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wonderbink: The outline of a star surrounded by tiny (illegible) writing (cleanthings)
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016 11:07 am
For the past eight years, Jeffrey Butzer and T. T. Mahoney have performed the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas live. Butzer plays drums, Mahoney plays piano and some other guy (not always the same guy from year to year) plays bass in a classic jazz trio. Occasionally, a group of female singers will come up to sing the vocal parts.

I've seen it for the past few years and I enjoy it immensely. The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is the only Christmas album I own, and it pretty much sets the mood for the season. So when it came around, I purchased a ticket in advance (it inevitably sells out) and put in for the time off with The Big Green Grocery Store.

I figured I'd be scheduled right up to my departure time, like I usually am, but instead they gave me the whole day off. I usually close on Saturday nights, and I guess they figured that if they couldn't have me close, they didn't want me at all. I spent the Saturday cleaning the place, like I used to do when I had a Monday through Friday job. I hope for it to be a portent to things yet to come.

Doors opened at 8:30 and there was already a line stretching into the restaurant area just before 8:30 arrived. By the time I'd gotten in and ordered a drink, all the places to sit were taken. I sat on the step that leads up to the corner where the couches are (the TARDIS corner, I call it, because the walls there have a grid of large circles that resemble the walls of the old-school TARDIS) and moodled with my phone until the show started.

The opening act was Jeffrey Butzer's other project, The Bicycle Eaters. They're basically the soundtrack to an art film set in Paris. Many of the songs are sung in French, in fact, because English would just seem jarring matched against the music. The next act was The Silent Knights, who played the entirely of the surf rock Christmas album by The Ventures. It was the first time I'd ever heard Jingle Bell Rock actually sound like rock. I get a big kick out of surf rock (it's probably picked up from Greg Nicoll and seeing The Penetrators so many times) so I had a good time.

Then, finally, the jazz trio hit the stage and we were treated to the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The thing I rather like about their performance is that it isn't a note for note replica, but has a little of the improvisation that jazz is made of.

Then this happened. They got to Fur Elise by Beethoven (Schroeder plays it while Lucy is bothering him) and Jeffrey Butzer got out from behind the drumkit, lay down on his stomach and propped his chin up on his hands, like a child in front of the fireplace. Then somebody started grabbing me and trying to shove me to one side.

I turned to see my eternal nemesis, a Drunk Blond Chick, in a Santa hat. She asked me to move over. I asked her why. She explained that she wanted a clearer view of Jeffrey Butzer in childhood pose, because it was so cute. I assented and moved over for the length of the piece. When it was over and all the musicians had resumed their positions I moved about halfway back and planted my feet. There the matter would have ended but then she started poking and grabbing me again.

I turned around. "Stop touching me," I said.

"We just wanted you to sway with us, in the sprit of Christmas," she explained.

"Stop. Touching. Me," I repeated

And to her credit, she did. Give or take the time she collided with me (I'm pretty sure it was her) when she was dancing with the enthusiasm of the drunk. I got through the rest of the show without irritation and headed to my parents' house to sleep.

Sunday was the annual Cookie Party. My mom bakes about 1,500 Christmas cookies (usually more) every year and the Cookie Party is one of the ways she distributes them. She invites friends and neighbors to partake in cookies, eggnog and punch. I reluctantly caught people up on what I've been doing--I wish I had something better to tell them--and indulged in my favorite cookies. Our friend Jeff came over and performed the annual Christmas ritual of sneaking new ornaments onto the tree when Mom isn't looking. The first time he and Angelo did it, Mom was completely baffled with it was time to pack the ornaments away and this strange Santa ornament had shown up on the tree. These days, she has grown to expect it and it's become something of a game to see how long it takes before Mom figures it out.

After the Cookie Party, my parents and I went across the street to another neighborhood gathering with many of the same people attending. This time it was a housewarming after a massive renovation of a house that my parents still refer to by its previous owner. There was enough food about to make a modest post-cookie dinner. I wasn't too familiar with the new owners, but I was familiar with one of the neighbors attending the party--he was a classmate of mine in high school. He's buying a house on my parents' street, so I may well see more of him. He wasn't particularly brutal to me in the days past, so I'm fine with it.

