wrapping up


So, I’ve been done with work for the year since last Wednesday. That’s usually enough to warrant a mention here by itself. Not this year; I’ve been too busy. Now it’s Christmas Eve, I’ve been off for a about a week (wow…doesn’t seem like it), and I’m finally getting a small breather.

I’ve been doing some of the usual Christmas-y things; knocking out presents, getting some decorations up, and all the other things you’d expect. I am, as far as I’m concerned, done with my shopping and wrapping now, unless I’m struck with a fit of inspiration in the next couple of hours, and it’s something I can achieve in the next couple of hours. I need to be on the other side of town around 5pm to do a quick run through some music before the Christmas Eve service: “Coventry Carol” – solo vocal with me backing up on finger-picked acoustic guitar. It’s gorgeous.

So, what have I been doing for the last week otherwise? Last week, I won some tickets (from amazing radio station WNRN) to catch music legend Kenny Rogers when he came to town. As my lovely wife couldn’t come, having a prior commitment, my friend Sam came along. The first set was amazing; all the hits you’d expect; the stuff of my youth, riding in the car with my dad with the AM radio playing. It was so good we didn’t even notice the weird plastic surgery. Second set was…odd, in terms of the shift in tone. This was also the holiday tour. The second set was every awful 70s/80s TV holiday variety show cliche you could think of (sleigh bells, pining for loved ones, forced banter, singing kids, borrowed local church choir), peppered with a bunch of asides about the perceived “War on Christmas” conservatives get up in arms about. I always take country show banter with a grain of salt; it’s gotta play to the audience, and many of this audience, being particularly southern, and “enthusiastic with drink”, got a little too excited when the red meat got thrown. The band was still amazing, and the arrangements of some of the traditional tunes (especially the jazzy instrumental carols at the beginning) were pretty great; the shift in tone, though, was kind of bizarre. Still, as I always say, “never pass up an opportunity for live music”, especially free music, and in that regard, I was far from disappointed.

There’s been family things – holiday concerts, appointments, ferrying kids out for holiday shopping, some alone time with the spouse, and generally just hanging out and ribbing each other. You know, what people do, when they’re awful people like us.

I’ve also been busy with some extra copy-editing; Antimatter is trying to get our latest anthology, Local Magic, out in the next month or so, and I’m helping the effort by copy editing and cleaning up some of the stories for publication. Probably later this month, I’ll be doing some coding so it’ll be available for purchase for your favorite e-reader some day soon (that I’ll be sure to let you know about here).

That’s if I have time…

Remember that cliffhanger back before the panda dodging laserblasts? I guess I can finally talk about that; it’s been in the works since August, after all. When I return to the office after the new year, I’ll be returning to a new job. Yes, another one (it’s become kind of an annual thing for me the last couple of years in the last quarter of the year). As most of you know, I’m a software guy, shepherding projects through design and testing and deployment. I’ve done this for the last decade or so, though I’ve always done it from the business side in various acquisition directorates. Come January (actually, it’s official on December 28th), I’ll be hopping over to the information technology directorate, doing basically the same thing, but from a slightly different angle.

I’ll be shifting from being the most IT guy in Acquisition to being (hopefully) the most Acquisition guy in IT.

It was a good opportunity, as it’s a promotion (getting me back up to the grade I gave up when I moved local last year, plus a little bit), and I think it’ll be interesting work; it sounds like most of my job will be shepherding projects; though more in the sense of making sure the contractors our agency hires have the tools they need to do their job – I won’t quite be management, but it’ll be closer than I’ve been since I ran catering trucks full of high school kids back in college. Also, it’s not really that different from what I’ve been doing.

I did agonize over taking the job a little bit, as for the past year, I’ve been working with the best group of people I’ve ever managed to get saddled with; everyone’s competent, pleasant, and we’re all friends – it’s a very positive work environment, and I was hesitant about leaving it. It’s made this past year in employment a real joy. The good bit is that my desk is only moving about 40 feet (theoretically; they haven’t actually found a seat for me yet), and my new job will bring me into contact with my old co-workers on a daily basis, though it’s possible I may be considered “the enemy” (though it’s all in good fun).

So, that’s been it, other than watching my small investment of $15 dollars become a month’s worth of entertainment – seriously, if you’re in any way that type of person, make sure you get in on next year’s Cards Against Humanity’s Holiday Bullshit event; it’s a blast.A month’s worth of gifts mailed to you throughout December: this year, I got new cards (some with my name on them), games, stickers, comedy, and my own small piece of a private island. Looking for those silly envelopes has made December much more bearable.

