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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out of spoons

11
Mar

I spent way too much time this weekend pushing myself out there to support other people’s needs, and didn’t get a whole lot of return on the investment, or much time to practice any kind of self care. I spent way too much time worn out and cranky.

I seem to be doing a little better today; or at least that’s what I’m chosing to go with so far. We’ll see how many spoons I retain in my drawer by the end of the day.

One highlight of the weekend, though, was seeing Captain Marvel on Saturday afternoon. The movie was great fun; a non-traditionally presented superhero origin story with a healthy dose of 90s style buddy cop action and inspiring feminism. It was especially cool seeing all the young girls coming out of the theater ready to take on the world, having *finally* seen a Marvel hero that looks like them, and is more powerful than any of the others, but whose biggest strength is being able to get back up and try again after she’s been knocked down. I could use more than a little bit of that particular strength right now.

Also, Goose the “cat” is pretty awesome, and totally steals the show.

I’m mostly posting this morning to share this great piece of art related to the film from artist Jen Bartel, which captures the spirit of things perfectly:

She’s got “Nothing to Prove” to you.

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fridaythursday random elevenish – “persistence of memory” edition

07
Mar

It’s Thursday. I could never get the hang of Thursdays.

That’s okay this week, because today is actually my Friday, as I’m taking tomorrow off to spend with the family (including the kid who has been home from college this week), catching a matinee of Captain Marvel, and working setup for the feis this weekend, where I’ll be doing sound (or at least providing and setting up the equipment, since I own a P.A. system now) and several of the family will be competing.

The week’s been kind of a roller coaster emotionally. I found out the other day that some friends’ very premature baby passed away in the NICU after 30 days or so of life. I can’t imagine being in their shoes; well, I can, did, and it kinda wrecked me. Also, it’s March, and my mental damage started to notice. I dreamed about my dad a bit, which really made me miss him a lot this week (this always hits me leading up to his birthday in a couple of weeks). The dream wasn’t anything special; he was just there and we were chatting about something (I honestly don’t remember what) like we used to do on late weekend evenings and car rides or whatever when he was still with us. I really think he’d get a kick out of some of the cool stuff I have the privilege of doing and the musical and creative communities I find myself a part of; it sucks that I can’t share that with him. Anyway, I spent quite a bit of Tuesday trying to not to break out into sobs on conference calls, then raised a glass of really expensive craft beer in his honor with my dinner before heading to bed early. I felt better on Wednesday, though weirdly, I felt guilty about feeling better; my damned brain.

Depression sucks, folks. I don’t recommend it. However, if you’re like me and still stuck with it, get help, okay? Dad didn’t, and he’s not here anymore. I found some, and it mostly works.

Oh well; that feels like a pretty profound place to stop, so I will. I can talk about my weird experience meeting people who spent several years in the same part of the world I grew up in and talking local idoms, Nardone’s pizza, and weird lenten dietary adaptations, all while drinking a decent local IPA at the bar in the grocery store yesterday afternoon some other time.

All that’s left here are the tunes. Much alternative. So eighties:

  1. “If You Leave” – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
  2. “Wild Side” – Mötley Crüe
  3. “Tenderness” – General Public
  4. “Lazy Eye” – Silversun Pickups
  5. “A Forest” – The Cure
  6. “Another Christmas Song” – Jethro Tull
  7. “Luxury Problem” – Lunachicks
  8. “Einde Der Zege” – Heidevolk
  9. “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” – Cutting Crew
  10. “Photograph” – Def Leppard
  11. “Dinah-Moe Humm” – Frank Zappa
  12. “Now & Then” – Sjowgren
  13. “True” – Spandau Ballet
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history getting made

04
Mar

Like a lot of the country, I spent some time last Wednesday listening into, and following commentary and analysis afterward of, Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, regarding his work as the President’s personal lawyer.

Like a lot of Congressional tesimony, there was just as much grandstanding and posturing by committee members as there was testimony; much of this kind of stuff is more political theater than it is investigation. Not that that kind of theater isn’t always important, and the candid photo above of Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib that Politico caught on Wednesday is likely going to end up being an iconic image that’s going to get plenty of theatrical use in the coming months and years to highlight the importance of the many new Democratic freshman elected in 2018, and how their demographic makeup manages to look a heck of lot more like the full palate of America than the traditional crop of white men in power ties in government. Jezebel made a valid comparison to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, and I can’t find fault with that notion.

