friday random eleven – “lexicographic circular” edition


So, this week has been…this week. Life’s been life, work’s been work. I’ve spent most of my time at the office tying up loose ends and documentation from last week’s dog and pony show in Northern Virginia, and most of my time at home sleeping off migraine-like symptoms that I thought were actually allergies (my seasonal allergies have been worse this year than any time in recent memory; i.e. when I originally moved south), but given the digestive issues and swelling in the throat, I think is actually viral. Oh well. I’ve gotten some rest, and I’ve finished two books this week.

This weekend should be pretty low impact for me. I need to pay bills, swing by the library, and hit up the VA Celtic Festival tomorrow, as the girls will be dancing in the afternoon. It’s a cool place to hang out, check out the caber tossing, and maybe eat some good Irish food if my system ever settles out.

While I won’t be there (lotsa driving and expense for not much show, family doing other stuff) the rest of (i.e. the main, pretty ones) the Humdingers and many other good friends will be at the Geek Gala in Charlotte, so if you’re down that way, go get your geek on. Scott and Kirsten are playing Saturday at 2pm, if you need your wizard rock fix.

A few other things happened this week worth mentioning, I guess, with nasty women getting shit done, a new teaser for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and this morning, when I find myself wishing that certain insufferable millenials in my social media feeds would be half as incensed about (or at least engaged with) the current political climate in America as they are angry about Laverne Cox playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter last night on tv*.

Anyway, some tunes. I purged and rebuilt my Pandora back-end shuffle sources this week, so the mix is changing up a bit (but not as much as I think I’d like – I’m coming to the limits of the application’s library). It was better yesterday. More Bowie.

  1. “Tighten Up” – The Black Keys
  2. “Africa” – Toto
  3. “Rock of Ages” – Def Leppard
  4. “Entering Eternity” – Falconer
  5. “Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
  6. “Not The One” – The Donnas
  7. “Cry Baby” – Kitten Forever
  8. “Something to Do (live)” – Depeche Mode
  9. “Somebody’s Love” – Passenger
  10. “State Trooper in the Left Lane, Nattles” – Cold Cold Hearts
  11. “Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles

Also, no Stranger Things news this week worth talking about. You’ll just have to take your Eleven without context (other than the fact that track eleven was in the show, and anachronistic to boot, so maybe context).


*- For the record, I didn’t watch last night, but, like a lot of people, I think it was a bold, inspired choice, and well in line with the themes inherent in the property, so f**k those kids.


saucer full of secrets


Beyond the “ooga chaka” in the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, Marvel’s never really made the move to tease its movie music before. Normally, MCU scores are kind of anonymous background noise, and on the whole pretty forgettable other than perhaps the overall Marvel Studios Fanfare they use during the studio tag. The piece linked below is different, and I hope this bodes well for future films; veteran composer Michael Giacchino really nailed a pretty great aural accompaniment for the screen version of Doctor Strange that is anything but forgettable:

This is purportedly the Strange end credits, and it’s a definite departure from the kind of anonymous symphonic scores we’re used to (apart from G0tG, of course); first of all, there seems to be an actual theme in there (that repeating eight note baroque-y sounding bit with variations, which as I listen to it, kind of leans on the fanfare linked above), and a very art rock/progressive vibe, with heavy influences from Pink Floyd, a bit of Queen, and some Jon Lord style organ for good measure. I’m really digging it.

It makes sense though, since Doc Strange himself cameoed on the cover art of Pink Floyd’s second studio album back in 1968:

My excitement for this flick is really starting to pick up. November 4 can’t come quickly enough.


wisdom of the commentariat


…courtesy of somebody named thebump on adequate man:

I’m almost forty, and from what I can tell so far life is essentially just an endless series of moments where you realize “I was really fucking stupid five years ago.”



scenes from a weekend


so we did some things.


friday random eleven – “dog and pony shows” edition


Even with the day off at the beginning, this week has felt longer than usual. This probably had to do with the fourteen hour day I put in yesterday, trekking up to the DC metro for a multi-agency dog-and-pony show where I had to play ringmaster for a large part of the day. The meeting went well overall, I made the connections I needed and managed to persuade the right people that my ideas for this project I’m in charge of are the right ones, and I’ll get the right top cover I need – also, I kind of aligned my efforts with some of the more agressive senior watchdogs in the Department, so I might actually have some folks to actively sponsor my ideas.

