Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

After a good decade in retirement, I dug out the 'ol Silent Bob costume for the party at work today. Not in much of a mood to celebrate there, to be honest. Long story, but I'll save that for a locked down MySpace blog, maybe.

Anyway, expect plenty of pics on my Flickr page tomorrow of Silent Bob, Anakin Skywalker, my Little Princess, and (insert Sonya's costume here)!

Hope you all have a great time amongst the little ghouls and goblins. Remember, save those disgusting marshmallow peanuts for the teens that come around with no costume.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I Dreamed A Dream"

Ever since I was in high school, I've dreamed of leading a musical group to arise from the ashes and become a formidable musical force in performance and possibly even competition. I focused this drive into my own milieu, concentrating on instrumental music - specifically high school band. For 14 years, I spent my falls running around like a madman between band and drum corps rehearsals and competitions, while I frantically juggled family, school, and work.

Then, about 6 1/2 years ago, I fulfilled a small part of my destiny by joining the SPEBSQSA (AKA: The Barbershop Harmony Society). Being a 3rd generation barbershopper, I had always enjoyed barbershop harmony, even dabbling in a few quartets in high school for singing valentines and a concert or 2. After 2 weeks, I was recruited into 2 quartets for an upcoming performance on a part I NEVER thought I'd sing - tenor.

Since then, I have been part of a district champion chorus, competed with my quartet on the contest stage, made a few bucks here and there doing gigs with my quartet, brought smiles and tears (the good kind) to people's faces, and made countless friends from around the world through the fellowship of this fraternity of music. Now, it seems, my dream and my new musical focus may be converging....and it's about damned time.

Last night I drove 1 1/2 hours to a "nearby" chorus to speak with their director search committee. Not having the background in conducting a barbershop chorus (which is dramatically different that conducting other vocal or instrumental groups), a district or international medal, or even a completed degree, I thought the chances rather slim, but worth an inquiry. I figured my background in teaching and personable nature might be at least enough to have them listen to me and get a polite "thank you, we'll let you know," at best. Well, I was wrong. Pleasantly, delightfully wrong.

I spent the better part of an hour after their rehearsal, talking with the members of the committee. They asked brilliant questions, each one of them I felt comfortable and prepared answering. They seemed impressed with my answers, smiling, nodding, and taking notes as I spoke. From what I gathered by their questions and occasional comments about previous directors, they seemed to want exactly what my strengths were: teaching, ability to handle a variety of talent levels, and an open and accepting attitude. I made it clear that I welcome contrary ideas, have no intention of being the sword wielding despot, and view the position of director as member of the chapter team. I make the chorus sound better. I don't decide the direction of the chorus, I don't have veto power, I am not the "decider" - the chapter and its leadership is. They liked that.

So as it is now, I feel I am a strong contender. This is a MUCH better position than I felt I would be in. They still have 6 other candidates to interview before they begin to whittle down their options. Within a couple of months, they will narrow it down to 2 or 3 and bring each one in to lead a rehearsal. By January or February, they will decide and allow their new director to ease into the job by assisting in rehearsals and conducting a song or 2 in preparation for their annual show, before taking the reigns.

I doubt the pay will be much more than just enough to justify the mileage and time, but beyond being something to add to my resume, it the realization of my dream. I would be directing a musical group and helping them to improve as musicians and maybe even win a few contests. A kicker of this is, it happens to be my dad's old chapter.

I'm not holding my breath for it, but DAMN if it isn't exciting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Convention Recap, Part 2: "Damn, damn DAMN!!!""

That title is a bit deceiving. Nothing bad really happened, but...let me explain...

The morning went as hoped. I got up, got prepped, and got Courtney moving just fine. We got to Aunt Val's about 7:45am, and was greeted at the door by my sleepy-eyed sister. She popped on the TV miniseries of Alice in Wonderland and my sister and daughter plopped on the couch for the next few hours. meanwhile I hit I-94 to head to Battle Creek.

