friday random eleven: “equinox you out” edition

22
Sep

I have signed entirely too many documents this week. I have signed one particular document SEVEN TIMES. And the week’s not over yet. I joked last night that these purchasing folks will be asking for blood types and stool measurements/descriptions before all is said and done, though I’m pretty sure I was kidding on the square.

I’m kind of done thinking about this for now, honestly. Just makes me angry and despondent, just like I’ve been as I’ve left the office pretty much every day this week. I’m seriously going to stab someone with a pen soon, even if all the signing I’m doing is electronic. It’s just more dramatic that way.

As I said, I’ve been varying up the exercise a bit – still biking, but I did this again last night:

Two classes in, I pretty much know the big geography of The Fairy Reel (a traditional Irish set dance that I hear is “the hard one”, which, as it’s got a Neil Gaiman poem based on it, which automatically makes it the best one)…now I just need to learn “the feet thing”, which’ll come.

I’m having fun with it, and I’m engaging in one of the things the rest of my family really enjoys, which is generally a good thing. Also, the little girls seem to tolerate my presence.

With only two classes under my belt, though, I will not, however, be performing in any way whatsoever at ChesterFest this weekend, though I’ll be in attendance, as my spouse and at least one child will be doing something, and hopefully the farmers’ market won’t be completely pushed out by indpendent LulaRoe consultant booths.

I will, however, be running my monthly D&D game with the grad students Saturday afternoon, which is always fun. I’m looking forward to that.

Anyway, that’s the story from here, mostly. Here a some tunes. Not a bad mix today, lots of the usual suspects, but little bit of an edge to some of it, which is appreciated today. Also, it’s kind of serendipitous that it includes “Seven Nation Army”, which has been the inspiration for that tune Kirsten and I are working on:

  1. “Golden Years” – David Bowie
  2. “Derek’s Song” – The Coathangers
  3. “Another One Bites The Dust” – Queen
  4. “Feeling Ok” – Best Coast
  5. “Barracuda” – Heart
  6. “The Whistler”- Jethro Tull
  7. “Blut Und Feuer” – Varg
  8. “Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
  9. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes
  10. “Human” – Rag’nBone Man
  11. “Ends of the Earth” – Lord Huron
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bitching and coping

21
Sep

I’m really dependent on the little things I get to do these days to get me through life, because main-line “stuff I gotta do to meet the base needs at the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid” just isn’t working for me.

It’s the end of the fiscal year, which used to be a pain in the ass when I was in contracts; it’s even more of a pain in the ass when I’m trying to get a couple of orders in place so my little part of the organization can keep the lights on and continue to provide the services we supposedly do.

Rightfully, after some investigation earlier this year found that large swaths of my organization couldn’t find its ass with two hand and a flashlight (and if, by chance, the left hand found it, it wouldn’t tell the right, in the interest of maintaining informational and political advantage over its’ peers)*, all the stuff involved in the acquisition arena has fallen under tremendous scrutiny. My personal stuff isn’t so bad (I mean, I actually include requirements in my requirements documents), but everything is going through a large, ever-changing gauntlet of reviews. I have been assured that my stuff is “good to go” four or five times now, only to be told that there’s some new piece of documentation I have to sign, or some new bullshit review with a “clever” name yanked out of some MBA textbook I have to sit through, or something else. My team, who don’t know if they’ll be working come October first, are justifiably nervous. I haven’t even told them that it looks like their order (which I could process in fifteen minutes were I sitting over in purchasing) just got moved to another person’s workload in as many weeks based on the emails I read last evening.

Even though the meeting schedule’s been really light this week, I’ve been leaving the office very frustrated, angry, and/or despondent each evening, entertaining fantasies about updating the resume and re-establishing contacts with my professional network to see what’s out there, but honestly, given the current state of my industry (I’m not even going to link to a story here -just frikkin’ pick one), I don’t think there’s much.

I’m at the point where I’ve kind of decided to give it one more year, see how much better I can leave this place than I found it in that time, then move on, unless things change. That’ll be tough enough, as while I have a certain amount of authority, any decisions I do make end up being walked back because of the previously described “right hand/left hand” issue, or some other thing. Of course, given the rumors, my particular organization might not even be a going concern by the time the middle-distance future gets here. Good thing I have enough seniority that should that happen, a place will be found for me…somewhere.

