Sick day 2

My throat felt better today, but my nose and cough joined in the symphony. Maybe tomorrow. At least I made a breakthrough in my code today.

Just sent out the holiday party Evite. Couldn’t believe the amount of email address changes in a year. Also hard to believe it’s the fourth one I’ve had. I thought about a snarky comment about helping us celebrate Jill’s promotion from acting VP to permanent, but thought too many people would take it seriously.

Sick Day

My throat started feeling really bad yesterday afternoon. With an idea of what today would be like, I took my laptop home. Good idea.

I spent the night tossing and turning, waking up every hour, always parched. This morning it hurt to swallow, so I’ve been working at home today. Just working on a .dll today, so no need to really be connected (though I did have to Google some info earlier, and something else right now).

I’ve been eating soup and oatmeal, and drinking tea. Hopefully my throat will be better tomorrow – not sure if this a normal cold or not.

Fiddler’s Green

I had a very good time in Minneapolis at Fiddler’s Green. Tried to bid on a number of things, but came up short in all of them. Got lots of things signed, though, and ate lots of wonderful food.

Started on very little sleep, as I decided my vaguely Gaiman related costume would be Arthur Dent (he wrote the first guide to the Guide), and figured out how to make my Treo into a mini Hitchhiker’s Guide (splash screen said ‘Don’t Panic’, mp3s from the radio show, the Infocom game, a pdf of the first book, and almost the movie trailer – rate was too high for the player). I didn’t get to bed until 4:30, and had to get up again by 6:30. I slept on the plane some. I would have called it a puddlejumper if it hadn’t had jet engines, but it got us there quickly enough.

We got a cab to the Millennium hotel, who allowed us to check in right away. It was the only long stretch of uninterrupted time, so we unpacked, then strolled around downtown, mostly Nicollet Mall. The Target was enormous. We ate lunch at Marshall Fields – soup and sandwiches. Back at the hotel, registration had started, and we got in line. Afterwards, we headed up to the 14th floor where there was a release party for Neil’s new chapbook, and he and the artist were signing. Next we volunteered to do jobs. Jill worked at the registration desk while I guarded the con suite for a couple hours. Since I couldn’t leave, Jill came up and we had food from Davanni’s – I had another sandwich (salami and bacon) and Jill had lasagna, plus we shared a salad. After dinner, Neil read a cool new story, “Sunbird”, followed by a new passage of “Anansi Boys”. Then he showed new footage of “Mirrormask”, the film from him and Dave McKean. He actually had the whole thing on DVD, but couldn’t be convinced to show us the whole thing. Jill went to bed, and I went upstairs to see Luciar, a girl mostly influenced by Tori (I enjoyed her sparse cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”).

Saturday morning I got up early to go to panels. The second one was for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund members only, a screening of “A Short Film About John Bolton”, the first film Neil’s directed. Very cool, and well done. Then we went to Sawatdee, a Thai place nearby that’d been recommended to me. Not bad – I had the duck. After lunch, more panels, and lots of signing – I got almost everything signed that afternoon. During the signing for Neil, the girl in front of us had all 10 of the hardcovers, and there was a two item limit. I suggest she have him sign all the spines at once – and she did! I got pictures, too. By far the coolest thing was the panel where Neil, Caitlin Kiernan, and Karen Berger came up with a two page Sandman story, and a following panel where Charles Vess, Jill Thompson, and Todd Klein made it come to life.

We went to the closest restaurant to the hotel, Ichiban. A Japanese steakhouse, Neil (noted sushi connoisseur) had mentioned the sushi was decent, so we went to the sushi bar. $28 for all you can eat, and I do believe we got our money’s worth. Jill even tried raw sushi for the first time (we’ll see if she does it again). After dinner was the big auction. I tried for a couple items, but they quickly got too rich for my blood (I went to $4600 for the two page story, and would have gone to $5000, but it ended up going for $10,000). There was also a nice piece by Terry Moore of Death, but was out of my range very fast. It was fun watching the bidding, and there were some priceless comments from the guests of honor. We changed into our costumes (Jill was a modified spider woman) and went right back downstairs. The Folk Underground (featuring Lorraine, Neil’s assistant) closed out the night. I have their CDs, but had never seen any of Neil’s tunes performed live before. Between sets, some interesting pictures were staged, including Neil with five Deliriums. It was after 1 by the time we got up to our room.

