Debbie Twins

Gymnastics and games: family weekend

A pretty good weekend.  Saturday morning started with the boys’ second tennis lesson, with Beck and I camping out and chatting on a bench while the boys happily swung at fuzzy yellow balls.  Among other things, they were introduced to the backhand.

As soon as that was over, Casey & I got to downtown San Jose as quickly as we could, to see the finals of the US Men’s Olympic Trials.  It was kind of expensive, but I figured that we shouldn’t miss it, since it was nearby and he’s doing very well in gymnastics.  Might be him in there someday.

It was a fun show.  I’m used to the local/state/regional competitions, but of course this was being televised, so it had a lot more hub-bub and glamor added.  They put portraits and short in-action videos of each competitor up on the big screen as they were introduced and came on-stage.  The MC was someone who was on the US Olympic team in 1996 (missed his name), and they started the thing off with a dance/acrobatics number with him and a woman.  Then between each of the six gymnastics rotations, he would try to get the crowd fired up, and fire t-shirts into the crowd with a t-shirt gun, and bring kids up for hand-stand contests or to meet 2004 gold medalist Paul Hamm.  It added some fun to the usual dryer, all-concentrating-on-the-gymnastics sort of meet.  But Casey was pretty rapt during the actual gymnastics.  They ran it with just one athlete performing at a time, so you could concentrate on what was happening, and Casey was studying their every move.  We talked about it some while it was going on:

“Was that a triple pike?”

“No, that was a Yushenko double-pike.”

 (Watch the replay.)

“You’re right: double.  What makes it Yushenko?”

“Starting it with a round-off.”

“I see.”

It was a good outing.  We even got a little swag.

We got home a little earlier than expected, so we played some Starcraft II and Heroes of Might & Magic III before Mom and Riley returned (from book- and Magic-shopping and a viewing of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”).  Then we ordered take-out from Peach Garden (which Riley and I picked up), and watched a couple of episodes of Deep Space Nine on Netflix.

Sunday after church, the boys and I did the grocery shopping that we hadn’t gotten the chance to do Saturday morning, then went to lunch at Rubio’s (Mexican) with Beck, then did some chores in the later afternoon.  Beck had a meeting with some church friends in the evening, so the boys took turns showering and playing games with Dad (Starcraft II for Casey, Tekken 5 for Riley) and a little dinner somewhere in there over an episode of Scrubs.  Then in bed for the first chapter of “The Big Kerplop!”.  The Mad Scientists’ Club consisted of two collections of short stories that I loved reading as an adolescent.  When I went to buy a copy to read with the boys, I got an anthology which also included two later novels about the club that I never knew existed.  We started the first novel last night, so we’re all in new territory now.  It’s a prequel, where the club doesn’t exist yet, so it starts with just Charlie (the narrator) and Jeff (who is the club’s president in the short stories) and their usual later arch-nemesis, Harmon Muldoon, who’s still their buddy at this point.  So it’s shaping up as one of those fun “how they all met and formed the group” stories that I always enjoyed when The West Wing, Firefly, etc. did them.

Then Beckett got home and we watched an episode of Parenthood on Netflix.  Apparently for diversion, we watch other people do what we do the rest of the time.

A good weekend.
  • Current Mood
    cheerful cheerful
Debbie Guitar

Memorial Day Weekend

So, Memorial Day brought another busy music weekend.  Yes, it does seem as though music has taken on a larger, multi-dimensional aspect in my life.

I am still playing music with both boys' 5th grade classes once a week.  And in a turnaround, the kids decided they DID want to sing as a class in the school's talent show after all.  (We did two songs last year, but when I asked them a couple of months ago, there wasn't much interest in performing this year.)  The show is this Friday.  But that decision happened a couple of weeks before, and the session on Wednesday doesn't qualify as the weekend.  Weekends start on Friday night.

Friday night not at the conCollapse )
Friday night was the premiere of The Treacherous French, a duo composed of Cara Madden-Watson (the drummer from the church band I'm part of) and her guitarist partner Steve(?).  I drove to work at Zynga (for the first time since I interviewed there) so that I could drive straight to the show at a Redwood City coffee shop after work.

