The Long Dance Good-night

the better to bore you with, my dear

More opinions!
deep thoughts
This thing's been way too focused on Things Actually Going On With Me of late. So, if only for a bit, let's lapse back into Things Marshall Likes At The Moment:

February of next year Peter Gabriel releases a covers album called Scratch My Back. From his website: "Peter describes this as a very personal record with twelve songs performed only with orchestral instruments and voice. The album's richly diverse sounds include the sparse romance of Lou Reed's 'The Power of the Heart', the powerful musical journey of Elbow's 'Mirrorbal' and an epic arrangement of Arcade Fire's 'My Body Is A Cage.'" Plus the cover art is kind of cool. Plus there are a few live shows planned in this style, which is the kind of thing for which I might or might not be willing to temporarily bankrupt myself.

Jónsi from Sigur Rós has a solo album on its way out, and for the cost of an email address you can hear the leadoff single. Two listens in and I'm kind of on the fence. It's the closest thing to straight-up pop to ever come out of that camp, or maybe it just seems that way because it's in English. Either way it doesn't really sound like Sigur Rós, so I'm kind of grateful that it's not being done under that name (assuming the band dynamic is such that that could have even been a possibility). Who knows; maybe it'll grow on me.

Since Two Suns has inexorably wormed itself into my heart for some time now, I figured it was at least worth the effort of looking into Fur and Gold. Hasn't reached equal status for me yet, but it's still quite good. And I can't remember the last time I couldn't get enough of a song the way I can't get enough of "Trophy".

There are not enough hours in the day. This is perhaps best evidenced by how little of Dhalgren I've been able to read since picking it up. I want so badly to just properly lose myself in it.

This season of The Venture Brothers has been really good, both in the usual solid storytelling and as a progression for the story and the characters themselves. They could have just kept doing the same (awesome and hilarious) shit they've been doing for years, instead they've dared to move the story into completely new areas. Which also makes it a little less accessible to anyone that hasn't been following that long, but I'm selfish enough to be okay with that.

Oh and I beat God of War II last night. It was a game, it kept me involved long enough to beat it despite the guilt over spending that long on a goddamn video game. Enough said.

This week.
strong sad
This week, this week, this week has it in for me.

About to kick off from work, with both our big printers having just finished what *should* be the penultimate course book of the ones that will actually be finished on time (as in, by tomorrow). By the good graces of Fate I'm out of here on time today, which gives me time to get to Charlottesville Music for picks and a new strap. Then it's home to run my lines and pack for tomorrow night's Jersey City show.

Oh yeah, I didn't mention that? Bella's playing in Jersey City tomorrow:

Free Parking!  FREE PARKING!

Somewhere in the more automatic areas of my brain stem I'm sure there's some concept of today being Thursday, but I can't be buggered to tell you how I got here. It's been another one of Those Weeks: go to work, stay far too late, pass the fuck out the moment I'm through the door, wake up some time after midnight, piss around until I can finally fall back to sleep despite a dozen potent sources of potent anxiety, wake up late, go to work. But I'm still getting my 40 despite knocking off early tomorrow. And the confluence of work stress and pre-show stress and early-holiday stress at least means it's getting itself out of the way all at once, and will be more manageable come next week. Maybe.

All sorts of stuff happening around me, resulting in unreturned emails and unheard voicemails and (worst!) unwatched Netflix. I'm Not There and Heavenly Creatures are both happening this weekend or I'mma kill a bitch. And there's Thirst @ Offscreen. And there's two Bella Morte remixes requiring some of my input and solely my input, respectively. And I still haven't been back to the gym since getting home from tour. And I need groceries. And... and...

And maybe I'll just spend the weekend playing video games and eating Tostitos. Who the fuck cares.

In other more wortwhile developments, I'm sort-of on this thing, in the form of the first piece of music to ever bear the Tacit Act moniker:

Click through for details and to get your hands on it. The whole thing was brought to my attention over the Thanksgiving weekend but is just now being made available. More on my (admittedly passive) involvement here.

Fuckin' A. Go time.

Out of the tour and into the HOLIDAYYYYYYYYS
There's a Q3 book running on my bigass printer, a few more in process, one started and finished its complete run today, and way too many not even started thanks to people just not getting us the stuff I need to do them. It's been one hell of a hectic day today. A week after stumbling back into the office, I think I'm finally Back At Work.

My rooms are still a ridiculous mess, instruments haven't even been unpacked yet, and now I'm forced to worry myself about getting my affairs in order for this coming weekend. Tonight will have to be laundry and packing since tomorrow is pre-prepping the tofurkey and stuffing (being made from scratch this year because I'm apparently insane) and Umlaut-ing. Wednesday might or might not be a half-day depending on the workload, either way the plan is to head straight for Chesapeake whenever it is I'm able to roll out. Unless I have to keep everything in the fridge at home and head back for it. Ugh, did not think of that.

And of course, not nearly enough got actually taken care of this weekend. Some major headway on the Bella Morte remix/mashup/majig I'm doing, sure, but nothing nearly Tacit Act enough to justify the schedule. So by the time I put down God of War II last night and crawled into bed I had to deal with my regular Sunday night "the fuck did you even do all weekend?" anxiety mess.

Well, I saw Inglourious Basterds (finally), The Men Who Stare At Goats, Reefer Madness! The Musical, and Manhattan. Hung out with some cool people. Slept, late. And given that Thursday night luckavery and I jogged up to Falls Church and back to watch Amanda Palmer throw it down, I guess I can't be too hard on myself. Take time to breathe, Marshall.

