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31st-Dec-2016 01:43 am - THE BOOKS OF 2016
ShaveDave, jar
While I'll almost certainly do a "The Books of 2015" bookpost — and maybe throw in a 2014 version, as I think I never got to it — it will have to wait until I cobble together exactly what books I did read in 2015. (I was as disorganized as ever last year — this year I'm planning to use GoodReads more consistently as a track-keeper.) I know there were a couple Graham Greene novels (Our Man in Havana and A Burnt-Out Case); a couple of S.M. Stirling's novels of the Change; John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley; a Connie Willis book that I did not love (Blackout), an unusual experience with Willis books; and a number of others that aren't coming to mind right now. Plus lots of graphic novels, periodical articles, web content and so forth.

But it's never too early to start a Books of 2016 post! This post will be updated throughout the year and stay atop my LJ (not that I do all that much posting these days as a general rule). Future Land O'Ledley Readers may disregard the previous paragraph as irrelevant.

So, Book #1 of 2016 .....

1. TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon. This was my second experience with Chabon, after The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. This one doesn't quite rise to that book's heights — the scope is smaller, for one thing, being about Oakland black-interest record store owners, their midwife wives, and the people in their spheres as all their livelihoods are threatened — but I found it compelling. If only because I share many of Chabon's passions (music, history global and regional, comic books, and so forth). But not only that: His characters seem real even while skirting with but not falling over into cliche; they all (well, most) seem like people I'd like to get to know even though I would probably find each of them at times maddening and frustrating). And his voice is always lyrical, even when at the most gritty. Occasionally, he seems a little too aware of himself, a little too self-consciously a Writer -- and it can take one out of the story. My brief GoodReads review touches on this:

"Couldn't put it down. While Chabon occasionally can be a touch overindulgent in his frequency of metaphor, allusions to culture both high and pop, and writer's flourishes -- I haven't decided yet whether chapter 3, an 11-page sentence, is the height of brilliance or just showin' off -- the characters he creates and the story he tells are compelling."

Your mileage may vary. My wife Diane can't read Chabon -- she made a valiant effort with Kavalier & Clay, got halfway through it, but just couldn't. But she related to a few of the Telegraph Avenue darkly comic passages I read her about childbirth.
1st-Mar-2016 08:36 pm - FAREWELL
ShaveDave, jar
I will post at greater length here next week or so -- most of my communication on the subject has been on Facebook, where far more of our friends are -- but for anyone who's still seeing my LJ posts who hasn't already heard:

My beloved wife Diane passed away last Friday, Feb. 26, due to a massive heart attack brought on by acute coronary disease.

I am crushed, though not destroyed. Diane was THE great love of my life, and none can ever fill that role. I am devoting the rest of my life to living as she did -- fully, truly, kindly, fiercely, whimsically.

Her kids and I, as well as her parents and siblings, have been uplifted by the kindness expressed by so many people, in words, thoughts, prayers, photos shared, meal and other offers, assistance with tasks (both everyday tasks and funeral-related). The wonderful erinwrites even set up a gofundme page for us -- we would never ask for money ourselves, understand -- and the response has been tremendous. Overwhelming. As I've said elsewhere, Diane always thought the best of people, and it's nice to see her proven right.

But still, I am heartbroken. And there will be an emptiness in my life, my heart, my soul for the rest of my life.

Goodbye, my Cuppycake. Until we meet again. And we will. We will.
1st-Apr-2015 09:23 pm - RHYTHM AND RHYME AND HARMONY ....
ShaveDave, jar
So last January, on Facebook, I started a series of posts counting down my 365 favorite songs, or at least 365 songs that I particularly like(d) at that particular point in time. I thought it would be over in a year, but I haven't gotten around to posting every day ... or every week ... or even every month. So we're only up to around #290 after around 15 months.

Facebook is notoriously horrible for accessing old posts, so I finally figured I would archive the old selections here, five at a time.

So here goes:

LDW'S PREFERRED TUNEZES, #365: DRIFT AWAY - Dobie Gray (1973, written by Mentor Williams)

So awhile back, for no apparent reason other than curiosity and the idle thought of constructing the Ultimate Playlist, I scribbled down my picks for my 365 favorite all-time songs (favorite at that given moment in time, anyway). And figured that I might as well share 'em, one day at a time, for a Year of Posts.

We start at #365, with a song that has sentimental associations for me: It was an occasional earworm for my father, who was known to launch into it at odd times -- driving the pickup, at the dinner table, hoisting Sheetrock, etc. It was a touch incongruous because if you knew my dad, you know he was no rock-and-roller by any stretch of the imagination; by and large, to him music began and ended with Southern gospel quartets such as The Florida Boys, the Masters V and The Statesmen. But he'd get the odd rock or country earworm from time to time, and "Drift Away" was the most frequent. And I can see why: It's not just catchy, it's *hopeful* and soulful and transcendent; it speaks of the power of music, of communal artistry, to lift us up. To get us lost in a way that we truly find who we are. "I want you to know I believe in your song." Indeed.


LDW'S PREFERRED TUNEZES, #364 : SKIN - Bill Mallonee (Vigilantes of Love) (1995)

No offense to Don McLean, but this is my favorite song about Vincent van Gogh.



Really? Yeah, even though I'm pretty much apathetic to Music The Kids Are Into These Days -- as I was when I was one of the Kids These Days back in the '80s -- but I kinda like .fun. I have Diane Brietzke Paine to blame for it: While her tastes are quite eclectic, encompassing Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Grateful Dead, she tends to leave the top-40 station on the car and insisted we see .fun at CMAC. I'm liking their harmonies and arrangements, as well as the lead singer's voice. Don't quite get the Civil War-themed video, but y'know. (Caution: language)


LDW'S PREFERRED TUNEZES, #362: WHAT ABOUT US — The Coasters (1959, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)

In which a subtle touch of social commentary is injected into the Coasters' ("Yakity Yak," "Charlie Brown") winsome clownifying. And, as usual, dig that bass.


LDW'S PREFERRED TUNEZES, #361: MERCY NOW — Mary Gauthier (2005)

Every living thing could use a little mercy now.

10th-Jan-2015 05:31 am - THE YEAR THAT WAS, 2014 EDITION
ShaveDave, jar
OK, a mere 10 days into 2015, we finally have my Year In Review, 2014 Edition. A good year, mostly. Actually, a great year, dominated by two main elements:

1. Mawwiage! Diane and I got all nuptialized in September, in an outdoor tent ceremony in Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, NY, with the lake as our backdrop. There were all manner of comedies-of-errors surrounding the wedding, including the park informing us three days before the wedding that it rented the pavilion to a different party (Diane's dad came through, got a tent and generator and convinced the park -- he and Diane's mom and longtime users of the park marina -- to let us set it up) and a bridesmaid discovering, like an hour before the wedding, that the security tag had never been removed from her dress. (That's when the I-thought-dubious-at-the-time wisdom of booking a hotel 45 minutes away from the wedding to put up wedding party members proved prescient -- said hotel is less than 5 minutes' drive from one of the Rochester area's biggest malls, and one of them proved amenable to removing the tag.) But all the brouhahas fell away when Diane and I spoke our vows and our extemporaneous comments to each other, exchanged rings, and were pronounced married. It was highly enjoyable seeing people from a diverse cross-section of our lives in attendance -- and mrgoodwraith provided the most epic of toasts at the ceremony. (It's up on his LJ.)

That's the wedding; the marriage itself has been blissful. Diane and I just get each other in just about every way, and have a conscious commitment to always understanding each other, always having the other's back, and always, always letting each other know how deeply we are loved.

2. Movin' in. Slowly moving out of my old apartment -- more quickly and maniacally as the lease expiration drew nearer -- was a long haul; it's when one learns how much stuff one can accumulate in 10 years at one location if one is a bit of a minor pack rat. Had help from Diane and her daughter, and a couple friends who helped haul the Big Stuff. But whew, I don't want to do that again for a long while. I'm liking our place -- I'm back living in a trailer park again (deja vu -- lived in one throughout my childhood, adolescence and part of my adulthood), but this one's a nice building in a particular nice park/community. Double-wide, with a garage and a shed. Not parking in the garage yet -- had to have someplace to put that 10-year accumulation of stuff for the short term, after all -- but we'll get there.

