friday random elevenish – “on the road” edition

24
May

By the time you’re reading this, it’s quite likely I’ll be somewhere on the American Interstate Highway System in the general mid-Atlantic region (not that I’m not on stretches of that every day or anything), traveling to Baltimore to play shows and geek out with The Blibbering Humdingers, who are Guests of Honor at Balticon, a convention I haven’t been to in years, but am kind of looking forward to getting back to, because, why not. We’ll be rocking the 5-piece band at (at least) the following times:

  • Saturday 1pm – Maryland Ballroom – “Guest of Honor Event”
  • Sunday 2pm – Room 6036 – “Wizard Rock Concert”

And we’ll likely be participating in (or moderating) these events in some capacity:

  • Friday 7pm – Maryland Ballrom – “Opening Ceremonies”
  • Friday 11pm – Kent – “Open Filk”
  • Saturday 11pm – Kent – “Open Filk”
  • Sunday 10am – Kent – “Panel: Pushing the Boundaries of Filk”
  • Sunday 11am – Kent – “Panel: There’s More To Music than Three Chords”
  • Sunday 11pm – Kent – “Open Filk”

Otherwise, we’ll be vending, visiting, and generally being good convention guests. I expect, given that the con is at the Inner Harbor now, we might be catching some of the sights at some point as well.

The other interesting bit about this weekend is that my youngest child is getting her first official “Guest” status at an entirely different event this weekend; she’ll be part of the Starship Horizons team at Escape Velocity. She’s been unofficially sitting in with these guys and helping out at cons we’ve been to the last couple of years, and has become a pretty solid expert on the workings of this neat bridge simulator program, so they invited her to help “officially” facilitate things for other participants. I’m pretty proud, and kind of wish I could be there for this one.

I’d say “that’s pretty much it” for the weekend, although, honestly, it’s probably quite enough to fill the time.

Otherwise, all that’s left is the playlist. All the usual participants, and the unusual apperance of a Dirty Dancing classic, but I like it:

  1. “Hey Jealousy” – Gin Blossoms
  2. “When You Close Your Eyes” – Night Ranger
  3. “Po-Jama People”- Frank Zappa
  4. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths
  5. “Give Me What I Want” – The Donnas
  6. “Didja Think” – Arlie
  7. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns ‘N’ Roses
  8. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
  9. “List of People (To Try and Forget About) – Tame Impala
  10. “Ziggy Stardust (live, 2017 remastered version)” – David Bowie
  11. “Running Down A Dream” – Tom Petty
  12. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (feat. Jennifer Warnes) – Bill Medley
  13. “Shut You Out” – Lunachicks
  14. “Where Is My Mind?” – Pixies
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mid-week celebration of appreciation

22
May

It is Wednesday, and I’ve been busy enough that I haven’t managed to check in on this space as I usually like to do, so I’m doing that now.

The office, with a few exceptions (which I’ll get to eventually), has been pretty slow this week, figuring in some big senior leadership meetings in Ohio and the holiday weekend we’re heading into having a lot of folks off. I’ve managed to clean up a few lingering things, set some priorities, all at a mostly leisurely pace, and hope that those meetings in the rarified air of the executive suite will settle out some of the timeline nebulosity I continue to deal with.

Tuesday, however, as I suggest in the previous paragraph, had some interesting exceptions, when a phone call from the boss (who’s in those senior leadership meetings) needed me to bail his ass out of a dumpster fire by turning a garbage acquisition review board presentation (for a program I’d never been involved with before) into a top flight presentation to go before the firing squad in two hours. I managed it (because I’m a goddamn professional), made my boss look good, and got a nice thank-you note.

It’s nice to be appreciated, though I really hope this gets remembered when performance review time comes around.

Otherwise, this week, the weather’s been beautiful so far, and as I post this missive, I’ve gotten thirty miles or so behind me on the bike, and when I weighed myself in this morning, I’m down another five pounds. I’m almost back to fighting shape, and I’m hoping to knock that fighting weight down five pounds below where it was at it’s peak. Nice stretch goal.

The weekend gig down in Durham was nice, though hot. We played our sets solidly, and people mostly appreciated our efforts (especially the second set, which wasn’t as technically proficient, but had much better energy), I got paid, and the nice folks at Bull City even threw in a couple of free crowlers to take back to the wife, even though I had fully intended to pay. Again, nice to be appreciated.