You'd think all this out of town travel would be abhorrent after so much time in a vehicle, but being back in the Batwagon somehow makes it all okay.

In a black wool peacoat, walked the 1/3 mile or so from my car to my office this morning under a uniform grey sky. Hands in pockets: it gets cold in November, you know. All of the town's leaves have pretty much fallen by now.

Synopses of New Orleans and Nashville are still owed; I might even actually still do them. For the time being, it appears that there is work to be done.

Houston, TX
deep thoughts
(typed up starting at 4am, on the third or fourth hour of a continuing coffee buzz, barefoot in the lobby of a building full of sleeping strangers)

It seemed we were all a bit reluctant to head out of Austin, either that or we just knew that it wouldn't take that long to get to the next town in relation to when we were *supposed* to get there. So we dallied a bit in the Super 8 parking lot after checkout and had a fun, leisurely lunch at Taco Bell that may or may not have involved me getting pantsed by Steve. Dianna from Versailles hadn't eaten at a Taco Bell in forever and had no idea how to order vegan. You're welcome, Missy.

Don't know much about the drive; either I was asleep the whole time or it was just that uneventful. Doesn't matter. Although coming into Houston held its own surprises, in that a) traffic was positively abysmal and b) the city is two or three times bigger than I had expected. So good on you there, Houston.

The show had been promoted as the "Rob Zombie After Party" which struck me as not much more than a cheap marketing ploy until we rolled up to the venue. Not only big-ish and pretty, but smack in the middle of downtown, and sharing building space with the Verizon Theater where Rob Zombie was about to do his thing. Suddenly the promo started making a little more sense.

Now, there are myriad things I'm learning out here, most of which I set out to learn and some of which come along without me knowing I needed to know them. Somewhere in one of those two groups is figuring out how exactly I will end up shaping these outward public expressions of my thoughts, as I get closer to when someday that sort of thing might actually Matter. The farther along I go, the more friends and internet-friends I make, the more people at least see these things pop up if not actually bother reading them. So there's the popular and sensible perspective that one Never Ever Complains; that everything is either completely awesome or altogether omitted from mention. Which, while valid, is refuted in my mind by my own predilection toward complete openness and my desire for complete honesty (along with every celebrity interview I've ever witnessed trying to defend whatever new paycheck product of theirs that they knew was absolute rubbish).

For the time being, and if nothing else, I'll say that this question has been brought to mind again specifically by how many of the circumstances surrounding the Houston show were total shite less than ideal. But what's more important at this stage in the game: how *I* perceived things, or how the people that came out to see the show perceived things? Which, in the end, is the one that really matters after all?

All three bands performed as fantastically as we have all tour. Each band's audience enjoyed the show. Röcbar was a sweetass venue, loved having us all, and I don't doubt would be glad to have us all again.

And I got to hang out and catch up with a friend from high school that I hadn't seen in eight years or more.

And I think maybe I'll leave it at that.

(uploaded from The Rutledge in Nashville, first internet connection since Houston)

Austin, TX
hungry gus
It's as I feared: the excitement and impetus to really dig deep into everything that's going on begins to wane. The 24-hour drive back into Texas, while just as beautiful as the drive into California in the opposite direction, didn't leave me with the same urgent sense of its significance. I'm led to wonder if this relates at all to whether or not I'd ever be able to live in a desert environment; would everything this stark and desolate lose its beauty, while Virginia's aged and treecovered mountains started to look more like the real America?

But I'm woolgathering. Forgive me.

Currently: at the bar in the Houston Airport Marriott with a coffee the bartender seemed reluctant to make (sorry, man). We're holed up here an extra day before heading to New Orleans tomorrow. The Versailles girls called at noon to see about abducting me to go with them a day early, but sleeping in until 2pm on a Marriott bed was apparently more important than hearing my phone ring (sorry, ladies).

Austin happened fast and was done. A shower at the Super 8 and then over to Elysim which was hell of rad looking, at least. Unfortunately for us and for Austin it ended up being one of the lesser attended shows thus far (we found out halfway through the night that we were competing with Rob Zombie... so it goes). For a composite of reasons, I was in what's probably been my foulest mood this whole tour. Tired, hungry, maybe missing home a little.

And yet, once again we (as in, the whole tour) seemed to have a good enough time with it. A few hours before going on I got a text from a friend back home who I hadn't heard from in quite a while, which might have helped more than I gave it credit at the time. And it's funny, how just getting up there and putting on a good show for whoever came to see you makes things a little better. So, once again, by the end of the night there were no real complaints.

And Austin. Austin, Austin, Austin. I do wish I'd had more time, or more interaction with more people, to figure you out. The people seen at the bars surrounding Elysium and in the streets the day after paint you in a light that, while not disparaging, does confirm a lot of prejudices. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I can't grow a beard and I look terrible in a headband, so, keep that club for yourself. Thanks for some really good music 33% of the time, though.

(uploaded from Denny's, whose free wifi trumps the Marriott's $13 wifi)

Hollywood, CA
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck yes.

Now that that's out of the way:

I still don't know how I feel about California but since we're looking at just over 24 hours in the state I'm okay with not formulating a concrete opinion just yet. Los Angeles itself (or the little to which I was introduced) was still a bit much to take in over just one night. There's just so much mythology to refute or confirm, and even if I did meet a couple of "actresses" (and I use those quotes endearingly, ladies) and saw the historical artifact that is the Capitol Records building, I still in no sense think I got it. Though now I'm really wishing I'd taken a few pictures of the wind farm on both sides of I-10 heading into the city which was like staring into the smogged landscape of the desperate future.

