Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Feevah, Liam’s Triumph, Radio Playing & My Candy Store

A great weekend – no bones about it.

It all started Saturday morning. It was the Cub Scouts District Pinewood Derby race. Liam, having won his Pack’s Pinewood Derby a couple of months ago, qualified to run the District race. We got up good and early (for a Saturday, anyway) and headed to Berkley High School. Liam and Sonya had been up there the night prior to get him entered and have his car weighed and evaluated.

We get there about 10am and Liam darts to the display table, where all the Wolf Cubs are voting for the “Best In Show” trophy. The kids decide which car they like the best, avoiding voting for themselves. Afterwards we wait a bit for the race to start.

While we’re hanging there, we take a look at the Soapbox Derby car they have set up. Uh-oh, looks like I may have another project to look forward to. Anyway, after he gets all riled up about that, we grab a Krispy Kreme, popcorn and a pop from the local troop’s fund raising table and find a good spot to watch the race from.

Liam’s Killer Whale-shaped car named “Free Willy” did pretty well! Of the 6 or so races he ran, he generally came in 4th of the cars he was pitted against. Unfortunately, as there were about 27 cars entered in his class, he didn’t quite make the ‘top 4’ cut for the finals race. As they are about to announce the winners, we started gathering our stuff. The announcer hands the mic to the contest administrator, and I notice she’s holding a trophy and Liam’s car! Liam had won Best In Show!
Northridge District Pinewood Derby (10)

He was still disappointed that he didn’t make the finals run for performance, but I cheered him up, noting that he now has a trophy for speed in his pack and design in the district! Kudos on all counts! Also, not being one for “performance machines” myself, I personally would have been hoping for the Best In Show trophy.

That managed to cheer him up, so we headed to the comic store to celebrate and let him play some Arch Rivals on Chris’s full-sized arcade machine. I brought along a picture of Liam’s Optimus Prime cake from last week’s Akila Cake Bake, figuring if ANYONE would appreciate it, Chris the Comic Guru would.

While Liam’s playing his video game, I notice a new addition to Chris’s display cabinet: an original Generation 1 Soundwave Transformer with 3 tapes! It was in very ‘loved’ condition and obviously made some kid very happy for years, but it was pretty intact. Ah, memories. Soundwave was always my favorite. I showed Liam and he fell in love, too. He was disappointed not to walk home with it, but at $40 plus $10 a piece for the tapes, I wasn’t about to buy a collectible version for him. I promise him we’ll look online for later, less collectible versions with all the parts. Heck, *I* may even get one for myself!

The rest of the afternoon was spent just lazing around the house, doing a few chores, and appreciating the warm, sunny springtime weather while Sonya ran some errands: doors open, shades pulled up, tidying up the front lawn of the stray garbage and assorted junk that had laid dormant under the snow for months, etc., then I head to work at Ye Olde Video Store.

After work, the kids had gone with Grandma up to Flint for the night and Sonya was hanging with our good friend Leigh, so I decided to stop by the homestead of my new friend, Bob, and his weekly internet radio broadcast direct from his basement. I bumped into him at a local party store a couple weeks back while on a beer run and commented on his Battlestar Galactica pins on his jacket. We start to gab and I mention my quartet. He mentions his show and while he usually features local DJs and techno/trance stuff, he likes to keep things eclectic. Before you know it, he’s inviting the quartet and me on his show! He hands me a sticker for the website and we part ways.

A couple weeks later, I finally get around to checking out the site and waddya know, my good friend, Chris Rohn (fellow Northern Aurora Drum Corps alumni and local DJ extraordinaire) is a regular and designed the website! I IM him about it, he gives me Bob’s IM and next thing ya know, I’m invited to stop by anytime.

So I pull up to his unassuming suburban pad, let myself in, and head to the basement. There are folks playing Wii, munching, gabbing, and having a grand old time. I’m told to get in the week’s picture for the site and spend the next hour just hangin’ and talkin’. Just before I head out, I manage to get on the air a bit, too.

Bob also gave me a tour of his abode. I gotta say, this guy is my Yoda in the ways of the Geek. Vintage computer systems, collectible toys and a plethora of odds and ends from the 80’s. He is my bachelor doppel gangar. My house would look just like this if I had no one else to worry about. I was quite impressed and had an absolute blast. Keep an ear out Saturdays about 8pm to for the show (or anytime thereafter really, as they archive it on the site for your streaming convenience). It’s great stuff to have on at work (at a low level – they’ll drop the ‘F Bomb’ on occasion) and my quartet may be on next week or sometime else soon.

Sunday, with the kids gone, Sonya and I slept till nearly 1pm. WOW that was nice. We then got up and went to MicroCenter (my candy store) to get a microSD card for her and a cheap $7 headset with a mic for me. We spent WAY too long in there (not that I’m complaining) and left with our respective toys.

When we got home, we proceeded to clean up the backyard, which had been torn apart by her brother’s dogs as they’ve visited the past few months. The grass was torn to shreds, piles of excrement deposited, and gaping holes have been dug throughout. Worst of all, our 10’ inflatable pool has been destroyed. Now, we were the dumbasses who forgot to put it away last season, so we didn’t expect it to truly survive, but the dogs had managed to shed it entirely and it was strewn all over the yard like confetti, along with most anything else we were foolish enough not to put in the shed.

After picking up the tattered remains of our yard, raking it up, stepping down some of the worst of the holes and hills created by the canines, and spreading some grass seed, I grab some pizza just in time for the kids to return home.

After the kids are fed and in bed, I break out my new toy. I’ve been recording multitracks of myself for years with varying degrees of success. Some turn out remarkably well, some not. I now have a great program that allows me to edit the tracks within an inch of their lives, but it takes a LOT of work. I usually clip my tiny condenser mic onto a lamp on the desk, mute the output, and sing along with my headphones while hunched over the desk providing virtually no air support. This usually creates a lot of ambient noise and tuning issues.

Just to test it out, I plug in the new headset and try a simple tag: “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South”. In just a few takes I had something nearing professional quality. I could hardly believe it was me! I had to keep going.

For the next few hours I played around with “Who’s Sorry Now”, a tune from the chorus repertoire we had recently excavated. I did it a few times, as I was learning the other 3 parts on the fly, each time getting better and better.

If you want samples, e-mail me. I’ll probably be doing more of these as time permits and inspired by Paul Ellinger of Chordiology, I may try to do some ‘freestyling’ of more contemporary stuff to help me arrange.

Ohh the fun that awaits!

The weather has finally broken! Ain’t no stoppin’ my good mood!

(What’s that whistle? Sounds like a shoe dropping from a mile high…)


dianaschnuth said...

I am SO glad to hear some awesome weekendage from you, instead of the bad luck that seems to dog you these days.

I also want to say that I hope that, once Aaron and I have a kid, that we can train him/her up in the ways of geekiness and have it stick as well as you have so far. Honestly, though, I'm not sure how the Aaron-Diana combo could possibly raise a non-geek. :-D

Colleen said...

I have been DESPERATE to get to IPM radio for ever now, I'm so happy you found/went to the party that is the radio show! woot woot!

Also, I'm glad you and Liam had fun. Go Boy Scouts!

My Idiot-syncratic Synaptic Firings said...

GO LIAM! Best in show is awesome! Soundwave was my very first Transformer! It was Generation 1 w/ the original brand name on it BEFORE Hasbro began marketing them as "Transformers."

Musical Daddy said...

I always wanted Soundwave. Never had him. I did have all five Contructicons, though. THat was cool.

Kelly said...

Wow, my Inner Nerd is sending you major high-fives over here. What a happy weekend and a fun read. =)