That, right there, is pretty much that, other than the general ennui/righteous anger I’m feeling at the state of the American political scene right now, and what this crap means for the state of the rights of people who aren’t bog-standard white cis-het men like me. I’m working through those feelings, and working out how to best translate those feelings into concrete action, because crap like that shouldn’t stand.

Stay tuned later in the week for what’s likely to be a pretty promo-heavy post, because we’re going to be busy this weekend with events all over the place.

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friday random elevenish – “off my game” edition

17
May

Friday. About time.

I was kind of off my schedule this week, between weather, appointments, rehearsals, hauling ass out to Amherst, etc. As I type this, I’d only gotten out on the trail once, and that was just a brisk three mile hike. Oh well; there’s always Friday afternoon. We shall see.

I did have a pretty successful Castleburg Open Mic this week, with a ton of new faces, and some really talented folks, even if my set wasn’t the hottest I’ve ever played; whatever – I finished strong, and made money for myself and the brewery (and I got to play with my kid, which was cool), at least enough that I get to do it next month. There’s the possibility of doing another one on Friday evening if I feel up to it, and I’m playing two sets with the Humdingers (at 1:30pm and 6:30pm) at Bull City Ciderworks in Durham on Saturday. Two paying gigs in one week – I’ll take it.

That’s most of the weekend plans; depending on when I get back this weekend, we might do the RVA Taco Festival at Hardywood on Sunday. We’ll see. It all depends if I crash in NC or not Saturday night.

Otherwise, it’s been a week. Long and largely pointless, with occasional bouts of me having to get snippy with developers, but I wrote about that already, and I don’t want to think about it anymore.

Anyway – tunes:

  1. “Now” – Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
  2. “Muffin Man” – Frank Zappa
  3. “Hive Mind” – TMBG
  4. “Reminder” – Mumford & Sons
  5. “Can You Keep A Secret” – Hikaru Utada
  6. “This Is Your Night” – Amber
  7. “Aces High” – Iron Maiden
  8. “The Monitor” – Bishop Allen
  9. “If I Was a Viking” – Efenwealt Wystle
  10. “Chief” – Patty Griffin
  11. “All American Man” – KISS
  12. “Daughters of Darkness” – Halestorm
  13. “Satisfied” – Robert Reilly
  14. “She Loves You” – The Beatles
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pika, stress, etc

13
May

First, the good: We had a wonderful time with Detective Pikachu, which was actually quite a lot of fun; in great part due to Ryan Reynolds’ performance as the title character. The story was cute, though the resolution wasn’t exactly not obvious from the get-go. Still quite enjoyable, however, and gorgeous to look at. The trailers ahead of things, aside from Godzilla: King of Monsters, however, were from a weird sort of alternate aspect of the world I simply don’t live in: treacly, touchy-feely fluff that doesn’t end up on my radar. It was an interesting step into how the other half lives, I guess.

The rest of the weekend was less than ideal; I’ve just been on edge for a bit (once I kind of figured out why – no need to share here – it made sense, but…), and I was less than pleasant to be around, either as myself or as an outsider. I tried, but I wasn’t my best self. I spent most of Sunday crashed alternately in bed reading or watching a couple of movies I rented (Aquaman and The Happytime Murders, both entertaining, but in the end, non-remarkable) lying in repose on the couch.

Heck, I struggled to get out of bed this morning, though managed it, as I had stuff to deal with, and I’m a goddamn professional, so I soldiered on. Doesn’t mean that the big meeting I had to address today didn’t end up getting heated and I had to bust out my dad voice with folks who ought to be professional, but tend to circle the wagons and answer simple questions with cascades of cruft and jargon, along with a healthy dollop of feined misunderstanding.

Sometimes (let’s be honest, most of the time), I hate my job, though I’m on the verge of getting something really good for the Department done if I can manage to offset the garbage bullshit these people are doing their best to obfuscate, because it means that their kingdom of long-outdated obsolete-except-for-here software applications is one step closer to irrelvance if this initiative of mine finally comes to fruition. I have no such loyalty to the status quo, and if I get this right, I save the taxpayer a heck of a lot of money (at least until somebody spends it on some other piece of pork sausage), but I’ll have made my corner of the public sector much more efficient.