They've been working on song-writing and, of course, rehearsing their performances.  They sounded good.  They had the standard problem of trying to properly mix an acoustic guitar and two voices with a drum kit in a small space.  The PA was able to make the guitar and voices audible, but it unfortunately distorted them.  Also, they needed to turn up Cara's voice, which they did in second set.  But the songs, a mix of their own and some covers, sounded good, and I look forward to hearing their upcoming album.

I also managed to make my own unintentional splash just as their performance was about to start.  I was placing my recorder to catch the set, and didn't see a small step where I was squeezing through a space next to the front window.  Yep, in trying to regain my balance, I apparently leaned against the floor-to-ceiling window and shattered it.  That's embarrassing.  The staff were very concerned about whether I was hurt (I was fine), and wouldn’t let me pay for the damage.  Hopefully, the incident won’t reflect poorly on The Treacherous French when they ask for another gig there.

Crazy SaturdayCollapse )
Saturday morning, I got up and practiced, practiced, practiced.  Beckett even did the grocery shopping, which has been a Paul-and-boys Saturday chore since shortly after they were born.  Thank you, Beck!  My music was better for it.

One of the things I was practicing for was the penultimate rehearsal of the aforementioned church band, Peak Rocks (of our Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation).  That was 1:30-3:30.  Then home, help the family pack stuff up, and move on down to the con, at the Santa Clara Hyatt.

Taunya, for the first time in 16 years, was unable to attend BayCon.  So I was a solo act for the first time in nearly that long.  Well, “Paul Kwinn & Friends”.  Beckett was up for contributing some harmonica.  And Jeff & Maya Bohnhoff agreed to help me out on short notice.  And Seanna (Taunya’s daughter) both sang on one song and volunteered her room for all of us to practice in.  But they were songs that they were familiar with, so a couple of run-throughs put them in decent shape, with maybe 45 minutes to go before my set.

(For those who are wondering [like people at BayCon did], Taunya is OK.  In fact, she was at Conduit in Salt Lake City.  The main problem was that her time spent dealing with health problems earlier left her without any time off to come to BayCon.)

My set went well, especially considering the last-minute-ness of its preparation.

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd – Jeff & Maya
Let’s Get the Monkeys to do It – PK – Beckett, Jeff, & Maya
Where the Magic is Real – PK – Jeff & Maya
Carrot Juice is Murder – Arrogant Worms – Maya
Nuts – PK - Maya
By My Side – Godspell - Maya
Counting Blue Cars – Dishwalla -
Overthinkin’ It – PK -
Waiting to Be Kaneffed – PK -
Level One – Scott Snyder -
Where Oh Where Are You Tonight? (D&D version) – Hee Haw / PK -
Merry Minuet – Sheldon Harlick - Seanna
Q&A – PK -
Woodland Dream - ? - Beckett
My Story is Not Done – Seanan McGuire – Beckett, Jeff, & Maya
Caledonia – Dougie MacLean – Beckett & Maya

Wish You Were Here was sortuvan unplanned pre-encore.  I started playing the rhythm guitar part as a mic check, then Jeff came in with the lead, so I sang and Maya backed up the vocals.  :{)}  That was fun.

There was a pause between the last two (Caledonia was actually an encore), while Seanna brought everyone who knew her mom up on the stage for a couple of “Hi Taunya” photos.

I stayed for less than an hour of the open filk, since I needed to get up pretty early on Sunday.  But the whole family stayed with me.  Should have taken a cute picture of the boys leaning against Beckett, listening to the music.  :{)}

Sunday: congregation and panelCollapse )
Sunday morning, I was up and at church at 9:00 for a final run-through of the songs Peak Rocks were playing for the service.

