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Haven't updated this file in a while, but not too much has happened since July. I've been going up to Tennesee almost every week on my off-days, Thursdays and Fridays, to go swimming and diving at Blue Hole, and otherwise working.
The Ozrics show on July 13th was terrific -- we were treated to a wonderful experience and a terrific show that I've written up here. (Even my metalhead roommate Tim was impressed. :))
The Ozrics May/June tour was postponed, but the good news is that they're actually playing here later today! I can't help but get the feeling I had a hand in this development, partly since I'm thanked in the liner notes for the new CD, Waterfall Cities. Alas, they miss playing Dragon*Con by about a week, but they're looking into next year....
Dragon*Con was huge and fun and, even though I didn't get out much during the day (I was tied to my desk in the Concourse area), oddly satisfying. All of the bands I saw were excellent this year (Godhead, The Cruxshadows, Voltaire's 3-song acoustic and spoken-word performance, and The Changelings, who he preceded), and GWAR was their usual fun selves. I think I saw almost everyone I was expecting to see, which was cool. There were even drum-circles again, which unfortunately I was too busy to participate in this year, despite having brought both my doumbek and my djembe....
Three months after replacing it and still my car radio hasn't been stolen again -- whew!
With all this extra cash, what will I do with it? Well, here are some things I've gotten in the last month or so, partly with the extra dough and partly with my income tax refund:
Her replacement is a 1994 Ford Escort, black, with a 5-speed gearbox and -- not that I really wanted one -- a sunroof. And a spoiler in back for those rare times when the engine can be coaxed above 70 mph. :) Latest mileage from the second tankful that I've put in (at 84.9 cents a gallon, gotta love Atlanta's low gas prices) is 36.7 miles per gallon, a far cry from the Taurus' 22 or 24.
I insisted on a manual transmission because the Taurus' automatic transmission was failing fast -- for the third time -- and it just wasn't worth putting another $1400 into the car. --Any car. I like stick shifts, they're more fuel-eficient, and they're a heck of a lot cheaper to replace than an automatic. Plus they usually give you advance warning before they quit completely. :)
After over a year of quiet obscurity, some SCUBA divers discovered my page on building a "poor man's scuba tank," and perceiving a danger to others due to the remote possibility of a blown lung, proceeded to spread the word far and wide over, e.g., rec.scuba. I got lots of nasty email and, after amending the page with more safety in mind, I took the page down completely because I was getting conflicting information from scuba "experts" as to how severe the hazard was. From what I'm now told, the chance of injury is fairly remote, but the page will stay down (despite some requests to "bring it back," presumably so more divers could read it and give me grief). Serious inquirers can email me.
Thanks to the Damark Co., who are taking ten equal payments via credit card over ten months with no finance charges, no shipping charges (holiday special) and no sales tax, here's what I got:
After eight years assigned to the Combined Annual Wage Reporting (CAWR) unit at my, uh, "wonderful" employer, Infernal Residue Cervix, I have been moved to the Customer Service Branch -- this time, permanently. It's been up and down for a while now: HERE I'd be given a cash performance award for good work, THERE I'd be laid off, "furloughed," for lack of budget.... Ah, the life of a "seasonal" employee at our nation's branch of the Bavarian Illuminati!
Long-time readers of these pages will recall that I had been temporarily assigned to Customer Service earlier in 1997, to answer refund-inquiry phone calls (and lucky for me, too, else I'd have been furloughed with no pay for 5 months)....
So, when some new openings were announced in Customer Service Branch recently, my fellow CAWR employees and I were quick to jump on the opportunity to transfer to an area that actually has a budget, and most of us were selected for those jobs (after all, it solved quite a few problems, including the toughest one, "what to do with us?") So, now I'm working 9:30 am to 6pm answering refund-inquiry and Earned Income Credit phone calls, this time permanently, and I should be employed through July at least. :)
Roadtrip #2: ChattaCon: The weekend of Jan. 18th I drove up to
Chattanooga, Tennessee, for
ChattaCon at the Clarion Hotel in
downtown Chattanooga. This was a bit of a risk since my car's
engine has been making odd noises lately, but we had no
problems. My longtime friend Eric "Moebius" Morlin, homeless-waif
street poet, budding artist and humble
Dragon*Con office manager,
rode up with me.
