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Pre-Vacation

Proving that I am completely insane, I am in Quebec City at the moment, having snuck up here for a wood engineering conference. I attended a previous edition of this biennial conference in Portland in 2006, and it has proved to be one of the most useful conferences I have attended. For various reasons, there was no way I was going to get to Japan, Italy or New Zealand for the subsequent three conferences. Quebec, I can get to fairly easily, especially since I had some expiring USAir miles to cash in. (And some leftover Canadian $$ from FilKONtario). So here we are.

Flew up on Saturday so I could catch a pre-conference tour yesterday of several innovative wood structures in the Quebec City area, including a soccer stadium and two other buildings at University of Laval (which ironically I know of primarily for its success in ASCE's Concrete Canoe races), the offices of a fiber-optics company (complete with beach volleyball pitch out front - gotta love the computer industry), and a wood research center. Today was the one day of presentations I get to see (the rest I'll have to read) and a chance to chat with exhibitors, plus a reception earlier tonight at the Musee de la Civilisation. I've made a number of good contacts while I've been up here.

Tomorrow I fly home, then it's a whirlwind of packing, rehearsing, making Chordpro files, and otherwise getting ready for Worldcon!

Loncon Schedule

Well, this is certainly one of the more interesting mix of programs I've been scheduled for at a con. Especially since they have me moderating two non-filk programs. Here's where to catch me:

Concert: Gary Ehrlich

Friday 17:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Speculative Design

Sunday 12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Assuming a new technology, like synthetic biology, works, what products might come out of it? Speculative design is both a new artistic approach and a way of looking at problems and issues in a different way.

Gary Ehrlich (M), Nic Clear, Scott Lefton, Paul Graham Raven

Inhabiting Imagined Londons: Architecture and SF

Sunday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)

Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation followed by a joint 30 minute discussion with the audience.

Jarrad Keyes, "‘Welcome to the Virtual City’: J.G. Ballard’s Reconceptualization of London"
Amy Butt, "At Home in the High Rise: Dystopia as Architectural Critique"
Chris Pak "Terraforming and the City"

Gary Ehrlich (M), Dr. Jarrad Keyes, Amy Butt, Chris Pak

Space Colonies - The ultimate gated communities or sink estates?

Monday 12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Colonies in space are often depicted either as the ultimate in gilded excess or as complete sinkholes of economic and social deprivation - even within the same structure? Can this happen? How? Under what types of political-socio-economic conditions can these develop, and how quickly? Is a happy medium possible?

Tony Keen (M), Gary Ehrlich, Nick Kanas M.D., Virginia Preston, John K St Strickland

Sessions like the academic track one I've moderated professionally, so I'm not too worried about that one. The Speculative Design panel could be interesting. My engineering experience is fairly conventional, even when it comes to the parts of my job that touch on research or (occasionally) product development. I need to do a bit of research this week (or over the weekend) for that one.

And, to answer a question a few folks have asked me, we are not at this moment officially attending Shamrokon. However, we are going to Dublin to spend a couple of days sightseeing. I will give y'all one guess as to which hotel we are in fact staying in. And which days... ;-)

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Ten Years

Ten years ago today, the_sheryl and I stood beneath the huppah, amongst our family and friends, and dedicated ourselves to each other.

We're planning to mark the occasion by going to Fogo de Chao for MEAT! ON! SKEWERS! Followed by a showing of "Guardians of the Galaxy", because nothing says "celebration of love" like a CRAZY GUN-TOTING RACCOON.

What's our secret? I don't know. Perhaps we simply don't require much out of life to make us content and happy. Just things like a nice dinner and a good comic-book movie. And the occasional con. (Like Shore Leave, which we are day-tripping tomorrow.)

I love you, my dear! ::smooch::

(And while we're at it, early happy 10th anniversary wishes to autographedcat and kitanzi.)

Confluence 2014

Home from Confluence. As usual, we spent most of the weekend in the filk room listening to concerts or hanging out in Open Filk. Of course we stopped by Larry Smith's table to stock up on books. I am now just one book short of completely obscuring the bottom row of one of the_sheryl's earring racks with my to-be-read piles.