We had had a very different song choice process from the usual.  Usually, the group throws in songs that relate to the service’s theme, then we all vote for which of the songs in the bucket to perform.  (We also have a sort of reverse veto rule, which lets someone say “I REALLY want to play this, so we’re putting it on the list.”  Hasn’t been invoked yet, though.)  This time, our minister Jeremy asked each of us to choose the song that we thought was the most beautiful, for a service about Beauty.  Our bass player couldn’t make it (his prom was the night before the service), so Jeremy chose our sixth song.  We also were supposed to come up with an introduction for our choices, explaining why we found our choice a beautiful song.  We got a very broad variety of songs:

--The Way it Is – Bruce Hornsby
--Dancing in the Street – Stevenson, Gaye, & Hunter (originally performed by Martha and the Vandellas but with a well-known cover from the 80s by Mick Jagger and David Bowie)
--Can’t Find My Way Home – Steve Winwood (Blind Faith)
--Who’ll Stop the Rain – John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
--Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
--Fire and Rain – James Taylor

Feel free to guess which one was my choice.

The services where Peak Rocks performs are always popular, which is gratifying.  And we got some especially positive feedback this time.

Afterwards, we went back to the convention.  I moderated a panel (Filk, Hope & Parody), then we checked out the dealers’ room, hung around with friends, had dinner, and went to the evening’s concerts, in particular Jeff & Maya’s.  Their show was excellent and included a few songs of Jeff’s that he’d apparently shelved some years ago, and decided to pull out and polish up.  Then a bit of open filking to round out the day.

After all the rushing around of the earlier part of the weekend (lots of fun, but lots of rush), we were glad to have a 3-day weekend with a fairly quiet third day.  Not completely empty: our friend Marc came over, we went to lunch at Peach Garden (Chinese) and finally tried out the card game Dominion, which I bought a couple of months ago.  It seems like it’s as good as rumored; with a lot of variety and strategy, and very short turns, once you get the hang of it.  I’ll look forward to playing it again.  And in the afternoon/evening, the boys and I went to a family-oriented Memorial Day party.  It was nice: lots of chatting, good food, and volleyball.

So, an excellent weekend.  But next time, I will remember to put BayCon on my calendar, so that I don’t schedule a Peak Rocks service at the same time.
Debbie Guitar

That Music Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Happy

Well Super Deluxe Music Week was a success.

Last Wednesday, Beckett came to the boys’ classrooms with me for morning music.  While her primary comment since then has been “Tough crowd”, a number of the kids were impressed with her harmonica playing.  And that’s mainly what I’m after: getting them to feel “It’s cool to make music”.  We played Jimmy Buffet’s “Volcano”, Seanan McGuire’s “My Story is Not Done”, Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken”, and my own “Let’s Get the Monkeys to Do It”.  Dixie Chicken was the only one that was new to them, but I don’t think Beckett had been in class to play with me since 3rd grade (2 years ago), so harmonica was new.

Saturday was the true crazy day.  I got back from morning grocery shopping a little before 10:00 and Jeff, Maya, and Amanda Bohnhoff drove right up behind me.  Seanan arrived at the BART station a little later, and we proceeded to rehearse for that evening’s gig at Borderlands Books in San Francisco, celebrating the release of Seanan’s latest novel, “Discount Armageddon”.  At 1:00 pm, I left that rehearsal for one with my church band, the Peak Rocks (we play about once a month for Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation).  It was our second rehearsal for the next day’s service.  At 4:00, I flew out of there, went home to collect family plus Amanda (Jeff, Maya, and Seanan had already left for Borderlands) and went to San Francisco.

Let it be said here and now: Seanan McGuire gives good book event.  If you get a chance, go.  If you want to get a book signed (and you should—they’re great books), that’s a bonus.  But there’s plenty beyond that: we had an hour and a half of music from various configurations of the musicians present, gourmet cupcakes and fancy cheeses, Ms. McGuire singing, autographing, and MC’ing, and plenty of happy fans giving the place a party atmosphere.