And I'll admit: this was the one show of the tour that had me legitimately nervous. Not that I'd carry home any sense of defeat if I wasn't able to win the approval of a town that by reputation couldn't care less about anything without fake tits. It still had the potential to be a hell of a painful hour up there.

Bar Sinister lived up to its hype. Big, full, fabulous, expensive. Being so used to every locale's scene having one or two dependably identifiable "hot chicks," now there was one going by every one or two minutes. Our merch table was set up in a passage between the live area and the DJ area, which sucked threefold in having such dissonance, needing someone at the table at all times, and having a DJ with damn good taste (note to any goth club DJs reading this: "Marble House" by The Knife. Catch up to that already) while I was stuck at said table.

Backing up for a second: once we got started shit was hectic. And I haven't decided if it was because of the place being that busy, or because of the people working there convinced that everything they did was important. In the end the result was a feeling of much less "down time" compared to every previous show. Not a legitimate complaint I know, but it was different than what I'd become accustomed to and before I knew it, it was go time.

But we fucking killed. A set shortened by logistical necessity ended up extended into two encores, the most we've yet had this tour. A combination of great energy, a full crowd, and gear that's now finally cooperating. Floor was packed the whole time, and we all just *clicked* up there. If one night is to stand out as my most successful attempt at playing rock star on this tour, Los Angeles will be it.

I started typing in the car again like I've done for the last two entries, with the difference being that now we head East. I'll be interested to see what kind of feel the rest of this tour takes now that everything left to do becomes part of Going Home.

Scottsdale, AZ
I don't think I've mentioned replacing all the cables in my rig while in San Antonio, and it resulting in of all of my signal problems completely disappearing. But I did, and it did. So there's that.

Right, Arizona. It almost feels a bit weird to be posting about a show that went so completely perfectly well. Hope you're okay with a lack of anything about which to complain.

My only perceptions on Scottsdale had been as the go-to worst place in America according to South Park's goth kids but didn't figure that could be entirely right. A more accurate description would probably be "Blacksburg in the desert" but with a large city next door. I'm told the venue itself was right on the Tempe border, which would account for the crowd that didn't seem to have a single representative from the ASU population I'd mingled with on the half-mile walk from the motel to its closest Thai restaurant (a meal from something other than fast food or a diner FTW).

There's no clearer way to put it: the folks at Mardi Gras in Scottsdale are damn fantastic. From the moment we pulled up to the last piece of equipment loaded out, we were treated like family. Owners were great, sound guy was great, the crowd was great. And we were on. I'd be tempted to call it the best show of tour so far but I'm not going to think back too hard right now, so instead I'll call it the show that left us feeling the best afterwards. So far.

(Branden almost drank through the band's entire bar tab, and is still sleeping off his hangover in the back of the van.)

We then did something I hope we do more of: went to Denny's right after with some folks from the show. Which would have been even cooler if the Versailles kids hadn't had to head straight back home to LA but I understand. But it was really cool to do such a fantastic show and just hang out afterwards with cool people and acceptably mediocre food. Now that I think on it, have I even done that since In Tenebris? Fucking tragic, that.

Toniight (as of this posting: "last night"): Bar Sinister in Hollywood. Hell of a way to make my introduction to Los Angeles.

(typed up on I-10 W, traversing past some of the most astounding and tempting mountains we've yet seen, and during which time my corporeal form made its first crossing into California.)

El Paso, TX
So you remember the flat, yes? The one we changed in the rain after dark back when we were still in a part of the country that recognized the concept of autumn? Well of course we were responsible and had a new (to us) tire put on and checked. Problem is, wherever Andy had taken it apparently didn't think tightening the lug nuts was much of a priority.

So around oh, middle of nowhere I-10 between San Antonio and El Paso, we decide that maybe it isn't the road that's impossible to drive on after all. Get out to check and sure enough:

Those are lugs that have been half chewed through by the wheel once the wheel got loose enough to ride them. Which, I guess if it's a choice between noticing this in your new definition of the middle of nowhere or noticing it when the tire flies off and kills someone in a Nissan Stanza, we actually lucked out. No idea how long I spent trying to wring some kind of help out of AAA (spoiler alert: it didn't work) but in that time a shop fifty miles back in Ft. Stockton had been GPS'ed and called, who recommended we just tighten the spare on to the half-ruined lugs and piss in God's face for the fifty miles back to them. So we did, and made it.

The guys at tire-place-whose-name-I-done-forgot-already were pretty well awesome, and got us in and out before they closed. Even if one of the mechanics was convinced we were heading into the most dangerous city in North America. Which hell, Al Jourgensen does live there.

A few hours later we were back on the road to Uncle Paulie's Pub and the closest I've ever been to Mexico, with me driving and Master of Puppets trying to get us into the headspace of actually performing for the first time in almost a week. Showed up during the local opener (decent synthpop with a good voice, wish I'd caught the project's name). It still doesn't feel like we actually played "a show" last night to be honest, even with 70+ through the door; I guess it was missing out soundcheck and catching up with tourmates we hadn't seen for days that did it. But the show went over rather well regardless, even as a fine layer of dust began to coat the inside of every major facial orifice. Which I don't imagine is dissipating until Austin at the earliest.

As I type this, Tony is driving and I'm in the front passenger seat. As astounding as the Texas desert had been so far, I woke up just after sunrise about an hour from the Arizona border in what might as well have been another planet. *This* is astounding.

