties. I’m looking forward to it, as I haven’t played with S&K in a couple of months, and I miss it (and them) terribly.

It’s also a long weekend; thank a Veteran.

And that’s really about it, other than to throw out a playlist, which is, for the most part, pretty common, with a whole lotta female-fronted pop-punk/riot grrl; thrice the Donnas, plus the Slits and that Betty Blowtorch tune. Also, in at #8, the tune that launched a thousand memes. Enjoy:

  1. “Oh No” – Soy Christmas
  2. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” – Tom Petty
  3. “Take On Me (extended edition)” – A-Ha
  4. “Out of My Hands” – The Donnas
  5. “Minstrel in the Gallery” – Jethro Tull
  6. “Nanook Rubs It” – Frank Zappa
  7. “I Wanna Be Your Sucker” – Betty Blowtorch
  8. “Africa” – Toto
  9. “Too Bad About Your Girl” – The Donnas
  10. “Heard it Through The Grapevine” – The Slits
  11. “Renegades”- x Ambassadors
  12. “Lord of the Blacksmiths” – Falconer
  13. “Don’t Break Me Down” – The Donnas
  14. “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” – AC/DC

Also, I shall never tire of the “hammer and anvil” percussion on #12. Never.

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the morning after…

07
Nov



Although he didn’t win down in Texas (though it was close; if actual human Ted Cruz is capable of sweating, I’m sure he did last night), Beto O’Rourke is “So Fucking Proud Of You Guys”; and, honestly, so am I (and I don’t have to worry about sending control rooms scrambling for the beep button on live TV) ; not just because of the results, but turnout overall was pretty damned great all over, especially for a mid-term election. I hit my polling place around ten minutes to three yesterday, and stood in line for almost half an hour to get my ballot. When I fed it into the machine, I was voter #1482, which is an absolutely ridiculously high number, even when compared to a presidential year. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that high a number, and that was pretty much the time I always vote (and I *always* vote).

I am also reasonably happy with my local results. My Senator (and America’s Dad) Tim Kaine cruised to a pretty solid victory over The Racist Corey Stewart™, my Representative in VA-04, Donald McEachin, won a second term (campaigning hard despite medical issues), though the big story around these parts was the win of friend-of-a-friend Abigail Spanberger knocking out Dave “women be all up in my grill” Brat across town in VA-07, which is a great story, and part of the larger story of women winning big in 2018, especially Democratic women, leading to the Democrats taking back the House of Representatives, which is good news overall, and will provide some much-needed balance to government.

Not all the results are in (I’m still keeping a close eye on Stacy Abrams for Georgia Governer, for example), though this morning, it still feels like a good day, in a year where there’s not been a whole lot to be optimistic about if you lean left-of-center.

You know what? I’ll take it.

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VOTE

06
Nov

Today’s election day in these United States; midterms are *always* a big deal, despite usually crappy turnout, but that’s not gonna happen this year, right? Because this election’s a BIG DEAL; like the Washington Post said this week, “This midterm election is like no other in a generation”:

Tuesday’s midterm election is about many things. It’s about health care and immigration. It’s about the economy. It’s about power and who will hold it, both in Washington and in the states. Above all, it’s about something more elemental: what kind of country Americans see today and want to see in the future. That makes these midterms unlike any in the recent past.

Emphasis there is mine…but it’s really the gist of it. The last two years, no matter your political stripe, have been, well, different in this country. It’s been going this way for a while, and I could point you to a million navel-gazing articles about the lapses in civility and hyperpartisanship and whatnot, but the tone of Washington, and thus elections all over the place has changed, and not for the better, in my opinion, but as this is election day, I’m not going to spend anymore time on ideology, or on how anybody should vote; y’all know my positions on things.

No, I’m just going to tell you all to go out and vote – participate in democracy, do your civic duty; engage in the responsibility that comes along with your rights as a citizen. Be involved. If for some ridiculous reason you’re eligible and not registered, first, shame on you, but I forgive you – go get registered. Don’t know what’s on your ballot or where your polling place is? Check here or similar places to start; you’re already on the internet; use it!

As I say every year, it’s the absolute least you can do as a citizen.

Just get out and vote. It’s mid-terms. The whole House of Representatives is up; as is one-third of the Senate. You likely have some state or local offices (I’ve got Commonwealth’s Attorney) and a couple of ballot initiatives. This stuff’s important.

I’m going to close this out with a message from my friends, at, of all places, The Harry Potter Alliance, and their Wizard Rock The Vote campaign – my friend Steph Anderson and her band Tonks and the Aurors (who I’ve had the opportunity to sit in with once or twice) spent a good bit of this summer touring, playing wrock tunes for folks, and registering them to vote. It was cool. The HPA does lots of good stuff, but the GOTV efforts wrock.

You wouldn’t want to upset Dumbledore, would you?

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okay weekend, bound by rain

05
Nov

The drive to work this morning was pretty miserable; miserable to the point that I am seriously considering stepping up the “go buy tires this month” timetable and borrowing a bit from savings in the short term. I-95 didn’t feel entirely stable, or at least my car on it didn’t.

Oh well; I survived. I shall start checking prices more actively starting this afternoon.