As usual, I probably won’t be posting much; I’ll try to do the usual end-of-year summary things that I do, but this is my personal time; don’t be surprised if I just cut the internet out of my life for days at a time…It’s my little reward of peace and quiet after a busy year of life.

I hope you all find some peace for yourselves as well – Happy Holidays!


best gif ever


Presented without additional comment: action movie acrobat panda:


up and down


So, this past weekend, stuff happened. Warning: post will contain life.

I worked a short week last week, as I will this weekend – it’s the end of the year, and for the first time, accumulated leave, and my inertial habit of not taking all that much during the course of the year (especially when my schedule gives me every Friday off as it is) meant that I had some “use-of-lose” leave to blow. It’s a new experience, that. I need to think more about taking a few more days during the year to avoid the crunch; not that things don’t slow way down in mid-December anyway…

Digression…likely to be a problem here. Sorry.

Anyway, being off Thursday, I took care of a couple of things. The Christmas tree went up, and it only took Lady Sif, who is experiencing her first Christmas, about six hours to knock it down. Good thing we still haven’t hung ornaments on it – we probably won’t at this point, given that she’s now figured out how to climb the tree without knocking it over, and balancing herself halfway up. The little motion sensing bird thing I hung on the lower branches to deter climbing doesn’t work at all, either – the cats whack it on purpose so it makes noise. It’s their house, I guess – the rest of us are graciously allowed to stay in exchange for petting and food.

Also, on Friday, I got to experience the inverse of the Hot Girl in the Comic Shop phenomenon by including a run to the fabric store for my lovely wife so she might have materials to continue crafting holiday gifts into a solo errand run. As I waited in line to have my portion of polar fleece cut from the bolt, I learned lots and lots of details about the lives and cats and dogs and neices and nephews of the various middle-aged crafty women in line, and also the receipient of a bunch of confused looks. It was an interesting adventure.

Saturday was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. The central event of the day was a funeral. The first week of December, word reached us that an acquaintance, well on the way to becoming a good friend (he’d joined up with the usual hiking and gaming crew a bunch of times, and fit right in) had died suddenly. No expectation, no reason, just one of those things where something pops in an otherwise healthy person. He was 41 years old, and left behind a lovely wife and three kids, the oldest the same age as my youngest.


His memorial service took place on Saturday afternoon, and was, you might say if you were putting it mildly, difficult; beautiful in it’s way, but difficult. We all felt for the family left behind, and those of us of a certain age were confronted rather intimately by the prospect of our own mortality. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that none of us (including you, dear reader) have to experience something like this any time soon.

The rest of Saturday was a little better; my lovely spouse and I left the children in the care of their teenage sibling while we went out to a divey little jazz bar in the city to catch a set by my friend Steve’s band Cha Cha’s Cadillac. the show was supposed to be a “CD Release Party”, though the bill filled up with several other groups, so CCC got an hour or so to play around 9pm. While it didn’t exactly work out for the band, it worked out for us, who got to catch a great rockabilly set, socialize with a couple of friends who came out, and be home getting ready for bed by 11pm. Not bad. Also, the CD, Battle Hymns, is excellent – go find it on itunes or CDbaby or whatever – it’s great stuff.

Sunday involved a bit of running around, being delayed by excessively slow customer service, and getting the girls (all three of them) into Chester Christmas Parade, which involved dropping them off at one end of the route, and racing to beat the intersection closings to get to the other end of the route so I could pick them up at the end. Luckily, the route was only about a mile and a half long, so it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, they all jigged and reeled the whole way as part of Heart of Ireland School of Dance‘s parade presence, dodging horse poop and insistent handbill guys pushing a FREE CHRISTMAS CONCERT (with a side order of evangelism) along the route.


Also, since this weekend round-up comes in a little late, I’ll address Monday as well. We had my office workgroup’s holiday luncheon/party/whatever yesterday afternoon at Maggiano’s Little Italy, where my work team, and our various spouses, gorged ourselves into a food coma of excellent Italian food. We did the same thing last year, so our little workgroup has established the annual holiday tradition (since this is only the second year our division has existed). Lots of good food, excellent chocolate cake, and the need for expandable pants. It was a nice experience, especially as I got to share my work family with my lovely wife, and my lovely wife with my work family.

Also, it was kind of bittersweet, because this is probably the last time all of us will get to do this together. As to why, that probably deserves it’s on post.