A few minutes ago Tony asked the farthest West I'd ever been, and I realized I had to check the next mile marker to be able to tell him. I should probably get back to paying attention to my surroundings, since we'll be out of Tuscon in a few minutes and back into breathtaking nothing.

(posted from Super 8 Motel, Scottsdale AZ)

San Antonio furlough (part the second)
Last night in San Antonio. Tomorrow morning (a few hours, really) we drive eight hours through the heart of Texan desert to El Paso, the parts of Texas I've been most waiting to see. Though I'm sure it won't differ too much from what I've seen so far. Despite the arid atmosphere chapping my lips and drying out my nose, the Texas I've seen is actually pretty much okay by me. Even if San Antonio is just a slightly more paved and less insufferable Virginia Beach.

While the time off has been nice, beyond that first day when I slept 11 hours the rest has seemed a bit of a waste. No slight against our awesome hosts of course, Veronica and Kelly have provided us with a perfectly awesome place to crash out. And I've had a few chances to get out and see the city, and generally have a good time. But I'm getting antsy. Need to perform if I'm going to be out here. Need to see California.

Need to go to bed.

San Antonio furlough
deep thoughts
In an email from my boss, just now: "Kevin also spilled the beans yesterday in a meeting as to your whereabouts, and seeing as how Kathy S____ and Karen W____ were there, I am sure that the entire Darden community knows now! They'll all be beating my door down wanting their "get well" cards back...."

So there's that cat out of the bag, then. Honestly I'm not sure if all the precautionary diplomacy was even necessary, but we were a bit worried about potential blowback from folks considering this less than professional. But, I guess: fuck 'em.

Current location: a Starbucks adjacent to either I-10 or I-410 or both, on my second cup of coffee and abandoning the UVA employee self-evaluation process for the time being. I've got my head wrapped around everything I need to get accomplished, the rest should be easy enough. Just need to set myself a few goals and identify what I'm good at based on UVA's 31 pre-established groupings. Cake.

So as it stands I'm two entries behind as far as show synopses. Whether or not these will get up remains to be seen. The easy thing would just be to say that we've done two consecutive full shows now and both felt phenomenal after so much turmoil and uncertainty and no small amount of amatuerish fumblings on my part. I'm getting more and more familiar with my equipment and my instrument and my place in a rock band dynamic, which among other things was part of the reason for doing this tour to begin with.

Just got the call; looks like dinner plans are happening now and I should probably get back to our the house and our amazing hosts. More later.

Fayetteville, AR
(note: this and the last one come from San Antonio, on day one of some excellent R&R. I've slept 11 hours and am fed and washed and life is good.)

Now here's a city to whom we owe a favor, big time.

Fayetteville seems to have the most Charlottesville-esque scene so far, skewing a bit younger and most definitely feeding from the University right down the road. And if Kansas City had its own Ghent that I saw, then this night's venue was right in the middle of Fayetteville's The Corner. A place called "Teatro Scarpino" could end up being a number of things. Lucky for us, what we got was one hell of a pretty establishment.

But, there were problems. As soon as we pulled up to the loadin door, a good ten minutes was spent debating how to handle this night given Andy's condition. He'd not let himself speak the whole way there and if he was getting better, it wasn't fast enough. But there were hours until showtime; so it was decided to load in, soundcheck wituout him, and pray that self-isolation in the van would do be enough.

It wasn't.

So Fayetteville was a wash. Not much else to say, other than Versailles and Ego Likeness of course bringing it as full-on as they have every night, to a really awesome and responsive crowd. The promoter, God bless him, was cool to a point that one can't logically expect in situations like these, but be grateful for all the same.

And so it was time for me to take my second driving shift. Eight straight hours from Fayetteville to Bryan TX, one stop for peepee and a second on account of misjudging being able to get there on one tank. There had been talk of Andy taking over for me eventually but everyone completely crashed out and I didn't mind doing it; something about wanting to be behind the wheel on my first-ever visit to Texas (which was after dark so didn't much matter anyhow). Once the sun came up there was a startling realization: this part of Texas was a lot like rural Chesapeake. Shockingness!

Next time: even eventual recovery is bigger in Texas.

Kansas City, MO
hungry gus

Shortly after load-in into Davey's Uptown, Versailles's guitar player Tyler started having everyone sign his white Coffin Case around the three band stickers and the title "SWINE FLU TOUR 2009". It's important to stress right now how applicable this is. Fayetteville's show was a still-sick Andy and Steve, a newly-sick Dianna.

Kansas City, I could probably get to like. No established "scene" as it were but since when has that mattered to me recently.

Mike and I got a chance to wander through some of the 39th street area, or "Kansas City's Ghent" as it were. Hit a used bookstore on our way to some place called Javanaut, talking to one or two random strangers on the way and seeing if they didn't want to come out to a kickawesome rock show.

Davey's Uptown was definitely the most "rock" venue we'd yet hit; Outback Lodge without smoking allowed indoors. And it's funny how the least attended show can oft be the most fun for the bands themselves. We totally got into each others's sets moreso than we would have with a huge number in attendance.

And then we had to go and ruin the whole vibe by running two songs and calling it done before Andy's voice box would have to crawl out of his throat to escape the violence. Which did afford him the chance to respond to a drunk heckler with "Hey buddy why don't you do me a favor and shut the fuck up" which was cool. But we tried, and that's what's important.

Especially considering that come Fayetteville, it'd be a bit worse.

