A compilation of my older "current news" notes

Last revised 21 Dec 1999

July - Sept 1999 | Mar - April 1999 | Feb 1999 | Jan - Dec 1998 | July - Dec 1997 | Jan - Jun 1997 | July - Dec 1996 | Jan - Jun 1996 | July - Dec 1995 | Jan - Jun 1995 | -------------- blue-line separator ----------------

September 28, 1999

Since I last wrote an entry, our friends in Godhead came and went. A quick visit but as always, a memorable one, and this time, damnit, I had a digital camera. Click here for the entire history of me and this great band.

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. :))

July 13th

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!

April 13th, 1999

Ozric Tentacles stuff

The good news: Ozric Tentacles from the UK, one of my favorite bands, are in the process of announcing US tour dates for May and June, but apparently not July (I was hoping for a show at Dragon*Con). The bad news: so far, no word as to whether any gigs in the Southeast are planned, or if (long shot now, perhaps) they'll be able to play Dragon*Con as I'd invited them to (see below). Tickets are on sale for the NYC and other Northeast dates, and so I'm fretting: buy tickets for one of those shows before they sell out, or pray they add closer dates to Atlanta....

Car-Stereo Replaced

The new radio (which is the same as the old radio) has now been installed and is working fine -- as is the car alarm I had installed at the same time. :)

Slayer Shenanigans

Not that I was a huge fan or anything, but we went to see Slayer fer free when they played the Tabernacle (a converted church, which is pretty funny) with Sick of it All and Meshuggah opening. My roommate Tim knows Slayer (he knows almost everyone, indeed) and so, although Dan "TheCowGod" McCormack -- a Dream Theater fan from Clemson who came down only to see Meshuggah -- and I didn't get to see much of Meshuggah, we did end up hanging out with Tom Araya of Slayer after their show, backstage and on their tour bus. Thanks for a good time, Tom and Tim!

March 24th, 1999

The Godhead Saga wraps up. :)

Okay, my roommate Tim came back by bus and arrived just in time to give away 10 pairs of Slayer tickets on WREKage, to Slayer's upcoming show. :) Tim's tales of his travels with Godhead up the coast, and their excellent shows in Jacksonville and NYC, have been great! :)

Inefficient Fleet Repair Yard

My car's finally back from the Peachtree Ford bodyshop after an 8-day stayover (amazing what a new metal skin for a door entails, or so they claimed). Radio to be installed shortly......along with an alarm. :)

Ozrics Plans

I'm anxiously awaiting word from one of my favorite bands of all time, England's legendary Ozric Tentacles, about performing a show at Dragon*Con '99. It'd be amazing if it actually comes about. :)

March 18th, 1999

Found 'Em!

Whew, okay, Jason "mesmerizing vocals" Miller from Godhead emailed me and told me Tim was with them and would be running their New York show for them. So, it's cool that he's gonna help them with their show, but we were really hoping to see the guys in the band off in style here. Oh, well.... We'll see 'em in July at Dragon*Con if not before. :)

March 16th, 1999

Has anyone seen a rock band around?

See, it's like this: the morning after their show here, Godhead had to leave early for their show in Jacksonville that night -- it's a six hour ride under the best of conditions. We'd spent a wild night after the show basically taking over my roommate's Waffle House and then, back at the apartment it took everyone a while to get to sleep for MAYBE four hours tops......so the guys in the band were reallllly tired.
But off they went, taking my roommate Tim in tow, so he could run their light show in Jacksonville. We'd figured they'd be back sometime on Sunday, since we'd offered them a place to crash if they needed it (and I wager they did, unless they got a hotel room somewhere)....and it's now Tuesday morning and there's been no word. My theory is that they went ahead and drove up the coast, taking Tim with them to run lights at their upcoming shows in New York Thursday and Baltimore on Saturday. But, they could also be rotting in a Savannah jail or something......