The party pretty much blew my chance to go to Java Monkey for the open mike there, but maybe some other time.

I'm sorry this was so boring. I'm sort of using this as a supplementary diary now to fill in all the details I miss in my handwritten diary pages. Only a few people are reading this and most of them are related to me.

Today I took pleasure in a cool glass of lemon water.

Today I learned someone's hypothesis that 2017 isn't going to be much better in terms of famous people dying on us.
wonderbink: The outline of a star surrounded by tiny (illegible) writing (choose)
Sunday, December 11th, 2016 03:39 pm
I don't know how many days after the weekend it will take before I post this. I've been writing blog posts for my various blogs at the rate of approximately five minutes a day. It's worked, though--all my blogs, even the ones I haven't updated for years now have shiny new posts on them. It should be easy to keep up, too.

Read more... )

Today I took pleasure in watching RiffTrax shorts while drawing flowers.

Today I learned RiffTrax has a new VOD available.
wonderbink: The outline of a star surrounded by tiny (illegible) writing (starlight)
Sunday, June 16th, 2013 03:12 pm
I'm hoping, again, to recultivate the habit of using this here bloggy thing to recount my exciting weekend adventures, in part to keep the few friends and family to read this in the loop about what's going on in my life and maybe in a weird sort of way to encourage me to get out of the house and have some adventures to write about for a change.

Part of the problem has been for a painfully long stretch of weekends the weekend report would have largely consisted of "came home on Friday, collapsed on couch, drowned in pool of self-loathing but somehow managed to get the laundry done and the house clean on Saturday, proceed as usual on Sunday." I came precariously close to quitting my job until I realized that would be throwing in the wrong towel. Instead the towel I chose to throw in was the I'm Not Taking Antidepressants Anymore towel.

Some people improve their lives by quitting drug habits. I hope to improve my life by resuming mine.

I stopped taking antidepressants back in 2007 (right around the time I was first getting involved with Mr. TBH, for those of you who have been reading along that far back) and at the time it did seem like the right decision. It may well have been. It was also around that time that I read The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron (aka The Unified Field Theory Of My Entire Life) and came to understand that my serotonin depravation might not be a permanent glitch but something I could actually do something about by arranging my circumstances so as to avoid overstimulation. I mastered the art of Doing Nothing without feeling guilty about it. I started taking fish oil and 5-HTP. I came to the conclusion that I could take care of this thing on my own without grappling with our broken healthcare system.

Then the economy collapsed and I was unemployed for three years. During that time, I finished a novel (that didn't sell), made art (that only a few people bought), put out an e-book (that's earned me less than ten bucks in royalties, last I checked) and started drawing flowers to give away to people. My experiments led me to the conclusion that I'm really not built for the bohemian life. Not that I'm not creative enough, but that I'm not very good at the self-marketing hustle and that I do kinda need the stability of a steady paycheck.

So when a temp job turned up at a Big Sprawling Law Firm, I figured it would be a good place to start so I could keep the lights on and still have time to finish my next book and send it out until someone buys it. And, all things said and done, it was. But checking back into therapy and using all my other little coping mechanisms wasn't quite enough. I invested in noise-canceling headphones and even managed to wrangle an office with a closing door, but my work still suffered and I was eventually canned.

This is my personal evidence that the economy is improving--instead of three years to find another job, it only took me three months.

I don't really want to talk too much about the job I have now, except to say that I'm willing to stay as long as they'll have me. And that this job (and the previous one) proved to me that I really need to be medicated if I want to function in an office environment. I've been back on the wee blue pills for about a week now. Those of you reading along can tell me if you detect a difference.

My birthday was on Friday. It was better than I expected. I wasn't able to get the day off (which I was a bit grumpy about) but I was self-aware enough to know that having to work a job on my birthday was not the worst thing ever, and that the Horrible Wave of Despair I felt would eventually pass, and did.