As always, ChattaCon was really more of a weekend-long party than a "serious" convention; I had no idea who the author guests were before I left. The party atmosphere is due in part to the freely-flowing alcohol in the consuite. I don't drink but it's fun to watch most of my friends, including the Tennessee chapter of my "fan club," get sloshed and silly. :) I preregistered for next year (only $20) and bought a couple of t-shirts, bumper stickers, some books (including some imported books by Terry Pratchett) and two good-quality South Park compilation videotapes. "Beefcake. Beefcake!!"
Two days ago on the 26th I was furloughed from IRS yet again, but this time it's different; it could last quite a long time. I'm pretty disgusted with the IRS overall at this point. For now, I'll collect unemployment, perhaps deliver some pizzas, and hopefully do some traveling.
So the steering needed replacing. Had the quote been much more than $400 I'd have told them to keep the car while I go get another one, but the owner was willing to take a postdated check, so two days later I have the car back. Better: the nasty noises and jerkiness when the car shifted (I thought this heralded transmission problems) have vanished! Two problems fixed for the price of, well, two. :(
This was a good decision, 'cause the moshing never got bad where I was. The staging, which included two separate stages, had such a long "border" with the floor crowd that there was plenty of room. The band made a definite attempt to make closer contact with the people by the barricade, and so several times we were treated to close-approaches by Jason and Jaymz (but not, alas, by Kirk).
I hadn't been planning on going the second night, but I FAXed the Metallica Club overnight asking for one additional pass -- the show had been so enjoyable that I'd have paid for a ticket if a pass had been forthcoming. I hadn't heard back by 3:30, so I decided "what the heck" and called down to Tony Smith, the club president and band's assistant, who I've also known since 1989. He was happy to provide two pre-show passes (great, floor vantage again!) and two tickets. Wow, cool!
The second night was even better than the first, except that only Jason came out to walk the "receiving line" before the show. My friend Chris and I were able to station ourselves right on the barricade again, in almost the same place. This was the last concert ever at the Omni, which is being demolished as soon as the Hawks are finished in the NBA playoffs. Metallica's set was more aggressive, with a few more old songs tossed in, and at one point Jason came right over to where me and Chris were standing and proceeded to jam out on bass and headbang, right in front of us, close as life. There was no question he singled us out (or, more likely, my friend Chris, who looks like an old-time metalhead) for this. No idea why, but it was really cool. Thanks, Jason Newsted!
So, mingled with the disappointment of not getting to chat with Kirk was the great feeling of having seen two shows from really close. It wasn't quite as cool as the old Snake Pit stage, where we were basically inside the stage looking out at the band and the audience, but it was definitely a treat. Kirk played right in front of us, up on the stage, several times, but I'm not sure he recognized me in the crowd. He's done so before, though.... Thanks to Tony Smith and Metallica, especially Jason, for making it two nights of fun. Overall, two, count 'em, two cheers for Metallica! :)
I didn't know Henry all that well, since I've been living away from the house now for twelve years and before that I was at college, but there wasn't a mean bone in his body. He'd been married to my mom for seventeen years -- oddly enough, the same length of time my mom was married to my dad before he passed away -- and the loss to her has been tough.
Much-loved at my parents' church, where my mom and Henry were ministers, Henry was sent off by 350 people at his wake the following Monday and perhaps double that number attended the funeral Mass at St. Joseph's, where I was a pallbearer. I "bore the ordeal with stoic fortitude," to borrow a quote from Yes, Prime Minister, but there were moments of weepy-eyes. The Mass was closed-casket per Catholic tradition (and many other creeds'), much easier on us all, but the wake wasn't. A poignant moment for me was when the parish priest, himself fighting to hold back tears, censed the casket with a thurible (that's the incense burner on a chain), over and under, around and about, very sinuously, in a ceremony that was as much a work of dance-art as religion. That's not something you see at yer typical Mass.... In some ways, Death really is the first dance eternal.