March 13th, 1999

Help! There's this goth-techno-industrial-darkwave band camped out on my living room floor! --For a second night!
--But not to worry. They're Godhead, from DC, and they've become friends of ours. They played at the Masquerade last night (Fri. the 12th) opening for the Genitorturers and came into town early, and we were more than happy to let them crash here for a night. We think they're destined for greater glory: their most recent CD is being picked up for re-release by Mercury Records. Their show really rocked the house, visibly impressing many people in the audience, and the experience has been both grueling (no sleep yet, for the last two days for me) and delightful (they are really kewl guys to work with). They'll be playing again at DragonCon in Atlanta this coming July, and my roommate Tim and I are very proud to have helped make that -- and their exposure here -- a reality. :)

March 3rd, 1999

How quickly they come and go :(

I had my new Sony car stereo and CD changer in my car for less than a week before they were stolen from the parking lot at my apartment. *sigh* Is there really any point in replacing them?
The answer: yes: a) because State Farm paid for the entire replacement including the reinstallation, and b) because we think it likely they were stolen by "agents" sent by the installers at Circuit City on Jimmy Carter Boulevard -- they knew where I lived and they knew I didn't have a car alarm.

Work stuff:

I was kinda lucky in my assignment to a 5pm-1:30am Sat-Wed shift at work.... I could easily have gotten something really crappy, like ten hours on the graveyard shift. As it is, these hours will take some getting used to (no more weekends, no more going to shows or my health club at night). At least the money is good, and I'm now a permanent employee -- no more furloughs. Plus we get shift differential of 10% for evening hours, 25% for Sunday hours, and 35% for Sunday evening hours (and both my Saturday and Sunday shifts count as "Sunday"), so it adds up to a lot of extra money. Plus, we're being offered a lot of overtime, so that's even more cash if I choose to work overtime.

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:

February 19th, 1999

So Many Changes, So Little Time

You'll notice a general lack of updates here, and a large part of the reason is, I've been too damn busy. Busy with my Internet radio show three days a week (2 hour shifts), busy with my new hours at work (with the possibility of expanded overtime if I want it), busy with the usual Dragon*Con stuff, etc. I kinda quit offering monthly updates on my top page, partly because people suggested I tighten up the size of the page, and that's why this page has fallen into desuetude. Sorry!

May 16th, 1998

"A New C-a-a-a-a-a-a-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!"

--With apologies to game-show prize announcers everywhere. :) My new car isn't a new car, but it's definitely an improvement over the grand old lady, my 1987 Taurus, which was dying rapidly toward the end. I'll miss her, I'll miss all the stickers on the back windows, and I'll miss the memories. Quite a few neet people had graced her now-faded red cloth seats, from authors Michael Moorcock and Storm Constantine to members of the bands Anthrax and Mutha's Day Out.

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. :)

Taurus bold and strong
Dying tranny near the end
I shall miss greatly

(© 1998 Matt Schnoor)

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March 1st, 1998

Death, Scuba and A New 'Puter

My late stepfather's sister Mildred passed away a few weeks ago, and now my Aunt Evelyn in Austin, Texas has also died, of a heart-attack while out walking their dogs. She and my Uncle Garry were very kind to us when we visited there after my dad died back in 1980, and I feel for Garry and his extended family. Why couldn't the Grim Reaper have taken someone more deserving of death, like, say, Saddam Hussein? *sigh*

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:

The best (and in some ways scariest) part of this whole deal: I used my Visa check-card for the purchase, which means that I'll have to be careful to have enough money in the bank each month, but on the other hand, I won't be charged any financing whatsoever!

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February 22, 1998

Yes, It Was That Time of Year :)

Yea, verily, my birthday was on Jan. 30th. My mom was busy that weekend, so for the first time in several years, no formal dinner was planned, and since I didn't hear from my sisters I kinda assumed it would be an "off" year.... Then, last week, my sister Cindy called, all apologetic for forgetting and asking if she could make me dinner on Saturday Feb. 7th. Lasagna and ice-cream cake? Sure! It's a long ride out to Woodstock, GA, but worth it for good food and a chance to visit with my newly-remarried sister and my nephews.

New Job, Same Ol' Employer

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. :)

Roadtrippin' Fun

Roadtrip #1: Virginia I've been doing a bit of traveling lately, which is always fun..... Back on the weekend of Jan. 3rd my friend Chris Kaftanciyan and I rode up to Springfield Virginia to see Dream Theater's second-to-last show on US soil for at least six months, with Ytsejammer Brian Kelley in his car. We had a great time, the weather was fine, the show was excellent and I met (or re-met) several cool Dream Theater/progressive music fans in the process. This was the third Dream Theater show I'd seen on this mini-leg of the tour, and I can't wait for them to return to the US for an expected summer tour! I'll follow for several dates, as work and money allows.

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!!"