Usually a 2-hour drive, I had heard that construction had completely screwed up the route (Hooray for MDOT, yet again). Thankfully, being early Saturday morning, traffic volumes were light, and I didn't have to hit the brakes very often. I made it to McCamly Plaza Hotel to meet up with my chorus in plenty of time. I run into the building straight to registration, then hit the bathroom and put on my stage make-up. As I head to our initial warm-up room, I'm greeted to a flood of my fellow VERY greateful Gentlemen Songsters exiting to walk to the contest site, 2 blocks away. I meet up with myquartetemates, Lou and Dave, and we walk to Kellogg Auditorium.

As we walk, I'm regaled with tales of the previous night's quartet prelims. Apparently, a less than stellar assortment. Last year when we competed, the field was chock-full of top-notch quartets, some of who soundly whipped our collective butt. This year, the bar was much lower. I would find out later how much so.

We arrive at the warm-up room at the auditorium and I'm greeted to a greatly relieved director. He relayed that one of our miniscule gaggle of tenors called out sick. We were down to 3 tenors in a chorus of about 40. Being in the front row and having a greater lung capacity than most of the septagenarians in the chorus, I add more than my fair share of sound to the section and was direly needed. It's nice to feel apreciated!

We went out and did a very good rendition of our contest set ("Who's Sorry Now" and "Sing Me That Song Again"). Not our best, but far from our worst. We rehearse in a church basement with a concrete ceilings. It's a lot easier to ring and balance there when you can hear everything mushed together. From there, Lou and I headed back to the hotel to change into our "civies" and grab some lunch at the local pub - one of the few establishments open in Battle Creek on a Saturday (I swear I could see tumbleweeds rolling down the street).

Much of the afternoon was spent playing on my computer in the lobby of the hotel, as I hadn't connected with my roommates for the evening yet (Paul & Rob from Chodiology). I grabbed new copies of the Polecat and Yuletide Favorites songbooks at the Barbershop Shop, as mine seem to have disappeared over the years. I managed to resisting the temptations of coffee mugs, CDs, and a variety of other musical kitsch. I was able to fit in a few tags with some other loiterers in the lobby. The favorite of the day seemed to be "The Shadow Of Your Smile, which I had recently recorded for my quartet clients in Nevada. Here's a not-so-shining example:

Then it was time to watch the quartet finals. I met up with a kid from the Grand Rapids Chapter, Pat, and we head up, talking geek stuff. For once, I actually arrived in time for the entire finals show. Last year, my quartet, Coda Honor, barely missed making mic testers for the finals show. A disappointment, but not a bad showing for our first contest, scoring just shy of a 60. This year, we decided not to compete, as our bass was in Galveston for a month helping with disaster relief and we didn't have time to prep our contest set. However, as I watched quartet after quartet strut their stuff for the appreciative audience this year, a single though kept occurring to me: "We're better than that".

Now, don't get me wrong. Every quartet up there deserved to be there and were quite good, but with all of the progress Coda Honor has made over the past year, we could have easily made 4th.
Well, maybe not easily. Having the last month to practice would have helped. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to watch these quartets up there and not be waiting in the wings to do our set. Hence the title of the blog.

I was supposed to meet with the chair of the Lansing Chapter's search committee to discuss the open position of director there. I didn't hold a lot of hope for getting the position, but figured I had enough qualifications to justify applying. I sent him a text and voicemail, letting him know where I'd be, and spent much of the first hour after the show in the lobby, hoping he'd spot me (I told him to look out for my shoes - they're kinda hard to miss). After an hour or so of playing on my laptop and chatting with friends, I made the rounds of the hospitality rooms and tagging in the hallways and lobby. Apparently, I also spent the evening narrowly missing aforementioned committee chair. Once again, damnd, damn, damn!