The people at the church and our neighbors have been extremely
supportive; food began arriving from friends and parishioners on
Easter Sunday and increased into a veritable flood during the
following days, a good thing with so many well-wishers visiting.
Now I'll be visiting up at my mom's house a little more often, to lend my support, mostly on weekends. It'll be good to see more of my family. :)
Okay, I admit it; I've become a fan of these two shows on The Disney Channel. Shut up, yes, I said the Disney Channel. :) Naturally, being on Disney, few people get injured and no-one dies, but these are both fun shows with some good concepts behind them. I missed the beginning episodes of both shows, so I'm hazy on some of the whys behind the shows. Still great fun, though.
Ocean Girl: The first show is called Ocean Girl and features a darn good ensemble cast of kids and adults. It has an undersea-base storyline with aliens mixed in: survivors of a starship crash, who can breathe water. It's made in Australia, too, so you get those really kewl accents. The plot involves a search for nine pieces of a device called the Synchronium, which was sent to Earth by aliens to help heal the world's oceans. The show has apparently been returned for another run, so you can watch it from the beginning along with me. It's on at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, with a repeat the following Saturday. Note that the Disney page plot summaries don't quite make sense.
The second show, which has now apparently completed its run and
will not be run again (alas and damnit and despite Disney Channel's
email assurances!), followed
at 3:30 p.m. and was called Spellbinder. This one reminded me
greatly of the BBC's great adaptation of the SF trilogy
Tripods, even down to the synthesizer score, fascinating
accents (the feudal scenes and location shots are from Poland,
the Sydney exteriors are shot in, well, Sydney Australia), etc.
The plot involves a parallel universe into which the hero, named
Paul (now you see why I like it :)) falls, through a gateway. The
alternate universe lacks some contemporary basics like gunpowder,
but has antigrav hovercraft ("Flying Ships") driven by power
beamed from broadcast antennas -- kewl! A classic example of
advanced technology now in the hands of those who use it,
but don't understand it.
The Disney Channel
first advised me they'd be re-running it with no break, but now
they tell me it has been pulled. Bastards!
Both shows feature good acting (especially considering all the child actors; hey, these -are- Disney shows after all!), good plotting and one of my favorites, yer basic incompetent guards. :) For more info, search for the shows using the built-in search utility at The Disney Channel home-page.
First, the smoke. I'm a tolerant nonsmoker: I have many friends who smoke (cigarettes and, err, more), and I generally let them smoke in my car as long as a window can be opened. At ChattaCon, however, the smoke was too thick for me to really enjoy the public areas. This is a shame, because ChattaCon has an otherwise-excellent consuite. Free beer most of the weekend (ChattaCon is the largest single-event consumer of beer in the State of Tennessee) meant that, as a nondrinker, I could have fun watching all the drunks....and there were a lot of those!
The placement of the con has been a problem for years. In 1996 the con had to move to its current hotel because of the infamous Radioactive Incident, and unfortunately, the Clarion is far too small for the con. Leaving aside the loss of one of the hotel's two elevators, which severely crippled many attendees' movements, the hotel has many problems. The consuite, gaming, etc. is across the parking lot in a disused junior college, which is a problem for those who, like me, have problems when walking around a lot in a short period of time. It's also quite annoying when the temperatures are well below freezing with windchills below zero Fahrenheit, which was the case this year. I shudder to think of what might happen when we're confronted with a bad ice storm or snow during the convention weekend. The previous hotel was the Read House, which most people I spoke to would prefer as the site. It's still too small, but at least most everything is under one roof. To my surprise, I learned this past weekend that the Read House would very much like ChattaCon to return, and the convention committee declined. sigh
I'll be back again next year, and this time I hope I have a better time....not that I didn't enjoy myself, but ChattaCon has been much better for me in the past.
Successful Roadtrip to see Dream Theater up North
Yes, call us insane (guitarist John Petrucci did :)), but we
travelled 14 hours one-way to see the final show Dream Theater
played on their "Fix for '96" mini-tour in mid-December, on the 14th.