Chicago, IL
(note: this [La Salle Hotel, Bryan TX] is the first reliable connection I've had in a few days, so I'll hopefully be up to date before we bust up outs...)

Damn you Chicago, for being so damn cold. Were you just a little farther south...

Awesome as Brian and Katja's house was, sleeping on floors never works well for me; something to do with having zero of my own personal padding to keep my hips from grinding into the floor all damn night. So we loaded my own personal effects into the van on our way to the venue, so as to relocate me to Dave & Jean's on the promise of an air mattress.

darkroom is awesome. That's all there is to it. Matter of personal preference of course, but for me at least the ambiance was unparralleled thus far. Which isn't nearly enough to carry a club of course but then the sound guy showed up and within half an hour Donna was trying to steal him for the rest of our tour. Not only getting Bella and Ego through really good soundchecks so fast, but the willingness to work with Versailles when their X3 was having DI issues.

And there was vegan pizza. Can not overlook the magic of vegan pizza.

Was the turnout less than ideal? Sure, but then we'd also cut into our own audience the night before. But God damn if all of us didn't straight bring it. And with Andy having progressed from sleep-until-I'm-on to hide-in-the-back-until-I'm-on, it was still an improvement. Better and better, for the the time being at least.

Staying at the other house was a bit more comfortable even with the "after party" going on of which I'd not been warned. And the next morning we were taking to the best dinner on the road thus far.

But something else entirely really stands out: after a gradually growing suspicion that this was the case, it turned out that the Dave hosting us and promoting the show was a co-owner of WTII Records, one of the several labels that had been sent a Tacit Act EP and a top (if not *the* top) prospect in my head. After idle chatter had led to what all else I did with my time when not being a bass "player", he handed me a card and asked me to get in touch. And if you think I'm not traveling with a handful of Tacit Act EPs just in case of something like this, well, you just don't know me.

*    *    *    *

The following day off was supposed to be uneventful, but then we also weren't supposed to blow a tire out in the rain either. So that particular protracted 8-hour drive ended up not even feeling like a day off but we made it to Kansas City just fine, with more than enough time to spare...

Berwyn, IL
deep thoughts
Flint had hooked us up pretty nicely hotel-wise, so we hung out as late as possible the next morning, when I finally got a chance to take a driving shift. Four hours of counting eviscerated deer and raccoon corpses later, we were in Chicago.

By which I mean Berwyn. But really Chicago. And I'll say this: if we played nothing but Christian clubs the rest of this tour I would go home happy, provided they're all run like the Night Lite Cafe. Their mission is simply to provide an all-ages venue free of not only alcohol and cigarette smoke, but judgement and pressure. We were treated fantastically, fed well, and all for the low cost of watching our filthy mouths for the night (almost successfully).

Quasi-locals Leper opened, who I knew of by reputation as the Gothest Goth that ever Gothed. I was not disappointed. As I made a point of telling them, even with as little Goth that I listen to these days it's still great to see it done *so well*. Big ups to them for earning the theatrics.

I half want to consider last night the *real* start to the tour, if only because everyone's sets both sounded and went over much better. Of course there is the small manner of Andy being sick enough to spend almost the whole time asleep until it was time to douse him with meds and Emergen-C and drag him up on stage. We did two-thirds of our intended set, more than twice what I expected to get through. So good on him, as he continues to sleep it out downstairs at present.

Current location: Brian and Katja's apartment in Wicker Park(?). From where I'm sitting I can see a ST:TNG uniform, a framed Achewood print, three NES consoles, and Settlers of Catan. I think we leave before they get home from work, but they should be coming out the show tonight in Chicago-proper if we didn't leave them too exhausted last night by barreling in here at 1AM to commandeer their living space with sleep. Hoping they do, as they seem like people with whom I'd get along famously.

Chicago itself is a bit wet and a bit cold and a bit gray. Went out for Subway and stopped to take a picture of a particularly depressing vacant lot, while Tony and Branden focused in on the syringes. Now I've been on Beeeatrice for a few hours getting antsy; in hindsight I probably could have Urbanspoon'ed a coffee place within walking distance, but now we only have like an hour before needing to take off for tonight's venue (which is crazy close, but we want as little to do with Chicago rush hour as possible). Plus Tony's just come in from Walgreen's and looking around apparently there really isn't much around here. But we have hospitality, and that goes so much farther.

Either way, it's a part of Chicago I didn't get to see the last time I was here. Digging back into Dhalgren now, and looking forward to Darkroom tonight.

Flint, MI
Right, I'm gonna give a go at updating after each show, see how that goes off.

Flint, Michigan last night, as shaky a start to a tour as one could expect. A decent crowd (if skewing surprisingly older) on a really cool stage in a really cool banquet hall, in the first Masonic temple I've ever entered. In any other situation I'd have explored it more; it was a fascinating relic of a Flint that once had enough middle-aged white gentry to support such an edifice. I can imagine the ghosts of higher-ups from fifty years ago howling at such an intrusion as was visited upon them for the sake (I assume) of making ends meet.

Unfortunately your standard variety sound issues conspired with my own gear issues and Andy's developing Hamthrax (he's in denial, but it's totally Hamthrax) to make for a rocky as hell performance. The only saving grace is every other band sounding great in the house and then complaining of the same terrible stage sound, so perhaps we weren't too awful.

