Rock star

I didn’t post yesterday, but I had a very good reason, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason: I was at a really, super good, fanTAStic show in Portland last night, and most of our day and night was spent working, driving, dancing and singing, and then driving again, leaving no room for blogging.

Sorry, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason.  But I’m here today, and I’m going to tell you all about it!

Last night was a perfect example of “Hey, we don’t have any responsibilities except work so we should take this opportunity.  No excuses.”  (We sometimes have to remind ourselves.)

I don’t even know what order to tell this in.  Chronological?  Best to worst?  How about I start with “what am I talking about” and “how did this come about”, huh?

What I am Talking About:

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played a club in Portland last night (Tuesday night) and WE WENT.  We missed him last time he was in Portland – by the time we found out about the show, it was sold out.

How This Came About:

It was a very lucky stroke of wonderful timing.  I follow this actor we like, Timothy Omundson, on Twitter, and on Sunday, he tweeted about seeing Frank Turner in LA.  That made me think hey, if he’s on tour, maybe he’s coming near us, so I checked and OHMYGOD HE’S COMING TO PORTLAND IN TWO DAYS, followed by OHMYGOD TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AND WOW THEY’RE CHEAP!  Clearly, I bought the tickets.  (Our struggle with “but it’s in Portland and it’ll be a really late night and then we’ll have to get up really early and work the next day” was short-lived.)

Side note: I tweeted at Timothy Omundson about it (as a reply to his tweet) and he responded!  Squee!

Okay, now I’m going with best to worst:

  • BEST – In the middle of a song, the second opening act (which was very good – more coming up) asked the crowd for a guitarist and they picked John, largely due our proximity to the stage and my nutso jumping and pointing.  It also helped that he’s tall.  So John, our very own John, went up on stage with a touring band during a real rock show, and played for a minute or so with the band.  It was so great and I HAVE VIDEO.  I did my best to hold the camera still.  Please forgive my screaming at 1:27 and 2:01.  Yes, the singer is talking about Betsy DeVos.

  • Frank Turner was freakin’ amazing – there was screaming and dancing and singing along and they played all of my favorite songs of theirs minus one and I will go to his shows any time he tours anywhere near us.
  • The second opening act was this Canadian band, The Arkells, who are our awesome new band to love (and emulate because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).  That’s who pulled John on stage, and they were a really great surprise.
  • The first opening act was this acoustic singer-songwriter guy from England, Will Varley – funny jokes, good songs, and we bought all his CDs after the show (because we’re suddenly very conscious of supporting smaller acts now that, oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
  • There was crowd-surfing!  It was limited, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show with crowd-surfing before.  Frank Turner met a barista earlier in the day, and she came to the show, so he pulled her on stage and got her to crowd-surf with specific directions to the crowd.  We had to get her to the back so she could high-five the person running the merchandise table, detour to the bar, and then come back along the other side to the stage.  We helped her get back on the stage at the end.  And then, during one of the encore songs, Frank crowd-surfed himself, WHILE SINGING, and we helped.  He was sweaty.  But I touched sweaty Frank Turner!
  • Our drive to Portland was fun on its own.  We binged Frank Turner songs and brainstormed ideas for John’s band (because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
  • Late as it was (we hit the road at midnight), the drive home was kinda fun, too.  We stuck to the decades stations on Sirius and had a sing-along to stay awake.
  • We ate at a southern BBQ place for dinner before the show which was…not bad.  Total hipster restaurant, from the menu to the diners.  At one table, there was a bearded guy wearing a black button down shirt and a matching black wool beanie on his head.  At the very next table, there was a bearded guy wearing a gray button down shirt and a matching gray wool beanie on his head.  I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  The second guy had a toddler wearing a lumberjack flannel shirt.
  • WORST: Getting up this morning was not easy.  I got 4, maybe 4 and a half hours of sleep before I had to get up and work.  John didn’t have any morning meetings, so he slept longer.

There’s probably more, but I think I’m out of words.  For now.  Until tomorrow!  I hope.  If I have time.  Because there’s more cool stuff happening tomorrow.

Huh. I can tell the exhaustion is setting in ’cause I can’t seem to stop.  Stop.  STOP.