When things began to wind down, I met up with my roommates and headed to the room. I open the door and find the district's resident Doo-Wop quartet, Full Throttle, in the room chatting and drinking heavily. We all spent the next hour or so in the room munching on junk food, drinking, and spitballing riffs that Paul came up with. One groove was particularly catchy, and Paul had Barry (the exhuberant and 'fluffy' lead from Full Throttle) riff some melodies. He started filling in whatever songs would fit, then began singing the text of the hotel welcome card. It was a blast.

Oh, MEGAkudos, Barry, in the impending baby Barry on the way (hence his celebratory mood)!

Once the rest of his quartet practically carried a VERY innebriated Barry back to his room (no easy task, even for 3 guys), Rob Paul & I hit the hay as conversation about life and family trailed off to snores.

Oh, the chorus made 3rd. Not to shabby!

An awesome, if slighly frustrating weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Convention Recap, Part 1: "I Can't Get Started With You"

BOY what a weekend!! The weekend that almost wasn't.

I thought I had it all set. My dues were paid, my shift was covered for Saturday night, Sonya and Liam were heading to a weekend camp out with the Cub Scout troop, Courtney was going to be picked up by her grandma, I had a place to crash for the night, and there was enough money in the account to cover gas and meals...

...then it all started to dissolve before my eyes.

I took off work a bit early on Friday to drop some stuff with Lou and get a haircut. I stopped by the Blockbuster where my former manager, Bill (who owes me a LIFETIME of favors), was working. He had said he had someone who could cover my shift - no problem. He was a good salesman, which my current manager would be happy about. I popped in to say hi, verify things were all set, and thank him. I hang in the office door way and he says that he hadn't asked the guy yet, but it shouldn't be a problem, and I should call that evening from my shift to confirm as they were both working that shift. Somewhat reassured, I go about my errands.

When I get to work, I call up Bill's store and Jason, the guy who's supposed to cover me, answers. He tells me he's working his other job that night and can't cover me. This, plus being understaffed on my current shift and RIDICULOUSLY busy, set me in a foul mood all night. Hearing all this, my current manager, Kelly, started hitting the phones to find me a replacement, while I handled the never-ending, mile-long line at the register.

By 10:30, no one had been available. After I get let go for the evening, I call another half-dozen stores in the area to finally find one LOVELY, WONDERFUL, GOD-SENT gal - Monica from the Warren store - who would cover my shift. I nearly collapsed from exhaustion & relief right there. Content that the weekend was once again on schedule, I head home, expecting Sonya and Liam to be off at their Cub Scout camp out, Courtney with grandma, and the house empty.

After a mentally draining shift, I come home to find Sonya and the kids still there, and Jeremy, Leigh, and Jeremy's 2 high-strung dogs over for a visit. Apparently, Grandma's acquisition of my youngest wasn't as eminent as I was led to believe. I hit the phones once again and pray that my sister's offer to take Courtney early in the morning still stands. However, I had no clue how to hand off Courtney later on. Overnight at Aunt Val's isn't something we've done yet and I wasn't about to pop that on generous and accomodating sister unexpectedly. Thankfully, Jeremy offers to pick up Courtney and take her to her grandparent's in the afternoon. After working out logistics and making sure Val & Jeremy have each other's cell numbers (a mistake I made recently I'm not about to repeat), all is settled there.

This means I have to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn, shower, shave, get on my tux and make-up, get Courtney up and dressed and out to my sister's, then pray the Traffic Gods smile on me so I can get to Battle Creek before my chorus steps on stage at 11:30.

Coming Up Next... Part 2: "Damn, damn, DAMN!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Semi-awesome Weekend...

(I couldn't think of a decent weekend-themed song lyric/title for this one)

Saturday started out simple enough: getting up and the kids moving and dressed. Sonya wanted to head to Canada with her brother to paint the cottage again, since the past month has left that kind of on the back burner to deal with her car's tire. This gave me much of the weekend to myself.