And now, I'll toot my own horn a bit :)

I helped a good friend of mine, British author Storm Constantine, come over to the States for Dragon*Con in 1996 and 1997, and so she dedicated a chapbook of 3 short-stories, Three Heralds of the Storm, to me "for all my help Stateside." Now she's thanked me and my friends Ed Kramer and Moebius in the Acknowledgements for Stealing Sacred Fire, the final book in her "fallen angels amongst us" Grigori trilogy. Ahh, recognition is a wonderful thing! I've just finished the book, too, and it's excellent. :)

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September 28, 1997

Major Changes in My Life

Quite a lot has been happening lately of pretty major import. My longtime roommate Monte, a stick-in-the-mud in some ways but a good friend (and steady rent-payer) in others, moved out after at least six years here. Now this side of the duplex is controlled by me, and I've had my friends Tim and Richard ("Laddie") move in, so it's a much different time here. I have more freedom to have friends stay overnight if needed, but...Monte took the cats. They were his, but I miss 'em greatly....

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.

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July 27th, 1997

Aye, 'twas a close call....

Looks like my car lasted just long enough: I knew I'd need it in running order for Dragon*Con '97, since I would be carting my friend Storm Constantine and her party from Britain around the whole week, and so I had the car tuned up, oil changed, etc. It also needed CV boots and a tie rod, so on the Thursday after Dragon*Con was over I took 'er in for repairs, after realizing I had enough money. $209, okay-y-y-y, I can live with that -- but the shop owner asked me to bring the car in on Monday to check the steering. "It's a safety issue." Uh, great. "Is it safe to drive it to Tennessee over the weekend?" He said it was. Nothing broke -- quite -- over the weekend.
Monday afternoon I brought the car in and he pronounced the steering safe. "Bring it in after another month."
Just 26 hours later, on Tuesday night, the bolt gives way and the car is stranded with its front tires facing two directions. I'm lucky it didn't happen while I was driving! --And to think we almost took the car on those windy-ass Ocoee River roads!

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. :(

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June 15th, 1997

Saw the two Metallica shows here

I've been far from the biggest proponent of Metallica's latest CD Load, but I must admit they put on an amazing live show. I had pre-show backstage passes and two tickets -- in the seated section, not on the general-admission floor -- for the first night's show, but alas, I was never able to talk with Kirk, who is the member of the band I know the best (I first met him, thanks to some mutual reading interests, in 1989). We had a package with us for Kirk, including a Dragon*Con t-shirt, which we handed to one of the tour people who, alas, I didn't recognize. After the pre-show (where Jaymz and Jason came out), we were put back on the floor by the stage, and so I just decided to kinda hang out right there by the barricade, close as you can get to the stage, until the moshing got too heavy.

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! :)

Georgia Rennaissance Festival's New Location

Well, as always, springtime brings back the anniversary of one of the most important days in my life, and it happened at the Georgia Rennaissance Festival's first year. Since then, over 11 years ago, I've worked at the Faire several years for Starfire Swords and built up my costume to a reasonable degree (although some leather armor is in the offing). I went down for a visit on Sunday, April 20th, and returned two more times during this spring season. I was loath to give the Faire too much of my money: some of their policies have adversely affected friends of mine whose only 'crimes' have been their religion, or the fact that their independent rides were seen as competition to the Faire's much-scantier offerings. I didn't work this season, which is as well because I need the time for other things, like updating the Dragon*Con Web-site. Best bets were:

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May 15, 1997

Death is the First Dance Eternal....

My stepdad Henry passed away eight minutes into Holy Saturday, March 29, apparently the holiest day in the Roman Catholic calendar. He was 70. Here's something weird about it: During Friday, Henry had repeatedly asked one group of visitors "is it Holy Saturday yet?" I'm not much of a Catholic, but it looks as if Henry hung on just long enough....

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. :)

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April 20, 1997

A New[er] Computer Is Here!

For all of my friends out there who have been listening to me whine about having a sucky computer, I've finally upgraded. I couldn't afford too much, so I just got a friend's old 486dx2/66 with a 1.2g hard drive, but it runs four times as fast as the previous beastie and, at 20 megs onboard it'll have five times the memory. There were some serious problems with it upon arrival, the drive controller card still doesn't seek the 3.5" floppy and all the preloaded software on the 1.2g drive was lost (we had to repartition it), but I Don't Care: It's incredibly fast compared to the old machine. :)

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March 15, 1997

A Change of Seasonals

Yes, "seasonals," as in seasonal employees at my employer, the Infernal Residue Cervix. Since we're seasonal we're subject to furlough when either money or work runs out, and we were scheduled to be laid off for quite a while -- several months at least, perhaps more than half a year -- until Fate intervened and we were given a "stay of execution": we're being retrained to answer refund inquiry calls, and apparently it's a permanent move (to our surprise). So right now we're in the middle of a four-week training class, not too exciting but the work is nothing we haven't done before.....