Not it

No jury duty today!  On the one hand, I’m happy because I don’t have to disrupt my life for it.  (Where “disrupt” means what?  Not work for the day?  I probably could have handled that.)  On the other hand, I’ve never done it, and I might enjoy it.  I’ve never even gone to the courthouse to possibly get chosen for one.  I’ve only been summoned twice, and both times I’ve found out the night before that I don’t have to go.  Maybe next time.  I do think it’s a little weird that I got one summons in VA over the course of 12 years and then got my OR summons in less than a year.

I did decide to put my “I can’t focus on work” minutes to learning ukulele chords instead of playing sudoku online.  If I just do that for a few minutes every day, I might actually be able to play a song without fumbling through chord changes one of these days.  I will consider that a major accomplishment.  The next step will be singing and playing at the same time (!).

Doing it during the work day, using time I wasn’t working anyway (everyone needs a break!), makes me happy.  Banjos might sound happier than ukuleles, but I think it’s a close race.


I don’t like the word “jamming”.  I think it’s dumb when it refers to music.  I like the concept just fine, but the word itself makes me uncomfortable.  More when I use it than when others do, though. I feel like an imposter.  Plus, it makes me think of making jam, and since that has NOTHING to do with music, the juxtaposition bothers me.  I guess.  Or something that makes more (or less) sense.  Whatever.

That’s how I take a stand on something.

I’m thinking about it (and being made uncomfortable by the word) because the action is what’s happening in my basement right now.  It’s just Will and John, and they sound good, and I like the stuff they’re coming up with.  I’m happy to have it going on, but I would appreciate it someone would come up with a better word for it.  Get on that, someone, would you?

Oh, weirdly, I’m totally okay with the jamming when it refers to blocking electronics.

The more you know.

Good night, Night Vale. Good night.

We saw a Night Vale live show in Portland last night (Thursday night), and it was GREAT.  There were a ton of people (the show was sold out), some dressed up (I saw Carlos the Scientist a couple of times, at least four glow clouds, and a ton of Night Vale t-shirts), most not, almost all fans of the show.  John’s not crazy about it – he listened to a couple of episodes and didn’t like the narrator’s voice, which I think was also Corey’s problem with it – and the couple sitting next to it were walking in blind, too.  It seems like a strange show to go to cold, but whatever.  It was a lot of fun to see live.  I’d go again if the opportunity arose.



The show always travels with a musician (or a band), and for our show, they had Erin McKeown, who I had only heard of because she performed the weather on the most recent episode of the show.  I really liked that song, and I really liked the others she played.  She went on first, played 6-8 songs, then the show started, and then she played the song from that last podcast episode as the weather for the show.  During the show, she played alone (electric guitar only), but the recording I’ve heard it has a full band, and it’s awesome.  You know what?  You can hear it for yourself.

New obsession

Have you heard Frank Turner?  I very much like his music a lot. A lot a lot. John has liked him for a while, but the other day, John played THIS for me, and I can’t get enough.

And THEN he played this one:

So I downloaded a couple of albums and discovered THIS one, that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. Give the beginning a pass – trust me.

And one of John’s favorites (and the first one he ever played me, a couple of years ago):

These are just the best from the two albums I’ve been listening to (plus one song – that first one isn’t on those two albums).  I need the other albums.

So we found out he’s going to be playing Portland on July 31st, we got all excited, and then – THE #$&^% SHOW IS SOLD OUT.

Oh, well.

My doom

It is my fate in life to always have songs I don’t really know stuck in my head.  It’s always the songs that I know one line of, or if I’m lucky, maybe the whole chorus.  Right now, it’s “Do you know the way to San Jose? La la la-la la la, la-la la-la, la-la la-la,” followed immediately by “Do you know the way to San Jose? La la la-la la la, la-la la-la, la-la la-la,” OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Make it stop.  I don’t know the rest of the words, I don’t really want to know the rest of the words, and I just want to read my book about a spaceship captain trying to get her abandoned spaceship back into space without Dionne Warwick’s help.

I should know better

Tip for Future Me: Don’t go out carousing the night Daylight Saving Time starts.  You lose an hour of sleep and it hurts WAY more than it would any other weekend.

Jess and I went out last night.  The plan was to have dinner out, call it an earlyish night, and get up early this morning to meet at her favorite bakery for a light breakfast.  Some of that happened.

