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I've been warned that jokes can come true

People have warned me. Many times. They warn me that my proclivity for telling jokes will somehow set me up for the jokes coming true. Countless times I've been cautioned: "Oh no, Maugie. Don't *even* joke about *that*."

And my answer is to say "Okay, I'll just tell jokes where the punchline is me getting paid a million dollars."

Well, who knew that they were right? Ok, I didn't get paid a million dollars today, as hilarious as that would have been. But what *did* happen was...

Okay, so just about a week and a half ago, I was joking around with one of my VARF audiences while I was tuning and told the story about my "uncle". He was an accordion player and had a weird thing happen when he was sent on a union gig in Baltimore. They called him up and gave him an address and a time, so off he went. He arrived there and it was a really sketchy looking part of town. Worrying that something might be amiss, he left his accordion locked in his car and went to check out the venue more closely. The address was correct and everything, but the building was abandoned, windows broken, trash everywhere; all that awful inner city blight kind of stuff. This was NOT the real gig address or something else was definitely wrong. So he figured he'd find a payphone and call his union contact and see what was up. But when he got back to his car, he found out that he'd been set up! His window was smashed and when he looked inside he saw...
...
...that someone had left him another accordion! (rimshot!)

And TODAY-

I was at Atomic Music buying some supplies and replacing a broken mic. On my way out, the owner himself was talking with a guy who was showing him an accordion. The owner shook it and there was obviously stuff broken off inside. "I can't sell a broken instrument," he said, "so I'm gonna have to decline."
"You can't have it fixed?" said the seller.
"I wouldn't know the first thing to do for this" said the owner.

So I spoke up. I had to fix exactly this on a bandmate's accordion and then the one I got from Sonya's mom. An accordionist showed me how to open it up and what was going on. I proceeded to explain how the reeds are mounted on these little wooden square frames and that you could just glue them back in...

"So- do you want it?" the seller asked.
"I'm already on a razor budget this week and I have an accordion." I said.
"No, I mean, I'll give it to you."
"What?"
"Yeah. It belonged to a relative. No one else in the family plays. There's too much stuff we're dealing with already. We're just looking to get rid of it. Take it. Fix it. Sell it yourself"
"Um... okay..."

I tried to protest, but he insisted.

So I made a joke about someone guerrilla gifting an accordion, and tada! someone does just that- to me. I've told the joke a few times these past couple of weeks. I think I even told it in Old Town last Saturday as well. And now I have a second accordion. Jokes are powerful. Who knew?

I wonder if I might be able to sell or trade it for that cute Hohner student model I've always wanted.


Also, I need to tell more jokes about getting paid a million dollars.

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So, I had this fascinating dream the other morning.

I was on a bicycle coming down a mountain road and my route took me through this kind of posh neighbourhood. I was heading down a steep hill really fast and before I realised it, I was on a short driveway beside this house (the road had turned) and I was going too fast to turn before I went right over a cliff! I looked down and saw a ~30' foot drop. My first thought, naturally was "Oh, well. I'm FUCKED!", but the cliff was actually by a lake. My next thought was "Okay, so there's a chance. Well either I'm still fucked or this will be one hell of a story." As I fell, I kicked away the bike and managed to keep my shod feet below me (Yeah, I was wearing shoes. I guess that's how you can tell it was a dream). There wasn't time to shrug off my backpack so I hoped that maybe it would help slow me down once I hit the water and keep me from going too deep, and not dislocate my shoulders on impact (while simultaneously hoping the water was deep enough to absorb my fall, and not have me shattering limbs on the lake bottom). The fall still took it's sweet time, and then finally SPLOOSH!
And...
It all turned out okay. I didn't go very deep (yay) and the shoes kept the impact with the lake surface from hurting my feet. Once I got my bearings, I kicked off the shoes, shrugged off the backpack, made my way up to the surface and swam to the shore. There was a dock and I figured out that this part of the lakefront belonged to the house whose driveway I zoomed through on my way to the cliff. I climbed the stairs back to the house and knocked on the door, soaking wet. Someone answered and I said "Hi!, Um, I just rode my bike over your cliff there into the lake."
The people were very concerned and helpful.
"Oh my God! Are you okay?"
"I suppose... I'm not really sure though. I guess it's a good sign that I made it out and up here, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna need *some* help."

They led me to their kitchen and went to go call for help. I was actually wondering whether or not my bicycle was salvageable, and then realised that meant I was in some heavy denial about how serious this was.

Then my Mom came in.
"Hey Mom! Guess what? I just rode my bike over a thirty foot cliff and lived. It's probably a good thing you're not around any more because you'd probably kill me yourself for doing something so dumb."

My Mom rolled her eyes and said "Och!"
(Which was her go-to phrase when she didn't know what to do with me. She used it ALOT!)

And then I woke up.

Dear 2018

Dear 2018

I feel that should be much angrier with you than I am. First and foremost, you took my Mom. Thing is, I have to acknowledge that doing so was a mercy. She'd been in a lot of pain, and having a lot of health problems. There comes a time when you're being swarmed by piranhas that all of those little bites add up to just too many to come back from. I wish I could have seen her more and that I had shared more with her. But the distance and the difficulty and being busy and distracted was just more than I was prepared to deal with. The lack of more Mom in my life was as much on me as on anything else. But you could have been a better year to her nonetheless, and for that, I will NOT forgive you.

You took other folks out of my life too this year. It is to be expected as we all age, but too many of these were kind of out of nowhere. I should perhaps be angrier about that, but there was a sly lesson and a bit of important introspection that showed up when one of the people you took out of my life had been pretty toxic to me when they were in it. I'm not too happy to find that I have it in me to actually be glad that someone is gone. But there it is. I'm not possessed of as much nobility as I thought, and my "high ground" was more for my personal security than any higher calling. I suppose I can and will be a better person than that, but I'm not there yet.

I also spent a lot of time (still) being someThing's punching bag, but 2018 was a year where I found ways around the places where that tended to happen and to extricate myself from some of those circumstances. I found more ways than usual to turn my status of being a "fugitive from the law of averages" to my advantage. I also played to my strengths and that worked too. There is a grim satisfaction that comes of outstubborning Trouble. But there is a tangible joy to avoiding it outright. And where some things/beings bide their time to wait for the opportunity to smack me, I can also bide *my* time and exploit opportunities to not be there for it.

There are people I miss who are not gone, and 2018, that happened on your watch. I hate that. It makes me sad and angry. But under your watch I was also able to focus on people who've come *into* my life who seem to have a mission to make me happy. I can't be too mad or sad for too long when around random corners I kept finding distractions from my distractions.

My work has come closer to an edge of advancing my fortunes. Under your watch, there keep being things that hold me back, but I can also quantify some goals that I *am* inching closer to, some which are innovations that I've implemented in... 2018.
And a good measure of that progress was simply deciding to just not put up with obstacles that, on reflection, were neither permanent nor insurmountable. That remains to be the case now.

Unfortunately you didn't really see fit to help manifest many solutions to some of the Larger Problems Of The World. But I suspect that those solutions to the World will be the same solutions *I* found, which is: "If you don't like it, make it stop!"

All in all, 2018 for all of the grief and pain I've had from you, I've also had opportunity, and gritty epiphanies that involved me simply not putting up with bullshit, much of which existed long before you came around, even though you sometimes didn't help. But here's a kind of new thing: when I stood up for myself, you backed down. You may not have been kinder to me than some years, but I've got to acknowledge that when the chips were down YOU knew when to quit, unlike other antagonists I've faced (and outlived).

So, goodbye 2018. I must confess that I'm better off for you having been here, but know this: much of that improvement was because I stopped putting up with shit that you had no inclination to stop unprompted, and unresisted. Ultimately, that makes you not my friend, and it makes me glad to see you go.

Sincerely,
Maugorn

Klaatu. I still believe!

Scene: Our last "Sugglebunny Salon" where we have people over to listen to our vinyl record collection. This time we were choosing from the K's.


_Klaatu_.
When their first album came out, the single “Calling Occupants” caused quite the stir.
The band didn’t put their names on the record, and EVERYONE noticed how the vocals, instrumentals and production sounded JUST LIKE THE BEATLES!!!!
They weren’t. They were just that good and they just ran with this superpower. They totally played to it and let the buzz help the records sell like crazy.
Hearing it again always takes me right back. My fourteen year old self was a total Beatles fan coming of age too late to see them together. I was also a budding SciFi fan. So an album that was both “Space Rock” and a suspected secret Beatles reunion?
14 year old me TOTALLY believed.
Gods, this is still one of my favourite records!

Guilty confession: my inner fourteen year old still believes- every time. And the more about music I learn, the more I learn about sound and music production, the more I’m able to hear the Beatles’ stylistic nuances, the more that 14 year old me points and says “See? SEEE??!!!”
Man they were good! They were *that* good!
And they still get me.
And I still believe.

Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn

Scene: The very end of our last "Sugglebunny Salon" where we have people over to listen to our vinyl record collection. This time we were choosing from the K's.

Thank you, Kraftwerk! _Autobahn_ helped create a whole new musical genre by shaking up the genre that everyone *thought* it belonged in. Sure, you could listen to synthesiser music in 1974. There was a lot of it being made. But much of it was either super serious/head trippy (which was cool); or it was super avant-garde/head trippy (which was also cool). But too much of it was musically mediocre that we were supposed to be impressed with ‘ cause it was high tech.
And then came _Autobahn_. It was just this happy unpretentious road trip for your ears which was exactly what it was supposed to be. So deceptively simple. The lyrics are silly, almost stupid. And yet you had no chance of dissing it because as soon as you’d try, it hooked you in with some catchy little groove. So many groovy catchy little riffs! They just grab you and pull you along, and next thing you know you’re singing along:
“Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn”

It was a total ambush of synth music in 1974, but guess what? It still works! OMG, I was right there in it all over again, with the windows of my mind rolled down and no care where we were headed cause it’s an adventure!
In a season dedicated to "Peace On Earth", I'd like to put a thought out there. Lazarus Long, the protagonist of numerous stories and novels by R.A Heinlein once stated rather aphoristically:
"An armed society is a polite society".