That's the Big Stuff, which have pretty much dominated the year. There have been a few other elements of note:

• My mom had a pacemaker installed this year, after a scare in which she was having a hard time walking more than a few steps without being completely exhausted -- turns out that her heart was only pumping at half the beats a minute as it should (and was slowing down further in the ER, which necessitated the decision of running her up to Strong for the surgery that very day). Since then, her heart's been pumpin' right along. Mom is in her late 80s (had her 88th birthday last Saturday), so there's really one health issue after another these days -- but she keeps on truckin'. She's tougher than she'd ever admit.

• After gaffiating a bit from the filk community for a while, though not totally and not completely intentionally -- Confluence 2013 was canceled, we missed OVFF 2013 for another of my mom's health issues, and we skipped FKO 2014 to save a bit of money for the wedding -- we got back in the thick o'things with attendance at Confluence in its new and pretty nifty digs and then at OVFF, the Woodstock of filk. (We also made it to Eeriecon this past year — concerts by Ookla the Mok, Worm Quartet and Luke Ski, among others, plus a reunion of sorts of Radiance, the Houghton College speculative fiction group that mrgoodwraith started back in 1989.) It's not overstating to say that filk has become something of a family for me, exponentially more so since I've been with Diane and she's been embraced by and enfolded into the community as well.

• Work? It is what it is. As at many newspapers, the news/editorial staff is more or less skeletal these days, but we manage -- we do good work, and occasionally great work. I hardly ever get to write these days; I'm mostly on the copy-editing/administrative side of things -- though occasionally I've been able to snag a byline, such as in a recent piece about Robert Sawyer's appearance at the local community college. I keep my antennae up for something within my skill set and proclivities (but with better remuneration), but I'm more or less content. Domestic bliss kinda helps that way.

• Books read this year: I didn't really keep track, but off the top of my head, here's a sampling (there were many more, of course, plus re-readings and periodical copy, research and such):

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
— After Marquez's death, I thought I should honor him by picking out another of his books (after quite liking One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera). I wouldn't put this historical novel/meditation/reimagined-bio of Simon Bolivar on their level, but it was interesting, if only for the larger-than-life figure at the center.

Redshirts and Lock-In by John Scalzi — Pretty good sci-fi thrillers from Scalzi. Lock-In in particular raises a number of questions about interlocking rights and responsibilities and potential for abuses that Diane and I have talked about. Redshirts was just a great read for this old Star Trek fan.

Innocence by Dean Koontz — Never had read any Koontz before, and was pleasantly surprised by how lyrical and evocative this was, along with being a page-turner. And one heck of a twist ending.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire — Seanan, and Toby, are reliable favorites: I will pretty much always like her books, no matter what she puts Toby through.

The Given Sacrifice by S.M. Stirling. I'm loving the Emberverse. It's looking like we're poised to jump forward a generation for the next book. I'll be there.

I know I read many more, but they aren't coming to mind right now -- will have to update this later. This year, so far I've read Hood by Stephen Lawhead and have picked up Connie Willis' Blackout again. May keep making my way through Dostoevsky, Dickens, Chesterton, Stephen King and that big stack of science-fiction compilations. May try to catch up on Harry Turtledove, though he writes (and publishes) faster than I read.

Have a good 2015, all.

Words: Blackout by Connie Willis
Sounds & Images: My iTunes shuffle -- currently "Unlonely" by John Prine from The Missing Years
State O'Mind: Content
8th-Jan-2015 04:52 am - I LIVE
Celts, renfest, Arrgh

Still here! This LJ has lay fallow for quite a while, but this year I hope to post at least once a week. If only because, for a number of years, this blog was my primary journaling/online-social-interaction venue, and I still have a soft spot for it. Sometime over the next few days I'll make my 2014-in-review post. (The short take: Got married. Livin' in bliss.)

So ... who among my friends-list is still aboard and reading?
Father Mulcahy
Some folks may think that, because I'm a Christian, I would agree with and celebrate the recent Supreme Court ruling affirming a town board's practice of opening meetings with prayers, generally from Christian clergy. (See http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303647204579543572388368040?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303647204579543572388368040.html.) And many who share my faith certainly are celebrating it, as they have championed the practice in question in this and other towns

But as for me ... I'm not so sure. I'm leery about it for two reasons: the effect on non-believers, and the effect on believers.

I'm not making a constitutional argument: As I understand it, the ruling affirms previous rulings in favor of public-meeting invocations resting in part on their historicity, going back to the First Continental Congress (which, yes, was pre-Constitution) ... and sometimes it seems the No Religion In the Public Square Ever folks tend to think their modern understanding of the Constitution supersedes that of the folks who originally wrote, ratified and interpreted it, many of whom indeed opened their sessions with prayer. The Court's dissenting opinion has a point, though, that a municipality can go too far in having *one* religion represented. The establishment clause does not bar religion from the public sphere, but it does bar government from showing favoritism to one over the others.

So ... why am I skeptical?

1. Their exclusionary nature. A public, board-sanctioned prayer at a meeting of public business sends the message, implicitly (sometimes explicitly, depending on the people) to those citizens who are not believers that: "This is OUR town/village/county/school district -- we tolerate your presence because we have to, and we suppose you're technically citizens; but make no mistake: You are marginal. You are fringe. You are the Outsider." The more sectarian the particular prayer is, of course, the larger the group being marginalized is: A Christian prayer others those of non-Christian faiths or no faith; a trinitarian Christian prayer others Christians of a unitarian bent; a Protestant or Catholic prayer ... well, so on and so forth. But going the other way, as general and non-specific and watered-down as one might make a prayer (and you water it down enough, and one wonders what's the point), you're still telling the atheists and agnostics (EVEN IF THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY YOUR INTENT), "Hey -- this isn't really *your* town. Not as much as it's *our* town, anyway." This goes way beyond merely "offending" people -- it's about setting up a divide.

2. The effect on believers. I think, and I'm hardly alone in thinking so, that one of the most dangerous things for religious faith -- for any faith -- is to become identified with and intertwined with government, with the prevailing culture. No, I'm not advocating a separatist, isolationist approach to culture for believers (far from it, I believe in full engagement) -- but if (and I'm speaking from my own theological background here) faith is best understood as a personal commitment/relationship between an individual and his God (or gods, etc.) and how the implications of that commitment/relationship should compel her actions in society ... then it's very dangerous when that faith IS the dominant culture. One can just be carried along on the prevailing winds of their culture, thinking they're devout believers when they've never really asked the hard questions of faith -- never really wrestled with God. I tend to think that's where Christianity is in the U.S. these days, more or less. I've known people who have argued that the conversion of Constantine to Christianity (and yeah, there's plenty of debate as to how deeply that actually represented a commitment to Christ on the emperor's behalf) in the long run was a negative for Christianity -- sure, it stopped Roman-era imperial persecutions (though not entirely; there was a later wave), but it set Christianity up to be the Dominant Power, the political force, the empire -- and power is always a deadly, deadly temptation. (One of the recorded temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness, according to the New Testament account, involved taking temporal power.) Generally speaking, whenever people of faith aspire to power, the long-term effect on the faith is negative. And the power proves nebulous and temporary, anyway.

Now. I'm not saying that anything like a majority or even a sizable minority of those supporting public-meeting invocations are consciously or even unconsciously trying to be belligerent, or at least confrontational. (Though a certain percentage probably are -- those who tend to be in the "Say 'Merry Christmas' Or Else" camp.) I'm just saying that I think a number of my spiritual brethren have seen this as a my-team-vs-their-team issue and haven't really stopped to think about the impact: on the message sent to nonbelievers and the dangers of cultural religion (specifically of Christendom, which is *not* Christianity). I do think it's possible for a municipality to have invocations with a policy that provides for full inclusion -- but it seems like such a difficult task that it would take away valuable time from the other business facing the board in question. Most town board or city council members -- this isn't their job, they do it in their after-hours; their time is limited.

I have similar skepticism about school prayer, but this is a big enough text block.

Words: Various science-fiction short-story compilations I've amassed over the years. Favorite of the stories read in the past week or so: Tanith Lee's "All the Birds of Hell."
Sounds & Images: Songs of the Maniacs by Worm Quartet
State O'Mind: Tired
26th-Apr-2014 03:09 pm - IT'S HIM AGAIN
ShaveDave, jar
... And radio silence, or LJ silence, for more than three months. Sorry, folks. I still like LJ and don't want to participate in its slow crawl into the realm of the defunct, but sometimes it's easy to forgot about. So, here's the bullet-point update.