We left the Atlanta area at 3 a.m. Friday morning, slogged our way
up the East Coast in continual rain, stayed overnight Friday night
in Delaware, then picked up some fellow crazy fans from Florida at
the Philadelphia airport ($8 for three hours parking, for all love!)
mid-day Saturday. Then we headed up to the show in Old Bridge NJ
(the infamous "Birch Hell" venue where I damn near passed out last
December!) Sat. night, then returned home on Sunday.
Was it worth it? You betcha! It was a terrific show, overcrowded again but not quite as brutal as last year -- the set flowed extremely well and the five new songs sounded great! Even better: after the show the band came out to talk to us, and I got to chat with three of the four members who came out. Some gems:
Thursday I went up to my folks' for dinner, leaving my friend Tim crashed at the house. He'd been slated to join us, but he was so tired from working concerts he slept the entire day and was still sleeping when I got back!
Then, Friday, after work (bleeah) I went down to the Bonedance show at the Masquerade, opening for Crawlspace. Lots of fun, a pretty good show, and so I had a Thanksgiving sandwiched between metal shows. :)
Current plans include visiting the Georgia Rennaissance Festival tomorrow, Sunday, and at least one or two more times during the course of this fall season. Last year in the current site!
I flew up to New York last weekend to visit friends and attend a mini-convention in New York for online fans of the band Dream Theater, held at the LaGuardia Marriott on October 12th. We've developed a great little mini-community on the Net, and some of us have met eachother before and established friendships. The band was unable (or unwilling) to attend, but as I expected, it was a lot of fun to see new faces and familiar ones. I'll post an account of my travel woes -- plus the happier moments -- soon.
I've also been going to several Braves games lately, including one just tonight -- a weird game, Braves win 5 to 4 with the ultimate game-winning run scoring because of Catcher's Interference, a rare call. Monday is the last regular-season game ever at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and it'll be quite an event. I have 4 tickets, rotten seats but hey, they're inside the gates! I also have two tickets to Game "B" of the Division Series.
At a time when I need to save money up for Ytsecon III, the Dream Theater online fans' convention in New York, I'm starting to experience annoying problems with my car. Water pump, then two new front tires, as they were showing steel belt on the inside edge.... Now she needs brakes. :(
I've finished my autobiography; take a look.
I haven't yet finished my review of The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire, since there's a lot of history packed in with the "present-time" action. It's getting close, though.
Say, today is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthday! Hooray! :)
September 9th, 1996
I'm gradually making progress in the realms of SLIP/PPP and TCP/IP. Hampered (most likely) by having a mere 4 megs on the motherboard of this aging 386dx33, I've managed to get a version of Netscape running: the smaller version that comes with AT&T's Worldnet software. I can also tweak its settings and cause the AT&T dialing software to call CRL, my provider, so I can bypass AT&T's billing when needed. Just today I got mIRC running in concert with the TCP/IP stack, and also a telnet client so I can telnet back into my shell account as needed. Pretty cool.
Plans are still on track for YtseCon III in New York :).
I'm slowly working on my review of the third Wraeththu book by Storm Constantine. Check it out; cool books from a cool lady. My friend and homeless-waif street-poet Moebius was staying with them in England, at last report. I really wish I could join him.
I had been "down" on the Olympics before they arrived here, but after seeing the Torch Relay pass through town here and enjoying the festive atmosphere during that and also downtown at Centennial Olympic Park, I'm no longer a Games-basher. Sure, they were commercial as all get-out and seeing overpaid basketball stars play half-starved players from other countries kinda sickens me, but there was a magic downtown that not even a bomb could destroy. I actually purchased four Olympic bricks for inscription and placement forever in the walkways of the Park itself. They read:Paul W Cashman Wraeththu Hi from Pellaz and Calanthe Jim H. and Storm Constantine Paul W Cashman Shay'a'chernSometime during this winter they'll be placed somewhere in the northern part of the Park, where the temporary sponsors' pavilions were located. Call me silly, but I'd rather my bricks be located under the site of AT&T's Global Olympic Village than under the big Bud World bar tent. :)
I actually did end up seeing one Olympic event: my friend Ed Kramer had four tickets to medal-round baseball, and so he and two friends and I got to see Cuba beat Japan for the gold and silver, respectively. A bit disappointing that the US team was only able to get the bronze, but then again, if professional players had been out there there wouldn't have been much of a contest! It was also cool seeing the flame burning in the caldron/french-fry container, up close and personal.