After a bit of tidying, I stopped by the comic shop to grab the IDW Comic Bios of the candidates. I didn't expect much of them, but they're surprisingly detailed and insightful! I bought both to be fair, balanced, and to hedge my bets as a collector. They don't include every vote and decision, but I must say they helped me gain a bit of respect for both candidates, warts and all. Neither changed my mind in the slightest, but they made my decision a bit clearer based on ideals, experience, and motives, rather than speculation and rumor.

After my semi-weekly pilgimage to the Comics & More, I headed to my sister's to borrow her lawn mower. It's been relatively dry lately and I haven't realy needed to mow the lawn for weeks, but it was getting about that time. I pulled up to find her waiting in her front yard for our friend Paulie B., who she had planned to have lunch with and go thrift store shopping with afterward. I joined them for lunch, though I had just had Taco Bell with the family before they took off. We had a great time sharing appetizers and chatting about everything from local music, to mutual friend gossip, to jobs and gigs. I had a blast catching up with baby sister and my aptly dubbed "inner child".

After dropping me off back at my sister's, I loaded up the mower and headed home. The rest of the afternoon was spent on mowing and chores. From there, I went to work at the video store. After work, with the family gone and no one expecting me home, I headed to my buddy Bob's for his weekly IPM internet radio show. I charged down the stairs just in time for one of the breaks between DJ's. We spent the evening over beer and music, playing Wii Bowling, discussing politics and life. Pure awesomeness. Dig it. I headed home about 1am and hit the hay.

Sunday, I spent the morning catching up with my parents on the phone. I try to call them once or twice a week, if possible. My dad and I discussed barbershop and family, as usual. She even payed my Barbershop Society dues online while we were on the phone (after some not-so-thinly veiled psuedo-begging). I then finally returned my mom's call. She calls me about 4 times a week these days, as my sister is kind of boycotting her (long story there - don't judge). She bemoaned my sister's behavior while I played the middle ground and voice of reason - my usual role. Regardless, it was nice to catch up with her and talk to her.

After that, back to chores. I got a lot accomplished before bringing the mower back to Val's and spending about an hour mowing her jungle - er - yard. Sonya and the kids got home while I was there (rather than the 10pm they often get back from weekend trips), so any recording I had planned was out. Bummer.

While checking my e-mail that night, I noticed a listing on the PioNet (Pioneer District of the Barbershop Harmony Society's Listserv) for a director position at my dad's old chapter in Lansing. I probably don't have the qualifications for a higher level, cometitive chorus (i.e. Harmony U., BHS Director's College, a gold medal, etc.), but I sent along a letter of interest anyway. If it pays enough to justify wedging it into my schedule, this would be a dream gig! I'm hoping to meet with the chir of the search committee at convention (assuming I can go). I don't expect much to come of it, but at the very least, I may be able to pitch myself for more learnng track gigs and maybe some coaching. We'll see. Networking never hurts.

A great weekend, mixed with socializing, productivity, and reconnecting with family I rarely see. The trick now is, I have at least 5 more songs to record for a couple groups sometime soon. With the weekly grind and the convention (or camp out) this weekend, I'll have to sneak stuff in a track or two at a time. I'll figure it out - I always do...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bye Bye Blues?

(I've taken to titling my blogs with old songs, it seems. Thanks for the idea, Chuck!)

So I blogged about "Barbershop Convention Blues" last week. Well, it seems those blues MAY be over. I had some major hurdles to overcome to make it to the convention: dues, child care for my daughter while Sonya and the boy were at camp, hotel costs, and scheduling. The first was handled by my dad. I called her on Sunday, mostly to just do my usual catching up, but also - if I could work it in carefully - to ask if she would be able to loan me the money to renew my dues in time for the convention. After a wonderful conversation, she offered without me having to directly ask...well, not directly begging, anyway. I think one of the factors may have been that when I gave her my society password it was a direct reference to her. She got a kick outa that.