The weekend was, as I alluded to, pretty low-key, which was welcome. I took my wife out for a dinner date Friday evening, which we both needed. Burgers and drinks at Cap Ale is always a pleasant diversion. Saturday we took care of grocery shopping, farmers’ marketing, and pokemon hunting in the morning, then I spent the afternoon scrubbing the bathroom (which did my OCD clean-freak good), making some good vegetarian chili, knocking out lots of laundry, relaxing and watching some stuff on TV, then setting the clocks back before going to bed. Sunday was more laundry, a couple of little errands in the morning, then spending some time playing, of all things, Team Fortress 2 with Andrew (and actually doing better than he did!). Around 4pm, Colleen suggested heading over to Scott’s Addition (the curry truck was at Ardent!), so we had a family dinner in the beer garden, eating good food, and petting dogs.

I woke up this morning to serious rain, as indicated above. The rest of the family slept in (it’s end of the first marking period, kids get today off for conferences, and tomorrow because most of the schools are polling places). I’m hoping they keep cleaning.

Oh, rest assured I’ll remind you tomorrow as well, but if you haven’t already, GO VOTE TOMORROW!

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friday random elevenish: “day after dweezil” edition

02
Nov

So this has been a pretty long week; not sure why, really. It seems like I spent the whole time in meetings, which, is, you know, par for the course. I just didn’t sleep well any night this week; again, not sure why. The weather’s been trying to decide whether it’s summer or fall, which might be part of it. I got one decent bike ride in this week, which, apart from getting run into by a deer (seriously, they have it in for me – this one bounced right off my hip while I was riding the trail!) was pretty nice, though it hurt (though not really because of the deer, but because I’m getting old). All I know is that it’s felt like I’ve had ten days under my belt since about 8am Tuesday.

I am currently about seven hours out from what looks like it’s going to be a pretty quiet weekend, which I’m honestly looking forward to; the last few have had more than enough activity, and next weekend looks like it’s filling up quickly (at least that’s a long one), with the SBC dance concert, and a last minute Humdingers gig Sunday afternoon in the Triangle.

But, there’s nothing on the agenda beyond stuff like grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, watching my wife make little hats for the cats (totally worth the $8.70 for the enjoyment she’s getting), and trying to relax a bit this weekend. Maybe we’ll run out for a bite and a drink if a good food truck’s set up someplace? Only if we feel like it.

I guess I should talk about last night, which was pretty great – as indicated, I took the boy child out to what, apart from the Wiggles and innumerable gigs where I and/or friends happen to be playing, we figured was his first real rock concert – Dweezil Zappa’s *Choice Cuts* tour with the latest incarnation of his Zappa Plays Zappa band, this time, only fifteen minutes from home at the Beacon Theater, a nearly century-old venue in Hopewell, just outside the RVA metro. Dweezil and his band played for more than three hours, hitting a wide variety of Zappa classics and rarities, as well as peppering the show liberally with the theme from Psycho, a private joke within the band from Halloween night that kept rolling into November. The band (almost the same lineup as we saw in ’16 in Richmond, with a few changes), as expected, was on point, hitting every note exactly when it needed to be hit, with exactly the right inflection and emotion. Scheila Gomez, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, was, as she was back the last time I saw the show, a highlight, including taking lead vocals on a surprising inclusion, the novelty hit “Valley Girl”, which I wasn’t figuring on hearing, but it was, a hit with the crowd.

The crowd at this one was a little different than the last time; again, it was largely old guys and a few tolerant wives, and like Andrew and I, a couple of budding teenage musicians with their aging musician dads. that said, this was *Hopewell*, which, in spite of only being half an hour from Richmond, is decidedly not part of the Richmond cultural scene; it’s got much more of a small-town, rural Virginia vibe; as such, there were a lot of people at this show who would never even consider heading up the highway to the “big city” to see a show (this venue tends to specialize in aging country performers during the state fair circuit “off season”, over the hill classic rock bands from the 70s and 80s, and numerous “tribute” acts to Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Abba – that’s a selection of who was advertized for the next couple of months, anyway), so the atmosphere was a little different. There was a bit more whooping and hollering, a bit more drunk on cheap beer, and numerous shouts of “Yore Daddy woulda’ been proud, Sonny!” and such. There was also the two guys behind us who wouldn’t shut up during the whole thing; not that they weren’t appreciative of the performers, but were just loud and kinda distracting.

There was also this guy, right the hell in front of me:

He was just as whoopy and hollery as the rest, and wanted to dance around and “yee haw” drunkenly while being like 6’7″. Luckily, I was able to see around him most of the time and he was only moderate distraction. The important part was that the kid and I had a pretty great time, even if he was very tired afterwards. Worth it; his newly-gestating guitar playing mind was blown, as expected, and it was, if I do say so myself, a nice bonding experience.

Anyway; that’s about all there is other than to kick out the random streaming playlist. Reasonably standard; indie, vikings, a little new wave, and probably my favorite Def Leppard tune that never really got as much love as stuff like “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

  1. “Hang Me Up To Dry” – Cold War Kids
  2. “Jezaig” – Eluveitie
  3. “Madness” – Muse
  4. “Nehalennia” – Heidevolk
  5. “Powder Blue/Cascine Park” – Yumi Zouma
  6. “Hysteria” – Def Leppard
  7. “Pain” – The War on Drugs
  8. “Pretend We’re Dead” – L7
  9. “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go” – Soft Cell
  10. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths
  11. “Islands” – The xx
  12. “Carrots” – Skating Polly
  13. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics
  14. “Queen Bitch” – David Bowie
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tonight

01
Nov

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