Anyway, that’s what I get paid the big bucks for. I make it through the next couple of days, I get to make a bunch of music with and for my friends. I’ve got my Open Mic hosting gig on Wednesday, another opportunity on Friday if I feel up to it, and I’m playing Durham NC (at Bull City Ciderworks) with the Humdingers for two shows on Saturday afternoon/evening. Two of these gigs even pay.

Also, Tuesday’s a short day at work, as I’m taking a couple of hours off to make the trip west to pick up the kid as she’s wrapped her semester (I have a kid who’s half-way through college! wow), and do so in daylight.

That’s life right now…such as it is. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, as things tend to be.

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friday random elevenish: “ya basic!” edition

10
May

Once again, how to sum up a week? I guess it hasn’t been awful; the usual problems (absolutely no movement on the work project schedule, brain chemistry, the state of the planet, constant low-level life stress) are still the usual problems, so I’m just going to leave them go. Beyond that, the week hasn’t been terrible – as I write this, I’ve got forty miles and change behind me on the bike this week (with hopefully a few more in the cards ahead of me if the weather holds), I appear to have lost two or three pounds this week (only twelve or thirteen to go), and a played a pretty good set (totally off-book) at a newish open mic in town at Another Round Bar and Grill on Wednesday, which has the interesting quirk of being hosted by a rotating cast of characters week-to-week – this week the host was my local music buddy Dirty Metal Lefty, which is how I heard about it to begin with. Having not played out in a couple of weeks, it was a chance to shake the dust off before my monthly paid gig next week, leading into a run of weekends backing up the Blibbering Humdingers at various events up and down the mid-Atlantic (and maybe another Open Mic or two if I feel like it).

The weekend looks to be relatively low-key; just the usual grocery top-offs, farmers’ markets, and laundry, and trying to guide the in-house children toward a nice Mothers’ Day outing on Sunday (talk is that we’re doing lunch and Detective Pikachu, because why not?). Otherwise, we’ll probably try to carve a few more square feet of space out to make room for the part-time resident kid, who wraps up her semester next week.

Not much else to report, really; could be way worse in the scheme of things. The road goes ever on and on, they keep paying me, I keep showing up, etc.

Coaxing this week’s random playlist out of a “free, uninterrupted hour” of Pandora I earned by letting an ad for some weird piece of communications hardware/videophone detritus that a large social network thinks I should buy and welcome into my home play for thirty seconds. Ain’t going to happen, even if my phone and that weird little Google speaker my spouse got for free for something or other are already listening in all the time anyway. As basic as this week has been, so is this play list. Usual 80s new wave, female-fronted rock, the Donnas/Bowie/Zappa triumvirate, Vikings, and whatnot. Such is my life, but it’s some nice background music while I’m doing other stuff (though I honestly thought that last one was Mumford and Sons…):

  1. “Dance Song ’97” – Sleater-Kinney
  2. “Temptation” – New Order
  3. “Zomby Woof (live)” – Frank Zappa
  4. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police
  5. “You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
  6. “Thick As A Brick” – Jethro Tull
  7. “Moderation” – Florence + The Machine
  8. “Always Something There To Remind Me” – Naked Eyes
  9. “Who Invited You” – The Donnas
  10. “Svarta Ankan” – Falconer
  11. “Anonymous Face” – Quix*o*tic
  12. “Changes (1990 Remastered Version)” – David Bowie
  13. “Another One Bites The Dust (2011 Remaster)” – Queen
  14. “The Ocean and The Sea” – Bird Dog
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early, but wading in

07
May

The first primaries are ten months away. There are, as I write this, TWENTY-TWO contenders currently declared as running for the Democratic party nomination for 2020, with, seemingly, more jumping in every day. Debates start at the end of June, and there are so many qualified folks that the first one has to be carried over two consecutive nights so that everybody fits on the stage. It’s very early in the process, and information is still gushing in as if from a fire hose.

Nonetheless, my congressperson endorsed Joe Biden last night, already.

I’m still kind of processing how I feel about this development. See, I generally like my Congressman, Don McEachin; he’s generally in the right place on the issues I care about (i.e., he hits the right progressive buttons, particularly on the environment), and he’s actively engaged in his home district, always holding local events and is very accessible and responsive with constituents.

That said, I’m not sure about the endorsement this early, especially for current establishment/moderate darling, VP Joe Biden. At this point, I haven’t honed in on a candidate yet, though Biden isn’t really the direction my search is taking me.