Saw concerts by Copy Red Leader, Moss Bliss, Wax Chaotic, Craig Stanfill, Scott Snyder, decadentdave, Ookla the Mok, Pete Grubbs, Glen Raphael and filkertom, many accompanied by the signing of judifilksign. Another fine program from mrgoodwraith.

Confluence apparently marked Pete's retirement from gigging and running Confluence sound. He went out with a two hour-plus set of stories, songs and spoken-word pieces that included guest appearances by Tom, Dave, Pete's son Cecil, and others. We were treated to a sampling of the Tom and Pete show that has been a fixture of Confusion for many years.

Made a brief stop at the Dorsai party, where I helped John Hall remember the words to "When I Was A Boy".

Had to explain to Pete why Sheryl and I were falling off our chairs laughing when he played "Wagon Wheel" during his concert. I swear if I hear that song one more time this year it's gonna get filked!

Housefilk Reminders and Future Plans

I'm overdue (no surprise) for posting a reminder that we have a pair of Baltimore-area housefilks on the next two Saturdays. On July 5th Craig Stanfill hosts in Severna Park; on July 12th Michael O'Connor hosts in Cockeysville. Message or e-mail me for more information.

Also a good time to remind the locals (and interested out-of-town folks) that we have a Google Group for DC-Baltimore housefilk announcements at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/dc-balt-housefilk-list. You can go to the link to join, or e-mail me and I can add you.

In addition to the two offers of hosting, I have had a number of other discussions regarding DC-Baltimore area housefilks since Balticon. It's been quite some time since we last tried regularly-scheduled events. The previous attempt petered out due to low attendance and lack of hosts. However, we are at a point where a significant number of potential attendees have either moved into the area or gotten involved in filk; probably more than we ever averaged in attendance last time. The number of potential hosts has also increased. Also, BSFS has expressed interest in having a filk circle as a regularly-scheduled clubhouse event.

So all that leads to three questions:
(1) Do folks want to establish a regular schedule of DC-Baltimore housefilks?
(2) What is an ideal frequency? Monthly? Bi-monthly? Quarterly?
(3) And, depending on the frequency, how often should we ask BSFS to host?

Your thoughts?

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Housefilk - July 5th - Severna Park, MD

My friends, for the first time in a long time, we have a housefilk that's not at Stately Ehrlich Manor! Craig Stanfill, who some of you know from MASSFILC and/or the MSU Tolkien Society, has joined the burgeoning ranks of filkers in the Balto/Wash corridor and will be hosting a housefilk on July 5th at his new place in Severna Park, from 7pm until exhaustion sets in.

The usual things apply - feel free to bring munchies or beverages, listeners are welcome. AFAIK there are no canine or feline residents.

For details, directions, or Craig's contact info, message me or send me an e-mail. (Address is this LJ's name at verizon.net.)

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2014 Bookpost #4

And here we are mostly back on track with the May books. I'm cheating somewhat by counting Mistborn which I actually finished June 2nd, but the list would have been embarrassingly short otherwise.

25. The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi
26. Indexing, Seanan McGuire
27. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (*)
28. Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson

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Balticon 2014

Home from Balticon, busy doing laundry and catching up on a few things off the TiVO.

It was a good convention. While perhaps an unorthodox choice of Music GOH, Ken Anders did well. He sang us a mix of traditional ballads (including several bawdy ballads), Broadway tunes, and Renaissance Festival-inspired parodies. He made good contributions to panels, was a Masquerade judge, and did hang out with us in open filk.

Concerts included Sarah Pinsker, Darren Zieger (great to hear from again, it's been a while), Devo Spice, batyatoon (who I played stunt guitarist for on a pair of songs) and a reduced version of the Boogie Knights (Dave, John and Lynn couldn't make the con). Decent open filking, with a couple of promising new voices.

Several nice memorials for Marty Gear, including a couple of video tributes to open the newly-dubbed Marty Gear Memorial Masquerade. I performed "Costumer" twice, once during the main memorial on Sunday afternoon and again during the memorial filk circle I hosted this afternoon.

