i never could get the hang of thursdays

24
Jul

It’s not every day you get to drive north in the southbound lanes of the interstate, and go backwards up an exit ramp.

It’s also not every day it takes one six hours to travel the 14 miles from my house to my office.

Today is not, apparently, every day.

my car is just out of frame in this traffice camera shot from this morning

I left for work at just past the normal time today, and ended up stuck on 95 south for more than four hours, less than a quarter mile from this, a rather unpleasant overturned tanker truck incident, which is going to keep the road closed pretty much all day. I had no chance to bail before encountering the back-up, as it had happened scant minutes before I arrived near the scene.

Eventually, after several hours (during which my morning coffee began to insistently make its presence known at the back end of it’s cycle) and the appearance of pretty much every Fire, Rescue, Police, and Hazmat resource in the county, traffic control guys in nice yellow vests started turning cars around, parading us up the shoulder in the opposite direction, and backwards up the exit ramp to get onto an alternate route. Once that was done, I only had another two hours (thanks to bottlenecks, traffic lights, and several secondary fender benders along the way) until I pulled into the office parking lot around noon.

So, that was fun. And, as it looks like the highway will be closed until at least 4pm for cleanup of all the spilled gasoline, I’m already planning alternate routes home.

At least I got some reading done.

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another edition of spam folder poetry

21
Jul

Because I had a full spam folder and a spare half-hour. To recap the rules; I grab interesting phrases, not entirely at random, from the spam comments received on this blog. I take the lines and rearrange them into interesting experiments in free verse. I endeavor to change as little as possible from the original source; I think the most I did here was add a couple of line breaks.

No titles, just commentary on what I think this stuff might mean. You’re more than welcome to feel differently. Enjoy!

_____________________________

Commentary on outward appearance. Possibly a little sexy:

When you are ridin’ superior and furthermore lookin’ the best out of them
yet you still receive the same sidelong glances and adoring stares.
most people would likely never risk exposing his or her
chicken tucks
which hangs loose below the knees after being knotted
Flushing this device can lead to increased longevity
Thanks a lot and I am taking a
look forward to touch you.

meditation on modern feminism and the traditional roles of women:

People typically inquire me about women’s liberation
probably 3 days a week and doesn’t play very long
Few items define a woman’s sense of fashion more than her accessories
Moms want to make sure there funds is invested properly
the queen is considered one of the most powerful

regarding America’s persistent economic woes:

he notes that your dog keeps “meticulous” track connected with his finances on her computer
The fixed. The existing. The persnickety. The scarce.
our country really has a broken machine

Exploring the philosophy of machismo in rock music:

living is to understand and handle the fundamental metal chords
the rhythm and the riff
you’ll see that I’m not just a natural badass
been recently rough on my claws

How unreasonable expectations of manhood affect adolescent males:

The boy was not behaving well in class
You are forcing the kids to make their individual pancakes
utilize Emma Watson
redefine the rules established by way of patriarchal system

On the commonality of experience at the gaming table:

Practically every person alive these days has most likely played a match of bingo
an unexpected spot of entertainment
after everybody has shared laughter

Society’s difficulty with accepting variance in sexual orientation:

come out in the pub
wear all your trousers; halfmast
unwanted is really a offense
The foxtrot is refined

Societal disaffection with the prominence of sport in popular culture:

After Bird retired, the Celtics were set for some hard times
Quarterback Dude
Make Use of Vertical Space
How Tall Is Aspirin?

Now you understand how the illuminati controls us all:

you’ll see that I’m not just a natural badass
powerful techniques to control the h2o
Ben Affleck video won best picture
The united kingdom attempted to ban cappuccino
Disney Channel Metoclopramide

one single entry; perfect all by itself (and explains a lot):

Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I’ve {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll.|

And because I had some leftover text, some bonus band names:

Wellbutrin accident plan
Regional Clicks
Guidebook to Unwanted Fat Biking
Lunch at PeeWee
Motifs could be Animals

_____________________________

This has been your literary excursion into found art for the day. You should now feel sufficiently cultured.

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you know that feeling

21
Jul

Have you ever had an impending task looming over you for a good long while, hitting all sorts of impediments that need solved, and causing all manner of stress to your person? Sure you have.

Remember when it finally got resolved? The relief you felt when the stress finally lifted, and you actually physically felt the burden dissipate?

Then, shortly thereafter, feeling yourself pretty much melt into a gooey puddle with no internal structural integrity?

That’s me right now. Good thing I don’t really have a whole lot of heavy lifting on my plate today.