Sunday we got out early to have breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen. I’d gone by it on Friday, and vowed to eat there. By far my favorite meal of the weekend; I had the huevos rancheros and sausage bread (sausage, pecans, and black coffee, but it was delicious). I left Jill to pay the bill so I could rush back to get to the second auction, featuring pieces from the art show as well as things they hadn’t gotten to in the regular auction. I wanted a piece by Todd Klein of Dream in his library (if you’ve seen our library you know it would fit right in), and I got in a bidding war with one other guy. I thought the piece would go for $300, and set a $500 limit, but Jill kept urging me on, and I went up to $1100 before letting the guy take it for $1200. It was the only hand colored print, but maybe I can find a black and white version. There were a couple other books and magazines I bid on, but I lost all of them (people were just bidding to win). It was good, though, as the CBLDF took in nearly $45,000 from the weekend. A couple more panels and it was time for us to go. We shopped and ate at the airport, and got home by 10. We were wiped, and were in bed long before midnight.

Pictures are now up here.

Barenaked ‘deth

Two very different shows the last two nights. Up first was Megadeth at Nation. It’d been a while since I’d seen a show with my buddy Eric, who I used to own a record store with. He’s a metalhead and I’m not much of one, so we don’t intersect much. But I’ve always liked Megadeth – Dave Mustaine has a unique sound, that’s not growly, like other metal bands (the opener, Exodus, was a prime example). We met up at the Vienna Metro, and he drove in to DC. The show was at Nation, which I hadn’t been to since 1996 when it was called the Capital Ballroom (I’ve only seen two shows there, Collective Soul and Ozzy). Not too much had changed, it’s still a converted warehouse in a not so great part of town, but they had added a balcony.

Exodus was ok, but I was glad we only saw part of their set. The crowd was there for Megadeth, and when Dave walked on stage, it got pretty loud. They played four or five off the new CD, and the rest of the songs were the classics: “Peace Sells”, “Hangar 18”, “Sweating Bullets”, “Holy Wars”, and “Symphony Of Destruction” were highlights. The current Megadeth lineup is all new guys besides Dave, but they did a great job.

After Eric dropped me off at the Metro to get my car, he got stopped by a cop for “exiting the lot incorrectly”. Unfortunately it turned out he was driving on a suspended license (he’d taken a test to get points taken off and the license reinstated, but it hadn’t gone through), and they impounded his truck. It took 45 minutes for that to finish, then I drove him home, not getting to bed until 2:30 (apparently he got his truck back yesterday).

Last night, Jill and I went to the Party For Life at the Clarendon Grill, a benefit for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Mental Health Association. The main reason was Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies was playing a solo acoustic set. We got there when it started at 6. I was expecting a long line, but it was empty when we got inside. “Uh-oh” we thought, and we soon discovered the night was scheduled to go ‘til 11. Thankfully with admission we got appetizers and two drinks – we quickly filled up on appetizers. They had various fundraising efforts going on, including a raffle and a silent auction. We bought tickets to the raffle, but didn’t win anything. The silent auction was very tempting. I put bids down on a Nissan Pavilion box for a night, tix to the Redskins/Giants game (with passes to the radio booth), and the ‘ultimate’ BNL package (Airplane tix, backstage passes to one of their holiday shows, and a hotel room), but all of them got too rich for my blood (that last one went for $3000).

At 9:30, Steve finally went on. It was pretty packed as the crowd had grown (it was sold out, after all). He played for nearly an hour, breaking out new ones (“never heard before unless you’ve been in my home”) “I’ve Stopped Listening” and “That’s All”, along with the classics like “Old Apartment” and “Brian Wilson”. Very cool to be sitting at a bar 15 feet away watching him play. After they finished the auctions, the audience brought him back for “Jane”, which Jill and I danced to. We went straight home, as Jill worked day shift today so we can get going early tomorrow.