How’s that for a cliffhanger, stay tuned!


back-channel studio communication and the spider-man situation


If you’ve been following entertainment news at all recently, you’ve probably heard about the Sony Pictures hack that went down recently, allegedly perpetrated by North Korea because of that Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy about tabloid journalists being recruited to assasinate Kim Jong-Un. Whether that suspicion is true or not (I don’t know), the world learned some interesting news about the inner-workings of Hollywood, ranging from studio executives calling Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat”, to difficulties with the latest James Bond film, to ill-conceived ideas like merging the 21 Jump Street and Men in Black franchises into one crossover movie.

For my money, though the most interesting bits were the discussions of the Spider-Man franchise, particularly the details about conversations between Sony Pictures and Marvel Films about rights issues, profit sharing, and most importantly, incorporating Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The history of Spider-Man on film has been long and storied, and let’s be honest, pretty dysfunctional (they’ve written books on the whole sordid relationship between Spidey and the screen). Back in the mid-80s, when superheroes weren’t a sure-fire Hollywood bet, Marvel, facing financial struggles and not even remotely in the movie business, sold the Spider-Man film rights. for almost 20 years those rights bounced around, and despite many interesting developments (including a screwy James Cameron treatment) nothing got made, until 2002 when Sony released the first film directed by Sam Raimi, which was great (for its time) and kicked off the current superhero fashion. Of course, things eventually soured, and five films later, Spidey is on the downslide, largely because of mishandling of the character (especially if you ask comic book fans or Sony Corporation corporate executives). The movies still make money, but not lots (especially given the budgets), but are critically panned (exhibit A: The Amazing Spider-Man 2), especially since Marvel’s now in the movie business, and setting the example for everyone else.

That said, Sony’s got the rights for Spidey in perpetuity, if my understanding of the deal is right (different from the Fox deal with X-Men and the Fantastic Four, whose right lapse if they don’t actively produce things on a regular timetable). However, Sony is a strugglng studio, and was even before these hacking revelations. They’ve had a few hits recently, but no reliably profitable franchises aside from 007.

Marvel fans have, for years, longed for Spider-Man to “come home” and join the same screen universe populated by Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, feeling Marvel would finally get the character right. The leaks from the recent hacks indicate that this recently came very close to happening, though those talks initially fell through. However, if the rumors (see that link in the second paragraph above) are to be believed, with these leaked discussions seeing the light of day, discussions may, in fact, still be happening.

As I’ve said before, this is an exciting time to be a comic book fan. Especially a Spider-Man fan, as I’ve been since I was a small child. I still read the comics (it helps that my favorite comic writer, Dan Slott, does a great job with the character, despite the weirdness of the last decade), was overjoyed by the first film series (even if it hasn’t aged well), and while I’ve had problems with the newly rebooted series, I think that as long as he’s in the suit, Andrew Garfield is a pretty great Spider-man (when he’s in civvies, I’m less sold).

As a fan, I’d love to see Spidey back in the Marvel studios fold, eventually. That said, I’m kind of glad Marvel didn’t have access to one of it’s biggest guns right out of the gate. If they did, I doubt we’d have gotten such a diverse film universe, and we’d certainly never have gotten things like Guardians of the Galaxy and films in the pipeline about Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. It forced Marvel to go for some of the deep cuts, and turned some of these lesser properties into tentpoles, creating a unified brand and telling some great stories without leaning on pre-established relationships with the public consciousness, leading, I think, to a much stronger product; a living, breathing universe ready to birth a wealth of new characters.

According to the Sony leaks, Spider-Man was almost part of Civil War, the upcoming Captain America film (based on a storyline Spidey played a big part in), but that fell through. Which, was probably for the best, to be honest. Peter Parker would be a plot crutch in that story before becoming properly established. It sounds like they worked the story out otherwise (a good thing, as comics Civil War was a mess – an interesting idea with crappy execution). The latest info points toward a Sony “Spider-Man Summit” in January, and the latest-latest rumors indicate that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will be present; seems he’s got some thoughts on the direction of the franchise, and those thoughts include a clean break from existing continuity, and probably most importantly, getting rid of Avi Arad, former Marvel executive (and the guy who started Marvel Studios), who is considered largely responsible for how messed up this Spider-Man business has gotten.

In any case, it seems that Marvel and Sony are well on their way to an agreement that will send Spidey home eventually. We’ll see how it goes.