The bigger part of the story, though, was just how effective, politically and administratively, these three women were in conducting their questioning and driving home important points in order to really get to the heart of the issues involved in the questioning, and opening up links to further the many threads of investigation being conducted regarding the President’s finances, relationships, and activities. AOC, especially, with her digging into the details of financial assets, and quite likely opening the door for Congressional pressure to finally obtain the President’s tax returns and other related data, with little to no grandstanding; all business. Pressley and Tlaib also were effective, with Pressley digging into the President’s tendencies toward racist behavior and action, and Tlaib taking a moment out of her questioning time to address racist behavior by her colleagues on the Committee, continuing to provide interesting plain-spokenpolitical theater, while acting on what she called a “teachable moment” to draw attention to the issue.

So yeah. I have no idea where things are going politically or whatever from here, but I’m feeling a bit of uncharacteristic optimism that Congress’s future leaders, and I have not doubt the folks pictured above meet that standard, are well on their way to making their influence known, and beginning the work to change the way “business as usual” is conducted.

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friday random elevenish: “buzzword bingo” edition

01
Mar

It honestly feels like we should have hit Friday a week and a half ago. Work’s been work, as it tends to be. Nothing special; the keep paying me, so I keep coming, though I’ve had to stay late a couple of days this week, and got voluntold into a four-hour remedial “how not to fail audits” training (as a result of stuff that was created years before I was part of this organization) along with a bunch of other folks on Thursday. This could have been useful, but instead, it was pretty much a recitation of “business business supposedly inspiring self help bullshit business business etc” for the entire morning, and containing no valuable information. I truly hated the business side of my masters for being basically buzzword garbage, and this was pretty much those credits distilled into four hours. Thankfully, there were no golf metaphors or quotes from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, although there were a number of Spartan helmets in the powerpoint clip art, which may be just as bad.

Given this, and swinging weather, and all kinds of other stuff, it’s not been the most amazing week. I did force myself out a couple of times, which was generally a good idea; I hit Isley’s happy hour (and found that “Mean Girls” trivia pulls in way more folks than Open Mic does) on Wednesday and chatted with the usual folks, which was kind of what I needed to temporarily yank myself out of the funk, and I walked a couple of miles after work on Thursday around the Petersburg Battlefield Park near the office. Walking the Crater and bonding with my Pennsylvania coal miner/soldier sort-of-ancestors is always a kind of neat experience.

Talk is we’re getting together with friends on Saturday afternoon to visit and such, which ought to be nice. Also, the lovely spouse is heading out this morning to grab the eldest from school for Spring Break. Having her home for a week should be cool. Not much else specifically planned. This is fine, because next weekend is stacked with dance competition stuff and trying to find time to catch Captain Marvel.

Oh yeah, I finished off FAWM with 14 tunes; not quite the 17 from last year, but I hit the goal. Yay. Two or three even feel like winners, and some of the others might be massaged into something good.

Speaking of tunes, here’s the random playlist yanked out of Pandora again. Nice mix with not a lot of the usual gang for once (well, a little FZ, but it’s a deep cut). I also forgot how much I really dig Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You”:

  1. “Now Is The Time” – Damone
  2. “Powerslave” – Iron Maiden
  3. “barcelona boots” – Arlie
  4. “Fade Into You” – Mazzy Star
  5. “Chicken: 30” – The Coathangers
  6. “Carless Whisper” – Wham! (not this guy)
  7. “Too Late For Love” – Def Leppard
  8. “Son of Orange County (live)” – Frank Zappa
  9. “Wurzelbert” – Equilibrium
  10. “Where The Streets Have No Name” – U2
  11. “Monster” – Lady Gaga
  12. “The Funeral” – Band of Horses
  13. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
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friday random elevenish – “spinning the wheel of bullshit” edition

22
Feb

It is Friday. ‘Twas a short week, coming off of a long weekend, made a day longer than expected as I spent Tuesday at home caring for a couple of women who I care about who were both running fevers. I don’t mind playing nurse now and then. That’s the dad life.

I’ve spent considerable time already this week discussing the highlight of my week, the big debut of my open mic hosting side hustle, and since yesterday, I still feel pretty great about it overall, and am really looking forward to doing it again next month.