My 15 Days of Fame

It's been an interesting couple of weeks here. Three Mondays ago a letter I sent was selected for publication in the Atlanta Journal's "In My Opinion" section, which includes a brief bio and a photo. In my case, since I had no photographs handy, they used the photo you see above, cropping it so only my ugly face was visible. :)
Then, two Wednesdays ago, my 5-song submission for WKLS 96rock's "Perfect Album Side" contest was selected and played. I won some minor prizes, but it was much more fun to hear the songs on the radio. They were:
  1. Billy Thorpe, "Children of the Sun"
  2. Dream Theater, "Pull Me Under" (first time in 3 years I've heard that song on 96rock)
  3. Shooting Star, "Last Chance" (the deejay got a lot of calls on this one. It sounds like Kansas mixed with Focus. :))
  4. The Hunger, "Vanishing Cream"
  5. Type O Negative, "Love You to Death" (full 7-min. version)
So now I'm wondering what's next. Nobel Peace Prize for Literature? A Hugo Award nomination? Winning the lottery? :)

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February 28, 1997

My Fave Sci-Fi Shows....on Disney!?

"Gryvon! Get them!" :)

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.

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Only 8 shopping Days 'Til My Birthday

Yes, it's coming up, on January 30th, so you'll want to beat the crowds to the stores. Current plans are for the "family" observance on Sunday, January 26, and perhaps friends and I will observe the actual day the following Thursday. If you really care, you can think of me at 8:04 a.m., that being the precise time of The Splendid Event. (My parents had three professional horoscopes drawn up, at $50/each, which was big money back then. Naturally, they agreed on almost nothing. :))

Back from ChattaCon XXII

I was at ChattaCon this past weekend up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I managed to survive the lone working hotel elevator and the all-pervading cigarette smoke. I had fun, but it wasn't quite as much fun as last year. I had a slight cold going up there, and the bone-chilling temperatures and the smoke didn't help matters. Still, I think I shrugged off the cold by Sunday. It was great fun seeing my Tennessee con-going friends, of course. I purchased a membership for 1998 for $20, despite my strong reservations about the site of the convention and all the damn smoke.

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.

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January 7, 1997

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that 1997 can be at least as good as 1996! I rang in the new year at a big party and housewarming thrown by my longtime friend, Ed Kramer (he who founded Dragon*Con). We also had reason to celebrate the day after Christmas, as my friends in Bonedance played a successful show at The Point, Atlanta's best-known concert club and an influential place to play. Christmas itself was relatively low-key, but my season was "made" for me by two things: a great CD of Christmas music from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (e.g., Savatage) and a surprise gift in the mail from friend and fellow Dream Theater fan 'Lonewolf' -- all the way from Austria! :)

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:

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December 12, 1996

Thanksgiving Sandwich on Metal :)

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving I saw Pantera, Biohazard and Neurosis at the International Ballroom (for free, since the venue owner's cousin knows me and let me in, thanks Ethan!), and as luck would have it, was able to remain after the show and meet Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. During part of Pantera's set we put out fliers for Bonedance's Nov. 29th show on some of the cars in the parking lot -- brr, 'twas cold!

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. :)

Where Will I Eat Now? :(

A moment of silence, please, for one of our favorite meals of all time: the House of Peking restaurant here in Doraville, Georgia, which offered a splendid Chinese buffet and Mongolian barbecue for less than $7, for a decade or longer, has dropped the barbecue portion of its evening menu. Yes, this is the same barbecue praised by members of GWAR's touring crew, my author-friend Storm Constantine, and indeed almost every friend I have. There's another Mongolian barbecue that recently opened in the area, but it's more expensive. In pace requiscat. Unlike the loss of the Wreck Room rock/metal club and the closing of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, this one can't be blamed on the Olympics. I'll miss the delicious freshness of that stir-fried barbecue. *sigh*

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November 25, 1996

A Quiet Weekend, Fer Once :)

This past weekend wasn't too demanding. :) During the day Friday I got flyers printed and mailed for Bonedance's show on the 29th. Friday night wasn't too quiet, though, with my friend Tim Hurd's show, MoshFest '96, at the International Ballroom; the venue owner just waved me in without a ticket, and I had a good time hanging out there with my friend Wes "Beavis" Foll before wandering on to WREK-FM for our weekly WREKage metal-show pilgrimage -- always interesting. With good weather Sunday became "Clean Out The Car" day, and after the daylight was gone I did some bagging and boxing of my comics -- a long overdue task!