Just after the Games my friend Richard "Laddie" and I went to see the Braves play the Rockies, with Richard's younger brother Matt. I'd already purchased two tickets in the outfield pavilion, but Matt was going to buy one more and then we'd all try to sit together somewhere in the park.
It was raining when we got there and the game had been delayed, with the tarp on the infield, and these guys came up to us and offered us their three tickets, part of someone's season ticket package, for free. I guess they didn't want to deal with the rain. We thanked them and I looked down at the tickets. SonuvaBITCH, section 103 row 8, within 50 feet of home plate, closer than the broadcast booths! Behind the foul screen! It was a great game, and despite the torrential downpour that happened during the second inning (the game wasn't suspended, to our amazement!), we stuck it out 'til the end and watched John Smoltz pick up his 19th victory. I dearly wish I could get seats that close for every game, but the cost for season tickets is at least $1,500 per seat -- "and no-one can crunch just one...." heh
No plans to see any Olympic events, but I have been down to Centennial Olympic Park, which is free, and I watched the Torch Relay come by at three different points along the route, including near my house (through sheer luck at lunchtime), in Buckhead (street party!), and at Little Five Points (angry mallternative street-kid party!)
King's X are coming this next Tuesday, and with luck I'll be hooking up with Ytsejammer Brian Wherry (guitarist extraordinaire), who'll be in town with family for the Olympics.
I'm also going to be getting some Olympic bricks, to be inscribed to my order and then placed forever in the plaza at Centennial Park. I've got some serious ideas, and some funny ones, but I'll bet they won't go for the funny ones. hehe
One of the more delightful things about my convention week was being able to usher around one of my favorite authors, Storm Constantine, and her partner Jim during their first-ever visit to the States. I'll include some more thoughts about this in my con review, but suffice it to say that, when I dropped them off at the airport this past Wednesday for their long KLM flight back across the Pond (which ended my Dragon*Con week), I felt a keen pang of loss, and that usual 'down' feeling that accompanies the end of a long convention.
So now, things slowly return to normal. I'm in a rosy mood because I had three objectives to accomplish at Dragon*Con, and I met all three with flying colors. They were:
We had a lot of trouble with the Hilton this year, since it was our last year there and we had no future leverage with them. I plan to write to them and if you attended, you can, too. The address for mailing your letters of comment, complaint or compliment is:
Hilton Hotel Corporation 9336 Civic Center Dr Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Not too much to report of late because I've been spending most of my time working on editing and proofreading the above.
I've been occasionally slumming in the afternoons at a friends' apartment pool up in Gwinnett County, where we discovered something neet: plastic soda and milk bottles, when pierced with a small hole or two and then held upright in the mouth while underwater, can act as a "poor-man's SCUBA tank." At least for a few breaths. Hey, it took a kid from California to show us that? :)
Timothy Leary, rest in peace.
Last weekend marked the end of an era -- the final two shows at the Wreck Room, for 8 years Atlanta's home for metal, thrash, punk, hard-core and ska. Friday's show, featuring Bonedance, Crawlspace, Urban Grind and Bullhead Clap, was the "true" final show for most of the regulars, who were there in force. It seemed like someone was present from almost every hard band in town. Bonedance and Crawlspace turned in electrifying shows, too. Saturday's show was a nationally-touring punk band, Down By Law, so the crowd included fewer regulars. At the end of the show Toe, the owner, invited everyone to pull things off the wall and take 'em home as mementos. I got two day-glo car parts off the side wall (the "wreck" room, see?) and the busted cymbal that hung for years from the ceiling.
Now I'm recovering from an odd one-day illness; haven't had solid food in about a day. Weird stomach virus.
Still haven't gotten down to the GA Rennaissance Festival!