I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. I've been called all kinds of names and even been threatened (with arms) for dissenting from this aphorism, and frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn. If that's what you're about to do, don't bother. You're not going to change my mind or cow me into backing off of my dissent.

I mean for one thing, it's a wry aphoristic observation from the subjective view of a fictional character, commenting on his also fictional world. This protagonist's whole life is melodrama and the only reason he lived to tell the tale is because the Author said so.

And also- aside from numerous studies, insurance company actuarial statistics, and medical statistics that all keep showing more guns in a group just leads to more people in that group dying from guns, there's a big example, one that I lived in that is IMHO the ultimate debunking of this aphorism:

The Cold War.

Mutually Assured Destruction.
Isn't that what the whole "armed society" thing is implying in the first place? You shoot me, I shoot you. Bang bang we're all dead, so if we want to live we'd better just not get there in the first place amirite? "Howdy pardner" "Nice day, ain't it". Another pleasant day in the Saloon. Poker anyone? Next round's on me boys! Fire up that ol' player pianey!
Polite.

That idyllic Old West is supposed to be the micro version of the Cold War, and it's real easy to point and say "Look how mutually assured destruction led us to detente."/=

BAH-LO-NEY!

There was no "peace". There was constant fear, paranoia, and this overhanging sense of existential dread. Why?
Because EVERYBODY KNEW that one false step even from a mistake would leave the planet vaporised.

And also EVERYBODY KNEW that as soon as one side felt like something gave them enough of an advantage to even believe they could prevail and not suffer the consequences, that the Peace would evaporate, along with everyone and everything else. And EVERYONE could tell that there were people with their fingers on the launch buttons that were crazy, fanatical, and otherwise prone to irrational decision making.

A state of Mutually Assured Destruction is not a state of Peace.
The stability is fragile and odds are, illusionary.

It doesn't matter if it's just on a personal scale or a planetary one, nobody thrives under that kind of stress. And despite what people say, no one is actually surprised when it eventually blows up and people die, possibly over something trivial.

If we want Peace on Earth how about we work towards

Mutually Assured Survival.

Happy EVERYTHING!

In the great kerfluffle over "Merry Xmas" vs "Happy Holidays" I may have discovered an improved detente:

See, the whole purpose of "Happy Holidays" is to be more inclusive, but somehow the "MC" people seem to feel excluded. The word "Holidays" in their mind somehow erases Xmas. It's counter intuitive, it's likely unrational but there it is. Maybe it feels like a diminution somehow and I can see how that can be alienating.

So this weekend, as I was busking, a good couple of handfuls of tippers said "Merry Christmas" as they did and I wasn't going to start some fight over this. They were tipping me after all and my living depends on encouraging that. Some of those tips were pretty large. But I still want to raise some awareness of and encouragement of inclusivity and do my small Bardic bit to help make inclusivity part of the celebration(s). I tried an experiment:

I responded: "Happy EVERYTHING!"

Damn if it didn't work! Every time. Everyone I've said this to gets a big grin on their face. Somehow putting it that way got the message across that Joy is Universal and that *their* modus for it is valid. I suppose it helps that the delivery doesn't come across as a correction (and let's face it, HH has acquired that baggage). At any rate, by my calculation, saying "Happy EVERYTHING!" turns out to be (somehow?) a more inclusive connotation and free of any hint of diminution of any Holidaic value for whatever someone celebrates. It makes all of the celebrations worthy and it just sounds more FUN. It seems to imply a true *sharing* of Joy, which in a "season of giving" seems supremely appropriate.

So, try it!

Schadenfreude. I confess, I has it.

I've been having to deal with a little bit of ennui lately. Upon reflection, I find that there's a tinge of guilt to it.

Why?

Well, I don't *want* to be the kind of person who enjoys the misfortune of others, but it's complicated. When I find out that someone who has been toxic to me personally receives some sort of Cosmic Smackdown, I can't help it, a little, but I don't like being that way.

It is for this very reason that while I indulge in plenty of revenge *fantasy*, and while I make no secrets of those whom I don't like and why, my preferred strategy for toxic people is to just arrange my affairs such that I don't have to deal with them. That way, when this Smackdown occurs (and it *does* seem kind of inevitable for some of those folks), it's not only not *my* fault, but I'm more insulated from the fallout from it. I've come to learn that it's better to have someone toxic OUT of your life, better even than revenge. It seems that as long as one is plotting or even wreaking vengeance, their poison is still in your life. Getting revenge just to get the last laugh over those who've wronged me seems like it would be fun, but there are other, better, funner hobbies (like tormenting scammers and painting eyeballs and collecting LPs) that actually give me lasting joy and don't keep me from my other ambitions. There is a reason why Revenge Movies seem to be tragedies in the end. For good Revenge, one needs to be all in, and I have a musical career to deal with. And, as I mentioned, the truly toxic people seem to have a way of attracting Cosmic Smackdowns all on their own. If I want a toxic person to get what they "deserve", most of the time, all I have to do is... absolutely nothing. And the Capricorn in me can't resist a good bargain like that.

But when it happens, I'm still having to tell the Brain Weasels to shut up, which is irksome and fosters non-productive ennui.

My conclusions, that I try to assert to myself are:
1) When someone toxic is removed from my life, I can actually *measure* how my life is improved.
2) When their removal from my life has been upgraded to "permanent", that will amount to even more improvement. It's not a loss to lose someone who subtracted from my life when they were in it.

I truly don't enjoy my fellow humans suffering, and I need to work on not letting myself be sucked into wallowing in schadenfreude.
BUT
I'm also not going to let myself be sucked into any grief over losing someone who was a negative asset to my own joy and peace.

Yeah, I'm being vague, but those who are in the know know what I'm talking about.

YMMV

My Whole World Changed Today!

I have just had my world rocked and my mind blown! Mark this day, for as of now everything is going to be different!

While tugging at a hanging thread in my brain today I went to YouTube where I saw a picture of a record. Mildly amused that such a record existed (Bob McCallister singing songs from the old “Wonderama” TV show) I typed it into Google and there it was.
But that doesn’t do this justice.
I mean
AND THERE IT WAS!!!!

Yes, the record was there, but that is almost immaterial. What IT was is the website called:
Discogs

It’s an online database of records albums in LP, CD, etc, but that’s not all, oh no...

On this site along with all kinds of info there are collectors. Collectors not only putting up info, but cataloguing their own collections AND also putting up “Want” and “Have” lists—-
which means that records are there FOR SALE!!!

Curious, I typed in a few of my usual suspects that I’ve been looking for and TADA! there they were. All of them. Then I decided to challenge and test. And there they were; all of them. ALL. OF. THEM!!! I could not think of a record that I could not find. Some of the super duper rare titles were just pricey was all.

I found the CD version of the _Liquid Sky_ soundtrack that is only rumored to exist when you ask at used record stores. Sure they *know* about it. But no, they don’t have one. Well, I found *multiple* copies. And more than a PAGE of listings for _Lucky Leif And The Longships_!! I can replace that German pressing of Kraftwerk’s _Doppelalbum_ that my Mom got me in Berlin (but was catastrophically water damaged). That Tim Hart/Maddy Prior album that I have on a cassette bootlegged from a friend- there it was AND the follow up album to it as well!
I tried and tried and could not find a record that this site didn’t know of AND have listings of it for sale.

I found myself channeling Bill Hader’s SNL character “Stefan”; putting my hands up to my face and breathlessly sighing through my fingers: “They. Have. EVERYTHING!”

This is what they’ve been promising me that the Internet could do, and I’ve finally found that tipping point.

I believe now. I truly believe.

I’ll still be pawing thru the piles and boxes at yard sales, thrift stores and used record stores seeing what floats out. Amazon too. But now when there’s a particular title I want and it’s not out there, there is, in fact, a viable alternative that is scoring 100% on any search I put to it.

And all because this morning I woke up with “The Fingleheimer Song” in my head. Thanks, Professor!

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You know how sometimes you just don't want to slog through 120 comments on a controversial thread because you're just so fucking tired of the bullshit and people talking past each other.
Well today, I was rewarded for this persistence.
Sit back and hear the tale:

So someone on my FB friends list posted a post about why punching Nazis is a recommended course of action with a set of rather poignant screen caps from someone whose relative was an Auschwitz survivor. Powerful stuff showing just how closely connected to horror we can be.

Someone came on to try and hijack the thread claiming that a "friend of a friend" had been stabbed "just for *looking* like a Nazi". Naturally, people called BS on it and the replier in question came back all butthurt claiming it really happened in Denver and that they were "searching for the details" which they would provide. The convo continued with the RIQ continuing to double down on how it was just as bad to punch someone who was advocating for your destruction as what they were doing, ignoring the *lack* of 2nd Ammendment protections for incitement etc... Back and forth back and forth
"Punch the Nazis" "No. Punching Nazis is WRONG!" blah blah blah. And the RIQ kept coming back to her "innocent" FOAF.

Well....

One of the other repliers went and found a "fascinating" bit of news. Yes, someone in Denver had indeed claimed that they were unprovokedly attacked in a parking lot by someone they claimed was going at them for "looking like a Nazi". Yes there was a police report. Yes the transient matching the alleged assailant was questioned. But the transient had an alibi AND the surveillance footage from the place and time clearly showed NOTHING happening, even though it showed the accuser and his car. So the accuser was interviewed again, at which time he admitted that he had accidentally cut *himself* with a knife he had just purchased (a purchase which they *could* verify), and had made the attack up out of whole cloth.
He lied.

The RIQ just shifted goalposts when confronted with the truth (predictable), but it was still just GLORIOUS to see the truth win for a change in a charged debate.