We were walking back from dinner (at Level, which was SO good) and it was only 10 something, so we decided to see if anyone was playing the piano at the upstairs piano bar at Middleton’s Tavern.  We didn’t make it upstairs right away, though, because there was a band playing downstairs, and they were really good.  People were dancing, and that’s all the invitation I need, so we joined the crowd and sang and danced.  When the band took a break, the party moved upstairs.  There was a guy on the piano, sort of half-pianist/singer, half-DJ (it was kind of strange), and he was really good and everyone was really happy, so the singing and dancing continued upstairs until he played two songs in a row we didn’t know/didn’t like.  Back downstairs we went, back to the band (who played REALLY good stuff), with more dancing and singing (with the strangers who were following the same upstairs/downstairs patterns as us) right up until the band’s last set ended.  I don’t know if the bar was closing, but it was certainly time for us to close, so we left then and headed home.  It was maybe 1:45 when I walked in the door, and just a few minutes later, it was after 3am because I FORGOT ABOUT THE TIME CHANGE.  Damn it.

Morning came early, but not as early as we’d planned.  I still woke up just before 8am (EDT), feeling better than I had any right to feel, and I decided to suck it up and run over to meet Jess.  She’s right about this bakery – I had a latte (forgot to order decaf) and a sugary delicious bun of some kind.  Yummy.  And then we took a 4-mile walk.

I may not have made great decisions last night, but this morning’s decisions have been okay (and I feel better for them).  And to reward myself (and also get in one last visit before we move), we’re going to Ray’s for dinner.  I am going to have the best steak in the world.  And all the mashed potatoes.  I could demolish some mashed potatoes right now.

Rock lobster!

I’ve got nothing tonight.  Well, not nothing, but I can’t get back to what I had because “Roam” by the B-52s has inexplicably gotten stuck in my head.  (It’s a little difficult not knowing ANY of the verses.)  While I figure out what I thought I had, I’ll share with you.

I can hear the chapel bells chime

Our apartment is directly across the street from the Naval Academy and just a little bit down the block from the Naval Academy chapel, where midshipmen get on the longest wait lists EVER to get married.  I have yet to see a wedding there, but I rarely go on the yard.  My view of the chapel is the back view, pretty much.  But I can hear it!  Bells chime on the quarter hour from 8am to 8pm daily.  Sometimes I can tune them out, sometimes every quarter hour shoves me through the day.  Most of the time I don’t mind them.  What I’m not crazy about are the songs.  At noon every day, after the bells ring the hour, they play “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, and at 6pm every day, they play…something.  I think it varies, and it’s not always recognizable.  Sometimes it’s not even recognizable as a melody.  Tonight, though, it was “Amazing Grace”.  I think.  I’m pretty sure.

The Naval Academy website has a page for the chapel but NOTHING about the bells.  I found a 16-year-old article in the Washington Post about them, so now I know that they’re not rung by people (they’re digitized), I’m right about the Navy Hymn at noon every day, and apparently a hymn is selected at random from a database at 6pm every day.  Although it also says that the organ was going to be hooked up eventually, so maybe eventually came during the last 16 years and some person on the organ is responsible for the 6pm hymns that don’t sound like anything melodic.  I choose to believe that.

We’re about to trade constant bell-ringing for train chugging and whistles.  Which will we prefer?

Misery loves company

I have had this Andy Grammer song in my head for the last several days.  It’s nothing great, but it’s catchy and upbeat and good to sing along to, but oh my god just get out of my head already!  It keeps coming back.  I wouldn’t mind so much except that it reminds me that he ALSO did a HORRIBLE song that I will not name that makes me think of Cotton Eye Joe (the awful dance version – you know which one I’m talking about).  His horrible song and the association to Cotton Eye Joe make me ashamed to kind of like this one.

I am sharing with the hope that sharing will make it leave me alone.  Find a new brain to bother!  (Sorry, all new brains.)

Worth the interruption

I was doing some tedious work this afternoon, so I decided to start the Christmas music.  All was going well for a while – I was working away and occasionally bopping along – until THE song came on my Pandora station.

My work came to an abrupt halt.  Who can work when there’s singing to be done?

I love the Mariah Carey version, too, possibly more, but this is the one that came on and made me realize I HAVEN’T WATCHED LOVE ACTUALLY YET THIS YEAR.

We’ve decided we’re going to Christmas it up in Annapolis before we head to PA for the holiday, so we’ll enjoy the lights and the stores and everything this weekend, but we may have to sneak in a viewing of Love Actually, too. After Return of the Jedi, of course. We have priorities.

