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

___________________

* – 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.

___________________________

* – 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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tonight

20
Feb

So, after all the teasing and talking and whatnot, tonight I am hosting my first open mic night at Castleburg Brewery and Taproom in the city.

I really hope it goes well. It seems like people are coming. I’ve got what I think is a decent opening set to kick things off. The brewery manager seems to have every confidence in me.

That said, the nerves are there, in a way they haven’t been for a while – performing doesn’t freak me out all that much anymore (I do it a lot, actually, and teaching knocked the fear of public speaking out of me), even when there’s singing involved. But, this is really the first time for me for a gig where I’m billed under my own name (instead of just showing up to play), and I’m not backing anybody up; I’m stepping out front into the spotlight. And being paid for it.

I really hope I don’t suck, and really want to do my best to bring business into the room, so that they’ll let me do it again.

We’ll see.

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fridaythursday random elevenish: “discount candy day eve” edition

14
Feb

Gonna do this today, because I’m taking tomorrow off, to stretch the long weekend a bit, and so my lovely wife and I can celebrate Discount Candy Day tomorrow for lunch. Valentine’s day is troublesome, because dance class; Friday evening is also booked because of the (totally non creepy) elementary school Father-Daughter dance the youngest I and I are doing.

The week’s been full of meetings I can’t miss, and struggling through some sort of sinus bug; seriously, Tuesday and Wednesday, I went to bed at like 5pm. Feeling slightly better today, but I think I’m still going to take it easy through the weekend.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, because I totally do. My friend Chris from Hampton Roads is in town for work for a couple of days, and we’re getting together for BBQ tonight. Yeah.

Otherwise, I’m 10/14 on #FAWM, with 14 days to go. Some of those ten still need to be chorded out/demo’d, but with my sick this week, and working to get solidly off-book on enough tunes to not look like an idiot for next week’s Castleburg Open Mic hosting gig, I haven’t gotten around to it. Might start #11 today; I’ve got a bit of a melody rattling around in the brainpan.

Anyway – tunes. Starts out killer, then it’s kind of a decent mix of the usual suspects, with unusual selections. Works for me.

  1. “Feels Blind” – Bikini Kill
  2. “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers
  3. “Girl Talk” – The Donnas
  4. “Human” – Rag’n’Bone Man
  5. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake
  6. “Fartosen Kom” – Svartsot
  7. “Ship Ahoy (live guitar solo)” – Frank Zappa
  8. “Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield
  9. “Take Me Home” – Phil Collins
  10. “John Barleycorn (Live 1992)” – Jethro Tull
  11. “Walk Like an Egyptian” – Bangles
  12. “2 Minutes to Midnight (live)” – Iron Maiden
  13. “Bite The Hand” – boygenius
  14. “Hang Me Up To Dry” – Cold War Kids
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view from a monday afternoon

11
Feb

Had a decent weekend, I guess. Been a little out of sorts, but my lovely spouse and I had a decent afternoon out on Saturday, hitting Blue Bee and Mean Bird as mentioned previously, as well as a pop by Castleburg to try the new blackberry gose; as well as discovering this:

My humble monthly Open Mic is pretty official now, if it’s made the table cards in the taproom. I’m getting good feedback from folks who will be coming, so it feels like it’s going to be a successful inaugural event. Here’s to hoping, anyway.

Sunday, which I was planning on making a quiet day of laundry and relaxation, though it was noticed that Return of the Mac was at Tabol Brewing, the new brewer on the block in RVA (opened just last week), for lunch and a chance to sample some of their wares, and I rather liked what I tried (especially the “Please Advise” dark ale, which was amazing, and quite likely sold out by the time anyone reads this); I’ll be going back.

My Monday, however, has been less than amazing; it’s been more phone calls where people on the project have, until this late hour, failed to identify significant issues that impact me (let alone the headlines that suggest partners might shut down again next week). I’ve been making rude gestures at the phone all damned day. But, the day is over, and I’ll be spending my afternoon getting my car serviced, which should be pretty low-key.

And, I’m coming into a long weekend, made longer by the fact that I’m taking Friday off, just because I deserve a break, and one is sorely needed anyway.

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friday random elevenish: “old-man-fit” edition

08
Feb

It’s Friday. As usual, it’s been a long week. Spent most of the work week on the phone; Wednesday involved the same meeting twice (which was a nice break over the usual three times); I got volun-told I’m managing a big procurement action that’s not mine because of my “program management experience.” Yay.

Also, I knocked out over 25 miles on the bike (nice weather the last couple of days) and came to the conclusion that I’m out of conditioning after the nasty weather of the last couple of months (Thursday was the first day I didn’t seriously hurt afterward; Tues/Wed I felt every one of the extra twelve pounds I’ve put on since Thanksgiving), and knocked out seven songs so far for February Album Writing Month, and got some nice comments on my work from fellow Fawmers, including a couple of folks coughcoughmikeymasoncoughcough whose work and opinions I really respect. I think I’ve got one or two real winners so far, which feels like a pretty good success rate (and the others don’t really suck).

That’s really been the week. Work, bike, songwriting. Kind of overwhelming (ask my lovely spouse about how distracted I’ve been), though mostly in a good way.

Not sure what’s up for the weekend; aforementioned lovely spouse has designs on hitting Blue Bee on Saturday to catch the new release and Mean Bird, who has this “Veggie Bird” dish she’s been itching to try. I expect we’ll probably do that, though I’d also kind of like to get the taxes done, especially before the 15th, when bits of the federal government, including the IRS, just might shut down again, and I wouldn’t mind having my stuff in the queue prior.

Otherwise? who knows. I’ll just be happy to have a couple of days’ break.

Anyway, here’s some tunes; yanked off of my hard drive for a change, rather than a streaming service, which seems to have side-stepped the Bowie/Zappa/Donnas tendencies, at least for this week:

  1. “Rain” – Patty Griffin
  2. “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” – Def Leppard
  3. “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” – Yngwie Malmsteen
  4. “A Gentleman! What Gentleman?” – Valentine Wolfe
  5. “The Tale of Tom Riddle” – Witherwings
  6. “Heart of Gold” – Tori Amos
  7. “Hell Hole” – Spinal Tap
  8. “End Love (Subtractive Remix)” – OK Go
  9. “When You’re Dead” – Voltaire
  10. “Travelling” – Hikaru Utada
  11. “Wretched and Divine” – Black Veil Brides
  12. “Over It Over Again” – She & Him
  13. “Lost” – Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
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