(Odds are good that readers here are on Seanan’s friendslist, too, and this set list may be repeated there, but…)

Jeff & Maya had the first set, featuring:

B Grade Movies (ttto Feelin’ Groovy; I provided a little vocal backup)

My Wand is Broken (ttto Morning Has Broken)

Tanglewood Tree (w/ Seanan taking the lead vocal)

Dear Gina (w/ Seanan)

Manhattan Sleeps

I Am the Walmart (ttto I Am the Walrus; I helped exhort the crowd to “Woo” and “Everybody buy socks”)

I was the middle set:

Nuts (w/ Maya)


Inward Bound

Blue Smoke (w/ Beckett on harmonica & Maya on backup vocal)

Vampire Slayer Blues (w/ Seanan on lead vocal, Beckett on harmonica, & Maya backup vocal)

Carrot Juice is Murder (w/ Maya)

The last set had everybody on-stage at some point:

Another Job at the Mall (ttto Another Brick in the Wall; Jeff and Maya)

High Desert (Jeff and Maya)

Landslide (Jeff and Maya, w/ Seanan on lead vocal, Beckett on harmonica)

Death Danced at My Party (Seanan lead vocal, Maya on backup, me on guitar)

Merlin (me doing the lead vocal and rhythm guitar, Jeff on lead guitar, Maya on backup vocal)

Get Off of My Lawn (ttto Get off of My Cloud; Jeff and Maya)

Wicked Girls (Seanan, Jeff and Maya)

It was a lot of fun, and good audience response.  I know that I’m spoiled by filk audiences, who are the most attentive, responsive, and appreciative anywhere.  And these folk were fen of sorts, as readers of Seanan’s books, but I didn’t assume that they’d dig the music that much.  But they were indeed every bit as supportive.  Thanks, Seanan McGuire’s fans!  :{)}

Sunday morning, the Peak Rocks had a final rehearsal just before the service.  Then we acted to illustrate the service’s theme with songs about food, trash, and ecology.  Specifically, we played:

Lime in the Coconut (Harry Nilsson)

I Love Trash (featuring yours truly as Oscar the Grouch [imitating his voice only, no costume])

Saltwater (Julian Lennon.  I’d never heard this one before, but it’s an excellent song.)

Garden Song (Dave Mallet , with a final verse for the kiddies by me)

Mercy Mercy Me (Marvin Gaye)

The 3 R’s (Jack Johnson)

It all went over well.  Some of the kids were staring at me during the service, and I have to wonder if they were thinking “Is that really Oscar the Grouch?”.  :{)}

Then I went to watch the first hour and a half of Riley’s first track meet of the season, before leaving him in the care of another track team parent and…

going to our church’s Sunday Salon (basically a talent show).  The Peak Rocks pulled two songs out of its archives, performing Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles” just before the intermission, and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at the end.  (When I sent out a list to them to choose from, the group had universally expressed surprise with how many songs we’d performed in our year and a quarter together.)  I also performed “Dixie Chicken” with Beckett during the show (so we got double duty from one song this week anyway).

By the time I got Riley home from his meet (6:00-ish), we were ready to just relax through an evening.  It was a great weekend, though.  Beckett hates the really packed weekends, but I think even she had to admit this one was worth it.


  • Current Music
    Sunday Salon
Debbie Guitar

Super Deluxe Music Week

Super Deluxe Music Week!

So, as some of you may know, I play music for each of my boys’ 5th grade classes for half an hour each Wednesday morning.  This week, they get a bonus: the masterful harmonica stylings of Beckett Gladney.  So we need to rehearse a  bit tonight for that.

Saturday morning, I’m meeting with Seanan, Jeff, & Maya to rehearse for the Saturday evening Travelling Circus & Snake-Handling Show (and of course, McGuire book-signing event) at Borderlands in San Francisco that night.  Then I run from that to rehearse with my church band (the Peak Rocks, house band for Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation) in the afternoon.  From there, run home, grab the family, and head to Borderlands.  Sunday morning is Peak Rocks’ performance at the MPUUC service.  But that’s still not enough: Sunday afternoon is the church’s Sunday Salon, where Peak Rocks is performing a couple of (different) songs, and Beckett and I will be playing a number, as well.  Then, of course, there’s all the rehearsing I should be doing on my own for those various performances in whatever free time I can manage to find.  (For instance, I need to work on my Oscar the Grouch for I Love Trash for the MPUUC service.)