Weddingstuff: Plans proceed at a crawl -- basically, we've picked the date (Aug. 2) booked the venue (Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, NY), asked my pastor to preside, and picked our wedding party, and made a tentative guest list. (No small feat, that -- Diane's was easy, but getting four men who were free from prior commitments and actually in the country at the time was like arranging an exchange of prisoners. The inimitable mrgoodwraith will no doubt do a stellar job as best man.) We need to get moving on sending invitations so we can arrange for food (once we get RSVPs back), getting the wedding party clothed, arranging lodging for the out-of-towners among them, planning the ceremony, printing programs and so forth. Diane has been under the weather lately, so plans are proceeding slowly. Fortunately, I have a vacation coming up in a week, so after spending a weekend at Eeriecon, we can get moving on this stuff -- as well as making some serious dents in clearing out and cleaning my apartment, as the lease expires at the end of July, two days before the wedding. Whew. Weddingstuff is stressfulstuff -- but fortunately, the Marriagestuff is what's important and lasting.

Workstuff: I remain at The Company, doing mostly copy editing, text management for our off-site page designers (heh, off-state, not just off-site, and still writing the very occasional A&E piece. I have a good one coming up about a local science fiction/fantasy anthology called Rochester Rewritten in which the guiding theme is: Rochester, NY, with a different history. Go. So there's one set in a vaguely steampunky 19th century that also has active sorcery (and in which the Brits still rule); one in which a certain photography pioneer is a serial killer; one murder mystery set in the "Ville de Rochefort" (the area being part of New France, the French having won the Seven Years War); one about a man horrified to have run over an alien refugee on Route 490, and so forth. Good stuff; highly recommended even if you don't live in the ROC or know anything about it. I still have tendrils out for better-paying jobs, but for now this remains OK. Especially since in a few months I lose around $800 of current single monthly expenses when I close out my apartment.

Familystuff: Which is essentially Momstuff. She remains OK -- still in her own home after her stint last fall recovering in nursing homes from a pelvic fracture and a heart attack. Her scoliosis appears to be worsening. She remains mentally acute, except for a repeated (but intermittent) confusion about what time of day it is. I'm very thankful that, God willing, she will be around to attend our wedding.

Nerdstuff: Sad to miss FilKONtario this weekend -- need to save the money, and that's always an expensive con for me. Will make Eeriecon next weekend, what with concert slots for both Ookla the Mok and Partners in K'Rhyme, and with mrgoodwraith trying to organize a reunion of Radiance, our old college SF/F club he founded back in '89. Should be un-gaffiated by OVFF, if not before. We'd love to make it to Confluence this year, if the timing -- the weekend before our wedding -- doesn't make that unrealistic. (I can always say I'm in conference with my best man, who's running the filk at the con.)

Lifestuff: Generally happy. And still thankful for all y'all.

Words: Rochester Rewritten from R-Spec Press
Sounds & Images: Smell No Evil by Ookla the Mok
State O'Mind: Anticipatory, and content
1st-Jan-2014 02:34 am - TURN THE PAGE
Happy New Year to all my friends on LJ! Saw 2014 in quietly, working on a jigsaw puzzle with my Sweetie and watching the ball drop while digesting a tasty dinner of strip steak and garlic mashed taters and sporadically reading the newest Fables trade paperback. It's been a nice and low-key way to transition into a new year.

The old year has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's seen Diane and me grow closer virtually every day, through times of delight and disappointment -- leading, of course, to the impromptu proposal at Astronomicon last month. On the other hand, this year saw some trying health issues for both Diane and my mother, both of whom spent more time in health facilities than they would have ever liked. Diane's harrowing spring and early summer -- gall issues, sciatica issues, and horrific nausea that turned out apparently to be a reaction to her diabetes medication -- were followed by my mom's ordeal of two stays in two nursing homes for rehabilitation, once for a fracture after a fall, once for a mild heart attack a day after she was released from the first one. But the ordeals are over: Diane has not had to go to an ER for more than three months now, and Mom has been home for more than three weeks -- and her two rehab stays have been funded (one through Medicare, the other through Medicaid), and she has home health aides that come by every day or two to check in on her, so she's still able to live independently, which is highly important to her. Anyway, it seemed at times this year that I was living in hospitals and nursing homes -- at one brief period in late-August, early-September, I was running back and forth between my mom's hospital room and the ER waiting room to see if Diane had been admitted. Figured that if I keep bringing different women in to the hospital, I was going to raise an eyebrow or two. I was buoyed throughout by the Lord on whom I rely and who loves both women with a love beyond even mine, and the support and kind words and gestures of many a friend, whether in meat-space or online. Thanks to everyone!

Otherwise ...

• The year has seen some weird work circumstances I can't talk about, but I can say that the newspaper I work at remains a viable news source that's still doing some excellent work.

• I was in an auto accident in late August, the first one I'd been in since 1991. This one, in Diane's old van, was minor; nobody was hurt, and the vehicle was able to be driven home (we were only about a mile from Diane's home), and she was able to take the opportunity to finally change vehicles (she never liked that van, anyway). Essentially, we were last in a string of about four vehicles; the one in front turned suddenly, forcing everyone to quickly brake, and I accidentally hit the gas instead. Whoops, sigh. Felt pretty stupid at the time -- and felt bad about it in other ways, since Diane and I had planned to take her kids to the New York State Fair that day. But Diane was very understanding and helped me stop beating myself up.

• Got to see a couple of my favorite acts live this year -- Bruce Cockburn in February (I think) in Auburn, N.Y., and the Lost Dogs at Boulder Coffee Company, a Rochester coffeehouse -- that last one, I was seated about three feet from the stage -- I could've reached out and touched Derri Daugherty, though he probably wouldn't have appreciated it.

• Lost track of the books read this year, though they included The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, Transition by Iain Banks and Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (I'm in Chimes at Midnight now), among several others. Liked them all, though Zanzibar was a sloooow slog for the first couple hundred pages before I really started to care about the characters, and I'm not sure I ever really did for Transition.

In 2014, the big plan will be getting married, moving into Diane's home and setting up our new life together as a married couple, with all the logistics that that involves. I also plan to do more "extracurricular" writing, exercise enough to get closer to my target weight, and spend more time with all those I care about. And as always, my ultimate goal is to grow closer to God, to abide more completely in the Vine. At year's end, we'll see how I did.

In the meantime, Happy New Year! May it be filled with joys and challenges, peace and excitement, opportunities to grow in wisdom and faith and enlightenment, and opportunities to just have fun. May you eat lots of tacos, because tacos are yummy. Let's enjoy this shared year's journey, and may its end 365 years hence find you well.

Words: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire
Sounds & Images: Recently, Heathen by David Bowie and Between Heaven N Hell by REZ, because I'm all schizo, er, eclectic like that. Also highly enjoying the latest Oxford American music issue compilation, like always.
State O'Mind: Content, and pleasantly expectant
20th-Nov-2013 12:50 pm - NEWS? YEAH, MAYBE A BIT
ShaveDave, jar
Well, I broke my promise not to let another half-year go between posts, but I'll try again.

So ... what's been happening with LDWheeler lately?

Meh, not much, other than, y'know, getting engaged and stuff.

(That sentence would have more Dramatic! Impact! if most of all y'all, other than filkferengi and a couple others) hadn't already seen it on Facebook.)

Yep, Diane and I are planning to get all nuptialized sometime next spring. We got engaged in a fairly dorky manner -- while leaving a science-fiction convention in Rochester that shared a hotel/convention center with a wedding, Diane caught the bouquet flung by a man in the wedding party who wanted to get rid of it, then she asked me if there was anything appropos to the moment I wanted to do. Since I haz a Sense Of The Moment, I dropped to one knee then and there.

It's a happy capstone to a half-year that's been alternately wonderful and trying. Trying in that this year has seen serious health issues for loved ones -- Diane spent most of the spring and early-mid summer in hospitals dealing with gall and related issues that had laid her quite low, even threatening her life at the worst, but that's largely resolved and she's in good health again. Just in time for my mother's turn in the medical community. In late August, Mom took a fall and fractured her pelvis; after a week's stay in the hospital, she was sent to an area nursing home for rehabilitation for about five or six weeks. When she was finally discharged, she spent one night at home -- then the next morning had a minor heart attack. (Apparently she'd been discharged with a serious infection, which put a strain on her heart.) Again after a week in hospital, she's been in a different nursing home -- much closer to home -- to do physical therapy, occupational therapy and so forth. She's actually healthier now than she's been in a while, and is getting ready for discharge within a week or so.

A trying year, but it's been leavened by the joy that Diane and I have discovered in each other and in the community of friends and family who are so happy for us.