I'm planning on attending ROC of Ages, an SF convention in Charlotte, NC, next weekend. It should be fascinating, whether or not the infamous Roland PCastle shows up. :)
The second Dragon*Con progress report is shaping up -- supposed to be at the printer's on Monday. We'll see.
My friends' band Bonedance continues to do well, getting their song "Step" requested every week recently on WREKage (91.1 FM, Friday evenings after 10pm). They have a show scheduled for April 26th at the Wreck Room with Crawlspace and Urban Grind and others, and it should be a great show; all three bands are excellent. That will be one of the last shows at the Wreck Room, which is closing on April 30th, maybe forever, maybe until after the Olympics. Now I really have a reason to hate the fuckin' Summer Games!
A few more thoughts on the Wreck Room. Sure, it was never a great club: bands would often complain about bad sound (although usually only -after- they'd left the property), the facilities and fittings were old and tired, etc. But it had a laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere and a great crowd:
I could easily and cheaply arrange a smaller club for a fan-club-members- only show, but there isn't much interest from the band to play more than 5 cities: San Fran, LA, Chicago, Toronto and New York. I'll keep trying, though.
In other happier music news, I've gotten my friends in Bonedance some airplay on WREKage here. We'll have to keep on doing that. :) Next show is April 6th at the Masquerade, not my favorite club, but there are coupons for free admission in this week's Creative Loafing. :)
The Dragon*Con Progress Report #1 is out and being mailed....at last!
I've been diagnosed with some sort of weird skin condition, scabies, which is now hopefully in remission after treatment. Kaiser Permanente dropped the ball on my first visit, though. <grumble>
My computer now sports a newly-installed 3.5" 1.44 meg floppy drive, at last! It only took five months for me to find someone less thumb-fingered than myself to install it for me. :)
Good grief, here it is March and we're still working on the "January" progress report for Dragon*Con '96! Should be done and to the printer's by end-of-week.
My friends in Bonedance are playing a show tonight in Gainesville, GA, and we might go.
They're also playing a show on Saturday, headlining at the Wreck Room. I'll definitely
be there. :)
I'm making copies of their demo as fast as I possibly can and I'm mailing them out to various folks from the Dream Theater mailing list. Not because they sound like DT, but because they sound like Korn and Rage Against the Machine, and I know who likes what. :)
Recent arrivals: the two-tape copy of DT's Birch Hill show that I travelled to last December, and CDs by Shadow Gallery and Enchant. Wheeee!
Oh, I'm done with teaching class at work, but now I'm stuck with on-the-job instruction. Argh! You can still expect sudden squalls.
I'm almost done with the trade paperback novels in the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. This has been a fantastic ride, and the next book, The Commodore, isn't out in trade paper yet. Hope I can survive!
There's been some bad blood between my friend Kelly and his boss, one of the co-owners of the Wreck Room rock club, and I haven't been hanging out there as much lately. He's still working there, but not staying on-site. Despite this, I was down there last Friday and saw an excellent set of bands. Only one "bad" band all night, and both Crawlspace and Hate War Violence (formerly Blade) were excellent. The Wreck Room is getting an astonishing array of national acts suddenly, including Deicide, Sacred Reich, Morbid Angel, Pro-Pain and Voodoo Glow Skulls -- partly due to some clubs in town closing down, and also to the ongoing boycott of The Masquerade by some bands and booking agents.
The following night my friend Tim roped me into helping out in the parking lot at the International Ballroom in Doraville, which was hosting Silverchair, Ammonia and Space-hog that night. Easy work and an easy $40 cash, plus entry into a sold-out show; pretty cool. The venue was quite overheated and humid, though, and some fans had to be revived outside by ambulance personnel. There were a lot of folks on hand from the Gavin convention downtown, bussed up for the show by one of the major labels, and that didn't help.
I'll be prepping for class and then teaching class at my "real" work in the next few weeks. "Prepare for sudden squalls." :)
Speaking of "sudden squalls," I continue to read and be astonished by the Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels by Patrick O'Brian. The Chicago Tribune calls him "The world's best novelist," and the New York Times calls these books "the best historical novels ever written." Wow! These are splendid books. If you want to start, pick up a copy of the first book, Master and Commander. Not for the beginning reader, but extremely rewarding and informative!