To combat these feelings of argh dammit, Workwise, I’ve been lining up more courses to shore up my professional certifications (getting some education helped my sense of purpose many years ago the last time I seriously had these kind of feelings) over the next couple of months, which should at least put me in a decent position should I decide to jump or get pushed.

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up the fitness stuff – riding bikes, joining a once-a-week group dance class with the spouse and children, and adding some cheap upper-body work (100 or so push-ups split across several sets throughout the day) to see about tightening things up now that the fat’s largely gone. This helps. Of course, I did eleven miles last night I don’t even remember; I was on total auto-pilot the whole way. It doesn’t always clear the head, but sore muscles at least feel like progress.

Also, I’ve been working on some remote collaborative songwriting with my bandmates – K had a neat little song idea we played with at Dragon*Con behind the table a bit that I’ve been working on fleshing out – I’ve spent quite a bit of time recording demos/scratch tracks of what I’m hearing, which I send to her, and she tells me it’s not quite right, but I think we may have finally kind of found the happy medium around 8pm last night after sending a bunch of quick phone voice recorder files back and forth. The result is going to be more syncopated (less heavy metal than my working take – no worries, I’ll save that for something else, because the pieces are still cool), and more lo-fi (which was always our intention – the drum loops I found weren’t helping serve that need – I found myself dreaming about the best way to record my cajon last night). I think we’re coming up with some good art here, though I’m seriously finding out that while I’m a pretty decent technical bass player these days (finally), I don’t have enough theory to support terribly complex songwriting or improvisation on my own (yet)**. The stuff S and K sent me last night made perfect sense once I worked through it, though I don’t have the synaptic connections built to come up with it on my own. While this occasionally feeds my feelings of inadequacy, I’m learning a hell of a lot thanks to some open and supportive collaborators….

…a totally different, welcome experience when compared to my professional life.

______________________

* – I came up with this analogy in conversation last night – I’m kind of proud of it, even if it’s derivative.

** – Sorry D.J., as much as I like your song, I’m “the second best bass player in my own (other) damned band” – you simply have a better innate understanding of our shared instrument than I do. That said, I only seriously picked up the bass about five years ago, so I’m only two and a half decades behind where I am on guitar. I think that’s fair.

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wheelman

18
Sep

I spent nine hours or so in cars this weekend.

Saturday, I drove five hours or so round trip for a 90 minute gig. it was totally worth it, even if it wasn’t our most energetic show. People still dug it; plus, TAPA always throw a good party:

Sunday, I spent four hours round trip taking my kid back to college. That drive is really dull (I swear, you barely turn the wheel), but I spent some time with some of my favorite ladies. I’m okay with that. We got her settled with some things, and got to hang out with the campus cat.

Still, I’m kind of hoping for a little less road time this week. We’ll see.

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friday fifth monday random eleven – “nobody died” edition

15
Sep

As the slight tweak to the title of this post suggests, it’s been another one of those weeks; not just for me, but for pretty much everybody I’ve come in contact with. Starting Wednesday, I’ve run into several people (who had no reason to talk to each other about this) refer to the day as “third/fourth Monday”, depending on what day it was; a weird sort of Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon variant. Or maybe somebody said it last week on some TV show I didn’t watch, and I’m once again totally outside the American mainstream cultural zeitgeist.

Whatever, it’s not important; certainly not as important as waking this morning to find my internal monlogue thought voice replaced with that of a drunken cartoon Scotsman, which is making life way more interesting today.

In any case, I hope that “fifth Monday” turns out to be pretty uneventful. I mean, it’s already been kind of eventful with all the “Och!“s and “Laddie!“s punctuating my inner voice while driving to work and passing on a “well the worst I can do is ask” request for additional program funding (which got out of my inbox without a Scottish vernacular – I checked) to the boss this morning.

Last night was a bit more interesting; I decided that this was my year to take part in the dominant hobby of the rest of my family by joining the ceili class at HOI for the fall semester.

