friday random eleven: “i heard a bird” edition


It’s been a rough week; truly. Lots of office stress, some emotional roller-coastering, and some random gastric distress in the last twenty-four hours I really don’t feel like describing.

A highlight, however, was my Wednesday night music-making/rehearsal session with the ‘Riffs ahead of our gigs at RavenCon this weekend. I’m hoping I can channel some of that feeling back into my life for the weekend making music for and with my friends. If you’re around Williamsburg way, why not stop by? Our big shows are 6pm Friday and 6pm Saturday, plus a bunch of other filky sorts of stuff scattered around.

I’ve been kind of lukewarm on con stuff lately, but I’m really hoping I can draw some positive energy out of this one; I could truly use it.

Anyway, just a short promo sort of post this week; hasn’t been one for the books, y’know? Here’s some tunes, though, because that’s what we do ’round these parts on Fridays. Not a bad mix; some indie, some Frank, some 80s (original and covers), and there at #3, one of my favorite guitar solos of all time – those last couple of notes? That’s why the locking tremelo was invented, even if it’s a pain in the ass most of the time.

  1. “(You’re So Sweet) Baby Donuts” – Cold Cold Hearts
  2. “All Yours” – Widowspeak
  3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row
  4. “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing” – Frank Zappa
  5. “Dancing With Myself” – The Donnas
  6. “Fade Into You” – Mazzy Star
  7. “Always Something There To Remind Me” – Naked Eyes
  8. “West End Girls” – Pet Shop Boys
  9. “Keep the Car Running” – Arcade Fire
  10. “Langt Nord I Trollebotten” – Lumsk
  11. “Karma Police” – Radiohead

still not Kansas


So we apparently had tornados and stuff last night. I slept through it all. Looks like my kid two hours west, and a bunch of my friends on the other side of the city got the warning and were sheltering in hallways and bathrooms and stuff.

Seems like everybody’s cool and unharmed. That’s good.

Weekend was a weekend. I continued to find myself pretty worn out, although by the end of last week I was getting through the work day before passing out. Let’s hope that continues. We did find a pretty good approximation of good NY style pizza at A N.Y. Slice after my wife and I did the mind-meld-via-text thing after I admitted my desire for pizza on Friday morning. The Dance Concert at SBC was pretty damned impressive as usual on Saturday evening, and I got to spend some time with the kid, so that’s cool. Sunday we swung by the school district’s art show to see the youngest’s art displayed, then I ran the D&D crew through further adventures – they’ve now slayed their first dragon, a big event in the life of any adventurer.

Hoping to make it through the week largely unscathed – gotta get myself prepped for Ravencon, and try to finally truly beat the flu recovery blues (all the pollen that exploded the last two days ain’t helping). I think I’ll make it.

Oh, and a friend put out a really great new musical project this weekend – check out Harlequin’s Shadow – Demo(n)s:


friday random eleven: “convalescent” edition


If you’ve been keeping up, I’ve been in kind of a haze this week. It happens. I’ve been focusing a lot of my effort on maintaining some control of my office responsibilities (since I had to brief the big important people this week – it got…interesting. Didn’t realize how dire a lot of these people can sound) and keeping my little dinghy in the fleet floating straight, making sure that as this thing goes off the rails, I’m not one of the driving wheels.

It appears as if I’ve succeeded, both in keeping those planes on their headings, and painfully mixing my transportation metaphors.

Dinghy. HuhHuh.

Relatively quiet this week, save a trip out to SBC for a dance performance, and running the D&D crew through some more hijinks on the Isle of Dread (I’m pretty sure we’re still there…it’s been a while). Next weekend’s the big one, with RavenCon on the agenda, and per the programming schedule, looks like they’re working me pretty damned hard. Oh well; busy is good; it cuts down on drama. I might even have a new tune or two to play on my own.