I've gotten a lot of really cool CDs lately, and these have been generally added to my 100-disk changer -- and I got my copy of When Dream and Today Unite today! :)
I just helped book (by email) one of my favorite writers, Storm Constantine, for Dragon*Con this June. Cool! Can't wait to meet her! My car's license plate, PELLAZ, is a character from her Wraeththu series....
Received Magellan's Impending Ascension CD in the mail.... Hey, it's as good as I hoped!
Had a great time up in NY/NJ for the Great Dream Theater Road-Trip just after Christmas, and it was so cool to meet so many other online "Ytsejammers" at the shows and at our mini-convention for fans. Also had a good time up at ChattaCon 21 in Chattanooga two weekends ago. Now it's time to work on the Dragon*Con '96 first progress report.
The biggest drawback of the trip is that I stand to miss my friends' band Bonedance and their show at the Wreck Room on Dec. 30th. This is a shame, because they're excellent, still fairly young, and hella fun to hang out with. I'll be able to make Spirit Animal's show the following night, though (they were formerly Early Warning, and still sound decently progressive).
Holidays.... Bah humbug!
But seriously, I've gotten about half my Christmas shopping done. Now if only I can spend a little less time down at the Wreck Room, a rock club here, and less time online. :)
I've been devouring the Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels of the great days of British fighting sail, by Patrick O'Brian. No less an authority than the New York Times calls these "the best historical novels ever written," and I won't disagree. These are amazing, at least as good as the great Hornblower novels by C S Forester, which were the basis for Gene Roddenberry's vision of Captain Kirk; I can't help but get the feeling that Gene would have adored these books. There are fifteen books in the A/M series, and O'Brian continues to write them, now in his 80s, in his incredibly authentic style. I'll be buying these for some time to come!
I also took advantage of a 12th anniversary sale at the much-beloved Science Fiction and Mystery Bookshop here in Atlanta and purchased -- at 20% off -- about ten paperbacks. I'll get around to them sometime soon, after reading some or all of the Aubrey/Maturin books.
Strange Coincidences Department: A week ago, I received a sampler tape from Ytsejammer Steve Chew containing songs by four bands on the progressive Magna Carta label, Magellan, Cairo, Enchant and Shadow Gallery. Last night we were on the Dream Theater chat server when a newcomer arrived. Turns out it was Gary, keyboard player for Shadow Gallery! And even better, he carried news that his drummer is currently working with Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on arranging.......(wow)....at least one song for a Rush tribute album! He'll be at the New Jersey Dream Theater show, and after regaling him with details of YtseCon II, he may try to catch that and the Malibu show as well!
The amazingly silly Battle of Roland continues to rage on alt.fandom.cons, but I'm behind on reading it by over a week. Egads....
Seminal plans exist for a trip to see Dream Theater up in the Northeast after Christmas. We'll see how that turns out; I'm looking at different possibilities.
We survived Hurricane Opal with only minor damage to the property here, and our power only flickered, never dying completely. Hundreds of thousands of others weren't so lucky, and the power was out at my work on Thursday -- cool, a free day off at taxpayer expense! Some people might not get their power restored 'til Monday!
The new Dream Theater EP A Change of Seasons has proven to be an excellent CD, a combination of one long studio track followed by several live covers performed at a small jazz club in London last January. Almost everyone I've played it for has enjoyed at least one facet of the CD, and the fact that it's dedicated to us online fans is really cool!
As promised in my last entry about a month ago, I haven't been back to Little Five Points, Atlanta's counterculture enclave and generally cool neighborhood, in about three weeks. Aside from the police purges, which have either snared or scared my friends away, I've just been busy doing other things. I've been hanging out at the Wreck Room, a local rock/metal/thrash/punk club, a lot in the evenings on show nights (Wed. thru Sat.), since I know everyone who works there. Nice casual atmosphere. Nothing pretentious about this club!