The second hurdle was child care for Courtney while Sonya and Liam were at the Cub Scout Campout this weekend. My wonderful sister has agreed to keep her from my departure time (butt-crack of dawn Saturday morning) until Sonya's mom hopefully picks her up in the afternoon. Some details have yet to be ironed out with mom-in-law, but that snag seems to have been mostly worked out.

Next came having a place to stay, should I be able to stay overnight. There is no way I could afford a hotel room this time, and even if I could, the headquarters hotel is completely booked, with the nearest available hotel a mile away. That kinda puts a crimp in carousing the hospitality rooms and lobby, drinking and singing, till all hours. I'm not comfortable driving more than a couple of blocks after any kind of real "imbibement", let alone a mile in the pitch black of unfamiliar streets at 3am. After a couple hours of exchanged IMs and cameraderie with Paul Ellinger (the lead of last year's champs, Chordiology), he tentatively offered a spot on his floor, pending confirmation with his baritone/roommate.

Now all that's left is to call every Blockbuster in the area, looking for someone to take my Saturday night shift at the video store. I have a manager that owes me a favor at another location, so I'm not terribly worried. They're already short-staffed for the shift, however, so I do need to find someone. No calling in sick or car trouble this time (not that I usually fake such things for a night off - I'm a pretty good boy as far as that goes).

Another possible obstacle is whether Sonya can make it to the camp out. Sonya has had what we think may be viral meningitis for the past week. She was exposed to a co-worker of her mother's who had it a couple weeks ago, and since then she's had a few days of total imobility and total feeling-like-crapness. She's on the mend and gaining back some energy and mobility, but whether she can handle the elements is questionable. If she can't do it, guess who does.

So that's where it stands. The finish line is in sight, the chorus had a GREAT rehearsal last night, my presence at contest is EXTREMELY encouraged (as close to a demand as our understanding and polite director can get), and only a couple more things to work out. I'm not crazy about getting up at the crack of dawn and driving 2 hours in mu tux and make-up (I hate that part) to jump on stage in a rush, but I am looking forward to helping my chorus start it's rise back to the top. If we sing anything like we did last night, we may start dong just that.

Coming Up: A Recount of last weekend

Friday, October 10, 2008

"I'm So Tired of this Dull Routine" (A Prayer for Friends)

I often complain about the regular necessities of my daily life: kids to school, work, home, rehearsal, chores, etc. Seems my life is scheduled to the second without a second of "leisure time" to spend as I wish. Lately, however, I've been very grateful for the lack of surprises.

Some dear friends of mine are going through a very tough time right now. Their baby boy is in the hospital with a mystery infection right in the middle of chemotherapy for a tumor on his kidneys. Their life has been thrown into total upheaval. Until now, they've dealt with it very well, adjusting their daily routine to accommodate the doctor's appointments, coordinating some somewhat specialized child care, and playing their work schedules like a delicate ballet in their itineraries.

Recently, however, their adorable baby boy has come down with an unknown infection, spiking his temperature into unnerving if not dangerous territory. Aside from jostling their son's surgery schedule, it's necessitated more time off of work than they had planned and sentry shifts at the hospital they most trade off. They're stressed, scared, and sleep-deprived.

I'm not particularly religious, in that I don't profess my beliefs very often of impress religion on others. I do, however, believe in the power of positive energy and thoughts in whatever form one chooses to project them. If you could all send a thought of encouragement, support, and good will - be it in the form of prayer, karma, cosmic energy, or what ever you believe in - I know they could use it right now. These are wonderful, talented, and strong people who I know will come out on the other end of this exhausted, drained, but nonetheless triumphant, but they can use all the help they can get.

"Hazak Ve'ematz" guys. There's a light at the end of the tunnel and David will be fine. You have all my love, thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barbershop Convention Blues & Tina Fey: 7 Weeks ain't enough, and yet it is.

Once again, we're nearing late October and the Pioneer District's Fall Barbershop Harmony Convention. Unfortunately, it appears this one's not going to go at ALL like I had envisioned it 4 months ago.