My personal ideal situation? Marvel and Sony come to an agreement. The details of the agreement don’t matter so much for me except for creative control landing back in Marvel’s court (they can work out profit-cost sharing agreements to their hearts’ content; doesn’t really matter unless it affects the creative property). As for introducing Spider-Man to the larger Marvel Cinematic universe, I’m perfectly happy with a clean break with the Sony stories, which got convoluted. While I liked Andrew Garfield in the role (he had some great wisecracking in the suit, anyway), I like the idea of starting Spider-Man over with Marvel fresh.

This doesn’t mean we need to do the origin of Spider-Man again. We’ve seen two different interpretations of the origin in the last decade. People know it cold; it’s not necessary. That said, as much as I love the older Peter Parker (science teacher era would be excellent), Marvel Studios hasn’t tackled the teenager angle yet, nor the secret identity thing, which might be fun for a while*.

I like the idea of having Spider-Man come to the attention of SHIELD/The Avengers as a street level start-up hero, cleaning up the streets and maybe tackling a couple non-cosmic scale villains from the Rogue’s gallery. Do the intro from the Avengers’ perspective in a post-credit stinger in one of the Phase 3 films: Spidey webs up a couple of carjackers or the Shocker or something, and turns to find one of the Avengers observing. Teenage Pete is kind of startstruck, and bluffs his way through the encounter with false teenage bravado. The encounter ends with a “keep fighting the good fight, kid. If you need us, give us a call” from the established hero. He’s in. That’s all you need to get him into the Infinity War action, leading to a solo film with an established Spider-Man in Phase 4, with the origin details sketched out in dialog and characterization, rather than the first 40 minutes of the movie – seriously, all you need is bite/Uncle Ben/”With Great Power comes Great Responsibility” checked in passing.

Feel free to send me a check, Marvel. There’s your solution.


* – Not that SHIELD couldn’t figure out Spider-Man’s actual identity as a matter of routine. Heck, they probably would. I kind of like the idea of them keeping his secret for a while without him knowing, just to see what he does. I kind of expect a properly intelligent teenage Spider-Man would know SHIELD would figure it out as well…though there’s possibility in the idea that a smart and sort of cocky kid who builds web shooters Spider-tracers and whatnot wouldn’t even consider that somebody could figure out his secret. Would be a great moment of humility, which plays well with Spidey stories. Don’t recruit him into SHIELD like the current cartoons (that’s too much, but maybe set up a mentor/hero worship relationship with Steve (I’d say Tony, but if “Civil War” spins out anything like the comics did…); I like that dynamic. See the Spider-Man episode of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for a pretty good example of how it might be done.


friday random ten – not shut down…yet


So, like all good federal employees, I stayed glued to the internet last night to find out if Congress passed the continuing resolution, so as to know whether I would be locked out of work. Actually, since Friday is my scheduled day off, it was a matter of whether I’d have to go in on my day off for a few minutes to sign another furlough notice.

Luckily (or not), it seems they passed *something* in the House at the last minute (a really, really shitty something, btw), and the Senate quickly passed a two day extender so they have time to act on it, which means we could be playing this game again next week on the eve of my end-of-year Holiday vacation.

Merry effing Christmas.

Anyway, that’s something. Here’s some music. Enjoy.

  1. “Losin’ Myself” – Debbie Gibson
  2. “Sorry and Sad” – Patty Griffin
  3. “On Saturday (live)” – The Clarks
  4. “Hey You (live) – Roger Waters
  5. “Monty Carlo Girl” – Big Back Forty
  6. “Dead Man’s Hill (live)” – Indigo Girls
  7. “Particle Man (live)” – Jonathan Coulton
  8. “When You See Me Again” – Saraya
  9. “Goonies R Good Enough” – Cyndi Lauper
  10. “Velouria” – Pixies

a holiday tradition


I mentioned earlier the holiday party from this weekend. This is that post.

Every year, my friends K.T. and Kevin throw a geeky, music-filled Holiday party; it’s the social event of the season, no question, especially this year, because:

Yes, that’s me playing naughty songs about young adult literature with my friends The Blibbering Humdingers, who kindly allow me to jump in on bass with them from time to time. This year, we were the entertainment. You might also notice that fancy instrument I’m holding: I got my Christmas present early in order to employ it – that’s a 5-string Jazz Bass (because I have a four string bass already…) that’ll be more instrument than I’ll ever need, given my bass playing skills and frequency. In any case, my lovely wife knows how to take care of me. Thank you, Brandi* My Dear.

As usual, it’s lots of wonderful folks, this year featuring lots of Hogwarts/Harry Potter-themed snacks and decorations. We played two long sets featuring everything we knew (and a few things we didn’t), and I’m pretty sure the host and the assembled throng had a wonderful time.