____________________

Anyway, this weekend, in addition to the Anniversary stuff (we had a nice afternoon out without the kids, even if a bit of it invovled errands): Played some games with friends. Slept in a bit. Took in a baseball game. Did a terribly clever parenting thing that might mean we’re really terrible people. Rehearsed a bunch of new and old songs. The guys and I saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which was really quite good.

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anniversary

18
Jul

Today,my marriage is old enough to drive.

Uh, wow.

Cool. Awesome. Overwhelming.

Wow.

Happy anniversary to us.

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a minor midwestern detour

17
Jul

I spent the early part of this week back in Columbus, Ohio, sitting in on two days of requirements planning sessions for upgrades on a computer system that’s been in service since the late 1950s, is jointly “owned”/supported by two different agencies, and has a directive to remain in service, in some form, until the year 2100.

Yeah.

It wasn’t really all that bad an experience, really. I learned a lot, and was able to contribute materially to the discussions. This business, and the follow-on projects, will probably keep me busy for the next decade or so. Job security is a nice thing.

I drove to Columbus again; I’ve got a pretty direct, not to particularly congested route that take a leisurely eight hours or so with bathroom, gas, and meal breaks. It’s not particularly stressful, allows me some quiet time to enjoy audiobooks (this trip? Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist and about half of Terry Pratchett’s Dodger), and most importantly, keeps me out of the US airline system (folks who flew actually took longer to get there than I did).

Of course, while I was in town, I took the time to get together with good friends Elizabeth and Duncan, who provided entertaining company in The Short Northneighborhood, with dinner and drinks at The Arch City Tavern, and absolutely amazing ice cream at Jeni’s. Much catching up ensued, as well as some discussion of in-progress projects we’re working on for Antimatter Press. A good time, as they say, was had by all.

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great week…or greatest week (for geek music)?

14
Jul

Today saw new releases from Efenwealt Wystle (aka Scott from my occasional bass gig The Blibbering Humdingers) and comedy rock geek Mikey Mason. Tomorrow sees the release of “Weird” Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun (see today’s video – the first of eight in eight days – “Tacky”).

I posit that this is the best week for geek music in like…ever. Prove me wrong, I dare you.

In any case, it was certainly enough to take some of the sting out of my ass after driving for eight hours today to get to Columbus, Ohio for businessy things.

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where the down boys go (out to pasture)

10
Jul

Like a lot of bigger metropolitan areas, Richmond has, for as long as I’ve been here, run (at least) one of those mid-week summer beerfest/concert series in a large suburban office park/mixed use retail “community”. Wednesday evenings from June to October feature a parade of fading nostalgia acts, mid-level live staples, and developing country artists performing on a semi-permanent pavillion stage on a lawn ringed with food and beverage vendors and port-o-pot villages. Gates open around happy hour, and the crowd disperses by around 10pm – exactly the kind of hump day diversion a middle-aged professional needs to break up the workaday monotony and still manage to get to work on Thursday morning without too many lingering aftereffects.

This week boasted an interesting bill – the “80s Invasion” package, featuring hair metal staples LA Guns, FireHouse, and Warrant, each boasting at least 50 percent original membership! So, on a bit of a lark, I picked up some tickets, and drove over after work with my teenage daughter in tow, who was actually rather into it, as she enjoys raiding my aging CD collection more than listening to the music supposedly marketed to her generation.

General admission lawn tickets were cheap, and it provided a bit of a break from the currently rattling house (current status – about 60% showpiece, 40% janky cardboard) from the siding guys doing their thing.

The bands sounded surprisingly good, even if they all looked a little old and paunchy (or in Phil Lewis from LA Guns’ case, rather like a strutting old woman), particularly FireHouse, who may have lost most of the hair, but can still hit the high notes. Warrant, even with a replacement singer after the original one died a few years back, sounded mostly like themselves. Setlists were obviously tilted toward nostalgia, heavy on the early material, with only token nods to “modern” output. They played the hits, and pretty much only the hits, and that’s what the crowd responded to.

Like any good show, crowd watching provided just as much sport as the main event. The assembled throng was an interesting mix; most folks a bit older than me, made up of the usual semi-intoxicated leathery tattooed women who tend to spring, fully formed from these things, as well as the aging metalheads who follow them. Mixed in were the usual dudebros, soccer moms in soccer mom bob haircuts reliving their youth, and a handful of high school girls wearing their mom’s old 1989 club gear. Also, a surprising number of prosthetic limbs.