My plan was to go up mid afternoon on Friday, compete with my quartet, make finals, compete with my chorus the next day, kick some ass at finals and maybe move up a spot or 2, and have an amazing night touring the hospitality rooms and singing tags in the lobby till all hours of the night. I'd built up a helluva weekend in my head.

Since then, the job hasn't turned out as profitable as I had hoped (still not BAD, but this economic apocalypse has slowed my sales growth a bit), our bass has been in Texas helping with disaster relief and is on call to do more at any minute, and Liam's Haunted Cub Scout Campout has been scheduled for the same weekend. Adding to the financial frustration, I just had to pay a $195 ticket for not having my current proof of insurance in my car and now a $200 "Driver Responsibility Fee" the state has started assessing to milk the average citizen for whatever they can get away with.

In order to make convention, I have to come up with gas money, food money, pay my society dues, arrange to sleep on someone's floor at the hotel, and coodinate child care for Courtney while Sonya and Liam are at the campout...but I haven't given up yet. It's not impossible. Difficult and improbable, but not impossible.

I wouldn't feel so bad about it, but our tenor section is a bit weak and we've already lost 2 of our front row. With all humility, having me missing hurts the presentation AND music scores. I truly don't expect my presence means the difference between winning and losing - Mt. Pleasant, Lansing, and Macomb have that to worry about. It would be nice to start building up our scores again, however, and set ourselves up as contenders again. We won 4 years ago. It's not out of the realm of possibility to do so again, but we need all the help we can get.

I'll keep exploring my options.

Meanwhile, on the campaign front...

When Sarah Palin entered the race, my first though was that she looks a bit like an older Tina Fey. For the past 3 weeks, Tina has made a return to Saturday Night Live to play the Alaskan Governor in opening sketches - absolutely BRILIANTLY! Just go Google it (NBC has managed to pull most of the clips from YouTube), and you'll see what I mean. The funniest sketch was her depiction of the CBS Interview with Katie Couric. It was absolutely hilarious in that, rather just picking a few catch phrases like so many of her predecessors (Dana Carvey's "Naa-Gaa-Daait" comes to mind), she quoted one of the Governor's lengthier responses nearly verbatim - and it was ROTF hilarious! That's funny and scary at the same time.

I'd love to see a lot more of Tina Fey as Palin, but God willing, SNL will only need her for another 4 weeks before Palin hops the first dogsled back to the tundra.

Plenty of other stuff to bore you with, but time's a wastin'. Gotta go earn my keep.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cold Shower...

POSTPONED: Barbershop Convention Blues and Tina Fey-7 Weeks ain't enough, and yet it is.

Not figurative, but literal. We apparently neglected the gas bill, so they came and shut off the gas yesterday. Sonya's been sick, so she wasn't able to get to the door in time to hand the guy a check. So last night we had to grab some Little Caesar's and use the remaining hot water for a bath for Courtney. This left me to submerse myself in Arctic water this morning.

I haven't had a shower this miserable in 15 years. On drum corps tours, showers were like a box of chocolates - ya never know what yer gonna git. Usually, the schools have shut off the gas for the summer so they're ice cold. You get used to just praying for enough water pressure to actually rinse yourself off. Invigorating in late July, but in October - not so much. At this point in my life, I need a scalding shower just to loosen my joints in the morning.

Between the ice cold shower and frantic dash out the door to get the kids to school on time, and the fucktardedly basackwards traffic pattern the school parking lot creates, this is not starting off to be a good day.

To top it off, I'm greeted by my morning news radio announcers calling out the Financial Apocalypse. Great. Means my sales this week will be jack shit. I'm glad the debates last night didn't degrade into personal attacks and I commend both candidates for their restraint, but damnit. Someone needs to call out McCain for the Keating 5 Scandal and the S&L debaucle. This "deregulate then bailout" bullshit has to end. I'm used to being on the next-to-lowest rung of the financial ladder, but when that ladder's singing into quicksand and my shoes are getting wet, I get a bit pissed.