So yeah; that’s really the news or less-exciting equivalent from here. Here’s a selection of tunes to keep y’all guessing. The shuffle’s kinda got metal (hair and otherwise) on the brain, but whatever. I could use the energy:

  1. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – Def Leppard
  2. “Havoc” – Eluveitie
  3. “In The Air Tonight” – Phil Collins
  4. “Walk This Way” – Aerosmith (without Run DMC)
  5. “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC
  6. “Translucent Potency” – Death
  7. “Cars” – Gary Numan
  8. “Mr. Tillman” – Father John Misty
  9. “Baby Doll” – Slant 6
  10. “Bungle in the Jungle” – Jethro Tull
  11. “STRFKR” – Rawnwald Gregory Erickson The Second

Couple of other bits – my friend Dave (an excellent fellow bassist) hit the social medias with a mention of what he calls the “Album of Summer 2018”, “Lush”, from Snail Mail, out in June. I’m pretty sure I’m in agreement. Check out “Pristine”:

Also, while I haven’t tapped an Eleven/Stranger Things reference in a while on these Random Eleven posts, I’ll break the silence today since I got myself a cool T-shirt off the clearance rack at Target yesterday with a picture of Wil looking out the door at the monster thing in the sky, all done up in the style and font of an old D&D module form the early ’80s. I dig it.


my hour(s) upon the stage…are exhausting


Still struggling a bit with the impact of the recovery from Flustravaganza™ 2018, though I did force myself out of my office/car/bedroom environment a bit yesterday afternoon, “taking the air”, as they say, at the local parks – I walked (not terribly energetically) a mile or two on some trails, as the weather was nice, and I, frankly, needed a change of scenery (and the park was right near the library, and I had some books to drop anyway).

The walk was nice; though it wore me out (good), though the giant plant orgy currently turning everything in Central Virginia a speckled shade of yellow-green added some additional congestion to my sinus situation (less good).

Today, however, I’m dragging a bit – due to the exercise (which is more than I’ve gotten in a while, given weather and health), the pollen, and the ravages of aging on my recovery processes. Enough that I’m going to once again sit out of ceili class tonight – I just don’t have the energy to rock the reels at full speed. I shall make sure to share my apologies with the class.

This condition of mine isn’t necessarily optimal, as today’s one of those “many hours upon the stage” sorts of days (read “stage” as “conference call phone”), wherein I have to give my monthly minute on a Department-wide status call for the benefit of a certain high-ranking senior executive who’s got eyes on “Deputy Secretary of XXXXX for XXXXX” as the next addition to their resume. On top of that, I’ve got to sit in for the boss on another call this afternoon, filling in as the high-and-mighty cross-agency Joint Program Manager for this unwieldy program of which I’m a soulless cog integral part (which has already eaten up a few hours of phone time already this morning, thanks to excessive deceased-equine-beating).

I shall hope I am able to maintain my restraint and avoid becoming drunk with power.

Mostly, I expect I’ll be a little foggy on sinus and allergy meds, and shall endeavor to not embarrass myself.


mid-week middling malaise


Sometimes, I think, the recovery is worse than the actual illness.

I am, by most measures, in way better shape today than I have been at point since my early twenties. Hell, my waist size is smaller than it was when I graduated college. The couple of chronic health issues I won in the genetic lottery are being successfully managed. I seem to have aged out of the weird skin/scalp thing I used to have. I am, by some measures*, dead sexy.

All that said (even if I’m gonna have to add the TMI tag to this one because of the previous paragraph), this bout of influenza that put me on the DL last week has knocked me on my ass.

I’m hoping I get six good hours today before the exhaustion/drudge sets in. I got four on Monday, maybe five on Tuesday. If that pattern doesn’t start degrading, by the end of the week, I won’t leave the office feeling ready to collapse, and find myself doing exactly that once I get home. Every day this week so far as involved some form of afternoon nap. I have, so far, managed to take my pants of first. Yeah.