Anyway, I'll try to pop onto LJ a bit more often than has been my practice of late. I still like and value you all.

Words: Between books right now and in that WhatNextWhatNextWhatNext!! state
Sounds & Images: 220 by Phil Keaggy
State O'Mind: Content and at peace
23rd-Apr-2013 12:14 pm - SIX MONTHS LATER ...
ShaveDave, jar
It really has been that long since I've posted to LiveJournal, though I've more or less stayed some degree of current in keeping up with friends' LJs. Life -- including a switch to all late shifts, plus an ongoing serious relationship -- has accounted for much of my time; it's been easier to post quick 'n' pithy observations over on Le Facebook. But I still value LJ as a means for long-form ruminatin', and as the venue where I got to know a number of folks and got to know others better. So: the update.

As of my last post, I was around one month into a serious relationship. Now, Diane and I are approaching seven months together and continue going strong. I have never met a woman with whom I was so in sync in so many ways: intellectually, spiritually, interest-wise. We have similar off-kilter senses of humor and aghast reactions to grammatical atrocities and Tremendous Geek Tendencies. She's also one of the kindest, most open and accepting people I know. And her kids like me (and I like them), which is not always the case -- particularly considering the circumstances, as they lost their father to a heart attack after years of ill health. Some of you will remember this post from 2007, in which I held forth on the various attributes I seek in a partner. I've found them all in abundance in Diane. All my friends, from various spheres of my life -- church, work, filk/fandom and so forth -- have been quite accepting and welcoming to her: A particular passel of thanks to the filk community, as they're the ones most likely to be reading this post: When I brought her to OVFF last year, everyone was kind and made her feel at home -- in her own right, and not just as Dave's Girlfriend. I had no doubt that would be the case, having observed it happen before with, for example, erinwrites -- still, experiencing it directly has been a Big Delight. (Sadly, she couldn't come with me to FilKONtario this past weekend; she was a mite late in applying for a passport, and even with expediting it had not arrived by this weekend. May be for the best; she was not feeling well this weekend.)

In other news, I remain at the same company work-wise -- enjoying (most aspects of) the job while still keeping my eyes out for something more lucrative in my general field and my general region. (Due to my mother's age and frequent ill health, I want to remain in the Finger Lakes/Rochester area for the time being.) Still a part of the house church. Still doing a bit of "extracurricular" writing, though I'll keep project details to myself until anything comes of them. Still in an unlikely level of good health. Still have too much beard. And still planning to attend Confluence and OVFF this year (both with Diane). The parody I hoped to inflict upon hsifyppah at last year's OVFF should finally be done by Confluence; heh.

And time constraints are, um, constraining, so this is enough for now. I promise not to let another six months -- or even six days -- pass before checking in again. Take care, all.

Words: Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. A very slow slog at first, but it's increasingly captured my interest and now I'm more than 400 pages in. It's very obviously dated in some ways, but in other ways it's both universal and prescient. Heh, Shalamaser and Mr. & Mrs. Everywhere predated both the web and Facebook.
Sounds & Images: Ookla the Mok vs. Evil by Ookla the Mok. Long-awaited, and well worth the weight. Come to the dark side.
State O'Mind: Content
26th-Oct-2012 02:30 am - HE'S BACK ...
ShaveDave, jar
It's been a while since I've posted here. So without further prelude, here's What's Up With LDW:

Among my most recent posts a couple months ago was about a job interview at a local college for a web writing position. Interview went well, and I believe I'm among the frontrunners for the job -- but it's been nearly a couple months, and the position has yet to be created and funded. This is, I suppose, to be expected in academia. I am told, however, to expect word over the next few weeks. But in the meantime, I have been offered a fairly lucrative freelance project doing, essentially, what I'd be doing when/if I'm hired for the job. So I've started work on that project, to be completed by November's end. I'm hopeful about the job itself -- it offers good pay and benefits; I've enjoyed the company of the people who would be my colleagues; the work appears to be both something I'm confident I can do but that also provides challenges and a varied work experience. It beats my current newspaper editor job, which has degenerated to just shoveling copy to our out-of-office (and out-of-state) page designers. There's still some work I can take pride in ... but not enough to justify the low rate of remuneration.

The delay does, however, mean that there are no logistical issues blocking me from attending OVFF this weeekend, for which I hope to get on the road by 11-ish to be sure to get there at the very latest by the Pegasus concert. So many people I want to see and hear this weekend. (And so many people releasing discs this weekend, holy flaming persimmons.) I don't have much new prepared -- bringing a song that hapaxnym posted, by her permission, and hope to get a parody of a hsifyppah song finished by Saturday night. Looking forward to this one, for at least one more than the usual number of reasons ...

... That being that for this con, I will be joined by the inimitable Diane Paine, my sig-other for the past month or so. Diane and I knew each other in high school and dropped off each other's radar after that ... until reconnecting 25 years later in the Facebook Era. We became friends again and then began kinda-sorta-halfway seeing each other ... and over the past couple months the kinda, sorta and halfway all fell away. Diane's quite excited to be coming to OVFF -- she's fascinated by the concept of filk and has fallen in love with Seanan McGuire's music (I don't think I'm ever prying my Red Roses and Dead Things disc away from her), and offered the opinion that Mark Bernstein's "Cerebellum Serenade" should be "our song." (That's the "though you're only a brain in a jar I love you, dear" song, so make of it what you will.) Having observed how so many other newcomers have been joyously welcomed and assimilated into the community, I have no doubt that all y'all will make her feel welcome.

Nearly finished with, and highly recommend, The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby. An exploration of three generations of women facing hardships through various coping mechanisms and to varying degrees of success ... and which also incorporates selkie lore. (I'm not done with the book yet, but it's implied that at least one of the characters may be a selkie.) The writing itself is knowing and beautiful.

That's about it for now if I want to get on the road at a reasonable time. I'll see the OVFF-bound among you Friday!

Words: The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby; also Why I Am A Catholic by Garry Wills. Soon to start Twice Shy by Patrick Frievald
Sounds & Images: The Hearth and The Hive by Talis Kimberley
State O'Mind: Content
22nd-Jul-2012 11:05 pm - IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY
poker, 1991, monkey
The following is one of the rarest of creatures: A political LJ post from Dave. (For that matter, any LJ post from Dave.) Might not happen again for a couple years.

So I was at the Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, N.Y., on Friday with my friend D. After a fine and mesmerizing day of zydeco, Americana, sacred-steel, bluegrass and more -- and I would highly recommend, among others, Driftwood, the Campbell Brothers and Keith Secola and His Wild Band of Indians -- we settled into the "Cabaret" building for a couple punk acts. The latter, Atomic Forces, closed out its brief set of inspired noize with some 10 minutes of agitprop from the charismatic lead singer Park Doing about the Citizens United ruling and the undue influence it gives corporations, which already wreak disproportionate influence due to the founders/controlling shareholders' wealth; he specifically referred to the Walton family of Walmart fame. My friend D -- who self-identifies as a conservative albeit with socially liberal stances on issues such as same-sex marriage and the like -- was annoyed at the invective leveled at the wealthy and successful. She asked, Why is it a bad thing for a successful family, like the Walmart people for instance, to make all that money? Why the Walton hate?

Upon thinking about it further, I realize this hits upon one of the main disconnects we see and hear in current U.S. political discourse when issues of economic disparity are raised -- because someone invariably accuses whomever raises the issue of encouraging "class warfare"; of seeking to punish those who've worked hard and become successful (and to automatically suspect base motivations and sinister means on their part); of just plain expressions of envy.

But the thing is -- No. Nobody, other than some hardcore Marxists or whatnot, begrudge successful people the fruits of their success. The Occupy movement, as I understand it, wasn't a protest of the 1 percent's wealth or success ...

... It was a protest of their influence, of their access to policymakers and the leverage their money gives them in seeking to influence policy. People talk about a disaffected and apathetic electorate ... but can you blame the citizenry when most know that, although Joe Public and Joe CEO (and for that matter Joe Hollywood) are all Americans and all theoretically equal in citizenship and in access to their representatives ... Joe Public knows that the people in Congress and the people who aspire to be in Congress and the people in the White House and the people who aspire to be in the White House are far more interested in the views of Joe CEO and Joe Hollywood than those of Joe Public. Both parties court both of the other Joes, and the Republicans have more luck with Joe CEO and the Democrats have more luck with Joe Hollywood, and Joe Public wonders why he even votes. Until and unless he hooks up with other disaffected and discouraged Joe Publics. And this, to me -- in what's assuredly a sweeping and ridiculously oversimplified generalization -- explains the rise of both the Occupy movement and the Tea Party.