Maybe we’ll bring Love Actually to PA…

Colin Hay seems like a sad guy

Last night, John and I went to see Colin Hay at the Birchmere in Alexandria (a bit of a haul for us now, although I guess it always was).  I bought him tickets for his birthday, and when we got there (early) and waited and waited and waited, neither of us were convinced it was worth the drive.  But then the show started.  He was good.  He was really good, and we really enjoyed it, and I want to buy all of his albums and learn all of his songs.  But seriously, so many of them were SO sad!  I cried THREE times.  In between the songs (and in between the bouts of crying), he talked a lot, there was plenty of funny banter, and his accent is a weird combination of Scottish and Australian, so it was fascinating to hear him talk anyway.

Still, I want to hear more of his stuff.  Without the crying.


We are home again!  And contrary to my expectations, I don’t think I’m jet-lagged.  It was about 2am when I fell asleep, and I got up at 8 to start working.  I was tired this morning, but no more than the usual amount after being up so late.  And now I feel fine.  I’m sure you’ll sleep better tonight knowing that I’m not jet-lagged.  You’re welcome.

No excitement on the way home, which was nice.  I still had the middle seat of three on the flight from Portland to Chicago, but the guy on the aisle kept to himself, right up until the plane landed.  He looked over, shook my hand, and said, “It was nice chatting with you.”  Great guy.

Finally tried Dutch Bros. coffee on our way to the airport – that stuff is pretty good.  I’m not sure we did anything else particularly Oregonian…barely even dressed up for Halloween, not that that has anything to do with Oregon, although the people in Will and Christina’s town certainly went all out.  The guy who won the costume contest was dressed as Edward Scissorhands, and the runner-up was David the Gnome (or maybe she was the Travelocity gnome – I don’t think she told us).  There were some Day of the Dead zombies, a hippy, a guy wearing the big yellow construction thing Ripley wears as armor in Aliens, a viking, Thor, and a couple of swing-dancing steampunk fairies who made their very cool metal wings themselves.  John wore a Superman shirt with a cape, and I wore my new TARDIS hoodie.  Not all that Halloween-y, but who cares when you’re really there to see the band?

The band (the Elena Leona Project) played three nights in a row, including Halloween, and they are pretty darn good.  I have video, but I’ve given them to Elena to post on YouTube on her channel if she wants to.  (The sound from my phone is pretty terrible, so she might not.)  I’ll provide links if she does.  John had a great time (and I did, too, at all three gigs), but I think the Halloween one was the most fun.  People danced!  Yay the band!  Details later.  Different post.


Today, when I say overweight, I’m referring to John’s suitcase.  He’s playing superhero, right?  Well, Captain Wammy has a lot of gear, and it all needs to fit in a suitcase to get to Oregon.  He just filled his suitcase and stepped on the scale – so far, it’s under 50 lbs, but I’m not sure it’ll stay that way.  He’s using a suitcase that’s heavier to begin with, but that’s because it’s also sturdier.  It would suck if his stuff got damaged because something gigantic smashed one of the flimsier suitcases.  I have a feeling my suitcase is going to get filled with various electronic gadgets.

Oh, I’m a sidekick!  Captain Wammy and The Uke, appearing in the nick of time to keep bands from having to cancel gigs at the last minute!

Other sidekick names (I’m trying them out in my head, like “Captain Wammy and….”, even though I don’t think John would be pleased with Captain Wammy.  Greg is hilarious, though, and I like it.):

  • The Voice
  • The Whisper
  • The Diva
  • Strum
  • Hum
  • Fingers McGee
  • Butterfingers
  • Ivory

John to the rescue!

I can’t believe I haven’t told you John’s super-exciting news.  Remember Will, who was the drummer in the band that used to practice in our basement (when we had a basement)?  Well, Will and his family moved to Oregon a couple of years ago, and Will joined a band (The Elena Leona Project).  That band has three gigs next week, and they fired their guitarist last week, and so John is flying to Oregon this weekend to be their guitarist for all three gigs.  Because they want him to, because he can, and because it’s cool.  Everyone involved is very excited.

(I’m going too, of course.  Why wouldn’t I?)

John needs a superhero name, and it needs to be guitar-related.  Ideas:

  • Capo-man
  • Strat-man
  • Strat-ster
  • The Strat
  • Strings
  • The Axe
  • Captain Strat
  • Captain Guitar
  • Fender-man
  • The Amplifier
  • Wammy Bar

Those are terrible.  I’ll keep working on it.  In Oregon!