Voltaire is on tour with The Hellblinki Sextet right now, and we had the merry good fortune of sharing this event with them both. Caught Hellblinki for the first time since DragonCon and the second time ever and they easily confirmed themselves as one of my new Favorite Things. As disparaging as this will sound, it's always a shock to the system when I catch an act in "this scene" consisting of accomplished musicians that create truly accomplished music. Haven't decided to complain or be grateful for the kick in the pants to step up my game. And they're fantastic people, to boot. Here's Valerie:

So things have now officially started, I suppose. Being out with Ego Likeness is awesome enough, but now come to find out openers and strangers-before-yesterday Versailles are not only a great band but generally awesome people. A few health issues aside (Andy may or may not be sleeping through a fever on the couch next to me right now), I remain cautiously optimistic.

A meta-milestone, of sorts
Yeah there's cool shit going on right now that I'm sure is more interesting or whatever, but I need to take a break and address something I meant to address before leaving town:

This is my 1,000th LiveJournal entry.

I started this thing in August 2001 when I started my first of my two failed attempts at college. Somehow in this time I've gone from single sentences and quiz results (, anyone?) to multi-paragraph navel gazings and the foisting of my opinions upon the general public (see for yourself: my whole back calendar there is public). I've told this thing more than I would have told friends otherwise, and in the telling I think I've been changed in some ways. Maybe I'm a little more honest this way, maybe I'm a little more in touch with my own thoughts and the thoughts of the handful of other friends still using this thing as much.

Maybe I'm giving far too much credit to a damn website right now.

But given how old eight is in Internet-years, I'm secure in calling out LiveJournal as a platform that, if continued to be managed well adequately, could soon be considered an institution of sorts. What we have here is the one of the first and oldest community-based blogging platforms (maybe *the* first, I'm too damn tired to do the research), and still one of the simplest. Sometimes that's all you need. And I'm happy to have been an active, paying member for so long.

So here's to another 1,000 entries.

*     *     *

Back to your regularly scheduled fun tomorrow.

Creeping closer.
Eight-thirty and at work still, after driving home to pick up my sister's laptop to reformat the hard drive and reinstall XP while I work late, getting almost back to work and realizing I didn't have my XP disc, driving back home, not being able to find my damn XP disc for the life of me, and driving sulkily back to work in defeat. But I hit up Greenberry's in there somewhere, so, not a total loss.

I am bleeding exhausted, though. This is all work-stuff I was supposed to do Sunday which was then trumped by driving to Fredericksburg. Tonight has been my first free night to stay late and *do* it. Gym stuff is in the car and will be steadfastly ignored until tomorrow.

Took the JazzBeast to Rob at Charlottesville Music yesterday and damn if he didn't straight hook it up: got rid of a little more than half of the fret buzz, which with this model is probably about the best I could expect. But she's a joy to play now, along with being still hott as all. Of course three weeks will no doubt have my left shoulder pretty much prison-raped, but that's the price you pay for loving your pinstriped Dickies guitar strap enough to preclude getting a wider one. The things we do to look good.

So bass is set up, hair is dyed and cut, and the major "shit to take care of so your boss doesn't kill you" mountain at work is breached. The antsiness is of course there in spades and has been this whole week, but I've been blessed in a way by the hours' occupation by frantic preparations as a device to ignore it mostly. A few scattered errands and chores are left, all of which comfortably simple. The big shit is out of the way.

So this may or may not be my last entry-of-substance regarding the tour before I leave. But do expect a sizeable entry tomorrow, slightly more notable and considerably more meta.

[[Oh, and the aforementioned book dilemma has been resolved by last night's B&N trip: Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren (thanks krues8dr and thekdog), barely edging out David Mitchell's number9dream. Very much looking forward to whatever opportunities I'll have to get lost therein.]]

also: the drive through autumnal rural VA is hell of pretty.
Twenty more minutes with this pile of acrid purple shit seeping into my hair (and, of course, skin) before I rinse the mess out and use the "vitamin and shine conditioner" that always makes my forehead break out. Hair appointment on Tuesday at 11. The shit-to-take-care-of-list gets shorter.

Drove out to Fredericksburg and back today on account of finally doing some Craigslist sifting outside of Charlottesville and Richmond. Having avoided it as long as as was possible, I now own my own 5-string bass (this after road-tripping it to Richmond with jdavyd and Bruce yesterday, hitting every music store we could find, and coming home empty-handed. Double disappointment on no one carrying any Sansamp mess, which was why we went in the first place). This one, in that flat-black hottness specifically. Thing is a straight beast. Ran the set at home to the album versions of songs and found the previously noted (and internet-caveated) fret buzz to be pretty negligible in a full mix; we'll see how it sounds at practice tomorrow. No problem to get it set up @ C'ville Music if necessary, but I really am nearing the bottom of the well as far as pre-tour investments go.

And to think I was supposed to be at work today. Guess that's that much more I need to knock out tomorrow; I'd say I was going in early if the idea of trusting myself to get up on time wasn't so laughable. We'll see what happens.

Okay, time to wash this mess out.

EDIT: almost forgot, season premiere of The Venture Bros. is tonight at midnight. Though anyone that give two tugs probably new that anyway, if you didn't, now you do.

You like books. I like books. Tell me some books.
Assuming there will be time not spent asleep or rockband-ing or playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Beeeatrice's SNES emulator, I would like to get some reading done on this here trip (starting in a week?? Really?). As such, I'm opening the floor for suggestions.

Under consideration already:
Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson (though I am limited on space here)
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
number9dream - David Mitchell
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

Out of the question:
Kerouac. Too obvious.