My brother [livejournal.com profile] docwhoopee took me out to lunch and they even bought me a red velvet cake at work in addition to the traditional Office Birthday Card. I spent the evening at home, doing preliminary housecleaning for my birthday party on Saturday. (This is one of the reasons I missed most of the Internetted well-wishes on the day itself--I really didn't have time to go and look!)

Saturday morning was spent doing all the absolute last minute housecleaning, grocery shopping and preparation for my birthday party. Maybe next year I'll be able to get things prepared in a more leisurely fashion instead of frantically vacuuming at a quarter to noon. But when noon hit, I put the sign on the door that said YES, started the first DVD of The Beatles Anthology and by noon thirty I was settled on the couch with everything ready for guests to arrive.

The first knock on the door was from one of my neighbors, who wanted to know why on earth the word YES was pasted to my door. I explained it to her to her satisfaction and she went on her way. I had a long stretch before the first 'proper' guests arrived but once they did it was a fairly steady stream of folks and there weren't even any conversational lulls for the Beatles to fill in. The final shift, if you will, was filled by [livejournal.com profile] dosferatu but I was so worn out by then that I was less than ideal company and he was gracious enough to excuse himself so I could zonk out on the couch and wake up to the closing credits of A Hard Day's Night.

Today I have awoken to a bit of a mess to clean up and a bit of a hangover to recover from (I really should be better about pacing myself, even if I'm not driving anywhere.) The hangover has receded by now so I guess it's time to finish cleaning.

Today I took pleasure in writing a proper blog post.

Today I learned that I don't have any sponsors yet for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. I should maybe do something about that.
wonderbink: The outline of a star surrounded by tiny (illegible) writing (richlife)
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 06:49 am
"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."
"I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"
--The Hobbit


(And for the record, no, I haven't seen the movie yet but I figure I will soon, one way or another.)

I've been pulling my way out of a tailspin of depression (one of the reasons my updates have been so intermittent) and one of the signs I'm definitely getting better is that I decided to spend a proper weekend going out and having adventures instead of curling up in my little hobbit hole.

I got home from work on Friday and checked the local music listings to discover that The Lizardmen were playing at the Star Bar. I needed little more persuasion than that. I went from Business Casual to a few notches more casual and stopped at a crowded but pleasant Mexican restaurant for some sopa de pollo and a margarita. A guy at the table behind me was explaining to an older woman how an AK-47 assault rifle worked and the difference between that an a fully automatic weapon.

I arrived at the Star Bar at what I thought was an early hour but in fact I had missed the very first band by then. It was a Toys For Tots benefit with a long list of bands on the roster, and I found my friend Captain B setting up on the stage. I was about halfway to the stage to chide him for not telling me he had a gig coming up but before I made it there, someone else came out of the backstage area. Mod Boy.

For those of you fine people who have witnessed the way I am in the presence of a certain blond keyboardist for a certain band with a repetitive name, pause a moment and picture my reaction if that very gentleman had shown up in a place I wasn't entirely expecting him.

Yeah, it was even worse than that. I shrieked "OH MY GOD!" at the top of my lungs. Mod Boy just smiled and said hello. He had a guitar in his hand so he couldn't say much; I just stepped aside and let him get to the stage and do his thing. Then I ragged on Captain B for not telling me about the show. He apologized for forgetting that I no longer do the Facebook thing and thus would have missed the announcement there.

Captain B and Mod Boy were doing their guitar duties in what was basically the same line-up as Mr. Jay's Bowie cover band, only they did Kinks songs instead. They'd done it one time earlier, but I missed the show because I was out of town attending my goddaughter's first communion. I found a decent seat with a perfect view of the side of the stage of most interest to me and enjoyed a set of Kinks songs played raw.

Between sets, I went downstairs to find a quiet corner to curl up and write in but instead found myself catching up with Mod Boy for a bit. He told me that they hadn't played that Kinks set since 2011 and I said "Oh, you mean the time you made me cuss in front of my niece?"