So why is such a simple distinction often lost? Why do so many people think that resentment stems from envy of success/wealth rather than the disparity in political access, in the way that, in our current system, money serves as a megaphone or amplifier of one's political voice?

A number of reasons, I think. Partly there's been a failure on a lot of people in Occupy and similar movements to articulate their position well -- many do, of course, but some have given the impression that they just hate the Rich Folk. And partly the mass media these days is, well, pretty pathetic when it comes to explaining anything complex, with context (and I say this as a journalist myself, or at least a proofreader, which is kinda close). And partly because a lot of people on the "other side" deliberately distort that distinction, and make it look like anyone concerned about disparity of access is just a resentful do-nothing communist who hates successful people (or, more alarmist, an army of budding Robespierres who would chop the American aristocracy in their own equivalent of the Reign of Terror. There are people who think the disparity in access to government is the way it should be -- is only fair and just -- as long as their side is the one that's being listened to. Who believe that Money Talks -- and furthermore, that's the way it should be.

Personally, I begrudge nobody their wealth, however much or little it may be, provided it was made honestly and scrupulously. What I do object to is the sense that our government is bought and paid for -- that the only people whose views matter are the wealthy and powerful (Orwellishly termed "job creators" whether or not they've created a single job). In other words, the 1 percent aren't the problem -- the politicians who choose to listen solely to that 1 percent, they're the problem.
I should probably post my recollections of FilKONtario before it recedes into the mists. An excellent con, as always. FKO is, of course, a convention I'm predisposed to find favorable, for a number of reasons. It's the unofficial beginning of my convention season, as I don't currently have the funds to swing GAFilk or Conflikt -- as such, it's a welcome time of decompression and reacquainting with folks I haven't seen for at least six months. And historically, FKO was my first filk con (2000) and the first one where filk took for me, as something that I could see myself participating in (2003 -- wrote my first one, "The Beagle" at that one, though I didn't sing it until Worldcon that year). Though it'd be a fine con even if I weren't predisposed to like it, I'd say.

Scattered highlights:

* My first time seeing/hearing Alexander James Adams live! Either AJA or Heather, for that matter -- and serendipitously, I happen to be in the middle of S.M. Stirling's novels of the Change, which quotes a number of HA/AJA songs. (Heh, and each book's acknowledgements seem to thank one more filker than the one before, as lyrics from Three Weird Sisters and Heather Dale have made their way into the books.) Blown away by his musicianship, as I expected.

* Many other excellent concerts -- Kathy Mar's GOH concert came complete with lyric sheets for everyone to join in, and with a focus on women's songwriting voices (the most powerful one to me: Meg Davis' "Seamus and Ivy" -- whoa, that's one of those songs that punches you in the heart); Paul Estin's set was a hoot, of course; Heather and Ben are always outstanding. I made it to parts of the Saturday concerts between Paul and Kathy, though I've found that on Saturday afternoons at cons I have a hard time sitting in one place throughout -- after a Friday spent sitting in the car and then sitting in open filk. But what I heard of the featured Canadians and the Interfilk guests was outstanding, as well. (I was fortunate enough to share a filkroom for a time Saturday night with Morva and Alan.)

* I was in relatively decent voice during the open filks and consequently confident enough to do probably more than I usually do. (I'm not timid these days; I tend to hang back because of limited repertoire, though I'm working to change that.) I got to witness Kathy's sharp eye and ear for who's been waiting to sing, who's been silent too long, and so forth. My rendition of Bob Franke's "Acid Polka" went over better than it did at OVFF, the first time I tried it (I've got to spring it out at Confluence, if only to torment Pete Grubbs). Had a couple nice moments in which a song I did prompted followers that I really enjoyed hearing: Kathy Sloan followed my "The Beagle" with Blind Lemming Chiffon's "Charles" (at times when Lem and I have been in circles, I've done my song deliberately to prompt his), and Morva and Alan followed my rendition of my favorite Vixy song ("No Hurry") with theirs of my second favorite Vixy song ("Perspephone"). Loved hearing Jodi and Allison trade off the lyrics on music from Dr. Horrible. And the Kira-Randy harmonies just get better and better all the time. And someone -- I forget who, maybe Elliott -- did a medic-themed reimagining of "March of Cambreadth," with the refrain "How many of them can we make live?" I'd love to know whose that was and if the lyrics are available.

* The songwriting contest theme wasn't doing it for me, and the Penguin Contest even less so -- so big kudos to the three who entered that one; a contest entry is successful if it stands alone as a good song outside of the parameters of the contest, and I told Randy Hoffman that his song about an unsinkable iceberg and its tuxedoed waterfowl inhabitants that met its doom at the hands of a liner needs to go on a disc sometime soon. (So should Bill Roper's similar-but-entirely-different Titanic song.) I didn't do the one-shots either; I haven't written anything for a while, and the song I've started inspired by Robert Sawyer's WWW books wasn't coming together over the weekend. May be ready by Concertino or Confluence, though.

* One of these cons where I share a filkroom with Kathy, I'm finally going to join the All-Nighter Sleep-Denier club, but it wasn't happening this time around. (As such I missed Kathy delivering Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" at full volume Saturday night aided by Kira's karaoke track -- but fortunately they replicated it right after the Hall of Fame concert Sunday.) Clearly I'm not getting enough caffeine in my diet. (Er, that was a joke.)

* Much more I could probably say, but that's enough. It's looking about 93-96 percent likely that I can make it to Concertino this year, big yay ... as it moves from "likely" to "definite," I'll scout around for people to beseech for roomshare. I'm quiet and unobtrusive for a Big Burly Guy.

Words: Just finished Stirling's The Scourge of God. On to The Sword of the Lady.
Sounds & Images: In my head, "Dangerous Heroes" by Michael Longcor
State O'Mind: Content
14th-Apr-2012 02:44 am - LEDLEY DELMON WHEELER
ShaveDave, jar
The date doesn't usually occur to me when it rolls around each year -- but it just occurred to me that this day past would have been my father's 91st birthday.

It's been 16 years and some months since his passage, the grieving is over, I'm acclimated to it, etc. And, as you know, I'm a Christian with the hope of resurrection -- I affirm, and I usually believe, that we'll meet again. I can't even say that I think about him every day ...

... But I miss him.
14th-Apr-2012 02:34 am - A PASSAGE: SCATTERED THOUGHTS
ShaveDave, jar
Note: For those of you among my IRL contacts who know the situation, I've withheld names and locked the post to friends-only, so please do not share or link.

She worked in the cubicle next to me for a number of years. She was funny -- sometimes wry, sometimes silly, sometimes caustic, sometimes ribald. She was blunt -- we all knew what she was thinking on any particular day about, say, our employers, or her husband. And she was giving and generous and often kind -- she seemed to always have food she would give to any co-worker in sight. Not just the usual office-cubicle food; she would have random Real Food items -- she might out of nowhere offer helpings of paella or something. I half-joked that someday I'd come in to see her roasting a pig on a spit (somehow anchored into our dingy carpet). She was also known for an incredible string of luck on scratch-off tickets -- minor winnings that often made their way into the foodstuffs she'd share.

After she left our workplace some years ago, I really didn't see much of her -- while we enjoyed each other's company, we weren't particularly close friends. I'd known her marriage was increasingly acrimonious, and that she frequently enjoyed more liquor than was good for her -- and in recent years the tidings I'd heard were increasingly serious: A separation. Poor health. A short period of jail time after a DWI.

By this time, the Facebook Era was in force, and she connected with me and several others, and we would often do short text chats -- ours, she usually initiated, late at night, when she had insomnia and I was one of the few contacts still awake (my current night shift makes me largely nocturnal). We kept things light, and I didn't pry for any information other than what she volunteered. We got together once at an area museum -- she'd enjoyed an undersea-vessel simulator it was temporarily offering -- and chatted; she was recovering from having been hit on her bicycle by two cars in one day. It seemed as if that incredible string of luck had vanished, or was running in reverse. And she was still, at core, kind: When she talked about the jail time, it was mostly expressing concern for the well-being of the women she met there and the trying lives they lived.