Whether you agree that punching Nazis is a good thing or not, debate that on it's merits. But I find it telling that anecdotes of innocent people being targeted are not only few but just not panning out.
I have my final mixes done. Tomorrow I do my first test burn and listen to see if there are any more final issues I need to address. Gods I hope not.
The odds are looking good that all that is left is (if necessary) to tweak some relative volume levels between songs.

_Little Laughter_ was recorded in it's entirety at this year's Spoutwood Farm Mayday Fairie Festival. I had my portable recording rig, with me. Wherever I set up to play, whenever I could, I recorded myself. I wound up with thirteen songs for this album and possibly a few more for other projects too!

The vibe and the sound of this album is a little more untamed than the others. I don't necessarily mean rowdy or crude though, just a little unkempt, feral, like one might picture a changeling child. Most of the songs are upbeat, happy, playful, some danceable, bright, sunny, weedy. My original thought for recording this project would be that I would highlight the "Faerie" parts of my repertoire and there is definitely some of that, but in the end, the songs that made the cut were the songs that the folks there and the festival itself seemed to pick. Being live, there's some spontaneity, some imperfection, and some INCREDIBLE serendipity. There was no other time or place where this music could have happened this way, and so even when it could have been wrong, it was right.

And as usual, the recording, mixing, editing process had its share of drama and adventure. I learned more again, about the craft of taking a recording of a moment and polishing it into a track that can last. Yes, I used some tricks of my trade to create this finished project. Don't worry. It's all me. I didn't cheat. Oh, and yes, it's all me making that music. My voice, my guitar/banjo, my harmonica, even my tambourine (played with my foot)

My final adventure today, finishing the last song is a kind of freaky tale to tell. As I said, I have some tricks. These live recordings are prone to things happening in them, wind, bumps, noises, electronic glitches that get recorded into the files, etc etc and I have my bag o' tricks for slyly minimising their effects with Audacity. There's one trick in particular that's very subtle and sometimes tricky. See, when I mic myself, my preference is to have the mic pretty close to my mouth to help drown out extraenneous noises. The guitar effectively blocks noise from one side and tends to drown out most reflected sounds. But my vocal mic is out there in the air. So I mic my voice close. But there's a price: being close to my mouth is also close to the harmonica. And *sometimes* when I'm doing some intense tonal warping and bending of notes, my throat will make these little "bark" sounds as I change the shape of my mouth and throat to maximise the harmonica's character. Yep, sometimes these barks get into the vocal track. But I have tricks. I've learned how to locate the frequency(ies) that these barks live in, and once I do, I can filter them out digitally. It mostly works, especially since the barks are usually not the frequency of the note(s) I'm playing. The annoying thing is that the barks can sometimes be slyly individual. The EQ profile that fixes one might not work on another. Within a song, it's usually pretty close. I find the frequency, I apply the filter, and when I get it right, it works. And every time I stare a fewin wonder as one does looking at a magician making something/one disappear in front of you.

So, yeah- working on this last song, right there going into the first note of the harmonica break, I heard what sounded like one of these barks. So I proceeded to do my usual trick which ends up with me (once I get in the ballpark) of working my EQ apps until the process of elimination shows me what frequency band fixes it. It usually works (and yet I'm surprised every time). Except this time. For there, just below the normal audible level of the harmonica, was this sneaky little note. It didn't even sound like a bark (although it was hiding in a bit of one). It was a kind of whistly sound. And for the life of me, I just can not find the frequency band that could affect it. I tried everything I know: painstakingly going through trying out the *entire* range of a 31 band studio EQ app, one band at a fewa time; I tried every notch filter app that I have, to no avail; I tried two different parametric EQs; and sometime in this process, to see if I could bypass guess work, I tried to whistle along with the note until I matched it. My tuner app on my phone handily displays the frequency. So I matched the note, checked it with my tuner, and said to myself "HA! Got you!"...... nope. None of my EQ skills and none of my apps would affect this damned little whistle. None. Seriously, none. And I *know* my EQ functions work because they've done miracles on other tracks. And as I thrashed about with this one, I could hear how various frequency bands affected the sound of the recording. (BTW- If you ever want a really poignant lesson in acoustics, take a recording of your favourite song and run it through a 31 Band equaliser sometime and see what changing each band does to the song.) Nothing I do will affect this note, despite my being able to imitate it and derive it's apparent frequency (and its multiple and some harmonics that I could calculate quickly).

I have determined therefore that this tone is not of this world but of Faerie. It's either a sonic graffito, a note sung by a Faerie critter, or even an actual critter itself taking up residence in my recording to go and be duplicated and sent on adventures. I also decided, it's not too loud (ie, barely noticeable) and that I could just leave it in the recording as an unkempt strand of a wild faerie child's moppish top.

More details of the CD to come when I am ABSOLUTELY SURE it's ready to be released, and I'm aiming for JUST IN TIME FOR PENNSIC! It's not quite a Pennsic demographic album, but I'm pretty sure that the folks who love me are still gonna love this.

Yes! (At Warner Theater 7/23/18)

YES!

The show last night pushed my Yes buttons and I was in full agreement that life was good.

Yes has been my absolute no question favourite band in the World since 1977!

I try to see them when I can, even through all the lineup changes. They keep making music that I love, you see.
Now, often when they've toured the US in Summer, they kept hitting our area *during* Pennsic where I'm making my own living as a musician. But this time it happened just right. Yes, I had to nonetheless neglect some of my own work and obligations to go, but- well... favourite band of all time!

Their lineup last night was both exhilerating and bittersweet. Chris Squire passed away, and his bass playing was one of the things that gave them their sound. He was replaced by Billy Sherwood. Sherwood has been a long time friend, producer, and part time band member since the 90's and sometimes toured with them. He's very unassuming both on stage and off (which is not your usual Yes bandmember) and when I saw him with various versions of the band before, he added keyboard or guitar parts, and made the live arrangements
more like the lush studio versions. But the more I learn of him, the more I respect and admire him and the more I have to admit that he belongs there. It's obvious from his resume with them and the chemistry on stage that he's very good friends with them, but WOW! He didn't "fill in" for Squire on bass, he sounded and played JUST LIKE HIM. It was Yes bass parts all night- seamless. I believe his main instrument is guitar, so to jump from that to bass (as similar as they are at first glance they're different animals) and to flawlessly fill in for one of the MASTERS in the field playing some of the most challenging music in Rock and sounding just like him- Yeah. Wow!

John Davison was the fellow on lead vocals. I think he was the last time I saw them too, I remember thinking that, as a sub for John Anderson, that he did a pretty good job. Well.... He's grown into those shoes since! He obviously LOVES this music and now, when he sings it, again, it's the sound and essence that was part of the band that has always been my favourite.
That voice and those lyrics are a part of my soul. The verisimilitude was flawless, and the ENERGY. Wow! It was Yes, as they "should" sound.

Steve Howe was as he's always been. His guitar playing is impossibly brilliant and mind-blowingly creative as well. He's constantly creating guitar music that thrills me beyond measure. Howe owns the apex of my musical pantheon, and always, ALWAYS after I watch him I am inspired and then aspire to be more musically.

Geoff Downes played keyboards. He's been on a couple of Yes albums, and I've seen him play live with Yes before. He's a curious fellow on stage as he played most of the night with his back to the audience on a HUGE arsenal of keyboards. I wonder if he has attention or anxiety issues or is just an extreme introvert or something. Doesn't matter. He's awesome! Granted, I have to confess that Rick Wakeman is still my favourite of the Yes keyboard players, but I have to admit that Downes held his own. While he may not match the peak of Wakeman's musical skill, he's got the chops to play this music extremely well and he has the technical savvy to sound: natural, classic, organic, retro, out of this world and from the future at any moment. He, in fact, was able to flawlessly switch to any of those modes instantly and even simultaneously. And even when he did not exactly match the album versions and the album sounds, what he did ALWAYS sounded just right for what Yes has always created. This wasn't just a skilled musician playing a part with the technicality and sound of the original that you'd find in a great cover band. This was more. This was someone keeping that part (Yes keyboards) alive and breathing.

Alan White was listed as the drummer for the tour, but for the first part of the evening, drums were played by someone else.
I forget his name, but he was pretty damn good. Like the best of drummers, he can seamlessly fade into whatever background he's up against, until you listen closely. Then you say WOW, which I did. But White was there, and rejoined the band for one of their anthemic New Age Epics for the last song before intermission, and then played drums for the whole second set. The new guy added all kinds of accents and stuff with tambourine and hand percussion. He didn't seem to mind doing that (Who wouldn't? Share a stage with YES?! Sign me up!) I didn't mind either. It was all YES drumming and all great. Why was it this way? Yeah, I think we're getting old, and I don't begrudge Mr White having to take it easier. (Edit: I found out that he's still recovering from a pretty serious back surgery. He has no intention of retiring, but as he recovers he'll be leaning on stunt doubles to step in as needed. Dedicated AND Smart!

There was one more surprise for the evening. For the last few songs, they were joined on stage by Tony Kaye- Yes' original keyboard player. They did a handful of numbers that highlighted his very important contributions to the early Yes albums that he played on. And of course, it was AWESOME!

They played (it being the 50th anniversary tour) a bunch of their classics, which of course included several of the Prog Rock New Age Epics that they're famous for (Like "Close To The Edge" and "Awaken") They had some newer (to me) material that was fun, and still pretty mindblowing too. And, if you're a Yes fan, you would have, as I did, spent the evening grooving to and singing along with impossibly original, subtle, complex, and amazing music the like of which did not exist before them and hasn't since. A lot of my wishlist was on the setlist last night.

I'm glad I went. I needed that!
So, I'm going to go all Bard on you all and talk some Truth with my Words of Power:

Lately the SCA has been embroiled in a great big kerfluffle over the design that one of our new kings had (commissioned) for trim on his royal garments to be worn at his coronation. The hand-woven design had a repeating element that for sure to a legion of casual observers looked like a swastika.