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November 20, 1996

Oh Joy, More Car Problems

Just when I thought my car's health -- never too awesome since she is a decade old, now -- had stabilized, the fuel pump quit. Unfortunately the repair took over a day, as the part was a dealer-only item, and I missed the KoRn show at the International Ballroom since I had no ride. Oh, well. The car is back now, but an occasional problem with a sticky MacPherson strut (right-rear) has again resurfaced, making the car a bit cranky and oversensitive to bumps; "slack in stays," to borrow an old naval term. Total cost $267.50, and that's with a slight good-customer discount on the labor. Atlanta readers note that once again, my friends at Apollon Care Care came through; I think owner Tassos (he's Greek) might be the last honest mechanic left in the city. :)

I'm Back From My "Sea-cruise" :)

I've now finished The Yellow Admiral, the newest, just-published book in the ! GREAT ! Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, about the glory days of British fighting sail and Lord Nelson's navy. The level of historical detail in these books is just astounding, and so I'm still seeing everything from the viewpoint of the captain of a square-rigged 74-gun two-decker man'o'war. :) For information on these terrific books, check out the Patrick O'Brian home-page. He's been called -- by the Chicago Tribune -- "The best novelist in the world." Wow, pretty impressive since he's still alive and writing! The New York Times has called this series "the greatest historical novels ever written," and I heartily agree.

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October 31, 1996

Braves lose! Braves lose! Braves lose!

Yea, they did, but it was a great season anyway. I have a few unkind thoughts toward Terry "Rally-killer" Pendleton, and Bobby Cox for leaving him in (or wasting a roster slot with him), but, oh, well. Next year will be a brand-new season in a brand-new stadium, and the odds are good we'll see the Braves again in the post-season.

Renaissance Faire

Well, this coming weekend is -it-.... The final weekend of the Georgia Renaissance Festival on its current site. I'll be there. Next spring we'll see a new site, new booth arrangements, etc. Starfire Swords, for whom I've worked on and off for years, should have a better location this year, with a cool water-wheel to power the forge bellows. The site will be much bigger, too, so it should be interesting to say the least!
So many changes here: Atlanta-Fulton Co. Stadium closing and being torn down, the RennFaire moving to a new site because of highway construction ("ya got to build by-passes!"), even back to the Wreck Room closing. *sigh*

Dragon*Con 1996 Review

I finished parts one and two of my Dragon*Con '96 review; as for the rest, I had a great time and accomplished a great many goals -- even if my memory and Time betrayed me on the gory details. :) Next year, The Misfits playing live, it looks like, and probably Anthrax and Iced Earth as well, plus Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, C.J. Cherryh and -- if they can swing it -- Storm Constantine and Jim again. Plus we're adding guests by the month. Should be a great year; first staff meeting is Jan. 11th, 1997.

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October 19, 1996

Braves and Stadium Thoughts

I'm delighted with how well the Braves are doing this post-season, but mingled with that feeling is a bit of sadness: this is the last season ever in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and while the stadium is not a great baseball facility, it still holds many pleasant memories for me. I was present at the final regular-season game there and the moving tribute to the stadium and its stars that followed. Before leaving the stadium, I paused at the exit gate and lingered for a moment. Sure, I had tickets to Game Four of the Divisional Series with the Dodgers, but still I hesitated to leave the familiar ballpark, the "Launching Pad" or "Chop Shop" I had grown to know so well.
I was right in hesitating, it seems; Game Four was never played, and all remaining postseason games are sold out, so it appears that was my last visit to the stadium. I'll miss it. Meanwhile, now it's on to rainy New York and those much-storied Yankees!

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.

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Sept. 22, 1996

I've been going to a number of Bonedance concerts lately, since they've asked me to do their mailing list. Well, also 'cause they're a good live show and pretty darn cool folks. :) Reviews and demo-tape info are on the above page.