I'll be at the Braves game Friday night, the third and maybe-last game against the Rockies. If there is a fourth game in the series, I'll be there, too. We also have tickets to the Sun. NLCS game here if it's played.
Due to the recent police purge of Little 5 Points, many of my friends have either left the city or are no longer frequenting that part of town. *sigh* Guess I won't be visiting down there as much, now.
Well, I survived NASFiC/Dragon*Con. 14,312 paid, lots of fun and I made some great new friends. Had dinner with the guys from GWAR twice (and boy, were THEY pleased :)), and they were so amazed at the convention -- totally outside their experience of small one-day comic shows -- that they're really looking forward to returning next year.
The Sunday after Dragon*Con, I was within 15 feet of a double shooting at Fellini's Pizza in Atlanta's Little Five Points neighborhood, our "counterculture enclave," a bit like a smaller Greenwich Village or Haight-Ashbury. Violent crimes like that are fairly rare in that area, and it was a scary experience. I'd spoken to the gunman before -- he's a regular at L5P -- and apparently it was more of a vigilante attack on local drug-gang members than "a drug deal gone sour," which is how the media always reports an unexplained shooting south of downtown. The two victims, for better or for worse, survived. (Later note: the Little Five Points community really hasn't been the same since. It's a real shame, but the general attitude down there is much more confrontational between the different groups who hang out there.)
The winds of furlough have blown through my office, and I survived the first strong gust. Others weren't so lucky. Funny; the IRS is out of money? Is this a joke? The next round will probably get me, but for how long, no-one's sure. There may be a shutdown of government in October if the usual wrangling occurs between Congress and the President. Might be a long wrangle, this time.... The new Republican Congress hasn't voted for more spending and borrowing yet, and they're not likely to start now -- at least not without extracting a pound of flesh from Billy-Bob Clinton.....
Now that we've finished working on the DragonCon program book (160 pp., color wraparound cover, perfect-bound), it'll soon be time to start on the pocket program -- the one that everyone actually READS! Aieee....
Tuesday, the first day back at work after the holiday, we had a power failure at just after ten a.m. Just our building, and the backup generator was providing about half-power to some of the computers, desk lamps, etc. Overheads were out, and the emergency lights were getting dimmer, and dimmer.... Then we were told to take a "long lunch." The building still had no power at 1pm and by this time, even the battery-powered emergency fixtures had gone dead. It was darker than a cave inside and away from the doors, so at about one-thirty we were all sent home. Kewlness!
We found out Wed. what the problem was......a squirrel had eaten on one of the power lines, then when it cut it, it was electrocuted, falling on yet another power line. Estimated cost to the Federal government of the Iraqi attack-squirrel of doom? $12,000+. hehehe
Finally spoke to Chuck Schaaf, guitarist from our friends' band Mutha's Day Out, on May 25th. He and Jeff (bass) have moved to Little Rock and have an apartment together; they're trying to get Brice (ass't vocalist) to come back to Arkansas from Florida since he and his girlfriend there have hit rocky roads. (Somehow, we knew this would happen. :)) Rod (drums) is still back in/near Batesville, but he's not being as much of a hermit as before. Mike (lead singer), who married a fan from the UK, is out of the picture.
Since MDO is in a scene in the MORTAL KOMBAT movie and we hope to have a sneak preview at DragonCon, Chuck is now even more interested in coming and presumably dragging Jeff with him. :)
Evenings between now and then I'll be working on the last DragonCon Progress Report up at Ed Kramer's, 404-921-7148. Latest news: Christopher Lambert (Highlander, the Mortal Kombat movie) will be appearing.
April 25th, 1995
Later that night we were hanging out at the Wreck Room and had spoken to the lone cop manning the barricade at Marietta and Northside. He'd been working there since 4pm and it was 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, and we felt really sorry for him. When we left at around 1:30, we took him a Coke from the Wreck Room's bar. I wish there had been a Coke commercial filming crew nearby; you shoulda seen the cop's face when we handed it to him! "Oh, THANK YOU!" I guess it was the least we could do as Good Samaritans during that wildest of weekends.
I'm planning to go to RennFaire this weekend, so maybe you'll see me there!
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