Incredible(s) weekend

As I predicted, Friday was fairly lazy. Jill needed hose for the wedding, so we went to Best Buy (for me – picked up new CDs from Megadeth, Live, and Keane) and Target for her. I got directions for the wedding, then she made a salad and I cooked steaks. She was tired and went to bed, I watched “Real Time with Bill Maher” and a heck of fight between Bill and former Senator Alan Simpson.

Saturday we were on the road by 8:15 (only 15 minutes late), and made the wedding with 2 minutes to spare (2 pit stops were necessary). The wedding was nice (and short). As we later found out, Kayri made her wedding dress, and she and Oran looked great. After the wedding, we had a caravan to the reception as we went up 288 (Richmond’s new highway) and most of us didn’t know the way.

Maggiano’s is part of a chain, but I hadn’t been there before. It’s certainly the best Italian chain I’ve been to – the food was outstanding. They served all the dishes family style, so we just passed them around. The salads were tasty, the calamari was well done, the gnocci was good, and the cheesecake was divine. And then they served us wedding cake! It was fun, but being in the afternoon, the carousing didn’t last too long.

During the toast, one of my fraternity brothers joked about going to the movies, but we liked the suggestion. Everyone’s first choice was “The Incredibles”, and there was a movie theater close by. We got tickets, then went to Rusty’s house (where we were staying) to change. We got there with plenty of time to get good seats for all 10 of us, and we had a good time.

The movie is more than anything an homage to the Fantastic Four, and I thought captured the fun of the best writers on that comic (Lee, Byrne, Simonson and Waid). It wasn’t exact match, but the powers were close, the costumes were very familiar, and having the Mole Man clone come out at the end was dead on. Another great effort from Pixar. They had a preview of “Cars”, though, and that I didn’t think looked too interesting.

We went to McAlister’s, a deli two stores down afterwards. I was not very hungry because I’d stuffed myself earlier, so I had soup (chicken and sausage gumbo) and a salad. Tasty though. We went back to Rusty’s after that and chatted with him and Meredith until the yawns outweighed the talking.

Sunday morning we had a smaller group at IHOP (new grain and nut pancakes aren’t bad). We headed home, getting there just after the Redskins game started. I was happy to actually finish the Sunday Post on a Sunday. I was also happy the ‘Skins won another one, and Jill mad some tasty chicken nugget pita sandwiches.

We screwed up going to the Birchmere – Jill wanted to go see Erin McKeown at the Birchmere, so I had purchased tix last time we were there. She was listed second, and we assumed she was the headliner, so Jill finished watching a show on TV before we went, and we walked in 10 minutes late. She was on first, of course, and her set wasn’t that long. The Waifs were good, Australian pop folk outfit, but we weren’t familiar with the songs. At least we avoided eating at the Birchmere.

We were back by 10, so we watched “Simpsons” and “Desperate Housewives” that I’d taped. Very happy that the Simpsons are back – I alaway enjoy “Treehouse Of Horror” too.

TV etc.

Jill got home last night and there was much rejoicing. Ok, it was more like some web surfing on both accounts before we made dinner (tacos) and watched TV (“Desperate Housewives”, “Lost” and “Daily Show”). Lost remains my favorite new show. I tried “Drew Carey’s Green Screen”, but it doesn’t have the magic of “Whose Line Is It Anyway”. I think Ryan Styles was a crucial part of that show, and he’s not in the new one.

Probably another light night tonight as we get up much too early to make Oran’s 10:30 wedding in Richmond. Apparently the crucial part was booking the restaurant the reception’s at, and they could only get it from 12 to 4. If anyone reading this is on the road around 8AM, there’ll be a blue Corolla with two bleary eyed people hoping the caffeine kicks in soon – avoid us as our reaction time will be down.

Star Wars III trailer

Just watched it on Access Hollywood (it’ll be here on Monday). Pretty good – though there was never a question of not seeing the film. I know the first two weren’t that great (and didja have to put Gungans in “Return Of The Jedi”, George?), but I want to see them all together, and I’m pumped after the behind the scenes footage on the new DVD set. I may watch all 6 movies the weekend it comes out.