It’s tough, too, because I really like Joe Biden personally. He’s gregarious and personable in the way so many people from the part of the world he and I came from (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are, and he reminds me of a lot of people I knew from that part of my youth. That said, as much as I liked those people, I liked them in that “loveble slightly inappropriate sorta-drunk uncle at the Fourth of July picnic” sort of way, which, while weirdly endearing, even in a meme-worthy Vice President, is not necessarily what sort of personality we need in a chief executive in today’s America. Besides being somewhat troublesome in terms of his interactions with women (although I think that’s mostly overblown, given my experience with people like him, although certainly still inappropriate; and indications are he’s at least trying to improve there), gaffe-making, and his ties to the big banking industry, He’s a product of the 20th century, and while the past isn’t necessarily a bad place, going backward, even in a sort of left-leaning way, isn’t where I think we necessarily are anymore, even if it means missing out on some of his great experience and foreign policy chops.

Part of it is, I know, a generational thing; as a middling Gen-Xer, I’m used to getting passed over – the Boomers won’t move out of the way, and the Millennials are coming up hard behind; there just aren’t enough of us to make a huge impact (although we’re doing a great job, I must say, keeping the lights on without excessive drama while the cohorts on either side of us make their noise). Obama (technically Generation Jones) is, it seems, the closest we’re likely to get to having one of our own in the White House, as the new big stars are all, admirable as they are, of the Millenial generation. It’s not unexpected, but still sort of frustrating to this Xer.

There are, however, several folks in the race that aren’t entirely of the “old boomer white guy” milieu, and, in part because of the frustrations in the previous paragraph, are the ones who are grabbing most of my attention:

You’ve got folks like Kirsten Gillenbrand, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, and Kamala Harris who slot in with my generational cohort, and, for the most part, aren’t lily white and male (well, Beto is, but he’s a bass player, so I give him a pass). Even if they aren’t as progressive as I’d like (most of them), the fact that they shared broad common foundational experiences with me says something: that they might approach problems in the kind of ways that make sense for people like me; and, as people of post-Boomer generations tend toward less selfishness and “F you, I got mine” thinking, their approaches are more likely to benefit a broad swath of the population and take all those different demographics’ needs into consideration.

Outside that, you’ve got folks on either generational end, like Elizabeth Warren, who amazingly wonky in a swoon-worthy way, publishing position papers on all kinds of issues; she’s immensely qualified and is really setting the tone – even if she doesn’t win the nomination, her detailed policies are going to end up in the party platform. Then there’s “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, the charismatic mayor of South Bend Indiana who’s under 40, but speaks to a lot of concerns of the younger (and maybe less younger) folks, and as an openly gay man (which is causing surprisingly little concern among, well, anybody), is a big deal for many. Hell, even Bernie Sanders, who I’m less high on than a lot of folks out there, brings new and interesting ideas to the table, and even though he’s the oldest guy running at 77, inspires many with his unique anti-establishment energy.

As I said, I’m not sure how I feel about Congressman McEachin’s early endorsement of VP Biden; his reasoning is that Biden is “the one that can beat Trump”, which is the primary motivator for almost everyone (and also inspires at least a dozen different answers to the question of who that “One” is). Should Biden be the nominee, I’ll happily vote for him; he’s a solid pick with great experience, and will likely do a great job, even if, in my opinion, would likely pump the brakes on some necessary reforms and changes many of us would like to see in the name of maintaining “third way centrism that dominated the 90s; it’d be infinitely better than the current situation.

As to where I am right now, my current ideal would be the tenacity, energy, and attitude of Senator Harris, advocating for many of Senator Warren’s policies; that just hits my sweet spot. That said, there are a lot of ways to get there at this point; I like Buttigieg’s optimism and O’Rourke’s attitude. Senator Cory Booker managed to woo the lovely, talented and politically engaged Rosario Dawson (who campaigned for Sanders in 2016), which has to count for something in terms of what he’d bring to the table, even if he’s not currently setting the polls on fire.

So yeah; it’s early. We’ll have innumerable debates in the next ten months before a single primary vote is cast and the pack starts to narrow; I’m really looking forward to seeing what the results of those debates are before really settling in on “my” candidate; it just feels too early to bet it all on a horse, especially one so potentially troublesome.

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monday’s weekend recap

06
May

Happy Monday. It’s humid today, but not too hot, so I’ll take it. I walked three miles along the river after work, which felt good, except for the mosquitos. I’ve got the bike racked for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Gotta get back into the swing after being down last week.