I guess it’s because I’m on the cusp of, if not actually hitting and past, “middle age”. Since I hit 40, it takes me longer to bounce back from everything. That stupid shoulder sprain I got back in July falling off the bike to dodge a trail deer still twitches about once a week (though to be fair, it’s not the first time I’ve injured that shoulder). Getting old, my friends, sucks.

So, yeah. Feels like I should have a clever wrap-up for this one. It doesn’t feel in the cards. The weight feels like it’s settling a bit early today – best I can hope for is that my predicted six good hours today will be non-contiguous and a second wind will kick in eventually.

At least that damned check that the siding company lost the first time cleared overnight. Feel like I’m gonna have to coast on that small victory for a while.

Happy Wednesday.


*-those measures being, the small community of groupies I apparently have in the NC research triangle, and the hope that my youthful local female bandmates’ near-constant chatter about my “bike shorts” isn’t actually facetious. I live in hope.




In case you were wondering where I was, I spent all of last week basically on my ass with the flu. Thought it was con crud? Ha. Hit me with a vengeance last Friday afternoon, knocked me down for a solid week.

And I *did* get my flu shot this year, like I always do. Apparently they missed the mark this year.

I don’t wish this on anyone. Stay healthy, folks.


friday random eleven: “good” edition


It’s Friday. I believe I may be dealing with a touch of con crud, west coast style. Joy. I’m feeling a little less than amazing. Should be a low-impact work day, thank goodness.

Anyway, I just gotta get through the day, haul my ass out to Amherst this afternoon to haul the kid back (she needs a break), then maybe I get a break – I’ve got a copy of The Last Jedi sitting near the blu-ray player I wouldn’t mind watching.

The big event for my weekend is a ‘Riffs gig at Retro Daddio in Williamsburg Saturday night (click that link for deets). The set is finally together, and I spent a couple of hours last evening working on getting myself off-book for these tunes; when you’re playing with two different groups, it takes a little extra effort to force the brain and the fingers to switch gears. I’ll get there. Hoping it’s a good one, and drama (always a possibility with these kids, however much I love them) is kept to a minimum.

Anyway, that’s really life from here – I just, as I said, need to get through the day (and I’m hoping for the traditional holiday “59 minute rule”* to come into play); we’ll get there.

With that, here’s the welcome return of the random ten eleven**, absent for several weeks because I was too damned busy traveling or whatever. This one’s not bad; some indie, some Zappa, a touch of hair metal, and a healthy dose of Viking. The perfect soundtrack to pillaging thrift stores for skinny jeans, guyliner, and flannel:

  1. “The Torture Never Stops Part Two (live)” – Frank Zappa
  2. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
  3. “Before Battle I Embrace” – Folkearth
  4. “Dreams” – The Cranberries
  5. “Apocalypse” – Cigarettes After Sex
  6. “War of the Gods” – Amon Amarth
  7. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue
  8. “Come On Eileen”- Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  9. “So Young” – Portugal the Man
  10. “Enjoy the Silence” – Depeche Mode
  11. “Under Pressure” – Queen with David Bowie
  12. “Police Blitz” – The Donnas
  13. “Cry Baby” – Kitten Forever

…and finally to those who celebrating various things, have a joyous Easter weekend, Passover, etc.


* – go down that online google hole sometime; it’s a strange, bureaucratic whirlwind of legal jargon, memos, and human resources weirdness.

** – okay, thirteen this time. I missed a few weeks, so it’s okay (and totally not because I got distracted and miscounted).


northern california’s got that brochure appeal


After many, many weeks of disrupted schedule, both good and bad, I’m back to my regular routine (for some definitions of regular, anyway). I’m still a little worse for wear from the travel, but I’ll manage; I’ve dealt with worse.

All that said, Consonance out in San Jose was pretty great. Played some great shows, made a bunch of music with cool people, and generally made a pretty good showing. This was my first true filk convention (as opposed to cons with a strong filk/music track), so it was a little different than I was used to, but I can dig it. I’ll certainly do more of these things going foward; people dug what we (and I) were selling, and I heard some really, really great tunes. Twas nice to be welcomed into the community, both as a Humdinger and as a solo performer (I did a short solo set on stage, and played several tunes in circles over the course of the weekend).