Prior to, I posted the following to social media:

Getting ready to take an irish dance class with my spouse. Hope the urgent care facility up the road is ready to accept casualties. #clumsy

I amused many online friends, and no one died. The most interesting bit was getting directed at one point by four little girls in at least five different directions at once. I didn’t do terribly, I guess – there are pictures out there if you care to look. I’ll try it again (I think my family enjoys me being there). Also, I earned my keep by fixing the sound system again – that’s really why they keep me around.

Beyond that, the rest of the week involved some biking, some reading, a long-overdue rehearsal with the ‘Riffs, and learning some new old stuff for the Humdingers’ gig this weekend.

Yeah – if you happen to be in the vicinity of Raleigh NC tomorrow around 3pm, swing by the Central North Carolina Pagan Pride Days Festival and catch our show. For this one, we’ll probably err more toward the “Bard Rock” ouvre (look here, as well as that link above to the Ravenscroft tune) given the crowd, but, because it’s us, some of the silly (and Fantastic Geeks… stuff, which is also generall pretty silly depending on who’s around) stuff will likely creep in. Anyway, this event is a pretty nice day, with lots of interesting vendors, entertainment, and pleasant company. I really enjoyed it last year, and am looking forward to doing it again.

Also, my kid’s coming home for the weekend; it’ll be the first time I’ve seen her since dumping her off at college a few weeks back. Being in NC on Saturday, I’ll miss some of the visit (though she’ll be busy too…shhhh), but I’ll be around in the evening, Sunday morning, and available to drag her back to the world of academia.

That’s really about it, I guess. Plans for the evening are up for debate – there may be a trip to Steam Bell Beer Works for music and drinks, or not, depending on weather and such. I dunno; we may be busy enough.

Anyway, here’s some tunes. A bit 80s today, wrapping up not unlike Real Genius, only somebody forgot to bring the popcorn:

  1. “The Ocean and the Sea” – Bird Dog
  2. “Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
  3. “American Girl” – Tom Petty
  4. “Boys Life” – Small Black
  5. “Dr. Feelgood” – Mötley Crüe
  6. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson
  7. “Nanook Rubs It” – Frank Zappa
  8. “De Toekomst Lonkt” – Heidevolk
  9. “Adore” – Amy Shark
  10. “Pavane” – Ian Anderson
  11. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears
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ACTION ZONE!

12
Sep

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last dragon*con post, I promise

08
Sep

As you guys undoubtedly know, I occasionally struggle with, among other things, impostor syndrome, wherein I doubt my ability and suitability for whatever activity I find myself doing, whether it be work, parenting, or playing in a nerdmusik/wizard rock band.

Although the Blibbering Humdingers have been dragging me around with them to all kinds of things and putting me on records and such for over five years, I still most often refer to myself as the “Adjunct Humdinger”, in part because they’ve been at it as long without me as they’ve been with me, plus, as the rest of the band is married to each other, I’m always going to be a little bit of a third wheel* in at least some regard, no matter how much we all love and appreciate each other in a totally platonic way**.

In any case, in spite of my occasional personal doubts, It’s really nice to see my place validated in things like band bios online, and, in a cool development, on the official filk track flyer for this year’s Dragon*Con:

I wish I would have grabbed one of these for posterity, unfortunately, they got “cleaned up” (which could mean actually taken off the table by housekeeping, or got beer spilled on them by con drunks overnight and unceremoniously dumped somewhere) from our merch table overnight before I could file one away.

Oh well.

Anyway, thanks to all for validating my belongingness to this interesting business we call show – I really do appreciate it.

__________________________

* – Not, I repeat, NOT, a sex surrogate, despite what Scott said during that one really weird Sunday morning show at ConCarolinas.

* – Seriously…no matter what Scott says; we all know I’m too hairy and too not-John-Barrowman for that anyway.

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friday random eleven: “back to the mundane” edition

08
Sep

With the big geek labor day celebration behind me, I returned to the mundane world of public sector information technology program management on Thursday, and was pleased to find that that the place didn’t collapse in my absence. Well, my corner of it didn’t, anyway. Looks like one of my EDI trading partners’ feed shit the bed, though my team found the problem and are working with the middleware folks to fix it. Of course, the entire email and intranet system for the East Coast also shit the bed (in a way that has nothing to do with hurricanes even), to the point where I don’t even know if I have meetings (one of my folks showed up yesterday afternoon for a meeting I didn’t know existed to talk about documents I never received, for example, but we made it work) today. I suspect there’s one with someone I don’t particularly like to deal with about something that’s not really my problem anyway, but if my calendar won’t load and emails won’t come in, I can’t exactly confirm it exists, or if it does, I can’t get to the phone number to call in anyway, now can I?

