friday random ten: “best of times, worst of times” edition

22
Jul

It’s been a week; it started with a pretty great anniversary date with good food and British “action transvestite” comedy, then swung back and forth between awesome and shitty: damaged cars and insurance claims (boo!), many cancelled meetings (yay!), great band rehearsals (rawk \m/ ) and less than great band rehearsals (meh.), my kid beating my SAT score by 30 points (sweet!), a weird-ass but entertaining dumpster fire of an RNC (ooh!), more unfortunate shootings ( argh.), a metric assload of Psyducks (uh, okay), cool Comicon news (Defenders!), and coming into this morning with a headache that’s probably going to swing into migraine territory by lunchtime (pfft.).

Anyway…not sure what I’m looking toward this weekend. Probably keep an eye on the news to see who HRC’s VP pick is going to be (It’s going to be Timmeh, who’s not a bad guy at all, boring in all the right “Dad Joke” sorts of ways, and has his heart and mind in the right place in terms of social justice issues, despite his “conservative” reputation, and has a reputation as a consensus builder) and see about getting my head clear.

Oh, it’s looking increasingly like I’m not going to make it to this one given all the other life in the way, but my friend Dan Nokes is launching his indie, East Coast response to SDCC this weekend in Dunkirk MD, the soon-to-be classic event POPCOMIGANZA, featuring lots of great dealers, artists, costumes, and all the cool stuff one finds at a Comics/Pop Culture convention. Dan’s a great artist himself, and has been a big part of making the Virginia Comicon such a great event (especially for small press/indie artists) over the years. If you’re within spitting distance, please thing about checking it out!

Otherwise, that’s the way life’s shaking out ’round these parts. Have a good weekend, folks – enjoy the tunes (a pretty nice mix this week if I do say so myself):

  1. “Dark Center of the Universe” – Modest Mouse
  2. “The One I Love” – R.E.M.
  3. “In A Time of Tales” – Mithotyn
  4. “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” – Vampire Weekend
  5. “Riptide” Vance Joy
  6. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police
  7. “Wicked Game” – Parra for Cuva
  8. “Under Pressure” – Queen w David Bowie
  9. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division
  10. “True Faith ’94” – New Order
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trees kinda suck

19
Jul

Last night, after getting back from a pretty great anniversary date (great, inexpensive food at Capital Ale House and a very entertaining couple of sets from Eddie Izzard – the only thing missing was “cake or death”), we had a pretty active storm system run through the neighborhood; lots of thunder, wind, and lightning. This isn’t uncommon here in the mid-Atlantic this time of year; in fact, I generally find these things pretty relaxing as I’m lying down to sleep.

I woke up a little later than usual – I took off today; knowing I would be back late, and I had a chiropractor appointment scheduled this morning – and upon planning to head out for my commitments, I noticed what you see two paragraphs up. A big crease through the hood of my car, and a couple of very large limbs (the smallest was about five inches in diameter – the others larger – I’m not sure which one is the culprit) lying on the ground in front of the vehicle. The crease/dent is about 18 inches long, maybe four inches wide.

This sucks. This car is, as attentive readers will remember, only six months old, and just yesterday turned over 8500 miles. It was pristine (other than some road dust).

Anyway, thank goodness for low deductible comprehensive coverage, and a good auto insurance company (as it was my car, my property, and my tree, homeowners doesn’t cover it). After taking a bunch of photos, I placed a quick call to the insurance company, opened a claim, and got an estimate for repair scheduled.

I wrapped that a little while ago – I’m looking at a little over $900 in damage; basically, I get a new hood – no other damages anyone could find. It could be much worse, I suppose. I’ve got a repair appointment coming up in a couple of weeks (I’m in the “driveable” category, so I can stand to wait a bit); I’ll trade the car in for a rental for a couple of days in early August.

In the meantime, I get to drive around with a bad-ass battle scar. Ain’t nobody going to mess with me.

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anniversary

18
Jul

So, my lovely spouse and I have been married for 18 years today.

My marriage is old enough to vote.

I’ve been taking moments here and there to let that idea sink in. I guess, through all this other stuff, we’ve figured out how to do this marriage thing. It feels strange, but also good*.

Anyway…I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I found the person who’ll put up with all my idiosyncracies, and I’m not going to let go.