Last month, she ended one of our brief text chats -- which were usually scattershot, as they'd come while I was working and happened to have Facebook open in a window -- by asking me to call her sometime in the near future. And I planned to ... and kept planning to. But you know how these things go -- work gets busier, other Lifestuff happens, I had other calls to make (like when I heard about a friend's engagement out of the blue), and I didn't get around to making the call. And as I said, we weren't particularly close, just former co-workers who appreciated each other's eccentricities -- and I didn't really make getting in touch with her a priority.

Then a week or two passed without the midnight texts, and I didn't really think anything of it. Until a colleague told me the rumor: She had died.

It was friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend information, and for a day or two it didn't seem as though it was actually, you know, a Real Thing. Until another colleague talked with her mother, and her sister wrote a brief message on FB to people concerned: Yes, it was real. (The family had declined services or obituary.) And, apparently, alcohol-related.

When something like this happens, it seems we invariably start questioning whether we could have made a difference -- as in, you know, what if I had made calling her a priority. What if that one bit of human contact could have, if nothing else, staved off a descent, given her another day? But I know that's useless specualtion -- we'll never know what could have been. Many-worlds theory is, at least in practical application, essentially a parlor game. Maybe a call from me, or from any number of people in the same position -- people somewhere on the spectrum of acquaintance-to-friend who weren't particularly close to her but who liked her and had occasional contact with her -- might have made a difference. And it might not have. I don't blame myself, or anybody else -- for one thing, it's inaccurate; for another, it would end up making things All About Me instead of about her.

But. If there's one thing I do take from this: I live my life, and it's frequently a busy one, and like everyone else I have a lot going on. But I don't ever want to be finding myself asking the what-if questions again. I don't want to ever be desensitized or numbed or oblivious to signals people may be putting out.

Mostly, I don't ever want to be too busy to reach out to a friend again.
ShaveDave, jar
For more than 20 years now, I've called myself a political moderate. It's a term that's not all that helpfully descriptive, bespeaking little than an aversion to extremes in policy and approach. I've also called myself an independent, which suits me better, as an expression that my views can't be pigeonholed and sanded down to fit within the parameters of either of the two major U.S. parties -- that of the factors I bring into play when making an informed investigation and judgment prior to voting, political party affiliation isn't one of them. (Plus, as I posted several years ago, I've also stayed clear of political parties for a faith-based reason, as I've seen too many people of my faith who, from my perspective, seem more aligned to their politics than to the teachings they claim to cherish.) Besides, words like "conservative" and "liberal," as far as I'm concerned, have been leached of all meaning -- they say a lot more about the speaker's own stance than anything else. (My own paper has been called left-wing and right-wing -- at the same time. What does that prove? Absolutely nothing at all.)

Well and good -- and I'll probably remain independent, even though that effectively disenfranchises myself come primary time, at least in my state. But as the political dialogue gets louder, coarser, shriller and more ridiculous (with bombastic claims of "war on faith" and the like) ... and as now in the Facebook Era I see how many of my old high school classmates have moved rightward of me (or maybe they always were, and we never talked about politics; or maybe I've moved leftward) ... and as people in various circles in which I move think nothing of, say, unleashing all manner of anti-Obama invective casually, figuring that, well, pretty much everyone in the room must agree with them ... and as each day brings a statement out of a candidate's mouth more jaw-droppingly outrageous than the day before ... I wonder whether I'm still that moderate. Politically, I don't really know what I am -- kind of a mutt, really.

9th-Jan-2012 05:22 pm - ... I SUSPECT YOU HAD TO BE THERE
ShaveDave, jar
So I'm doing some housecleaning and reconfiguring today -- and I've come across an envelope containing a bevy of Fake Fortunes, created by assorted friends and colleagues at The Company (notably Marcy Mahoney, who used to very occasionally post here as hazmatplaytime a few years back) as something of a send-up of insipid fortune-cookie offerings. A lot of inside jokes, pop-cultural references and general silliness. Plus the "Lucky Numbers" tended to be stuff like "25 & 6 2 4" or the Numbers from Lost.

A sampling:

* You will have the honor of seeing the first frog of spring. (There's a story behind this one -- about a dozen years ago, someone, maybe me, took a call from someone from a town about a half-hour's drive away from the office, who excitedly enthused that they just saw the FIRST FROG OF SPRING and thought we should SEND A PHOTOGRAPHER DOWN THERE RIGHT NOW before it hopped away. ... Um, yeah.)

* Dude. You have no idea.

* Beware the soles of your shoes while running. They may trip you. (That ... MIGHT be a reference to something that ... MIGHT have happened to someone ... who MIGHT have been me.)

* Won't you take me to Funkytown?

* He who stands on toilet is high on pot.

* Join me, and we will rule the galaxy as father and son.

* Return me to the cookie, Ledley.

* The thermostat lies. (It did. Still does.)

* Googlezeefloifenflauf.

* This paper is laced with arsenic.

* I'm too sexy for this box of fortunes.

* Bite me.

* He with much tresses,
Beard like a man of old times,
Let us shave him bald.
(It's entirely possible that this haiku may have been about me.)

* Durpitty Durp.

* It wasn't me. It was the one-armed man.

* The rhesus monkey is the noblest of the primates.

* You just don't get it, do you?

* Every rose has its thorn, just like every night has its dawn.

* I like your hat.

* The pink balloon registered under a fake name while waiting for the four horsemen. (This was from a writing exercise in a writers' group Marcy started, using the old Surrealist Games gambit of having people write random subjects, predicates and the like and mashing them together randomly, and letting that serve as the opening sentence for a story to be written in about 20 minutes' time. I'll have to track mine down; I remember being vaguely proud of it.)

* Alpacas should never be confused with howler monkeys.

* It is partly cloudy, AND it is partly sunny. (Aside from its origins in something stupid I said while preparing the paper's weather page, this one is kinda-sorta-if-you-squint profound.)

* Vacuum cleaners suck.

* She who bears the club makes the rules.

* Why you want now? (Actual quote from Chinese-restaurant employee taking a takeout order. Shockingly, that restaurant is no longer in business.)

* Dave, your hair is on fire.

* Look out!!!
2nd-Jan-2012 02:29 am - TURNING OF THE YEARS
So, we appear to be some 26 hours into a new year. Well met, say I. I don't have any momentous departing words for 2011 -- it wasn't particularly momentous either in a positive or a negative sense. Mostly, it was quick -- as in, really quick. Which may be a function of age, or of too-long workdays, or something.

While I appreciate the clean-slate attribute of a new year, arbitrary as the Jan. 1 date may be, I don't do conventional resolutions -- more like basic over-arching goals toward overall improvement in every sphere of my life (spiritual, physical, social, financial, creative, vocational, intellectual, and general attitudinal). Last year I set a basic goal of overall, complete transformation. I realized that's a bit much for a grandiose one-year plan, so I made it into a grandiose three-year plan, which I'm one-third into now. 2011 saw some steps forward on a couple fronts: I'm slowly developing a more focused approach to life; I'm finally on course to be out of dire financial straits; I was able to resume some duties at The Company that I dearly loved and found fulfilling but which had been unceremoniously taken out of my hands in early 2010. This year I'm hoping to kick healthier-living and some dormant creative projects in gear, and maybe being somewhat less reclusive.

As ever, I hope to discover what "transformation" in each sphere entails as I go along, ideally in fellowship with the Author of my being who knows His plans for my welfare, future and hope.

Yeeks, the preceding several paragraphs were mighty hifalutin'. One "resolution" I will make is to spend considerably more time with the people I care about, and if you're reading this post, chances are you're among that subset of the human race. So ... lookin' forward to seeing you sometime soon.

Happy New Year, all. Enjoy writing across that blank slate of 2012 -- may your lives write poetry and comedy and romance and adventure across its pages. May any conflicts and tensions promote the character development. And may it have a happy ending ... one that sets up for the sequel.

Words: Finished Brian Aldiss' What Can Replace A Man short-story collection. I'd read about half of it this summer and then misplaced the book until last week. Good, good (and highly diverse) stuff -- the human condition reshuffled many different ways.
Sounds & Images: Saw The Adventures of Tintin tonight and was quite pleased. I've been a Tintin fan since, yikes, age 7 or 8 or so when I found a few battered volumes (Land of Black Gold was the first I remember seeing, I think) and when The Black Island was serialized in a children's magazine. So I approached the Spielberg-Jackson treatment with the same trepidation one usually does with adaptations of books or comics or such that's important to one. Needn't have worried -- from the wonderful opening-credits sequence, I knew it was in good hands. I hope this catches on well enough for future installments.
State O'Mind: Anticipatory
To all among my LJ friends who celebrate it, I wish a merry Christmas that's both meaningful and happy, filled with the people and things that bring you joy. To my Christian brethren among you, may we be increasingly cognizant of the reality, import and ramifications of the Incarnation of two millenia ago -- and the incarnation of sorts that's taken place in each of us. And to those who don't celebrate, I wish a happy weekend. And for everybody, a happy and healthy 2012, filled with progress in whatever way one defines it.