Best moment of the con: During the Saturday night filk, seishonagon and a friend premiered a new Barrayar song, about Kareen. I grabbed the next turn and asked, "Banquet or Council of Counts?" The latter won. So I sang "In the Council". I broke Irina. Completely. Even worse than I did with "Valancy's Gift" a few years back. I think her jaw left a dent in the Garden Room floor.

Second best moment of the con: Late Sunday night/Monday morning, someone came into the filk wearing a Gizmonics Institute jumpsuit and carrying a Tom Servo. We were doing Bardic. He was going to pass, but I asked if I could take his turn for him. He agreed. I played "The Love Theme from Mystery Science Theater 3000" (i.e. the theme song we all know and love), which someone had posted to RATMM years ago. Hey, when duty calls, I respond (*grin*).

Meanwhile, no rest for the weary. Off to Chicago on business for a couple of days, then the Washington Folk Festival next weekend. (Yay! Free music!) Then a bit of quiet until Contata.

Heather and Ben in Maryland, May 16th

Been rather behind on posting this, but then, as I keep saying, I've been busy.

Anyway, Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps will be setting down in Burtonsville, MD for a house concert on Friday, May 16th. Information can be found at this Facebook page or at this Google+ page. (Note I believe you have to add/follow the G+ page first.) Or e-mail/message me and I can pass your info along to the hosts.

I know some of my local readers will already be en route to Central Massachusetts, but anyone who's around, stop on by for some great music!

2014 Bookpost #3

Yeah, we lost a month there. Preparing to guest a con will do that. Here's my list of reads for March and April, combined.

14. The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker
15. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
16. Mind MGMT, Vol. 1, Matt Kindt (graphic novel)
17. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (*)
18. Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson
19. Half-Off Ragnarok, Seanan McGuire
20. Future Boston, David Alexander Smith, ed.
21. Cold Days, Jim Butcher
22. Someone, Alice McDermott (*)
23. After the Golden Age, Carrie Vaughn
24. Apocalypse to Go, Katharine Kerr

(*) denotes books read for $EMPLOYER's book club.

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Apr. 28th, 2014

Safely home from an EPIC FilKONtario! Have done our best to placate the kitties. Our bed calls to us, we will answer shortly.

Lots of details after I get some sleep. However, just to address one rumor you may already have heard...yes, I really did have the cojones to sing most of "The Spirit of Radio" FROM A CANADIAN STAGE. 8-)

20 Years Ago...

Twenty years ago today I was awakened by a 7:30am phone call from my mom informing me my grandmother had died of a heart attack the previous evening.

At the time, I was in a hotel room at the Regal Constellation just outside of Toronto, attending FilKONtario 4. I had been attracted by the opportunity to see Kathy Mar, who I'd previously met at ConFrancisco, and to meet for the first time several denizens of the Filk Category on GEnie's Science Fiction Round Table. With a chance to schedule a few days between the end of a long-term temporary desktop publishing job and the start of a permanent structural engineering position, I'd rounded up Sue Cochran, Steve Brinich and Bill Wells and driven north to the wilds of Mississauga. (With a sleepover at Eli Goldberg's house in Pittsburgh.)

So, having enjoyed a Friday afternoon and evening of introductions, fun and music, I now found myself turning to my new friends. In particular, MEW (who I'd actually met at the first Conterpoint) and Judith Hayman provided shoulders to cry on and advice on making the decision to stay, while folks like Urban Tapestry, Andrea Dale, and Dave Clement provided friendship and fine music to carry me through the weekend.

By the time Sue, Steve, Bill and I rolled back down the QEW on Sunday evening, FilKONtario and the Southern Ontario filkers had established themselves for me as the models of what a filk convention and filk community should be.

I've been back every year since. FilKONtario's one of the most eagerly anticipated cons on my schedule, and the list of memorable moments grows with every visit. (And then there was TorCon III...)

And in just over a week, I'll be joining friends both old and new for another weekend of fun, music and memories!

2014 Bookpost #2

A bit behind (was hoping for the first week of March), but not too bad. Note that 4 of the 5 books below are SF/fantasy novels published in 2013. Hmm, is somebody cramming in preparation for making Hugo nominations?

9. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
10. Love Minus Eighty, Will McIntosh
11. As the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini (*)
12. Replica, Jenna Black
13. Empire State, Adam Christopher

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Boskone 51 Conrep

This year's Boskone was fun, but very busy.

I was on four program items, all perfectly timed to make meals interesting. First up was the "Rising Tides" panel on Friday evening. Inspired by FEMA projections that show sea level rise will inundate most downtown Boston, the panel featured Joan Sloncewski, Tom Easton, Vince Docherty and me discussing how science fiction writers might work such a future into their stories. The panel stuck to the technical mostly, rather than the sociological/political, so I was fairly able to hold my own (as the panel's resident structural engineer).

Saturday I started off sharing a noon concert block with madfilkentist. My namesake's concert was enjoyable, and included fun songs like "The Filking Zombie Song" (performed with an assist from ladymondegreen) and "Jalapeno", a parody of "Hallelujah" inspired by a certain Urban Tapestry classic. Attendance (for both of us) was decent for a lunchtime slot. My set seemed to go well despite my not being entirely warmed up (my having eschewed my usual routine to run over to the Seaport Hotel to grab sandwiches, and of course listen to Gary.) I could tell the difference, but folks seemed to enjoy themselves anyway. My setlist was:

"Racin' High, Racin' Free" (words & music mine)
"Vor Party" (words mine, music billroper)
"Costumer" (words mine, music Heather Dale & Ben Deschamps)
"Valancy's Gift" (words & music mine)
"Missing Part" (words & music seanan_mcguire)
"Sedona" (words & music mine)

Later in the evening I was on the "Fantasy and the Sea Shanty" panel, which succeeded despite losing two of its original panelists to sickness and blizzard. But, we found a local shanty singer to join myself and Edie Stern and pulled off a nice round-robin. I contributed "Eddystone Light", "Brendan's Faire Isle" and "Maiden and the Selkie". hms42 wants to steal the idea for Philcon, a clear sign of a successful panel. (Heck, I should steal the idea for the FSGW Getaway...)

After a quick dinner in the Birch Bar, I joined ccrazy and ladymondegreen for a panel on running filk conventions. We talked about finding hotels, picking guests, and assembling a committee, among other topics. Of course, most of the audience were veterans of NEFilk concoms. Plus runnerwolf for the Conflikt perspective.

Boskone traditionally has a strong filk program, but this year was particularly exceptional. Of course, billroper did a fine job as Featured Filker. Also on the bill (besides Gary and me) were Sassafrass, quadrivium, ladymondegreen and batyatoon, and talis_kimberley. Which of course meant a full weekend of awesome concerts as well as some fine open filk. Interestingly, despite all of the additional talent lurking about, the open filks were pretty friendly and I was generally able to get songs in edgewise when I wanted.

With four programs of my own plus all of the concerts occupying the schedule, I only managed to catch two of seanan_mcguire's events (plus the Friday Night Galleria event). We made the "Bring Back My Favorite TV Show" panel on Friday and her Q&A with Elizabeth Bear on Saturday. The Q&A was great fun, including a patented Seanan discourse on pandemics (with references to "Black Death") and the story of The Great Tarantula Migration. I did snag a copy of her new NESFA Press collection "Letters to the Pumpkin King".

Travel both directions was uneventful, other than a bumpy approach and landing to Logan. Thanks to JetBlue and its free DirecTV, we were able to keep an eye on the Olympics. On the flight up, that meant we got to catch parts of the Men's Long Program that we'd otherwise have missed. Also, I was able to get my guitar returned at the gate rather than its having to brave the luggage conveyors.

Photos from the weekend here.

And More Boskone

Since the rest of my friends are posting their schedules for the upcoming awesomeness that is Boskone:

Rising Tides, Friday 18:00 - 18:50. FEMA is releasing floodplain data soon. Interestingly, looks like most of Boston will be underwater if climate change continues. This presents some splashy possibilities for scientists and authors writing in the "near future" space. Vincent Docherty (M), Tom Easton, Gary Ehrlich, Joan Slonczewski.

Concert: McGath/Ehrlich, Saturday 12:00 - 12:50. Double the Garys! Double the fun!