Glad that’s settled.

Weekend should be pretty mellow – I’m not going anywhere except for maybe the market and the park tomorrow (post D*C chill, kids recovering from first week of school and it’s forcing a return to diurnalness, and my wife recovering from some end-of-week migraines), but I think we’re probably going to go Pokemon raiding in Williamsburg on Sunday for a few hours with our friends in that part of the world.

Anyway, here’s some tunes – pulled out of Pandora, though I also re-loaded my car USB library last night, shuffling some stuff in and out, including adding a bunch of cool stuff I’ve picked up recently, including a bunch of cool tunes from Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands whose show I caught this weekend and got *chills*. I bought their thumb drive library, which ended up being accidentally blank, but Crystal made it right pretty quickly with a nice dropbox link. Turns out I’m also friends in passing with a few of the rotating cast of Silver Hands, so it’s cool. I’ll be listening to that a bunch over the next week or so – I highly recommend checking them out!

  1. “Southern Cross” – Crosby Stills and Nash
  2. “Gone for Good (Alternate Version)” – The Shins
  3. “A Forest” – The Cure
  4. “Curse of Darkness” – Dragonforce
  5. “Powerslave” – Iron Maiden
  6. “Is There Something I Should Know?” – Duran Duran
  7. “Queen Bitch” – David Bowie
  8. “Inside” – Jethro Tull
  9. “Ha Ha Ha” – the Julie Ruin
  10. “It’s a Mistake” – Men at Work
  11. “Holding On” – The War on Drugs

As far as today’s Stranger Things business goes (because these go to Eleven, remember?), I saw some pretty good ST-related costumes at Dragon*Con this year, including an adorable young Eleven, though it turns out my photo is blurry as all get-out. Dammit. Trust me. It was awesome. In the meantime, Barb frowns on my misfortune:

…and reminds you to check out the cool Evil Dead homage retro poster the folks over at the show posted this week as part of their whole series of these things.

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DragonCon 2017 round-up

07
Sep

So, that’s another DragonCon for the books. After four years of doing this (and the rest of the band having an extra year on me besides), we seem to have both figured out logistics and a few tricks for, as well as developed a pretty decent following at, this event; things went pretty damned smooth this year, if I do say so myself, which I finally feel safe doing after being back home and sleeping in my own bed for a couple of days.

Overall, we played some pretty great shows. I would say that it’s kind of exhausting playing *FOUR* shows in one day like The Humdingers did on Sunday, especially when we’re leaving every last bit of energy and enthusiasm on the stage for each one. People *really* dug what we were laying down, so to speak, and we had some seriously excellent audiences who laughed in all the right places and fed us the energy to keep putting on the kind of shows that make everybody present, both performer and audience, have a better time for the interaction. Special shout out to all the great folks at Sunday night’s show*, both the long-time fans, and the new folks who showed up – you really made that one special for me. SO MUCH FUN.

Additionally, I want to offer up special thanks to the folks from the DragonCon Filk Track, who are always such great hosts and work really, really hard to make sure the performers sound their best, and everybody present has a great time. Also, the fortune cookies are awesome. This year, as well, the track went above and beyond, posting hours and hours of video showcasing all the great live performances on Filk Track Facebook Page. I highly recommend checking that out. Robbie, Amber, Madison, Walt, and all the rest, you guys throw a great party!

As always, it’s definitely worth thanking all our fellow performers on the track and elsewhere, including (but certainly not limited to) old friends like Mikey Mason, Gray Rinehart (both of whom excel at the tango!), Brobdingnagian Bards (aka Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn), Tom Smith, Nick Edelstein, Hawthorn and Holly, Valentine Wolfe, Foot Pound Force, Metricula, The Long Losts, as well as new friends like Pyrate Queen, TimeCrash, The Extraordinary Contraptions, Toucan Dubh, Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, Nathaniel Johnstone, and probably a bunch of other folks I’m forgetting. You’re all excellent and inspiring performers and people.