One of the highlights was certainly Summer Russell the consonance “Toastmaster”, who put on amazing show (that took us all a bit by surprise, having never heard of her before) on Friday night, and played lots of other cool stuff throughout the weekend. It was a pleasure hearing her stuff and getting to know her a bit. I hope to see her again. Seriously, click that bandcamp link above and buy all her stuff – you won’t regret it.

Other cool stuff was seeing and hanging out with Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps again – it’s been years (going back to Balticon in ’12, before I really got into being a guest rather than an attendee), and the two of these folks are some of the most impressive musicians and performers I’ve ever seen, and are really great folks to boot. Again, seek them out if you don’t already know who they are.

I also met some other neat folks, like filk legend Blind Lemming Chiffon (who’s a hell of a player, and an all-around interesting human being), Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, who in addition to being terribly talented (seriously, go listen to “Manhattan Sleeps” – chills), ran the sound (Jeff, primarily) for the con, making *us* sound awesome, and also lent me a bass guitar (with six strings!) for the weekend so I didn’t have to deal with transporting one.

I know there are a ton of other names to drop, but in the interest of time and space, I’m just going to say thanks to all the folks who made things interesting and pleasant for us as east-coast interlopers and Guests of Honor.

I may have also offered up my body in the name of fundraising for Interfilk, but if my promise of twerking raises the sale price of an item by almost $50, it’s worth it.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t note my long-overdue reunion with Jonah Knight and family, a dear music friend who moved out west a few years back, and came out to meet us for dinner and hang out for our show. It’s been too long.

Travel was uneventful on the trip out, though weather caused some serious delays on the way back (diverting out plane from Denver to Colorado Springs, and leaving us stuck on the tarmac for several hours – my ass still kinda hurts). Oh well, I think the airline is going to renumerate us in the form of vouchers for flights at some other point in the future – I have a couple of places I could stand to go.

Thanks, as always, to S&K for allowing me to tag along on these sorts of journeys – words can’t express how greatful I am.


this has got to stop


Seriously, we as a nation need to fix this.

Today’s school shooting in MD? My friend’s kid attends this school. I got to watch, in more or less real time, this poor guy going through watching this happen to his family on social media.

Thank goodness she’s safe, but the fact that most of you knew exactly what I was talking about before you even read the content, and the fact that I had to clarify that it was today’s school shooting (as opposed to all the others), is so disturbing.

I don’t even know what to think at this point. I do have the definite feeling that most of our elected representatives aren’t going to do a damned thing about it, and those that would like to don’t have the numbers.

I don’t know…but this has to be fixed.


off the grid, and kinda wrecked


So, you might have noticed I haven’t posted in two weeks.

It’s not that I haven’t had things to do; in fact I’ve been ridiculously busy, winging (on occasion, literally) around the country to take in the ambiance of various public sector conference rooms and admire their institutional-chic environs as lit primarily by PowerPoint slides.

It was just as exciting as you might imagine.

My first stop was the cozy midwestern metropolis of Columbus Ohio. As you likely already know, I have spent many a day in the Arch City over the last decade and change for various work things; and have gotten relatively used to getting around there and enjoying the local color. I didn’t get much of a chance to do that this time, given the length of my days staring at said slides, enduring interminable briefings, and getting chided by data trading partners who can’t seem to get it through their heads that I can’t make the department financial system pay their bills correctly if they send transactions with accounting lines like “INSERT CREDIT CARD NUMBER HERE”. I am not making this up.

At least I got some fresh White Castle.

Last weekend wasn’t ridiculously terrible; there was some dancing, as there nearly always is, and I got to spend a little quality time with the college kid on Saturday before hauling her back to school on Sunday. However, given the fact that my routine had been disrupted pretty significantly by the previous week, my nerves were becoming a bit fried; a condition that would continue, intensify, and remain in place as I type this missive.

