Drumming with Jeff

It all started with the pair of timpani we rescued from a middle-school dumpster a year ago. I’ve been playing those, off and on, down in our basement, not letting my lack of knowledge about kettle drums stop me. But long, long ago, in my high school band in a galaxy somewhere, I put aside the clarinet one year to play snare drum in the marching band. I’ve long hankered to pick up the sticks again.

Well, it’s happened. The need for a respite after finishing work on the monster book, combined with the local drum store having a closing sale, led me to a practice pad. And in the way of all gateway drugs, that led to… a full drum kit—a Pyle PTED06 electronic tabletop kit, to be precise. I’ve been having a ball.

Let’s let the video speak for me. I present… The Star Rigger Drum Lab!

Yuh, all the drum sounds are by me.

Moonlight Weathers Surgery—Again

For the second time this year our mooncat, Moonlight, has gone through surgery for removal of skin cancer tumors. The first time, we didn’t know it was cancer, and only learned about it from the biopsy afterward. She’s 19 ½ years old, and the vet didn’t give her good odds to last long. But seven months later, although other tumors were still growing, she was still a happy and otherwise healthy cat. Dr. Parker said, “Ordinarily I wouldn’t even consider a second surgery on a cat this age. But this is one amazing cat.” This time he took tumors off three different locations, in one operation. Here are two of them.

This left us with a fashion problem—or, rather, how to keep her from licking or scratching at the sutures without resorting to a cone that would make her depressed. The answer: a two-piece suit. Two socks cut out to fit over her, one lengthwise over her head and torso, and one across the back of her shoulders to cover her front shoulder. Seems to work so far. And she seems in good spirits, doing A-okay on the first night of her recovery. And, I think she looks rather elegant. Don’t you?

Our Mortgage Is History!

This actually happened in the midst of all the other recent excitement, and I neglected to mention it. We’ve paid off our mortgage! Done! Paid! Kaput! Finished! The house is ours!

What a feeling!

Of course, we have to be careful. Half of our monthly payment was escrow for property tax and insurance, and now we have to pay those directly.

But never mind that. The house is ours!

Take that, moneylenders!

No Worldcon for Me This Year

posted in: cons, worldcons | 4

Worldcon 76 logo

This year’s World SF Convention is being held in San Jose, CA in a couple of weeks, and I’m sorry to say I will not be there. It’s an economic decision, not a political one. However, I was also part of the large number of people who got left off of programming this year. It’s a simple calculus: Can I afford to spend a couple of grand attending a convention that could otherwise be fun and interesting, but will net me no opportunity to build and connect with my audience? Not this year.

Side note: Having been to worldcons where I was turned away from programming, I can say that it’s a lousy feeling. In contrast, last year in Helsinki I got to do some great programming, and I came away feeling that I had contributed to the success of the con, and was appreciated, as well.

You may have read about the programming brouhaha this year, where many new writers and minority groups of various sorts felt overlooked by the program committee. I’m not close enough to the action to have any meaningful insight, except to say that, first, they are not the only ones to have felt overlooked. Second, I think any good programming effort has to find a way to make a place for both the young and the old, the bestselling and the newbie, the well-known and the little-known, all with the same degree of welcome. Many conventions do that successfully; I hope this year’s worldcon, with its hurried regrouping, manages as well. I’m sure it’s no easy task.

I’m not staying away in protest so much as disappointment. It just didn’t work out for me this year. Next year it’s in Dublin, and the year after in New Zealand! Here’s hoping!

And best wishes to all of the Hugo nominees!

 

B-52s! Culture Club! Live and LOUD!

We saw the B52s, Culture Club, and the Thompson Twins live in concert at the Wang Center in Boston last Friday night. (It was an early birthday gift from Lexi and Connor, who went with us.) It was great! Especially if you didn’t need to make out any of the song lyrics, or use your ears for anything for the rest of the night! Here, reproduced with surprising fidelity by my LG phone, is a brief (fair-use for review purposes only!) clip of the B52s climaxing their set with the song I introduced Lexi to, back when she was little…

Crank that up way past 11 on the biggest speakers you’ve got, and you’ll have a pretty accurate reproduction of the sound.

Between sets, I caught a candid of a couple of hardly-aging boomers checking out the action.

The final set was by headliner Boy George and Culture Club, and they were good, too—except their set featured laser-bright spotlights at the back of the stage, aimed straight into the retinas of the audience. So it was best if you weren’t planning to use your night vision for the rest of the weekend. Culture Club withheld the song we most wanted to hear until the third and final encore. Here, then, is a brief clip of Karma Chameleon, in High Fidelity…

I’m a little surprised to hear that the sound is actually clearer in these videos than it was going into my ears in the theater, past the foam earplugs that Lexi ran out and got us all. I think my ears just went into total overload from the jetwash blast of sound. Seriously, I wonder why the sound engineers think we’ll enjoy the music more if it’s too loud to hear. I think there’s a market out there for noise-reduction headgear that lets the sound through undistorted, but at a lower volume. My Bose ANR earbuds (which I didn’t think to bring) probably would have melted.

All that said, we had a great time reliving our youth with some actual youths!

 

Father-Daughter Dance!

Veteran videographer Allysen took this video on short notice. (I shoved my cellphone into her hand as the music started and said, “Shoot this video!”)


For a guy with two left feet, I thought I did pretty okay. Lexi was radiant and beautiful, so no one was watching me, anyway! (Big thanks to our friend Johanna, who gave me emergency dance lessons.)

 

Lexi and Connor Are Married!

I just got to be Father of the Bride as our daughter Lexi married Connor! Allysen and I could not be happier. I walked Alexandra down the aisle to the lush strains of “Princess Leia’s Theme” from Star Wars, by John Williams—played on the piano by Lexi’s friend Jon. At the end of the beautiful Anglican service, they strode out to the main Star Wars anthem*, with Jon on piano and her lifelong friend Brian on trumpet. In the middle, we had some excellent hymns, coincidentally including my personal favorite, All Creatures of Our God and King, by a composer who I feel would have understood science fiction if it had been around in his time.

These pix came from various friends; we still look forward to the official ones. More to come soon. This is Lexi and Connor at the altar, Lexi’s sister Jayce looking on as Maid of Honor.

A snapshot of the father-daughter dance:

And the weary but happy parents catch a dance for themselves, at the very end of the celebration:

*Those familiar with Allysen and my wedding, not quite thirty-two years ago, might remember that our recessional music was the Star Wars theme, from the soundtrack recording. It’s great to see my daughter carrying the banner.

Range Remake Done!

When I promised we could get a proper range hood for our kitchen, I did not imagine that the project would take more than three months, and a gazillion hours of my time. As soon as we decided to move the stove five inches to the left (it was placed awkwardly because of where the gas line was), everything snowballed. We needed a cleverly designed shelf unit on the right, and a smaller cabinet on the left. And here it is!

Except for the base cabinet, this was all made from wood I found in the basement and garage. Mahogany pieces salvaged years ago by Allysen’s dad turned into the shelf unit, with the help of some butcherblock leftover pieces for the top. And there was just enough butcherblock left to glue together to make the countertop on the left. We are very happy.

 

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