You're seeing a bit of a speculative fiction trend there I'm sure, but I'm not married to that necessarily. Mostly I want something I can easily pick up and read in short runs, as opposed to anything requiring concerted effort and long spans of undivided attention (a la Blood Meridian), regardless of the payoff. So go on, do your worst.

*     *     *

blindseer24's birthday festivities are tonight; but before that I'm off to stand in line for Richard Dawkins. In a perfect world he'd have a booth where one could purchase a T-shirt with his likeness and the caption "What you Dawkin about?" but this is probably not a perfect world.

slightly less idle hands are the devil's union-run workshop
It's looking like if I continue this M-W-F gym thing, Mondays will be the day that I can actually hit 5 straight treadmill-miles run. As opposed to last Friday, where around 4.6 the gut-hurt was making it problematic to, well, breathe. Stopped myself at 3 today, seemed appropriate. Yay, interesting.

Upon getting into work Monday morning I was greeted with the reminder that I was *supposed* to be there at 7am to help out with First Year Q2 materials distribution, the kind of thing I of course completely forgot. But it all worked out and now I and my department are over the Q2 hump, more or less. The task now is to devote every (well, almost every) waking work hour to prepping all my Q3 stuff, the stuff Kristie is having to shoulder in my absence. This of course once we get the godforsaken Bargaining & Negotiation course materials figured out, again. Yay, more interesting.

So it's a week and two days before leaving. By now I should have at least started keeping a list of shit not to forget, but I've not even done that. For some reason three weeks feels like less intense preparation than one weekend of concentrated geekjoy. Probably because emphasis here is going to be on keeping it simple. The same one piece of luggage used for DragonCon has to get me through this, which is easily done and fosters a Spartan approach that makes packing that much easier. Still bringing my running shoes and shorts though; I mean you have to be prepared.

On the docket for tomorrow: hit up Belk's MAC counter for some hot new eye makeup, then to Best Buy for a travel-sized laptop mouse and a microSD card for my OMGawesomenewphone!!1 that should be getting delivered tomorrow. Here I had logged into Verizon's website today just to see about purchasing some temporary national roaming, and happened to hop over to the phone options for the upgrade for which I'm way past due, and this one just jumped at me. Perennial love for my old Razr aside, I'm cautiously optimistic.

All this plus laundry plus finding/building some kind of atmospheric piano patch on the N364 (looks like I'll be doing some keyboarding on this tour after all) should keep me busy enough for the next evening or two. Busy and a bit distracted, which is both unfair and appreciated right now, for reasons I don't feel compelled to explain. Sometimes one has to do shit, and sometimes the shit what needs doing is difficult and fuckall painful.

Sorry to end a bad note like that, except that I'm not sorry at all. Sorry for not being sorry just now. Here: have one of my favorite sights from the National Equality March weekend in DC:

Still takes second place seeing to Obama's motorcade, though.

You're welcome.

Being in multiple bands is about as accomplished as being in multiple D&D campaigns.
ella ella
Having delivered the last of the Second Year MBA Q2 course books to the Exchange (knock on wood pulp), I suppose I can justify tossing out a few lines. Still haven't caught up with this week's Glee, but there are more important matters. Not that this is one of them.

Tacit Act, in case you haven't noticed, has been a bit quiet in public realms lately. As in, *almost let the domain expire* kind of quiet. What with the coming three weeks of magic, jdavyd and I have put weekly practices on hold until I get back next month at earliest. But I'm learning my way around Cubase and getting recording-things started, at least. I have my sister's (well, Dad's really) Gibson here since she's in a VCU dorm now, to put apples-to-apples against the Robert Cray Strat and see which best suits what I'm doing (guitars I didn't actually buy ftw). As much as I've been rejecting and repelling the idea for so long, I fear that more guitar is worming its way into this album, filling in little cracks and canals that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Since most of my avoidance thereof thus far has been a misbegotten sense of rebellion, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

First Bella Morte practice post-Dragon*Con was last night, and apparently went better than the two real band members were expecting. Looks like there's only three new songs for me to learn (two being pulled from the vaults by request, as it were). We're now two weeks away from leaving and I'm just ready to fucking go already. Get the hell on that road of frantic escapism. Though I should probably get a haircut and some new eye makeup first. Priorities.

Tomorrow Shawn and I head up to D.C. to play a ten-minute set for an AIDS vigil in conjunction with the National Equality March. For once I'll be actively (albeit somewhat indirectly) supporting the equality issue instead of talking it up without really doing a damn thing, as is my wont. Even this isn't of my own initiative, maybe it'll be the kind of thing to spur me to more proactive support in the future. There's still no way to tell if the cause will be ultimately viewed by history as a small necessity or a civil rights landmark. But either way, this shit needs to get *handled* already. Even if all the dominoes do take another fifteen years to fall.

So between Band A and Band B and Band C and getting to the gym three times a week (gots to look good for the folks in Texas) I've barely had time to scratch my ass, let alone keep up with my stories and talk to the pretty Tennessean as much as I'd like. I'm most interested to see if these next two weeks fly in frantic action or crawl in fervent anticipation. Either way, there's a hell of a month-plus up ahead.