Fantasy and the Sea Chantey, Saturday 17:00 - 17:50. Songs of the sea have long included the stuff of fantasy: ghosts, mermaids, and other creatures of the "vasty deep." Share discussions and performances of some of these nearly forgotten gems of the ocean. Edie Stern, Gary Ehrlich, Jordin T. Kare, Faye Ringel.

So You Want to Run a Filk Convention?, Saturday 19:00 - 19:50. As with any other type of fannish activity, a filk convention has its own ins and outs. What are things that you need to look for? What special considerations are there? Ellen Kranzer (M), Merav Hoffman, Gary Ehrlich.

As I've noted a few other places, I'm not exactly sure when I'm going to eat! (Well, except for a nice Valentine's dinner at Salvatore's, which I've made a reservation for.) Other than that, it should be a blast!

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2014 Bookpost #1

And here we are right on schedule with the first book post of the year!

1. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon, Matt Fraction, David Aja, & Javier Pulido
2. We Both Go Down, Seanan McGuire (novelette)
3. Red Planet Blues, Robert Sawyer
4. Abaddon's Gate, James S. A. Corey
5. Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante (*)
6. Transcendental, James Gunn
7. A Cup of Joe, Anita Ensal (novella)
8. Fiddlehead, Cherie Priest

And the return of commentary!Collapse )

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Welcome, 2014

And another year begins. The weather was pleasant enough for us to ring in the new year at First Night Alexandria, joined by Mark Silverdragon (WINOLJ) and his wife Barbara. I suggested Daniel O'Connell's Restaurant and Bar for dinner since previous experience has suggested it's one of the more reliably decent places cuisine-wise on (or near) King Street that also isn't (a) expensive and (b) require a reservation to get seated in a timely fashion. This plan again worked well.

Sheryl and I worked through our usual progression of venues and acts: Al Pettaway & Amy White followed by The Stairwells at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, then The Grandsons and Bill Kirchen at the Torpedo Factory. Mark and Barbara stayed with us for Al & Amy, then headed off to catch Robin Bullock, rejoining us at the Torpedo Factory. Stopped in at the Marketplace Cafe (new since NYE 2013) for coffee, hot chocolate and snacks just before midnight and ended up watching the fireworks from inside. Hey, it was warm, and slightly less crowded than the waterfront itself.

Today was a relatively lazy day. Had lunch out at Moby Dick's and dinner at Busara with thelongshot and katrinb so we could pass along holiday presents. Got in some guitar practice (needed, with both an Open Sing and GAFilk fast approaching) and watched some of the Rose Bowl. (The Rose Parade itself is on the DVR for later viewing.)

Meanwhile, with 2014 now arrived, it occurs to me I have been greatly remiss in plugging two important events happening this year. New Year's Day seems like a good opportunity to finally rectify that.

In April we have FilKONtario 24, for which I am the Official Filk Waif. I get to share the bill with Guest of Honour S.J. Tucker and Interfilk Guest Piers Cawley. If you've been following my LJ for more than a year, you know I <3 <3 <3 FilKONtario and am hugely honoured to be their Filk Waif. I've already set two evil plots in motion for my concert set. There are more pending.

Note this will be the 20th anniversary of my first trip north of the border.

In June the Northeast Filk Music Convention returns to the New York area as Contata 7/NEFilk 24. My fellow cat-herder and lovely wife Sheryl is the Listener Guest, rounding out a cracking lineup featuring Amy McNally and David Perry as Guests of Honor, T.J. and Mitchell Burnside-Clapp as Toastmasters, and Peter Alway as Interfilk Guest. It should be epic!

2013 in Review

Overall, 2013 was a good year for us.

The significant downer, of course, was Marty Gear's passing in mid-July. A huge loss for the local fan community as well as costuming fandom at large.

This was the year the stars aligned and we finally made it out for Conflikt, which emphatically staked its claim to a spot on my list of BEST! CONS! EVER! Thank yous go out to the many folks responsible for making it such a wonderful weekend, including mysticfig and kaath9 for general awesomeness, cflute for backup on "Sedona", Mr. Wiley and his Fork-estra for the shtick-up on "Beware the Sinister Salad", Team Esty for a nice turn as Interfilk guests, and the concom for throwing a great party.