Finally, thanks to everyone for saying such awesome things about Kirsten’s amazing new song we really worked hard putting together, “Elegy for a Nerf Herder”; I know she’s totally humbled and honored by everyone’s praise (especially Marc’s suggestion about The Pegasus Awards – totaly worthy) , and I absolutely love it myself – can’t wait to put it on the record!

As for the con itself, we had an enjoyable time beyond the performances – all the amazing cosplayers who wandered around and poppped by our table; you guys are awesome. Also – thanks for buying the stuff and digging our music. We got some songwriting done behind the table, enjoyed the scenery, and had some fun celebrity encounters…

Yes, Sunday was when we got this year’s official con story we’ll be telling for years (at my expense). After we’d gotten set up Sunday morning, we were sitting around waiting for the day’s festivities to get rolling, a pretty redhead stopped by the table to comment on some of the wares and express admiration at Cerine the merch girl’s Flying Spaghetti Monster hat. As I looked up from whatever I was doing (breakfast, phone, something…), I commented to my bandmates that “this one really ought to cosplay as River Song!”, only realizing as I finished my statement that the person in question was, in actuality, Alex Kingston herself.

I am dense sometimes, though I’m glad my relative density can provide entertainment for my friends and co-conspirators.

I’m sure there’s more to share, though I’ve honestly probably gone on long enough. We had a great time. Thanks to Scott and Kirsten, as always, for having me along. Hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon!

______________________

* – not that all our shows weren’t awesome – I just had a blast watching those newbies in the front row – you know who you are!

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Dragon*Con time

30
Aug

Wednesday is my last work day before taking a few days off for my annual march to Atlanta with The Blibbering Humdingers for Dragon*Con, where we’ll be playing a bunch of shows, vending, and generally taking in the sights and catching up with dear friends and co-conspirators.

In case you’re in the area, here’s where I/we will be:

Our big Filk Track and Concourse shows:

  • Fri 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM Hyatt Hanover F/G
  • Sun 12:30pm – 1:00 PM Hyatt Concourse
  • Sun 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM Hyatt Hanover F/G

Other places we’ll likely be:

  • Fri 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Meet, Greet, Filk Hyatt Hanover F/G
  • Fri 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Filk & Cookies Hyatt Hanover F/G
  • Sat 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Everything is Filk Live Podcast Hyatt Hanover F/G
  • Sat 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM Concert – Star Wars Tribute Hyatt Hanover F/G
  • Mon 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Songs for the Road – Open Filk Hyatt Hanover F/G

Art Show – Hyatt Regency Exhibition Level (I’ll be sitting in on some of these background music sets once we sort the sets):

  • Saturday – 11:30 AM
  • Sunday – 2:30 PM
  • Monday – 11:30 AM

Otherwise, we’ll likely be spending most of our time at the merch table on the Marriott Marquis level; we usually play some ad-hoc music and other tomfoolery there throughout the day to entertain ourselves and passers-by. Stop on by and say hello!

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what a difference a year makes

29
Aug

So, thanks to a one hour meeting turning into a nearly three hour meeting, and some nasty weather, I didn’t make it to the park with the kid yesterday evening. I’ll manage to make it up to her soon (Howl-O-Scream anyone?). I wouldn’t have been my best yesterday anyway, as my emotional state was swinging like a crazy pendulum. I’m a little better today after a good night’s sleep (and a Xanax).

In an attempt to try to get my head into the DragonCon game for this weekend, though, I was looking through some band photos and found some nice evidence of some of the good stuff that’s happened relatively recently.

I submit to evidence the following hastily-produced image combining two photos:

The photo on the left is from one of our shows at Concarolinas 2016 (that’s June of last year). The photo on the right was taken at our gig at Gray’s book launch this past weekend. While I’m clearly having a lot of fun in both photos, I know which version of me I prefer.

As I said yesterday in this space, in my head, I’m still the fat guy, but this comparison and some of the other physical evidence I’ve encountered definitely helps to disabuse me, at least temporarily, of that feeling.

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