Election

I got up way to early to be there when the polls opened yesterday. It still took 45 minutes. I remembered the lines from 4 years ago and am sure it only got worse. I couldn’t leave at lunch (mandatory benefits meeting) and I had an early massage. After that, I came home, surfed, then caught the latest numbers at 9 before I watched last week’s “West Wing” (yes, I’m a slacker). “Daily Show” was funny, but there wasn’t much news. Still wasn’t much afterwards, and I was too tired to stay up.

This morning, I turned on Headline News, and I knew. That sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach got worse throughout the mornning, to reach the low point when coworkers were listening to Bush’s victory speech. My hope at this point is for a midterm legislative flip like the one in 1994. I’m resigned to my fate, just hope our environment and civil liberties can take another four years of erosion.

John McCrix

Some Fleetwood Mac songs are easy to cover. Nothing against the Smashing Pumpkins or the Dixie Chicks, but “Landslide” is not rocket science. “The Chain” is not easy, and the way the Pat McGee Band owned it Halloween night at Z104’s Bosom Ball proves why their latest lineup (Mark V by my count) is their best yet.

The night started off with disappointment. Linda picked me up aorund 5:30, we picked up her friend Colleen around 6, and we got to the 9:30 club with 15 minutes to spare before doors opened. It was then we discovered that Howie Day was sick (and as it turned out in the hospital with a 104 degree fever). Nevertheless, we’d have an opportunity to enjoy one of his songs before the night was through. The club was nicely decorated, with Christmas lights hung from the rafters, and bras attached to them at the end (the night was a benefit for GWH’s ‘Mammovan’). Since I wasn’t driving, I took advantage of the 9:30’s fine beer selection during the night (a couple of Dogfish Head ales, an Anchor holiday ale and a hefeweizen).

Michael Tolcher was up first, and he and his band were in costume (wizard, convict, and Spider-Man). I’d seen him open for the Pat McGee Band before, and he’s pretty good, got a nice soulful sound. Bowling For Soup was up next, and they had a nice pop punk sound (like MxPx or early Blink-182). I hadn’t heard any of their songs before (they’ve got a song, “1985”, that’s apparently in heavy rotation on Z104), but I liked ’em.

Finally the Pat McGee Band took the stage (Annandale, represent). I hadn’t seen them since June, and in that time the original bass player had left, only to be replaced by Crix from the Getaway Car. That made two, as Todd Wright, also of the Getaway Car, had joined back in February. I’ve been a fan of the Pat McGee Band since 1999, but Todd’s my man – seen him since 1994, and many times. Both Todd and Crix have great voices, and mixed in with Pat’s it was just awesome. At one point Todd was talking about his costume – he was the Pat McGee Band, with Brian’s glasses, Crix’s hat, Chris’s biceps, and Chardy’s “shaving of the nether regions”. Pat made him complete the costume by singing lead on the first verse of “Haven’t Seen For A While”. It brought back memories of the original lineup with Al Walsh and Jonathan Williams and the harmonies they’d get on that song, but last night it was better than ever. Then they brought the house down by delivering a perfect version of “The Chain”. If I’d only been listening, I would have sworn it was John McVie on bass, and the harmonies were dead on. They ran through most of the new CD, but also managed to bust out some older tunes like “Passion” and “Girl From Athens”. A great set ended with “Beautiful Ways” because Z104 has been playing the heck out of it.

The night wasn’t over, as the crowd promptly summoned them back for an encore. A little something different, as Linda saw a roadie putting hairspray in Pat’s hair. A little mussing up of the ‘do, and he was a dead ringer for Howie Day. Then they went right into his current single, “Collide”, adding a hilarious verse about Howie’s groupie troubles. They followed that with a nice sloppy version of the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight”, and finished off with “Rebecca”. A long night as we got out of there just before 1AM, and I didn’t make it home until 2. I was dragging yesterday, but it was worth it.

Photos here (and a partial shot of me) and here.