Well, if it all ends up killing me, I go out happy.  :{)}
  • Current Mood
Debbie Twins

Back in the software saddle

I have found gainful employment: on Monday I will be working for Zynga.  If you've played a game on Facebook, it was probably a Zynga game.  Some of their bigger franchises include: Farmville, Words with Friends, Zynga Poker, Empires & Allies, Mafia Wars, and the team I'm joining, Cityville.

Wee!  Very happy to be working once more.
Debbie Twins

Progressive capital gains tax, addendum

Took a quick look around the web, and ran across this simple site:

Bunty Sikka is apparently a computer engineer with a company in San Jose.  I found no other reference to his political activities.

Other references were a few mentions in forums and some articles suggesting doing away with special treatment of capital gains entirely, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, seems to me to be much more problematic politically.  It seems as though this idea needs a little more looking at.
Debbie Twins

Progressive capital gains tax

Something I was thinking of before the State of the Union address, and even more now:

Does anyone know why I've never heard any talk of a PROGRESSIVE capital gains tax?  That seems odd to me.  Warren Buffet says that it's ridiculous that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary (since his income is almost entirely capital gains, and his secretary's is regular income), and I obviously agree with him.  The contrary argument to raising the capital gains tax rate is that most retired people rely heavily on capital gains income.  That seems very simple to fix by putting the capital gains tax rate on a progressive scale, just like the tax rate for regular income is.  Voila: retirees living close to the edge are not negatively affected, but billionaires who are making millions every year without lifting a finger will be paying a more reasonable rate.

Is there some problem with this that I'm missing?  I mean I can certainly see why the wealthy would be against it, but why haven't I even heard it mentioned?
Paul BeckPortrait

Released to the wild

Some of you have heard by now, but for those who haven't:

I was laid off from work on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Actually, the entire company was laid off, so it definitely wasn't performance-related.  :{)}  But there's some chance that I'll end up back at Judobaby.

To explain: Our last paycheck was over a week overdue.  On the day they were supposed to give it to us (the Friday before Thanksgiving), they called a meeting to tell us that the check wasn't coming.  But they were working bridge funding to tide us over (while our president is working on a major investment deal to actually expand the company).  So on the Monday after Thanksgiving, our president said that, while they still felt confident about the major funding, it would take 2-3 months.  And while the bridge loan might yet happen, they couldn't be sure, and they didn't want to string us along any further.  So everyone was being laid off, with an effective date backdated to our last payday (early October), so we could apply for unemployment and look for other jobs.  We were welcome to still put in time at Judobaby if we are willing and able, and everyone (whether they continue to work or not) will get back pay if the funding comes through.

So I'm looking for a new job.  I'm studying up on some stuff for Judobaby at home, but primarily I'm looking to find another job.  I'd been meaning to look elsewhere more seriously for a while, so I've certainly got the incentive now.
  • Current Mood
    okay okay
Debbie Guitar

ConChord, part 2 (5 months late)

Is this a long-overdue commentary on OVFF?  No.

This may be difficult to believe, but it's a ridiculously-overdue part 2 of commentary on ConChord.  You remember: that con I was toastmaster for back on July 4th weekend?  Yeah.  Well...  As I mentioned before, I'd written part of this, then work got stupid-busy.  (In fact, Thanksgiving was the first day I had completely off of work since OVFF.)

Let's see, where did we leave off?  Ah yes, the Toastmaster was about to take the stage.  What did he do there?  Well,

Waiting to be Kaneffed
Woodland Dream [w/ Beckett, Sue, & Tom]
The Teela Tango
Inward Bound [w/ Maya]
Callings [w/ Maya & Kathleen]
Where the Magic is Real [w/ Kathleen, Maya, & Jeff]
She Talks to Hobbits [w/ Jeff & Maya]
Let's Get the Monkeys to Do It [w/ Seanan, Maya, & Jeff]
I Would Walk with You [w/ Maya]
Big Yellow Taxi [w/ everybody]