Then there was the man who would become known as Stripper Thor. A younger, ripped guy with long flowing blond locks way prettier than one might expect, along with his leather miniskirt clad girlfriend, both wearing (in somehwat of a concert faux pas) Warrant t-shirts*. Of course, Thor didn’t leave his shirt on for long, at which point, he was mobbed by the previously mentioned leathery women (and a couple of the guys, too) to pose for pictures often taken by the girlfriend, who took it with good humor, but seemed a little annoyed.

All in all, it was a fun time; I’d never managed to catch any of these bands before (and I’ve seen my share of 80s hair bands over the years), and they all still put on a good show. In spite of occasional internal turmoil and personnel changes, these guys still look like they’re having a blast playing for a crowd, even if they’re playing the same crap they’ve been playing for 20 years. And they can all still really play – there are many complaints about this era/genre of music – shallowness, macho posturing, misogyny, etc;but no one can accuse these guys of not being talented instrumentalists. There was lots of shreddy noodling, but it was really impressive shreddy noodling; the guitar solo may be largely defunct in current popular music, but it was alive and well last night amongst immaculately manicured lawns and interchangeable corporate office blocks of suburbia.

___________________

* – Really, has nobody told these people that it’s bad form to wear the shirt of the band you’re seeing to the actual concert? Some people….

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songs of my people

08
Jul

I’ll have you know, I have some pretty creative friends who make some neat and entertaining stuff. When they do, I like to point people at those things, because I like to see my friends succeed, and because I think the stuff they make is pretty cool, and I want other people to see it and enjoy it as much as I do.

One of my friends is currently mounting a kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of his latest “nerd comedy” album, Songs of My People: Let Me Sing You Them. I’ve known Danny for several years now, and have been a fan of his brand of “filk” for even longer, and make a point to catch his performances at conventions whenever we happen to be in the same place. Danny’s stuff could be considered a very fine example of “traditional” filk, leaning toward sci-fi and fantasy themed parody and humor, which has received many accolades, and has been featured in such illustrious venues as the Dr. Demento Show and The Fump. He also does some really great solo piano stuff (which has not been featured on novelty song radio) and has a good half-dozen novels to his credit.

My entire family are big fans, especially my youngest, who’s been known to occasionally join Danny for a duet.

So, if you’ve got a few extra bucks lying around, I highly recommend contributing to this effort – if it’s successful, you’ll receive some great music, and support a great creative talent. As I write this, he’s about half-way there, with a couple of weeks to go – not exactly potato salad money, but well on the way to success. There’s some great tunes on this one – you can see the video for “Lady Hath Bustle” on the page, plus, this one will also feature “Eye of the Newt” (my current personal favorite) and long-time live staple “I Love Calculus”.

So, what are you waiting for? Let him sing them to you!

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facelift

07
Jul

For the next couple of days, I’ll have hot sweaty construction workers climbing all over my house, for today the siding project begins.

And it’s about time, too, as I’ve been hanging on waiting for this to get scheduled for a while now, as I booked the job and paid the deposit quite a long time ago. Yeah, I know, there’s time built in for paperwork, and ordering the materials and all that, but the sitting around and waiting for it to happen was a constant low-level stressor that I didn’t particularly need.

But, it’s over now, or will be, in the next couple of days. They’re scheduled to start Monday morning. It really got started Thursday around lunchtime, when the truck came by to drop off a couple of thousand square feet of vinyl siding, trim, and insulation. That stuff’s been sitting in my driveway dwarfing my car all weekend, but it’s here, and serves as a tangible reminder that progress is being made. I also appear to have some small measure of dominion over the weather, as I made sure to cover the stuff securely with very large tarpaulins; a ritual that seems to have diverted the effects of Hurricane Arthur – my neighborhood remained blissfully(?) dry all weekend while many other places did not.

We did a little bit of prep work over the weekend; my wife and daughter repainted our exterior doors a clean, bright white to match the trim that will be going up, and since we took stuff off anyway, we replaced the front door knocker and kickplate with shiny new hardware that actually matches the doorknob. I also ventured out and bought a twelve-foot pruning thing (one of those big sawblades on a telescoping stick) and engaged in some long overdue trimming of the limbs that hung a bit too close to the house. Things are much cleaner in that regard now (except for the one limb which currently has baby robins residing on it; that one can wait a while), which should make the newly sided house look a bit more attractive, and leave the construction zone largely obstruction-free.