The universe seemed to be looking in on us for this one, because it saw fit to arrange for Eddie Izzard to come to town and do his show for our benefit** tonight, so that’s what we’re doing; dinner and a show. We deserve it.

Love you, my dear. thanks for putting up with me.

____________________

*-the fact that she’ll likely recognize this awkwardly placed Wesley Crusher quote is one of the reasons our marriage works.

**-…well, not really, though as we paid the theater money for the tickets, he is, in some small way, our dancing monkey for the evening.

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so this pokemon thing

14
Jul

Since my wife and kid jumped on, I’ve been playing the Pokemon, just like so many other Americans. We’ve been having fun. It’s added a little bit of novelty to my bike rides (and it’s helped me start getting back into the regular bike riding habit, which is good for me), and I’ve met a bunch of pleasant folks out wandering.

It’s kind of neat being on the forefront of the national zeitgeist.

It’s a “get out and explore” activity, and while I think the “fitness” angle is a little overplayed, that’s definitely a benefit for a lot of people. It’s social, but it works for myriad values of “social”. You can play it solo, like I tend to do on my rides, or you can do the mass group activity thing like all the folks in some of the parks in the city (I hear some of the hip 20somethings are organizing a huge Pokemon themed bar crawl before the month is out). Even on my little jaunts through Dutch Gap for the trails or a quick five miler to the library and back, I find myself getting into pleasant conversations with other players, sharing tips about where the good stuff is, or just griping about server issues. It’s been fun.

The question a lot of people have about this phenomenon (and I guess it is a phenomenon at this point) took off while others, like geocaching, or Ingress, the previous GPS-enabled phone game Niantic (the Pokemon game developer) put out, and serves as the basis for a lot of the geographical data for Pokemon, remained niche activities?

I have a theory.

This game came out toward the end of one of the most awful, divisive, and all-around crappy weeks in recent American memory, smack-dab in the middle of a year full of divisiveness, tragedy, and political division. People were tired of feeling desperate, tired, angry, and isolated from their neighbors. America needed some harmless, mindless, non-controversial entertainment and diversion. Wandering around in the sunshine (the fact that the weather was beautiful all over the place this weekend helped) catching little cartoon monsters was exactly the kind of thing people needed.

Yep, I said it: Pokemon Go, this past weekend, was the thing that united America, at least for a little while; a fortuitously-timed trifle that gave America the therapeutic salve it needed exactly when it needed it the most.

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the gig

11
Jul

So, Dimensional Riffs had our first gig on Saturday night, over at TASTE at Infusion, a neat little restaurant/bar/nightclub nestled in among the warehouses and craft breweries of Scott’s Addition. We played the small room, with a tiny little stage, opening up for Jester’s Ink, the local improv troupe seemingly inextricably melded to every member of the band but me through domestic partnerships and mutual participation.

It was a short set, around 30 minutes, but for a first gig for a group that’s only been playing all together for a handful of weeks, it….wasn’t bad. Here’s a photo, grabbed from one of the videos somebody took, with arrow added helpfully to identify me as the disembodied Fender headstock behind the PA speaker stage left (I’m kind of stuffed in the corner, because the stage was small, and I wasn’t only playing bass and guitar, but also tweaking sound as necessary, and the board was stuck back there). I’m not worried; the girls are prettier than me anyway.


The mantra going in was “it won’t be perfect, but it’ll be fun”, and yeah, I think it was (not perfect by a longshot, but fun). The room seemed to enjoy it; at least as much as any crowd there for Monte Cristo sandwiches and comedy would enjoy a nascient rock band. I had a couple of friends in the audience who came quite a long way to see us play just a couple of tunes in a tiny room, which was really much appreciated.

This gig was, in my mind anyway, the “put up or shut up” mile marker for this project; the line-up and concept haven’t completely firmed up yet, and this experience, and it’s immediate aftermath, will hopefully settle some of that uncertainty out. We’ve got another show lined up later this month, where we’ll have to have more than half-a-dozen songs in the can; I think we can manage it, assuming the settling out happens soon, and the little bits of drama* we’ve dealt with get wrapped up quickly and we can focus on getting the material together.

Anyway…if you’re curious, there’s a couple of videos out there (check the first link in the first paragraph) for satisfying your cravings.

Otherwise, the weekend involved the girls kicking the ass of the US Open in DC, and god help me, Pokemon Go, the only thing that managed to bring America together after a week that was full of upleasant shit and division. Capturing little cartoon monsters out in the sunshine was exactly what people needed; if only the servers were able to keep up.