And then there was Balticon. OMG SASSAFRASS!! The spectacular, ballroom-filling, multiple-ovation-earning premiere of Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok has certainly earned a place in history as one of the Top Fannish Events of 2013. Need I point out it's eligible for the Best Dramatic Presentation-Long Form Hugo? I'm just sayin'. 8-)

If that wasn't enough to whet everyone's musical whistles in these parts, we threw a Conterpoint a few weeks later. I'm still convinced the rehearsal for admnaismith's Toastmaster concert was even more fun than the actual concert. Not that the concert didn't rock itself. Overall attendance was lighter than I'd hoped, but I think guests and members both had fun.

(Making a note here: agreeing to sing emotional songs in major concerts on Sunday afternoons of cons is a REALLY BAD IDEA AND WILL END IN TEARS.)

We were originally a bit skeptical how the family trip to England and France in August to celebrate Sheryl's parents' 50th anniversary would turn out. Things largely worked out and everyone had a good time. I especially enjoyed the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and the Musee de la Musique in Paris. And the side trip to the Who Store (*grin*).

Said goodbye to Darkover and Clam Chowder in our last convention of the year. Like the Doctor, Darkover has regenerated into Chessiecon. Looking forward to seeing filkertom as Chessiecon's first Music GOH.

Professionally had a good year too, earning a promotion (though I still insist I'm too young to be "Senior" anything) and a bonus.

We'll be heading off to First Night Alexandria shortly. So, have a Happy New Year everyone, and best wishes to all for a great 2014!

2013 Bookpost

Well, my ambitions for 2013 book posts collapsed in the wake of a busy January, work commitments, convention planning, general laziness, and embarrassment at admitting how far behind I'd fallen. (At least until now, in the latter case.) So, you get one big list of my major reading for the year.

At least I'm nice enough to cut-tag the listCollapse )

I think there's a record number of graphic novels for me in that list. Of course, reading all of Locke & Key including the Hugo-nominated Volume 5 and the final stories (thank you Comixology) helps. You may also note that little Pratchett run, which was me desperately trying to make a dent in the alarmingly large number of Discworld novels I haven't read prior to heading off to the Baltimore NADWCon.

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Lions and Hobbits and Food, Oh My

As the_sheryl and I enjoy a lazy final weekend of 2013, I realize it's time for another update on our recent exploits.

As usual we took advantage of the holiday to visit Sheryl's parents at their winter home in Florida. This year's trip was a bit more interesting than previous excursions. With Christmas on a Wednesday we added a day to our typical four-day trip. Plus, Sheryl's mom is recovering from another bout of cellulitis in her legs and was even less mobile than usual. So, other than going out for dinner (and one brunch) we generally didn't stray too far from their condo.

We did get up to Lion Country Safari, the main part of which is seen by car. Not one to stop and smell the roses, Sheryl's dad rolled through the driven part at about twice the recommended speed limit. That made taking pictures challenging, but I did get some decent ones. A friend had loaned Sheryl's parents a wheelchair, which made traversing the walkable portion much easier.

Sheryl and I did take advantage of the movie theater across the street from her parents' community to catch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We enjoyed it, though I do think I agree with the folks complaining that the additions linking The Hobbit more closely with LOTR are not necessarily positive ones.

Of course, we ate our way across South Florida, including Mamma Mia's and the Kingdom Buffet (thus fulfilling the mitzvah "Thou shalt partake of Chinese food on Christmas Eve"). Meaning I need to spend some quality time with my treadmill unless I want to buy several new pairs of jeans!

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New Home Needed for Canadian Kitties!

Adding to dglenn's signal-boosting, since I know I have a bunch of readers in the target area.

A friend of realinterrobang who has just gone into hospice care is seeking a home in the southern Ontario/Michigan/Ohio/upstate New York area for two foster kittens. The kittens are healthy but have not yet been neutered. Follow the link for details, PM realinterrobang if you can help!

Oh, and f*** cancer.