Otherwise, we played it a bit low-key for the Independence Day weekend; getting together with friends for a backyard barbeque on Friday, followed by a few hours hanging out along the James River near their house, enjoying the pleasant weather. The rest of the weekend was taking care of normal weekend stuff (plus the above activites) and an evening hanging otu with friends for a pleasant evening of making each other laugh and getting totally trounced by a first-timer playing Ticket To Ride Europe.

I’m hoping this week is, aside from the obvious, relatively quiet and uneventful. Other than the usual stuff and some music-making (which probably counts as usual), I could use a break before all the travelling various bits of us have scheduled in the coming week or two.

So, anyway…busy, but still pretty pedestrian, which is a pretty good definition of life most of the time, come to think of it.

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pre-indpendence day holiday politics/current events round-up

02
Jul

Because I haven’t in a while, let’s talk politics!

I’ve been following this Hobby Lobby thing, like most people. It was a really weird, narrow ruling (which is not particularly uncommon for this court), which, for the life of me, looks an awful lot like the court saying that certain religious traditions have special status over others – by saying that this ruling applies specifically to this case, and to religious objections to abortion/birth control (and specifically denying it applies to things like blood transfusions that other religious traditions object to) in employer-provided health insurance plans. This is really murky, troubling law, leaving aside the fact that it seems to favor the rights of convenient legal fictions like corporations over the rights of flesh and blood individuals, which it totally does.

The one bright light in all of this was Kennedy’s suggestion in his concurring opionion that the government could cover the cost of birth control in the cases where Hobby Lobby wouldn’t. This is, of course, essentially advocacy for Single Payer health care, which is what many of us on the left really wanted all along, rather than the hodge-podge of corporate health insurance that Obamacare eventually became because conservative elements in the legislative branch wouldn’t even entertain the idea of to begin with. This decision is bad law, but if it eventually leads to a single payer system down the road, bringing the US in line with the rest of the civilized world in terms of health care, it might, eventually, in some distant optimistic future, not be total crap (which, until that bright shining future happens, this decision totally is).

Iraq…yeah. That’s a mess. It’s not going to get better right away – I kind of think the end state here, eventually, is that the old, post-WWI political divisions break down, and “Iraq” and “Syria” and all that fade, and new countries rise from the ashes, for better or worse, along ethnic and religious lines. Kurdistan is there in all but name anyway, and this whole Caliphate thing that ISIS (who are get closer to sounding like a real-world analogue to HYDRA, SPECTRE, or COBRA the more I hear about them) is trying to make happen could gain some traction, though honestly, claiming to be “THE” Islamic state with worldwide authority isn’t doing them any favors (especially given the fact that Islam is quite variable, and hardly monolithic, same as the rest of Abrhamic faiths. Think of it this way: can you point to a universally recognized spiritual and political leader for *all* the varied denominations and sects of Christianity? I didn’t think so. That’s who these guys are trying to be), nor is issuing statments that read like they were delivered by Doctor Doom after a bender. If such a state eventually gets a real political foothold, I can’t imagine it being a particularly influential one on the world stage. Stay tuned on that one…all I know is that I don’t really want US boots on the ground again over there if we can help it. Land wars in Asia (especially asymmetrical ones) never really work out, as the last however many years have shown.

Otherwise…we haven’t even gotten mid-terms out of the way, and the media’s already starting to try and spin up a horse race for the 2016 Presidential election. Right now, they seem to be focused solely on Hillary Clinton (who’s got the ambition, but hasn’t actually said she’ll run) at the expense of anything else. It’s not really a story yet, as much as they’d like to make it one. Other names floating around include (my personal favorite so far) Elizabeth Warren (imagine, an actual liberal progressive politician – I’m actually swooning), and a few rumblings from my former Senator Jim Webb, who would be far from awful.

That said, it’s pretty much lots of talk about Hillary Clinton, because there’s nobody else out there; the GOP doesn’t have a clear consensus (the last I heard, there was a movement toward running Romney again; they’re more focused on the poorly-handled internal struggle between establishment corporatists and the Tea Party and the fallout resulting from it. But as I said, it’s early; the power dynamics are shifting with the run-up to the mid-terms, and likely whoever ends up with the high ground after that will dictate the future course.

That’s politics and current events, at least the most obvious stuff on my radar. I’m honestly focusing more on internal stuff right now; job, home improvements, summer schedules, learning a stack of new songs…I get my twice-daily news injection from NPR on my commute, but otherwise, I’m not over-indulging.

Why should we, when the best news over the last couple of weeks has been the announcement of the impending release of Mandatory Fun, the new record from “Weird” Al Yankovic. We need to focus on the REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF, after all.

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