________________________________

* – yeah, there’s been a little drama about people showing up to rehearsals and stuff, which is to be expected to a certain extent. Just makes me appreciate how great a situation I’ve got with the Humdingers, who are nothing if not professional when we need to be. Thanks guys.

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friday random ten: “hot” edition

08
Jul

It’s Friday. Tradition dictates that I ramble on a bit and then present the unfiltered output of my streaming music service.

Not a huge amount to report beyond what I’ve already been blathering about for the last week. The girls are gone most of the weekend for a dance competition. The boy remains gone for camp. I’m playing music in a bar on Saturday night. It’s been really freaking hot and humid this week, but it’s July, so you expect that.

I’m really tired of waking up to hear about more people getting shot every damned day. We need to get our shit together people.

Anyway, enjoy some music – not a bad mix from Pandora this morning, if a little uncreative in choosing the stuff it kicks out (I feed it some sample artists/genres, and it generates a playlist based on that – it is hitting the same stuff an awful lot lately); though I do enjoy the occasional viking metal outlier.

  1. “Color Me Impressed” – The Replacements
  2. “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  3. “Twilight of the Thunder God” – Amon Amarth
  4. “Friday I’m In Love” – The Cure
  5. “Supernova”- Liz Phair
  6. “You Make My Dreams Come True” – Hall and Oates
  7. “I Love Rock and Roll” – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  8. “Push” – Matchbox 20
  9. “Glory Bound” – Wailin’ Jennys
  10. “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine) – R.E.M.
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praise john independence

06
Jul

So, my long weekend has passed. Um…

Wasn’t an awful weekend by any stretch; had some adventures. ’twas cool.

Doubleclicks show was a blast. Catherine got to meet some of her musical heroes, which totally made her summer.

Friday involved some driving, and band practice.

Saturday was our slightly-ahead-of-schedule Independence Day celebration, spending the day hanging out at our friend KT’s parents’ farm up near Stafford, enjoying the weather, the company, the beer, and lots of grey-market South Carolina fireworks. Also, Andrew learned to drive a tractor.

With Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday filled with rain, it was mostly laundry and Netflix (finally catching up on Person of Interest, which really gets good and sheds its “CBS old person procedural” clothing for social commentary AI sci-fi about half way through season 2). We did unload the boy for a week of scout summer camp, and I went to the chiropractor to re-align my pelvis. Growing old equals good times when you screw up your posture playing your own roadie.

This week? Work, more band practice for me, and summer session dance classes for the girls. They’re out of town this weekend for US Open Championships, and I have that gig on Saturday night.

We are, it seems, busy people.

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friday random ten – “actually thursday” edition

30
Jun

I’m taking a couple of days off for the Independence Day weekend, starting with Thursday afternoon, so I’m doing my Friday post now, on Thursday, because I have aspirations at least to stay off the damned internet. Whether that happens or not is up for debate, but it’s a goal, and the fact that I’ll be spending a bit of it doing some traveling and reveling outside with friends means I have half a chance at managing it.

And I could really use a break. This week’s been busy prepping for a big meeting we finally had yesterday up in DC with all kinds of inter-agency partners to set the stage for the next couple of years in electronic commerce. Sounds exciting, huh? Mostly, it was a commercial for the services we offer, and primarily, it was simply to establish some relationships – people are less likely to be awful and rude to each other if they’ve met face to face and shared the adversity that is hours of watching PowerPoints flash by while someone reads in monotone.

Mostly, though, I need a break because yesterday lasted over sixteen hours for me, including driving up and back to the DC metro in a crappy fleet 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid that’s been driven like it’s been stolen for the last couple of years, seems to have only a passing acquantance with scheduled maintenance, an EV system that’s on it’s last legs and whose dashboard has a tendency to light up like a Christmas tree with AdvanceTrak warnings and spongy brakes at regular intervals. Rush hour traffic was a pleasure in that shitbox, let me tell you.

So, I’m taking a couple of days off for the holiday.

Tonight, we’ve got plans to go out to Norfolk to check out The Doubleclicks at a venue I played last August – a pretty sweet comic shop with a gaming/performance space upstairs. The Doubleclicks are great performers (I caught them and chatted a bit at DragonCon last year), and some of my kids are huge fans.