Worth it, even for the crap throat from talking all day, and the fact that I managed to get yanked back into a crappy monthly meeting I managed to finally get out of a year ago, though this time, it’ll actually work to my advantage.

Hoping this weekend is generally chill – I’m planning on going to a housewarming/welcome back to town party for a friend of mine tonight, which should devolve into a nice chill jam session. It should be fun. Otherwise, not a whole lot on the agenda – looks like the girls have a couple of short company performances around town, but nothing else.

Also, while it looks like ConJuration isn’t going to happen for me this year (14 hour round trip to Atlanta for probably an hour’s worth of performance? not really worth it), the Humdingers picked up another gig for the end of the month – we’ll be doing a show friday night, October 28 at HonorCon in the Cary/Raleigh NC area – should be lots of friends in the crowd.

Oh, and I watched the new Ghostbusters this week. You should too – it’s pretty great. And, in spite of all the talk to the contrary, I’m going to take some of the discussion (especially the mayor’s office stuff) and a few winks in the cameos to confirm my theory that it’s actually a sequel and not a reboot, despite what everyone else says; maybe you won’t, but I will.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all. Enjoy the tunes, which all sound better to me via the UE Boom 2 speaker I managed to wrangle out of the cell phone people. I wouldn’t have paid full price for it, but with it thrown into the deal, I’ll take it, and I’m actually pretty impressed:

  1. “I Will Wait” – Mumford & Sons
  2. “She’s an Angel” – TMBG
  3. “3rd Planet” – Modest Mouse
  4. “Photograph” – Def Leppard
  5. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer
  6. “The Sun” – Portugal, The Man
  7. “When The Tequila Runs Out” – Dawes
  8. “True Affection” – The Blow
  9. “Slightless” – Daath
  10. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House
  11. “Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys

autumn has grabbed us by the….


Here’s a kind of disjointed “state of Chuck’s life” post. Enjoy.

It’s always tough to come back to work after a long weekend, especially when I have to look forward to a giant dog-and-pony show (where I get to spend the majority of the time as ringmaster) up in Northern Virginia later this week. That’ll be good for a sixteen hour day when you build in the commute.

I got a little bit of downtime this weekend, but not as much as I’d like, as is always the case. I also feel like I got bent over a barrel (or, you know, maybe groped by a presidential candidate, if I wanna be topical) by the cell phone store. My lovely spouse and I, at her urging, mostly (the kids’ hand-me-down phones were starting to show their age…this is true, but I think she also wanted a new toy), went to the local T-Mobile store to upgrade our phones so we could pass our old S5s down to the teenagers. In the end, it’s gonna increase my phone bill by a totally reasonable fifteen bucks a month, but it ended up being over a hundred bucks out of pocket in “setup fees” and whatnot, and when I got home, I found that two of the SIM cards they set us up with weren’t activated anyway. While I’m very happy with the service I get from this company, I feel dirty and slimy after visiting any sort of mobile phone retail outlet; the same way you do after visiting a buy-here-pay-here used car lot, a payday loan storefront, or, say, shaking hands with then-senator Rick Santorum.

Anyway, I got the SIM business taken care of over the phone, the new Galaxy S7 is nice (and not the one that explodes), and we managed to get a couple hundred bucks of bluetooth accessories out of the deal. I didn’t really need these things, but the Logitech speaker thing I ended up with is kinda nice for background music in my office, and she got a set of Beats headphones, which are totally not worth the retail price and use some deceptive manufacturing costs to lend the sheen of quality, but when they’re kicked in with the phone deal, I can live with it.

Anyway, the kids are happy, especially the boy, who now has a handset he can play Pokemon Go with.

The other big news of the weekend was Mary’s prospective student visit to Sweet Briar College out in the western part of the state. She got a tour of the place, got to stay overnight in the dorms with a student hostess, and audited a few classes over Sunday/Monday. She kind of fell in love with the place (and the stuff I’m hearing encourages me as a parent), and although it isn’t cheap, I guess I kind of have to make it work, especially because we have a couple of alumnae friends, one of whom has been talking her up something fierce to their old faculty advisors, which carries a lot of weight at these smaller private liberal arts institutions. I’m not going to break her heart; when she manages to get in, I’ll manage to make it happen. Everybody comes out of college with loans now; mine would have been a lot worse, but I came out of it without a dad. All told, I’d rather have the loans.