I thinks that covers everyone. *smiles*

I don't post on here much anymore -- usually only when I have something long-winded to say, or something less-geared to the mass audience of Facebook -- but I value and care for all of you.

Words: The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson. Yes, I read this kind of stuff for fun.
Sounds & Images: A mix of a few Christmas-based Pandora stations. It just launched into Sinatra's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
State O'Mind: Appreciative
10th-Dec-2011 02:09 am - WHAT'S HE building IN THERE?
ShaveDave, jar
Heh. I have a number of Pandora "stations" -- a Ryan Bingham station that gives me a lot of Steve Earle, Lucero and Cross Canadian Ragweed (as well as Bingham); a station seeded with a Dave Mason song that gives me a lot of 60s vocal groups; an early-Genesis station that gives me a lot of Yes, King Crimson, etc.

Tonight I created a Tom Waits station -- and found that the thing about Waits is, "similar arrangements" can lead anywhere. So far it's yielded tracks from Guy Davis, Leonard Cohen, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Lightnin' Hopkins, Morphine, Blind Snooks Eaglin, and John Lee Hooker. I'm expecting some cabaret to show up.

The piano's been drinking. Not me.
ShaveDave, jar
So before it all retreats into the mists, I should do Part The Second (and Part The Final) of my OVFF conrep. Having just barely gotten through the Pegasus concert (and my lengthy ruminations on "Wicked Girls") in the last post, I'll just barrel through the high points of the rest of the con from my perspective, halfway-sorta chronologically.

* I parked myself in a doomsday-theme circle for most of Friday late-night and ... theme circles probably shouldn't go on more than three hours. But there were many interpretations of apocalypse and post-apocalypse, even personal apocalypse of nihilistic entropy (as in Randy Hoffman's powerful post-9/11 song "Nothing"). I think I did that circle mostly because I knew I had an apocalyptic song in my limited repertoire ("Catastrophic Dreaming," my rewrite of "California Dreaming"), plus "Martian Starbucks" about the end of a different civilization.

* After Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps' concert, which was characteristically outstanding -- heh, I observed that Ben and I bear a very, very slight resemblance if I were thinner, mysterious and talented (*smiles*) -- mrgoodwraith, Kira Heston and I hied to an area Italian eatery that was pretty much the ultimate in what Rand Bellavia calls stuff-on-the-wall restaurants. We enjoyed our lunch while speculating as to the stories behind the nuns on bumper cars, for instance. ("Take that, Sister Mary Angelica! And that and that and that!")

* Was drafted into support roles twice in open filks. Rand enlisted mrgoodwraith and me as the Wide Flat Earth of Sports color commentators for "Medieval Evil Knievel" in Adam's absence, which seemed to go over well. ("Promotional consideration furnished by the Iron-Fisted Reign of King Pendergast. Long may his cruel and pitiless will be imposed upon us.") And starmalachite enlisted us both, along with Kira and Sheryl, to hold up the appropriate cat portraits for her rewrite of "Wicked Girls" about the cats that have become part of her and Steve's lives.

* Lots and lots of fine open-filk moments, such as Sassafrass followed filkertom's spirited (heh) version of his atheist gospel song with "Hearthfire." And Andrew Ross' rewrite (I hesitate to say "parody" when the effect is serious) of "Crazy Man Michael" about seanan_mcguire's A Local Habitation. Some wondrous Randy-and-Kira harmonizing -- their voices do some serious magic together. Watching the inevitable reactions when the one or two people in the room who'd never heard it hear "Wreck of the Crash" for the first time. (Not sure who did it; it wasn't Brooke.)

* Didn't go to the mass grouping at the Mongolian BBQ this time around; spent a less-crowded dinner with braider and peteralway at a local Subway, mostly for the company and the conversation. (Serendipitously, Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" was playing at one point, which is one song for which I have a slightly infamous parody.) And on the way back, Mary shared the virtues of her latest musical fascination, Enter the Haggis. (I'm liking it. Sadly, I can't get another Saturday off anytime soon so can't get to their Buffalo show.)

* It was good seeing 19 Action News in a full-band setting. Which reminds me; I need to send some Rochester club contacts like I promised the drummer, should they do any mini-tours in west-central New York. I did disillusion him a bit about the travel time: No, Cleveland to Rochester is slightly more than three hours. Quite a bit, actually.

Ach. So much more Awesome packed into the weekend, but this has already gone on too long. Finances don't allow for any further fannish-type sojourns until FilKONtario, but that always makes FKO even more special; coming on at the onset of spring, it's something of an opening of the season for me. (Of course, there's also tax time, but we won't talk about that.)

Words: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Sounds & Images: Country Music by Willie Nelson, a find at today's record show hosted by the wondrous Bop Shop -- which I just found out today is losing its lease in Rochester's Village Gate Square. Big Sigh.
State O'Mind: Appreciative
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I should probably make the annual The OVFF That Was, Ldwheeler Edition post, since the con's a week gone now. As usual, these are just the scattered highlights that burble to the surface of my brain tonight; as usual, I'll use LJ tags when I know 'em or can easily find 'em ...

... And as usual, a weekend among filkers is among the highlights of the year for me, a weekend of decompression and merriment and music and time spent among friends I hardly see, as we get together to create this strange and diverse stream of the Folk Tradition (meant in its most all-encompassing and general sense). It was just sheer fun. And it's my swansong for fannish events until FKO in the spring, as I can't really swing more than three or four cons a year financially these days, certainly not cons with the associated travel expenses that GaFilk or Conflikt would mean. Sigh. Someday I want to get to GaFilk, and hear Moxie live, and dance with a number of the amazing women among my filk friends. And it Will Happen -- just not this time around.

So: My OVFF weekend, in somewhat chronological order:

* Actually managed to get on the road before 11 a.m., as I'd always threatened but hardly ever accomplished, which means I met my goal of hitting Cleveland before Friday rush hour and avoiding a 45-minute-or-such delay. This time around, the whole trip contained only five slow-to-crawls due to construction or road-convergence issues, compared to last year's eight or nine. I was making good enough time that, not realizing how close I was to the hotel and that I'd make the Mad Hatter reception, I stopped for a quasi-dinner: I saw a White Castle, and I'd never eaten at one. Always wanted to try it -- and I can now add that to the list of things that, yes, I tried once; and no, I'll probably not do that again.

* Got to the hotel at the same time as my roommates for the weekend, mrgoodwraith and his Partner in K'Rhyme, Kira Heston. (Here's how awesome and/or insane Kira is: She brought M&M's for our snacking pleasure that she color-coordinated to her outfits for the weekend.

PIC: Peter Alway's Lego Filkroom. That's my Bricky Avatar in the back corner with the beard, I think. Really, the whole thing needs to be seen to be believed.

Click here for the remainder of my posty goodness, because I do wax fairly long.Collapse )
27th-Oct-2011 04:40 pm - IT WAS TOTALLY JURASSIC
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So I just overheard colleagues talking about how one of 'em has an "evil laugh."

After a weekend at OVFF, it was all I could do not to pipe in with "Ha ha ha ha DIE."

Perhaps I should have, anyway. Or will before the night's done.

Sounds & Images: In my head, the obvious selection by Seanan McGuire
State O'Mind: Carniverous
21st-Oct-2011 02:01 am - APOCALYTPICON
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Oh yeah, I forgot: The End of Days is back again this weekend.

I said pretty much everything I need to about the subject back in May.
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Forgive me, all y'all -- it's been nearly two months since my last confession, er, post. But I have a night off before leaving for OVFF in the morning -- these days I always schedule myself a buffer day before any weekend away, because there are usually 4,593 errands to do at the last minute, plus I'm Gettin' Old -- so I might do a quick catchin'-up rundown. This one probably will live up to my LJ's subtitle, "The World's Most Boring Blog."