Thanks, as always, for hosting, you guys! We all had a blast.


*- silly joke based on some strangely labeled mail. Nothing to see here.


playing at gender


As so many of us are venturing into the toy aisles these days (well, for some of us, more often than we ususally do), ’tis the perfect season for articles such as this piece in The Atlantic about historical trends in gendering of toy marketing.

If you’ve been toy shopping recently, or even walked past the toy and game section of your local Big Box store, the current status quo is pretty darned obvious; it’s a fundamentally segregated environment. Dramatically sweeping fields of blues and silvers over here, *maybe* a Lego no-man’s land in the center (though that aisle is becoming remarkably segregated as well), and an eye-searing block of pink over there.

According to the piece linked above, it wasn’t always this way. Toy marketing has always played on gender cues to some extent; early 20th century advertisements tended to include role-based play; domestic/nurturing for girls, industrial for boys, though the majority of toys were categorized as gender-neutral. The lines blurred until the 80s, when the axes swung toward the current “Princess/Superhero” continuum, to the point where non-gendered toys have become very rare indeed, to the point that, according to this study, there are no toy products in the Disney Store catalog that aren’t characterized as “boy” or “girl” toys (though a few are included on both lists).

I suppose this says something about society and how it deals with gender; at least among the demographic making up marketing industry leaders (I suspect that these folks are, for the most part, still Boomers). I supoose the trend toward gender segregation might also have something to do with economics, as the 20th century progressed, manufacturing costs dropped, allowing for a greater variety of products – the early days of relative gender-neutrality in marketing probably had something to do with the fact that manufacturing capacity didn’t allow for much specialization; when you have a relatively small range of products, you want to be able to market them as widely as possible; explicit gendering didn’t make sense from an economic perspective. However, in today’s world of niche marketing, sharp categorization makes sense.

It doesn’t entirely jive with my experience with society, given the diversity of folks I tend to associate with; but then, my personal social circles tend toward geek/alt and liberal enclaves, so it doesn’t exactly represent mainstream middle America. I get to see these much more regimented social norms in less intimate interactions with my neighbors; I assume this is the more common circumstance.

If the generations coming up behind me are any indication, it won’t be this way forever. It seems every high school student I encounter these days (being the parent of one, I encounter many) has adopted some newly-minted gender identity or lack thereof – it’s hard to keeep the labels straight (as one can get the gist of from the first couple of letters in this week’s Savage Love). To be sure, one must correct for factors like “teenage rebellion” and “theater department” (as the majority of these kids, based on history and geographic and parental demographics, will, in a few years, be good, traditionally-gendered Republican-voting Baptists; but not all of them), but the idea of rigid gender roles, like the concept of homophobia, is fading as time marches on, which is generally a good thing.

Left to their own devices, kids play with what they like; most of the gender role stuff is learned behavior. Parents and peers influence things, to be sure, but most kids, in the heat of the moment, will play with whatever looks cool, regardless of what color it is. My youngest daughter, while a definite fan of traditional girly stuff, is just as likely to be caught playing with or watching superheroes (of which she has a tremendously deep knowledge…no surprise, given her parentage) as My Little Pony. As part of the silly gift exchange at a holiday party we attended this weekend (more on that in another post soon, I hope), she got her hands on a Stormtrooper figure, which has been her constant companion for the last week, playing happily alongside Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle. My son, a few years older, experiences greater exposure to peers, and thus expresses disdain for girlie things and celebrates sci-fi and military play, but can regularly be found enraptured by a screening of Frozen (depsite his protests) and semi-identifies as a Brony, if only for that episode with “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls. It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world…




Hope your holiday worked out nicely. Things didn’t start out badly on my end; our holiday feast was pretty nice; we tried out a few new recipes, including the awesomeness that is “Jezebel Sauce” (cranberry kicked up with horseradish and mustard). We did the usual parade and dog show stuff on television, then mostly hung out around the house, as it was cold and rainy outside. I read some of the comics I picked up at the con the other week while digesting pie.

‘Twas much the same for the rest of the weekend; in part to avoid the whole black friday business (which I hate), and partially because I spent the rest of the weekend sick; not sure what it was (I had my flu shot weeks ago), but it took it out of me with aches, pains, chills, hot flashes, and sinus issues through Monday. I ventured out on Sunday morning because I had a commitment to play with a group I’d been rehearsing with (and I was covering most of the melody lines), focusing all my energy on not f**king up too badly; which I didn’t, though I blew myself out for the next two days, spending most of the rest of Sunday in bed, and Monday on sick leave from work, binge watching “The 100″ on Netflix.