Update: John says I should take this post down before everyone knows his secret identity.

How many times can I type Frankie Valli in one post?

We watched Jersey Boys tonight.  I’m sure the Broadway show is fun and probably really good, but the move is decidedly not.  The actor playing Frankie Valli doesn’t do a very good Frankie Valli impression (well, he might do a great impression when he’s acting, but I’m just judging his singing), and so every song was a disappointment.  The thing is, it’s the same actor who plays Frankie Valli on Broadway. Are we just more forgiving when the show is live?  Is he better on stage than in the movie?  I mean, I don’t need him to be exactly like Frankie Valli – that would be tough. But he’s enough different (and not in a good way) that it took away from the movie.  Thankfully, the original recordings were playing over the credits.  The movie is…lacking and not just because we were unhappy with Frankie Valli.  Then again, it’s a movie adaptation of a Broadway musical based on the rise and fall of a boy band.  Our expectations may have been a bit unrealistic.

My wise little Sansa

My little Sansa SanDisk mp3 player knows all.  I went to bed in a mood, and I woke up in a mood, and then I didn’t get out of bed and my mood got worse until I basically threatened myself with bodily harm (it’s called being fat and lazy) if I didn’t get up and run, so I did.  And I’m glad I did.  (No surprise there.)  The sky was overcast and the temperature was in the mid-sixties and the humidity was, well, it wasn’t high, and I had just taken two days off (which is why the threats were effective), so my legs were fresh, and it felt good to run.  Even then, it would have been just okay if it weren’t for my cute little purple mp3 player.


I don’t know what songs played during the first few miles (maybe some Van Halen?), but I know that as I coasted downhill about a mile and a half from home, Dean Martin’s “Good Morning, Life” started, and then with a half-mile to go (and the last incline in front of me), I heard Stevie Wonder’s harmonica heralding Sting’s “Brand New Day”.

I am as certain as I can be that my mp3 player has become sentient.  Maybe it happened after a certain number of hours of use for such a tiny little device, maybe it needed this exact combination of sweat and wind and weather, or maybe all mp3 players become aware (or have always been aware), but I KNOW that mine is now.  There are a LOT of songs on it, and while many of them are upbeat (I do use it for exercise), they aren’t all upbeat and they’re certainly not all that positive and life-affirming.  I mean, really.  What other explanation could there be?



It makes perfect sense

Despite not having heard any Prince songs recently, I have a medley of them in my head.  Allow me to explain how I got to this point.  This morning, Mom made a joke about how the song “Secret Agent Man” will forever be “Secret Asian Man” to her.  I responded with one of mine (“Chicken To Ride” for “Ticket To Ride”), and then John chimed in with his for “Smoke On The Water”.  Instead of “Smoke on the water, fire in the sky”, he hears “Slow talkin’ Walter, fire engine guy.”

Here’s where my brain went:

  1. “Smoke On The Water” is NOT by Muddy Waters.  (I always go there first, even though I know it’s wrong.  Water/Waters – you can understand my association.)
  2. It’s by Deep Purple.
  3. Deep Purple did NOT do “Purple Haze”.  That’s Jimi Hendrix.
  4. “Purple Haze” sounds NOTHING like “Purple Rain”.
  5. “Purple Rain” is by Prince.
  6. Now I have several Prince songs battling for supremacy in my brain (“Raspberry Beret”, “Kiss”, “When Doves Cry”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Diamonds and Pearls”…you get the picture).

Logical, right?

Does the word “purple” look super-weird to anyone else right now?

Dance the night away

We went to a Van Halen concert last night with Jess and Chuck (thank you again!), and it was awesome.  John was thrilled.  Of course he knew every word to every song, being the giant fan of theirs that he is, but it seems they played a few songs from earlier albums that aren’t usually heard.  Good ones, but not in the usual line-up.  He (and Chuck, who was right there with him in song recognition) couldn’t have been happier.  I knew maybe a third of the songs, but that’s alright with me.  They played most of my favorites (David Lee Roth era, of course, since Dave wouldn’t be caught dead singing a Sammy song), which was VERY alright with me, and they ended with Panama and Jump.

So what’s in my head this afternoon?  REM’s Shiny Happy People.  It’s not a bad thing, I like the song,  but I had two hours of Van Halen last night, live, loud, and really, really good.  (Seriously, they were really good.)  Where’s my well-deserved earworm?