Friday I’m taking the day off to recover from the trip (I booked a hotel – probably better than trying to get out of Hampton Roads in the dark, which I can never manage), and ideally, run through some songs with the *other* band ahead of the gig we’ve got booked for next Saturday. I’ve been a little anxious about this project for a while now, but after Monday’s rehearsal and some disucussion, I’m feeling better about it – things seemed to click nicely with the core group (this project has had a lot of enthusiasm, but relatively few actual musicians in it for a while), and we have a nice set. More to come.

Saturday, we’re planning on hanging with friends at a big-ass garden party on a cool farm outside of really good cell reception. Yay.

Don’t know about the rest, though I know I’m not going back to work until Wednesday.

That said, here’s the tunes I’d normally post here tomorrow, but I’m doing it today.

  1. “All Messed Up” – The Donnas
  2. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns n’ Roses
  3. “We Are the Champions” – Queen
  4. “Was Nicht Darf” – Varg
  5. “The Headmaster Ritual” – The Smiths
  6. “The Walker” – Fitz and the Tantrums
  7. “This Is Our World Now” – Unleashed
  8. “Middle of the Busiest Road” – The Badlees
  9. “I’m Gonna See You” – that dog
  10. “Uis Elveti” – Eluveitie
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may all your citrus be as you expect

27
Jun

On my way out the door this morning, I grabbed an orange from the fresh bag I bought the other day with the intention of making it breakfast once I got to the office.

As I peeled it and began consuming it, I realized it was actually a grapefruit.

huh.

Now, I don’t mind grapefruit (I actually quite like it, though too much is supposed to mess with one of the medications I’m on), but I wasn’t expecting it.

Gonna be that kind of Monday. Good thing it’s a short week for me, going into a long weekend. Between now and then, though, I have to get through a big multi-agency meeting up in DC on Wednesday (for which I haven’t yet received some crucial information), and sort through some musical project stuff that’s probably not going to be a huge deal; just not as certain and firmed up as I’d like.

But if I get through it, and my kids do all the stuff I need them to do, we might just check out the Doubleclicks in Norfolk on Thursday night.

So, for the week ahead, may all your citrus be as sweet or as bitter as you expect.

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friday random pandora ten – “dancing while the world burns” edition

24
Jun

It’s been a week (as I always say – one day I’m going to do a statistical analysis of common phrases of this space); I’ve been chronicling it here, mostly, so no real need to go into it now (but you know I’m going to, at least a little bit). the stuff I haven’t talked about mostly has to do with prep for a big multi-agency meeting I have to present some stuff at in DC next week. Otherwise, it’s been regular life stuff. The kids have actually been making progress on the yard clean-up (or were, before the storms started hitting late this week); gotta give them props for that.

The other big news I haven’t mentioned yet is that earlier this week, The Blibbering Humdingers got confirmation that we’ll be returning to Dragon*Con later this year! This involves lots of coordination about logistics and whatnot, but we’ll make it happen. If you’re in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, come check us out.

Most significant to this business, however, is that after three years of dedicated service on the bottom end, I made the band bio. I have now officially hit the big time.

This weekend is pretty much all dance, all the time. The Heart of Ireland recital is this weekend, so we’ll be booked all day Saturday (and probably recovering all day Sunday). I saw “we”, because I’ll be participating as well; doing whatever odd jobs need done, as well as making my dance debut in the father-daughter exhibition. come see lots of semi-coordinated dads (and brother – my son didn’t get out of this) go through elementary choreography! It’s like watching the three year olds, except “cute” in an entirely different way.

Not much else on the agenda; hope it stays that way. In the meantime, here’s some music to listen to as the Brexit business causes the world economy to collapse around us:

  1. “Waiting on a Memory” – The Badlees
  2. “Dangerous” – Big Data
  3. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen
  4. “Calling All Angels – The Wailin’ Jennys
  5. “Long Island” – that dog
  6. “Karla with a K” – The Hooters
  7. “Dark country” – Tom Smith
  8. “Walking on a Dream” – Empire of the Sun
  9. “Holiday” – Vampire Weekend
  10. “What You Want/What You Got” – The Unloveables

I don’t know #8 other than hearing it here and catching the end of a tune on a radio skim the other day. Not sure how I feel about ’em, but they’ve sure got a kickass album cover.

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