An uproar ensued and a half-assed non-apology was issued. The uproar escalated and a better, but still disingenuous sounding apology was issued. The uproar failed to diminish, and the royal couple abdicated their throne.

And still people are trying to defend this choice. By way of background, I came to learn that both members of this couple have been warned, long before this, that a persistent choice of wearing iconography that "happen to look like swastikas" was not a good choice to make in a Society that while "ranked" had an egalitarian membership policy.

I get it. On the one hand, the designs allegedly have a pedigree that makes them "authentic" to our period and the geography of their personae. "Do we really want to police our members' wardrobe choices and censor the work of our Artisans?" On the other hand, the iconography was used by one of the most successful genocides of the mid-twentieth century. And THAT'S where the one hand loses. The end.

Because actually, I DON'T get it. All over the SCA's literature and forward facing publicity, we attempt to portray ourselves as an egalitarian organisation where *any*body can join, and *any* body can achieve recognition, rank and acclaim by their deeds, whether that's diligent work and research, excellence in period arts and crafts, service to others, or prowess in our strenuous and demanding martial pursuits. ANYbody. But there's sometimes a twisted reality that rears its ugly head and sometimes that is at DIRECT odds with the Courtesy, the Chivalry, the Nobility of our aspirations. And one of the chief manifestations of this ugliness comes up where someone acts as if being ugly to people and doing ugly things to people warrants a pass, if those acts are in the service of historical authenticity in some way.

So, no- I DON'T get it. Multiple times these folks have been called on repeatedly utilising iconography that was a badge for what epitiomises the Ugliness and Evil that humans can perpetrate on each other, and (as in that first disingenuous apology) the excuse is that they just didn't *know* how awful people would think that was?
Really? REALLY?
But no- it's okay, because it's AUTHENTIC and those naughty naughty Nazis STOLE the image and CORRUPTED it.

"Authentic" doesn't make doing this right.
Why?
Because, what about Courtesy?
What about Chivalry?
What about Nobility?
What about some fucking compassion for your fellow humans?

It is NOT more important to be CORRECT than it is to do the RIGHT DAMN THING. Not in a Society that prizes praises and elevates the highest aspirations of Humanity. It is not courteous, chivalrous, or anything resembling noble to trot this out in the faces of people who may remember (even first hand!) the horrors of those who marched under this symbol.

But there are people defending this choice. Sonya read me a choice defense of this choice from a high ranking SCAdian in Texas. I'm paraphrasing this from memory, but the choice words, I remember:
"...anyone who is offended by this needs to be tree-danced "

Tree-danced, for those unfortunate enough to miss that episode of Early-mid 20th Century Shenanigans Of The South- is lynching; hanging. From a tree. A thing done to uppity dark skinned minorities and their sympathisers. Oh, and people of Jewish faith. It was perpetrated by our own home grown version of Nazis, the KKK. So this person, of high rank in the Texas SCA declared that people who might be "offended" by something that looks like Nazi iconography should be lynched and hanged. Black People, Jewish people, and their sympathisers should be HANGED. Hmmm....

THIS is the Apex of the Ugliness I speak of when I say that some act as if being "correct" should get one a pass for being Ugly. These are the allies and sympathisers of the people who made this choice. I don't know if they are actually friends, but you know what? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are. Betcha a dollar they are. The SCA is big, but in many ways it's also a small town.

"...those who are offended should be tree-danced." The Courtesy, the Chivalry, and the Nobility of that statement somehow tells me all I need to know about this controversy and whether we should take someone to task for their wardrobe choices or art.

The "Mootrix"

So there I was, sitting on the toilet this morning, chatting away with Sonya (as you do) sharing details and observations about TV we've been watching lately, in this case, _Black Mirror_. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it's an heir to _The Twilight Zone_ style of storytelling where each episode is a self-standing vignette. The episodes are set in variously plausible near futures and all of them figure technology that is pretty plausible extensions of things we have now. The overarching recurring theme is the exploration of how these new technologies; technologies we're working towards presently, will open up new and innovative ways for humans to be... (to put it nicely) the same as we always have been. Rod Serling would be so proud.

So as I was sitting, Sonya reports that all of a sudden, my eyes rolled up into my head, which then flopped to one side. As I sat there drooling, I had a vision:

I saw a near future where someone had this bright idea that instead of free ranging all the cows- that to save money and land (and decrease their carbon footprint), but to also reduce cruelty, this company would create special technology (implanted, of course, because it's *always* implanted) that would allow the cows to inhabit a virtual reality where they would *perceive* themselves to be in a pasture, with the other cows, of course.

A hacker hacked into this VR to check it out, and at first the company was all pissed off about it, but in the publicity around the lawsuits and stuff, they figured out that it would be not only profitable, but good PR to make this available to the public. You'd pay a fee and then you could put on some VR gear, log into their virtual pasture and visit with the cows as stimulation for them, and to see that they were happy. Some forms of interaction were forbidden, of course. They were not about to let customers traumatise the livestock. But they were all over having their visitors be in (virtual) human form or even cow form to hang out with and be friendly with their cows. Premium packages to be other animals in the millieu were set up. The most popular were birds.

So soon enough, people stampeded to try this out. Detractors tried to derisively call it "The Mootrix", but the company totally ran with that. They set up global franchises of The Mootrix, anywhere there was internet access, and even started leasing their services to other cattle farmers. After a little trouble to litigate and establish their brand, they became a global conglomerate and made billions.

Then, people started visiting these virtual pastures just to relax. As that became more popular, therapists started setting up special stress relief sites, hiring specific cows to keep their clients company, which led to people "adopting" specific cows as pets. The company claimed that the fees paid for these cows kept them from being slaughtered. Animal rights activists would buy up entire herds.

Rumours (none ever proven) surfaced of Dark Web sites where you could take the role of a predator killing a cow as it was being slaughtered. Or experience the cow's death in the first person.

A best selling biographical novel from those years is titled _My Life As A Cow_. It was made into a miniseries.

Some folks would, of course, get hooked on it and wouldn't want to leave.
A whole new subclass of psychological disorders evolved and were put into the DSM.

Some people were starting to get worried that the Mootrix was creating this herd mentality and was beginning to degrade society as we knew it.

That realisation was where I came out of the trance.

I know in my heart that this was a real vision of the Future.
I know in my heart that this is "found wisdom" and can't be questioned or challenged.

I was granted my vision so that I could warn you all.
I pray that my warning is herd.

Talking back to the dead

I had this dream this morning where a deceased friend came to visit. It didn't go well.

BACKGROUND
-----------
I say friend because that's what we were most of the time, but we were prone to these occasional sometimes epic falling outs. We'd been through ups and downs and on occasion, totally been There for one another when we really needed it. But.. there were these other times. My friend could be unbelievably irrationally bitchy and controlling and I have this temper that flares up when I'm feeling too put upon.

During one of those down times, was when they passed away.

One of my Regrets has been that I never got to properly patch things up, and sometimes wish for that opportunity.

And after this dream I'm ready to let this wish go

NOW
--------------------
So, in this dream. I got my wish. My friend showed up. At first I was elated, but then they started doing these cruel, unbelievably mean things (which are vague because; dream). When I called them on it, I was told that they had taken it upon themselves to punish me not only for every little slight and transgression real or imagined, but also for stuff that never involved or even remotely affected them. In other words, typical bully excuses. And in the dream I was now confronted by all of my memories of just how much of a bully my friend could be to people including those who cared deeply about them- like me. I truly and sincerely never stopped loving my friend even when they were monstrous to me. Some might applaud me never ceasing to see the good I knew was there, others might call it Stockholm Syndrome. It depends on whom you ask. Still.

But in my dream I'd finally had enough.
I said to my dead friend: "That's it! I'm done mourning you now. I used to wish for a reconciliation, but now I'm content to let go of you and your memory. So...GO!"

In my dream, I had also inherited something from them that I laughingly called the "Secret Supervillain Base". It was a house or something. And I was in the process of cleaning it up and making it functional again. There was a big mess, as my friend was more than a bit of a hoarder. Not that I can criticise that. Anyway, by the time I was beginning to wake up, I had concocted a plan to strip out anything useful I could find and blow the place up, taking video of that, and setting it to the Travelling Wilbury's song "Congratulations".

Then I woke up.

Edit:
In hindsight, I remembered that today is called
The Feast Of The Epiphany
heh.

_Easy Rider_ still packs a punch

I caught _Easy Rider_ on TV the other day. It's been a while since I've seen it and so it was fun to get re-aquainted with this counter-cultural travelogue that did make quite an impression on me when I was at an impressionable age.

I first saw it when I was about 13, and I like to think that I was wise enough to catch all of the social subtlety, but really, the sex and drugs aspect was a bit beyond me. But I knew I liked the two protagonists. They were cool. But I remember now that I *really* liked Jack Nicholson's character. He was a Seeker, just as I was, and not afraid to think outside the box. That hilarious warren of crazy rabbit holes in his brain were very familiar to me, even as I recognised that he and Reality were friends but not lovers. And then he got killed by those random rednecks. WTF! It was random and bad, and that struck a chord with me, because, well, we lived in the heart of Appalachia at the time, and the 60's were still a bruise on those folks' memories and sensibilities. We were barely a decade away from a time when lynchings and murder of blacks and "outsiders" could be gotten away with. I went to school with the children of people of that generation, and I *recognised* them in the movie. Many folks down there were growing away from that level of xenophobia, but all too many were not, and I was low hanging fruit for their kids in Jr. High.