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! :)

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September 9th, 1996

Suddenly, I'm beset by mechanical failures at an inopportune time. :( My car's water pump is failing and leaking, while the right-side channel on my Technics stereo is dead. It looks like there are no separate fuses for each channel, so I may have blown an amp. Oh, well, it's ten years old at least. I'll price a repair, and if it's too much, I can always replace it. sigh It wouldn't be so bad, but right at this moment I have $21.00 or so in the bank, since my landlord had my rent check cashed and paid within a day.

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.

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Sept. 2nd, 1996

All sorts of post-Olympic thoughts come to mind. Some were contained on the "front-cover" of my home page:
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

Hi from Pellaz
and Calanthe

Jim H. and Storm

Paul W Cashman

Sometime 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. :)

Things I Miss About the Olympics:

  1. No more blimps flying overhead and docking at the airport two miles to my west (they're amazingly cool to watch).
  2. Not as many lights now, in the nighttime skyline downtown (it was tres beautiful!)
  3. No more 24-hour street party on the streets of downtown (300,000+ people all having fun drinking it in).
  4. The Torch Relay. Another great, festive party in the streets, the prequel to the main event -- and this party you could drive around and follow.
  5. Hearing strange accents and languages spoken in the streets, and talking to visitors from all over.
I really enjoyed having those two weeks off work (a mandatory furlough, but I got to pick the timing for once).

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

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July 26th, 1996

Greetings and welcome from Olympic central.....sheesh. I'm on unpaid furlough for two weeks during the Games. I was offered the chance to take my mandatory furlough during the Games, and I took it so I wouldn't be surprised around Christmastime. So far it's been fun, and I've been catching up on things online and off.

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

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June 29th, 1996

Well, Dragon*Con '96 is finally over, history, finito, and aside from problems caused by the Hilton in sheer meanness and spite, it was a very organized and successful year. I'll write up a convention review and put it up on the page and on Usenet..when I have the time. :)

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:

  1. Getting my friends' band Bonedance to play at the convention. Yep, they did, on Wednesday night, a great show and loads of fun. I hopped up on stage along with friends during their cover of "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine, hence the security radio call: "There are two directors on stage with the band!" hehe
  2. Orchestrating attendance at the convention by members of Anthrax and Misfits, who played in town Sat. night. I'd been in touch with Charlie B. via email, and this too, came to pass. They all showed up, had a great time, and now they're interested in playing the convention next year. Yes! Vindication! :)
  3. Getting one of my favorite SF/fantasy writers, the abovementioned Storm Constantine, over here and hopefully better-known in the States, plus making sure she and her boyfriend had a good visit to the US, their first ever. It helped that they're such neat, great people to just BE with, and -- crossing fingers -- it looks like she may have made some of the connections needed to arrange a better book deal for the States. --So hopefully, I'll finally be able to tell all my friends to go to Waldenbooks or B. Dalton and grab her newer books. :)

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

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June 8th, 1996

Hey presto! We've finished the Dragon*Con '96 Pocket Program and (I hope!) the Souvenir Program Book, and both should now be at the printers'....just a little late. :) A little less than two weeks away now, I suppose. Eee argh!

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 underwater air-tank." At least for a few breaths. Hey, it took a kid from California to show us that? :)

Timothy Leary, rest in peace.

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May 5th, 1996

Well, the second Dragon*Con Progress Report -still- isn't done, but we're nearing completion on it. We're waiting as long as possible to include any last-minute guests.

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. :)

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April 19th, 1996

It's been almost exactly a year since I first started writing about current-events and archiving my thoughts on this page....how do I know? The first entry in these old-news archives concerns Freaknik '95, the annual gathering of black college students here for their Spring Break, and the subsequent rioting and looting that resulted. Well, now it's been a year, and Freaknik '96 is upon us. This year I hope to avoid going downtown into the heavily trafficked areas since the kidz just cruise and park their cars, jamming traffic and stopping the city, but I have tickets for the Braves game on Sunday and I'd like to go down to the Ga. Rennaissance Festival's opening day tomorrow, Saturday. Either plan involves risks.

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:

So you can see why I'm saddened at the place closing. It almost feels like a friend is slipping away. I hope the Wreck Room returns to its familiar haunts after the Games, but even if it does, a part of the 'vibe' will be gone forever. In pace requiscat.