Oh, and that little "opinion meter" that CNN has of their focus group of Ohio undecideds - dat's da shizzle. Makes the debate MUCH more interesting.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Comics & More...

(Not-So-Subliminal plug for my buddy Chris's comic shop)

I am now a comic book geek, in addition to all my other geek cred. Yesterday, My buddy, Chris at Comic's & More (11 1/2 Mile Rd. & John R) had his 1-year anniversary celebration for his loyal club members, which I am proudly a part of. One full year of owning the store and he's starting to make some good headway. He opened for 5 hours with some special deals for club members only to make some room for new inventory.

Unfortunately, this didn't benefit me much. The good deals were for folks who had cleaned out their "box". He will gladly set aside issues for folks who can't afford (or carry) the mountain of material they find while they browse his tiny shop, and my box is fairly packed. I did get a nice chance to chat with him and check out his new ride (a classic mustard brown '74 GM Pimpmobile with under 40K miles he found for about $700 - score).

I started out with a modest box of early Bronze Age Action Comics I got for a quarter a piece at Dave's Comics back in the early 90's. A couple have appreciated in value (I have a Supergirl #1 I'm secretly proud of), but most are in mediocre shape and more for nostalgia purposes. Now, however, thanks largely to Chris, I have 2 medium archival boxes filled to capacity of Batman, Captain America, Star Treks of all kinds, Astoniching X-Men, Ambush Bug, Booster Gold, Earth X and even a mid-70's Spiderman featuring the cast of Saturday Night Live. I've even gone so far as to special order a copy of the new Greatest American hero comic, autographed by William Katt.

God help me, I'm hooked.

I spend most of my lunch break in the break room, thumbing through my newest acquisitions over a sandwich and cheese curls (being careful not to smudge the pages, of course). Today, I have a pile of vintage Star Trek, a brand new Star Trek: Mirror Image, and the newest Batman & Captain Americas to get through. I'd wish for more money to buy out my box, but that wouldn't help. I'd simply fill it again, spending within my limits and dreaming beyond them. My eyes are bigger than my storage boxes.

Sonya finally got her car back from Canada, after dropping the kids with their grandparents for the weekend and heading out with her brother. 2 days and a plethora of amusing anecdotes and frustrating tales later, we're finally a 2-car family again...thank God. While she was gone, I managed to spend the afternoon cleaning the house a bit and re-recording a learning track for my Nevada quartet that was about 3 weeks overdue. Productivity - score.

Yesterday was supposed to be Courtney's 5th birthday party for her friends. 7-9 kids were invited, but no one RSVPed. I ran to the Meijer at Great Lakes Crossing for some last-minute needs and to to pick up mom-in-law and the kids. We got there at 2pm, the supposed start time. By 2:10 (10 past the start time) we started to worry. By 3pm all that had come by were 2 of Courtney's friends from around the block, and they were only able to stay for about 20 minutes. We may attempt this agin, giving a bit more notice and calling for confirmations. Courtney took it well, having fun on the new swingset anyway and decorating her own tiara.

After returning from my run to the comic store, we gave up on the party and went for lunch with Leigh, mom-in-law, Sonya, and the kids at a local family diner. We had a fun afternoon, despite the bomb of a party.

That's about it for now.

Coming up next: Barbershop Convention Blues and Tina Fey-7 Weeks ain't enough, and yet it is.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Politics & Debates...

Some would ask why I don't blog about political subjects, such as last night's Vice Presidential Debate. The answer's simple: I don't have any more insight or anything to add to the discourse than any of the other millions of bloggers, activists, and pundits out there. I simply don't want to contribute to the already crowded discourse. I have no problem debating topics and will espouse my stance at the drop of a hat, but I rarely find the point in ranting about them, as my rant will simply echo 60% of the blogs out there, reveal no new info, and generally be a waste of time.