But the cincher, the moment I really got hit in the face with the gritty verisimilitude crafted into the film was at the end. Our two protagonists (flawed heroes at best) had finished their trip and were actually on the path to some introspection and awakening from their dilletentism and apathy. They decided to take the very last of their ill-gotten fortune and settle in Florida. I got the idea that Henry Fonda's character at least, was going to end up as a decent person, scruffy outlaw notwithstanding. On the road to doing just that after their epiphanies in New Orleans and the plan hatched the night before, they were shot and killed on the road by another pair of random Deep South rednecks who just happened to pass them by in a pickup truck. They shot the pair on a whim. The WTF moment impact of that ending, I could tell, was intended to be a metaphor for the metastasized oppression that lingered in Society even as a wiser Enlightenment seeped into the counterculture. I *did* catch and understand that the awakenings in the 60's started with pretensions of wisdom, but kept succumbing to the temptations of dropping out of Society and into an endless party. There was a generation of young folks who's naivete was finally ripening into maturity and I GOT that. I also GOT that there was an Old Guard who was threatened not only by the rejection of their values, but even more threatened by a more mature understanding of them. That's why the two were killed at the end, after they finished their roadtrip/party and made the conscious decision to grow into a next phase. I GOT that, even at 13, I got it.

But for me, that metaphor was also real. It had been only months before I first saw the film that I had been out riding my own bike (bicycle) in the mountains. I was on one of my own grand explorations, living my own metaphor of finding myself and discovering my independence and freedom by traveling beyond what I knew. One afternoon of excellent weather, as I was taking in the beauty and peace of the mountains literally miles away from the frustrations, sadness, anger and bullshit of my home life, this pickup truck passed me by, horn blaring. A mouthful of chewing tobacco was spat upon me by the "shotgun" passenger as the driver hollered out in the signature local drawl: "Get off the goddamn road you fat hippie!" Cut ot where I sat, in my own living room watching two fellow travellers on the road in the South being passed by a pickup truck just as I had been, and randomly attacked, just as I had been, for just being there while different. Wow.

All that separated me from the fate of the two Easy Riders was simply a few degrees of decorum and psycopathy, that only a decade before might not have even existed. My road was deserted too. There were no direct witnesses, maybe a farm around the corner (I remember a pasture, I think). A random shotgun blast in the distance was a common enough sound on any given day. Bang. One less fat hippie cloggin' up the dang road with his fat ass. I remember watching those movie credits roll with tears in my eyes. And when I tried to share my feelings about this with the adults in my life, adults who were barely aware of the daily torture and bullying I put up at school and in my neighborhood, and barely believing of the catcalls I sporadically got while on my bike on those roads (which were really mostly deserted most of the time), their advice was "Well maybe you shouldn't go out so far on your bike." How things were where I LIVED was exactly WHY I would so relish escaping into the mountains on my bike.

I didn't listen to them. I refused and still do. The times were changing, even in Henderson and Transylvania Counties NC (my usual range as I lived 2 miles from the border of them). Most people were content to just let me ride, and some were even kind when my bike broke down. I managed to steel myself to the fact that the tobacco spitter was an anomaly, an anachronism, even then. Despite the occasional "moments", being out on a bike on an adventure evoked a love of life that has never left me.

But what makes me sad now, watching _Easy Rider_ is not that my own memories of the random beatings I endured and the roadside attack still come back at the sight Nicholson's screen death, and then that of our two heroes, but how the "anachronisms" of that time and place still haven't been fully put to sleep. Worst yet is watching just how hard some people are working to bring those days back. I grieve to see nostalgia for a time when dead hippies by the side of the road are a feature to be sought after and not a stain that needs to be scrubbed out of our social fabric.

Dead And Company - NOW I'm impressed

Prologue:
Last year, when I watched the simulcast of one of the nights of the Fare Thee Well shows (surviving members of The Grateful Dead + select guests sitting in for the empty chairs), THAT was impressive! I wrote how enchanted I was that their stunt guitarist to replace the late Jerry Garcia really captured the essence and nuance of Jerry's skilled, beautiful, fluid, and highly idiosyncratic style of guitar playing. He met and exceeded the standards so well that it was JUST like hearing and seeing the shows I saw and heard, except for not having Jerry's vocals.

Later, when some of that lineup decided to keep going as "Dead And Company", with a young protege' named John Mayer in Jerry's seat, I wasn't as impressed. A big attraction to the Dead for me was Jerry's guitar playing. There really wasn't and isn't anything like it. That's what I missed, and that's what Mayer (at that time) kinda imitated, but it was a bit of lo-res picture of it. I was ready to let Jerry go to Heaven and move on.

Present:

But I let Sonya talk me into going to their show last night. I'd known of the Dead, and liked them before I met Sonya, but she got me INTO them. We really bonded going to shows together of not just the Dead, but especially them. So it was one of our "things", and well, you gotta have the things. You gotta do the things.

But man oh man! That young feller Meyer has DONE his homework and now he gets to play with his friends and have the best fucking job in the WORLD!
He has REALLY grown into those huge shoes he was hired to fill.

To be honest, it's not quite the same. Somehow, Jerry's playing, as well as having those idosyncratic hooks was really pretty, and Mayer still has some maturing to do to get there in the pretty department, but technically and stylistically, he's NAILING IT! And he also brings that "not quite fully grown dog who still has his puppy energy" onto the stage and uses it well. Bob Weir, Jerry's guitarish cohort all these years has blossomed into more of the lead guitar world than I remember, especially when Mayer sings, and his singing is a good thing. Mayer's a closer match to Jerry's voice than they've had, so they're not relying as heavily on Weir's part of the vocal repertoire. So the sound has both expanded and evolved a bit over the last reunion. But the Dead have NEVER stood still or pat on their sound or their style. They were always a dynamic venture and still are and that can't be a surprise. With a different bassist in the lineup too, their signature freestyle vamping and warping from one song into another as the mood hits them is not quite as there as it was before. The songs last night had more definite endings and beginnings than the Dead at their peak had. But that's understandable and okay. However- there was some of that creeping back in! Yay! I saw and heard how those blanks were beginning to be filled back in again. Assuming this venture continues, which it looks like it will, that will re-manifest itself in all it's quirky flowy glory. Overall, at this show, at it's best, I could close my eyes and hear the Dead that I got into. At it's worst, I only had to wait a minute max, and it was still damn good. And in those moments when the band got into the groove and painted outside the lines and surfed those big waves of sound- they were magnificent; as magnificent as I remembered.

Oddly enough, my remaining wish as I listened, was to hear more of Jeff Chimenti's keyboard playing. Maybe it was just the night, but he seemed to be a little bit background, and he's good. I wanted more. Maybe next time!

I would see this band again, when the opportunity presents.

Halloween Limericks 2017

All of the Halloween Limericks for 2017 were requests!
One of them was from earlier in the year at an SCA event.

Wallachia's scary at night
We fled the train station in fright
Not chased by undead
Or monsters, instead
'Twas polka bands lurking on site
2/25/17

They claimed they had nothing to hide
The day Erin Kennedy died
When pressed for a cause
The coroner paused
And said "Inconclusive." He lied
10/26/17

The warning, of course, came too late
Maria went out on that date
Her screams, heard for miles
Shook houses, broke tiles
We shudder to think of her fate
10/27/17

Elisa Ballou never died
Despite going solo outside
By vampire ghoul
With sinister tools
"Worst Halloween EVER!" she cried
10/27/17

Jan cooed and cried "Oh, what a beaut!
That critter's so cuddly and cute!"
The leprosic squirrel
Infected the girl
Her lips fell off. Now, she's a mute.
10/27/17

Juls sighed; "Oh how grand it would be
If I were consumed by the sea.
I'm very resolved
To be all dissolved
With everyone swimming in ME!"
10/31/17

John suffered a dull, aching lack
Of thrills, so decided to hack
His pacemaker's beat
And died in the street
While dancing to "Sheer Heart Attack"
10/31/17

They laughed and called Margaret "lame"
For playing her video games
"It's Halloween night!
Come out for a fright"
The obits, next day, had their names.
10/31/17

It wasn't enough of a show
For Sean to breathe fire and blow
But when he passed gas
With torch by his ass
The fire destroyed Marlborough
10/31/17

Some hunters while sharing a toke
Once offered young Brian a smoke
They asked "Are you game?"
He said "That's my name!"
They shot him, of course. That's the joke
10/31/17

Mike thought that they'd misspelled the line
On the "Wholesale Re-tail" sign
His new tail was nice
And for a great price
The wording was there by design!
10/31/17

"They all called me ugly and bad!
It made so angry and sad!"
He wiped their blood off
And stifled a cough
When cleaned up, she wasn't so bad
10/31/17

I'll tell you what happened to Tim
One day he crawled out on a limb
It snapped and he fell
And gave out a yell
But that's not what killed him. 'Twas Jim
10/31/17

The rumours of Ellen are true
She curates a horrible zoo
The horrible beasts
Have horrible feasts
On any who come for the view
10/31/17

Of Young Ashley's fate, best beware
She found herself quite unprepared
Indulging in pinks
And spiced honey drinks
She ended up eaten by bears
10/31/17

Dear Talyn, I'll never forget
The magical night that we met
You gave me a rose
Then fed me to crows
But kissed me once, so- no regret
10/31/17

When Holly was luckily graced
With seats for a rocket ship race
A meteor struck
That ended her luck
She died getting sucked into space
10/31/17

When Crystal came back from the dead
She acted all puzzled and said
"It's so cold and clammy
And where are my jammies?"
She asked for a hug, but they fled
10/31/17

Vern died (told officially):
With honour, peace and dignity
While quenching his thirst
Our story's rehearsed
The truth, well, it's classified, see?
10/31/17

Remember how Kelly survived
That film with that guy and those knives?
The sequel's quite apt
Now, it's Kelly who's snapped
And taking those teenagers' lives
10/31/17

The tale, officially
Is Donna was lost out at see
Those visionless gits
Refuse to admit
She was taken by pirate faeries
10/31/17