(Permit me to digress while I explain that one. As I've mentioned before, Mod Boy is shouldered with the peculiar burden of being the son of a deceased musician who I will not name lest the Google find me but whom I shall refer to here as Daddy Mod. When I was up in New York for my niece-and-goddaughter's first communion, I was still on Facebook at the time so at the little social gathering after the communion proper I was doing a quick iPhone app check of how everybody I knew was doing. There was a post by Mod Boy about how he was feeling a little under the weather for the gig that night. One of his Facebook friends--whether or not he was an actual friend, I can't be sure--posted something useless like "You're Daddy Mod's son! You can do it!" or words to that effect. Mod Boy snarked that he could always try the Daddy Mod technique of getting shit-faced drunk before going onstage. And thus I dropped an F-bomb out loud in front of my niece. Thankfully, she was too absorbed in the book she was reading to have noticed.)

I told him about the work situation and apparently he doesn't do well in cubicles, either. (Then again, does anybody?) We grumped about Facebook, talked about car accidents and eventually he excused himself, as he does, to go mingle with the rest of the crowd. I went upstairs, saw The Lizardmen play some of my favorite songs and decided that I didn't need to hang around until Saturday to prove that I was cool, so I said my goodnights. Captain B said we should get together for drinks and crap movies again sometime. Mod Boy told me to email him and I told him that emailing him was like dropping a stone in a well and waiting for a splash, an accusation he didn't deny but instead affirmed, complete with stone-throwing hand gesture.

The past several Saturdays I've been in the habit of walking to the library (about a mile and a half from where I live) and availing myself of the labyrinth in the reading garden just next to it. It's a single winding path defined by bricks and laid with gravel that leads to a stone bench facing a white post that declares "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in several languages. Unfortunately, after the initial creation of the labyrinth, not much seems to have been done in the way of maintaining it, so I show up with a backpack containing gardening gloves and a few tools and spend about fifteen minutes pulling up weeds and sweeping away debris before walking the path and having a seat on the bench to contemplate the riddles of my existence. Once I'm done, I go into the library, swap out or renew my books and go home.

Today, I had a haircut appointment so I gave up and drove so I could at least renew the DVD of Rashomon that I still have yet to watch. But I did get some time with the labyrinth, and that felt good.

Once my hair had been chemically enhanced, trimmed and styled to a perfection it only sees the day I get my hair cut and never knows again until I return, I gave my friend Lake a call and asked her if she was still up for going to the High Museum. She was, but she was in mid-artwork from the sound of it, so I stopped for lunch at Fat Matt's to give her time to clean up.

Lake's schedule was such that we only had enough time to check out the main exhibit, which is an interesting sort of walk through modern art history which pauses to look at five different years--1913, 1929, 1950, 1961 and 1988. (They also commissioned a few new works so they claim to have added 2013 to the bunch. Okay.) I was able to spot the Matisse from across the room, though I was a wee bit disappointed that it was a 1913 Matisse and not a 1950 one. (If I go back and look again, I'll check, but I didn't seem to see any artists crop up in more than one year, which is a shame because the continuity and contrast between say, 1913 Picasso and 1961 Picasso would have been fascinating.)

The room before the gift shop had one of the commissioned installations--an intricate and slightly dreamlike network of shelves with odd objects and lights and plants. I got there first and waited for Lake to catch up and watched her as she looked it over.

"It looks like my studio," she said.

I convulsed with suppressed laughter--if I'd laughed as loudly as I'd wanted to, I would have frightened half the gallery--and said "Yes! Exactly!"

I carted Lake home so she would have time to get ready for a housewarming party she'd been invited to. I opted to head home and collapse for a bit.

Sunday was the O'Shea Family Christmas Cookie Party, whereby my mother shares the bounty of the thousand-odd cookies she bakes every Christmas season. Various friends, relatives and neighbors dropped by at my parents' house and it was rather nice to tell them "I have a job now" instead of "yeah, still looking."

Work is work--I'm still floundering a bit at times but getting better at figuring things out. I've started to pick back up on things I used to do that, hey, just because I have a job doesn't mean I can't still do them.

Like, for example, writing here.

Today I took pleasure in tidying up loose financial ends.

Today I learned that the Data Collection section of Form I-129 used to need a signature. (Wow, I bet you found that fascinating.)