Now if only it weren't getting so damn chilly around here.

too much of just enough
Ack. Er. Hrm. Right. LiveJournal. That thing I'm marginally good about keeping updated when not stupid busy at work and stupider-busy outside of work. When not constantly driving hours out of town and such. I have stories and pictures and good feelings from this weekend and last weekend with family and new friends respectively, for another time when the time is not bedtime. But here's the root of one huge malicious weed (with my leg, for reference) I dug out from a foot-wide space between two fences yesterday in Chesapeake:

...and here's the setting for some pivotal plot developments in American Gods:

At present: just closed my recently-acquired (legit!) copy of Cubase, having finally stumbled on the steps to get it to cooperate with my sound card and then getting the first album track set up via Rewire for mixing and live vocal/instrument recording. I'm in the midst of a short amount of time in which I want to get quite a bit accomplished on that; which reminds me, I've not yet mentioned on the inter-net that I'll be Bella Morte's bass player on this upcoming tour of theirs ("ours"?). Dates, as they currently stand, are as follows:

10/24 - Flint, MI - The Masonic Temple (no, really)
10/25 - Berwyn, IL - The Night Light Cafe
10/28 - Kansas City, MO - Davey's Uptown
10/29 - Fayetteville, AR - The Gypsy
10/30 - Bryan, TX - The Stafford
10/31 - San Antonio, TX - Atomix
11/5 - El Paso, TX - Uncle Paulie's Pub
11/6 - Scottsdale, AZ - Mardi Gras
11/7 - Los Angeles, CA - Bar Sinister
11/10 - Austin, TX - The Elysium
11/11 - Houston, TX - Rocbar
11/13 - New Orleans, LA - The Howlin' Wolf
11/14 - Nashville, TN - The Rutledge

As I said, impressions on this and the load else that's transpired in the last two weeks are hopefully forthcoming. With the mess of Q2 materials still left to do at work and the mess of recording I'm so excited to finally be able to do at home, we'll see when I actually get a chance to look backwards for any amount of time. Right now I need some god damn sleep.

Gute nacht.

EDIT: my curiosity isn't as tired as I am apparently, so I now know that the offending plant was Phytolacca americana, or "American pokeweed." Fascinating history, almost feel bad about pwning it.

Superfluous Demon Spur-Fangs, and other developments
Calling on those of you who've had wisdom teeth removed in recent memory: something happened when I had the first one out by itself that is happening now with the remaining three that were pulled most recently. Right next to the three now-empty sockets, I'm developing what I think are (slightly painful) points of bone, sticking straight out under the gums. It's happening on the outside on top two and on the inside of the bottom one, which is the most pronounced one. I'm not really worried; when I had the other tooth out the spur eventually broke through the gum as a tiny little bony point, broke off after some idle wiggling, and healed, no problem. Still, it's weird and I can't find mention of this being a common side-effect. Didn't know if anyone else had dealt with this. Anyway.

I was bummed about missing the first OFFscreen of the season, but caught a Danish (mostly-)animated film called Princess yesterday which was way, way awesome. And so of course I'm a little bummed too now about how much of this OFFscreen schedule I'm going to miss, because this run looks bad-fucking-ass. Hit 'em up for me when I can't; $3 a pop gives you no excuse not to take advantage of one of the best perks of this particular college town.

(Intersting-bordering-on-hilarious find just now: do a search of the word "Princess" on IMDB and tell me what comes up first. Who put that in place and how much did it cost, I wonder...)

Back to work with me now; trying to stay motivated all day and translate that into getting to the gym for the first time since DragonCon. Ooo, that reminds me: my post to their LJ community got approved finally, so I think I'll share this additional moment of goofy with you all now too:

(clarification, if needed)

a murder of crows, a parliament of rooks, a Convention of Dragons
If I will permit myself to admit one fatal flaw in my planning for this weekend: expecting a single spare moment I'd be able to devote to doing anything involving the internet. Early Friday morning I brought Beeeatrice down to the merch booth with me and got two paragraphs in about not much more than seeing Tom Felton walk by with an acoustic guitar and Doc Hammer wandering around looking slightly confused, saved it in gedit, and then proceeded to not give a shit about documenting in or immediately following the moment for the remainder of the convention.

spoilsNow I'm back, through a day of work (that started at 11 on account of sleeping right through my alarm), and still not entirely ready to get much down. It was hectic, it was frenetic, it was sleepless and underfed and under-bathed and taxing and beautiful. I didn't attend a single panel I planned to attend or get in any bootyshaking, but caught every single live performance I wanted to catch. In talking it over with someone today I came to discover that this haphazard and unorganized (save for band duties) approach was actually ideal: rather than get into structured events, my time was spent getting more of a feel for Dragon*Con as an entity and an organism, how it works and why it works and how best to get into it. Which is essential, given that this first time there was all I need to ensure that, band or no band, I'll be there many, many, many times to come.

(and I even braved the subway to have dinner with my old boss from Hot Topic, who I hadn't seen in years and now lives in ATL. How awesome was that!)

The van pulled into town around midnight but I couldn't get to sleep until well after 2am, after it started raining. I seem to remember rain being a literary device often used to represent changes and shifts, which is fitting; part of what made it so hard to get to sleep was knowing that when I woke up this morning, summer was over. This was the last big thing, really the only *big* thing to go down for me after a summer of high-minded plans and unused potential resources. Now it's darker earlier and I'm going shopping for a jacket this weekend and the Converse will soon be retired until next spring. I'm starting to get an idea of how the coming chill will be spent, and what will be produced in it. One hopes.

But I am woolgathering, forgive me. I will be at Umlaut tonight if anyone wants to be regaled with stories of being filmed on stage by Lloyd Kaufman or of the EPIC AWESOME that the Faith and the Muse performance was. I am happy to be home safe, but ever so much happier that I was granted this opportunity for this to happen.

Same time next year, nerds. I love you all so God damn much.


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