She led all the clones in a chant:
"It's Repli-CAN not Repli-CAN'T!"
She worked day and night
For their human rights
Daukantis refused to recant
10/31/17

The Elves did triumphantly shout
"We've taken those dumb Faeries OUT!"
But not how you think
'Twas dinner and drink
And happily strolling about
10/31/17

Our Greykell's so very adored
It's said that she never gets bored
Except when she's rushed
Or flattened, or crushed
By fans hanging on every word
10/31/17

The pile of kittens enticed
"Come join us. We're so soft and nice
So Keri complied.
And that's how she died
Her love of fluff came at a price
11/1/17

Del's death made the news, the front page!
It wasn't because of his age
Though 99's great
It was an irate
Husband with murderous rage
11/1/17

Jim's tale's a caution when told
Of love of guitars that are old
For in this one shop
Where he liked to stop
He found one that swallowed his soul
11/1/17

We knew that poor Bruce wouldn't last
The marshes of Markland's dark past
The mists of the swamp
Where he liked to stomp
Is haunted by dread Arbogast
11/1/17

Dear Robyn seems such a good egg
She'll lend you an arm, or a leg
But time to pay back-
It's _your_ limbs she'll hack
Despite how you whine, plead, or beg
11/1/17

Upon a ski slope north of Hell
Chris met with a Yeti named Nell
And from their first kiss
He knew he'd found bliss
She ate him, but loved him as well
11/1/17

They say that the Hitchiker's Guide
Has Traci Ann listed inside
Though harmless she plays
Beware of her ways
She's left planets blown open wide
11/1/17

"I'm sick of the drama and scenes!"
Screamed Jeff while dismembering teens
But missed all the noise
From those girls and boys
So he grew them all back from their spleens
11/2/17

So Windy thought that she'd adore
A coffee shop labelled "Mordor"
She didn't survive
"This coffee's ALIVE"
She gurgled, then fell to the floor
11/2/17

Suicide

For no good reason at all, I woke up with these thoughts in my head about suicide. Not my own, in general.

I suppose it's a reaction to all of the recent FB postings asking people to post that they care about it. I'm not a big FB bandwagon jumperoner so I let them go by, but as of this morning, I realise that I do have some thoughts on one part of that matter.

I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian, but I remember a lot of what I was taught (for good and/or ill). Something I've *always* disagreed with is the notion that suicide is a sin, and that people guilty of this sin are going to Hell. I understand that Modern thoughts on this matter are walking that notion back as a better understanding of mental illness and depression makes it's way into theological ponderances.

But I can still feel that notion, that judgement present when I hear of peoples' reactions to suicide. I don't think that it's fully trickled down into the culture at large that this should be treated as a tragedy only, without the baggage of "sin" being applied to it.

My thoughts this morning were along these lines:

If you (random reader) harbour any notions that suicide is a sin, and that sin will (or should) be punished in the Afterlife, I am NOT with you on that, because it makes NO sense to me.

If you believe in a loving, merciful God, how in the HELL can you square the idea that the despair and hopelessness that lead to suicide are something that should be punished? What could be more WRONG than a merciful loving "parent" punishing a child for opting out of their despair? No. That just doesn't work. That would be wrong; collossally, epically, cosmically WRONG. And any religion who teaches that about a God who is supposed to love us, has got it wrong. Period. I am very pleased to know that this notion is on it's way out of religious thought that they (and we) are realising that comfort and healing are what the responses to despair should be, not punishment. Let's finish kicking this antiquated abusive response to the curb. It's not God, who is wrong here, it's us. WE need to change.

What I would do with gifts

I had this dream the other night where someone gifted me with a box of plastic balls, Xmas balls, etc. "YAY!" I said "More eyeballs for Halloween!"
In case you didn't know, our yard is "eyeball" themed for Halloween, so I'm always looking for things that I can paint up as eyeballs to hang on the trees, make into lights, whatever. If you (random reader) ever think of doing this, please know that white is the ideal colour. Silver or grey will do, but really, white. White.

But that wasn't the only thing that the dreamish gifter had for me. They also had a box of small (7"x9"?) Confederate flags on little wooden sticks. "What in the world do I want *these* for?" I asked myself. "Do I *really* want to take this?" See, in the dream, the gifter wasn't someone I knew well, so I was wondering what kind of impression I'd make taking them. I'm no Confederate sympathiser, that's for sure. Did they think that I was? Well, they know about the eyeball thing, so they know a thing or two about me, right? Do they *know* what kind of mischief I'd likely perpetrate with these? Do I *really* want them at all? What *would* I do with a box of small Confederate flags.... and then I woke up... and remembered our plans for the day (Sunday) ARCHERY PRACTICE!

Okay, if you (random reader) were to gift me with a box of Confederate flags, know now that the first thing I'd likely think of doing with them is taping them to a hay bale and firing arrows at them. Maybe not at an SCA practice, but certainly for my own satisfaction.

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Imagine that once upon a time that you wished for something for Christmas. It was something that you *knew* would make you happy, brighten your whole life, even. But it was impractical, beyond the reach of you or those who loved you. What's worse, it was also very much a thing rooted in it's time, and that time is gone. So you've sighed, and moved on. Ok, here it is decades later and you've decided to go to a holiday party, where you knew you'd have a good time. There'd be friends, food, drink, merriment, laughter, and fun diversions. Now imagine that come midnight, gifts are exchanged, and you open the package, and there it is; that thing you always wished for, but never ever thought that you'd ever see it, and now... there it is.

THAT was the concert I saw last night!

Ok, now, to explain why and how. Back when I started going to cons, I had a crazy(ish) pal named Howard, whom I used to hang out with because we bonded over music we liked. He RAVED about this band King Crimson. So, on his recommendation, I started looking into them. But man, they were hard to find, usually expensive imports, and my budget for music had a lot of other priorities. Finally, in a used record store by the University of MD, I chanced to find a copy of _Lizard_, which had a song with guest vocals by John Anderson (of Yes). Yes, being my *actual* favourite band at the time (and still), I thought that this was my entry point. So I bit, and I bought. And I LIKED it! Some time after, someone lent me _In The Court Of The Crimson King_ and I LIKED it!!! (and dubbed it to cassette) So, cut to a couple of years later, and I was hanging out in the office of the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia (UMD campus) and some guys from the "Jolmsvikings" were talking about wanting to go to see King Crimson live, but needed a ride, and I perked up and said I would give them a ride, if they chipped in and helped me get a ticket. Ta-da!

What I didn't know was that *this* version of King Crimson was a new version of the band after a hiatus, with a nearly all-new lineup, a different direction and a different soul. I was disappointed for about ten minutes, because *this* version of the band was AMAZING! Just fucking AMAZING! Nonetheless, at that moment, I realised that I missed out on seeing the old band, to my wistful sadness. See, I was INTO all that (as one disgruntled ex-bandmember once called them) "airy fairy shit". I DUG that in my first two albums from them. I dug it deep. Still do. But.. that wasn't the new band, and that was that. Not that I didn't LOVE the new band. They were AMAZING!!!

And that has been my experience of King Crimson since. Robert Fripp, the driving force of the band is a phenomenal guitar player and has appeared on the albums of so many artists I love that it's never a surprise anymore. I recognise his style, and just nod and say "Of COURSE he's there". He and that new crew played these dense, impossibly complex interlocking counterpoints and even with the inevitable personel changes since, I am usually very happy to see them live. Last night was the fourth or fifth time. It's a good enough bet that when Sonya suggested that I go with Jmax, that I agreed, even though the cost was a little high. I knew it would be a good show, even though I've been a little harried lately, and I might have been tempted to give it a miss because of that.

But I didn't, and I was completely unprepared for what I got instead of what I'd come to expect.

Not only did they play some of that complex noodly "modern" stuff that I'd expected, but they had (what I was to learn later) re-recruited one of the original players from their early work and OMFG, they actually PLAYED a bunch of my personal favourites from _Lizard_ and _ITCOTCK_. This was like seeing a new, updated version of the original band that wowed me in my youth. And time has been very very good to these songs. Not only do they still pack that same mind-blowing punch and ethereal beauty, but with updated flourish and modern technology, they sounded better than any live show from the 70's ever could have, played with experience and refinement that only time and genius can infuse. My jaw dropped when I recognised the first strains from the song "Circus", and didn't believe it until the lyrics became clear.

I got goosebumps hearing "Moonchild" (I think my all time favourite song from the early days), and I think that the vocalist made Greg Lake (the original singer) smile down from Prog Rock Heaven. He did a great job with keeping that song's sound and lilt. It sounded SO good!

Other highlights:
- (as I said) Mel Collins on sax and flute.
- Tony Levin is still on bass. He's another player that keeps showing up in the lineup for artists I like and love, on tour and in the studio. He's even guested for Yes (well, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe), and Pink Floyd.
- THREE drummers! At first I though "what do you need three drumkits for? Now I know. Also, one of the drummers doubled on piano/keyboards.
- It was a brilliant and precious move that they had keyboard samples that were exact replicas of early Mellotron sounds. Google the Mellotron and you'll understand. It was an ingenious attempt to make a keyboard version of an orchestra, and for it's time was quite innovative. It was also one of the most ridiculous, finicky, disaster prone devices ever created, and taking one on tour was a nightmare. And they *didn't* sound like an orchestra, really. They had their own very charming, very recognisable sound. So they *kept* that distinct sound, but did so without the nightmare, which I wouldn't wish on ANYONE no matter how "correct" or "authentic" a real Mellotron might be. No. Just no. *This* is the best of all worlds.

I did not expect *this* show. It really *was* like getting that impossible Christmas present I'd given up on.

Might Be A Good Sign...

So, this dream this morning might be a good sign, a positive omen, a sign of internal progress, whatever, I'll take it. But boy was it sure annoying.