That being said, I'll make my one and only point about last night's debate: Are Democrats the only ones capable of pronouncing the word "NUCLEAR"?

All the rest has or will be covered by others. Go read 'em. I'm a strong-moderate liberal and am voting Obama...

...but most of you already knew that.

By the way, I finally got those videos of Coda honor's last performance up on my YouTube channel here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

GREAT weekend...

A flurry of activity, as usual, but not the usual gotta-get-it-done kinda stuff.

Friday afternoon, my dad drove into town. After a semi-business trip (just enough to make the trip deductible) she decided to head back to Kansas from Jersey via Michigan. Makes perfect sense (?!?!??). Anyway, she pulled unto town Friday about my lunch break. We headed out to National Coney Island for a bite and catching up, since I was working both jobs that day.

After working the Blockbuster evening shift, I went home via AJ's Coffee Shop in Ferndale to catch an old high school friend Amy (Smith) Petty perform for a few minutes. This gal is an absolutely AMAZING talent! Her live version of her song "Broken Record" is positively jaw-dropping. She has a fantastic wit and raport with her audience and a voice so beautiful it'll make you weep. Her style is basicaly modern acoustic folk, a la Indigo Girls, if one were to draw similarities. I could only stay for a couple songs, but I am in awe of her abilities and was pleased to see so many faces from my high school days that I hadn't come across in years. I only wish I had the time to stay and chat with some of them.

Unfortunately, I had a BIIIG day ahead on Saturday. Sonya & Leigh were heading out at the crack of dawn for a breakfast with their garden club and to set up the end-of-the-season festival at the community garden. I was expected to be in Flint at 11:30am for a gig at the Applewood Fall Festival with my quartet, and needed to make some progress on the house before I left, as we had a family birthday party for Courtney on Sunday.

So the morning was a whirlwind of getting the kids up, dressed and fed, living room tidied, cat box cleaned (yeech), meeting with my dad, dropping the kids, and then heading to Flint with my dad in her car. All of this, plus the never-ending construction that ALWAYS seems to be at its worst on Saturday afternoon, meant we got there JUST in time for the gig, but no warm up.

The gig was wonderful, as always. Wonderful weather, beautiful scenery, friendly people, appreciative audiences, and some GREAT cider. We sounded great with our substitute bass, Jack Day. Again, he's no Dave Conrad, but he's by far the best second we could hope for. I have a few pictures (courtesy of Lou's finace, Linda, and my dad) on my Flickr page. I'll have a couple video clips up on my YouTube page soon.

From there, we all headed to the local Red Robin for lunch and had a great time talking barbershop, the financial market, retirement (a foreign word to me), and stuff. It was a great end to a great afternoon. Then my dad drove me home and I headed to Blockbuster for another shift.

The party on Sunday went off without much of a hitch. We just had a simple barbecue in the backyard, and a fire in the fire bowl to let the kids roast their own veggie dogs. All of my close family came: my mom, dad, sister, grandfather, and Courtney's Auntie Leigh. It's a once-every-several-year occurrance to have my mom and dad in the same locale, so it was nice to have the family back together, if briefly. Courtney loved seeing her Nana, Grandma Paula, and Grandpa O, and, cof course, her gifts. She got a Disney Princess Sing-a-long toy from Grandma Paula, a sparkley rainbow rump rope from Grandpa O, and a My Little Pony from Nana. She also got a Bratz doll, but the wife and I aren't keen on that line of toys, so we may convince her to exchange it for something else - maybe another Barbie (not that she needs 10th Barbie, but better that than a Bratz doll).
I was able to meet with my dad for coffee before she left on Monday morning. It was such a joy to see her. Throughout my life, my dad has been my most consistent, honest, and non-judgemental supporter. We can have coversations is few words and know that we both understand. This was a great weekend, and my dad was a huge part of that.
(for those of you confused about my pronoun usage in this entry, my dad is transgendered. Let the curious questions begin...)