* Two weeks ago, I went to my 20-year college reunion at Houghton. Not too many there from the class of '91 -- most folks in my age cohort have school-age kids (many of middle- or high-school age), and October's not an optimum time for a long weekend. But it was much fun. Being in that atmosphere, around current students, usually sparks ruminations about the passage of time. Not so much the Yeeks, We're All Old kind, but more, the recollection of how long four years seemed when I was in college; and how quickly four years blinks by in my current life. I tend to think it's because, by and large, back then the years were divided into sectors (semesters) with an intense focus; the semester and its tasks and people were my whole life. And each semester, each month, each week, each day could be significantly different from the one before and the one after. And a day was divided into so many different segments -- classes of an hour or hour and a half, labs or workshops of a couple hours, a study session here, a meal there, a workout here, a wings run there, maybe a zip out to the Big City on a weekend (which, where we were, would have been ... Olean). Whereas in my current life, my work rhythms -- and most of my life rhythms -- haven't changed much from week to week, month to month. (Though there have been some notable changes lately.) The other thing is, of course, we were all younger and had more energy and could pack more into a day. Wasn't really going anywhere with this line of thought; just ruminatin'.

* Got to see They Might Be Giants with Jonathan Coulton a couple months ago at Harro East Ballroom in Rochester with a few friends. I like TMBG, but my friends were all Major Fans, especially vernicus -- they were much fun, and I heartily joined in the "APES" chant as much as anyone else, but I was more there for Coulton, who delivered. He had a band with him; I haven't heard him in that framework; but then the only time I'd seen him live before was when he made it to Confluence back in '96.

* Workwise, a few weeks back I began editing and writing for a two-page arts-and-entertainment spread in the Sunday edition of our paper -- replacing a couple of canned specialty pages that had little reader interest. I'm liking this quite a bit -- my nearly two years of editing the Thursday A&E/coming-events section in 2008-10 were, I think, the pinnacle of my career thus far; and I was quite depressed for several months after I was pulled from it in a newsroom restructuring. I continued to contribute to the Thursday section, but it really wasn't the same: It wasn't something over which I had ownership, something in which I was invested. So this is my return to spearheading an A&E section that's essentially my vision from start to finish, and which allows for longer-form pieces than the Thursday section allows. (And Sundays -- being a tetch more leisurely -- are a better fit for my writing style. I've done some pieces I'm fairly proud of, including an introduction of the new Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra director; an overview of the area gay/lesbian fim festival (ImageOut); and an interview with Derek Trucks in preparation for the Trucks Tedeschi Band's Rochester concert this Saturday (which is where I would be if I weren't at OVFF). My other duties haven't been diminished, but I'm doing work I'm passionate about again, which raises my energy level for everything else.

* Finally read Moby-Dick, and ... meh. I expected to, and wanted to, like it more than I did, but can't really analyze why. Anyone else have that experience with the White Whale?

* Made it to the Canandaigua Comic Con last week. Major find -- other than a lot of discounted back issues of Adventure, as I'm a sucker for Paul Levitz writing the Legion characters -- was Chris Watkins' collection of his Odori Park webcomic strips about a young, dual-ethnic couple. It's a Much Fun slice-o'-life strip. Here's the website; it started recently enough that a tour through the archives shouldn't take that long. (As opposed to when I discovered Questionable Content about 700 strips in.

I needs to get to bed, since I want to get out on the road by 9:30ish -- want to make the Pegasus nominees concert at the very least. Got to almost the whole thing last year -- would've made it had I not hit about 23 different construction work zones throughout Ohio.
28th-Aug-2011 09:03 pm - ATTENTION, ALL YE FILKERS
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A heads-up to the filkers and filk-friendly folks among my f-list: In the comments of my previous post, hapaxnym is looking for "modern" (meaning the last dozen years or so, I take it) filk recommendations for her daughter, who came across her old Julia Ecklar and Echo's Children discs and loved 'em. I gave about half a dozen recommendations, but feel free to chime in yourselves.
Yeeks, I appear not to have posted for two months, since before the Faux End of Days. Little time lately for Lengthy Ruminations. I am, however, currently on vacation -- first full week I've taken off since 2009; last year I took mostly long weekends for conventions and such. And since it's Way Too Hot to do much outdoors right now, maybe it's time to reintroduce myself to LJ.

Haven't done too much this week thus far -- though had my birthday dinner last night (actual b-day isn't until Saturday) and plan a trip to Confluence this weekend -- but I think I really needed this week. For the past eight months or so, I've been working largely a nights-and-weekends shift, not by choice, and it's only been over the past couple months that I've been able to establish a rhythm that keeps the schedule from weighting me down, and establish time for myself. Added to that, 2010 was a largely disappointing year, in which I met very few of my personal goals and was shifted away from my Dream Job at The Company (though I have been able to retain elements of said Dream Job). I think I needed this week to detox a bit and decompress and just kinda be for a bit. I've also gotten a bit of significant housecleaning done yesterday and today as opposed to the dribs and drabs I do while getting ready for work or getting ready for bed.

But that's not to say that life is all Shades Of Gray, because I'm basically happy. And so -- although I do have one or two Major Posts about Big Issues Of The Day (as well as my Abuse of Capital Letters), they will wait. This post is Post #1 of 100 Things That Make Me Smile. Some are recent events, some are longtime mainstays. They're persons, places, things and concepts. Animals, vegetables, minerals; solids, liquids and gases. It's mostly an exercise in, Dang it, you've got a ton to be thankful for, LDW.

So here goes:

21st-May-2011 04:41 am - THE END OF DAYS
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So. I take it all y'all have heard about the End Of Days.

It'd be kind of surprising if you hadn't. As fringe apocalyptic predictions go, the 89-year-old religious-broadcaster Harold Camping's calculation of a May 21 Rapture has had a surprisingly high profile, when compared to similar past predictions, like Camping's own earlier 1994 prediction and Edgar Whisenant's Eighties tome deliniating 88 reasons why the Rapture would occure in 1988 (and his sequel the following year listing, you guessed it, 89 reasons ...). It's a function of the big publicity push Camping's followers have undertaken to get the word out (and a function of the presence of the Internet. of course, in which it doesn't take long at all for an idea to go viral). And in a way, that speaks well of those who believe this stuff -- that they care enough to get the word out.

At any rate, as the Fateful Day approaches, the jokes and analyses and mockery have ratcheted up. Tonight as I perused the day's posts among my Facebook friends, it seemed that at least one of every three was a snarky Rapture post. And y'know, I've done plenty of snark myself about it, probably more snark than a Christian like myself should employ against another beliver ... but it deserves snark. Because it takes a ton of hubris to declare certain knowledge of a date for which Jesus himself said no one knows the day or the hour -- in one of the gospel writers' accounts, he indicated that he himself (at least as a human) wasn't privy to the Father's exact plan. And self-appointed prophets like Camping do, in my estimation, some very real harm: They risk eroding their followers' genuine faith by equating their own dubious teachings with the promises of God, and therefore raise the question of whether God can be trusted. And -- I again refer to my Facebook newspage here -- they run the risk of making the concept of Christ's return something laughable, something of mockery. I realize that most people understand that Camping's teachings are pretty far afield from what most Christians believe, even what most evangelicals, even fundamentalists believe ... even hardcore dispensationalists like Tim LaHaye have denounced them. But I just have a sinking feeling that come Sunday, we're going to have A. a lot of disillusioned folks trying to pick up their lives again; and B. a lot of people across the world who'll find it that much easier to discount ideas posited and presented about Jesus because, well, remember that last nut.

Though really, if I'm honest, that's not the real reason I'm uneasy about the Faux End Of Days.

What's the real reason? Click here for all too many paragraphs on the topic.Collapse )
OK, if I don't get these remembrances done now, they'll never get done, as FilKONtario's a week in the past now. So ... here are a few highlights from Saturday and Sunday:Collapse )
8th-Apr-2011 03:35 am - DREAM (WIDTH) WEAVER
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So ... not that I have any intention of leaving LJ or anything, but this week of hack-attacks have made me a little antsy about content security. Thinking of getting a Dreamwidth account and backing my journal up there, just in case, and see that it requires an invite code. So, users of Dreamwidth among my FL: Have any of ye a code to spare?

I thank you. A grateful cosmos thanks you, though that's possible an overstatement.

Words: Bob Dylan in America by the historian Sean Wilentz -- which is as much a gamboling through various and assorted threads of American cultural history as it is about Dylan. Example: Wilentz undertakes a multi-page examination of the history of the shaped-note sacred-music tradition because Dylan did one Sacred Harp song on a covers album in the early 1990s. Attn, Rand B., if you're reading this: I think you'd like this one. You too, normaltrouble.
Sounds & Images: I've had Wild Mercy's "Doomsday Blues" in my head ever since Monday.
State O'Mind: Content
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