See, I was to attend and perform at this Pagan Gathering, and I was looking forward to it and all, but the way in was LONG. And it had to be walked. And it was up this huge hill and then down the other side and back up a slope to some plateau. With my stuff, it was quite the drag. But I was clever. On the downward side of the huge hill, I cobbled together some of my things into a crude sled and I *slid* down the hill. Yay me.

But that wasn't the annoying part. No, that came when I got to the sound stage and I noticed this huge pile of sound gear and amps and stuff, piled up in a big pile. All over various of the pieces I noticed a little green stripe, done with a paint marker or green electrical tape.

"Hey, that's the same mark I use to identify *my* mic stands and cables" I thought to myself. "This won't be confusing at all" (and now some of my soundgeeky friends will cluck a 'toldja so' for not making a more complex colour combo to disambiguate- shut up. It's MY dream.) But wait, there's more... Upon examination of the stuff, various of the items had my little green mark, the runic "M" symbol that I've turned into a pair of beamed 1/8th notes, that I mark my gear with. And then, of course, in dream logic, I started *recognising* various pieces of the gear as things that I've lost, had stolen, or misplaced. A bunch of MY crap was, in fact sitting on this stage. I asked where the person(s) who put this stuff there were, and, of course, no one knew. They were "off doing some errand" or something.

So that led me to my dilemma: do I make a scene? Do I confront these people who have my things? Do I get mad and hulk out at them? I *knew* I wasn't going to let them get away with this (whoever they were), it was *my* stuff they had. What bothered me was whether I'd be believed and whether I'd jeopardise my own deal with this event by acting on what I knew.

I woke up just after I decided, that since my things had been stolen, that I would simply steal them back. No one was really watching and it was all "someone else's problem" as far as they were concerned. Of course the problem of the big hill wound up being sort of glossed over, but this was a dream after all. The important part was that someone took things from me and I made the proactive decision to simply take them back. (insert tigery roar here)

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Vaccines: Misunderstood Action Heroes

You know what?
Vaccines are like those misunderstood action movie heroes. *They’re* ones who are the good guys trying to save the World (especially those adorable kids). Meanwhile, the *real* villains keep framing them for crimes they didn’t commit.
If you were watching it on the screen, every time someone was afraid of the heroes, you’d be shaking your head at how stupid they were being. Don’t be them.
Get your shots. Vaccinate your kids. Let the Heroes do their jobs and save the World!

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"Try And Love Again"

In classic rock are these totally kickass epic iconic guitar solos. The end of “Hotel California” certainly ranks among them. There is no doubt about that.
But for a guitar solo that is not all bombastic and epic, there is still a profound, sublime even transcendent beauty to the guitar solo in “Try And Love Again”. I love that solo so much.
The whole _Hotel California_ was a spectacular success. IMHO, There isn’t a single weak song on there. Back in the day, I remember almost collecting the entire record via the singles. It was kind of unprecedented for an album to have that many gold or platinum singles come out of it.

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Voice Of The Angels

Pre-party prep ran me through all the Tom Petty I had on vinyl. So I moved on to some George Harrison. (a fellow Wilbury, right?) _33&1/3_ is such a sweet album. “Crackerbox Palace” was one of the very first singles I ever bought with my own money and I find I like it now as much as I did when I was 13.
And I’ve made an observation: usually, when one hears slide guitar in (usually) a rock or blues song) it’s associated with some sort of vice in the lyric, so much so that I’ve come to associate the very sound of a slide guitar with sex, drugs, liquor, cigarette smoke, infidelity, lawbreaking, and all those things that you’re supposed to repent of on a hungover Sunday morning.

Except for George Harrison. Somehow, his slide playing always sounded like the voice of the Angels.

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I had never seen the original film pair of _Cat People_ and _Curse Of The Cat People_ until yesterday, and now thanks to the "Comet" channel, I'm very glad that I've mended that hole.

Both are very noire, kind of cheesy- okay, very cheesy, HEAVY on the melodrama, but I've got to say that they thoroughly deserve the fanatical praise of the cult following within B-Horror fandom. And from regular cinema criticism, they thoroughly *don't* deserve to be under-rated. The scripting and acting are both on par with a lot of cinema from the period, so to judge those qualities by modern tastes is an injustice. So just shut up and watch the damn movies, ok?

The supernatural elements are brilliantly overshadowed by the psychological issues that fuel and power them, rendering the ambiguity of their "reality" moot. Because either way, we are watching the toxicity of fear and repression (sexual in the first, general in the 2nd) generating the energy that can cause massive tragedy when it explodes under pressure. And in *that* insight, for all of it's cheesiness and melodrama, both films are brilliant. And again, for all the melodrama that it's played for, the writing in the second film has a really neat subplot of seeing how all of the principal characters are exhibiting a dysfunction born of the exact same thwarted desires. When they find the empathy to see that in the others, character growth, bonding, and a salve of that pain is found. The first film, which ends in tragedy finds it's redemption in the 2nd. You may even catch yourself saying "Awww" at the end, and then wanting to be all 21st century hipster cynical about it. Don't go there. Just smile and think about how you could do the same.
I got a little bit of grief the other day when someone complained that they were tired of 'everything' being about race lately.
I got grief for pointing out that they should imagine what it's like to actually *be* of some minority race. How tired must *they* be?

Seriously. If you're white in this country, only occasionally is your race an actual issue. So much so, that when it is, it's weird, shocking, cognitively dissonant. Conversely to hear people "constantly" complaining about racial issues *can* get tiring, when it's not an issue you deal with.

But if you're a minority, then really it *is* a constant issue. At any given minute, just trying to conduct your life, your race (or religion, or sexual orientation, even your appearance) can pop up like a bad penny that you keep trying to get rid of. The school you get to go to (or not), the school you're *forced* to go to, the places you can shop, how you're dressed, where when and *how* you walk, where you drive, what you say, *how* you say it, whom you marry, whom you divorce, where you go to church, *how* you observe your religion, where you get to work, what your job gets to be, how much you're paid, your chances of promotion, your chance of being arrested, convicted, fined, executed, KILLED BEFORE YOU EVEN SEE A MAGISTRATE... on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... ALL of that can be impacted by your minority status, especially your race, ie, the color of your skin. And Gods help you if someone actually *notices* that your status puts you at a disadvantage and takes some steps to equalise the scales.

Then again, YOUR minority status is the root of THEIR complaints (usually white peoples') of how *they're* being passed over because YOU are getting special treatment for your race, religion, sexual orientation, or what the fucking fuck ever.
Yeah, imagine living in a world where it's always about your race, no matter what you do.

So, you think YOU'RE tired of it and wish someone would just talk or post about SOMETHING else for a change? Guess what? You're not alone. But your comrades in this feeling are not whom you think they are.
So- I had this LOVELY little excursion to go to some friends' wedding. The couple are part of a little gang of folks I met through my music, and always wished for an opportunity to hang out with them more. Turns out that a bunch of interlocking snafulations meant that I didn't have a gig, couldn't busk, AND had a little spare cash. But I wasn't so flush that I could just up and drive 500 miles on Mama Tiger for a not a paying gig. So, I took the bus.

It's been a LONG time since I took a bus trip. It was fun. Well, also, it was boring, but I got some work done.

So this story is about the bus ride home. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then we shall begin.

The bus driver got lost on the way out of Pittsburgh. But that's another story. This story here, is a different one.

After I boarded the bus, as I'm walking down scouting for a good seat (my preference is near the back), I pass by a young (barely not a teen?) lady, heavyset, kinda cute, huffing and puffing in her seat. At the time I thought she had perhaps exhausted herself running to the bus, and climbing the stairs with her little collection of very stuffed duffels. In hindsight, I think that maybe she was hyperventilating. "Poor thing" I thought to myself, remembering too many times I've been that way myself.

The bus got underway. Very soon after, the same YL comes back to the back to use the potty. Nothing unusual there. She comes out, just as the bus does that big boaty rocking thing that busses do as they get underway on the way out of big cities, and she clutches the back of my seat in a death grip and nervously remarks directly to me: "Wow! It's like *surfing!" I smiled back and hummed a few bars of "Wipeout!" for her. She lit up a very sweet smile, laughed a bit, and bravely made her way past me and back to her seat. I went back to whatever had my attention, and mentally patted myself on the back for having successfully done a nice thing that Good Bards are supposed to do.

About an hour later, YL is back again to the potty. By now I had figured out how to put my seat back and was trying (not very successfully) to nap. So when she came back out again, my seat back was not available for her to just grab. The bus was also again, at that time, fitfully rocking, and the poor YL gave an audibly distressed sigh. So, once again, Maugie to the rescue; this time tangibly. I put my right elbow on the seat rest, with my hand up for her to grab, which she did. I felt a lot of desperation in that grip, much more than "random wobbly bus" might normally indicate. She thanked me profusely and made her way back to her seat. "Poor thing", I thought "All alone and not handling this trip very well." Again, I mentally patted myself on the back for doing a good deed in the World, and modeling a World where such deeds exist for someone who maybe needed that, a bit.

There was one more trip to the restroom for the YL. This time with drama. She comes out, and sets to alerting everyone that she had "spilled something in there" and felt really bad. Someone took pity and gave her napkins or something and she went back and, I presume, cleaned up whatever she had done. Again, with grateful rhapsodisations, she resumed her seat and as I actually dropped off, I overheard her saying things like "OCD" "Anxiety" "Just couldn't leave it there" etc.

Some time later, the bus pulled into our rest/meal stop (A place I've been to before, actually, where I helped to rescue a different Damsel in Distress but that's also a different story. But interesting recurring theme) As I staggered off the bus, regaining my land legs and walked to the entrance, the YL stops to thank me again, introduces herself as "Lisa" and starts to share how she's headed for Richmond, having come from Oregon. I said "Wow, Lisa. That's a LOT of bus you've ridden. Well, you're nearly there, eh?" So she shares a few more pleasantries, along with a worry about some motion sickness she's been experiencing. Then, we got to the restrooms and as I had a big fire that needed putting out, I said "Hey, listen. I need to catch you on the flip side, ok? This is my stop.", pointing to the Men's side. She looked a little disappointed, but I figured that if she was craving more conversation, we could have it after I finished in the toilet and got some fast food for lunch.