Well That Was Unexpected

There are benefits to living in a metropolitan area that is more capable of dealing with an extraterrestrial invasion force than a fair-to-middling amount of snow. Which is how I unexpectedly wound up with a snow day for my birthday. Whoever sent the weather, thanks! 8-)

So it has been a pleasantly relaxing day which included watching a few things on the DVR (Orphan Black, Tomorrow People, and Once Upon a Time) and dinner at the American Tap Room location in Rockville Town Center. And opening a couple of prezzies, of course. (Boooooks!)

The Nields/Kennedys concert on Friday and the Keelaghan concert on Saturday both were good. The Nields included "This Town Is Wrong" in their set, which was the one song I was really hoping they'd do. Most of the Kennedys set was newer material I didn't recognize (it having been a while since we saw them), but was still good. The two duos teamed up at the end for the Nields' "Easy People" and the Kennedys' "Stand".

Keelaghan is in the middle of celebrating 25 years of making music. His newest CD is a retrospective that comes with a DVD of stories about/behind the 18 songs selected. His fingers seems to have recovered from the nerve issues he was having a few years ago and he's back to his usual intricate runs and transitions. Songs played included "Hillcrest Mine", "Cold Missouri Water", "Mirabeau Bridge", and "Number 37".

Despite the crappy weather, we actually got a decent turnout for the housefilk on Sunday, including mrgoodwraith, aurelia_star, and katrinb and thelongshot. Team Zeve-Andrews (who also ventured into the wilds of Mount Vernon for the Keelaghan show) turned up as most folks were leaving to beat the freezing rain (and just after we'd demolished a pair of pizzas), but hung around for a good chat. I believe a fun time was had for all.

Hope everyone had a good weekend and wasn't too inconvenienced by the snow!

Housefilk Reminder - Next Sunday!

Posting from Darkover, where the last lingering notes of Clam Chowder's final concert hang in the hallways.

Just a reminder that my traditional birthday housefilk will be next Sunday, December 8th, from 2-8pm. Details at the link.

I know it's a busy time of year for folks, but if you're in the area, stop by!

Concerts, Concerts Everywhere

Up until November, we'd somehow only managed to attend a handful of folk concerts over the course of the year. Suddenly, our calendar is full of them.

It started in mid-months with the Berrymans, about which I've already posted. We followed that up a few days later with the Austin Lounge Lizards at the Barns of Wolf Trap. This was the Lizards' first appearance in the DC area since long-time banjo/pedal steel player Tom Pittman retired to Asheville, NC in 2011.

The concert was good, and there were clearly a number of virgins victims new Lizard listeners in the audience. Though, I will confess I didn't enjoy some of the new songs as much as classics and favorites like "Old Blevins", "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs", "Stupid Texas Song" and "The Drugs I Need". But I still picked up their new CD "Home and Deranged" anyway. I was glad to see they tweaked and handed off "Jesus Loves Me (But He Can't Stand You)", long a Pittman standard (and another favorite of mine), to Hank Card.

Meanwhile, the concerts keep on coming. Monday night we'll be playing hooky from 3LF and dropping in on the IMT Concert Series to see Jim Malcolm. Just so I can say "It's all meltatum's fault we're here" and watch his reaction (*evil grin*).

Moving down the calendar from there, we have the Kennedys/Nields double bill and the James Keelaghan shows on the Friday and Saturday of my birthday weekend (which is why the housefilk is Sunday). Followed one Sunday later by the Christine Lavin and Uncle Bonsai 'Just One Angel' show at the Birchmere. They came through last December but we were out of town; this time we'll be here.

With that, it's time to head out for "Catching Fire". Which is not a concert...

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Just a Bit Powerless

The power supply on my aging Dell desktop appears to have given up the ghost. Luckily, I have a working HP notebook computer and an Asus tablet, and backed up most of my important data to an external drive, so this is not a huge crisis. Since I know just enough about hardware to be dangerous, I've gone ahead and ordered a replacement power supply.

The one key thing I did not back up however was my Thunderbird inbox and saved e-mail. So if you've e-mailed me at my Verizon accounts and haven't gotten a reply yet, if you could e-mail me again it would be much appreciated.

(I do have my contacts; I had a plug-in that synchronizes my Gmail contacts and Thunderbird address book. Unless Google goes out of business in the next week or two, I should be OK there...)

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