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April 2nd, 1996

I've been trying to work out a show here for Metallica this summer, but it's uphill work for either a Lollapalooza gig or even a fan-club-only gig. The scarcity of a useable big venue really hurts (they can't play amphitheaters on this tour, apparently -- not the band's decision, either), plus the Olympics cause trouble with getting hotel rooms. I can solve the latter problem, by arranging to have some of our Dragon*Con room-block reassigned to them (agreed-to by chairman Ed Kramer), but as for the venue, well.... There's Gwinnett County's Briscoe Field, maybe.

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. :)

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March 7th, 1996

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!

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February 14, 1996

Well, I got my tax refund back in record time this year, and since I don't owe the state of Georgia anything (for once), I'd been planning on going in with friends and getting Braves season tickets. Well, those plans fell through, so now I have to find another way to spend the money. :)

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! :)

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January 25th, 1996

Only five shopping days 'til my birthday -- try to get to the malls early!

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.

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Dec. 15, 1995

All sorts of weird stuff going on! I am now planning on a road-trip excursion to the New York area to see two Dream Theater shows and to attend YtseCon II, arranged by us Internet Ytsejammers as a before-show get-together for bands and fans. Email me for more info on this.

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!

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Nov. 18, 1995

I've been keeping pretty busy with all sorts of stuff. Our small mostly literary SF/fantasy convention, Antares '95, did much better than I expected, drawing over 300 people despite being strapped financially and with insufficient advertising. The hotel had a small fire on Saturday evening, forcing the convention out into the near-freezing cold, but attendees responded well, and our security really helped the hotel out a lot.

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.

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Oct. 5th, 1995

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.

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Sept. 6, 1995

Not too much going on lately. We are now planning in earnest for Antares '95, which is coming up in just a few months (Nov. 10-12). Spent an enjoyable Labor Day weekend doing not too much -- went up to my parents' house on Monday and spent much of the day in the pool, for the last time up there. My friend Tim crashed at my place on Sat. night, and my friend James-the-drummer stayed over on Sunday night.

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.

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August 10, 1995

Well, it had been over a month since I last visited these pages, so my 'current' news ranges back to early July. :)

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.....

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July 1st, 1995

I'm sitting here awaiting the arrival of my Internet friend and Rush-fanatic tvos and his friend Matt. 7:18 p.m. and they're still not here..... We'll be going up to the folks' house for cookout and combat fireworks launchings on Tuesday: my sisters and I went to Tennesee-Alabama Fireworks last night and bought an arsenal. hehe

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....

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June 1st, 1995

Spent a quieter-than-planned Memorial Day weekend hanging out at the Magic: the Gathering regional finals, just to talk to friends who were there from out of town. Monday, went up to Mom's for the usual cookout and pool opening (hooray).

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

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May 26th, 1995

Assuming I survive tomorrow at work (there won't be many people there, and I think my manager and senior will both be out, which could put me in charge -- yipes!), I'll probably go to the Georgia Rennaissance Festival either Saturday or Sunday, depending on what days Ed K. needs me at his place to work on the last Progress Report for Dragon*Con/NASFiC '95. Monday I'll be up at my parents' place for the usual Memorial Day cookout and inauguration of the pool (brrrr). Dunno who, if anyone, will be coming along yet.

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. :)

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May 17th, 1995

Planning on attending the Faster-than-Light BBS Bash on Saturday, then (if I get up in time) going to the Georgia Rennaissance Festival on Sunday, in costume.

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.

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May 5th, 1995

Right now I could be at a metal/thrash show at the Wreck Room here, but I didn't feel too motivated tonight. Really not motivated: I could have gotten in for free, not paid for parking, and even drank for free if my tastes ran that way (they normally don't). Oh, well....

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April 25th, 1995

Well, we survived Freaknik, Atlanta's reluctant annual hosting of 1-200,000 black college students last weekend, barely. I think our lives were really only in danger once, while we were walking north on Peachtree through the madness after abandoning our MARTA bus, which had gotten stuck in the gridlock. Tim, who followed after us, reports he saw three thug-types start following us with mayhem in their eyes, so he casually closed in behind them, cleared his throat and made as if to reach for a gun in his leather jacket. The three thugs decided to walk a different way. Since there wasn't a single cop in evidence and no way they could have reached us through the madness, we probably owe our wallets and possibly our lives to Tim.

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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