Last week should have been pretty low-key; I spent it in class, as my social media friends were surely aware, ticking another box for my required program management certification. The class was what it was, a typical offering from the training body, titled “Understanding Industry”, which was supposed to help public sector folks understand the point of view, motivations, and actions of the private industry partners we work with. Mostly, it made me rememeber how much I hated business courses in grad school, and got me seriously considering a career change, and having a few chats with the boss on breaks about the future (not that any of us know what’s going to happen in the next couple of months – so many changes…).

At least it was off-site (only about two miles from home – if it wasn’t so cold – we had a weather-related two hour delay one day – walking or biking would have been ideal), which would be nice if my boss (who, if I’m to be honest, is a pretty chill guy), as I mentioned, wasn’t also there, thus requiring me to be a bit more diligent than I’d particularly like about checking office email to see what my contractor teams were fighting about. Mostly, I can trust my folks to do the job without much supervision (once schedule and requirements get sorted), but as I may have written before, they’ve been sniping at each other a bit lately and stirring up unneccessary drama. Luckily, nothing exploded.

Nothing at the office, anyway. On the homefront (particularly the child academic front) shit fountains abounded. Let’s just say it’s never a good week for me when I get an email from a teacher addressed directly to me and not the larger parent community. If my routine was already screwed given my wide-ranging and geographically distributed work situation, this really started the kettle boiling.

The fact that I was off my usual schedule (usually, on normal workdays, I’m home by 3pm or so – I was averaging 5:30 or 6 the last couple of weeks, and home was, for part of that, merely a hotel room) along with all this other stuff (family stress, work weirdness, unpleasant reminders of business school, and a long-simmering career-related internal crisis), seriously ramped up the stress. My shoulders pretty much permanently swallowed my neck given the tension, my body’s gone into starvation stress mode again holding onto everything way too long, and I came pretty close to seriously wounding several folks who couldn’t be bothered to manage their carts in Wal-Mart, to the point that my mostly patient wife arranged things that I could pretty much have this past Saturday free to do nothing.

I didn’t exactly do nothing – I ran a few errands and popped by the Chesterfield Library Comic-con on Saturday (a small little event the library system puts on that gets ridiculously crowded for some reason, and a few of my friends in the geek/comic circles tend to exhibit at), but mostly, I gave myself some long-overdue couch time catching up on Agents of SHIELD and zoning out to the entire xXx franchise.

Yesterday, feeling a slightly better (but not really), I threw some instruments into the car and drove down to Cary NC to play a “local” show with the Humdingers that afternoon, which was a nice time (as always), a good show to a small but enthusiastic crowd, and served as a decent rehearsal for the big stuff coming up this weekend on the west coast.

Yeah, as mentioned previously at some point, probably more than once, The Humdingers are playing Consonance, the SF Bay Area Filk Convention, (as Guests of Honor) this year. We’re flying out Thursday, and I’m taking most of a week off to support the music habit. At least they’re flying us out there and putting us up on their dime, and have found me an instrument to borrow on the other side so I don’t have to risk my own as checked baggage.

That said, I did debut The Spare™ on stage this weekend for most of our second set, since I got my parts in the mail last week and spent an evening doing some basic upgrades. It’s still definitely a budget instrument (it weighs a *lot* less than the Jazz bass, which is solid ash; this is basswood at best, likely plywood as well), but it’s *loud*, and not just because of the knobs that “go to eleven”. Whatever no-name pickups they put in it are surprisingly hot for something I have less than a hundred bucks invested in. it’s definitely solid for the purpose for which it’s intended, and looks pretty sharp, to boot, even rotated 90° to make the post flow better:

Anyway, that’s life right now. Still very stressed, a lttle worse for the wear, though I have something to look forward to if I can get through Wednesday.


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