So yeah, happy holidays. This week looks relatively quiet, now that school plays and such are over with. My plan is to put my time in at the office, and spend the evenings fine-tuning my skills at wizard rock bottom end, as I have a gig with the Humdingers on Saturday, and given that the audience will be made up mostly of dear friends, I don’t want to suck and ruin anyone’s holiday party experience.


no pants weekend


So, as I mentioned previously, a little while back, I bought a kilt. Since then, I’ve been looking for excuses to wear it. I’ve done the local Celtic Festival and the ladies’ Irish dance competition, and got many positive comments. Based on the enthusiastic encouragement of some friends, I went unbifurcated to this weekend’s Virginia Comicon “Big Two-Day Show.” But more on that in a bit. The show itself deserves some unqualified praise first.

I’ve become a big supporter of this show over the years, the local promotion that’s been around forever, and has been steadily growing momentum for the last five years. This year is significant, given the entrance of Wizard World, the big nationwide juggernaut, into the market. Having been to both shows, I can say that despite the star power that Wizard brought, the VA Comicon really shone this year; the show really felt BIG, bringing in a tremendous volume of creators and artists (and yes, a few celebrity types…well, a Power Ranger anyway), really staking out the territory that that celebrates the creativity and talent that goes into creating comic art. Hat’s off to the promoters and organizers for creating a great venue for fans and creators to come together to celebrate the stuff we love.

I ended up acquiring some neat stuff as well, picking up a couple of gorgeous retro prints from Jeff Lonnett; Collections of Chris Flick’s Capes ‘n Babes strip (finally – I was way overdue jumping onto this train), a copy of the clever (and somewhat purile) card game cockFIGHT! from Charm City Games, book one of Gabriel Dunston’s Purgatory Pub (a clever concept that you can support via kickstarter – book 2 is currently working toward funding!), and speaking of Kickstarter, I got my fresh-from-the-printer copy of Dan Nokes’ The Pistoleers remastered omnibus edition I “executive produced” via the crowdfunding service a while back.

And finally, I posed for a picture with my kilted brethren, Nick Davis, of Alt World and The Teddy Bear Tales and Chris Otto, creator of the excellent A Dog’s Life:

The other big event carrying through the weekend was my kids’ high school production of Annie, which closed to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night. Given that I went straight from the con to the school on Saturday, I ended up chaperoning (such as it was) the cast party/carb blowout at IHOP in my kilt, which got a few strange looks from audience members, but also earned me the “Cool Dad” tophy as voted upon by a pack of theater kids (who I’m told may be launching a kilted revolution in the hallowed halls of TDHS one of these days). It was quite a bit of fun.

As the cast party ran until a little past midnight, you can say that I wore the kilt the whole weekend (which I am totally going to say).




Apologies, my drunken friends; this post is not about rum. Feel free to indulge, though; I’m no judging.

On an average day, I wear many different hats; I seem to keep collecting more as new and interesting things come into my life (some of them too premature to talk about right now). Today’s post comes to you courtesy of my amateur historian hat (which, for purposes of imagination, you an picture as a dusty brown bowler with a frayed silk band), which I possess thanks to several years of dedicated undergraduate coursework I’m not otherwise employing, though which has, over the years, filled my head with lots of interesting pieces of knowledge which has occasionally won me fame and fortune*.

One hundred and fifty-one years (and, as I write this, three hours or so) ago, the sixteenth US President delivered one of the most famous and influential pieces of oratory in the history of our Great American Experiment as part of a dedication ceremony of a battlefield cemetery in south central Pennsylvania. Ten sentences. Fewer than 300 words (give or take, depending on the version of the text you’re considering, and there are several slightly different drafts in circulation); an address most people present at its delivery actually missed thanks to a noisy photographer setting up his equipment; yet nonetheless is considered one of greatest experessions of the forensic arts ever delivered: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

(a note to pedants: this is the “Bliss Copy”, the most commonly reproduced version, and the one inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Elegant in its brevity. Ironic in historical hindsight given the eighth sentence. Perfectly appropriate for the situation, especially coming after mor than two hours of bombastic oratory by Edward Everett on a cold November morning. Solemn and inspiring.

Hard to imagine such a thing today, but one can continue to hope.


* – read as occasional trivia contest bragging rights and maybe a few extra credit points or a discounted drink coupon somewhere along the way.


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