It was, actually, kind of a big deal when I think about it; I got paid to perform, under my own name, material that I wrote and/or arranged, in front of people, and I managed to not screw it up, and in fact, people liked it. I’ve performed a lot in my time, especially in the last five years or so, and even made a little money doing it, though this one was kind of special. I didn’t make all that much, considering, but it felt good to deposit that check made out to me yesterday afternoon, for particular services rendered. At this point in my life, I know I’ll never make the big time rock ‘n roll lifestyle (if that even exists anymore) that I dreamed about in my teens and twenties, but here in my harrumphmiddle ageharrumph, I get to do some pretty cool stuff in that world a couple of times a month, on a scale that’s bigger than a lot of people get to experience.

I’ll take it.

Of course, given the sickness and germs floating around in my household at the moment, I’m pretty sure I was running on stress, adrenalin and that interesting thing they call “stage health” on Wednesday night, because although I made it into the office on Thursday, spending six or seven hours on the phone being brought right back down off my rock and roll high horse, my general feeling of well-being went way downhill pretty quickly, to the point where I basically just went home, ate a little something, and crashed…hard.

This morning, I made into the office again through rain and unpleasant weather, and spent my morning concocting a rousing tale of bullshit and selective data presentation in the form of a five page memo documenting system test results and comparison of said results to vaguely-defined standards that nobody’s going to read, but is going to tick a bureaucratic box certifying that the bits of technology my team developed for this project shall here and evermore be considered certified before this whole fustercluck goes live, which, given chatter during one of those six or seven hours of meetings Thursday, is probably not going to happen on time, and be kicked to the right a few more weeks -again-; thanks to fallout from the shutdown.

As it stands right now, I have nothing on the agenda this weekend, other than to pay the bills I was way too zonked out yesterday evening to address. I kind of expect I’ll get pulled someplace if the family’s feeling better and there’s an interesting food truck out there, but right now, there’s nothing beyond the usual, and continuing to fight with the new Android update that got pushed to my phone Thursday that changed everything and made the dot go away…grrr.

Again, I’ll take it.

All that’s left here to do is bow to tradition and introduce the playlist, which is nice and interesting this week, in part because *none* of the usual suspects popped up in the ad-free hour of Pandora* I got after “watching” a video about some wonder drug or retirement plan or something…all I know is that there were rolling fields, blue skies, and pretty green trees framing people in pristine t-shirts jumping in slow motion. Yeah:

  1. “New Slang” – The Shins
  2. “Steady, As She Goes” – Raconteurs
  3. “Red Skies” – The Fixx
  4. “Seventeen” – Winger
  5. “So Young” – Portugal, The Man
  6. “Hero” – Family of the Year
  7. “All In My Mind” – Love and Rockets
  8. “Journeyman” – Jethro Tull
  9. “Runaway” – Bon Jovi
  10. “Electric Feel” – MGMT
  11. “Riptide” – Vance Joy
  12. “Call To Nothing” – The Coathangers
  13. “Overkill” – Men at Work
  14. “Jump” – Van Halen

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* – yes, we have a family subscription to spotify for our music needs, and it’s great for most things (it’s playing in the background of my office right now), but for this sort of random playlist, I like the “radio station”/shuffle model that Pandora uses that I’ve been sticking with for more than a decade. I’m an old man, and am becoming set in my ways, as you can also see above by my bitching about the damned Android dot.

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calling it a win

21
Feb

The open mic went way better than I could have hoped. We had enough performers to more than fill the allotted time without me having to step up to fill extra time, a great crowd who bought lots of beer and sandwiches, leading to very appreciative brewery management (Wednesdays are usually very low, especially when the weather’s iffy), and my opening set didn’t suck!*

I walked out feeling proud of my efforts, my wallet a little heavier, and with a commitment that we’ll all be doing this again next month!

Like I’d said, I was more nervous than I expected about how this whole thing was going to go down; I really wanted to make a good showing – being the host/emcee is really new territory for me, and I generally think I pulled it off. Having a bunch of great performers (including a bunch of friends from all over town, and several refugees from the much lamented and currently on hiatus Isley open mic) helped to make my job easy, as well as having my lovely spouse along for the ride to help me sort out the way-more-complicated-than-mine sound board.

In a period where I really needed a win, I got one. I feel good.

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* – for a few hours after the fact, you could actually see my set out there on the social medias, though apparently the video of me, my mostly-original tunes, and (as several folks commented) my skinny jeans that my lovely spouse shot (quite nicely, using the tripod and everything) got flagged, somehow, as posessing twelve seconds violating the copyright of some Brazilian TV network. Surely, it’s a mistake, but who the hell feels like going through the trouble. I’d bet that if we knocked a couple of seconds off of either end and reposted, it’d pass muster just fine. Oh well.

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