I’m worrying about college tuition for someone who’s not me. I’m an old.

Finally getting around to the other bit I reference in this post title, Autumn has officially settled on us here in the RVA, after we got out of Hurricane Matthew pretty much unscathed (several of my friends east and south were dealing with flooding and power loss). I woke up yesterday to find the temperature dropped enough to reduce the psi in my tires enough below the recommended levels to set off the monitor light.

It’s not the appearance of pumpkin spice in everything or the leaves changing or the school fundraiser papers that let me know summer’s gone for another year, it’s that one day each year when the car tells me I need to put some air in the tires.

Finally, of all the cool news coming out of NYCC, the little bit of Doctor Strange footage that slipped out really got me excited; a lot of us were worried by all that Inception-style folding buildings imagery, but stuff like the screen capture below from the neat little featurette about the film’s visuals is full-on Ditko psychedelica, which is exactly what I’m looking for in this movie.


friday random eleven – “can’t sleep, clown will eat me” edition


Though the clown business hit my neighborhood last week (including an unsubstantiated report from my kids’ school), this is the week when things went national, with stories on NPR this morning, all kinds of offical statements from schools and law enforcement, and a (probably bored) reporter raising question of the clown epidemic at a White House press briefing.

I’m not sure why, really. I suspect there really aren’t actually that many people actually donning clown garb, though somebody’s proving you can do some interesting social engineering with some well-placed social media activity.

I suspect it’s kind of the same reasoning I had about the Pokemon a couple of months ago; we need a distraction from reality. The real world is confusing and occasionally scary right now, what with killer storms, contentious elections, and real violence in our streets and in civil wars overseas. I wonder if it’s not easier for us to package up the very real fears and anxieties we have about the world and project them onto something relatively ridiculous because that’s easier to deal with?

Just a theory. People could get distracted by better stuff, like that Chipotle has chorizo now.

In any case, it’s not really impacted my life in any significant way other than as an occasional diversion for my attention, and me maybe thinking about asking Metricula, my one actual IRL (folk-singing dominatrix) clown friend, about it, but I kind of suspect she’s tired of the whole business. The week’s been realtively slow, low-level stressors all over the place, but nothing imminently serious. I’ve been doing a bit of preparation for a roundtable meeting in DC next week where I have to do a couple of presentations, trying to figure out the rest of the year in terms of commitments and family activities, and doing my damnedest to continue breathing in spite of some of the worst allergy symptoms I’ve experienced in years.

Oh, and my kid’s going on a college campus visitation later this weekend. I’m so definitely an old.

Anyway, here’s some tunes out of my pandora mix; bit of a stutter on “Don’t” there at six and seven, but otherwise, could be worse:

  1. “The Ghost in You” – Psychadelic Furs
  2. “Dirty Boots” – Sonic Youth
  3. “The Parting Glass” – The Wailin’ Jennys
  4. “Seven Wonders” – Nickel Creek
  5. “It’s My Life (live)” Bon Jovi
  6. “Don’t You Cry for Me” – Cobi
  7. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds
  8. “Frontwards” – Los Campesinos
  9. “Animal” – Def Leppard
  10. “Back in Black” – AC/DC
  11. “Youth Gone Wild” – Skid Row

Oh, this week’s random eleven link isn’t necessarily awesome – I hope the stage parent business gets nipped in the bud; Millie seems like a good kid; she doesn’t deserve this crap.


weekend. yeah.


So, the big meeting that I had scheduled for Friday that was one of the big drivers for me not gigging this weekend at the Chestertown HP festival ended up getting cancelled, but not until the last minute. Still for the best that I didn’t do it; an influx of bills have hampered my general cash flow situation in recent months, I’m still not quite over the cold/flu thing, (I’ve kicked two full boxes of tissues at the office in the last week), and I’m kind of worn out and stressed; I do tend to draw energy from audiences when I play, but I expect given my general mindset recently, I wouldn’t have been able to play my best. It sounds like my friends had a lot of fun, though.