Also, I am old; hanging with the soccer hooligans, pregaming at the tailgate, shouting and such for the whole game, then hitting the afterparty is not something I can do on the regular. Still, it was fun hanging with my young friends.

Sunday, I spent the early afternoon laying carpet at the new dance studio location, then spent a nice dinner hour watching my friend Doug do his Sunday set at Castleburg; gotta support my open mic family.

Speaking of, you’ve got a spare moment or two, please pop over to the StaRVA local talent contest web site and vote for another one of my open mic folks, Tony Fauntleroy, who didn’t win this week’s episode, but is killing it in the people’s choice voting to advance to the next round. His stuff’s great, and I’d love to see him move on!

Otherwise, work is work is work this week; might play another open mic this week that a friend of mine is taking a turn hosting, depending on how I’m feeling; shake the dust off, and get the stage legs under my again, because the back half of May is BUSY in terms of performance opportunities.

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friday random elevenish: “sick; no report” edition

03
May

It’s honestly not been a great week; as I mentioned previously this week and elsewhere, I’ve been sick, anxious, and waiting for The Powers That Be™ to make a freaking decision regarding my projects at work. My days have been primarily work, sleep, work, sleep, brief important people, work, sleep, all while having my building full of maintenance guys and electricians putting in a new meter, and sawing loud holes in the walls whenever I had a phone call to take care of.

As I type this, I’m feeling a little better, I guess. I can breathe, and the gnomes aren’t currently hammering in my sinus tunnels. I’m just kind of wiped out, feeling hung over without the benefit of having had a drink in the last week. Yay.

Given the previous paragraphs, I don’t have a hell of a lot to report, to be honest. I’m hoping I’m good enough for the weekend; I’d kind of like to go to the kickers game, and wouldn’t mind seeing a friend play a solo set at the brewery.

Speaking of breweries, if you happen to be around Hendersonville, NC this weekend, why not swing by Triskelion brewing, as my band mates from the Blibbering Humdingers will be playing a special May the Fourth Be With You show, though I won’t be there (too far for me), though I do have a couple of gigs lined up with them later this month, so keep an eye out.

We shall see. Anyway, here’s some hard drive music.

  1. “Dear Mr. President” – 4 Non Blondes
  2. “Adrian” – Jewel
  3. “Makin’ Love (live)” – KISS
  4. “Cross-Eyed Mary” – Jethro Tull
  5. “No Man’s Land” – Winger
  6. “Handsome Devil (live)” – The Smiths
  7. “Little Bird” – SJ Tucker
  8. “Butterflies and Aeroplanes” – The Clarks
  9. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles
  10. “The Best Damned Thing” – Avril Lavigne
  11. “Stranger in a Strange Land” – Iron Maiden
  12. “Fear of Falling (live)” – The Badlees
  13. “Untouchable Face” – Ani DiFranco
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going with the classics

01
May

You young whipper-snappers might be all about your Timberlake memes and whatnot, but some of us remember the O.G.:

Happy May Day, folks!

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i really don’t have time for this

30
Apr

So yeah; Tuesday.

The weekend was, as they say, a weekend. I did some errands, saw Endgame, and ended up spending all of Sunday morning arguing with plumbing, since the faucet in the bathtub gave up the ghost, and I wouldn’t be able to turn the water off unless I fixed it. Combine that with installing the garbage disposal on Friday night, I’ve had way too much home improvement for comfort.

Oh well, my garbage disposal and shower work again.

That said, I kind of feel generally awful. My kids both had a piece of the sick thing late last week; apparently, it’s hitting me the early part of this one, only harder because I’m not a kid and don’t bounce as well. It’s all sinus headaches and mucus and general blahs, though (likely because I got the flu shot), I’m only partially ill; I’m just functional enough to get through a workday, though not enough to be particularly cheerful about it. It’s a light week, at least, until the powers that be make some decisions, and nobody else is in the building this week, so there could be worse places to be sick.

This, sadly, is my life right now. Hoping to mostly just get through the week with my sanity intact, and my health back by the weekend, if not sooner, so I’m able to hang with friends on Saturday at the soccer game, and maybe catch one of my open mic guys doing a solo set Sunday afternoon. We’ll see, anyway.

In the meantime, it’ll be comfort food and lots of sleep.

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