Two new songs in the set.  You may be able to guess what "Waiting to be Kaneffed" is about.  "She Talks to Hobbits" is a fandom-themed parody of The Black Crowes' "She Talks to Angels"; Jeff did a nice rendition of the original guitar work, and Maya took the chorus and bridge.  (Even moving from open-E to open-D, those parts stretched my range a bit far.)  It was fun to not be the one playing guitar for once (extremely unusual), and fun to really cut loose, trying to emulate the original vocal style.  :{)}

I pointed out to the crowd that I was playing The Teela Tango (based on Ringworld) with Larry Niven in the audience.  :{)}

"I Would Walk with You" was one Maya asked that we do, when she and I were working up the set.  Hello and thank you Cindy, wherever you are.

Joyride was requested by the GoH (Seanan).  You just gotta do what the GoH says.

There were some technical snafus, and the finale could really have used a couple of rehearsals with everyone at once.  But in the end everyone had a good time (especially those of us on the stage :{)}).  Thanks again to all of the musicians who helped me out, as well as to the sound crew and the audience.  Fun show.

After that came a radio show named Hour 25, which was interviewing the various guests of the con, starting with me.  I spoke with the host (Mike Hodel) for maybe 15 minutes, mostly talking about filk and fandom in general, with a little about my own involvement in filk.  Seanan (who's obviously become pretty at-ease with interviews), Stone Dragons, and other convention guests were also interviewed.  Their web site is at <a href="">herel</a>, but I don't see their ConChord show up there.

OK, continuing this now, I have naturally forgotten some details.  GoH Seanan was her usual, amazing self.  I played guitar for her.  She even included, at my request, Talis Kimberley's "Death Danced at my Party", and I got to be Death on the penultimate line.  I always have fun with Seanan.  :{)}

And I was asked to be MC for Westercon's masquerade.  That was fun, and educational.  I've never been involved in a masquerade before, other than as audience.  I sat in the green room and spoke with all the participants, asking whether they wanted me to say or do anything in particular (beyond what was on their entry sheets).  I got to hold the flashlight to "attract the attention" of a moth character (who was a prize).  I enjoyed that new role.

I did attend open filk on other nights I was there, which included one fun moment where we in the small filk room were singing along on "Santa Monica Pier" with Kathy Mar in the other one (through the foldable wall in between).  Found out later that she had heard us.

Anyway, a very belated Thank You to the ConChord (and Westercon) concoms for the opportunity.  I enjoyed myself greatly, and so did the rest of my family.
  • Current Music
    Blame Sally-- Hurricane
Debbie Guitar

Requests for OVFF

So the results (so far, at least) of my call for requests at OVFF are below.  Feel free to add some more.

Two weeks!  I'm so looking forward to this con. :{)}

From it_aint_easy :
Twinkle In His Eye -- Urban Tapestry
Conquest -- Ookla
Buffalo, CA -- Ookla
Spiral Dance -- Kathleen Sloan
I Don't Do Dylan -- Mitchell Burnside Clapp
Wishful Thinking -- TJ Burnside Clapp
The Acolytes of the Machine -- Mary Crowell
Dump Stat -- Mary Crowell

From catsittingstill :
Ship of Stone  (catalana assures this will be in the Pegasus concert)
Little Teeny Eyes For Reading Little Teeny Print
Emerald Green
[are Vixy & Tony going to be there?]
(I forget the name of it--the opera about the world where the sun is so harsh that "light" is a dirty word by Ben Newman)
Take me after the con -- Alan Thiesen

From patoadam :
Black Molly -- Cat Faber
Someone needs to spring Seanan's brilliant parody "Slip of Stone" on a certain guest.
I'd like to hear/see The Jessica Rabbit Song, performed by Mary C. and Judi M.
Operation Ohio Storm --Paul Kwinn

From artbeco :
- "All the Pretty Little Ponies" sung by UT
- "The Kid and The Dog" sung by Tom and Sue
- Bill singing one of the songs that he regularly sings to his girls, his choice.

  • Current Music
    Ben Ten theme on the TV