So, I got a little bit of a break. I’m still stressed as hell for many of the above-mentioned reasons, though I thoroughly enjoyed Luke Cage on netflix this weekend. I really enjoyed it; for a change it didn’t drag so much around episodes 7/8/9 as the other Netflix marvel shows do (but still probably could have told the same story more effectively in 10 episodes rather than 13), boasts a really effective supporting cast, makes the best use of music this side of Guardians of the Galaxy, and really stood out with a unique style, making liberal use of 70s grindhouse, classic hip-hop, and modern crime serial elements, while still feeling like it belongs as part of the MCU. It’s highly recommended, folks- give it a shot.

Also, the girls had a last-minute dancing gig at Strangeways Brewing for their little celtic festival food bank fundraiser. I like going to these things anyway, because my fellow dance parents are good folks whose company I enjoy, plus Albino Monkey is probably my favorite beer brewed in a city with a lot of great breweries in it.

Otherwise, I hit the library and the grocery store, and did a couple of other things. Hoping to get through this week unscathed (last week at work had a bunch of deadlines, annoying co-workers, and the usual FY-end crap you have to deal with, plus the now-annual threat of possible government shutdown!), because I could really use a week where people aren’t all grabbing at me and taking their hunks of flesh.


friday random eleven – “muggles, money and mucus” edition


This week started with a sick day (that I’m still not over), involved an indirect presidential encounter, and so far, has been ending with a tremendous exercise in self control to not grievously maim a needy co-worker who does not understand that my office does not exist solely to support their particular project by answering inane queries that aren’t part of our job description or mission.

Also, the muggle world is conspiring to keep me from a pretty awesome gig this weekend at The Chestertown MD Harry Potter Festival, an annual event that I keep missing for a number of reasons. The rest of my bandmates and several of our wrock friends will be there providing entertainment and such, though the Humdingers will be without their low end this year. Oh well, they promised me they’d do some kick-ass shows anyway. if you’re nearby, go see them rock the house and tell them I wish I was there.

That said, I will get a chance to dive into Luke Cage this weekend, which I guess is some consolation. I hope it’s as good as I expect it’s going to be. Netflix is knocking these Marvel shows out of the park.

Anyway, here’s some tunes:

  1. “Creep” – Radiohead
  2. “Au Contraire” – TMBG
  3. “Little Mascara” – The Replacements
  4. “It’s My Life” – Talk Talk
  5. “Where Did Our Love Go” – Soft Cell
  6. “The Promise” – When In Rome
  7. “Here I Go Again” – Whitesnake
  8. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – Pat Benetar
  9. “I Love Rock and Roll” – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  10. “Go (Club Mix)” – Tones on Tail
  11. “Under the Milky Way” – The Church

this week’s random Eleven? – if you’re in Georgia, go audition for Stranger Things season 2!


another near miss for me


So, yesterday President Obama came to visit my workplace. I totally missed him. The closest I got was waiting a few minutes longer at the gate in the morning, and standing out in the parking lot with the guys from the building next store looking in the general direction of the helipad as Marine One was coming in, though all we saw was the State Police helicopter clearing the airspace, and I passed by a couple of Prince George County open carry good-ole boys standing a ways outside the gate kinda looking like they were protesting, but maybe were just hanging around near their trucks not unlike like the weekend morning WaWa militia near my house…hard to tell.

Oh well. He wasn’t here for me anyway. I’ve seen the guy up close-ish before (back when he was Senator Obama stumping for Senator Kaine in Richmond), and he’s done a few events near me over the years where I’ve gotten passed by the motorcades or campaign buses.

He was here doing an end-of-term thank you visit to military folks and to tape a town hall forum with CNN that got broadcast last night. I didn’t watch it (I don’t have cable); while that was going on, I was chilling on the couch watching Archer and getting over this cold/flu/plague of mucus I’ve been dealing with.

I did, however, read the above-linked Richmond Times-Dispatch summary of the visit, and got the gist of some of the questions he was asked during the town hall and his responses. I thought they were pretty good; the guy can still turn a phrase. To wit, here’s the bow he put on his response to a question about the recent “take a knee” protests from athletes about the preponderance of police shootings, calling for empathy (which is something we’re sadly lacking in this country these days):

the only way we make it work is to see each other, listen to each other, and try to be respectful of each other…not just going into separate corners.

Pretty simple, but yeah, that’s pretty much it. Would be nice if the commentariat on the web version of the RTD article would have listened.


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