I came out of the restroom feeling much relieved, and I went over to the Burger King kiosk, where I saw some couple handing her a bag full of fast food. Not her parents, the way she rhapsodised so much in gratitude. It disappointed me a little that maybe I was being chatted up in order to score lunch off of me, but I know that's a thing that one does out of necessity when young, broke, and traveling. C'est la vie. Someone was taking care of her, and she obviously needed that.

As I got back on the bus, with mere minutes to spare (I don't know why it took SO long to just get me a couple of burgers), YL looked at me surprised. "I thought you were getting off here." "No, I meant the *restroom*. I was being cute with euphemisms, but I really had to go."

Wow, I thought to myself. She must really be preoccupied if that joke sailed over her head right *by* the restroom. She didn't *seem* that clueless. Oh well.

An hour later, YL RUNS back to the potty, and I could overhear her throwing up, ALOT. Actually, everyone could. Moritified, she re-emerged and as she's headed back to her seat, a fellow rider across from me intones:

"Girl, you need to change your DIET!"

YL fled back to her seat.

YL came back a few minutes later with a bottle of water (I presume to rinse her mouth out) and the same guy again intones:

"Girl, you need to change your DIET!"

And he does it again as she re-emerges, this time with elaborations, about how you can learn on TV that it's *all* about your diet, blah blah blah, on and on, and how there "ain't no such THANG as anxiety". At that point I couldn't take it any more. This guy was SO full of SHIT and an obviously lonely, fragile young lady who was having a bad enough time already didn't need it. He had stepped over the "random drive by jerkiness" and into the "asshole harassing someone" zone. I had had enough.

I fired the first shot over his bow:
"Anxiety is real. You don't know what you're talking about. Young lady, this guy is full of it. I'm sorry you don't feel well, and that this guy feels a need to make you feel worse. Don't listen to him."

Oh, did young random bus guy puff out at that.

"No one was talking to YOU!" was the first volley.

"Nope. But you're spouting nonsense and this young lady doesn't need to be attacked by you."

"I'm trying to HELP!"

"No, you're not. Someone who just has a bit of motion sickness doesn't need this kind of help. Leave her alone."

"I'm trying to give her ADVICE, and you're BUTTING IN. You don't KNOW that we already have a relationship. We've been talking for FOUR HOURS! You don't KNOW what I KNOW!"

"Yah. Relationship.(snort) Tell me more, about how much more you know, Doctor Random Bus Guy! You're not HELPING anyone. She was feeling sick. That's it. You're not helping. You're just harassing someone who's having a bad day." I nasally, mockingly, repeated "Girl, you have to change your DIET"

Oh, Doctor Random Bus Guy didn't like that, and volleys turned to broadsides as he declared:
"I know that YOU probably need to change your diet TOO! What are you, 500 pounds?"

By now, YL had FLED again, double speed back, to her seat. A furious Dr Random Bus Guy harangued me solidly for about five minutes. Just as with the phonescammers though, I let him, as my thinking was that as long as he was haranguing me, he would not be following poor YL back to her seat to gaslight and fat-shame her some more on what was becoming obvious to me was a very bad trip with potentially bigger issues overshadowing it.

And his haranguing become more and more ridiculous. Apparently, according to Doctor Random Bus Guy, I feel free to butt in wherever I please because I'm just a "thinks they knows it all white european". He didn't take kindly to my "pot calling the kettle black" remark after that, and then he spiraled into some world class random babble that I can barely remember other than it was comical. I started to laugh and kept saying "Tell me more, Doctor Random Bus Guy". I realised that my laughter was fueling him, so I kept it up. I was laughing enough that I couldn't really hear what led up to him saying

"And your MATH IS WRONG!!!",

but that's when I entered the ROFL zone and there was no turning back. I just couldn't stop laughing. So at *that* point, Dr Random Bus Guy did the one sensible thing he could do. He stormed off to the front to complain to the driver. Shocked passengers, having watched and overheard this whole thing leaned way out of his way. I wasn't sure what they thought, but I KNEW the last thing they wanted was for the ride to get even MORE interesting/weird.
I figured worst case was I could survive their disapproval for a few hours if it meant a troubled young not quite a teen any more wouldn't have to endure more abusive "advice" from Doctor Random Bus Guy, who seemed to me to be much more Hyde than Jekyll.

A few minutes later, the bus driver got on the intercom to ask:

"Passengers, I would like a peaceful bus ride, so I'm asking ALL of y'all to kindly keep your personal opinions to yourselves."

Like stunned children on a long car ride after Mom says "I have had ENOUGH!", the ride was silent the rest of the way to Baltimore.

At Baltimore, as Doctor Random Bus Guy got off, I opted to stay on the bus. YL had a connection to catch to Richmond. I hope she was able to do so free of Doctor Random Bus Guy also.

An elderly lady behind me, as she exited, turned to quietly lean down and say to me:
"I liked what you said."
I replied "Just doin' my job ma'am. A young lady getting sick is not the time nor an invitation to get on her case about other things."
"You got that right. Good luck, honey."

I felt vindicated. I wasn't sure. Egging on a bully is a risky move, I should know.

----------------------------------------------------------

As I told this story to Patches. She put a couple of ones together and made a doubly poignant observation that made a whole lot of sense:
She theorises that Young Lady was in Oregon for school or something, got pregnant, and was heading home. She was having near constant anxiety attacks about what that's all gonna mean. But as of that moment it had been a purgatory of DAYS of bus rides anxiety, and morning sickness. That matches the sweet but obviously troubled person I encountered.
I sure hope I did just a little bit of good on her journey.
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So, how *does* one properly use that important advice from Doctor Random Bus Guy? I say that laughter is the best medicine.

What can I say? I LOVE that bird!

I'm taking triple advantage of last Saturday being superlatively lucrative, today being a pretty rainy day. plus an empty house to to do some audio editing for a (next?) CD.

And I've just got to say that as much as I love the pristine quality you get with studio recordings, that you absolutely can not beat the serendipitous genius of a perfectly chirping bird giving a cameo in a live performance. It totally puts that last bit of colour into the song's atmosphere. I mean, I *wanted* a studio version with some extra instrumental counterpoint for this particular song, but that bird is as good as anything I could have played.

I LOVE that bird! Even if the track wasn't as good as I think it is (and I think it's GREAT take of the song), I would be tempted to put that version into the album, just to keep that bird.

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If you want to survive when you're out on an adventure on your motor scooter on a gorgeous summer night, remember these
FOUR VITAL SURVIVAL TIPS:

1) Wear Your Helmet. Always wear your helmet.

2) If your backpack is heavy because you've loaded it up with: a laptop (and power supply), a notebook, that heavy chain you lock up the scooter with, and those two "Cards Against Humanity" supplements you found at Target, it's gonna be heavy. so put the straps on well and securely so it doesn't fly around on sudden turns or other motions. Unsecured extra weight can and will affect your balance.

3) If you luck out at Guitar Center and get that suitcase guitar stand you've been wanting for a very long time ON SALE with an extra 25% off for being a floor model, securing it to the back of the scooter will be serious business. Use ALL those bungee cords you also bought at Target, and secure it redundantly on many vectors. Then ride carefully at first and get a feel for how this big winglike thing affects your aerodynamics.

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, as you ride through downtown Silver Spring late at night, you will look a little silly to carfulls of big scary gangster looking fellows in SUVs. If one such SUV pulls up to you and the guys hoot and holler at you, smile and laugh along. They're just having some fun. If one of them says "Hey, take that action to the sidewalk, bro", it's perfectly fine to say "But my ass won't fit on the sidewalk." and if another one says "That thing don't LOOK street legal", it's okay to ask "Does that make me an 'Outlaw Biker'?" But if one of them then says "Yeah, 'cause that thing's slower than a motherfucker!"
DO _NOT_ COCKILY SAY BACK:
"Yeah, I know. 'Cause I'm riding it home from fucking YOUR MAMA!"
You will likely not survive a guy who looks as big as a bulldozer getting out of an SUV on a gorgeous summer night and pounding you into the pavement WITH your motor scooter.

That is all. Return to your duties, and be safe out there.

Performance Calendar

This is my performance calendar
(or best guess)
as of: 09/15/09
S 9/19/09 Constellation Books 6-9pmReisterstown MD
T 9/22/09 New Deal Cafe 7-9pm Greenbelt MD
S-Su 9/26-27/09 Green Hill Medieval Faire and Highland Games Salem VA
S 10/03/09Mother Earth Harvest Festival Spoutwood Farm, Glen Rock PA
S 10/24/09Esoterica 8-10pm Leesburg VA
T 10/27/09New Deal Cafe 7-9pm Greenbelt MD
S 10/31/09 Constellation Books 3pm-? Reisterstown MD
F-Su 11/27-29/09Darkover Timonium MD (tentative)
S 1/9/10 12th Night Feast at St Margaret's 3-10pmParkville MD


Here are some links for venues past,
present, & future:

newdealcafe.com
constellationbooks.com
www.esotericaofleesburg.org
www.madamsorgan.com
www.fairiefestival.net
(this is for the Spoutwood Farm Fairie Fest & for the Mother Earth Harvest Fest)
www.balticon.org
Va Renfest (www.varf.org)
www.marylandfaeriefestival.org
www.pennsicwar.org
Darkover Grand Council(www.darkovercon.org)
www.medievalfantasiesco.com
This is for Stone Tower Glen, Gloucester, Foamhenge, & Green Hill Faires.
www.2008.philcon.org
Swamp Thynge
Greenbelt Farmers' Market
NY Faerie Fest
www.potbelly.com

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